Public Speaking and Presentation Skills Blog

Resources to improve your public speaking and presentation skills.

Smile Styles Send Signals When Communicating

Smiling when we communicate. Seems simple, doesn’t it? I used to think so! Yet our 'smile styles' send signals when communicating. And while I don't want to over-complicate things, there are definitely some signals that you want to be aware of, if you're not already. These can apply whether you're communicating to a group, or 1:1. Smile Styles We don’t just smile to convey happiness or warmth of course...we do polite, nervous, embarrassed, ingratiating or submissive smiles too (and more). Some consequences and pitfalls of our different ‘smile styles’: Smiling too little or not at all.  We may forget to smile when it would be a...

Should you speak to your audience as a group or individuals?

Today’s topic is an important word choices distinction that can make a big difference to how your audience engages with you. Should you speak to your audience as a group or individuals? It matters especially at the start when you first speak - remember that your opening words are often what make people decide to listen to you or not. And this technique can also be important as you go through your content. Let me illustrate it with an example. I recently signed up for a newsletter from a US global influencer, originally known for the 4-Hour workweek, Tim Ferriss. Some of the emails I've been receiving as a...

Adding Silence When you Speak – Don’t Stuff Your Audience

How well do you get on with adding silence when you speak to groups? It's not always easy to do, and something I've had to learn and still occasionally remind myself about. I used to cram my talks full of content and worry about running out of time. If you can separate your presentation or talk from you and see it as a living, external entity - it needs space to breathe. So do you. (Especially if you're nervous; even though it's counter-intuitive and all you want to do is get the whole thing over with.) And so does your audience. Let's talk specific timeframes If...

For Influence and Confidence, Question Lazy Labels

For influence, question lazy labels We label and put people and ideas into boxes all the time: and we need to. These short-cuts for our brain are vital to let us get on with our day without stopping to second-guess ourselves. And it's much faster to label than to try to understand. However, by their very nature these labels stop us from thinking more deeply and being curious. And if you follow me regularly you'll know that I believe curiosity to be a major super-power for successful communication. The good news is that avoiding or questioning these label shortcuts can be a major...

Your truth or universal truth, get to the point, and a self-worth reminder

1. To influence: are you speaking a universal truth, or your own? If as a presenter we generalise about things that aren't true for our audience, they'll usually disconnect, and the opportunity to influence disappears. And if you think this doesn't apply to you, it's worth a check-in: it's surprisingly common. Some sentence starters to be aware of when you speak: “We all appreciate that…” – are you sure? “Of course you know…” – do we? “We’ve all felt/done/heard…” – have we? Any of these can create a barrier between speaker and audience. If I feel “you’re not talking to me” , you lose me. The...

To influence have an opinion, virtual speaking engagement, and how to feel more confident

I. Influencing others when you speak To be influential when you communicate or present you need opinions, and you need to share them. (Tone and context are hugely important too of course - and for today's tip, I'm assuming they're appropriately in place!) Too often in my work, I see people with great knowledge and credibility who still prefer to deliver only information and hide their opinion or recommendation. This is a completely understandable – it's a lot safer to fly under the radar than voice ideas out loud to people who matter, or who have power over us – we're afraid...

Unconscious Speaking Habits May Be Holding You Back

Are you aware of what you do with your hands, or if you use many filler words (like, um, you know) when communicating? And that these unconscious speaking habits may be holding you back? Most people aren't that aware - and this is often a good thing! We have enough to do to get through each day without finding something else to work on, let's face it. And a few filler works like 'um' aren't an issue. (The problem comes when they multiply and become a barrier for the listener.) Likewise with gesturing. We gesture to help us think, and it's important...

Communication Challenge: Avoid Empty Phrases When You Communicate

A frequent challenge when speaking is to avoid adding empty phrases when you communicate. And there are a few popular ones doing the rounds at the moment which, in my view, weaken and dilute the message you're trying to convey. Avoid Empty Phrases When You Communicate When we want to get a point across at work, whether in a conversation, meeting or presentation, it's important to be clear and crisp (unless, of course, we're trying to create a smokescreen or divert attention from something undesirable!). And there are some empty phrases which just bloat our communication. Here's a recent quote from a high-level...

Communication Challenge: Talking Too Much When Trying to Convince

Talking too much when trying to convince or persuade others. Does this communication style sound like you? Talking too much when trying to convince! In my experience there are common reasons for talking too much, especially when trying to convince or persuade others. Here are 8 - see if you recognise yourself in one or more: You don't trust in the merit of your ideas (my last post on this is here) and are trying to convince yourself - even more than your listeners. You may think that if you just keep talking, something will click and work out. How many sales...

Communication Challenge: Not Fully Trusting Your Own Ideas

Do you ever diminish yourself or your abilities? A real communication challenge comes from not fully trusting your own ideas. There are many ways we can short-change ourselves when we communicate our ideas - whether that's to one person or a big audience. Today I'm talking about a common issue, with more to come in future posts. Not trusting our ideas fully enough. This one's particularly for you if you're in the business of creating change, influencing or persuading others. Not trusting in the power of our ideas to make a difference in the world is often the biggest internal block we have...