Presence Power: 6 Steps To Super Speaking!

No longer hiding beneath her cape, Dianna threw her anticipation anxiety aside and strode to centre stage.

Well ok, it was her lounge room and her family was her audience on this occasion. But next week, it will be in front of 250 of her colleagues. Quaking in her boots no matter how pretty, or calling in sick last minute will just not do.

So how did Dianna shift from a slink to a strut?

For starters, she worked with me earlier this year in a 5 session program called Feel Fear Speak Anyway. Dianna learned how to embody leadership presence, inside and out. Before I launch into describing this 6 step sequence (it’s a kind of elegant 3 minute ritual), I better explain a bit about the significance of Presence Power and why you definitely need it.

Why You Need Presence Power

If you suffer from speaking nerves, presence power will fix it. If you wish to engage the respect and attention of your listeners, presence power will deliver it. If you wish to boost your personal influence and find a large audience for your ideas, presence power will take you there.

Recap: What Is Presence?

Presence is a state of being. It’s something you feel, not do. Presence is also described as “charisma”, “something drew me to her”, “compelling”, “magnetic”, “powerful”, “mindful”, “now.”

Presence is mind, body and emotions working harmoniously. It is radiantly attractive. There is no space for fear and doubt when you are fully present in the moment. Listeners “switch on” when they realise they are in for a special treat: the speaker is truly authentic and right here right now.

Presence charges the atmosphere and inspires trust, rapport and connection. It generates credibility, energy and impact. The most compelling leaders speak with presence power.

Wow! Who wouldn’t some of that? And it’s free! Flowing through your veins right now. You just need to know how to activate your super power!

How To Activate Your Super Power

You need to coax your super power into it’s full magnificence. This involves trust and perhaps some cajoling. The state of presence is a habit like any other. Until it becomes second nature whenever you speak and lead, you need to cultivate it, mentally, physically and emotionally.

Homework Before You Do The 6 Step Sequence

  • Watch the Amy Cuddy TED Talk “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are” to understand the significance of a power pose and how to do it.
  • Spend some time getting clear about your purpose for the next time you are going to speak to other people. Be specific. “I want to talk good” is not good enough for a purpose. You want your purpose to ring true, to enliven your words and your listeners. To capture the very essence of a meaningful outcome. “I want to show my group how to take a 5 minute break every hour to decrease stress and increase joy”.

 

Presence Power: 6 Step Sequence

  1. Power Pose: Strike a powerful “super person” stance for about 1 minute. Feel stable, grounded and strong. Become aware of your breath, pace and thoughts. Relaxxx.
  2. Calm Belly: Close your eyes, hands on lower belly, count 5 slow, even breaths in and out. Feel the natural rise and fall of your belly. With each breath, relax more deeply.
  3. Be Present: Now open your eyes slowly and awaken your senses. Identify 3 things you can see, 3 you can hear, 3 you can feel on your skin. This will keep ground and calm you.
  4. Purpose: Bring to mind your Speaking Purpose. Focus on the result you want for your listeners. Let the clarity fill every cell of your body. You know you have a job to do! Speak it!
  5. Refocus: Intentionally shift your focus onto your listeners and away from yourself. Be 100% present with your listeners and your message. See their enthralled faces.
  6. Now Move! Do a gentle shoulder roll, slightly tilt your chin up, walk forward into your future…

Unexpected Bonus

Talk about a transportable skill! Recently I had 10 minutes before I left the house to run a 3 hour workshop. I needed to be calm as I was teaching, “How To Be Calm Under Pressure!” Well, I had an unexpected visitor who was demanding and rude. I got very angry. I was now late. As I drove my car away, mentally obsessing about where I could hire a hit man, it occurred to me to practise my Presence Power sequence.

