Unconscious Speaking Habits May Be Holding You Back

Are you aware of what you do with your hands, or if you use many filler words (like, um, you know) when communicating? And that these unconscious speaking habits may be holding you back? Most people aren't that aware - and this is often a good thing! We have enough to do to get through each day without finding something else to work on, let's face it. And a few filler works like 'um' aren't an issue. (The problem comes when they multiply and become a barrier for the listener.) Likewise with gesturing. We gesture to help us think, and it's important...

Communication Challenge: Avoid Empty Phrases When You Communicate

A frequent challenge when speaking is to avoid adding empty phrases when you communicate. And there are a few popular ones doing the rounds at the moment which, in my view, weaken and dilute the message you're trying to convey. Avoid Empty Phrases When You Communicate When we want to get a point across at work, whether in a conversation, meeting or presentation, it's important to be clear and crisp (unless, of course, we're trying to create a smokescreen or divert attention from something undesirable!). And there are some empty phrases which just bloat our communication. Here's a recent quote from a high-level...

My Embarrassing Webinar Fail

At the end of a year where most of us have moved online (and lucky if we were even able to do that), I thought I'd go more light-hearted today and tell you about my first webinar attempt and how it went wrong. Hopefully you haven't experienced a bad event as the event organiser yourself - but I'm sure we've all seen enough awkward online moments to be able to relate! My embarrassing webinar fail: When I ran my first webinar years ago - probably 2013 - on a software platform which used Google Hangouts for delivery, I sensibly decided to do...

FAQs about Public Speaking and Presentations

There are some questions which I'm often asked - FAQ's - about public speaking and presentations. So here’s a list of 5 of the most common ones – see if any of them are ones you'd be asking yourself. FAQ's About Public Speaking and Presentations Q1. What's one of the most common public speaking mistakes? A. Too much content. I used to have this problem all the time, and it came from a combination of enthusiasm about the topic, wanting to give a huge amount of value, and fear that I would run out of content and be left with nothing else...

How to Improve your Talk in 10 Minutes

Want immediate, clear feedback on ways to improve your talk in 10 minutes? I have a suggestion for you. My only proviso is, don't do this if you're an anxious speaker or highly self-conscious, or you may end up feeling worse and it could really set you back. Video yourself Get your phone or camcorder ready to go Set yourself up in the space with your notes, or slides if you're using them Start filming, and deliver your talk for a few minutes: say up to 5 as a general rule Five minutes is a good length of time to settle into your content...

Do you Struggle with Public Speaking?

Do you struggle with public speaking? Do you struggle with public speaking? Does the battle with fear or dislike of presenting exhaust you, or stop you from achieving your career goals? In this article I’ll discuss four lenses through which to look at your challenge. My hope is that it will help you with a different perspective and some fresh ideas - or to see old ideas in a fresh way! First, a quick back-story on my own experience and struggle with public speaking. I used to be one of those incoherent, incapable "I'm only pretending to be here, don't look...

Setting a Presentation Rhythm

A good way to get your audience's attention at the start of your talk is by setting a presentation rhythm. Lay out for them a plan about how your talk is going to unfold, and then follow that rhythm. You're basically giving an agenda, with rhythmic pace built into it. And it sounds simple, but I don't often see it done. The case for setting a presentation rhythm Rhythm is primal. Our connection to it starts before birth with our mother's heartbeat, and it's an integral part of our voice, speech and communication. And we've been communicating using rhythm for thousands of...

5 Ways To Ask Questions That Your Audience Responds To

Do you give presentations, and worry about how to ask questions that your audience responds to? Have you ever sweated through silence, while a lot of faces stared blankly at you? It's probably happened at some point - it certainly has to me! Here are 5 ways to ask questions that your audience responds to: The opening of your talk I often encourage my clients to ask a question in their opening few sentences – because it is a good engagement technique. Some people nowadays say that it's cliched, but it's a cliche for a reason. So long as it's a...

How to Use Few or No Notes when Presenting

Clients often tell me that one of their main goals is to learn how to use few or no notes when presenting. And it can be important for many people, particularly in certain industries, to show their expertise in this way. I do, however, sometimes point out that there is no bravery award given out just because you went out there juggling on a tight-rope, noteless, without a safety net! How to use Few or No Notes when Presenting I personally see notes, whether they are a few bullet points jotted on a cue card or one A4 sheet of paper,...

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...