Public Speaking Fear Begone!

A Speaking Fear Relaxation Exercise That Really Works

So many public speaking fear exercises out there… which one to choose and which one is right for you?

A solution feels like a good fit when it exactly addresses the specific problem. In other words, you don’t just have anxiety, you have “public speaking anxiety”. If you apply a generic formula, you’ll get a generic result, one that’s just not quite right for you. So you abandon it and lump it in with all the other failed solutions.

I’m a specialist public speaking coach and I introduce my clients to a mindful breath technique I’ve developed for nervous public speakers. It works for speaking nerves and it works for dinner with your mother in law. It works whether you are a coach, therapist or CEO.

Breathe Your Way To Inner Calm

I call this special mindful breath technique, dum de dum daa:  The Inner Calm Exercise. Below is a short MP3 audio recording of my voice and a quirky home-made video on how to breathe your way to inner calm with this public speaking relaxation exercise that really works.

Simply click the “Play” triangle below and you’ll hear me talk you through it. Make sure you turn up your sound button.

The Inner Calm Exercise MP3:


The Inner Calm Exercise Is The “Hit” of Every Workshop

It’s such an effective technique I offer it free to everyone. It’s the “hit” of my retreats, workshops and private coaching. Years later, clients contact me to exclaim over how it’s still changing their life. They use it before speaking, to help them go to sleep, to help them wake up and focus, to deal with moments of overwhelm and with difficult conversations of life.

And here’s a short training video demonstrating how to do it:


Public Speaking Fear Begone and Stay Gone!

To enjoy the full benefits, I recommend you practice it every day for 6 weeks and continue to use it on a regular basis. Pretty soon, your body and mind begin to associate mindfully taking a breath in and out, with taking emotional control. Make Inner Calm a daily habit and find a way to make it part of your daily routine.

If you prefer to have step by step help to stay on track with learning this new habit, try my Online Course called Confidence & Connection. It’s a 43 page eBook covering weekly public speaking confidence exercises to make your public speaking fear begone! It includes MP3 recordings of visualisation exercises to help you speak with ease and authenticity. More information on using the Inner Calm exercise is included.

Now you can take a big breath in… and out. Finally, a public speaking relaxation exercise that really works.

© 2013-18, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only.

Write Your Speech With A Kiss

And Make Your Speech Flow

Ever listened to a presentation that didn’t flow or make sense? What it needed, was a KISS.

To clearly link your ideas and emphasise major points or direction changes, write your speech with a kiss. The KISS principle is of course: “Keep It Simple, Silly.” A KISS efficiently tells your audience what you are doing next with your use of language, pausing or emphasis. This allows listeners to stay with you rather than wander off the path in wild confusion. Here are some KISS examples I’ve used when speaking:

Link With a KISS

  • “The PURPOSE of my 20 minute presentation is…”
  • “Now I’ve explained how to craft a snippet, you are going to PRACTISE on your own website…”
  • “If you only remember ONE THING today… make it this…”
  • “I’ve told you a little about my background, now I’d like to hear about yours. So next we’re going to 
do a warm up exercise to help us to get to know one another better…”
  • “The 3 steps of a, b and c, are pivotal which is why we’ve just spent half an hour on them.
 Now I’m going to show how YOU can apply the same ideas at work…”
  • Pause…”I’d like to talk to you about… ROCKET SCIENCE.” Pause.
  • “It’s been a big 3 days. Now it’s time to finish. I’m going to summarise, then open it up to 
your questions for half an hour. Then we’ll end with our powerful completion process and I’ll invite you to register for our ongoing program…”

Be Like A Book

To write your speech with a kiss, link sections of your talk with connective sentences to demonstrate logical progression. Use language, tone and pausing to emphasise major points and signify changes in pace and direction.

Think about how books are written to aid understanding; not just the content but the format and the structure. Consider:

A book is divided up into chapters, sections and paragraphs. These are broken up further into major headings, minor headings and general text.

Your presentation is like a formatted book, except your audience is listening to it, rather than reading it.

If you were reading a story out loud to a child, you would pause at the exciting moments, speak slowly to emphasise important moments and throw in some vocal drama here and there.

No Convoluted Slobberings

Whenever there is confusion in a story line, an argument, a speech…. the listener gets lost. Keep your listeners on a clearly lit path and write your speech with a kiss. No convoluted slobberings, just clear, logical links to gently invite your listeners to walk with you.

Public Speaking Freebies for women Want public speaking freebies? Sign up to access our Treasure Chest. Filled with 30+ downloadable pearls of public speaking confidence, know-how and wisdom from Goddess Of Public Speaking.

