Let Your Body Do The Talking

10 Articles And Videos About Public Speaking Body Language

Public speaking confidence and communicating under pressure needn’t be a hard slog or a terrifying ordeal when you know how to tap into what you’ve already got. Here’s a summary of ten of my articles and home made videos demonstrating how to let your body do the talking. Click the Heading to read more…

Stop Freezing Like A Rabbit When You Speak

Freezing when public speaking generally feels much worse to the speaker, than it looks to the listener. A 30 second blank, can look like a pause. Taking time to gather your thoughts is appreciated by listeners because it means you are thinking about what you say in the present moment, not repeating mechanised rote. When I film clients for the first time giving a talk, they are amazed that their occasional blank moments come across as natural pauses…

Look At Me! How To Keep Audience Attention

Trying hard at anything is tiring. And people, well we can just be perverse. If an audience knows you desperately want their attention they will likely choose to not give you any. Stop trying so hard. Who ever said speaking with people had to be hard work? I’m not suggesting you don’t put in any effort – just stop trying to force people to listen to you. Instead, give them a choice and something worth listening to – you…

Should I Sit Or Should I Stand?

Should I sit or should I stand? Believe it or not I get asked this question regularly. For those of you who are thinking, “Pish! What a question!”, there is a lot more going on here. The decision to sit or stand sends a non-verbal signal about your intention to establish authority, power, attention, intimacy, connection and relationship…

Pause Power: Slow Down When You Speak

You do not need to change your essential self and be something you are not. You just need to pause frequently. Imagine where the commas, colons, dashes, fullstops and new paragraphs would be begin if your talk was in writing. That’s where you pause. Give people time to digest. A pause is like a non-verbal full stop. So take a risk and stop. It is only a matter of seconds or a couple of breaths…

The Art Of Making An Entrance

“Da Daa!” Introducing, YOU! And in you come dancing to a funky sound track, boa feather trailing behind, your newly shaved head reflecting the strobe lights… is this the kind of impact you’d like to make? Yup, you would be memorable unless of course your colleagues also read this article and boa feather sales go through the roof. Actually, that’s a nice thought…

The Art Of Making An Exit

Think of a finale as a delicious taste lingering on the tongue. If your speech was a flavour,  what would it be? The lingering velvet of chocolate oohs and ahhhs or a sharp tangy, citrus wake up? I reckon audiences want to be:
engaged (connection), informed (data), inspired (action), in that order. If you engage your audience first, they will listen to your information which if inspiring, will motivate them into action…

Relax Your Eyes And Be A Better Speaker

Imagine your eyes lazing in hammocks, heavy and supported. Miraculously, when the eyes are relaxed, the brain sends a message to your whole body, saying “You are safe and can relax now.” So let your body do its natural thing and ignore any contrary mental self talk when you speak…

Communicating Under Pressure

Some days we wear our pit boots and some days we are fragile as gossamer. Working with people is one of the most difficult juggling acts we perform and many of us do it everyday, at home and at work. Finely turned interpersonal communication skills and a basis of empathy is needed, especially if you are supporting the personal and professional growth of others…

Take A Deep Breath: How To Use Breath To Mange Speaking Nerves

Doncha hate that the very thing you teach, you struggle with? And isn’t it always the way? It’s why hairdressers have bad hair and builders’ homes are half renovated. Too busy helping others and not taking time out for self care is part of the issue, but not the only issue. Helping professionals are often better at giving than receiving. I struggled for years too, but then I came up with a method to help. I call it, “Make It Right For Me”…

Public Speaking Tips For Shy People

I define “public speaking” as “whenever you have a conversation with anyone other than yourself, you are, “public speaking.” So, face to face, phone, verbose or taciturn, whenever you speak with someone you are in fact, speaking in public. We can all benefit from improving our interpersonal skills, no matter your personal communication style. Here are 4 tips for the naturally taciturn to remain in integrity with their natural style…

© 2013, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

Public Speaking Tips For Shy People

You don’t have to be a “natural” talker to be good at public speaking. Often it is the shy silent types who turn out to be the powerhouse presenters.