While I couldn’t close my eyes and stand like superwoman, I adjusted my posture, went through the process and stated my speaking purpose whilst ducking and weaving through traffic. And you know what? By the time I finished this cute little 3 minute-ish sequence, I was indeed, cool, calm and connected. I was so surprised with the unexpected bonus… Presence Power can be applied to any challenging situation… not just “public speaking”.

Go Get Your Cape!

Well, what are you waiting for? Presence Power is here, there and everywhere! It really does start with you, knowing how to transport yourself and then others, into that better place. Go forth and strut your stuff with dum de dum daa… Presence Power!

© 2017 Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

Bad Experiences Make Good Stories

story-telling-4x3

It’s true! Here’s a bad experience of my own turned into a good story:

I was second speaker at a conference, talking about the elusive mystery of work life balance. So elusive, the first speaker was missing. He eventually turned up twenty minutes late and spoke AT the audience instead of WITH them. I had to re-energise, re-engage and refocus a hostile audience. I gained a lot of value from that crappy experience. It propelled me to morph into a specialist public speaking coach.

He Lost Me At “Hello”

Here’s how I translated that bad experience into a two minute introductory story:

“It was hot, it was sticky… it was a tropical conference at the top of Australia.
pause
A government minister was to open the conference and he was twenty minutes late. He shuffled in apologetically, flanked by four flunkies and hid behind the lectern. He studiously read a long paper written by someone else. He spoke quickly, his eyes down. Who was this man? Why was he here?
pause
I had no idea what he was talking about because he didn’t appear to be saying anything in ordinary English. I couldn’t tell where he was going or what was the point. I found the  audience much more interesting. There was a lot of glazed eyes, long suffering sighs and checking of text messages…
pause
I didn’t hear the rest of his speech because, “he lost me at “hello”.

bigger pause
Two important things I learned at that hot, sticky conference:

One, when a speaker fails to acknowledge and personally connect with his audience, they switch off and stop listening.
Two, when a speaker fails to make his message customised and relevant to the audience, they switch off and stop listening.
pause
What is the point of speaking if no one is listening?

bigger pause
As I was the speaker following him, I felt jittery. He was not only over time, but he’d lost our audience. This meant I had to work hard to regain attention and respect from the audience and keep my own spirits up after a dismal start.
pause
The turning point for me was the realisation that there is a big market  to show speakers how to connect heart to heart with an audience and to keep them listening.

bigger pause
The result of that turning point experience is my public speaking course, “Free Your Inner Public Speaker”, which you are now experiencing.“

 

Being Personal Is Being Real
When you begin your speech with sharing a personal story, it begins a relationship with your audience. Start with a simple, graphic opening line. Pause to let the audience catch up and have their own experience of relating to what you said. Briefly tell the rest of the story. Tell what you’ve learned from that experience and how it relates to the purpose of your talk. Engage their interest first. Then explain how it is relevant to them. Make eye contact one person at a time.

Drop Trying To Be Clever
Don’t struggle with trying to put something “clever” or “perfect” together (that’s a “should” coming from your head). Instead, take a leap to trust your instincts (coming from your body and heart) that what tumbles from your lips will be good enough. It’s your true story in glory and simplicity. Your story telling just may a bit of polish.

The key is to practise again from a fresh perspective, using what you learned from your first story telling practise. Ask yourself each time: What flowed and felt good? What didn’t?

And Don’t Forget To Pause
Taking the time to pause often while you speak, gives you time to gather your thoughts, tune into your feelings and speak from that place. It allows your listeners to catch up and travel along with you.

Sometimes speakers feel nervous or believe they don’t have anything of value to say, so they too speak quickly or nervously fade away. Which are fabulous ways to lose your audience. The “pause” draws people in – they want to be with you, because you are with them. Pausing is natural and normal and feels like relief.

Now It’s Your Turn
Choose a story from your past, it may be twenty years ago, it may be yesterday. Choose a turning point for you, a significant learning that caused you to change, grow or overcome a problem. Or maybe you didn’t overcome it. Perhaps that was the valuable learning.

