About this body thing. It comes up in every workshop I do about speaking, networking, even the ones about women showing up in the world.
To command a room and connect with your listeners you must fully occupy the space you’re in. And to fully occupy your space, you have to be in your body.
But what does that mean exactly?
We can get nervous when we’re speaking to a group, meeting someone new, talking with a prospect, or describing our big idea in a meeting. And when we’re nervous, our energy is likely to be swirling around our head.
It creates a sort of “out of body experience.” And that makes it tough to make much of an impact, no matter who you’re talking to.
That’s why I tell my clients over and over, “Be in your body.”
I think the best way to get there is to start with your feet. You might remember when I offered step-by-step directions for being in your body—from the ground up.
But getting into your body is not a one-and-done kind of thing, according to Nia teacher Lisa Rude. Nia is a holistic fitness practice combining dance, martial arts and movement. (I take Lisa’s class in Northfield.)
Lisa says, “Getting to that authentic part of you means daily practice: moving, meditating, maybe doing yoga.”
Making that effort every day will help you “stand tall in your own shoes and present who you are,” Lisa says. “‘Cause that’s the best story you can tell. Being yourself.”
One more important piece of this being-in-your-body thing. You’d better breathe.
The Yoga Ceo Maribeth MacKenzie calls your breath “the elixir for the nervous system.”
Her suggestion: “Find your foundation and take a few grounding breaths from your feet. Visualize your inhale starting at the soles of your feet, coming all the way up through the legs, into the trunk, into the lungs and all the way up the front of the body. And then the exhale cascading all the way back down like a waterfall.”
What happens when we don’t breathe fully? Maybe you’re familiar: your blood pressure rises, your heart rate increases, you get flushed; you may lose your train of thought. In that state, you just won’t appeal to your audience as an expert and you may not even be able to get your information across.
As Maribeth puts it, “You cannot command the room if you’re not in command of yourself, grounded in your physical body and present with your breath.”
And get this. Maribeth says the inhale is a receiving and the exhale is giving. “We come into life on an inhale and our very last breath is an exhale. And every breath in between is life. So if we go in to a speaking gig and hold our breath, we’re not ready to give.”
I’d say that applies as well to a conversation with a client, a meeting with your team, and all kinds of situations in your personal life. When you’re grounded in your body and breathing fully, you are ready to give.
And when you exude that kind of energy, the people around you are energized as well. Your clients, your customers, even your kids are more likely to respond to what you say when you’re grounded and present—and breathing.
That’s natural when there’s an exchange of energy. In fact, it may be that you’re more in your body now than you were before, just because you’ve been reading about it. Post a comment about your experience.
Reading this made me flash back to a session in your office that was devoted to getting me to adopt “body language” appropriate for an applicant in a job interview. After sitting behind your desk and telling me what to do for a few minutes, you jumped up, came over to where I was sitting, and started moving arms, legs, etc. around as if I were a Barbie Doll. “THERE,” you finally proclaimed. “NOW you look like someone who believes in himself.” I still think back about how you posed me before appointments. Do you remember that session?
Bruce, I do remember you, but I don’t remember treating you like a human Barbie, well, maybe we should make it KEN doll. Sounds like something I might do, though. Sometimes words aren’t enough and “show” works better than “tell.” Glad we’re still in touch!