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

Let Your Words And Body Speak For You

 

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

What My Dentist Taught Me About Communication

How To Convey Calm With Body Language

True confession. I have panic attacks at the dentist. In fact last time I went I was so embarrassed I didn’t go back for 5 years. Hence my 4 treatment visits this year. Luckily I’m rich. Well, not any more.

The thing is, apart from now being the proud owner of immaculate hole-free teeth, I learned a lot from my new dentist. He embodied the Art Calm Under Pressure. And it wasn’t just the generous supply of Rescue Remedy flowing like champagne from the dental spit cup. It was so much more!

1. Glide, Don’t Run
Nothing generates fear faster than abrupt, staccato movement. In body language terms it implies: “I’m busy!”, “I don’t have time for you!”, “Lets’ do this fast!” or even, “Danger, Will Robinson!” Darting, shifting or avoiding eye contact does not inspire confidence; instead they suggest a lack of mindful presence – the dentist would rather be somewhere else or you have a big big problem in your mouth that’s going to require a semi trailer and a crane.

On the other hand, a smooth glide says “I”m with you. I have time for you. I am paying you attention and do not intend to go anywhere else.” Willingness to make eye contact builds trust and rapport and you know, they are in it for the long haul. They truly see you and even understand your muffled questions. Their movements are languid and unruffled, suggesting an inner, saint-like calm.

Am I laying it on too thick? Well too bad. It worked for me! And of course, I joyously embraced (great distraction) analysing the parallels between nervous public speakers and nervous dental clients.

2. Reframe In The Positive
This dentist of mine kept up a steady stream of praise and positive feedback. I noticed when he said: “Oh this is going so well. Just a little bit longer”.  My cynical mind vaguely registered he may be telling porkies, but in that moment I chose to suspend suspicion and go with the trust option.  He gently suggested it was a good idea to buff and polish to finish it all off. “Buff and polish” sounds delightful, like a luxurious manicure you can only afford to get in Bali.

I now describe myself as a “Buff & Polish Survivor.” Two long months later and a lot of sensitive-teeth toothpaste have allowed the trauma of dental jackhammer ripping through my jaw bone, of trying to remember to do yogic breathing but really, just praying to a god I didn’t believe in, to get through it.

OK, I’m not intending to make a case for using misleading language. What I relearned was the power of language to influence and persuade. And how powerfully it can be used to settle anxiety and induce calm. And it can be used for the power of good or evil.  Just choose wisely folks.

3. Build Confidence
Working with nervous people necessitates sensitive interpersonal people skills and the ability to build rapid trust (“trust me, I’m a dentist!”). My dentist was very smart. He set out a plan of 4, sixty minute sessions. We began with the initial consult, a modern X-ray (boy things have changed in 5 years) and a tooth and gum brushing lesson (use a 45 degree angle on your gums). He even gave me a Utube link to watch professional teeth brushing.

Session 2 comprised of a review of my new teeth brushing skills (I got a gold star) and a simple upper jaw filling plus 1 needle. Easy. I breezed through the second appointment without even crying! A first!

Oh dear. Sessions 3 and 4 he had strategically left to last. By building my confidence in handling dental treatment I was amazed to experience hell in the dental chair. 3 needles at one point had to be administered. But handled it, I did. He was wise to leave the worse to last because if they had been first, I would not have returned and my panic would only have deepened.

The thing is, I survived. I’m a better public speaking coach for it. And, I have fabulous teeth. When I am coaching and training clients to work with groups, especially of a diverse and sensitive nature, I share the insights I was reminded of at the dentist:

1. Glide, Don’t Run – Slow down, relax and be present.
2. Reframe In The Positive – Choose your words carefully as they carry impact.
3. Build Confidence – Learning requires risk taking and that requires confidence and trust.

Have you booked your next dental appointment?  If so, I encourage you to observe your dentist carefully for the unexpected pearls you may pick up. In the meantime, feel free to join me at my one day workshop in Newcastle on June 29th or 4 day Public Speaking Goddess Retreat in Bundanoon NSW on Nov 22-25, 2016. And yes, nuts and ice cream will be on the menu so get your teeth done at least 2 months before!

