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Public Speaking Like Facing a Firing Squad? One Client’s Belief

What would you answer, if I asked you to complete this statement: “speaking in public is like____________________”? Public Speaking Like a Firing Squad?  A new client, let’s call her Alice, was telling me recently that when she first entered her (particularly male-dominated) area of academia 30 years ago, giving a presentation was known amongst her peers as “facing the firing squad”. The audience would lean eagerly towards Alice, armed and ready to rip apart every assertion she made.  And 30 years later, Alice still feels this way - only now, she’s moved into a new area where the audience is waiting with...

Creating a New Speech: 7 Tips To Get You Started

Do you have to write your own speeches or talks? Ever struggled to get going? I used to spend far too long getting a first draft out of my head (weeks, months anyone?) until I learned these tips: Mind mapping is a great way to begin generating content; it's a method which uses the brain’s natural tendency to create patterns and connections, and frees you up to just get your initial ideas down on paper/screen.  I use it all the time now. Here's how to do it: start with a large sheet of paper (if you're using paper); as large as you can handle...

Power posing: how it can help with your presentation skills

Power Pose 2010 This weekend I had some spare time and went to TED.com to explore new videos of some of the best speeches in the world today. If you haven't been aware of TED before, it stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, starting life as a conference in 1984. It's now one of the best learning tools for any aspiring speaker. I found a brilliant speech - recently posted - by Amy Cuddy, who is a social scientist at Harvard Business School, and I couldn't wait to share it with you! In Amy's 20 minute speech (most TED talks are about...

Introvert? 4 Ways to Blast Through your Resistance to Presenting in Public

If you're an introvert, you may struggle to speak in public and plan to avoid it whenever you can; getting up in front of a group can seem like an insurmountable hurdle if you tend to avoid the spotlight. Yet you may need or want to present well; you have ideas to share, and it really bothers you that you don't feel competent at presenting. If you want to be able to get up and speak but feel as though you're fighting yourself as it's happening, it's worth knowing this (I discovered this concept through Susan Cain's writing; her book...

Is Presenting a Conversation or a Performance?

Dialogue Bubble - digitalart What's your take on presenting: conversation or performance? Let me tell you about an experience I had recently. I went to a networking breakfast in the city, on a dark, wintry Monday morning: it was hard to get out of bed, but I was looking forward to the event because I enjoy meeting new people, and the guest speaker sounded good. He was someone who'd pushed himself to the limits in adventure travel, even seen death. A man whose tales of leadership would surely be inspiring and interesting. Yet from the moment he came onto the stage and began...

Practising Your Speech – how much is enough?

mtsofan via Flickr Working with a client this week during an individual coaching session, we were putting the finishing touches on a 5 minute speech he was preparing for a formal family celebration dinner. Ed had written a script which we first edited to create a logical flow; we then worked on humour, pacing and engaging delivery methods. I ended the session by suggesting that he practise the speech at least 5 times before the big night, just over a week away. Ed was astonished. He had never considered practising his speech - let alone my suggestion of a minimum of 5...

How to change your negative beliefs about speaking: 5 step plan

Choosing new beliefs I sometimes work with clients who have seen themselves as poor speakers for a long time, often many years. They may turn up for coaching or come along to one of my courses with the attitude of "well I'll give this a go, but it won't really change anything". Our beliefs run our lives - they underlie how we relate to the world. But you don't have to feel so stuck around public speaking, and you don't have to sabotage yourself by letting your past experience dictate the present moment. Sometimes I think that we over-complicate things...so with...

Want Greater Charisma When You Speak? Have Certainty

  When we speak in front of others, our goal is usually to get them to take action or think differently. We're offering them something -  ourselves and our message; an actual product or service. The audience will take their cue from us, and we need to be certain and congruent in our words, our body language and our energy to convince them. And the more we can do this, the more charismatic we'll be. Today we're going to look at using words to be more charismatic: if you're uncertain about your message, or lack confidence, you'll retreat to the perceived safety of...

Using Peripheral Vision Impacts your Public Speaking

plotting your imaginary graph Using your peripheral vision - opening out your vision field to its very edges - is a helpful tool to feel more relaxed, open and ‘spacious’ in front of a group (or indeed whenever you want to feel that way). How often do you do the opposite? This is pretty much the opposite of what we commonly do during the day: think about how often we might focus in on the computer screen, T.V., piece of paper, or even when we’re talking to someone. Why you need to practise It’s important to practise expanding our vision field, because it’s not an...

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...