BOOK REVIEW: The Art Of Storytelling, by Nancy Mellon, USA, 1998

A good story engages listeners mind, body and spirit. Compare it with desert dry presentations of pie charts, bullet points and carefully cultivated poise and polish.

What’s missing is the uniquely human whimsy of imagination and creative self-expression. The storyteller’s powerful use of archetypes, metaphors, sound and movement mysteriously show us ourselves. It’s better and more real than Reality TV.

Nancy Mellon’s “The Art Of Story Telling” is rich with story after story, nibbling and coaxing your own ideas and creativity to speak and be heard. My husband bought this book at one of Nancy’s workshops (she was visiting Australia from the USA). He was thrilled with her skills in unfurling each character and then tucking them away as she returned to narration. Her easy control and confident releasing of control inspired him to engage all his senses and trust himself. He saw speaking in public and what you can do with it in an entirely new light. That workshop was for adults. All were gathered in a circle, breaths held for the next word.

Now imagine you are giving a presentation. Wouldn’t you love to have your listeners engaged, inspired and hanging on your every word? Even presenting Plastic Widgets and the implementation of Policy Reviews will be fascinating when you place your service, product or idea in the context of relevant, juicy storytelling.

Please learn how to do it and save us all from boring, polite presentations!

(c) 2017 Geraldine Barkworth. This review is the author’s opinion only.
There are a number of storytelling books from which you can learn. Nancy Mellon is a “psychotherapist who specialises in healing through the arts.” Here’s her website: http://www.healingstory.com/  And of course you can learn how to jazz up your boring presentation through creativity and story by working 1:1 with me: www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

BOOK REVIEW: “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”, Stephen King, 2000

We are a word-based society. Your ability to articulate your thoughts with clarity, precision and flair is an essential life skill.

If you are a public speaker, you will also be a writer.

If you are a writer, judging by the number of authors I’ve worked with, you will also be a public speaker. Eventually. Those books won’t sell themselves.

My number one business activity is speaking and listening to clients. My number two is yes, you guessed it, writing. I always have a fat notepad by my side. I know many professionals have the same division of labour. When are we not composing emails, reports, articles and notes?

Recommended Reading

I decided to read and review “On Writing” because I’ve seen it referred to in so many Recommended Reading Lists for writers wanting to work on their craft. “On Writing” is entertaining and offers straightforward advice. And yes the author is the famous horror writer, Stephen King, so it’s filled with personal anecdotes and insights about his inner life as a writer.

One of the things I appreciated about “On Writing” was the author’s repeated acknowledgement of his love and gratitude for his wife for her support and honesty. It’s easy to get caught up with ourselves and forget the family and friends who keep us up upright on bad days. Stephen King describes the up and down reality of his life as a writer and it’s work, not glamour.

These 3 “On Writing” tips made me smile and change my wicked ways:

  1. Declutter! Everything irrelevant and redundant must go! At least 10% will be rubbish!
  2. If your message is meant to be engaging and energising, aim to write in active present tense, otherwise the slow slip into irrelevant boredom begins.
  3. Choose a physical writing location allowing you to be relaxed, focused and yourself. I set up a beautiful office, desk and client-seating and promptly avoided the place like the plague. I’m much happier and productive curled up on the lounge.

These 3 tips are also perfect for being a relaxed, confident presenter:

  1. Declutter!
  2. Be engaging and engergising by actively remaining in the present moment.
  3. Be yourself to do your best work.

There are many goodies within this book. I do have to stop myself from rewriting and cringing from everything I wrote previously. Ah well. Sounds like a ghastly speech I gave 5 years ago. “On Writing” is available on line, good bookstores and will likely be stocked at Writers Festivals.

(c) 2016, Geraldine Barkworth is an Australian public speaking coach who works with the psychology, physiology and sheer mystery behind public speaking fear. This review is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

 

BOOK REVIEW: “The Confident Performer”, Dr David Roland, 1997

Book Reviews 2x2

“I’m not fitted to give concerts. The audience intimidates me, I feel choked by its breath, paralysed by its curious glances, struck dumb by all those strange faces.” CHOPIN

“The Confident Performer” shares this stage fright quote from pianist Frederic Chopin and was the reason why I bought this highly focused little book. So many of my public-speaking clients sound just like Chopin, yet never go near a piano or even a stage.