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

Video Review: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are, by Amy Cuddy

I share this video for conveying confidence, credibility and authority more than any other TED Talk.

This is a brilliant 20 minute talk from Amy Cuddy for understanding how to make simple physiological changes to transform the way you feel and how others see us. Perfect for those who need to lead, influence, get a message across or feel more confident in any situation.

TED Talks: Ideas Worth Spreading.

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

What Not To Say In A Radio Interview

Public Speaking Gaffes

I was invited to give a live radio interview over the phone, to talk about Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s speaking style, body language and public speaking gaffes. The invitation closely followed the “wink” episode when Mr Abbott was listening to a senior citizen explain how financial hardship and multiple illnesses caused her to take up telephone sex work.

Radio Interview SmallUnfortunately, the camera was rolling and Mr Abbott’s wink caused a furore… but what did the wink mean and what does it suggest about the winkee?

As someone who specialises in body language and non verbal communication, I had a lot to say. But you know what? I could have done better in this radio interview by doing more of these 2 things:

1.    Preparation
Preparation is everything when you are speaking off the cuff or live on radio. Find out what the Interviewer is likely to ask you. Research the topic and reread what you have written about it previously. I’m astonished by how often I forget what I already know. Doh. Listen carefully to any leads shared by the Interviewer which indicate the agenda and direction. Listen to the Interviewer on air to glean their interview style. Write out your main points and main references. Guaranteed you will only use half of your brilliant preparation… but which half you won’t know until you are live on radio.

2.    Listen To Your Gut
My Interviewer handed me a great lead in a preliminary conversation. She mentioned an article published in September 2013 of the Huffington Post titled: “Top 10 Quotes From Australia’s Prime Minister“. My gut said, “Print it out in case you need to refer to it.” I did not. Probably thought I was saving paper. Hmph. In the interview I made a reference to the Huffington article and the Interviewer delightedly said: “Oh what were some of his public speaking gaffes?”  Oh dear, I just made one of my own. I remembered a couple from the article, but really, an accurate quote would have created a powerful moment.

Quite frankly I could have done better in this radio interview. Next time I will prepare more effectively by listening to my gut. Tips or stories from anyone else?

(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

Shop Super Girl 4cm

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 out to play and trust that what comes out spontaneously, like Amanda’s speech, is perfect for the moment. Amanda’s speech was so authentically Amanda; her message informed as well as 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

Flirt Freeze Flight Fight

The 4 F’s Of Public Speaking Fear

I bet you are wondering where “flirt” comes into it and whether it involves batting your eye lashes at a big bad audience? Well… it can!

Unless you are up with social psychology, you may have only heard of the Flight Or Fight Response. Fear is now deemed far more complicated than that and like all good moderns, multi-tasks under pressure! So you can now add “Flirt and Freeze” to “Flight and Fight.”

And of course it is that perceived pressure or threat which activates this ancient response. Trouble is, once adrenaline is released in the body, it triggers a series of responses designed to keep you safe. These responses are similar in all animals and tend to follow the sequence of freeze, flight and fight.

Perception Of Threat – Flirt Freeze Flight Fight Response

In the wide spectrum of phobias and fears, public speaking still ranks in the top 3.  If you don’t suffer from public speaking fear or avoidance, no matter; you still have the Flight Or Fight Response.

Anything you perceive as a threat triggers this response and can include: being confronted with a daily mountain of paperwork, a drunken yobbo at 2am or a speech in front of 5,000 people. Anything that gets your heart racing, voice shaking or temperature rising.

Interestingly, your brain does not discern a difference between being mugged or introducing yourself as a newbie at a meeting. If you perceive that either or both these things are a threat, then your body will respond accordingly – just doing it’s job really.

