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...

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...

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

[Updated 2020] A client asked me recently about any tip to stop self-doubts; those fearful, negative thoughts which kick in like clockwork in the hours before she has to present. You may know how she feels: it's so unhelpful, isn't it? And yes, it's how our brains work when we feel threatened by something, and don't feel that we have the resources to cope.  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...

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...

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...

The Essential Speaking Skill of Clarity

Eyetest - Jeroen van Oostrom In my article last week I gave you an overview of 7 Skills of Every Good Speaker, from which I've created the acronym C.R.I.S.P.E.R (clear, relevant, insightful, succinct, practised, energetic, respectful). Here's my take on the first skill: clarity. On finishing reading a book: "confused, but in a more profound way" - Lily Tomlin Isn't this a great quote? Too many speakers leave audiences feeling this way. If you're speaking, and not completely clear in your own mind about your core message and sub-points, and you don't deliver them in a logical order, your audience will be confused. Here are some...

Do you Turn Towards or Away from Your Audience?

There’s a great book by Margaret Wheatley, a well-known U.S. leadership consultant, called ‘Turning to One Another’. In the book, which is about creating simple conversations, Margaret talks about “bearing witness”; this is the practice of sitting with another person. She writes: “when I bear witness, I turn toward another and am willing to let their experience enter my heart”. She finishes the chapter by writing “we can turn away, or we can turn toward. Those are the only two choices we have." do you turn towards or away from your audience? I think of these two choices when I’m working with...