End With A Bang Not A Whimper

About 90% of my clients struggle with ending their presentation on a powerful, memorable high note. It seems  the open and the middle get all the attention, while the end is an apologetic tack on – “Oh yeah – sorry – this is the bit where I ask YOU for something…”

The Eternal Struggle

Western society struggles with both letting go (death) and asking for what they want (assertion).

Whoever is speaking at any given time, is the Leader of the Moment. And that includes one to one conversations as well as formal presentations to a group. Listeners take their cue from the Speaker… otherwise how do they know when it’s their turn to speak, when to ask a question or if its time to move on?

Even more significantly, how can listeners / clients trust what you are saying or follow your advice, if you don’t appear to trust yourself? Your non verbal communication speaks more powerfully than your words.

Apologetic Whimper

“Trailing off” affects both the speaker and the listener, not to mention your career. In particular:

  • Your listeners look to you for cues as to what to do next. If you don’t lead, someone else will take over.
  • Your message or conversation gets dissipated, lost in the melee of fading umms, ahhs and sad darting eyes. It is your ending, not your message that will be remembered unfortunately.
  • Your self confidence suffers when you finish on a hesitant quaver, reverberating through your voice to your inner core beliefs about your ability to get what you want and to be heard.

Memorable Bang

  • Before you structure your talk, decide on the purpose and outcome you want for you and your listeners. HINT: Being clear about the outcome and your purpose is VITAL to end well.
  • State your intended outcome at the beginning of your presentation. The rest will then flow in a smooth, logical manner toward that outcome and your listeners will join the dots and know what to expect. In other words, Listeners will see the point if you spell the point out.
  • If you feel yourself meandering, just stop right there. Take a breath and look around. Take your cues from your listeners. Ask them if you are unsure: “Is that clear? Do I need to add anything else?” In other words, have a conversation with them.

Quite often, when people struggle with an ending, they have delivered a monologue, based on the assumption that they are solely responsible for delivering everything perfectly and they will be judged accordingly. It’s a heavy burden… no wonder many of us start to falter at the end of a presentation / conversation.

Completion

Ending anything is about letting go. Easier said than done I know. Learn to “let go” of your words and trust they will be received with the good intent with which you send them. This is a good point on which to finish the last blog for the year. The theme for next year is “Shut Up and Let Your Body Talk”.

© 2011, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

December Talk Tip

Goddess of Public SpeakingTrust And Rapport Conversation

Take your time to establish a trust and rapport conversation whenever you speak. I understand the driving urge to race upstream toward the finish line, but I advise you to take the scenic route instead. Speaking in public is about giving and receiving on both sides. Make it feel like a conversation, not a 60 second download.  www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

November Talk Tip

Goddess of Public SpeakingCommunicating Under Pressure

Speaking to the Board or at Team Meetings offers an opportunity to develop intestinal fortitude and emotional intelligence. And neither appears on the Meeting Agenda. There’s a lot you can learn beneath the surface – about yourself and others – communicating under pressure brings out the best and worst in people.

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Take Control As MC Or Anarchy Will Prevail

Time To Bring Out Your Inner Control Freak

Forget all that mush about egalitarian sharing. The fact is, as Master Of Ceremonies or MC, you must take control of your Event or anarchy will prevail. Anarchy includes people talking too long, ignoring agreements and cues to finish, interjecting, power plays, energy dissipation… the list goes on.

To ensure that everyone gets a chance to speak but not at the expense of others, take control to protect everyone’s right to be heard and to keep the show on the road. Here are tips for MC’s to work effectively with both sides of the fence, Guest Speakers and Audience.

Guest Speakers
Make personal contact with Guest Speakers beforehand and advise your requirements for the Event. This defines a clear boundary of expectation on either side. Be sure to include: length of allocated speaking time, clarify purpose of speaking topic and intended outcome, whether it’s interactive, time or not for questions, expected start and finish time for speaking. Provide Guest Speakers with the Program so they can see their own place within it and understand how to fit the context. After all it’s your Event, not theirs.

When the Guest Speakers arrive, connect with them personally – as the MC your job is to help them feel at ease. While chatting, reinforce the length of time they have to speak. Ensure they understand the Program is packed and keeping to time is important – check their understanding by looking into their eyes. Discuss the signals you will send to let them know when they are Close To Time, or Time to Wrap Up or Time To Finish. This reinforces there are consequences to poor time management and that as MC, you willing to take immediate action to keep the show on the road for everyone’s benefit.

When the Guest Speaker is presenting, make sure you follow the agreed signals. Sometimes Guest Speakers get on a roll and can’t stop, or become addicted to the adrenaline rush of all that attention, so as the MC, it’s is your job to shepherd them graciously off the stage so that others will have their turn.

