The Science of Presence

In her new book ‘Presence’ Harvard psychologist and TED star Amy Cuddy reveals how to unleash your boldest self to heighten your confidence, influence others, and perform at your peak.

Amy Cuddy has galvanized tens of millions of viewers around the world with her TED talk about “power poses.”

Now she presents the enthralling science underlying these and many other fascinating body-mind effects, and teaches us how to use simple techniques to liberate ourselves from fear in high-pressure moments, perform at our best, and connect with and empower others to do the same.

Brilliantly researched, impassioned, and accessible, Presence is filled with stories of individuals who learned how to flourish during the stressful moments that once terrified them. Every reader will learn how to approach their biggest challenges with confidence instead of dread, and to leave them with satisfaction instead of regret.

KineticFuture courses incorporate the latest science with practical tools. We coach leaders to be exceptional communicators for presentations, video and select committees. Do call us if you’d like to know more.

Buy Amy’s book ‘Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges’ on Amazon.

Help! Dealing with Stage Fright

You may not be a ‘quirky folk singer-songwriter’, dealing with nerves before an open mic performance in front of an audience of twenty (like Joe Kowan in his funny Ted talk, ‘How I beat stage fright’).

But what I took away from his talk is that facing his fear of performing in public was the best thing he could do to make it easier the next time. Starting with a light hearted song that he knew well helped too!

Presenting is a skill that you can learn. The more you do it, the easier it will get. And it’s okay to admit that you find it scary; Joe’s openness about his fear put the audience at ease.

Here are some of the tips you sent in on how you prepare before walking on stage:

  • Prepare a strong opening sentence or two to learn really well.
  • Equally, don’t forget to rehearse a strong, confident finish to end on which clearly refers back to your opening remarks, bringing the presentation full circle.
  • Visualisation – run through your presentation in your head before you go on – sportspeople do the same thing; visualising a race from start to finish so that they can make the outcome they seek ‘real’.
  • Repetition – practice is key, know your stuff back to front.
  • Glass of water – always good to keep one handy when you present.
  • Power posing – put your body into an open, confident pose for two minutes. Your cortisol level, which is a stress marker, will drop. Keep breathing. Walk around confidently if it helps.
  • Find a friendly face in the middle of the audience to come back to.

Are your leaders super presenters?

Our presentation courses are evidence based and 80% physical practice. We blend brain science, positive psychology and advanced communications skills to help leaders become exceptional communicators.  You can work with us one to one or in groups.
Call us today to find out how we can help your leaders become exceptional communicators.

The Walk On

Image from NASA – The old countdown clock at the Kennedy Space Center press site is seen ticking down to a space shuttle launch in 2011.

It’s like a countdown to blast off for me. Five minutes before the presentation my heart beats faster.  Sometimes I’m excited and keen to get going, sometimes I feel quite sick.  Occasionally my mind goes blank.  Personally, I find small sit down meeting presentations harder than the big stage set.

The only thing that reassures me is that the business CEOs we coach, top actors and top scientists often feel the same. This is normal for many of us.

Over the years, I’ve built 7 coping strategies for the initial ‘walk on’ which I’m happy to share. It’s a smorgasbord of ideas from our coaches, neuroscience and positive psychology.  I’d love to learn from what works for you too.  It’s a very individual thing.

Tuning in I need to spend significant time finding out what will be useful to and land with the audience in advance.  Without this, I feel very naked.  I want to have a conversation with the audience and join their ‘in group’.

Water & restMy throat used to go hoarse before presentations.  Drinking more water over the week ahead and getting more hours of sleep has solved the problem.

A strong point of viewI have to really believe in what I’m presenting, even for that half an hour, to do a good job.  I know I have something valuable to say, a very clear point of view and a good way of building an emotional connection with the audience when I’m really looking forward to ‘getting out there’.  So I talk out loud while walking my dog to make sure it feels strong enough and flows right.  And I visualise what it will be like to present well to the group.

My territorygetting into the room early or prowling around the stage before people arrive helps me relax.  I want to welcome the audience into my domain and I don’t want practical hiccups.

Power posingI will disappear to stand and open my arms wide for two minutes in private to get my cortisol levels down.  Amy Cuddy’s research does work in practice.  It also makes me laugh. (Watch Amy’s Ted talk ‘Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are’ here).

BreathingJust off stage or sitting in my seat I will take 5 slow breaths right into the pit of my stomach, breathe out completely, wait a second and repeat.  Then I’ll walk on with purpose.  I’ll take two more of these breaths looking at the audience before I start to speak on stage.

CheatingI deliberately structure the presentation with a video, music or audience interaction early so that I can make a connection and relax myself.  In meetings, I’ll make sure I’ve asked a question or contributed during a previous discussion.

If you or your leadership team would like to become really good presenters who can engage and energise others, please do enquire about our courses. We work one to one and in groups. Contact us to find out more.