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

Let Your Words And Body Speak: Nigella And Obama Style

 

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

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

 

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

Change Is Here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 Ways To Spruce Up Your Verbal Language

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

3 Ways To Luxuriate In Your Body Language

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

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

My One-Minute Demo Self-Introduction
This one-minute self-introduction formed the opening of a 30-minute speech about what we can learn from expert communicators like Obama and Nigella. Watch the 10 minute edited version here.
Have you ever wondered, how some speakers inspire you with every word and others, don’t?
How some speakers inspire you to trust and believe in them and others, don’t?
How some speakers inspire you to ask for their card, work with them, connect to something bigger and others, don’t
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

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

Do You Umm Or Err When You Speak?

Conversational Fillers

“Umms and errs” are conversational fillers. A filler is a word or sound which signals in a conversation or speech, that the speaker has paused but has not yet finished.

Recently I was asked to give a radio interview, this time about “why people use conversational fillers and why they are so annoying.” The main offenders were “umm and err” with “ahh” being attributed to the over 70 year olds. Middle aged people were chastised for the too frequent use of “actually”, “seriously”, “okay”, “right” and “well.” And younger generations were blasted by radio phone-ins for the inane repetition of “awesome”, “like” and “it’s all good”.

Personally, I’m fond of using “So…” when thinking on my feet. What do you use?

So Much To Say… So Little Time
These words of course aren’t just fillers, some are mindless cliches and some are used by listeners as conversational “reassurers” to signify, “Yes I’m still here, still listening to you.” They fill in a space that the listener assumes needs to be filled. But does it?

Some cultures favour speaking only when necessary and assume a speaker doesn’t need to be emotionally propped up with reassurance. I like that approach. What ever happened to silence, space and trust? Westerners are so used to receiving encouraging sounds when speaking, if there is silence, we assume the other is not listening.

Annoying, Distracting & Detracting
Both speakers and listeners use conversational fillers to signify an unspoken intention. The over or under use of such fillers can be annoying, distracting and detracting. What is your tipping point when “umms and errs” become more fill than conversation?

Some international public speaking organisations, nominate a club member to be the official “Umm and Ahh Counter” and the list of shame is duly read out at the end of the evening!

Honestly, it is ridiculous how many people timidly knock at my door, shoulders drooping, eyes downcast, admitting in hushed tones they are “terrible” at public speaking because they say “umm” too often.

How Many “Umms” Are Too Much?
Ok, an “umm” or “err” in every one to two sentences is too much in my opinion. Western audiences assume the speaker is either unconfident, doesn’t know what they are talking about, or may not be telling the truth. The occasional “umm” here and there is just fine.

Interestingly, what do we assume if the speaker just pauses, instead of filling the space with an “umm”?

Or what’s your reaction to a speaker saying thoughtfully, “Mmm” and gazing eyes up with a head tilt at the horizon whilst their next brilliant idea appears to be percolated? I’ve heard from clients that academics often use a thoughtful “mmm” to sound more engaging than a vacant “umm.”

How To Reduce “Ums And Errs”And Other Fillers
Keep reading dear ones, as I explain the 3 step technique I use to coach my clients out of over dependence on this habit:

  1. Gather Evidence – first go on a research mission and note what you say and when. Ask for feedback.
  2. Slow Down To Think Before You Speak – Give yourself time to process your thoughts before you say them. No one chooses to say “umm” deliberately.
  3. Choose A Positive Substitution – Decide on a new type of filler, like dieters recommend drinking a glass of water instead of a eating a chocolate bar. I find the most successful substitution is to pause instead of saying “umm”. Simply stop, take a small belly breath, and continue on. Another method to use occasionally is to say “mmm” and look thoughtful, rather than blank. If you use other devices, please share them!

A client I recently worked with told me her boss found her unconscious habit of saying “yep yep” meant she wasn’t paying attention and instead trying to hurry him along. She’s now using a belly breath to pause and just listen or a pause to gather her words while she thinks before speaking.

Now It’s Your Turn
This is the action I invite you to take next. Follow my 3 step technique and email me, or add to the blog or Facebook conversation with:

  • confess the conversational filler you mostly use (as a speaker or listener);
  • the positive substitution you intend to use (pause, mmm or something else);
  • your results if you have sprung into action immediately.

Benefits Of Pausing Versus Conversational Fill

  • clearer and cleaner communication;
  • you and your message will be heard and understood;
  • you will feel more calm, confident and in control.

Final Thoughts
Conversational fillers and re-assurers like the occasional “umm” or “I see”, play an important role in everyday western communication. The problem is unconscious overuse in situations when we aren’t present, prepared or listening. “Like, it’s not all good, man.” Next year, aim to use less fill and give more of you. Say more, umm less!

© 2014, Geraldine Barkworth, public speaking coach @ Goddess Of Public Speaking.

Flirt, Freeze, Flight or 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

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.

How To Restore Your Equilibrium

Restore equilibrium through 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 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!

For more information on the Freeze response, click these links to my earlier article and video, “Rabbit In The Headlights”. For help with dealing with the “4 F’s, enrol in my Overcoming Fear & Stage Fright coaching program. If you are not sure what the best step, send me an email.