The author, David Roland, is a performance psychologist. He uses this book to specifically teach mental preparation techniques for any kind of performance including dance, song, theatre, music and sport. The number one biggie for most people, stage fright, he covers particularly well. He includes two excellent scripts to build a habit of relaxation before performance (and life), both autogenic and progressive muscle relaxation.

I like these words from David Roland on page 80: “The very nature of performance requires the artist to expose himself publicly, which usually leads to the experience of stage fright – something every artist needs to manage. Being open to evaluation by an audience is something that does not occur in most other occupations.”

These two points ring true for people seeking confidence in public speaking. Fear of exposure and of being judged by others can be paralysing (or as Chopin said,”struck dumb”). And yet, without taking the risk of exposing one’s true self, there is only facade, a barrier between you and your audience. And they feel it. Listeners miss out on the real you, you miss out on them and everyone misses out on the magic.

You can lessen the risk of stage fright by tapping into the power of mental rehearsal. Psychophysiogical practise transforms fears and hopes into practical reality.

To end with Dr Roland’s quote from cellist Jacqueline du Pre: “Walking on stage – the recognition, the applause, the rumble of interest from the audience when I appeared. It never occurred to me to be nervous. I thought of the audience as a group of friends who had come to hear me play, and I found that very moving. I just played, and enjoyed it. Thinking about the notes would have spoiled the enjoyment. the work was all done beforehand.”

( David Roland has since recovered from stroke trauma and more about his brain-training work can be found on his website: http://davidroland.com.au/ )

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

BOOK REVIEW: “The Highly Sensitive Person: How To Thrive When The World Overwhelms You”, by Elaine N. Aron, 1999, U.K.

Book Reviews 2x2

When I read the back cover of this book I thought, “Aha! Maybe I’m not a neurotic weirdo who doesn’t fit in with the mainstream, maybe I’m just a highly sensitive person ! At last, an explanation for why I am as I am. Maybe if I read it I’ll learn how to be ”normal” like everyone else.

Mmm, maybe not. The author reframes high sensitivity as a positive and valuable attribute, one that is somewhat maligned and unrecognized in today’s extroverted, fast paced, noisy go go go western world. Go? Go where? Who cares? Let’s just go! The relentlessness and pointlessness of it all just wears me out and it turns out, it also wears out the 15-20% of the population who share this genetic feature of high sensitivity.

Notice I said “western” world? In the east, sensitivity and shyness are prized as a sign of intelligence and value. Notice I said “20% of the population”? Fascinatingly, 1 in 5 of the animal world populations are also hard wired for high sensitivity. It ain’t just a human quirk of our current narcissistic obsession with ourselves forever searching for why we are so special.

And I guess in that last rather poisonous sentence I wrote, is the root of why I felt uncomfortable reading this book and struggled with writing this review.

I like thinking I’m different and special. It’s always defined part of who I am. Even the general sense of rejection and weirdness has shaped me and I’ve turned it into something useful. You think I’d be thrilled to read an explanation that justifies why I’m so blooming sensitive. I know very well what a curse and a blessing I possess. Why I see, feel, hear, think and overwhelm so much. I remember waxing lyrical as a child about why I disliked the letter “K” so much and seeing the blank incomprehension on faces around me. I get ridiculously excited about colours, am deeply in love with fuschia cherry pink and can pick out every ingredient in a recipe by taste. I have wild flights of imagination that cause me to rise and rise… and fall. Sometimes, it’s a long way down.

What I gained from this book is a sense of permission to embrace my sensitivity, yes, revel in it. I no longer need to develop a stomach ache to avoid going to a party. I can just say, “God no! A party. How revolting. I’d rather make a cup of tea and create a flower arrangement for every room.”

I also liked these words from Elaine Aron on page 218 which seem like a good framework for psychologically healthy travel through life: “The pursuit of wholeness is really a kind of circling closer and closer through different meanings, different voices. One never arrives, yet gets a better and better idea of that which is at the centre. But if we circle, there is little chance for arrogance because we are passing through every sort of experience of ourselves. This is the pursuit of wholeness, not perfection and wholeness must by definition include the imperfect.”