Thank and acknowledge the Guest Speaker privately as well as publicly. This also sets up a good management relationship for next time.

The Audience
When the “floor is opened to questions”, things can get very exciting if you are dealing with contentious issues. Your diplomatic lion tamer skills are needed. (You may find it useful to watch Jenny Brochie the facilitator from the SBS television program, Insight, for great role modeling.) Of course if the subject fails to raise a ripple of interest, you may want to have some staged questions or prepare some of your own if the Audience is quiet.

Prompt Audience interaction by clearly displaying a time set aside for questions or discussion in the Program.

Next when you address the Audience, repeat this information, speak slowly, watching your words sink in as you articulate the parameters. For instance, “We have 10 minutes for questions so that’s probably about 3 questions…”, or “Each person has  5 minutes to share their view. Any longer and I’ll have to gong you off (sound the gong to show consequences) to ensure everyone gets a chance” (stating context and appealing to universal fairness.)

After you’ve described the parameters and if you anticipate heated discussion, ask for everyone’s agreement up front and wait. Say nothing until you see a sea of agreements. This method uses group dynamics to enforce the parameters, rather than you.

And of course, you must stick to the parameters. No matter how scintillating the Question from the Audience, the same rules must be applied. If they stir strong interest within the group, suggest they meet later after the program is finished. This keeps the Event on track, provides options to continue the discussion and means Audience members build trust in your ability to handle the situation. It may also give individuals the confidence to speak out, knowing they too will get a fair go.

When you clearly and graciously take control as the MC and Event Coordinator by setting parameters in advance and reinforcing consistently throughout the Event, both Guest Speakers and Audience will relax and enjoy themselves under your firm guidance.

© 2011, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

October Talk Tip

Goddess of Public SpeakingShoulder Roll Confidence Boost

For an instant confidence boost before you speak, gently roll your shoulders back. This straightens your spine, opens your abdomen, chest, shoulders, throat and face. People interpret this open posture as confident, capable and approachable and listen to you, figuring if you believe in you, there’s a good chance they will too.

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Shut Up & Let Your Body Talk

Blah, blah, blah… talk, hype, buzz, “like”, “totally”, “awesome”, “it’s all good”. It’s hard to hear anything of value when people speak to one another these days. Mouths are endlessly moving but the meaning is lost in the babble.

I know I hunger for something true, something juicy, something meaningful. And more words, even if they are clever words, aren’t the answer.

What I want, and what most people want,  is credibility and realness. Followed by a hefty dollop of “what’s in it for me” content. Is this something you want too? Hell, we’ve only got one life, let’s make the most of it.

Credibility & Realness In 5 Simple Steps

When communicating, the key is to let your body talk for you. Actions do “speak louder than words”. We watch movement before we process word meaning. Make sure the messages your body sends to your listeners are congruent with your verbal message.

Here’s how to create credibility and realness with body talk whenever you speak:

1. Gently roll your shoulders back before you speak 1:1 or 1 to a group. This will open your abdomen, chest, shoulders, throat and face. People interpret this open posture as self confident, capable and receptive. They are more likely to listen to you, figuring if you believe in you, there’s good chance they will too.

2. Maintain gentle, neutral eye contact one person at a time. Focus on people who’s bodies are receptively listening to you. Stay with one person long enough to watch your words land on their face, for you to see the connection occur between you. Allowing yourself to stay still with one person at a time says without words, “I see you, I hear you, I am with you”. An audience / group feels respected when it knows the speaker is listening as well as speaking to them.

3. Keep a  stable, open leg stance if you are standing, or sit up straight if you are seated. If a strong wind arises, you won’t blow over and if there is critical interjection from the group you won’t crumble. A strong stance says without words, “I am capable of delivering and handling whatever comes my way.” This generates confidence, groundedness and a sense of permanence.

4. Take a breath, pause and slow down when you speak. There is no race to be won. People take speakers more seriously when they perceive the message is conveyed with gravitas. A pause is like a non verbal full-stop or comma. When you pause, it gives your listeners a chance to entrain with you, to match your pace and process your ideas. Offer choice, not imposition. By attending respectfully to the diversity of your group you convey, “I have something of importance to say, and I invite you to listen.”

5. Let natural hand, face and body gestures flow and underscore your words. If you describe something as “amazing”, express your amazement with your whole body. Eyes wide, mouth agape, fingers spread, shoulders lifted, a step back or a breath in. The word “amaze” is just a word, one word lost in a long presentation of sentences, paragraphs and points. When you show “amaze” with your whole body, people feel it and it travels deep inside to connect emotionally, beyond their ears.