Take a closer look at the format I used for my turning point story above, “He Lost Me At Hello”. Let that rest gently in your head like a memory, not a lesson.

Right now I want you to resist writing out your turning point story so it doesn’t get caught up as a carbon copy of the one above. Writing things out perfectly often leads to memorising and sounding like a stiff piece of cardboard. Trust yourself you can tell your story, what you learned from it and what you can therefore share or teach others, because… you were there… how could you forget?

Distill The Essence

Start by recalling the story… identify what you learned… and then distill the essence into something you find valuable and can assume your potential listeners will too.

Now say it out loud. It’s ok to ramble a few times. It’s may be easier to practise with some one else. Get the guts out, then reduce and create a story telling picture. Remember to pause as you recall it and to allow listeners to share in the picture you are painting. Another benefit of saying it out loud first, is your language will sound more natural.

If you want to write it out, you can do it now! And if you’d like to learn the rest of the “He Lost Me At Hello” story, you can download my free 6-page e-book and learn how to re-engage, re-energise and refocus yourself and your audience.
(c) 2016 Geraldine Barkworth, public speaking coach, www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

 

Be Heard Now! Tap Into Your Inner Speaker & Communicate With Ease by Lee Glickstein

Book Review By Speaking Coach Geraldine Barkworth

♥ Love This One

Be Heard Now! is one of only two public speaking books I recommend. Buy, clutch to your bosom, then set it free as you step forward unfettered by fear! I’m a big fan of Mr Lee Glickstein and his work. His book is beautifully and simply written, filled with oodles of personal growth and public speaking-related stories, transformations and practical examples.

Lee’s approach is relationship based rather than performance based. He shows readers how to transform fear into magnetism simply by becoming present and speaking from the heart. “To be heard, you have to be here, now” is how Lee sums up the power and simplicity of presence. My work here in Australia shares many of Lee’s values and ideas.

The 13 chapter headings entice with titles including “Vibrant Vulnerability: The Wisdom Of Not Knowing” and “From Agony To Ecstasy: Tapping Into Your Own Natural Power”, “So You Are Going To Give A Talk: Preparing From The Inside Out.”

This book changed my life and caused me to finally find my groove as an authentic speaking coach. Highly recommended. Gush, gush, gush. Learn more about Lee’s work and his books: www.speakingcircles.com

(c) 2016-17 Geraldine Barkworth, public speaking coaching. This review is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

Introverts: Turn Quiet To Your Advantage

Public Speaking Isn’t Just For Extroverts

It’s horrible being labeled by others and even worse when you’ve self-limited by your own hand. Learn to tap into your natural strengths as either introvert, extrovert or ambivert and feel at your best, no matter the situation.

Introvert, Extrovert & Ambivert Mini Quiz
Do you prefer open plan offices or your own space? Prefer 1 to 1’s or parties? Do you enjoy team brainstorming to solve problems or prefer to nut it out on your own and in your time? Do you gain energy being around people and high stimulation or do you feel nourished by quiet reflective, low stimulation time? Or do you enjoy both?

And just out of interest, what did you assume about the lion-cat image for this story? Is the timid pussy overwhelmed by the powerful, outgoing lion, or do pussies harbour a lion inside and should not be underestimated? Or something else?

Introverts
Introverts thrive with lots of solitary time to nourish and nurture their ideas and creativity. They prefer low stimulation environments – private, quiet, calm, natural. They often find large groups loud and tiring. Introverts are not necessarily shy. Shy people often fear social interaction. Introverts prefer their own space rather than being fearful of sharing it. They tend to be more methodical, detailed and slower to answer questions… because they are thinking about it.

Extroverts
Extroverts thrive with social interaction and may feel bored when alone for too long. They are often seen as talkative, assertive and enthusiastic. They seek high stimulation environments – noise, interaction, rapid change and may think, talk and jump on board new ideas quickly.

