06 Jun Control and Relax Your Audience

relaxAre you someone who presents at conferences or meetings; trains people to develop skills, beahviours and attitudes; coaches team members; or facilitates meetings regularly?

Have you ever found yourself sitting in the audience at a meeting or conference presentation wondering: ‘what credentials and experience does this speaker have?’, ‘what’s the agenda and scope of this meeting?’, ‘how long is this going to go for and will there be catering?’ and ‘when can I ask questions or raise my concerns and opinions?’ to name just a few questions we can have.

As a presenter, have you ever had people interrupt during your meetings with unrelated questions that take you down a path you don’t want to go?

Or have you experienced people having side conversations that disrupt the rest of the group and draw people’s attention away from you as the presenter? In fact, one of the most common disruptive behaviours is mobile phones ringing and/or blackberry reading. For many of us these interruptions can be very annoying and can even make us feel nervous – especially when we don’t know how to manage them or stop them happening in the first place.

You know, most inappropriate behaviour that occurs in meetings, training and presentation occurs due to a lack of boundary setting. When, as the presenter, we don’t set the boundaries for our audience, they don’t know the scope, timeframe, logistics or anything about our experience and our credentials, and they also are not sure of what would be considered acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. As a result, we can find ourselves having to manage what I call ‘dysfunctional’ behaviour.

It is very important to set the ground rules and boundaries for our audiences. We can do this using a ‘tool’ called Framing. It is a technique we use to lay down the rules so that people know who you are, what your session is all about, what to expect and how to behave.

Framing reduces disruptions , maintains order in your meetings and increases engagement for your audience.

What is framing?

Here is an example of a name frame, role frame, company frame, credentials frame, style frame, questions frame and phone frame.

‘My name is Michelle Bowden. I am the Director of Michelle Bowden Enterprises. In the many years I have specialised in the area of presentation skills I have learnt that anyone can be an exceptional presenter, no matter their personality or personal style. It’s just a matter of knowing what you are supposed to do to be great and then practicing it! This is going to be an interactive session so please ask your questions throughout, and if you could switch your mobile phone to silent that would be wonderful for your colleagues.’

When should you frame?

The majority of your frames should occur after you have built rapport with your audience in your opening statements. In my programs and in my book How to Present, I teach it as step 5 of the 13 Steps to Exceptional Presentation Design – my steps 1 – 4 including building rapport through language and motivating the audience. And, of course, you can also frame where you need to throughout your presentation.

What happens if you don’t frame?

If you don’t frame, people will be left wondering what’s going on. They will be distracted by their internal dialogue asking questions that are unanswered, and they may behave dysfunctionally.

When you do frame everyone knows where they stand so they are relaxed and under control! This means you are more likely to maximise the likelihood of achieving your desired outcomes.

So try some framing in the beginning of your presentations today – it definitely works! Good luck!