I regularly work with shy or taciturn people who are inclined to silence and avoid public speaking and unnecessary conversation – but not because they are scared of it. They come to me because they want to maintain their natural style and ensure their message is effective. Let’s face it – in our society there are times when you must speak up and out, especially in your career and if you want to stay in it. Communication is one of the most highly prized people skills.

I define “public speaking” as “whenever you have a conversation with anyone other than yourself, you are, “public speaking.” So, face to face, phone, verbose or taciturn, whenever you speak with someone you are in fact, speaking in public. We all benefit from improving our people skills, no matter your personal communication style. You can either watch this short video or continue reading below, my 4 speaking tips for the naturally taciturn:

1. Short & Sweet
Accept that your honed message is good enough. People do appreciate short and sweet as a breath of fresh air to the endless drivel of fluffy verbiage. Listen to feedback to find out if listeners want more from you and if so, put the next 3 tips into action…

2. Great Structure
To ensure you have spoken effectively and not missed any vital links between points, use a talk structure which acts as a foundation for your  whole message. I use the structure of: Problem, Impact, Solution and Action.

3. Invite Questions
Always invite questions at the end or throughout  a longer presentation to ensure you have satisfied your listeners need to know:

  • “I’d be happy to take questions now; are there any?”
  • “Would you like more detail on any aspect?”
  • “Is anything not clear?”

Actually, answering questions is a great way for the naturally taciturn and those who prefer speaking off the cuff, to speak in public without preparing a ginormous presentation. It can also be a delight for the audience as they get the exact answers they want, rather than having to sift through detail.

4. Gestures & Props
A simple way to dramatically increase impact and effectiveness is to use gestures and props during your presentation. This requires forethought but the rewards are great.

Gestures – use your whole body, hands and face to speak for you. If you talk about moving to the centre of a room, then physically move to the centre. If you describe something as “amazing”, show ‘amazing” with your whole body.

Props – a “prop” is a physical item that accompanies and enhances your talk. It includes powerpoint projections, music, products and stuff like boa feathers. Even if your talk is about a new Procedure Manual, take it along and wave it around. Audiences love to learn through seeing, touching and doing as well as hearing. The more interactive and practical, the more interesting and effective your presentations. Props also act as a memory prompt rather than having to rely on notes.

You will speak with greater ease and authority and when you use less words and create more action. Why not show a naturally taciturn or shy speaker this article if you know they have something that needs to be heard?

© 2012, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

November Talk Tip

Goddess of Public SpeakingMeeting Confidence

Do you ever feel intimidated by meetings? If so, try this to build your meeting confidence: Walk into the room with your head high and without hesitation. Next, initiate gentle eye contact and acknowledge others politely. Then move on quickly without lingering. Claim your rightful space at the table and don’t allow yourself to be elbowed out by others’ paraphernalia or presence. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

October Talk Tip

Goddess of Public SpeakingNatural Body Language

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. When you show “amaze” with your whole body, people feel it and it travels deep inside to connect emotionally, beyond their ears. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

Communicating Under Pressure

Speaking In Difficult Situations

I am often asked by people managers about communicating under pressure; how to balance staying strong and non-threatening in a “difficult situation” like a performance appraisal or with a mistrustful group.

Working with people is one of the most difficult juggling acts we perform and many of us do it everyday, at home and at work. Finely turned interpersonal communication skills and a basis of empathy is needed, especially if you are supporting the personal and professional growth of others.

There are many ways to be both non-threatening and strong when working in potentially difficult situations. And “difficult” can refer to many situations including those that are uncomfortable, frightening or require sensitive handling. I’m going to focus on just 4 ways for a Manager to use their body and words when communicating under pressure with staff. These techniques are also useful when facilitating groups:

1. Room Set Up

Create a sense of trust, credibility and security in physical environment by:

  • Manager to take the “authority” position, which means to keep a solid wall behind and a clear view of what’s in front with easy access to all tools and room to move. Taking an authoritative position allows you to stay physically strong and hold the space – you are in charge. Avoid creating a power imbalance like the classic joke of a manager dwarfing the participant with a big, high desk. You may like to set up arm chairs for informality or to create a sense of approachability.
  • Invite the staff member to sit comfortably with “room to move”, access to any needed tools and most of all, PRIVACY.

2. The SOLAR Posture

Use the SOLAR posture – a non threatening but physically strong stance demonstrating openness and receptivity, implying “I can handle it”.

