Poise, Presence, Posture

The three ‘Ps’ can be even more challenging for folks than the content development inside the 5 Slide Rule™ rubric. As in other posts, I will attempt to break down these concepts and how they work for me as I develop a presentation process as a coping mechanism to deal with my agoraphobia issues. You may not have problems like me, but you may find some of this useful.

Poise Presence Posture
Get ready to share, and let your excitement shine through! Remember to stay calm and present in the moment - it makes a difference. Believe in yourself and your message, and you’ll captivate your audience!

Self Awareness, Confidence, Self-acceptance

Cultivating self-awareness is hard work and about having a sense of comfort in your skin. “Know thy self” comes to mind, knowing how you operate in various situations, how your demeanor, calmness, and nervousness express themselves, how you manage your emotions, and all the physical things that occur in given scenarios.

There are no simpe tricks to become self aware. Some of the basics of taking note or literally making notes on how you act or react in different presentation situations.

Self-talk matters; I have listed below a small sample of my self-talk.

I didn’t say that right; I used the wrong metaphor and didn’t make the point I wanted. That last question threw me off. I took too long, I went too fast. I talked too much. I turned my back on the audience. I fidgeted too much. I needed a prop in my hand; I didn’t breathe. I spoke through my exhales. I sounded down, I was too quiet. I didn’t pause intentionally enough. I paused too long like I was lost. I didn’t make enough eye contact; I made too much eye contact. I kept doing the throat clearing before speaking. I used, um, uh, as rejoinders too many times and sounded like an idiot. I read or sounded like I read from a script.

Self-acceptance is also a muscle that needs work. Confidence comes from working on all those items I self-talked through. Now you can be down on yourself if this spirals down a rabbit hole. But a certain amount of deliberate self-critique can be steps toward self-awareness.

You need to live by Grace, not perfection. Emily Ley wrote a whole book on this concept. You should consider it.

Poise as processing your self.

Processing your self-awareness into poise is more complicated than it appears on the screen. The process starts with circumspection of how you carry yourself and how much reflection on your demeanor you do. How often do you ask others around you things like, ‘How did that come across?’ or ‘Do I sound like an idiot?’ Now, I use a lot of humor, sarcasm, and self-deprecation to mine for more feedback. But poise is more complex to nail down from others.

A lack of poise is the apparent way of diagnosis if you are not probing for feedback. Rushing, hurrying, being flustered easily, impatience, and impertinence in these presenting situations can highlight some more work is needed on your poise muscle.

Presence and posture as mind-setting

Mindfulness is being in the moment you’re in. Gratitude for the moment you get to be presenting. When prepping, be intentional about being in that moment and nowhere else. Again, being mentally and physically present is hard, especially if you have a lot of other stuff going on in your world. ProTip: Schedule something after a presentation for quality self-care and recovery. I do this frequently because I try hard to be present during these.

You are authentically attentive to the room, zoom, materials, and people. Attention is one of the elements of presence frequently considered unnecessary. It is both your attention and their attention are related to each other. Having attentiveness to all things at the moment, attention paid to your body language, movement, eye contact, breath sounds, sighs, talking hands, head position and eye gaze, and so many intentional elements of presence.

There is a meditative quality to breathing; I can not emphasize enough the value and power of breathing. Deep breaths while presenting are hard. I used to have a slide in my decks that would say deep breath. I found it helpful, too, but a side effect was folks in the room would be primed and take a deep breath happy accident. Breathwork can be calming, slowing your heart rate and lowering your voice.

Breathing is a powerful tool that is often overlooked or ignored in preps
Breathing is a powerful tool that is often overlooked or ignored in preps

Finally, deliberate practice. Practical experience and brutal critique. It will work if you work on it.