What I Learned From Nigella, Obama & G-String Wearing Strangers

Let Your Words And Body Speak: Nigella And Obama Style


In a world of superfluous verbosity and redundant superlatives, whose services, products and ideas do we believe, trust and follow?

(This article is based on a 30 minute recently filmed speech about how to let your words and body speak for you to build trust and rapport. You are welcome to watch, especially if you’ve never heard me speak before! First is a 1-minute video demonstrating the 6 techniques in this article. Second is an edited 10-minute video of the whole speech, which does include a little Nigella impersonation.)


According to my Mother, I’ve been living in “a little slice of heaven on earth” for the last 20 years. Brunswick Heads is an idyllic seaside town, nicely daggy around the edges. People nod and say “hello” even if you don’t know them as you meander down the street. And that’s how we like it.

Change Is Here

But this year it’s changed. Apart from the soaring 30 plus degree temperatures, Brunswick Heads has been “discovered” and the locals are finding it hard to get a parking spot.

What I really noticed was the change in pace. It was faster (“I want it now!”). It was intolerant and closed (“I was here first!”). There was a loss of community (little eye contact, connection or conversation from visitors.) Locals felt like they’d lost their friendly village to a horde of transient, cold-eyed, g-string wearing strangers.

Apart from this year’s fashion for scanty beach attire, it strikes me that our experience in Brunswick Heads is similar to fears that speakers face the first time they give a talk to a new group. The group is often perceived by the quaking speaker as a wall of strangers with whom they have little connection or warmth. And the group may feel exactly the same way toward the speaker.

So how do you break through and forge meaningful relationships, trust and credibility with strangers? And how do you do it with genuine warmth, integrity and an invitation to come back? Especially if you are selling something or promoting change and new ideas to people who are “happy to stay as we are, thank you very much”?

A Quick Way To Learn
One of the quickest ways to learn anything new is to observe how successful others do it. And of course, sometimes it’s the best way to learn how not to do something. You can find yourself in the mirror of others, trying on their ideas and behaviours like a new outfit. Then assiduously keeping the bits that fit and letting go of the bits that don’t.

Whom Do You Admire?
Before reading on, please take a moment to think of someone, local or global, famous or infamous who makes you sit up and listen. What qualities do they embody? Why are you attracted or repelled? Which of their communication skills would you like to try on and see if they work for you?

Let Your Words And Body Speak – Obama And Nigella Style
I admire the communication skills of Barack Obama, the former American President and Nigella Lawson, the English cook and former journalist. Both are brilliant communicators and generate emotional impact, presence and approachability. Barack is more cerebral, structured and deep thinking. Nigella is more sensual, down to earth and practical. She shows you how to do it; Barack inspires you why to do it. I’m going to briefly describe and demonstrate 3 verbal and 3 body language techniques used very differently by Barack and Nigella. If you haven’t already done so, you may now find it useful to watch the 1-minute video demonstrating these 6 techniques…

3 Ways To Spruce Up Your Verbal Language

  1. Anaphora: is the repetition of the same word or phrases. Used well, it adds impact and power to a central idea. Barack Obama is skilled at using anaphora: “If I told you that…If I told you that… If I told you that…” Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard used anaphora brilliantly in her famous 2013  “Misogyny” speech in parliament when she repeated…”I am offended when… I am offended when… I am offended when…” It requires holding your nerve and delivering the simple repetition with elegance and confidence. It if feels too performance like – you need to reconnect with the authenticity of your message. Speeding up and garbling diminishes and dissolves you and the message. (Find the link to Julia’s speech within my article “Do Men & Women Do Public Speaking Differently?”See my underlined example below of how to use anaphora in my one-minute self-intro below.
  2. Rule Of Three: refers to using words and ideas in sets of three. Our brain processes and remembers groups of three very well; groups of four or more get a bit awkward. There is a familiar, story-telling rhythm in groups of three… “long, long, long ago, in a far, far, far land…there lived three sisters… Martha, Bertha and Greta.” Who can forget Barack Obama’s powerful promise line distilled into three words: “Yes We Can.”  Another speaking device is called the ascending tricolon (“three’s getting bigger”) It’s a lovely way of taking a small, do-able idea, then making it bigger, then making it bigger again and again. It helps expand ideas from one point to another. See my bolded example below.
  3. Personal, Conversational Language: helps remove barriers of unfamiliarity, difference and newness. It enables one human being to speak directly to another human being, building the connection of shared relationship and experience. Using pronouns of “me”, “you” and “us” are inclusive. Using present, active tense grammar, keeps us united in the current moment. “Together, we can do this.“  Rather than speak in the passive tense of what I call  “the royal we”, Barack speaks directly to every person, to you and I, from him. During Nigella’s cooking shows, she speaks personally and conversationally, almost like a confession… “I don’t know about you… but I just don’t have time to mash my own potatoes.” She is engaging because she appears like every busy woman, pressed for time, and finding smarter ways to do things. Her down to earth humanity, shortcuts and joy of food are universally appealing. See my own examples below in italics.

