Most speakers, not only at the beginning of their professional development but also having already had impressive experience in public activities, continue to focus during the speech or presentation on the reaction of the audience. It is natural that confidence in their success in the absence of audience interest in the topic of the report inexorably tends to a critically low mark.
Looking at the audience yawning and constantly looking at the clock, the exit from the room, whispering or amusing themselves with a gadget, the speaker begins to feel uncomfortable - thoughts become confused, the logic of the narrative is lost, the anxiety is reflected physically. Such a performance can not be considered a definite failure. There is always the possibility of focusing on a more positive outcome and fixing the situation for the better. In this case, the main thing is to stop focusing all of your attention on the audience, and its reactions.
Why is it sometimes so hard to concentrate?
The problem of attention retention has been examined in detail by Daniel Golman, an expert in questions about brain activity. The American neurophysiologist and science journalist described two main categories of distractions in his book Focus.
Golman referred to sensory stimuli as the first one. This category includes everything that affects the human senses:
- colors and shapes;
The human body, for natural reasons, will always react to these stimuli. However, even in such situations, it is possible to maintain self-regulation, and concentration on the goal of the activity, it's content - without any prejudice to the final result.
The second group of distractions is caused by the emotions that the speaker experiences. These can be:
- intrusive thoughts;
- anxiety and full-blown fear;
- stress and other feelings.
"Dangerous" emotions can appear spontaneously - right during the speech or capture the speaker's attention long before the exit. Having experienced feelings on the eve that are not directly related in any way to the performance, the presenter runs the risk of maintaining focus on them even after entering the stage. It is important to be able to abstract from any extraneous emotions during the presentation. Otherwise, it will be extremely difficult to count on a decent result.
The author of a dozen world-famous bestsellers, and books on psychology, leadership, science, and education motivates to focus on a resource that in most cases goes unnoticed. When everyone talks about time and speed, abilities, and other details that are important for high performance and decent progress, they forget about attention. It is this mental process and the features of its development that are the real key to successful work and maximum self-realization. Attention in today's world is especially important, as today there are more and more distractions that prevent even the most talented and capable people from achieving results.
How and why?
Golman is convinced that a truly charismatic speaker can maintain attention even in the most stressful situations. A presenter, like any other person, tends to notice distractions, but this does not mean that the reaction should be visible to the audience and affect the quality of the presentation in any way.
The ability to own and regulate, to strengthen the focus, helps to concentrate on the very essence of the speech. Conscious attention helps to convey to the audience exactly the message that was planned to be broadcast, despite one's fears or distractions. Attitude is also extremely important; the presenter's personal goal, motivation, aspirations, and even life beliefs play an important role.
It should also be remembered that the audience always picks up the mood of the speaker. Accordingly, when the speaker really "lights up" on the topic, then the audience will shift their focus from their gadget display to the stage. What the speaker concentrates on, the audience concentrates on. If the presenter is distracted, everyone in the audience will soon lose interest.
It is possible to develop one's attention in various ways. However, in the practice of successful speakers, a simple but effective exercise called "Finger Breathing" has long been popular
- Take a comfortable sitting position.
- Close your eyes and take a couple of breaths/exhales down your stomach.
- Open the palm of one of your hands and begin stroking with slow inhalation and exhalation in a circular, unhurried motion.
- Do the same manipulation with each finger.
During the exercise, proper breathing is important. Each stroking up is a sigh, each stroking down is an exhalation. This practice will help to calm and organize your thoughts, tune in to a positive result and achieve it even under stressful conditions.
The speaker is the engine of the performance. Even an inexperienced presenter who has not yet pumped up his speech or pitch can attract and interest the audience from the first minutes if he can manage his attention. This is an integral part of a successful presentation.
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