I recently attended an enlightening session on communication and presentation skills. This session was hosted by a charity organisation of which I am a member, this organisation is call StreetDoctors, and the session was led by an inspiring woman called Bronia from an organisation called Aspire Leadership. (I will leave links to both organisations at the bottom.)
I have always thought of myself as somewhat of a good communicator and proficient in my presentation skills (of course there is always room for improvement). So prior to going along to this session I was of the mind-set that I may not learn much from this session. However, I found that this session was extremely eye-opening and taught me many new skills as well bringing lots of new things to the surface of my awareness. Not only did I learn a lot but it also got me excited and eager to put into practice those techniques that I had learnt. Many of the skills Bronia taught us are used by politicians which became really apparent when it was pointed out. Bronia even taught us some Derren Brown type tricks in how to influence people. Don’t worry though, I’m not going to hypnotize you.
Attending this session really inspired me to want to be a more effective communicator and a better teacher. I want to share a few of the things that really inspired me and I hope will do the same for you.
The power of thought and words is such an amazing thing and Bronia really brought to light how we can use that to our advantage. Bronia started off the morning with a phrase written on the board which was,
CONSCIOUSLY CREATE THE IMPACT YOU CHOOSE
This was left on the board the entire day and every aspect of the session related back to this in some capacity. It is a phrase that I had never come across before. It is different yet similar to a message that Mahatma Gandhi use to spread which was,
Be the change you want to see in the world
I love this quote and my interpretation of this Gandhi quote is that you should change yourself for the better and the world will follow, lead by example. Where as my interpretation of Bronia’s phrase was that in order to create an impact you need to be proactive in the way you are delivering your message. Bronias’ message has been imprinted in the back of my mind since that day and I feel that I now have a greater awareness of the impact my words are making, whether that is in a casual conversation or when I am presenting to my peers.
I learnt how powerful a tool visualisation can be. The impact that visualisation can make was really brought to light for me. I work with a lot of children and young people who have all their futures in front of them and sometimes their futures may not seem bright to them. To be able to get them to visualise themselves in a happy place with positive goals and dreams is an extremely effective manoeuvre to help get them on the road to success. This is also a great way to inspire people. By using words such as ‘picture yourself’ and ‘imagine’ you make people visualise themselves in that situation and this was one of the most important things I took away from this day.
Whenever I prepare to do a presentation or teaching session I always want to make a good impression but I never really consider the attitude with which I want to deliver that session. Bronia taught us a presentation technique that allows you to come across in the way you want, i.e. if you are not a confident person then this can help you to seem confident. Each person’s individual confidence levels differ depending on who you are with and the situation you are in. Some people will naturally have a high confidence level (a 10) whereas others have a naturally lower level (they may be a 1) and that is fine. What Bronia taught us was that you do not always have stay at your natural level but you can consciously change it according to your situation. When you are in a situation where you need to appear confident then you let your inner 10 out.
We did an exercise where we had to introduce ourselves while each us held a specific word in our mind, the word had to describe a specific characteristic or quality, and the rest of the group had to guess what that word was. I went up first to give it a go, after a few seconds I decided to hold the word ‘friendly’ in my mind as I introduced myself and to my surprise everyone guessed that my word was friendly. A few more people got up to do this and we all managed to guess their words. This is one technique I would love to convey to you all. Next time you do a presentation take a word and hold it in the back of your mind throughout the presentation and you will exhume the word you are holding.
Take home message of the blog: There are a few messages dotted throughout this blog so I’ll leave it to you to pick the one that made the most impact on you. Let me know in the comments which message made the greatest impact on you.
StreetDoctors: This amazing organisation targets young people who come into contact with violence, knife and drug crime. Volunteers go into the community to teach these young people vital life saving skills.
To read more about them go to http://streetdoctors.org/
Aspire Leadership: A great deal of credit must be given to Bronia from Aspire Leadership for inspiring me and teaching me so much.
To read more about them go to http://www.aspire-leadership.co.uk/