3 Ways To Luxuriate In Your Body Language

  1. Large, Lighthouse Gestures: Your eyes track movement and gesture long before your mind processes word meaning. A large, simple gesture, cuts through the fluff of endless verbiage and flies straight to the heart of understanding. Why say, “It was a big fish, at least a metre long”, when you can show it with your hands and emphasise with your voice. Your meaning is clearer with physical demonstration and is much more interesting for viewers. A hand on your chest adds credibility when you share something personal; a “no” becomes emphatic when you make an accompanying slashing gesture and use a hard tone. You can be as creative as you like, as long as you get the message across.
  2. Direct Eye To Eye Contact: In most western cultures, direct eye contact is an invitation to trust and connect. If we linger too long or too short, it becomes uncomfortable. Look directly, pause, wait for your words to land and move on. Direct eye contact with a speaker makes listeners feel heard and important. They immediately know they are not being spoken at, but with. In Nigella’s cooking videos (“Nigella Bites”), she leans forward conversationally, and lingers into the camera to make sure you are still keen to make a berry soufflé. Obama looks directly into the camera, he doesn’t shy away, gazing without fear into millions of eyes. He is solid and real. Yep, direct eye to eye contact definitely takes practice and confidence if you are squirming right now.
  3. Open, Relaxed Body: The “secret” to looking relaxed and confident is to show your body as relaxed and confident. Obama looks open, languid and comfortable in his own skin. The message it sends is “I’ve got this. I’m strong and capable and at ease with myself and the world.” It causes others to believe in him because he appears to believe in himself. That’s confidence and it’s a compellingly attractive quality in anyone. He also takes his time in speaking and gazing, he gives complete attention, he doesn’t rush. One of my favourite Nigella moments is the last 3 minutes of her cooking program. It’s dark in the kitchen, she slips down in her robe late at night lit up by the light of her giant fridge. She decides between a hunk of chocolate gateau or a roasted pork roll to snack on. She makes her choice and takes a huge bite with a cheeky grin. Yep, we’d all like to effortlessly embrace the joy of eating without guilt. Nigella defies popular convention and shows us how to do it with a relaxed, open mind and body.

How And When To Apply These Techniques
Written directly below, I delivered this rather formal, 1-minute self-introduction at a business breakfast where we took turns to stand and introduce ourselves to the group.
It was a good opportunity to demonstrate the use of anaphora (underlined), rule of 3, ascending tricolon (in bold)  and the use of personal, conversational language (in italics). To see the body language gestures, you’ll have to either watch the video or use your imagination. It’s probably easier to watch the 1-minute video…

My One-Minute Demo Self-Introduction
This one-minute self-introduction formed the opening of a 30-minute speech about what we can learn from expert communicators like Obama and Nigella. Watch the 10 minute edited version here.
Have you ever wondered, how some speakers inspire you with every word and others, do not?
How some speakers inspire you to trust and believe in them and others, do not?
How some speakers inspire you to ask for their card, work with them, connect to something bigger and others, do not?
My name is Geraldine. I am a public speaking coach and I transform the speakers whom you didn’t want to work with, into the ones that you do!!!
I show professionals like you, like authors, coaches and business owners how to relax and overcome nerves. How to find your true voice and how to craft meaningful words into memorable presentations you can be proud of.
Work with me if you want to get hired whenever you speak!
I’m Geraldine Barkworth, director, Goddess Of Public Speaking.”