What I don’t like about this book is the author’s suggestion that highly sensitives are developed from the “Priestly Advisor class”, those who wisely advised the “Warrior Kings” who ruled for millennia in numerous cultures. Presumably, every one else is an insensitive pleb. I feel this rather romantic suggestion cruels the credibility and strengths of this well researched science-based book. Mind you, as I write this, I’m thinking, mmm, “Who am I to stop someone exploring their ideas?” I don’t know. I just didn’t like it. You may love it.

High sensitivity in any population is a very useful survival attribute. Kind of like the canary down the mine. They are sensitive to dangers that miners don’t perceive until it’s too late. The highly sensitive person is the one who notices changes in patterns, in vocal tones, in levels of movement. They notice subtle differences and bring them to the attention of those who don’t. Depending on the kind of culture you are born into, if you are highly sensitive your skills are either valued or dismissed. And you may go through your life with a strong sense of value or a strong sense of valueless-ness.

If you’d like to learn more about your sensitivity (or lack of it!!!) and how to use it to your advantage, read the book or visit the instantly gratifying website for the highly sensitive person. Take the Sensitivity Test. It makes things very clear in about 2 minutes: http://hsperson.com/

(c) 2016, Geraldine Barkworth is an Australian public speaking coach who works with the psychology and physiology behind public speaking fear. This review is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

BOOK REVIEW: “ Scared Speechless: 9 Ways To Overcome Your Fears & Captivate Your Audience”, by Steve Rohr & Dr Shirley Impellizzeri, USA, 2016.

Book Reviews 2x2

Surprisingly good! The key morsel of Scared Speechless is the clear and simple language explaining the psychology behind public speaking fear. It goes way beyond the standard explanation of “Your stress response can’t tell the difference between a sabre toothed tiger and an upcoming speech.”

Scared Speechless offers logical, down to earth and humourous explanations to help you understand why in the past you were scared of speaking and how to change it for the future using neuropsychology.

I say “surprisingly good” because if you are anything like me, your first reaction to yet another “how-to-public-speak” book is yawn. I’d rather pluck my eyebrows.

Also, it arrived unsolicited in the mail from the publicist, so I wasn’t expecting much. I assumed it to be a typical over-marketed “How To Be Awesome On Stage In 1 Minute” hyped-up American rave.

Instead, I enjoyed Scared Speechless’ easy to read, straightforward words; the authors clearly want to generously help as many people as possible. It’s designed to be universally accessible to people of all ages and walks of life from young adults and up.

I picked up some useful gems from Scared Speechless, which I’ve already put to use in my workshops. I’ll only give you three so you’ll have to read the book to get the rest:

  • Practise your speech non-verbally (yes, mime!) with your body to express your meaning first. Then practise with words. Your body will remember your meaning and underscore your words with natural gestures. (Moving also helps you to “unfreeze” should this happen to you.)
  • Prepare your speech to be READ rather than SAID. In other words, write it out loud. (Ever noticed the difference when you’ve heard someone READING a speech as opposed to talking directly to you? Which is the more powerful?)
  • Use “clothing cognition” to your advantage, that is, dress to support your message. Wearing high-heels or bare feet will impact how you deliver and the impressions you create. (If you want to expand your delivery style, practise wearing different hats or shoes. A Police Officer will likely speak and behave differently to a Graphic Designer. As to whether it’s true or not, doesn’t really matter, it’s what you and your listeners BELIEVE.)

If you prefer a weighty academic tome of jargon and unpronounceable technical terms, this book is not for you.

Scared Speechless is down to earth, practical, fun and enlightening. A good read for nervous speakers on a quest to change their relationship to fear for once and for all.

(c) 2016, Geraldine Barkworth is an Australian public speaking coach who works with the psychology and physiology behind public speaking fear. This review is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

BOOK REVIEW: The King’s Speech: How One Man Saved The British Monarchy, by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi, 2010

Book Reviews 2x2

I wrongly assumed this biography was the “book version” of the well known 2002 movie, “The King’s Speech”. I was hoping for insight into the innovative speaking techniques used by Australian speech therapist, Lionel Logue in his work with King George VI of England, 1914-37.

Whoops. Instead, the book is a sentimental and thoroughly researched history of the author (Mark Logue’s) grandfather Lionel, his relationship with the King and the WW1 and WW2 era in England and Australia.