The Flirt Response

In our sophisticated modern world, the suggestively named Flirt Response can have greater success than freeze, flight or fight. The “Flirt Response” could also be called “Play” or “Fawn” and refers to behaviour that distracts the threat through helpfulness, silliness or attractiveness. It downgrades your status to “no perceived threat.” Very useful survival tactic for avoiding confrontation, aggression or even rejection. It’s often seen as “sucking up” and works really well in certain situations. I remember using this one as a child when confronted with bullies.

The body language of the Flirt Response includes: taking up less room, softening vocal tone and volume and diminishing body presence. Conversely if safe enough, hair tossing, lip licking, lots of wide-open mouthed laughter and smiling, increased physical closeness, extended open-eyed contact and “cheeky” playful comments to test the boundaries.

The Freeze Response

The degree of freezing relates to the degree of perceived threat and can look like “playing dead” or “hiding in plain sight.” This response is designed to reduce the attention that movement attracts. Freezing is useful initially as it provides opportunity to assess a situation before deciding to flee, flight or flirt. However if you are speaking in public, freezing for too long is not a success strategy. Turn it into a pause and intentionally use it to gather your thoughts and kickstart equilibrium.

The body language of the Freeze Response includes: a frozen posture with stiffened or locked up muscles, reduced, awkward or “mis-timed” gestures, wide eyes, hands covering the face, flushing, holding the breath or tentative steps. The voice may also rise up in an uncertain tone, be soft or even seem to disappear (throat muscles tight and saliva reduced). The best way to counter freezing when speaking is to take some kind of ACTION like drinking some water, checking your notes, taking a breath and intentionally making eye contact with someone supportive. By unlocking your breath and muscles you restore flow.

The Flight Response

“Run away to fight another day” is a wonderful survival strategy. However, it doesn’t look too good or help to build interpersonal communication skills if you simply “take off” in the middle of a speech or conversation. So if a situation is something you are wiling to face, notice your body language and shift it toward commitment to tell your body/mind that you are staying not fleeing. Turn with full engagement, lift and open your face, take a “I can handle it” stance, breathe and clear your mind!

The body language of the Flight Response reveals our desire to flee by subtle direction changes that indicate we wish or intend to vamoose! We reorient our bodies (notice your feet and shoulders) toward doorways or exit paths. Interestingly, if you have ever felt bored or badgered by someone at a party, hallway or street corner and you don’t wish to continue the conversation, you will shift your body toward escaping. This often looks like a side-on turn with greatly reduced eye contact and vocal response. “Uh huh”… eyes flick… feet slide away. You see it clearly in children who want to get away from you!

The Fight Response

Generally, people and animals will choose to fight only as a final resort. It often begins as a display of anger. Anger occurs when we perceive our boundaries have been crossed or threatened. I have seen public speakers get angry with their audience. My my, don’t try this at home or in public because it just doesn’t work; your listeners are likely to first go into their own freeze response, then flight or even fight (think of hecklers in a group).

The body language of the Fight Response includes a tense, prepared stance, a lifted chin, clenched fists, fixed and narrowed eyes, heavier breathing and a taunting, clipped tone or even no words at all if all sense has the building. If you are going to fight make sure it’s for a good cause. If it’s inappropriate, well you just might want to literally take a step back. Break your habitual body/mind anger pattern by moving differently. Restore an even breath, pause and focus on your purpose in speaking, not your temporary egoic reaction.

Yeah I know, easy for me to say, writing this all snuggled up in my cute home office. But believe me, when I’ve had a combo of PMT and unwilling workshop participants who want to make a scene, I’ve had to pull out all stops to remember “Hey! I’m a Professional!”, even though I sure as hell didn’t feel it while my fingers were curling.

Restore Equilibrium With The Relaxation Response

Restore equilibrium through activating your Relaxation Response, the antidote to the Flight or Fight Response. Try breathing evenly (“in two, three; out, two, three”) taking action and applying logical thinking. Your body/mind will downgrade the threat level and your fear, anxiety or nerves will calm. This means your muscles relax, your eyes stop darting about, your breath slows and your mind becomes calm and able to process multiple sources of information. You can see how useful knowing how to restore equilibrium is for communicating with ease and under pressure!

