A while ago I was coaching a senior manager – let’s call her Karen – to use more expansive body language in delivering her presentation. Karen felt awkward and uncomfortable, but decided to give it a try. The feedback she received from her peers was overwhelmingly positive: they felt more engaged and connected with her when she used more gestures and moved around. They also said it looked natural. Karen reflected for a moment and then lit up:
“It just occurred to me that having the courage to step out of your comfort zone is an act of generosity towards the audience.”
Very true. Courage is not necessarily about dramatic risk taking – it can be as simple as daring to make full use of physical expression.
The word courage comes from the Latin ‘cor’ – heart. Being courageous is to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart – to reveal more of your personality and offering it as a gift to the audience. Being courageous in the way you show up and interact with others allows people to see behind the mask to the real you.
This also requires having the courage to be imperfect. Audiences are not looking for slick and polished, they yearn to listen to real people who are sincere and honest. Your job as a presenter is not to be Mr or Mrs Perfect, your job is to engage, inspire and motivate the audience.
Your audience wants you to be authentic and present. When you worry about what to say or what others may think, you are not there with the audience. Amazing connections happen when you take a chance and throw yourself into your presentation without concern for failure or success.
Ask yourself: If you could remove all the fear, what would you do differently? How would you prepare and deliver in a way that is truer to your natural self? In your next presentation, I dare you to be more courageous and more generous with yourself. You will be surprised by the rewards.