Practising your Speech: your Most FAQ

Practising - your FAQ As a professionally trained pianist, practice has been part of my life since I was 6 years old. Time-consuming and often tedious, it's the focused, detailed work which makes going out on stage possible - a Classical musician wouldn't even contemplate walking out in front of a group without practising beforehand. Yet speakers frequently neglect this vital part of building confidence and professionalism, and a big part of the reason why seems to be lack of knowledge about what works around practice and what doesn't. So here's my FAQ list for you: What should be my practice goals? To...

How Mastering Discomfort Can Set You Free to Speak in Public

Mastering discomfort can set you free Speaking in public is confronting for most people. It can bring up all sorts of uncomfortable emotions and physical symptoms, which of course you'd rather avoid. But if what you want to achieve is outside your comfort zone, then inevitably there will be discomfort - or outright fear -  in getting there: "Discomfort brings engagement and change. Discomfort means you're doing something that others were unlikely to do, because they're hiding out in the comfort zone." - Seth Godin And if you're someone who's struggled through times in your life where you were really uncomfortable or afraid,...

5 Excuses Which Stop you Getting Help to Improve your Speaking Skills

Excuses which stop you from getting help to improve your speaking skills [Updated 2020] Are you letting your fears about speaking in public stop you from getting the help you need to improve your speaking skills? Change is hard, as we all know. We're designed to avoid doing anything which frightens us, hard-wired this way to ensure our survival. You can overcome speaking fear...the hardest part is just starting. My mother-in-law was dying (she was 97) when I originally wrote this post in 2013 - and seven years later, I believe that the ideas in it still resonate. It was such a privilege to...

How to Build Confidence When Public Speaking and Presenting

Confidence Building What do you believe about building confidence around your speaking skills? Here is what I've found to be true: confidence is simply the expectation of a positive outcome. There are all sorts of possible definitions of confidence, but I like this one; it's clear, and boiled down to its essence. So how, you may be asking, do you build that expectation of a positive outcome?  In 2 ways: 1. You take action in the outside world 2. You take care with your self-talk in the inner world Let's have a look at these 2 elements - which may be simple, but they aren't...

Mind-trick That Can Help With Public Speaking Fear

Here's a mind-trick for public speaking fear that many of my clients have found very useful. Imagine that you've just given a talk and it's gone well. You're now successfully on the other side of it, and have just been congratulated by your boss...or you phone your friend and tell them that it went well. This mind-trick - imagining that you've already successfully presented your talk - can work really well to counteract the negative, pessimistic thoughts or images which will inevitably surface at some point before you get up to speak (unless you're a supremely confident speaker, in which...

6 ways you can short-change yourself when you speak in public

Ways You Can Short-change Yourself When Speaking In Public In my work I frequently see clients unintentionally diminish and short-change themselves as they communicate. I’ve also done some of these things myself! Because our listeners take their cue from us as we speak, it’s vital not to let unhelpful habits cloud our message. So, what can go wrong, and how can you fix it? Here are some pitfalls and solutions: 1. Not trusting your ideas fully enough. Not trusting in the power of your ideas to make a difference in the world is often the biggest internal block to overcome. Believe that you have...

Need to motivate yourself? What’s better, self-esteem or self-compassion?

Trying to rev yourself up to improve your speaking skills? There has been some interesting research done recently into what helps you to feel better about yourself: self-esteem or self-compassion? Psychological studies are finding that self-compassion - being kind to yourself - is more effective than high self-esteem when it comes to helping people to make changes in their lives. Wisdom Compassion Kindness ~db~ via Flickr When you want to see new possibilities, to motivate yourself to make changes and take action in the outer world, self-esteem isn't all it's cracked up to be. A study by Kristin Neff from the University...

How to Positively Change Your Expectations for Speaking Success

In my last post I talked about how the expectations you set for yourself around your public speaking can really influence whether or not you achieve the results you're after: the article is here if you missed it. And I suggested that according to the latest brain research - and what I've seen work for clients and myself - is this: Aim very high long-term, and low, short-term.  Today I'm giving you a plan which you can try the next time you're stressing out about your presentation and want to change your brain state to reduce your expectations to something more...

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...

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...