My drama school teacher once told me that in every scene of a play or a movie, there is a battle. He put it like this: ‘Imagine that every time you speak you are trying to move the fridge. First it might be pushing with your hands, then leaning in with your full body weight, then finally pushing against it with all your might. At some point at the fridge is moved, or not moved, and the scene ends.’
When it comes to speaking, it is time to imagine you are trying to move the fridge. When you are speaking, every line you say is a greater attempt at doing so. You need to have a mindset that refuses to give in until it is moved. Here are seven ways to move the fridge.
Warm up before the day begins and then remind your body of this superpower just before you speak. When you warm up, you are limbering up your fridge-moving muscles. You are going in prepared. Here is a video about posture — try and embed this into your day: https://bit.ly/amplifyposture
Visualise your entire presentation. If you are doing this in person, find a bathroom. Sit on the toilet seat, plant your feet on the floor and close your eyes. If you are online, take a moment to sit in your seat and do the same thing. Then take no more than a minute to visualise yourself delivering your presentation — beginning, middle, and end. Picture your arms moving and your posture changing. What does it feel like to finish with a smile? Your imagination is so powerful that, when you go to present, your brain will say, ‘Oh yes, I have been here before’ and the fridge will become so much easier to move.
Fill out your presentation with stories. A story is always a safe space: from presenting to answering questions. As soon as you lose story and move to the defensive, you lose your grip on the fridge. It’s like your operating system shuts down. Back it up — go in prepared not only with your presentation but with a few anecdotes. When someone interrupts to ask a question, repeat the question to give you time so you can pivot to a story. You need connection before content. This will give you both.
Shorten your sentences. Daniel Kahneman says when we speak in long sentences, the audience’s brain does not trust us. When we speak in short sentences it does. Imagine that with every short sentence you are getting closer to moving that fridge to where you want it to go and with every long sentence you are fighting a losing battle.
Simplify your sentences. Now they are short, ,you will find that they have to be simple. You can only include so many words, and a lot of them will naturally be full of picture. This is good not bad — this is actually making it simple. Steve Jobs made the launch of the iPhone incredibly easy to understand by keeping it simple.
Tell, don’t ask. Most people say, ‘Let me tell you what we have achieved.’ Whenever a client does that to me I say, ‘No! I won’t!’ Why are you asking for permission? Just tell the’m, like this: ‘I’m going to show you what we can achieve in the next six weeks if we green-light this project.’
Delight in what you are saying. I said to a client last week: ‘You sound like you want to kill me. Could you sound like you would like to cook for me?’ One face is a face of pain and misery, one face is a face of delight and joy — of sharing your hard work. Generally you can’t smile enough. And it will release the energy.
If you can live out these seven practices you will shift your mind into a great place and find a lot more room to play. Then the story-telling genius will erupt from you!