Overcoming Nerves

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...