Above All, Stay Real & Stay Open
In a world of superfluous verbosity and redundant superlatives, whose services, products and ideas do we believe, trust and follow?

The speaker-leaders who embody warmth, credibility and authenticity. Who aren’t afraid to look you in the eyes. To help you grow, learn and connect to something bigger than what you saw for yourself. Speakers are compelling when they offer that gift of intimacy and invite you to join them there.

So… welcome to Brunswick Heads! Let your words and body speak. And don’t forget your g-string.

(c) 2017 Geraldine Barkworth, speaking coach, www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au


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Listen To Your Inner Speaker

free-stuff-for-public-speakers-4cmGreat Communication Begins Within

To become confident when ever speaking in public, 1-to-1 or 1-to-many, you need to first learn how to connect with your inner speaker, with the space around you and then with the audience, before any words are spoken.

A sense of connection is more powerful than words. Communicating from the heart, fully present with other human beings, creates acceptance and understanding. Connection seemingly occurs without effort. There is a sense of “oneness” which is healing for all – speakers and listeners. The ability to connect with others is radiantly attractive to all people. It is the defining characteristic of great leaders and speakers.

Start By Connecting With Your Inner Speaker

The core belief that we are separate, isolated or different from everyone else, can generate an uncomfortable feeling of self-consciousness, fear of rejection and doubt of self worth. Connecting authentically first with the self, then with others, is a simple and effective remedy for our western epidemic of social isolation.

When you feel connected to the self, you are connected to your foundation. This is a place of great peace, stillness, strength and clarity for many people. When you speak from this place, you speak in authenticity. Your presence carries a natural charisma and authority without trying to be something you are not.

Connecting to your inner speaker takes only a few seconds. It begins by:

  • Stopping,
  • Pausing to take an even breath in and out,
  • Becoming aware of your body, thoughts and feelings and reconnecting with your centre.

Connecting first to your inner speaker occurs at the beginning of all powerful presentations and conversations. It is also described as “being present.” Next, you are ready to connect to the space around you.

Connection To The Space (Room)

Once you have connected to your inner speaker, either before you enter the room or just before you speak, you need to then tune into the space around you. Again the time it takes is mere seconds. The “space” refers to your surrounding environment on every level and includes:

  • Physical (the room, space layout, props, cramped or spacious room),
  • Mental (the “headspace”, attitudes and perceptions of you and others at that moment),
  • Emotional (your feelings and the emotions of others in the room – eager, bored, scared),
  • Spiritual (your internal sense of your energy and the energy of others at that moment).

The term “holding the space” refers to the skill of balancing your awareness simultaneously with the 4 aspects of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual connection when you communicate with others. It is a skill requiring a high level of self-awareness and emotional control. Speakers who learn this skill deliver with greater impact, communicating beyond mere words. Messages delivered with skilled presence generate a powerful emotional impact that bypasses the mind and goes straight to the heart.

At a coaching conference I once attended – a speaker held us spellbound with his quiet, slow paced story (mental space) and we waited in relaxed silence (spiritual space) as he strolled across the room (physical space) to pour himself some water. It could have been his living room. By witnessing a normal, human event, it connected us to each other (emotional space). Rather than “him up there and us down here”, he gave us a chance to pause and take a drink too – we were in this together.

Your Integrity Matters

One last point about “Connecting To The Space” – be aware that as the speaker, you are “on” from the moment your name is called and you take the floor (even it’s it just the family dinner table) right through to leaving the floor and completing. Your audiences’ eyes, minds and emotions will be engaged and assessing you before you even open your mouth. Your integrity (who you are and what you stand for) is on display. That’s why it’s important to not rush in without taking time to connect first with your inner speaker, the space and then of course, the human beings in front of you.

And the art of connecting with your audience with charismatic can’t-tear-my eyes-off -them-authenticity, is a whole other article. Stay tune.

(c) 2012-16 Geraldine Barkworth, public speaking coach, www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

Inspire Audience Trust

Inspire Groups To Trust You

The word “inspire” come from the Latin, “inspirae” which means, “to breathe in.” When your audience or group feels inspired, they trust you and that’s a significant responsibility. They may also feel energised, hopeful or fearful, aware they are on the verge of learning something important. They will literally stop, “breathe you in” and listen.

