Three key factors which reduce speaking stress

Studying 'stress hardiness' research is part of what I do to help clients become more resilient presenters; and there's been a lot of interesting work done in this area over the past nearly 40 years by two psychologists, Salvatore Maddi and Suzanne Kobasa. They've worked with 1000's of  Control, commitment and challenge - key factors which reduce speaking stress professionals and have found three critical factors in resilient people. Resilience shows up when people go through life stressors and come out the other side showing the ability to grow and thrive. (Whereas non-resilient people suffer physical and/or mental ill-health.) These three critical...

Bad Presentations – What’s the Biggest Problem?

Bad presentations: I've been reminded recently of a observation by Scott Berkun, a writer and speaker who's spoken at conferences all over the world. Scott's also written a great book 'Confessions of a Public Speaker'. One of the ideas in his book is something I totally agree with. Burkun says:  "The problem with most bad presentations I see is not the speaking, the slides, the visuals, or any of the things people obsess about.  Instead, it's the lack of thinking." You'd probably agree that this is true. No amount of being polished and eloquent with beautiful slides will save you if...

The Best Tool to Engage an Audience?

The best tool to engage an audience Updated 2019 What's our best tool to engage an audience? Assuming that our goal when presenting is to communicate well enough that our audience understands our message and can act on it. For this to happen of course, we need initially to get their attention. And this audience interest needs to happen almost straight away, or they'll drift, and we may not get them back again. (Smartphones are always beckoning!) So how do we get their attention? One great way is to: Create curiosity. Hopefully I did that with the title of this blog post! If you're reading...

Public Speaking Mistakes I’ve Made

Public Speaking Mistakes I've Made I've made many public speaking mistakes: especially in the early days, when I was feeling my way and still learning what worked and what didn't. So today I thought I'd give you three mistakes that I used to make - mistakes which threw up roadblocks for my audiences and stopped me being as engaging and professional as I wanted. Hopefully by sharing these errors, it might help you to avoid making them yourself! public speaking mistakes Mistake No. 1: too much content Cramming too much content into your talk: this one took me a long time to learn...

Audience Brains Need Structure When You Speak In Public

Audience brains need structure when you speak in public Audiences Need a Speech Structure What's one thing that your audience really needs from you when you speak in public? A structure. It's so important to give them a clear order for your content. Our brains are pattern-making machines. We're constantly scanning new information for patterns which we can relate to our current knowledge base; we subconsciously try to create a logic by comparing and sorting information. If there's no logic, we'll be unhappy, even though we may not consciously know why. (Of course, if the presentation we've just sat through was obviously...

9 Mistakes Presenters Make

9 Mistakes Presenters Make Mistakes Presenters Make Do you want to be a more dynamic presenter? You will be if you avoid these frequent mistakes. I've discussed all of these ideas in previous articles, but thought it was worth clustering them together for a 'common mistakes' overview.  1. Forgetting the WIIFM filter  One of the most common mistakes that presenters make is forgetting to run their whole presentation through their audience’s No.1 filter – and that is always WIIFM (what’s in it for me?)  From the moment you open your mouth, to the summing-up, you’re being judged through this filter, and in...

Two Great Ways to Open your Talk, Especially if you’re Nervous

Make your Audience Think to Focus and Engage Them The opening of your presentation is often the part where you're most nervous or self-conscious. You're faced with pairs of eyes looking at you, the audience feels like it's one big stare, and you're not enjoying the sudden attention. What can you do to take some of the unwanted focus off yourself, and create an engaging, effective start to your speech? Here are two ways which really work: Make a statement Ask a question Keep reading, because I probably haven't convinced you that these ideas are all that startling or great just  yet! I'll explain why...

7 Ways NOT to Open your Presentation

The opening of your talk is crucial: your main goal is to capture your audience's attention and show them why they should listen to you. It also sets the tone and direction of your presentation. This is often the time where you're most edgy, and the audience is most focused on you, so you don't want to get it wrong! So with that mind, here are some suggestions for what NOT to do at the opening of your speech. With these tips, I'm assuming that you're speaking to a group for the first time, or one which you don't know...

As a presenter, should you be interesting, or interested?

Be an interested presenter, not interesting When I was younger I used to worry that I was never interesting enough as a person; I was quite shy, and never one of the cool girls...and I used to fret that I had nothing special or exciting to say socially. Well one of the great things I've found about getting older is that I've become pretty comfortable with who I am - and I no longer worry when presenting to groups that I'm not an interesting or dynamic enough speaker. I know that my content is solid, and that the right audience...

My CRISPER Formula for Good Public Speaking

CRISPER Formula for Good Public Speakers People often ask me "what makes a good public speaker?" And on my journey from dreadful to competent presenter, I've done a lot of thinking about this - as well as working with all my clients. A couple of years ago I had fun (yes, I'm quirky like that!) creating an acronym for good presenters which I still like: the CRISPER formula. I would be fairly certain that even if you think you’re not a good speaker, when you read the list below you’ll find that you already exhibit one or more of these 7 skills when you...