© 2014, Geraldine Barkworth, speaker, coach & trainer @ Goddess Of Public Speaking. Contact Geraldine at http://www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au/

Shy People And Parties Survival Guide

Shy People And Parties

Many people find it difficult to “just be themselves” at a party. Especially when you first walk through the door and are confronted by a sea of unknown faces or backs. Will you be welcomed and is there a place for you here? 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 public speaking coach & director of Goddess Of Public Speaking. Geraldine shows you how to feel comfortable in your own skin by being real, raw and authentic, rather than perfect, polished and “powerpointed” every time you speak. Contact Geraldine at http://www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au/

Un-Networking For Shy People

Un-Networking

Un-Networking is brilliant for shy people. It is the art of being genuinely interested in meeting new people with no expectations of selling them something.

I developed an early horror of cheese and chardonnay networking events, filled with drunken blokes with no home to go to, but a hellava lot of business cards to press sweatily into any willing palm.

Needless to say, I missed opportunities to expand and avoided “After Hours Networking” for years, until I created the concept of “un-networking”.

Step 1: Identify possible valuable benefits to attending the After Hours Event.
Yes, Possible Benefits:                                                                                
•    I need new clients and new ideas.
•    I could learn something from the speaker.
•    The cheese chunks are more nutritious than anything I’ve got at home.  

No Perceivable Benefits:
•    So don’t go.

Step 2: If “YES, Possible Benefits”
Proceed with an open heart to the After Hours Event. Be aware of the Possible Benefit to you and then let go of the expectation that you will receive it. Yes, I know, that’s the tricky bit. But if it were easy, we’d all be sitting on top of a fluffy cloud with lots of dark chocolate.

Step 3: How To Let Go Of Expectations Script
(Say to yourself) “… My purpose in attending this event is because I need…(fill in the Benefit you are after.) However, the outcome, whatever it may be, is beyond my control. So I’m just going to show up, be myself and see what happens. And I can choose to leave whenever I want.”

Step 4: How To Be Yourself
Trickier than it sounds for our self-conscious, time-poor western society. This is an affliction affecting up to 50% of the population. Read the related article: “The Shy Person’s Guide To Party Survival”.

Step 5: Your Arrival
Take a deep breath, ground yourself and look around. Where is there movement and energy? Where are the awkward places? And most importantly, where is the food? Walk determinedly in your chosen direction. Frequently the best place for meaningful connection with new people is in the kitchen or by the carrot sticks.

Step 6: The Business Card Swapping Ceremony – Do’s & Don’ts
Do try either of these:
1.    Upon initial introduction, immediately offer your card. Politely ask if you may receive one of theirs in return. The beauty of this ceremony is that it immediately generates conversation – “Oh that‘s an interesting business logo, what’s the story behind it?” and so on. It also means you won’t forget peoples’ names thirty seconds after they’ve just told you.

2.    If after chatting for a while, you decide that this is a person you’d like to get to know, as a buyer, seller or friend, either offer one of your cards or ask if you can have one of their cards. Generally, if you accept someone’s card, I believe it is good manners to offer one of your own. This creates a balance of mutual giving and receiving.

Do not try either of these:
1.    Simply “plonk” your card in front of people to whom you are not currently conversing and then buzz off, distributing them like poison pollen.

2.    Accept a card and immediately stuff it in your bag without looking at it. The Japanese believe the card personally represents you and as such, should be treated with the appearance of respect. Many of us feel the same way.

Step 7: Make New Friends, Connections And Business:
After all that effort to attend the After Hours Event, cocktail party, business breakfast or general smoozing, you might as well take it all the way. Write where and when you met the person on their card. If you enjoyed talking and made an offer, such as sending them some information, then phone or email them within 24 hours or so.

Frequently, your thoughtful and genuine follow up email or phone call makes Un-Networking very worthwhile. You just never know what interesting opportunities, ideas and people are out there.

But if you never go, you’ll never know.

© 2013, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic public speaking coach & director of Goddess Of Public Speaking and committed to Un-Networking. Contact Geraldine at http://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 like 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 very well become a force of nature in the boardroom.

© 2013, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic public speaking coach & director of Goddess Of Public Speaking. Geraldine shows you how to feel comfortable in your own skin by being real, raw and authentic, rather than perfect, polished and “powerpointed” every time you speak. Contact Geraldine at http://www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au/

9 Public Speaking Blunders & Their Remedies

Public Speaking Blunders

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

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

Public Speaking Blunders 1, 2 & 3: No Preparation

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

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

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

Public Speaking Blunder 4: Unclear Purpose Or Message

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

Public Speaking Blunder 5: Failure To Establish Trust & Rapport

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

Public Speaking Blunder 6: Talk AT Rather Than BE WITH

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

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

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

Public Speaking Blunder 8: TOO Much Information

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

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

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

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

© 2013, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic public speaking coach & director of Goddess Of Public Speaking. Geraldine shows you how to feel comfortable in your own skin by being real, raw and authentic, rather than perfect, polished and “powerpointed” every time you speak. Contact Geraldine at http://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 public speaking differences between men and women and do they develop personal presence in the same way?”

Communication and it’s 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 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 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, you can learn with me how to develop and refine your presence when speaking to others. Email me for a 60 minute consultation, phone, Skype or face to face to learn how. Everyone, regardless of gender or confidence level, can learn to speak with passion, power and professionalism.

© 2013, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic public speaking coach & director of Goddess Of Public Speaking. Geraldine shows you how to feel comfortable in your own skin by being real, raw and authentic, rather than perfect, polished and “powerpointed” every time you speak. Contact Geraldine at http://www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au/