Hang on a minute isn’t mindfulness about being quiet and internal.... and public speaking about how well get can project your voice and get your message across? What do they have to do with each other?
I have recently joined a toastmasters club and have the opportunity now to both prepare talks as well as to speak on the spot. I suffer from the “UM” especially when I am speaking on the spot, or trying to remember what comes next. I am missing out on more powerful pauses.
Just like a mindfulness practice is a pause in life and allows you to be fully aware and present in the moment, a pause in speaking can also be such an opportunity. I don’t know about you, but my best insights occur when I am silent. Imagine how my message in speaking could be improved if I was receiving insights while presenting.
More about mindfulness
Mindfulness is traditionally practiced quietly, often focusing on your breath and senses. By focusing on your senses you are paying attention in the present moment. Paying attention in the present moment is my favourite definition of mindfulness, by this definition it can be practised in silence as well as anywhere, and including while public speaking.
More about Public Speaking
Chances are at some point in your life you will have the opportunity to stand up and speak. Public speaking doesn’t need to be speaking to a crowd of 1000s, you could be speaking at a family or friends event such as a birthday, anniversary or funeral, you could be giving a presentation at work or at a local community group, you could be leading a workshop or conference to 5, 10 or 100’s of participants. So will you be ready when your chance comes?
Using mindfulness in public speaking
To improve as a public speaker you need to pay attention. Hang on that is what mindfulness is about – paying attention. How will you stop saying UM (and how will I?) unless you start to hear yourself saying UM. Yes mentors and regular constructive feedback (like toastmasters offers) is great for awareness raising too. To really improve, however, it comes from within you. Others can tell you that you use UM (or like, so, sort of....) but it is only you who can stop saying it, and you can do that through paying attention, through mindfulness.
Reducing filler words is not the only way mindfulness can help you as a public speaker, it can help you with any other aspect.
You need to work on the projection of your voice? It doesn’t help if you forget half way through your talk. By staying mindful of the pitch, tone and projection of your voice you can use them to your advantage, even have fun with them.
You would like to improve on impromptu speaking? Staying in the present moment will help you feel calm so your best words can come forth. Being mindful of your audience and their responses can allow you to adapt your talk and best meet their needs. Mindfulness can help all aspects of public speaking.
Here is to being present, where you can speak your best, be your best, as well as truly experience every moment and the wisdom each moment holds.