Now you have been honoured with their trust, you must fulfil your promise.

Design presentations and interactive exercises to be safe, transparent and fun to encourage participants to risk opening themselves up in front of others. Even asking for a show of hands can feel confronting to some people. Be sensitive to the needs of your audience and your topic when designing your speech, presentation or workshop. Treat personal disclosure (as in “I feel really nervous talking about this”) or controversial issues (as in “discussing community anger about a proposed 5 story building in a 1 story street”) with the care and diplomacy you would appreciate for yourself.

Inspiring trust works both ways.

(c) 2015 Geraldine Barkworth, public speaking coach. This article or review is the author’s opinion only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

The Audience Is Queen Not You

This Is Why You Must Understand Your Audience

Computer Queen 3x2If you thought giving a speech was about you, think again!

No matter how scintillating your information, if it is not customised and relevant to your specific audience, they will not engage with you or your message. You might as well speak to your mirror.


Audiences come in many shapes and sizes and include:

  • team meetings with colleagues to whom you must deliver a report,
  • children at the dinner table to whom you must explain why the weekend to the beach is cancelled,
  • board members to whom you must persuasively present your proposal,
  • workshop participants who have come to learn new skills,
  • room full of expectant listeners waiting to hear the answer to the meaning of life.

To research and understand each of your audiences, find out in advance:

  • Demographics – How old are they? What is the male/female mix? What do they do for a living?
  • Psychographics – What do they care about? What are their common problems? What would motivate them to take action? What keeps them awake at night?
  • Logistics – How big is my audience? What is the best room / venue set up for them? Do they have special needs, like wheelchair access or a need to be finished by a certain time?
  • Promotion – What are the best methods to reach and motivate them to attend? Where do they congregate? What kinds of special offers will most likely benefit and inspire them to take action?

As the Speaker or Leader of the Moment, you must understand your audience to craft and present an effective and relevant speech for them. Ultimately, it is your audience who determines your topic choice and styles of delivery, language and promotion… not you!

© 2015, Geraldine Barkworth, public speaking coach. This article or review is the author’s opinion only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

Aim For More Than Just 2%

It is an art to present to audiences and groups. Presenting requires personal maturity and superb skills in interpersonal communication and people, time and priority management.

Oh and let’s not forget solid and original content to inform and entertain. The speaker must also balance their own agenda, the care of individuals and the needs of the group, with clear boundaries to stay on track and the flexibility to adjust course as needed.

There is an often quoted dramatic statistic that only 2% of a passively listening audience will implement and follow through your specific recommendations and duplicate your results. The other 98% think it’s a good idea at the time and then forget about it the next day. I am exaggerating, but I’m not that far off!

When an audience connects emotionally with your message (they feel it), when they see evidence and proof (they believe it) and when they have a personal experience of it (they do it), you will greatly increase the take-up engagement rates and inspire your audience into action.

This is why I recommend my clients aim to create speeches, presentations and workshops that are emotionally stirring and hands on to share a touch, see, feel listening experience so many more that just 2%, really get it.

© 2015, Geraldine Barkworth, public speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

Introduce Yourself With A WIFM Not A Wish

How To Speak To A “Closed Group”

Have you ever tried to introduce yourself in a meeting, group or event and as much as you tried to insert yourself into the conversation, you are passed over by the others, as if you don’t exist? It’s hard to maintain self-confidence in an environment where you feel ignored. Actually it’s hard to not feel paranoid!

Unfortunately this is a common experience for many first timers when they attend an established group who often close ranks rather than open and welcome the newbies. Newcomers often feel they have to “force their way in” and “prove themselves”. Sometimes, they just don’t come back.

I’m going to outline how to introduce yourself using a simple WIFM strategy to show you how to break through this social communication barrier. It will enable you to be seen and heard every time you speak.

What’s In It For Me?
The strategy is called “What’s In It For Me?” (WIFM) Whenever we evaluate a product, service, idea or even a relationship, there are three questions running subconsciously through our mind. When you speak, especially if it’s to a group who don’t know you well, within the first two minutes people will be asking themselves:

1.    Who are you? (What qualifies you to talk about this?)
2.    How will I benefit?  (What will I get out of this?)
3.    And what do I have to do, to benefit? (What steps do I need to take?)