© 2015-18, Geraldine Barkworth, public speaking coach. This article is the author’s opinion only.

The Art Of Audience: Know To Whom You Speak

If you thought giving a talk was about you, think again!

No matter how scintillating your information, if it’s not a perfect fit for your audience, they won’t hear you or your words.

While you have opportunity to influence when you speak, you don’t have total control. Audiences have free will! They can stay, leave, come back and these days change channel.

Let’s Define Audience

In 16th Century France, if you wished to speak to the Queen, you asked for an “audience”. The origin of the word means “to hear”. In the 21stcentury, “audience” retains its original meaning and refers to “assembled spectators at an event”. If the word “audience” sets your googlies rumbling, try swapping a synonym such as throng, gathering, company, group or my preference, “listeners”.

Is it just me or does “throng” sound like a gathering for a hanging, while “listeners” sounds like what you want from people when you speak! I notice that “gathering” is often used by the arts and literary crowd, “Mmm, we’re having a small gathering at the studio. Pino Grigio of course and some of that ash-dusted goat fetta.”

Why You Need an Audience

Without an audience, listener or friend you are just talking to yourself. And that’s OK if you like a one-sided chat. If you do have something you wish to say, share or promote publicly then you do need an audience. An audience however, does not need you.

It’s a privilege to speak to an audience. And don’t they know it! They want respect, rich content and to be emotionally lifted from the daily dross, connecting to something bigger. Yes, they want it all and they want it now. Read on to learn how to know and keep your audience.

Respect Every Audience as Unique

Audiences are diversely shaped and sized. On any given day, you may address:

  • Workshop participants keen to learn new skills.
  • Team meetings with colleagues who wait tiredly for your report.
  • Board members whom you must persuade to accept your funding proposal.
  • Children at the dinner table demanding to know why the beach party is cancelled.
  • A room full of expectant listeners waiting to hear the answer to the meaning of life!

Research Audience Nitty Gritty

To understand what your audience needs, loves and wants, research to help you customise:

  • Demographics: How old are they? What do they do for a living? Are they strangers?
  • Psychographics: What do they care about? What are their common problems?
  • Logistics: How big is the audience? Do they have special needs, like wheelchair access?
  • Promotion: What are the best methods to reach and motivate them to attend?
  • Learning Preference: How best do they absorb information? Visually? Doing? Discussion?
  • Morale: What’s the mood of the audience? Excited? Bored? Do they want to be there?

Set and Exceed Audience Expectations

Who hasn’t been to a workshop that overpromised and under delivered? It’s irritating, disappointing and a waste of time. The best way to manage audience expectations is to be the one who sets the them. An audience will come and stay, if you deliver beyond your promise. Be clear about:

  • Why this topic and its importance;
  • Who will benefit from attending;
  • What result they can expect to gain;
  • How you will deliver the goodies to them.

Customise Fresh to Every Audience

Just like a restaurant, audiences desire fresh, authentic and good value dishes on the menu. They want to be entertained, informed and inspired. Inauthenticity repels and b*s* detectors are set on high. Listeners want you to be real, otherwise, how can they trust you?

  • Entertain: Open with a juicy story your audience specifically cares about.
  • Inform: Shower generously with rich, interactive content, case studies and results.
  • Inspire: End by helping them to see rewarding change is within their grasp.

Appeal to Heart and Head of Your Audience

When an audience connects emotionally with your message, they feel it. When they see evidence and proof, they believe it. And when you give them a personal experience of it, they take ownership.

Help listeners take ownership by engaging deeply. Ask rhetorical questions, pause while they think. Look into their eyes and read their face, just as you would a one-to-one conversation. Facilitate interactive exercises, use physical props and invite questions. Listen and hear your audience.

Listeners do need more than data and a touching story. Most importantly they need to know WHY. “Why” gets you out of bed in the morning and connects you to the Big Picture. When people understand and care about the “why” of a topic, they take action because they want to. And that’s when your idea and message grows wings. It flies away to reach an even bigger audience.

Inspire Your Audience to Fly

It’s often quoted that only 2% of audiences follow through and get results. The other 98% think it’s a good idea and forget about it the next day. So how can you inspire your audience to fly into action?

Depending upon the situation, I advise my clients to start with answering the “why” to generate interest. Then stir emotionally to engage feelings, followed by solid evidence to satisfy the mind. Deliver interactively so listeners have a personal hands-on experience. Lastly, show the next steps to take. Make the pathway attractively simple to inspire immediate action.

The (He)Art of Audience

Often when we get asked to speak, we’re so caught up with ourselves, we forget the whole point is to communicate fabulously well to others. To help them understand, learn and grow. The Art of Audience is to know to whom you speak. To research, customise and exceed expectations. To entertain, inform and inspire.

