Public Speaking and Presentation Skills Blog

Resources to improve your public speaking and presentation skills.

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...

Are your Public Speaking Expectations Helping or Hindering You?

I've always had high expectations of myself - and my family environment growing up was a big part of that. (A very high-achieving Cambridge-educated half brother and sister 11 and 13 years older than me set the bar high!). And part of this background has meant that I've always strived for future goals - and not always celebrated successes along the way. Always pushing and working towards something just out of reach - and when it was reached, moving right on to the next thing with barely any acknowledgement. This is a stressful way to live! As you'll know if you...

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...

Nervous Speaker? Where Does your Focus Naturally Go?

So you're a nervous speaker: where does your focus naturally go? Updated 2019 Today's video post is around a link to some interesting research on where your eyes and attention go if you're an anxious presenter. This is assuming you're able to look up and 'take in' your audience - and if you're nervous, that's not a given! (I put myself in that category: my eyes used to dart around the room when I was afraid of speaking. Eye contact was way too difficult!) Nervous Speaker - Where Does your Focus Naturally Go? So if you're a nervous speaker, where does your focus...

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...

Reduce Stress with these Simple Quick Techniques

I'm always on the lookout for techniques to help clients reduce stress and anxiety levels. And I've been talking to a lot of my private clients recently about how going through stress in their lives can make their public speaking anxiety worse - which makes total sense. Reduce Stress with Simple Quick Techniques In fact for a few clients, stress was the trigger which set off their speaking anxiety in the first place. One had been fine about speaking in public until his mother died, when he just stopped coping with the pressure. For me too: my original debilitating performance anxiety...

How To Get Into A Strong, Energetic State Before A Presentation

How to Get into a Strong, Energetic State Before a Presentation How do you come across to others when you present? And how do other people judge our energy levels? You might think this is an obvious question, but I bet there will be things you're missing - we can't always tell what's really going on, and even less so how we come across to other people, because we have so many mind filters in place and miss or delete information as we process it. So today's exercise is a way for you to find out personally how other people...

Where’s your Locus of Control around Public Speaking?

Where's your locus of control around public speaking? Control: where do you sit with that word when you think about public speaking? My clients often struggle with feeling out of control in different ways when they’re presenting - either mentally, physically or both. When your sense of control goes, so does your confidence. Loss of control = loss of power, and powerlessness = stress. Your brain actually loses prefrontal function when you feel out of control (that's the higher thinking part). But so long as you have the perception of some control, you get to keep your cognitive functions: in...

How to Overcome Public Speaking Fear

How to Overcome Public Speaking Fear Let's talk about fear today. Fear in general - and public speaking fear in particular. What can be done about it? Is it even possible to learn how to overcome public speaking fear? I've been speaking with one of my private coaching clients this week, who's trying to decide whether or not to join my course; and we ended up having a chat about what she calls her "avoidant tendencies". One part of her wants to do the course and face her fear in front of a group, but the other part of her is...

5 Public Speaking Skills Donald Trump Gets Right

5 Public Speaking Skills Donald Trump Gets Right Whatever you think of Donald Trump - and he certainly provokes strong opinions - he has his own style, and breaks plenty of rules. As a public speaking coach, I find watching him strangely compelling - in small doses! Here are 5 public speaking skills I believe Trump gets right when he's speaking to audiences: 5 Public Speaking Skills Donald Trump Gets Right 1. He has strong, open body language. When you watch Trump speaking, he is usually behind a lectern; but although this can be a barrier between speaker and audience, he compensates as much...