You may now be re-evaluating the last time you spoke, whether it was in a small meeting, large group or a networking event. Did you establish the answer to those questions with your listeners? And did you do it right up front so they quickly became engaged and interested?

Whether we browse for a new breakfast cereal, analyse the government Budget or listen to a colleague speak at a meeting, these are the same three critical questions we subconsciously ask ourselves each time.


WIFM Sample For A Networking Event

“Hello, I’m Maud and I manufacturing gizmos for reinforced concrete to keep our bridges safe. I’ve implemented 5 projects using gizmos and I’m going to tell you how I did that today.

My purpose is to help you avoid pitfalls in your business expansion and take to advantage of my experience

…and when I’ve finished in 30 minutes time, you’ll know how to do such and such… with your business. Is that something you want for your future?”


Play around with the WIFM Strategy sample and substitute your own language. If you use this style to introduce yourself when you speak at meetings and groups, especially when you know your audience may not want to hear what you have to say, you will answer those three critical, unspoken questions and objections running through their minds.

Once you establish credibility, explain the benefit and the steps to get that benefit, the audience will be welcoming, open to hearing what you say and more likely to follow your recommendations. Your influence will grow with your credibility every time.

Contact Geraldine for help with creating the WIFM for your next speech.

(c)2014, Geraldine Barkworth, public speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

It’s Not Me, It’s YOU

Get The Right You Me Speaking Ratio

Have you ever wondered why some people have the power to galvanise you into action? What these people get right is their use of the You Me Speaking Ratio when they communicate.

Excessive use of “I” and “me” turns listeners off quick-smart.  I love the joke about the actress who says: “Enough about me! Let’s talk about you! What do you think of my latest movie?”!!!

One of the fastest ways to lose an audience (or the attention of your friends and colleagues) is to talk mostly about yourself and from your perspective.

Get The Ratio Right
According to my research, a language ratio of 10:1 of You:Me is about the right ratio to generate a balanced and inclusive speech. It leads to greater engagement and even ownership of your ideas because the speaker shows how their idea will work for you.

  • Examples of me-centred language: “I”, “me”, “my”, “mine”.
  • Examples of you-centred language: “you”, “us”, them”, “they”, “we”, “our”… “together”, “community”.

Examine the difference for yourself in the next 2 short examples by noticing how you feel when you read them or even better, say them out loud:

“I consider it imperative to make my health my number one priority. All the money in the world will not make me happy if I’m sick. My workshop today will show you how I did it, so you can too. I believe that health equals happiness.”

“All the money in the world will not make you happy if you are sick. We all have so many competing priorities and other people to attend to. This workshop will show you how to clear the clutter of your busy life and how to make your health and you, your number one imperative. Your health equals your happiness.”

A Famous Example Of A “You-Centred” Speech
In 1961, American President John Kennedy’s inaugural speech “…ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,” uses “me-centred” words only 4 times and uses ‘you-centred” words 50 times. (Now that’s an interesting contrast with the “me-me-centred” speeches given by one of Australia’s most recent Prime Ministers.) So do not let the 10:1 ratio trip you up. It’s not a rule, just a guideline to be aware of if you want to inspire, engage and build trust and an affirmative response from your listeners.

How To Connect And Inspire When You Speak

  1. Take a look at anything you’ve recently written, especially if it’s a “speech” type nature or a self-intro. Identify the proportion of “you” versus “me” centred words.
  2. Emphasise “we” and “us” to keep the spotlight on your listeners or audience. Remember, it’s not about you, it is about them. A speaker or leader is just a temporary conduit of information to help others understand.
  3. Rewrite your speech or report and make it “you-centred” with a language ratio of at least 10:1 “you’s” and “we’s” to “I’s” and “me’s.” Notice and enjoy the difference in reaction.

Whenever anyone speaks, it is to benefit others, right? If not, you are just talking to yourself. And we all know the special terms for that!