An unexpected highlight was learning about the era’s emphasis on character development and community contribution through the ability to speak well. Lionel Logue could sell out the Town Hall with his evening recitals. For the first time people who “wanted to get ahead”, took elocution lessons. With the advent of radio, awareness of the power and importance of voice became universally understood especially for families clustered around the radio listening to war updates. Later in business, it was paramount to articulately persuade and present well.

Orators are made, not born. And so the Public Speaking Industry begins.

After reading the book, I borrowed the dvd movie, “ The King’s Speech .”

Wow, what a movie. Gorgeously shot, acted and directed. Such feeling, such subtly, such understatement as the English do so well. I can keep raving, but I won’t. My husband’s tearful High 5 at the end says it all.

The movie tells the story of Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue’s role in helping King George VI handle his fear and reduce his stutter. King George VI had a strong stammer that caused him endless fear and worry about speaking in public, especially when it was broadcast by microphone. It affected his self confidence and unfortunately caused others to lower their expectations of his abilities. Which of cause turned out to be a huge mistake. Sound like a familiar pattern to you, dear reader?

Lionel’s stand out “technique” for me as I have observed with my own clients, is the power of the pause and use of rhythm. The simple (but not always so easy to do) act of slowing down generates a magical sense of calm control and relaxed spaciousness. Presence and gravitas emerge effortlessly.

Great movie; interesting book.

(c) 2016, Geraldine Barkworth, public speaking coach for nervous speakers seeking confidentiality and strategic support. The review is the opinion of the author only.

BOOK REVIEW: “Be Heard Now! Tap Into Your Inner Speaker & Communicate With Ease”, By Lee Glickstein, 1998

Book Reviews 2x2

This is the ONLY “public speaking” book 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. 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”.

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”. “To be heard, you have to be here, now” is how Lee sums up the power and simplicity of presence. This book changed my life and caused me to finally find my groove as an authentic speaking coach.

This book changed my life and caused me to finally find my groove as an authentic speaking coach. Highly recommended. Gush, gush, gush.

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

BOOK REVIEW: “Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking”, by Susan Cain, 2012

Book Reviews 2x2Well, this book is an eyeopener, especially for those labelled as shy, anxious, socially awkward, quiet, sensitive, antisocial and hopeless at public speaking!

These characteristics often get lumped together without much thought and with a lot of presumption.

The western world, cheerleaded by corporate North America, relentlessly promotes extroversion personality traits as the norm and the ideal. Natural extroverts are only half the population. Where is the voice of the other half?

“Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Won’t Stop Talking” cheerfully and systematically demonstrates that “Quiet” is as powerful, valid and essential as “Loud”. And that all relationships, personal, professional and communal, benefit from a yin/yang balance of Quiet and Loud.

Personality traits and behaviours do cross over in the spectrum of introversion and extroversion. They are not fixed. Some introverts are brilliant at selling, while some extroverts are methodical and can work alone. Often an introvert is more likely to supply the idea and research and an extrovert is more likely to want to sell and talk it up. But not always. The trick is identifying your inherent tendencies and preferences and to use them to your advantage, ignoring the “label”. “Be true to your weird self” in other words.

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 own time? Do you gain energy being from around people and high stimulation or do you feel more nourished by quiet reflective, low stimulation time?

Quiet is an easy to read book, tirelessly researched with bountiful evidence and compassionately balanced to benefit all the shapes and sizes of humanity. Read it today and find yourself within its pages. Borrow, buy the book or watch Susan Cain’s TED Talk.

(c) 2016, Geraldine Barkworth, private public speaking coach for private people. This review is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: “The One Thing”, By Gary Keller With Jay Papasan, 2013

Book Reviews 2x2Love the simplicity of this idea, this one idea, beautifully expressed by the Russian proverb, “If you chase two rabbits you will not catch either of them.”

So true. Chased and lost far too many too often. With this book I finally gave myself permission to focus on one thing at a time, rather than splitting in multiple directions with a huge To Do List. The key is knowing your priorities and letting go of everything else as a distraction. The One Thing provides a simple process to reduce overwhelm and clutter while increasing energy, time, fulfilment and yes, productivity. As I get older, I want less stuff and more meaning. This one’s a keeper. www.the1thing.com

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