With the art of audience, you’ll know how to deliver powerful talks that get under your listener’s skin, into their hearts, out of their chairs and into action. Ta daa!

(For further reading on working with Audiences, here’s links to a few of my other articles: Speak and Listen With Presence, The Radiantly Attractive Communicator,  3 Questions In The Mind Of Your Audience .

© 2018, Geraldine Barkworth, fear to fabulous speaking coach. This article is the author’s opinion only.

TED Talks: The Official TED Guide To Public Speaking by Chris Anderson

Book Review by Speaking Coach Geraldine Barkworth

TED Talks is a fabulous book. Essential reading for the modern presenter. Filled with poignant tips and practical examples of how to use spoken word to creatively get your ideas across in a very short time.

I’ll be brutally honest. 80% of “how to public speak” books and videos bore me silly. There are always gems in every offering, but boy do you have to wade through alot of mud to find the rubies.

Ted Talks the book, makes the ancient art of public speaking exciting, relevant and a must have accessory for anyone who seeks to be heard.

The Aha! Not Ho-Hum of Public Speaking

I’ve always struggled to neatly explain what I do for a living as it’s so much more than public speaking. “Public Speaking” has alot of ho-hum baggage. Chris Anderson reframes “public speaking” as an  “aha!” moment for great ideas to be shared and every voice to be heard. With the internet as vehicle, 20 minute talks can literally change the world and bring us closer to one another through shared humanity and technology.

TED Talks is written specifically for writing and delivering a short TED-style talk. It covers the fundamentals of purpose, message, story, structure, delivery, inspiring action and managing your nerves to get you out in front of people. The book is totally applicable for all styles of presentation. The focus is on communicating your ideas authentically and clearly, not perfect polished oration.

Just Read These Two Books

If you only ever read two public speaking books in your life, make them:

  1. TED Talks by Chris Anderson
  2. Be Heard Now by Lee Glickstein

These two books share a tender compassion for people and ideas. And both provide practical steps on how to tap into your own humanity and connect us all to something bigger. Exciting, life changing stuff. I love witnessing people unfurl themselves and their ideas in front of me. It’s why I’m still a speaking coach after 20 years.

(c) 2018, Geraldine Barkworth, From Fear to Fabulous Speaking Coach. This book review is the opinion of the author only.

Video: How To Save The World Or At Least Yourself From Bad Meetings

TED Talk By David Grady

If you desire to inspire behavioural change within office culture, David Grady’s short TED Talk shows you how to poke fun at a universal problem and present a simple, do-able solution in 6.4 minutes.

David engages immediate attention with a visual story we can all relate to: wasted days of pointless, endless meetings at the office. He cleverly reframes the problem as “Stealing Your Time”. This reframe names the righteous indignation we feel but seem powerless to change.

The Importance of Purpose

David shares his simple solution: only attend meetings with a clear goal to make a productive outcome more likely. And assist meeting organisers to learn how to create meetings with purpose.

How To Save The World Or At Least Yourself From Bad Meetings strings together funny stories of shared frustration at the idiocy of meetings from hell. This bonds listeners through common experience and laughter. Who hasn’t attended a conference call constantly interrupted by incoming and outgoing attendees with a flummoxed facilitator? “Umm hello? Who just joined us? Oh, no one there? Ah, now where was I?”

David Grady’s speaking style is casual, down to earth and approachable. Which I think, makes his ideas less threatening to corporate culture and increases the likelihood of adoption. David’s talk taps into our sense of fair play and common sense. For more talks about “ideas worth spreading”, visit the home of TED Talks.

© 2018 Geraldine Barkworth. This Review is the opinion of the author only.

Feel Fear Speak Anyway

L Plates For Learner Speakers

Most years I run a specialised Public Speaking Retreat for 6 women. And every year I get asked the same question: “If I attend the Retreat, will I have to speak?”

Ummm; yes!

Not So Red Faced
I once worked with a woman who successfully avoided speaking to her staff en masse for 5 years. Just the thought of it was enough to produce a blood rush. She felt warmth and embarrassment spread across her face like a bushfire. She was sure she looked silly and bright red. She avoided situations that made her the centre of attention. A bit tricky as she was the owner of a small business. When we worked with a video camera, body language and slowing down, she realised her face was not noticeably red and she didn’t look as nervous as she felt inside. With proof and practise over the next few months, her fear went down and her confidence went up. She focused on her purpose in speaking and the people in front of her, instead of herself. Voila!