If you’ve ever felt you’ve missed the mark when you speak and your friends, colleagues or an audience seem to switch off and aren’t interested in your ideas, examine your You Me Speaking Ratio. Once adjusted to “you-centred” language, you may now become the communicator you’ve always longed to be.

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

9 Public Speaking Blunders & Their Remedies

Public Speaking Blunders

Public speaking blunders are made by everyone. Have you ever been part of an audience or group, and winced at something the speaker did or said? And as a speaker, have you ever been, winced at? Here are 9 common public speaking blunders and their remedies:

1.    No preparation
2.    No preparation
3.    No preparation
4.    Unclear purpose or message
5.    Fail to establish trust and rapport
6.    TALK AT rather than BE WITH
7.    Talk like a non-stop train
8.    Too much information!
9.    No “This is What To Do Next” message

Public Speaking Blunders 1, 2 & 3: No Preparation

Let me ask you: Do you want to feel cool, calm and connected when you speak? Do you want your audience to listen? And do you want to be invited back to speak?

Three things will ensure that this happens – preparation, preparation, preparation. Doh. If you are a preparation-phobe, you need to ask yourself right now, “Why do I prefer to shoot myself in the foot rather than get what I want?” I have noticed that people who don’t do any preparation often fool themselves into thinking that if they just ignore the upcoming event, it will go away. Or a miracle will occur and they will find themselves channelling a witty dead comedian. Unfortunately these strategies rarely work. So do this:

•    Prepare emotionally by giving yourself time to become present and calm.
•    Prepare physically by organising items you may need such as notes, props, samples, handouts, cards, the clothing you intend to wear and, know the layout of the room.
•    Prepare mentally by clearly identifying your purpose and intended outcomes for speaking. Research your audience – what problems can I solve for this group of people? What are the common factors this group and I share to establish credibility and relevance?

Public Speaking Blunder 4: Unclear Purpose Or Message

If you don’t know where you are going, your audience certainly won’t either. And instead of listening to you, they’ll switch off. At the beginning of your talk, tell them your purpose in speaking. Tell them what you are going to be talking about and what they will be learning. Then tell them how they will benefit and what they will need to do, to benefit. The audience then understands you are inviting them to accompany you on a journey and there is a purpose and a benefit in joining you.

Public Speaking Blunder 5: Failure To Establish Trust & Rapport

Would you listen to or buy from a presenter you didn’t trust? As a speaker, if you fail to take the time to establish a relationship with your listeners, they will keep their minds, their hearts and their wallets closed. And you will have missed the opportunity to build an ongoing relationship with your clients/audience and hearing what they have to say to you.

Public Speaking Blunder 6: Talk AT Rather Than BE WITH

The way to establish trust and rapport is to BE WITH your audience. This is a lovely phrase from Lee Glickstein. “Be with” means to slow down, wait and be fully in the moment in relationship with another. When you stick to a memorised routine, you might as well just talk to your bedroom mirror. And the audience feels it and switches off. BEING WITH your audience means being available and listening to your audience first. It means you are having a dynamic, two-way conversation. Everyone wants to feel heard and be seen. So forget you and your agenda, and think about them. What do they need from you, and how can you supply it? Talk about that.

Public Speaking Blunder 7: Talk Like A Non-Stop Train

Fast speakers can be exciting and energising for about 3.5 minutes. One of the quickest ways to lose an audience (now, where did I put those people?) is to have no space between your words and ideas. People need time to think about what you’ve said and if you don’t give them that time, they will not hear your next brilliant point. Because they will still be thinking about the point before that.

Public Speaking Blunder 8: TOO Much Information

Which brings us to information overload. Our whole society is brimming enthusiastically with so much to say about everything. Do your audience a favour and edit out any clutter. Identify the priorities (Ask yourself: “What would I want to know about this subject?”) and clearly articulate those points. No one knows what you’ve missed out and no one cares. People want personal connection from you, not technical content – they can get that from a magazine.

Public Speaking Blunder 9: No “This Is What To Do Next” Message

When you stand up and speak it is because you want to sell, promote or share a product, service or idea. The first part of your talk explains the problem your audience wants solving and the last part of your talk should be about providing a solution. There’s no point getting people inspired when you don’t lay out a simple plan to help them take the next step. Provide a handout, articles, a web address or ask people to volunteer what they intend to do differently tomorrow.

