By Gavin Meikle, Head Of Learning And Founder Of Inter-Activ

There is one thing that is absolutely essential to any effective communicator, namely the ability to be fully present in the moment.

By present I mean to have one’s awareness fully engaged in each moment of the conversation or presentation rather than being “away” somewhere else thinking about the past or the future.

This seems like such an obvious thing to say but when you recall a past conversation, how much of the time was spent fully “present”.

Here is an example. I was just typing this article when my wife called into the office and asked me to check an email she had written. In that moment, my consciousness jumped out of the present and went to the future and I imagined myself doing her job rather than finishing this post. Immediately I felt a little frustrated and annoyed. Thankfully, because I was aware of what was happening, I was able to take a breath and bring my awareness back into my body in the moment.

Immediately my frustration disappeared and I was able to continue writing this article, having agreed to take a look at her email when I was finished.

Another example might be in the middle of a presentation on a familiar subject when you find yourself thinking about what you have to do later that afternoon. Your body is in the room but your mind is jumping ahead.

Being present has a number of benefits:

- It allows us to make better decisions in the moment

- It allows us to notice our emotional triggers and choose a better response

- It allows us to easily and quickly dissolve nervous tension. Most of our fears come only when we are thinking about the future. Bring yourself back into the moment and this evaporate like the morning mist on the fields.

- It improves our listening skills — when we are fully present we can take in all relevant information before responding

Being present is an extremely simple concept, but it isn’t easy. So how do you increase your ability to be present?

- Develop your awareness: If you are not consciously aware of a behaviour you cannot change it.

- Practice acceptance: becoming aware of an unwanted behaviour can trigger a self criticism reflex. Instead, praise yourself for noticing.

- Refocus: Take a deep breath and bring your attention back to the here and now.

Practice this simple skill and it will transform your communication and your life!

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