Relief Rush

Now I love the adrenaline rush of relief when I’ve successfully gotten out of something as much as anybody. But avoidance is a good choice only for the short term.

Communication is a core life skill. You are going to be speaking for the long term. You might as well get on with feeling the fear and speaking anyway. Because running a service that makes a real difference, is going to involve you talking about it with more than one person.

Expand From One To Many

“But I prefer one to one speaking” I hear you cry! Many women in business declare their preference for speaking with one person at a time. They enjoy being up close and personal with just one client, colleague or friend.

One day you will have to leave the safety of the coffee nook to promote, influence and impress on a larger scale. If you excel at one to one then I know you can transition from one to many.  It’s the same skills, just tweaked and practised to fit the new purpose. Trust me, I’ve helped hundreds of women make the shift.

The Fear To Fab Makeover

While many ways are touted as the answer to overcoming public speaking fear, after specialising in this area for many years, I reckon there are 5 fundamental speaking habits that shift even the most timid of women in business from fear to fabulous:

  1. Anchor yourself with your speaking purpose.
  2. Relax your body into a confident, powerful, natural stance.
  3. Slow down everything. You will have presence and be present.
  4. Transfer your attention from yourself to your listeners and their needs.
  5. Don’t give the speech. Be the speech.

Learning To Speak Is Like Learning To Drive

Remember when you first learned to drive a car? You had to turn on the ignition, put the car in gear, check your mirrors, indicate and move into the flow of traffic. One day you are driving along and realise you haven’t thought about those individual steps. You did it unconsciously because it had become a habit of confidence.

And that’s exactly the same when learning those 5 Fear To Fab speaking habits.

The first level of learning is referred to as “conscious incompetence”. Doesn’t sound flattering, but we are all in the same boat when we learn anything new. As your experience increases, you move to the level of flow, fully present and in the moment. This higher level of learning is called “unconscious competence.” This doesn’t too flattering either, but I assure you, flow is good, very good!

In the same way as you effortlessly weave in and out of traffic; having conversations as it were with other cars, I assure you that public speaking becomes an effortless weaving, melding and merging of you and your audience.

Some people come to love public speaking so much, they’ve always got their hand up. The joy of new found speaking agility drives you effortlessly along a freeway, rather than kangaroo hopping in a back lane of obscurity.

Feel Fear Speak Anyway

Finally, to return to the fearful plea: “If I attend the public speaking retreat, will I have to speak?”

Mmm, methinks hanging out with people who actively embrace their public speaking fear at a retreat immersion is the classic “feel the fear and do it anyway”. Surviving the fear shows you can handle it and experiential proof builds your confidence.

At some point, public speaking fear passes away when you learn to let it go, just like my client with the not-so-red face. She now leads her weekly team meeting and is loving it. And so does her business and the ripples it creates, year after year.

©2018, Geraldine Barkworth specialises in helping women transform public speaking fear to become naturally relaxed and fully present speakers.

Self-Conscious And Loving It!

Finding Yourself Out the Front of Your Life

Recently I asked a friend for feedback on an aspect of my behaviour. I badgered her. She deflected. I badgered again. She gave in and chose her words with care. And horror of horrors I did not like what I heard. I reckon I did a pretty good job of appearing nonchalant. On the inside however I was reeling. Rapidly re-evaluating my entire life from this new perspective, I shifted from disbelief, anger, denial and sadness in 30 seconds. Then I stuffed myself with cheese and crackers.

What I noticed over the next few weeks was how self-conscious I felt. I wondered if everyone I’d ever met saw this flaw and judged me accordingly. Ha! I thought. This explains a lot. I suspected I had a problem. Here is the proof!

The problem gained epic proportion while I shrunk and fell through a hole in the floor.

Not So Special

Feeling self-conscious is being aware of yourself, as yourself. It’s a good thing. Means you are alive and you have the conscious awareness to know it! Self-consciousness allows you to perceive your similarity and difference to everyone else.

So yes, you are special and no, you are not so special. We all have an inner tension between wanting to fit in and wanting to stand out from the crowd. You see this tension played out on social media. And sometimes you feel it first hand when you are up there speaking in public. You up there, them down there.

I’ve briefly defined self-consciousness. But what about how it feels? The pain, the loneliness, the rejection? The dredging of all that old stuff you thought you’d successfully buried? And bugger it but there it all is, back on public display, reflected in the pitying eyes of your listeners.

But is it pity? Or is it relief that it’s you, not them, up there? Could it be admiration, that you are doing something they could not? Or, might they be thinking about dinner, and not you at all?

Safety Versus Risk

When you speak in front of others you do stand out from the crowd. And there is risk in being rejected for standing out. Finding your peace and place within this balance is the mysterious realm in which I work with my clients.