Ambiverts
I’ll just say a little something here about people who feel confused by having both introvert and extrovert qualities. Instead of suspecting you lack integrity or worry about “who am I really?” I suggest you see the advantages.

For instance, being able to experience introversion and extroversion yourself, gives you greater insight and sensitivity in working with people. And a terrific understanding of how to prepare information in a range of formats for people of all persuasions to understand. Do however, respect your needs for down-time and up-time, favouring neither and enjoying both.

“Quiet”, by Susan Cain
According to my recent reading and subsequent book review of “Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Won’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain, and you can watch the TED Talk, there isn’t a spectrum, rather a cross over of individual personality traits often dictated by your situation or environment.

For instance, you can be a “shy or anxious extrovert” or an “outgoing or socially confident introvert”. I was surprised to discover I am an introvert who acts as an extrovert when necessary. So while I love delivering workshops (professional environment), I look forward to snuggling by myself with a book in a quiet nook (personal environment).

If Only We Could Bottle Authenticity
One thing I have learned is the more comfortable you are in your own skin, the more authentic you are. And authenticity brings peace and confidence within and inspires trust and rapport with others.

Obviously, authenticity is also very useful for speaking with ease in front of groups regardless of whether you consider yourself more of an introvert or extrovert. Damn those labels. Be “true to your weird self.”

Introverts – Tap Into Your Quiet Strengths
As a public speaking coach for the last 12 years, I have observed that it is the quiet, understated humble types who consistently emerge as the charismatic speakers. You can hear a pin drop when they speak. Introverts surprise themselves at the power and impact of their carefully chosen words, imbued with meaning and feeling. And when others give them a chance, our quieter brethren offer us all a gentle breathing space to reflect and be inspired. If you believe you are more introverted:

  • Use your powerful listening skills to signal you hear and understand your group. The best speakers are the best listeners. Everyone deeply wants to feel heard, use listening to your advantage.
  • Introverts are often deep thinkers, creative, persistent, methodical – think artists, scientists, IT innovators. If your personal style to is to be more thoughtful and detailed and different to mainstream, use it for the occasions when it will be appreciated. Learn to not overthink the “the 30 second self intro.”
  • Introverts often confess to me they are scared of Q & A and cannot think and speak well on their feet. Never fear, there are many ways of turning this situation to your advantage, but first you must see it as an opportunity and remain true to yourself.

Extroverts – Tap Into Your Outgoing Energy
Working with extroverts is often a quick and exciting process as they grab whatever I offer with both hands and apply it before I finish speaking! I find extroverts often need to learn restraint and boundaries; knowing when to step in and when to step away and understand that giving too much can be overwhelming and people just switch off. If you believe you are more extroverted:

  • Slow down (at least between sentences and ideas) so that people have time to digest and reflect your ideas. With your bountiful outgoing energy, many gems will be lost in the whitewash unless you prioritise and be very clear about any steps you recommend.
  • Positive, upbeat energy is great for unifying and lifting the group but has short term impact. It’s best used for entrances and signifying direction and tempo changes. If you are giving a longer presentation, watch you don’t wear yourself and your listeners out by an unsustainable, fast paced monologue. Monologues create disconnection (because you are not “listening” to them) and a power imbalance. Disempowered people will not listen to you.
  • Become a better listener to non verbal communication and a keen observer of body language. Both will keep you on track to ensure your group are still willing to go along for the ride with you. Remember that everyone is not the same as you and people process information at faster and slower rates. Prepare your presentation to accommodate all types of people.

How To Cater Equally To Introverts & Extroverts
If you manage staff, speak often to groups or have several children, here’s several tips to ensure you cater to the needs of introverts and extroverts – without using labels on them of course!

  • In an office or communal space, create a mix of open plan and private nooks. Let people gravitate to where they are most comfortable and will do their best work.
  • When presenting to groups, especially workshops, ensure you create a mix of individual reflective exercises, small group and large group activities with emphasis on everyone having a chance to be heard – not just the ones with the loudest voices.
  • Ask people in your care how they best learn and format your information and training accordingly.

