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’s So Hard About Making Eye Contact?

Imagine Your Eyes Are In Hammocks…

So many people avoid making eye contact in groups, it’s almost an epidemic! Ease with making eye contact is all about relaxing. When you relax, your audience relaxes too. And relaxed people are more receptive to hearing your message. It really is in your best interest to learn how to make gentle, sustained eye contact if you want to deepen your interpersonal communication skills.

In order to relax your whole body, you need to relax your eyes first. Imagine your eyes lazing in hammocks, heavy and supported. Miraculously, when the eyes are relaxed, the brain sends a message to your body, saying “You are safe and can relax.” And so, you do.

Let go of believing you have to connect with everyone at once in the group. Public speaking is not a multi-tasking competition. Allow yourself to relax and sink into your talk, just like you are swinging in a hammock. Be with 1 person at a time. Watch your words land on their face for you to see the connection between you. That’s really enough. You are not going to “lose people” if you aren’t gazing at all of them, all of the time.

Here are 4 steps to help you relax into making gentle, sustained eye contact:

  1. Relax your eyes first and let your body follow,
  2. Move your whole body and eyes to connect with 1 person,
  3. Maintain gentle eye contact for approximately 3 seconds-ish,
  4. Then move your body, eyes and words to the next receptive person. And so on.

That’s it. Relax your eyes. Soften your gaze. Make it an invitation, not a staring competition. Share the love around. Invite connection with one person at a time. Don’t run, stay steady. Pretend you are a lighthouse, tall and visible with an important job to do. As the speaker, you are the role model, so role model the kind of communication you want in return. Start with relaxed eyes and allow your muscles and your intentions to soften. Let the people in! And the people will let you in, in return.

This is one of those occasions when I can say, “Do Practise This At Home”. The dinner table is a good place to start making eye contact before you let loose on a bunch of strangers.

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

 

Joy in Public Speaking: Lost Now Found

Case Study: Sandra The Chiropractor

Sandra, a focused and energetic 41 year old chiropractor had just self-published her first book. She consulted me to learn how to speak with ease and confidence about her work at book launches and networking events. And she confessed, one day she’d like to get paid for speaking professionally. Could I help with both those things?

How We Began

We began by establishing that Sandra was already a reasonable speaker but lacked the “personal touch” with groups. Adept at connecting one to one with chiropractic clients, Sandra closed herself down when it came to large groups and audiences. Her inability to connect heart to heart, meant no real engagement and no sales.

With further investigation we identified 2 main issues:

  1. Sandra felt no joy in public speaking – it was a chore to be whizzed through and “ticked off”.
  2. Sandra was uncomfortable with holding eye contact in groups – she was scared of seeing a lack of interest reflected back to her.

After working with Sandra on body language, I challenged her to undertake a 2 week exercise to make an intention to be 100% with every one she came into contact with and to sustain a gentle eye gaze a little longer than usual. She was dubious but willing to give it a go – “as long as it didn’t take too long.” !

The Aha Moment

Sandra reported a moment of pivotal learning for her: She went into a bread shop as she did every Saturday morning to buy a baguette. She decided to be 100% with the “bread-guy”. She made her intention as she walked in, planted her feet, looked at him with her whole body and said, wait for it, “I’d like a baguette please” while offering a gentle gaze.

Well, the bread-guy stopped still, looked her in the eye and said, “Let me get you a good one”. He carefully selected the best baguette for her. Now, every Saturday Sandra enjoys buying from the bread-guy who she now knows is called Brad, instead of ticking it off as yet another chore. Sandra realised “the personal touch” even with a stranger takes only seconds and yields ongoing benefits. She started to transfer her people-power skills beyond the safety of her chiropractic clinic into the world.

Finding Joy In Public Speaking

If a simple change in behaviour led Sandra to enjoy connecting with 1 person, let’s see what happened when she multiplied it to connecting with many. We next spent some time creating the essential message of what she wanted to say at launches and events. Sandra used these events to practise creating trust and rapport on a very personal level. Slowly she started to relax into enjoying herself and began to make an impact whenever she spoke.

One Year Later

One year later Sandra emailed me and said: “I had no idea it was possible for me to find any joy in public speaking. God knows why I was so frightened. Well ok, it was direct eye contact and seeing rejection. Now I grab every opportunity to speak! You can’t shut me up!” Book sales are steady and she’s now self-published her second title. Sandra’s also been asked to be a keynote speaker at a small health conference for the first time next year.

Sandra found her joy in public speaking and the joyful opportunities that came with it.

* The client’s name was changed to protect privacy. If you are ready to find your joy in speaking, contact professional speaking coach Geraldine Barkworth to have a fun, fearless and confidential conversation of your own.

© 2012-18, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

Relax Your Eyes And Be A Better Speaker

It’s Almost An Epidemic!

So many of my clients feel challenged by maintaining eye contact in groups, it’s almost an epidemic! Ease with eye contact is all about relaxing. Here are simple tips you can practise at the dinner table and in the boardroom to get comfy with eye contact.

When you relax, your audience relaxes too. And relaxed people are more receptive to hearing your message. It really is in your best interest to learn how to make gentle, sustained eye contact if you want to deepen your interpersonal communication skills.

Not All Cultures Are the Same

In western culture, we interpret darting eyes and avoidance of eye contact as suspicious and unconfident behaviour. We even attribute guilt with the phrase “he wouldn’t meet my eyes.” However it ain’t necessarily so. Please note that some cultures consider direct eye contact to be disrespectful or challenging, so use appropriate eye contact in the culture in which you find yourself speaking.

In this 4 minute video, I demonstrate how to relax your eyes when speaking:

 

Here’s How To Relax Your Eyes and Be A Better Speaker

1.  Relax Your Eyeballs First And Let Your Body Follow
Debbie Rosas, co-founder of NIA Dance, (www.nianow.com) explains that in order to relax your whole body, you need to relax your eyes first. 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.

2.  Move Your Whole Body With Your Eyes To Connect To 1 Person
Let your whole body and your eyes drift toward one person at a time. Turn and face them fully. You can even do this over the phone. If you try it, you’ll know how effective this technique is in enabling you to be present and focused with whomever you speak.

3.  Maintain Gentle Eye Contact With 1 Person At A Time For 3 Seconds-ish
All you have to do once you’ve relaxed your eyeballs and whole body (1 second), and then turned fully to face 1 person (1 second), is to stay with the person for a least 3 seconds-ish. Just stay long enough to finish your sentence or idea and watch your words land on their face. Then move on to the next available person with your whole body and stay with them for 3 seconds. You can stay longer! 3 seconds is not the rule, just a practical suggestion. (Just watch how I demonstrate soft, relaxed eyes on my video via the link above.)

Final Tip

Public speaking is not a multi-tasking competition. Take the pressure off believing you have to connect with everyone at once. Relax. Be with 1 person at a time. That’s really enough. You are not going to “lose people” if you aren’t gazing at them. It’s physically impossible to give to everyone, so don’t bother. Allow yourself to relax and sink into your talk, just like you are swinging snug in a hammock. And remember, you can practice these gentle techniques at the dinner table or with friends tonight.

Feeling uncomfortable with eye contact in groups is such a common issue; I have designed specific techniques to help. To learn more, visit:  www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au or email me now to arrange a phone, Skype or face to face session: geraldine@goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

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