When you speak to a group, you visibly and energetically set yourself apart from the herd. Speaking up requires courage. The courage to show yourself to others. When people listen to you speak, they want to hear, you. Not a perfect cardboard cut-out. Not a series of excuses. You.

Embrace Wabi-Sabi

I love the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi. It means “beauty is in the imperfection.” Doncha reckon there’s our Permission Card right there? Flaws are beautiful! Ergo, we are all beautiful! There is nothing more boring than perfection.

People relate to flaws, not to perfection. We love to witness transformation; it gives us the courage to pursue our own. We watch people take risks, stick their heads above the parapet and wait with baited breath – will they rise to the challenge? And what can we learn from their mistakes and successes?

Self-consciousness is our opportunity to mature, learn, expand. It’s OK to be fearful, but not OK to stay stuck forever, clinging to an outdated notion of how you wanted things to be.

The Spotlight Effect

Positive Psychology describes the Spotlight Effect as the belief that others are always looking and judging us. As if we are the centre of their universe… because we are the centre of ours. Feeling self-conscious blossoms with such fertile imaginings. You can read more in my related Blog article “The Spotlight Effect is On You.” The Spotlight Effect clues us in as to how to love the opportunity of feeling self-conscious by learning from it, rather than shrink with fear and shame.

The Self-Conscious Seagull Flies Again

When I crawled off to lick my wounds, I really invested in feeling sorry for myself. I could be my own 10-part mini-series. Pride. Drama. Pain. And finally, seeing myself on A Hero’s Journey, triumphing over the perils of self-consciousness to emerge an older, wiser and infinitely more attractive human.

This could go on and on or we could cut to the chase with a story that doesn’t involve so much gut wrenching drama. Or copious cheese and crackers.

I emerged from my hole after a few weeks and realised:

  • Much of what my friend said is true. I needed a hefty dollop of self-acceptance for my quirky behaviours. They can’t really be changed. And they make me unique. I like unique.
  • If you ask for feedback, you have to be prepared to hear it. Suck it up princess!
  • Good old Gratitude… works every time to appreciate what I’ve got, rather than what I haven’t.

A Work In Progress

Am I going to divulge my friend’s feedback to you since you’ve so patiently read to the end of this article?

No way!

Just because you share a personal story doesn’t mean you have to strip your soul bare. You don’t have to expose everything. Just the bits you are ready to.

When it’s your turn to be out the front, whether for 5 minutes or for 5 days, breathe in and connect to your purpose in making a difference when you speak. We really are Works in Progress. And I know I’m not alone in wanting to hear and see the real you. To admire your unique beauty, imperfections, quirks and all.

(c) 2018, Geraldine Barkworth, All Rights Reserved.

Pecan Cacao Munchies

Keep Calm & Eat Chocolate

RATING: WOW Factor – Can’t stop at one. Mind you they are very small, so who could blame you? Little healthy biscuits of yummy nuttiness. My husband thought them boring until I added cacao.

You’ll Need:

  • ½ cup almond meal, 50grams butter, ¼ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup finely chopped pecans, ¼ cup cacao nibs (or for sweeter, use small chunks of dark chocolate), 1 generous teaspoon of vanilla essence and, set aside approximately 20 whole pecans to decorate.
  • Optional – Place baking paper on an oven tray or as they are so buttery, you could forget the paper.

Abracadabra Pecan Cacao Munchies

OK, begin by creaming the butter and the sugar. Good opportunity to take your rings off and get your hands in. It’s a bugger to clean them after though. Or, you could just put them into one of those blender thingies. The sugar and butter that is, not your hands.

Next, throw in the almond meal, chopped pecans, cacao nibs and vanilla essence. Mix them thoroughly. It will have a very buttery look and texture. Don’t be tempted to add more almond meal unless it is runny. Should be sticky.

Right, the mixture needs to be sticky because you are now going to roll them into little balls – like large malteasers – mmm – now there’s an idea…

Then, pop them spaciously apart on your tray, like say in a 4 x 5 configuration.

Finally, plonk a pecan in the middle of the ball and let it squish from ball to biscuit.

Cook in a low oven, say, 150 Celsius for about 10 minutes or until the tops are lightly brown. Pull out and let them cool. They will be soft at first so don’t manhandle. They’ll harden up in about 20 minutes… then you can taste test.


You are very welcome to post photo and story of your Pecan Cacao Munchies.

(c) 2018 Geraldine Barkworth, From Fear To Fabulous Speaking Coach, . This article is the personal opinion of the author and no professional cook has been harmed in it’s writing.