Riches For All
Introverts, extroverts and everyone in between, enrich society, shaping the yin / yang balance of humanity. Without the people who come up with great ideas, and the others who confidently sell them, there would be no great ideas at all. Just wistful dreams and a whole lot of bland sameness.

(c) 2016 Geraldine Barkworth, public speaking coach. This article or review is the author’s opinion only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

What Does Your Speaking Voice Say About You?

A Speaking Voice To Command Attention & Authority

Why do some people generate more attention and authority than others? Is it something they do with their speaking voice?

I Speak Therefore I Breathe
As you breathe in and out, air is pushed out of the lungs by the diaphragm and upwards against the vocal cords. This causes the cords to separate and breath passes between them. Ta daa! Sound is produced! The extraordinary variety of sounds we humans produce is caused by the vibrating sound waves in the throat, nose and mouth.

Why Everyone Has A Unique Speaking Voice
Your voice is different to everyone else because of the unique size and shape variations producing different vocal tones in the vocal cords, nose, mouth and throat.

Your voice becomes even more unique to you when volume strengths such as soft and loud are added. In your mind, think of hearing a whisper… now think of hearing a command.

Pitch conveys the colour, meaning and emotion behind your words. Think of a speaker you know whose voice has a high, monotonous, low, shrill, flat or squeaky pitch. What’s your reaction to each? What’s your preference?

And let’s not forget rhythm or ululation, the cadence and emphasis that individuals place on syllables and pronounciation which contribute to the different sounds of a regional accent or to convey meaning. For instance, “I see” or “I see.”

For Every Role, A Different Speaking Voice
Everyday, we all play different roles as parents, colleagues, managers, friends, lovers or children. Have you noticed whether or not your voice changes as you step into each new role? Have you noticed a variation in the voice of others? Obvious examples include:

  • A soft, slower tone when addressing children or someone who is upset or an employee learning a complex new task;
  • an authoritative level tone when addressing a team or audience;
  • a playful whisper to share a joke with your partner.

HOW you say your words is more influential than WHAT you say.

Influencing Others With Your Speaking Voice
Expression and emotion in your voice stirs an emotional response in others. For example, in the West:

  • Deeper, authoritative tones enhance credibility and leadership;
  • High, shrill tones lose authority and are ignored;
  • Soft, confident, slow tones cause people to ‘lean in” and reflect;
  • Powerful, story telling tones using language rich with emotive pictures command attention and engage imagination.

Leaders are often elected and followed due to their ability to lead with their voice and the power of their words. If you are a leader, you need to speak with professional presence. If you are a speaker, you need to lead with professional presence. Leading and speaking are flip sides of the same coin.

What Does Your Speaking Voice Say About You?
Most of us make assumptions about what we sound like based on feedback both verbal and non verbal (such as a smile or a frown) from others.

But are your assumptions about your voice and its influence, correct?

Some of my clients come to see me about “improving their voice” as they desire to command authority and attention when they speak. Sometimes the reasons are obvious:

  • they speak too softly (so they learn to project);
  • they speak too quickly (so they learn to slow down and pause);
  • they speak in a monotone (so they learn how to add colour);
  • they speak with a nervous quiver (so they learn to manage nerves).

What surprises me is how often people assume their voices aren’t powerful enough, effective enough, articulate enough or even good enough for others to hear. When we film or record their voice, they can hear the truth for themselves and take steps if they need to.

What Does Your Speaking Voice Sound Like?
To command greater attention and authority when you speak, you first need to get some factual feedback:

  • Ask 5 friends and colleagues for 5 words describing your speaking style;
  • Observe the impact of your words as they land on people’s faces. Are they listening respectfully, enthusiastically or tuning off?

Great speakers and leaders (at home, at work and in the world) command respect, trust and attention and inspire credibility and action. You can use your influence “for good” simply by finding and tweaking your authentic voice.

