“Imagine your way to a better presentation?” If you are thinking I’m crazy, I get it. That sounds fluffy and idealistic, right? But visualization, using your mind to imagine a certain scenario, isn’t just for athletes looking to improve their performance.
Let me share some encouraging research with you which demonstrates how much control our brains have over our bodies. Visualization is a powerful practice with great potential to help us become better presenters.
The Brain-Body Connection
Dr. Norman Doidge has been studying fascinating tales of what the human brain is capable of accomplishing. In his book, The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science, he gives an explanation of why imagining and actually physically experiencing something aren’t that different to your brain. He says, “One reason we can change our brains simply by imagining is that, from a neuroscientific point of view, imagining an act and doing it are not as different as they sound . . . Brain scans show that in action and imagination many of the same parts of the brain are activating. That is why visualizing can improve performance.”
But the thing that really convinced me was a study he cites by Drs. Guang Yue and Kelly Cole. They tested the strength imagining had on our bodies and here’s what they found. The research group who physically exercised a finger muscle increased muscular strength in that finger by 30%. Nothing surprising there. However, the group who only imagined exercising that muscle still improved muscular strength in that finger by 22%. So there was only an 8% difference in those who actually completed the exercise versus those who used visualization to imagine exercising.
Visualize Giving a Presentation
So how can this help with public speaking? It means we can get public speaking experience via our brains. Imagining ourselves giving a speech can activate our brains and bodies the way actually doing it would. It’s not a complete or perfect substitute, but it is another strategy we can use. So here’s how to imagine your way to a better presentation.
Start by finding a quiet place where you can concentrate without being disturbed. If you know what the setting of your presentation looks like, picture yourself in the actual room. Call up as many details as you can, engaging all of your senses. Imagine yourself moving to the front of the room. Picture an actual audience and imagine you are smiling at them and they are smiling back. Then, walk through your presentation. You can speak it out loud, or just imagine more generally moving through the main parts of the presentation. Then picture wrapping up your presentation with confidence and the audience responding with enthusiasm.
According to Forbes, imagining practices are also used by surgeons and police officers to help reduce stress. And they have proven to be effective. So there’s no question that visualization can help us become better presenters, too. It’s time to visualize your success!
Ethos3 can help you take your presentation to the next level. Find out how.