  • Sitting – knees apart, lean forward slightly to show interest, and palms are open and facing the staff member or group.
  • Standing – fully face the staff member or group. Strong, wide legged stance (like the letter “A”) with palms open toward the staff member or group. Keep shoulders dropped, chest open and speak slowly with lots of appropriate eye contact and acknowledgement.

3. Explain Format, Purpose & Outcome

Everyone feels better and like they have a choice, when they understand where they are going, the reason and the benefit to them of the meeting or presentation.

  • Manager gives a respectful welcome, full face, eye contact, tell the staff member or group that you are going to begin by briefly outlining the format (structure), purpose and intended outcome of the session. Check their understanding and gain their permission to continue. After all, this is a 2 way conversation between adults, not an information dump or lecture.
  • Manager to summarise the main points at the end, check for agreement and leave genuine space for the staff member or group to provide feedback.

4. Edging Out

When a fire is burning out of control, you don’t give it more fuel. If the staff member or groups’ behaviour is  inappropriate, as the Manager you can take control by:

  • Acknowledge the person or situation respectfully and honestly,
  • Use body language to reduce attention to them – turn your body side on (edging out), reduce or remove eye contact and if there are others, increase your positive interaction with them to tap into group dynamics of peer pressure. At no point belittle or expose, just acknowledge, reduce and refocus. Trust your gut – sometimes the unexpected works.
  • Explain clearly what your next steps will be, the consequences if you don’t and then follow through your steps. If you are working with a group, don’t let one person wreck the experience of everyone else – your job is to work with the whole group and if necessary, ask the trouble maker to leave. Keep the group energy focused and don’t let it dissipate through distraction.
  • If the process or presentation is completely disrupted and cannot continue, take control by acknowledging the situation and stating that you are now ending it. Offer rescheduling options if appropriate. Then, go and reflect and find your own mentor to debrief and reassess the situation.

Firm Compassion

Always work with people from a place of firm compassion. This is both non threatening and strong. Don’t forget; this is a human being in front of you. Some days we wear pit boots and some days we are fragile as gossamer.

Finally, remember that you don’t always get to wear the Manager’s hat. Tomorrow it could be YOU in a group or on the other side of the interview desk, being “managed” by someone else.

© 2013, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

Joy in Public Speaking: Lost Now Found

Case Study: Sandra The Chiropractor

Sandra, a focused and energetic 41 year old chiropractor had just self-published her first book. She consulted me to learn how to speak with ease and confidence about her work at book launches and networking events. And she confessed, one day she’d like to get paid for speaking professionally. Could I help with both those things?

How We Began

We began by establishing that Sandra was already a reasonable speaker but lacked the “personal touch” with groups. Adept at connecting one to one with chiropractic clients, Sandra closed herself down when it came to large groups and audiences. Her inability to connect heart to heart, meant no real engagement and no sales.

With further investigation we identified 2 main issues:

  1. Sandra felt no joy in public speaking – it was a chore to be whizzed through and “ticked off”.
  2. Sandra was uncomfortable with holding eye contact in groups – she was scared of seeing a lack of interest reflected back to her.

After working with Sandra on body language, I challenged her to undertake a 2 week exercise to make an intention to be 100% with every one she came into contact with and to sustain a gentle eye gaze a little longer than usual. She was dubious but willing to give it a go – “as long as it didn’t take too long.” !

The Aha Moment

Sandra reported a moment of pivotal learning for her: She went into a bread shop as she did every Saturday morning to buy a baguette. She decided to be 100% with the “bread-guy”. She made her intention as she walked in, planted her feet, looked at him with her whole body and said, wait for it, “I’d like a baguette please” while offering a gentle gaze.

Well, the bread-guy stopped still, looked her in the eye and said, “Let me get you a good one”. He carefully selected the best baguette for her. Now, every Saturday Sandra enjoys buying from the bread-guy who she now knows is called Brad, instead of ticking it off as yet another chore. Sandra realised “the personal touch” even with a stranger takes only seconds and yields ongoing benefits. She started to transfer her people-power skills beyond the safety of her chiropractic clinic into the world.