Access the power of your vocal cords and let me hear from you!

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

Don’t Give A Speech; Be The Speech

Invite Your Inner Speaker To Dance

My friend Amanda, a dancer, gave an impromptu speech at a meeting. She announced it was her final night. She kept her body moving as she spoke. She spoke her gratitude, shared what she’d learned while packing up her bag, and then touched each person’s shoulder in farewell before dancing out the door. Adieu!

It worked because she trusted her personal strengths of communicating through dance, spontaneity and a good sense of timing. It worked because she trusted herself.

Often a fear of public speaking comes from uncomfortable self-consciousness and the belief that it is not OK to be you. Imagine what speaking in public might be like, if you were completely comfortable with yourself. Your inner public speaker may be quietly snoozing, just waiting for that wake-up kiss of self-trust.

Invite your inner public speaker to dance. Trust that what flows fourth like Amanda’s speech, is perfect for the moment. Amanda’s speech was so authentically Amanda; her message informed and entertained. And she really didn’t know what she was going to do next. She told me afterward she thought it was one of her best speeches and she was right.

Amanda didn’t try to give a speech; Amanda was the speech.

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

Shy People And Parties Survival Guide

Cheese Is A Terrific Starting Point

Many people find it difficult to “just be themselves”, especially shy people at parties. Remember that feeling when you first walk through the door, confronted by a sea of unknown faces or backs? Should you stick around or should you run? Parties can bring up fear of being separate or rejected by the group. Similar fears surface when public speaking.

Basically, when self consciousness looms, people shrink with fear and disappear, or pump themselves up with a flashy veneer.

At parties, it’s frequently a case of one human shield meeting another human shield – no wonder it’s difficult to connect meaningfully with the room awash with air kisses.

Trust & Rapport
Recently I attended a women’s’ “drinks & nibbles”. (Yes, the dreaded “After Hours Networking” – see the related article “Un-Networking For Shy People”.)

The guest speaker was a funeral director and she explained the process of building trust and rapport with someone you’ve never met before. Her process can also be applied to creating heart to heart connections at a party.

Level 1:  Surface chitchat about the party…Head nodding acknowledgement.
Level 2:  Basic information exchange…Name, connection to host.
Level 3:  Offering of safe opinions… Scanning for similarities.  Longer eye contact.
Level 4:  Exchange of appropriate personal thoughts…Standing closer, feeling safer.
Level 5:  Opening up & sharing honest feelings…Authentic Connection.

If your party experience traditionally stays between Levels 1 and 3, then you miss the opportunity to “show yourself” and so does the other person. Self consciousness keeps you in its’ grip and it’s purpose is to keep you feeling safe. Whether you need it or not.

And hey hey hey! If you get to Level 5, you can consider yourself someone who just got comfortable with being themselves at a party, or at least, with one new person. Shy people and parties, who would have thought?

Dropping The Mask
Most of us hide behind a façade at some point. We do this because we don’t feel safe enough to be ourselves. We fear judgement, rejection or loss. Parties and public speaking can trigger a lot of fear! Here’s a quote from a client of mine who sums it up:

“  I can see now that speakers who rely on putting up a mask, rob their audience of the authentic experience of being with them. “ Elise Wynyard, Art Therapist

And so it is at parties. When you wear a mask, you rob people meeting the real you. I am not recommending you drop your guard and expose yourself to the whole wide world this afternoon.

I am recommending you try this technique next time you feel uncomfortable at a party, or when public speaking:

•    Take a slow, deep breath and feel your feet on the floor.
•    Take all the time you need to slow down, make soft eye contact.
•    If you feel like it, introduce yourself to someone who willingly offers eye contact.
•    Pause, smile, and allow space for words to arise naturally. And they will.
•    If someone appears impatient and moves on because you didn’t enthral them within thirty seconds, let them go; you were never going to feel safe enough to open up and connect with this person anyway.