Speaking Is Powerful

Words and ideas are powerful and can be just as threatening and fear-provoking as physical violence. Remember what happened in the middle ages when the Catholic Church felt threatened by the notion that earth was NOT the centre of the universe? People were killed for even suggesting it.

When you speak in public you are taking on the mantle of leadership in that moment, whether it’s the dinner table or a stadium of 50,000. Be aware of the responsibility of expressing your words and ideas. And be aware of your right to express them and be seen and heard. Do your best to not trample or infringe on the rights of others. And finally, be aware of your personal reaction to fear or threat and take the steps to handling it. You will be on your way to confidently taking on the world. Taa daa!

© 2014-17, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

How To Handle Drama Queens In The Audience

Drama Queen 2.5 x 1.5

Difficult Is In The Eye Of the Beholder

I tend to give “difficult” people like “Know It Alls, Power Players and Drama Queens” in the audience a long rope unless the integrity or safety of the group is threatened. Handle each challenging situation from the start with strong boundaries and agreements and model your expectations of the group with your own behaviour. The group will be watching you closely to see how you handle things. There is no neat solution and “difficult” is in the eye of the beholder. Here’s how I handled 3 different situations:

Example 1: Drama Queens In The Audience
During a workshop on selling from the platform, one participant came in late, took a mobile phone call when she sat down, started explaining why she was late, asked if anyone wanted a throat lozenge and even knocked over her water bottle. Throughout the workshop she kept shaking her head and sighing melodramatically with numerous toilet breaks and requests for information to be repeated. Which she then proceeded not to listen to but tried to change. I considered she was not genuinely distressed but had mistaken the workshop for her lounge room. In both breaks I asked her privately if she was ok. Her mysterious response was to nod without speaking, would not look me in the eye, turned her back and walked away.  She appeared to want attention publicly, and then rejected it when it was offered privately. As Facilitator, I chose compassionate damage control primarily by redirecting audience attention with my body language and authoritive directions. I also gave her a couple of public opportunities for attention which she then spurned. This minimised distraction for other participants as they then saw she did not pose a threat to learning and kept the workshop flowing smoothly. Our Drama Queen added a learning opportunity for us all as well as a giggle.

Example 2: Know It All Attempting A Take-Over
In a small group of 20 business owners who had come to learn about communicating with presence, one man had an answer to every question, even rhetorical ones! Soon I started saying: “Now this is just something I want you to think about silently… to yourself…” but he still felt his thoughts were worthy of sharing. Other participants were starting to sigh, eyes began to roll and bodies shifted away from him. I hadn’t shut him down immediately because his contributions were interesting and I wanted to encourage interaction… but too much from one person becomes dominating and the group can become confused as to who is the actual leader. It was me or him. When he next tried to butt in and talk over me, I gently put my hand up in a soft “stop” position, said abruptly: “One moment please” and turned my body away from him and faced the rest of the group. I then finished my words and directly engaged other participants to tip the balance of energy and power… by saying something like… “Mary… what are your thoughts about…?” After that I continued to respectfully acknowledge him in the same way I did everyone else… and we both settled down with egos intact and the group stayed on track.

Example 3: Power Player Dominating Her Group
Within a small group brainstorming session, one woman ignored my directions and took command of a group of inexperienced young people she had chosen to join. She loudly took centre stage, reassigned roles and changed the focus of the exercise. Five other groups were working cohesively around the room with a flurry of conversation and the smell of texta pens in the air.  Her group however was quiet, bodies drooped, participants sat far apart and all texta pens and paper were exclusively under her control. Rather than embarrass or confront her by redirecting her in front of the others, I apologised privately for making a mistake. I explained that each group needed diversity in age and experience and so I had asked 2 confident and more senior participants to switch to Ms Power Play’s group and invited 2 younger ones to leave. This totally changed the dynamic, destroyed her budding power base and restored momentum to the exercise. And I’m happy to report, everyone then got a fair go with the textas and “power” was restored to all.