Finding Joy In Public Speaking

If a simple change in behaviour led Sandra to enjoy connecting with 1 person, let’s see what happened when she multiplied it to connecting with many. We next spent some time creating the essential message of what she wanted to say at launches and events. Sandra used these events to practise creating trust and rapport on a very personal level. Slowly she started to relax into enjoying herself and began to make an impact whenever she spoke.

One Year Later

One year later Sandra emailed me and said: “I had no idea it was possible for me to find any joy in public speaking. God knows why I was so frightened. Well ok, it was direct eye contact and seeing rejection. Now I grab every opportunity to speak! You can’t shut me up!” Book sales are steady and she’s now self-published her second title. Sandra’s also been asked to be a keynote speaker at a small health conference for the first time next year.

Sandra found her joy in public speaking and the joyful opportunities that came with it.

* The client’s name was changed to protect privacy. If you are ready to find your joy in speaking, contact professional speaking coach Geraldine Barkworth to have a fun, fearless and confidential conversation of your own.

© 2012-18, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

September Talk Tip

Goddess of Public SpeakingFear of Fear

When you continue to fear a particular situation or event, eventually it may develop into a fear of fear itself. It’s reinforced by repeating stories like: “No one could be more fearful of public speaking than me…” and, “I hate public speaking!” Thus you fulfil your own prophecy. Think about it and change the way you think and speak. Your behaviour will follow. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

Relax Your Eyes And Be A Better Speaker

It’s Almost An Epidemic!

So many of my clients feel challenged by maintaining eye contact in groups, it’s almost an epidemic! Ease with eye contact is all about relaxing. Here are simple tips you can practise at the dinner table and in the boardroom to get comfy with eye contact.

When you relax, your audience relaxes too. And relaxed people are more receptive to hearing your message. It really is in your best interest to learn how to make gentle, sustained eye contact if you want to deepen your interpersonal communication skills.

Not All Cultures Are the Same

In western culture, we interpret darting eyes and avoidance of eye contact as suspicious and unconfident behaviour. We even attribute guilt with the phrase “he wouldn’t meet my eyes.” However it ain’t necessarily so. Please note that some cultures consider direct eye contact to be disrespectful or challenging, so use appropriate eye contact in the culture in which you find yourself speaking.

In this 4 minute video, I demonstrate how to relax your eyes when speaking:

 

Here’s How To Relax Your Eyes and Be A Better Speaker

1.  Relax Your Eyeballs First And Let Your Body Follow
Debbie Rosas, co-founder of NIA Dance, (www.nianow.com) explains that in order to relax your whole body, you need to relax your eyes first. Imagine your eyes lazing in hammocks, heavy and supported. Miraculously, when the eyes are relaxed, the brain sends a message to your whole body, saying “You are safe and can relax now.” So let your body do its natural thing and ignore any contrary mental self talk.

2.  Move Your Whole Body With Your Eyes To Connect To 1 Person
Let your whole body and your eyes drift toward one person at a time. Turn and face them fully. You can even do this over the phone. If you try it, you’ll know how effective this technique is in enabling you to be present and focused with whomever you speak.

3.  Maintain Gentle Eye Contact With 1 Person At A Time For 3 Seconds-ish
All you have to do once you’ve relaxed your eyeballs and whole body (1 second), and then turned fully to face 1 person (1 second), is to stay with the person for a least 3 seconds-ish. Just stay long enough to finish your sentence or idea and watch your words land on their face. Then move on to the next available person with your whole body and stay with them for 3 seconds. You can stay longer! 3 seconds is not the rule, just a practical suggestion. (Just watch how I demonstrate soft, relaxed eyes on my video via the link above.)

Final Tip

Public speaking is not a multi-tasking competition. Take the pressure off believing you have to connect with everyone at once. Relax. Be with 1 person at a time. That’s really enough. You are not going to “lose people” if you aren’t gazing at them. It’s physically impossible to give to everyone, so don’t bother. Allow yourself to relax and sink into your talk, just like you are swinging snug in a hammock. And remember, you can practice these gentle techniques at the dinner table or with friends tonight.

Feeling uncomfortable with eye contact in groups is such a common issue; I have designed specific techniques to help. To learn more, visit:  www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au or email me now to arrange a phone, Skype or face to face session: geraldine@goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

© 2012, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au