After The Party, Ask Yourself:
•    Is it more satisfying to have connected authentically with one real person, or
•    Is it more satisfying to have ten superficial conversations about the cheese?

It is not my intention to deride conversations about cheese. Cheese is a terrific starting point. The key is to find that starting point, a place of connection with another person. One real person, meets another real person and hey presto, you can be yourself, even as one of the shy people at parties.

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

Do Men & Women “Do Public Speaking” Differently?

Public Speaking Differences Between Men And Women

A question I’m often asked is: “Are there public speaking differences between men and women and do they develop personal presence in the same way?”

Communication and its subset of public speaking does vary between men and women. The ability to speak with presence however, crosses the gender borderline. We all get goosebumps whether the speaker is male or female, as the 2013 video link below of Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard shows.

In terms of gender difference, generally, men compartmentalise into narrow specifics and thus need to join more dots and use more descriptive language. Women open many interconnected doors to a broad picture and thus need to focus and hone.

Gender and power are tricky subjects and liable to assumptions and false beliefs from which of course miscommunication often results. Please take my generalisations for what I intend – a broad summary of my observations over the years. There are no rules of course, everyone is different and not confined to a label.

From my observations as a coach of hundreds of people since 2002, 80% of those being women, I have noticed 4 primary differences:

  1. Gender variation in processing information. To generalise again, men often place more importance on facts and status, women on relationships and emotion, so it’s wise to adjust speech delivery to an all male or all female audience as they will relate differently to content and style as you do with audiences of different age, culture, industry and community.
  2. Personality and cultural differences – a reflection of individual personal qualities such as confidence and their environmental upbringing.
  3. Power imbalance – many women still communicate from an assumed non dominant position, often diminishing and negating their words and impact. For instance they “forget” to mention their achievements and begin by saying “they don’t know much about it”, speaking with lesser volume and eye contact.
  4. Societal perception and interpretation of gender behaviour (the classic: an assertive man described as forthright and strong, while a woman using the same language and manner is described as “demanding and unfeminine.”).

Public Speaking Shared Issues

And in terms of similarities, the common public speaking issues I work on with both male and female clients include:

  • Learning to say “no” and negotiate from a place of natural strength.
  • Energetically ‘holding the space” and not be ‘elbowed out”.
  • Increasing personal confidence and self belief in one’s abilities.
  • Asking for what they really want (assertion) and not hoping for a miracle.
  • Becoming comfortable with eye contact, pausing, speaking conversationally.

The underpinning issues here are the lack of belief in one’s right to be worthy, to be heard and to take up space. These issues are not solely gender issues, but the issues of anyone feeling disempowered or needing a confidence boost, regardless of gender, age, culture or (dis)ability.

Development Of Presence Regardless Of Gender

Now on to the second aspect of the question concerning developing speaking presence and I’ll start with a definition: Presence occurs when someone speaks directly from their heart to yours. It is something you feel, rather than know. Understanding leaps across the room as an energetic ripple, bypassing the rational mind. Heads turn. Hearts engage. Minds open.

Speaking with presence generates attention and impact through natural charisma. This means if you have a message you want to be heard, rather than struggle to keep audience attention, you can simply tap into this natural resource once you learn how.

You can see speaking with presence clearly in the very popular 2013 “Misogyny Speech” from Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard in the House of Representatives directed toward Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott.  The speech went viral around the world as a breath of fresh air in politics – spoken from the heart with passion and personality. She used the reinforcing and emotive technique of repeating the words” “I am offended when…” Her body is electrically charged, she is fully focused, you believe her…  http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ihd7ofrwQX0

Male or female, speaking with presence is far more powerful than a bland, memorised speech.

And yes, while there are public speaking differences between men and women, you can learn with me how to develop and refine your presence. Email me to book a 60 minute phone or Skype consultation to learn how. Everyone, regardless of gender or confidence level, can learn to speak with passion, power and professionalism.

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

 

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