There is much talk of Mindfulness right now. It’s creeping ever gently into the business arena – a trend I’m particularly pleased about (if not a tad cynical that it will become the latest fad…. “7 Habits of Highly Effective Meditators”….?)
As a long-standing advocate of anything related to taking a corporate pause, calming the mind, meditation, mindfulness, focus – whatever you call it – this has to be a step in the right direction. Now more than ever before we absolutely have to take time to slow down, stop even, and become more present. I’m convinced that at some point there will be a backlash against multi-tasking and the focus will shift back to what I like to call “uni-tasking” – doing one thing at a time and doing it properly with focus, intention and presence.
Of course our wise old ancestors lived by these practices. Meditation was part of the daily routine for your average Buddhist or Taoist – as it is for an increasing number of people of all religious or non-religious persuasions today. Why? Because it works. Is it simple? Yes. Is it easy? No. But with regular practice you’ll see a noticeable difference. A minute a day.
That’s all it takes to start with.
Like any new skill it requires you to build the muscle…take your mind to the gym and give it a workout. Except you’re encouraging it to do nothing. Focus on something for a minute – your breath, a candle, your thumbnail (good for meditating commuters!). You’ll find thoughts coming in but rather than get annoyed – just allow them to drift through and focus back on your breathing, thumbnail etc.
I went to see Barbra Streisand recently when she played at the 02. I noticed before the beginning of each song she just stopped and paused. Coming to centre and back to the present after one activity before moving onto the next, is a good way of coming to a place of consciousness. Before you start a speech or a presentation – just stop and come to centre. Bring yourself back into your body – feel your feet on the floor, take a deep breath and just BE for a moment. Take time to connect with your audience – take them in, smile, acknowledge their presence. BE with them. The best presenters are those who talk “to” their audiences, rather than “at” them in a self-absorbed monologue. You might think this is such an obvious and fundamental concept but I see this crime being committed in meeting rooms and boardrooms across the country on a daily basis. And actually – if you’re nervous about presenting in front of groups – it’s much more relaxing to have a conversation with a bunch of people – in a highly informal style rather than presenting at them (and feeling like you’re boring them).
If you are present and your focus is on your audience – no matter how large or small, you are more likely to pick up the subtle messages that will be coming back from them. I believe a couple of the key components of charismatic individuals are firstly the ability to be empathetic and secondly being present and really tuning in to their “audiences” – even if that’s just one person. You feel they are truly listening to you rather than looking over your right shoulder at whatever else is going on or thinking about what they’re going to say next. They are WITH you. It’s very gratifying to be on the receiving end of this type of communication….
unfortunately it’s all too rare as most of us are so consumed by our own desire to get our points across and say our piece.
Next time you have to deliver a presentation or even have a conversation with someone – just practice being WITH your “audience” with a real intention to remain present throughout the interaction.
See how it feels. Let me know.
Susie Hall – The Impact Coach – creating personal and business impact. www.the-impact-coach.co.uk