Saturday, November 7, 2009

Total Body Enthusiasm

I recently saw a presentation where the speaker spoke about enthusiasm but failed to speak enthusiastically. That prompted me to think about how enthusiasm is communicated. It’s not always enough to believe in what we have to say. Because so much of our communication is non-verbal, we have to be able to SHOW listeners how much we believe in what we're saying if we truly want them to be engaged. Below are three tips for cranking up your enthusiasm quotient the next time you need to present.

1) FLUFF AURAS - Using your hands in an upward motion while you speak serves two purposes. It makes you look animated AND it has the added benefit of actually raising the energy in the room. I once heard it referred to as, fluffing your listener’s aura.

PRACTICE: Stand in front of a full length mirror. Make sure the arms are relaxed and slightly bent at the elbows, hands are open and facing upwards as well. Keep your gestures about your waist and coming from your heart center.

2) HIT THE SCALES – The vocal scales that is. We all know that monotone voices are the kiss of death. When you want to pump up the enthusiasm - pump up the volume and the variety. Think of your words and phrases like individual notes of music and sing! The most important words are the high notes the less important ones might be lower notes. Some phrases might come out soft and melodic, some might come out bright and bouncy.

PRACTICE - Find a poem, a song lyric or a well crafted speech. Choose the most important words in each sentence, then record yourself “singing” the selection several different ways. Exaggerate at first just so that your voice gets used to variety. And don’t forget to pause. Pauses are important parts of all music and all communication.
3) SMILE… This seems like a no brainer but you’d be surprised how quickly nerves can wipe a smile right off your face. Before you start a presentation or a pitch of any kind, remind yourself to smile. Write a note to yourself or draw a picture. And be sure to smile with your whole being. We all know how to turn the corners of our mouths up in the shape of a smile. However, it’s important to engage your eyes and your soul as well. PRACTICE: Look in a mirror. Imagine your closest, funniest or most supportive friend sitting across from you. Or imagine being in the most beautiful vacation spot in the world. What do your eyes do? What muscles in your cheeks are working? Keep practicing and remember that feeling the next time you need to sound enthusiastic!

Finally, one of the most effective ways to sound enthusiastic is to come from a place of contribution. Before you begin any speech, pitch or conversation, try to think about what you would like to give the other person. How you would like to connect with them, help them, inspire, or enlighten them. How you would like them to feel better, happier, safer, more informed, more connected, after hearing what you have to say. If you use the three tips above and come from a place of contribution you'll be sure to leave your listener wanting more.