When an audience, group or your friend connect emotionally with what you are saying and your words and body talk match in meaning, you will have credibility and realness whenever you speak. And that’s precious in today’s “like totally awesome it’s all good” blah blah world.

On a scale of 1-10, how do you rate your credibility and realness when you speak? Do your words have impact and are people inspired to follow through? Do you believe, you?

© 2011-17, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

Prepare To Speak!

Countdown Steps To Prepare For Your Next Presentation

I’m often asked, “What can I do to best prepare to speak?”  I recommend getting out of your head and into your body. This means, prepare yourself emotionally, physically and mentally weeks in advance. Or if it’s a big deal or event, prepare months in advance. Take the time to get very clear about your purpose and message.

When we feel emotionally tense, our bodies follow suit and tense up. Tension, particularly relating to stage fright, manifests itself in the chest, shoulders, throat, jaw, head and stomach for many people. This results in a kind of “holding oneself in” paralysis. A bit like a rabbit in the headlights – there you are speaking in front of a group and you whisper to yourself – “If I don’t move and look like a chair – they’ll forget I’m here”. Doesn’t work unfortunately. And you aren’t a rabbit.

Tension can also result in a “blank mind” and a disconnect from yourself and your audience. And “head spins” can come from a lack of oxygen (breathing too quickly from your upper chest and not being grounded, so slow it down and feel your feet on floor). It’s interesting that issues relating to the “head” figure so highly when it comes to fearing public speaking. The remedy I recommend is to: “Get out of your head and into your body”. I love this phrase; you’ve probably noticed I use it a lot. It really is a simple counterpoint to speaking nerves and tension.

Follow this countdown to prepare to speak:

Some Weeks Before Your Presentation:
Practice using the Calm Barometer and the Inner Calm Exercise daily to build a new calm habit – follow the links below to these exercises. (These are not quick fixes but a long term solution to retraining your body’s reaction to tension.)

Some Days Before Your Presentation:
Visualise yourself speaking with ease in front of your audience. Consciously choose to relax your traditional tension spots. See yourself taking your time and using the physical exercises written directly below…

The Day Before Your Presentation:
Raise your shoulders to your ears, hold, and release, letting your shoulders gently drop. Repeat twice more. Then, hug yourself tightly, just like you are holding yourself in with tension, and release, throwing your arms generously open, kind of like you are ‘hugging the world” – (I know, I know, it sounds dicky in print, it’s better at my workshops.) These exercises open your chest, face, airways, shoulders and tummy, releasing tension and awakening intention. Go for a walk and stop thinking about your presentation. Daydream. Physical exercise helps you regain perspective and breaks obsessive thoughts. Really, life goes on. Will you remember this presentation in 5 years time? And, will anyone else?

Directly Before Your Presentation:
Take a deep, even breath from the base of your stomach and release evenly. Feel your feet on the floor. Gently roll your shoulders back. This opens your chest, drops your shoulders, opens your throat and magically gives you a confident posture. Imagine the top of your head is suspended by a silken cord and the rest of your body follows effortlessly. (Thank you Alexander technique.) Use your Calm Anchor if you have one and embody your personal strengths.

Directly After Your Presentation:
Rather than go straight back into your head and do a vicious deconstruction of every mistake you made during your presentation – just don’t go there right now. Your adrenaline is pumping and what you need to do is reground yourself so that you continue to be fully present with others – answer questions, accept invitations, make decisions, network and so on. Consciously let your breath flow evenly and let your body take care of dissipating your stress hormones.

The Day After Your Presentation:
Make sure you have been for a walk or engaged in some kind of relaxation activity to switch your brain off and reboot your system. When you have surfaced, it’s time to evaluate you and your presentation constructively:

  • How effectively did you handle nervous tension this time?
  • When were your listeners most engaged with you?
  • How might you do the same presentation again?
  • Knowing what you now know, how might you help yourself prepare to speak next time?

When you give yourself the gift of generous time to prepare to speak, you’ll be able to handle speaking tension before, during and after, sooo much better. You’ll also be able to focus on your message and purpose with calm clarity, allowing you to captivate your group with authenticity and presence every time you speak.

© 2011-17, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

 

Speak & Listen With Presence

There is no quicker way to lose your audience than by “going through the motions”. Remedy that by learning to speak listen with presence.

“Going through the motions” means your body is present, but your mind and spirit have left the building.  Sometimes the audience is quicker to recognise memorised, disingenuous rote, than the speaker / trainer themselves.  This is sad.  Going through the motions leads to boredom, the dulling of creativity and a loss of credibility. To speak listen with presence, start by listening to your audience first.

