This morning I went for a long run in a beautiful desert city surrounded by tall mountains with a trace of snow on them. A full moon beckoned me in one direction; the gentle part of sunrise pulled me the other way. The street was empty, the air was crisp and cool, and even the birds were not awake. It was still and quite for a few precious moments, allowing me to take in my surroundings and enjoying being. Simply observing. Holding still.

It’s such a tough thing to do in our frantically paced and noisy world. So many distractions taking our minds, ears, eyes and focus off of the most important aspects of our lives: people, priorities, points of interest.

We coach our clients to be still in their body language and to be concise in their language in order to reap the benefits of stillness, of increased quiet. The impact on others and the environment it creates around you is enormous. People who are listening to you actually have a chance to think, to find the right words, to disclose more than they might have—which–to our wonderful clients who are there to help with solutions—is a good, solution-oriented thing.

I recently experienced the negative effect of not holding silence, of not keeping still. I opened a workshop and had two client managers that were to give their greetings and set corporate expectations. The first manager was spot on: concise, upbeat, to-the-point. Set the stage in 2 min. with his introduction, greeting, welcome and expectations for the group. I thought: “We are off to the races! This is great! Such a super tone set for the workshop plus I’ll have a few extra minutes to use for facilitation.” But that was before manager number two, who took two minutes and then another 20 to wander all over the place with words, ideas, concepts, perceptions, her own experiences – most of which was not relevant to the group or the content. It was painful. To watch the faces of the participants—such a polite bunch—completely loose their energy and then their interest—in this manager’s words, her and then the workshop—was blatant. Unfortunately, it created such a strong impression on me that during the three-day workshop, I limited asking this manager for any input. I was afraid where it might lead.

Holding still, keeping silence. It may sound counter-intuitive to great presentation skills, but these are really the foundational points for ensuring that others get to truly hear you, feel space around you for their own thoughts and conversation. Picture my early morning desert scene when you plan your talks: still, present, anticipation of a new beginning. Your listeners—and fellow thinkers and dialoguers—will greatly appreciate you! And you’ll gain so much insight from them in return.

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