Effective presentations are rarely just about confidence and content; they start with your body language. This accounts for at least 50% of what people look for to tell them what’s good or not, with another 30% being the tone of voice you’re using. The key to a good presentation then is weaving the verbal with the physical in a way in which captivates your audience. In a previous post, Stewart Dunlop covered the various ways to make effective eye contact with your audience, and how to use their reactions to guide your presentation. There is also another scientifically proven way to make great presentations called Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).
What is NLP?
Developed in the early 1970s, NLP uses behavioural and communication techniques to make it easier for people to change their thoughts and actions. NLP explores the links between the way physiology and the brain work, how we use words and accepted patterns of behaviour.
Essentially it is a set of tools, models and techniques that help us understand people and their behaviour, in order to help them change their patterns and thinking to help them be more successful. In this case, it can help you take your presentations to the next level.
Through NLP, we can identify how someone does something well, or identify how they succeed. This is called Modelling Success. Apart from being able to see and hear what and how someone does on the outside, you can infer what they are doing internally. This refers to the things you cannot see or hear to get the full picture of everything they do to achieve success. NLP Business Trainer Fiona Campbell explains how a successful presenter facilitates a presentation, and how through NLP we can gauge the whole picture of what they do well externally and internally.
On the outside, we can see a presenter engaging their audience, smiling, maintaining eye contact, moving with purpose, speaking in a strong clear voice, telling stories to make people laugh and sounding passionate about what they are speaking about. Campbell explains that by using NLP, we can then infer what the speaker is doing internally to facilitate their success. In this case, the presenter visualises himself giving a great presentation, marks different places on the stage to stand and rehearses what key point they will cover when they move to these places, tells himself to keep looking at all members of the audience to keep them engaged and, stays focused completely on delivering the message, among many other things.
This is what’s called a behaviour strategy that models success based on another successful person’s techniques and abilities.
NLP is also a great technique for overcoming fear and can help with your presentation skills. Fear can be instilled in us through childhood including in our upbringing, parents, schooling, friends, and experiences. This ‘programming’ includes everything we perceive through our senses. So, how do you overcome your fears? Life By Design lists some techniques to break through fear, like recognising your fears, triggers and breaking the pattern. By learning and practising these skills we can gain confidence. In turn, confidence develops trust, which we can then use to dismantle more deep-seated fears.
While fear isn’t necessarily bad and can be a good motivator, being controlled by fear is very bad. Online academy Udemy lists overcoming fears and gaining confidence as among the key benefits of learning neuro-linguistic programming, with courses that focus on developing self-esteem, self-talk restructuring, and even becoming an accredited NLP Life Coach. Presentations can involve any number of fears, which can stem from a lack of confidence in yourself, your material or even a fear of public speaking. So, how does NLP help you overcome your fears?
In order to take control and change your fears, you must firstly be aware of them, so awareness in the present moment is crucial. Secondly, recognising the events or actions that trigger your fears leads us to the third point, breaking the pattern. Breaking a pattern is like breaking an addiction, it won’t be easy at first, but by changing your mindset you can change your reaction and ultimately your life. NLP can help you do just that.