Author - Sarah Denholm

Overcoming Fear of Public Speaking: Playing at the Edges of your Comfort Zone

Stretching your comfort zone edges I've recently gone back to yoga classes after a break of 10 years or so, and one thing about doing the poses which confused me initially, was knowing how to distinguish between intensity during a stretch versus discomfort or pain. Intensity is another word for energy flow, and that's what you're after in yoga, and public speaking. But where does intensity tip over into negative, unhelpful territory, and how can you stop that from happening? The solution, I've found, is learning how to "play at the edges" of my comfort zone, my limits, without going too...

A Tip to Stop Self-Doubts Before You Go On Stage

Phoenietzsche via Flickr A client asked me recently about how to stop the fearful, negative thoughts which kick in like clockwork in the hours before she has to present. You probably know how she feels: so unhelpful, isn't it?! And while there are a few different ways to tackle this issue, there's a practical strategy - which I'll share in a moment - which I've been  using successfully with my speaking clients. I've also used it myself for years, before giving a keynote talk or playing in a high-pressure concert. And as I've been planning this article - while working my way...

Respect, And How to Stay Calm When Challenged

We've come to the 7th and final skill in my C.R.I.S.P.E.R formula for good speaking (see 7 skills of every good speaker for an overview). Today's skill is Respect, which we show in different ways when we're in charge of a group: by respecting  others' opinions and time, and ensuring we've done enough preparation. In fact respect is my number one attitudinal goal when dealing with audiences; and it's especially important to focus on if you're challenged by an audience member. I always aim to respond respectfully to comments and to remember  - not always easy in the heat of the moment -...

How to Practise Your Presentation: Practical Tips (And What Not To Do)

Group of Practice Golf Balls - vorakorn There are many different ways to prepare: today I'm going to talk about practising your talk in the outer world, but working with your inner world  - using mental rehearsal and relaxation techniques - are also important if you're nervous. Practising can help in showing you: what you need to fix in order to make your talk flow logically what you need to edit for clarity the possibilities for connection with your audience when you know your material so well that you get out of your own head how to feel more confident and comfortable (see my previous article on the neuroscience...

Low-Energy Speaker? 3 Simple Ways to Rev Yourself Up

Smithsonian via Flickr We've come to the 6th of 7 essential skills of a good speaker in my C.R.I.S.P.E.R formula (see here for the overview article). The 6th skill is energy. When we speak in front of others, we need energy. Not bouncing off the walls, but enough the audience doesn't 'tune out' in front of us, but instead get carried along with our energy. Enough that they can get our message not only through our words, but through how our body and face communicate with them. An audience takes their cue from us. "Life begets life, energy begets energy. It is by spending oneself...

Practising Your Presentation: Why Don’t You Do It Properly?

Practising your presentation I've learned over my years of experience both as a speaker and a Classical pianist, that fear about an upcoming talk - or concert - is simply telling me to prepare: to get ready for the event. To give you an example:  when I was much younger and more foolish, I was booked to give a presentation on the 'art of performing in business' to a management team. I was using PowerPoint for the first time, and turned up to try a foreign laptop  in the hour before the actual presentation... I wasn't even familiar with using a laptop! I became more and...

3 Great Reasons From Neuroscience To Practise Your Presentation

Neurons in the brain: Dr Jonathan Clarke Today's post covers 3 great reasons to practise your presentation, taken from neuro-scientific research. Practice is No. 5 in my C.R.I.S.P.E.R series of good speaking skills (these skills are: being Clear, Relevant, Insightful, Succinct, Practised, Energetic and Respectful - the overview article is here).   Reason No. 1: thicker neural pathways create precision and certainty Every time you practise your presentation (indeed, anything: it could be your golf swing, or a piece of music), you're creating a thicker, stronger neural pathway for the subject in your brain, as the bundles of fibres become more dense - they end...

Be Succinct: Public Speaking without the Clutter

public speaking: be succinct Is your talk too ‘cluttered’ for your audience to act on? These structure tips will help. A few years ago I was looking at houses to buy, and visited properties that were ‘open for inspection’. At one house, the outside looked very appealing, well cared for and with a great garden. The real estate agent greeted me at the front door, saying “letting you know that tenants are still living here”. The front door swung open to reveal the most cluttered home that I have ever seen -  there was stuff everywhere! Not mess, just an overwhelming amount of...

Overcoming Fear of Speaking by Choosing a New Inner Landscape

Bluebell Wood - Rob Wiltshire I've just read a great article about procrastination from Timothy Pychyl in Psychology Today  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/dont-delay/201003/procrastination-feeling-overwhelmed-helpless-and-ready-run-away where he talks about the wave of negativity that can overwhelm us when we sit down to a difficult task, and how learning to cope with this wave of mixed emotions is crucial in order to succeed at our goals. I mention the article on this blog because Pychyl's way of dealing with the negativity involves choosing to stand in a different space in his mind. This concept is something I use with clients around public speaking fear, so I thought...

Pitching your Idea: Clarity and Inspiration from Starbucks CEO

How's this for clarity of words and vision when doing a sales pitch? When CEO of Starbucks Howard Schultz was pitching to investors in the late 80's the idea of setting up coffee shops in the U.S. he didn't focus on the coffee. He said this instead: "we're going to build a 3rd place between work and home." Now that's an inspiring, big-picture concept. If you pitch ideas or products for a living, can you come up with your own big-picture concept that gets you inspired? Because if you're not excited, it's hard for your prospects to get revved up about...