If your audience doesn’t know what to do next, they generally, will do nothing. In which case you have to ask yourself: “So what was my point in standing up and speaking?” Your job as the speaker is to help your audience understand how to move forward and show them how to take that next step. And preferably, a step in your direction!

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

How To Speak & Be Heard In Noisy Cafes

When we stand up and speak in front of others, we want to be seen, heard and remembered. Otherwise, what is the point of public speaking?

While you can control yourself, you can’t control much else. If you find yourself in difficult speaking environments like noisy cafes, how can you keep the attention of your audience, when:

•    Crash goes the coffee machine;
•    Waitresses pass back and forth;
•    People seem more interested in their bacon than you;
•    Listeners are scattered over lots of tables and want to chat;
•    You feel overwhelmed by noise and can’t remember a single sensible word.

For many people, the impact of multiple distractions in a noisy café brings up fears of having to work really hard to attract and maintain the attention of your audience. Because if you can’t keep their attention, what might that say about you?

Fears can trigger old beliefs to surface. Many people adopt one of these tactics when feeling under pressure:

•    Speak really fast to keep everyone’s attention – this is OK at first, but it becomes tiring for listeners and the speaker due to lack of space to think ideas through and connect with each other.

•    Perform, entertain, be larger than life to make more noise than the coffee machine – this becomes trying and inauthentic, loosing credibility for you and your service.

•    Doggedly follow your memorised or written script – when you ignore natural laughter or events like a glass breaking loudly – it reveals you are not genuinely present with your audience and they are in fact, immaterial. This destroys trust and rapport.

•    Your voice, eyes and spirit just fade away as you assume you can’t possibly hold anyone’s attention because you have nothing of value to offer – audiences may cringe and your esteem and self-belief plummet further.

The simple way to attract and maintain an audience’s attention in noisy cafes is to be fully present each and every time you speak. An audience can tell immediately if a speaker is emotionally as well as physically present and will listen, accordingly.

In a nutshell, the key is to connect personally with your audience as individuals and engage their interest with a topic and information that is genuinely relevant and useful to them. Following is a list of steps to remind you how to be seen, heard and remembered every time you speak in a difficult places like noisy cafes:

•    Give yourself time to prepare in advance to be mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually present.
•    Arrive early, familiarise yourself with the room and meet people personally.
•    Take a slow deep breath before speaking and make eye contact.
•    Speak as though you are having a one on one conversation, pausing naturally, allowing your words to flow, giving your audience space and time to absorb your words. It also allows you to listen to your audience.
•    Manage your emotions by choosing to connect only with audience members who are already offering you their eyes and attention. Do not be distracted by anyone who appears to not be listening to you.
•    Interact with your audience by asking questions, request raising of hands, brief feedback, invite participation through exercises. Make it physical – if you have a product, show it or demonstrate a special technique – this also allows you to “speak less, and say more” via action rather than words.
•    Tell your audience you want them to do something at the start of your talk as this engages interest and creates a “giving and receiving” loop.
•    Give the audience something truly useful, relevant and memorable to take away, like an article, product sample or your business card.

Take a moment now to visualise yourself speaking in noisy cafes. Imagine yourself systematically working your way through each of those 8 steps directly above. What would you be doing, saying, feeling, differently to last time? And if your visualisation makes it clear you need more concrete help, contact Goddess Of Public Speaking for some divine intervention!

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

The Case Of Missing Joy: a public speaking case study

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”. She realised her inability to connect heart to heart, meant no real engagement and therefore 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 coaching Sandra in non verbal rapport-building techniques, 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.

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.

What Happened Later
A year later Sandra emailed me to say: “Wow, I had no idea it was possible to enjoy public speaking. I now grab every opportunity to speak!” Book sales are steady and she’s now self-published her second title. She’s also just been asked to be a keynote speaker at a small health conference for the first time next year.

Sandra found joy in public speaking and the surprising opportunities it brings to life.

* The client’s name has been changed to protect privacy. If you are ready to refine your authentic voice and inner speaker, contact professional speaking coach Geraldine Barkworth to have a fun, fearless and confidential conversation of your own.

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