 

Keep in mind that challenging people like drama queens in the audience, are a great learning opportunity and in the minority; perhaps 5% of any group or audience. I’ve often found the other 95% valued the presentation more because of what they learned from observing the interplay of power, drama and watching how you handled it as Facilitator.

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

Stop Feeling Intimidated In The Boardroom

Boardroom Presentations

Boardroom presentations offer you an opportunity to develop intestinal fortitude and emotional intelligence. And neither appears on the Meeting Agenda. There’s a lot you can learn beneath the surface – about yourself and others.

If you don’t know how to stand your ground and make yourself heard in the boardroom, one of the most intimidating of public places to speak, you will quickly become it’s casualty. When intimidated, my clients have reported the following feelings:

•    A sense of being made small or reduced in value;
•    Wondering if they are wearing a Cloak Of Invisibility;
•    Anger and in danger of saying something they’ll later regret;
•    A drop in esteem and creeping self doubt.

Feeling intimidated can happen to the most confident of people. Learning to be less influenced by the behaviours of people around you, allows you to stand your ground with greater ease.

For many people, access to the Boardroom is like being invited into a secret, powerful society. It has a mystique about it… but that doesn’t mean you have to believe it! These people are often perceived as the cool in-crowd at school. Your beliefs about your worthiness to be accepted may be influencing your feelings of intimidation or sense of welcome ease.

Let’s take a moment now to redesign your boardroom presentations experience. Which of the following appeal to you the most?

•    You are always greeted and acknowledged at the start and finish.
•    You feel included in the groups’ eye contact, body language and conversation.
•    When it’s your turn to speak, you feel heard.
•    You are treated with respect and rarely interrupted or reduced.
•    The group is prepared to action or discuss your proposal.
•    Anything you’d like to add?

OK, so now you know what you want. Next, follow these 6 steps to make it happen:

  1. Prepare and think through your boardroom presentations. Be clear about your purpose, outcomes and benefits. Anticipate possible objections and create counter arguments or alternatives. If you have considerable material, email to the other members in advance. Develop a good relationship with the chairperson, or even better, be the chairperson!
  2. Dress well. If you look good, you’ll feel good. Do not wear revealing or inappropriate clothing. Humans make judgements of each other in less than 6 seconds.
  3. Walk into the room with your head high and without hesitation, initiate gentle eye contact and acknowledge others politely. Take a seat beside those you feel an affinity or who are positively influential.
  4. Claim your space at the table. Don’t allow yourself to be elbowed out by other’s paraphernalia or presence. Take slow, deep breaths, ground yourself though the floor, relax your hands and avoid fidgeting.
  5. When it’s your turn to speak, pause, take a breath, make soft eye contact with one another person and succinctly outline your subject, purpose and it’s relevance in less than 2 minutes. Engage their interest by explaining what’s in it for them, outlining an outcome or benefit. Be clear about what is needed from them to make it happen. If people don’t know what to do they are more likely to say “no” without even thinking about it.
  6. At the end of the meeting, arrange to connect with your allies to continue the conversation or project with the aim of building relationships. Always follow through with what you say you will do. The next time you enter the boardroom, you will have gained at least one new relationship and you’ll automatically feel more confident.

Many of my clients find it useful to visualise a powerful, immovable object that cannot be ignored or bullied, like a huge tree with spreading roots and limbs or a venerable mountain or a deep, calm lake. When they summon up the qualities inside themselves of that powerful, timeless, immovable tree, mountain or lake, they cannot be intimidated.

Try creating a simple visualisation for yourself before your next meeting and you too may become a force of nature in the boardroom.

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

Let Your Body Do The Talking

10 Articles And Videos About Public Speaking Body Language

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

Stop Freezing Like A Rabbit When You Speak

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

Look At Me! How To Keep Audience Attention

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

Should I Sit Or Should I Stand?

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

Pause Power: Slow Down When You Speak

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

The Art Of Making An Entrance

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

The Art Of Making An Exit

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

Relax Your Eyes And Be A Better Speaker

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

Communicating Under Pressure

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

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

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

Public Speaking Tips For Shy People

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

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

Public Speaking Tips For Shy People

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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