There’s so much to say about the fifth of the six things every great communicator does: remembering to work with and be centered in your body.
Speaking can be incredibly scary. You must honor your body’s fear and proactively deal with it.
Wendy Palmer and Janet Crawford’s book Leadership Embodiment: How the Way We Sit and Stand Can Change the Way We Think and Speak has some fantastic practical solutions, as well as a great explanation of what’s going on neurologically. Ever been tongue tied and utterly incapable of remembering what you’re supposed to say next? You can thank your amygdala for that. As Palmer says, “In stressful situations, the body always wins.”
So what to do? Don’t try to calm yourself by using your mind. Work directly with your body. Leadership Embodiment offers several great options for grounding and centering practices – some as short as five seconds. And the more you practice centering yourself in your body, the easier it will be to do it in real time when you fill with adrenaline in front of a crowd.
Amy Cuddy (pictured above) is another fantastic resource. Her TED talk on using your body to change your mind is simply remarkable. It’s 21 minutes of fascinating research and powerful conclusions. Amy says, “Our bodies change our minds. Our minds change our behavior. Our behavior changes our outcomes.” Taking two minutes to stand in a power pose (she gives plenty of examples) alters your hormones, which alters how you feel, which then alters how you can behave. Go try it right now.
Most importantly, when you work directly with your body, you develop presence. Presence is the magical energy that helps you calmly and gracefully bring your true self to whatever you’re communicating. Presence is the foundation for genuine, approachable confidence. When you have graceful, grounded presence, you’re a pleasure to hear.