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Essential Speaking Skills
All about the art of public speaking.

Introducing the Foundations of Presence Part III - Dual Attention

Earlier, I shared with you two physical exercises to activate your stage presence. Today I am going to introduce to you another one. This exercise is derived from a book titled “Peak Performance Presentation”. If you have the chance, go borrow the book. There are many more exercises in it that can help you optimize your peformance on stage. However, if you want the essence of it, then continue keeping track of this week’s posts.

As I shared with you before, stage presence is all about being aware of yourself and everything around you. Instead of focusing on the past (incidents that happened already) or future (incidents that may happen), you have to put all your attention into the present moment.

However very often, because of our nervousness, we get trapped managing our thoughts and emotions. As a result, we fail to pay attention to the external environment. To the audience, they feel like you are not there. As Steve aptly puts it: to be present is to see what you see, hear what you hear, smell what you smell and feel what you feel. In the context of giving a presentation, you gotta be with your audience fully!

Dual Attention Exercise
The next exercise I am going to introduce you will train you on becoming more present to what it happening both inside AND outside you, which explains why it is called the Dual Attention. (Alternatively you can try Steve’s Presence Walk which I thought was equally useful)

(1) Right now, as you read this, become more aware of yourself. Become aware of your body, pay attention to your breathing and to the sensation of your contact with your chair and the ground.

(2) Accentuate this by closing your eyes for a moent. Take a deep breath and pay attention to your breathing, to your feet touching the ground, to your overall body feeling. Focus all your attention inwards.

(3) Now, hearsome of the sounds that are around. Let them simply be there, as part of your overall attention. Keep noticing your internal world of sensation at the same time.

(4) Now imagine that in a moment, you are going to open your eyes and look out into the world. But at the same time you are going to remain just as aware of yourself as you are now. It will help if, when you open your eyes, you think of the world outside you as coming towards you, rather than you going towards it.

(5) When you are ready, open your eyes. Look at the ground in front of you first, while you stabilize the Dual Attention, inner and outer at the same time. When you are ready, raise your eye level so you are looking at the world around you. At the same as you look at the world, remain aware of your breathing, of your contact with the floor and chair, of your body ad a whole.

Creating Your Triggers
The trick to activating your stage presence is to practice the exercises in your daily lives. The problem is sometimes we forget! Here’s a quick remedy. Create a trigger to remind you to be present to your surroundings. Let me share with my two triggers.

I consciously bought a black ballpoint pen at a bookstore. As I select the pen, I reminded myself that this pen will help me to stay present. Each time I see the pen, I will immediately pay attention to my body (eg. breathing and sensations) and my surroundings (sound, light and smell). This is similar to the Dual Attention that I shared with you earlier.

I also use the color red to remind me to stay present. Yes… each time I see something red like a stranger’s shirt, traffic lights or a stalk of rose, I will go conscious and become present. Think of red like an activating switch to wake me up.

As you continue to practice your presence, it will become second nature. The next time you come up on stage, you are automatically with your audience a 100%. You will be sharper and more aware of what’s happening around you. You will find youself gaining control over yourself, your audience and your environment. That’s when you begin to command the listening of your audience.

“Introducing the Foundations of Presence Part III - Dual Attention”