First, Listen To Your Audience

Presence is the opposite to “going through the motions.”  Body, mind and spirit are working harmoniously, fully connected in the present moment.  An audience “switches on” when they realise the speaker / trainer is authentic and available to them right here and right now.  It charges the atmosphere and inspires trust, rapport and connection and generates credibility, energy and impact.  This is exciting.  Being present produces new paradigms, spontenaity, flexibility and empowered results. Listening to your audience allows you to be present with them.

Begin With Presence

Start with presence, by preparing yourself in advance. The state of presence is a habit like any other and until it becomes second nature when you speak in public, you need to prepare the space you will step into, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Recognising the importance of your presentation to you and others, provides motivation and clarity for making time to prepare. Insufficient preparation is the most common public speaking mistake. When you don’t like public speaking, there is a tendency to over prepare (obsess) or under prepare (avoid). Like Little Red Riding Hood, talk preparation needs to be “just right” for you. By designing your own preparation habit or ritual, you send yourself the message, “This talk is important, worth my time and I am going to be present for it.” ” I am going to speak & listen with presence. ”

What is your usual pattern of behaviour before a talk? Does it serve you or dishonour you?

Stay With Presence

Stay present, by accepting that you will move in and out of the present moment with your group or audience.  That’s life. The key is to not beat yourself up when you feel a disconnect and thus get preoccupied with your own story.  Instead, stop, take a breath, connect with one person and give yourself permission to start again with them.  Staying present is a series of small comings and goings riding on the ebb and flow of mindful awareness.

Finish With Presence

Finish with presence, by making it clear to everyone that you are indeed finishing. Use verbal clues with a clear instruction like: “We’ll wrap up in ten minutes and then I’ll invite questions.” This will swing every participant’s attention back to the present moment (as well as your own), alerting them to be prepared for all that your finish may entail (Q & A, assessment, feedback, special offers).

Even if you felt disconnected throughout your presentation, you can still finish with a good connection. Stay still when you acknowledge your group in completion, making genuine eye contact with one person at a time. Take your time and stay grounded and focussed, allowing participants to acknowledge you with whatever they offer, like a clap, cheer or nod, accept it graciously and finish your presentation fully present, without your mind rushing off to the next thing.

Speak Listen With Presence Starts Now

Listeners are usually most alert at the beginning and the end of a training talk, presentation or conversation, so make the most of it by connecting strongly. Connecting with presence takes less than ten seconds.  Speak listen with presence happens every time you choose. Once you know how, you can do it anytime, anywhere.

© 2011-17, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

September Talk Tip

Goddess of Public SpeakingPublic Speaking Definition

Whenever you have a conversation with anyone other than yourself, you are “public speaking”. Public speaking definition doesn’t just refer to delivering a formal speech on stage. It refers to every time you speak to another human being, phone, dinner table, office, park bench, podcast… you name it. You are literally speaking in public everyday right now.

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Speak About What Makes You, Different

Name Your Point Of Difference At Networking Events

Picture this: you are at a networking event. Perhaps it’s a lunch, a book launch or a conference. Amongst others, there are 4 naturopaths, 2 real estate agents and 3 life coaches. You need their services, but how do you choose and what’s the difference between them?

And that’s the crucial question.

In today’s market, there are an overwhelming variety of services and products from which to choose. Creating a unique Point Of Difference (POD) is a strategic way to make your product or service stand out and be noticed.

Generally, people choose their service and product providers based on:

  • Whether they instantly like and trust you, more so than the others.
  • If they immediately understand what you offer and it’s what they need.
  • If they have a recommendation from a friend, so the process of trust has begun.
  • Regularly seeing and hearing you and your marketing so that it feels “familiar”.

To help potential clients recognise your Point Of Difference, build these 4 pathways:

  1. Learn public speaking techniques to build authentic trust, rapport and presence.
  2. Be able to clearly articulate in 30 seconds your Point Of Difference.
  3. Build cross-referrals with related practitioners and make sure existing clients understand all that you do. Don’t forget the most obvious: ask good clients for referrals.
  4. Create a consistent marketing message in a variety of media and share value added information to educate and inform. This builds your credibility and brand so that you become known as the familiar subject expert.

Finally, ask yourself:
Would you choose you?

If your answer is “no” and you don’t have these four pathways clearly laid out, take the time to work out your unique Point Of Difference. If you don’t know what makes you stand out from your competitors, then neither will your clients and they may choose someone else.

Find your authentic voice and message and you will have created your unique Point Of Difference.

© 2009-2011, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au