After a truly inspirational weekend at the Landsiedel NLP-Conference, I’m still absorbing and integrating the many impressions and learnings. It’s always captivating to get together with like-minded, positively-oriented individuals with great ideas and great ways to implement them. Fascinating is also the diverse presentational styles of the trainers. Since that’s my special interest and my specialty, I predictably focused strongly on the commonalities. One strong commonality is how presenters, either experienced or novice, go from being in an “on-a-roll” mode to a tentative/uncertain mode and back again. Without a doubt, experienced presenters are much more subtle in their ‘tells’ for uncertainty and maneuver themselves much more quickly back into ‘on-a-roll”. But if you watch closely enough, it’s there, the uncertainty. It’s there in the face. It’s there in the body and it’s there in the voice.
I know for myself when presenting, training or teaching, that line between ‘on-a-roll’ and tentativeness is often very thin. Trainers all seek security when training. Trainers all seek spontaneity when training. This is often a ‘back and forth’. Security is, in part, that sense that you know what you want to say in the order you want to say it. Spontaneity is that sense that it’s flowing out of you by itself, like a river. Too much security and your audience falls asleep. Too much spontaneity and your talk is unstructured and unsatisfying, no matter how charismatic. How can we get the best of both? Every trainer has a different answer to that question. Some use PowerPoint to keep structure in their lecture. Others use flip charts. Still others carry cards with bullet points to be sure to remember what they want to say next and not wander off. Others use mental notes or linguistic anchors. Most combine all of the above plus some not mentioned. The key here is finding your own personal style and allowing it to evolve over time and context. This takes practice and this takes training.
My personal passion and specialty focus is how the voice is a link between tentativeness and ‘on-a-roll’, between security and spontaneity. When the voice (and with it, of course, the breath, body alignment, autonomic nervous system, mimic and gesture) is aligned and balanced, the shift between tentativeness/insecurity and spontaneity/on-a-roll is a joyful dance.
The good news here is; if you ‘fake it’ for a while it becomes real. We Americans like to say; “Fake it til you make it!” A lot of people interpret that as something you need to do for years til you ‘make it’. My reading lives in a shorter time frame. A lot of the ‘fake it’ we see in presentations, especially from Americans or those who’ve trained there, has a lot of what Germans call; “Chaka-Chaka”, an exaggerated, phony, somewhat uncomfortable overcompensation. It overcompensates for a felt insecurity and when exaggerated, evokes discomfort in the listener.
“Fake it til you make it” in a more positive sense is what NLPler call an ‘as-if frame’. “The Philosophy of ‘As-If’ was written by Hans Vaihinger around the turn of the last century.
It’s not a big stretch to relate this Vaihinger quote to one of our NLP pre-assumptions: Korzibski’s “The Map is not the Territory!” Practically speaking, this means that often, although we don’t ‘feel’ secure or charismatic, if we ‘behave’ “As-If” we were, our internal maps orient themselves rapidly in this direction and it becomes real. In other words, within a short amount of time; we “Make It!” This is of profound importance to beginning trainers. So often we wait until we’re in flow to generate positive feelings about ourselves. With this ‘as-if’ tool, we no longer have to wait.
I recently did a seminar for young instrumentalists in mental training. There was a young and very talented guitarist who suffered from stage fright at every performance and audition. His pulse would race, he had trouble releasing extraneous muscle tension and his hands would shake. Needless to say, not the ideal condition for a guitarist. After 2 to 4 minutes, he’d go into an optimal flow and play like a young god. I asked him what kind of inner images, sounds and feelings accompanied his stage fright and what images, sounds and feelings accompanied his flow state. Predictably, they were profoundly different. Then I asked him to superimpose the images/sound/feelings from flow state into his pre-play preparation. Of course he started playing closer to his own optimum. I asked him how that was for him and he replied: “of course I feel much better, but I absolutely cannot feel like that about my playing before I begin!” When I asked him why, he replied that he hadn’t earned it yet. When I asked him the loaded question; “Even if you knew for a certainty that you’d play better, feel better, serve the music better and satisfy your audience more, right from the beginning, you still would not allow yourself this positive state?”, he answered; “NO!” When I asked the audience, all young instrumentalists, how many felt that way as well, about half raised their hands! After I picked my jaw up from the floor, I requested that we practice the skill anyway, just in case at a later time he felt differently and thought he could use it. Of course I was hoping his body would talk him into it. This was a lesson for me. There is such an emphasis on honesty and authenticity sometimes, that ‘faking it’ seems almost immoral. As Mr. Spock would say; “Fascinating!”
Everyone chooses for themselves, of course, but I hope I’ve made it clear that there are significant advantages to calibrating your own personal ‘fake it’ strategy to improve your presentational skills. If you run out of new ideas, just call me. As I said, that’s my special interest. For more information on group courses, please see:
It would be my pleasure to help develop YOUR own voice and training potential on 19-20.Oktober, 2015 in Kitzingen.
Enormous thanks to all the trainers who contributed their time and talents at last weekends’ conference:
Nadin Meloth, Michael Reinhardt, Gabriele Eckert, Rainer Perlick, Ralf Stumpf, Rolf Lutterbeck, Nike Roos, Ray Wilkins, Isa-Bianka Mack, Julian Mack, Marcus Kämmerer, Jörg Schneider, Stefan Vossbruch.
I learned from you all and am looking forward to more!