Presence Power: 6 Steps To Super Speaking!

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

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

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

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

Why You Need Presence Power

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

Recap: What Is Presence?

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

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

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

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

How To Activate Your Super Power

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

Homework Before You Do The 6 Step Sequence

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

 

Presence Power: 6 Step Sequence

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

Unexpected Bonus

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

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

Go Get Your Cape!

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

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

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

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

I share Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are by Amy Cuddy, for conveying confidence, credibility and authority with body language more than any other TED Talk.

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

TED Talks: Ideas Worth Spreading.

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

What Does Your Speaking Voice Say About You?

A Speaking Voice To Command Attention & Authority

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How To Handle Drama Queens In The Audience

Drama Queen 2.5 x 1.5

Difficult Is In The Eye Of the Beholder

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Communicating Under Pressure

Speaking In Difficult Situations

I am often asked by people managers about communicating under pressure; how to balance staying strong and non-threatening in a “difficult situation” like a performance appraisal or with a mistrustful group.

Working with people is one of the most difficult juggling acts we perform and many of us do it everyday, at home and at work. Finely turned interpersonal communication skills and a basis of empathy is needed, especially if you are supporting the personal and professional growth of others.

There are many ways to be both non-threatening and strong when working in potentially difficult situations. And “difficult” can refer to many situations including those that are uncomfortable, frightening or require sensitive handling. I’m going to focus on just 4 ways for a Manager to use their body and words when communicating under pressure with staff. These techniques are also useful when facilitating groups:

1. Room Set Up

Create a sense of trust, credibility and security in physical environment by:

  • Manager to take the “authority” position, which means to keep a solid wall behind and a clear view of what’s in front with easy access to all tools and room to move. Taking an authoritative position allows you to stay physically strong and hold the space – you are in charge. Avoid creating a power imbalance like the classic joke of a manager dwarfing the participant with a big, high desk. You may like to set up arm chairs for informality or to create a sense of approachability.
  • Invite the staff member to sit comfortably with “room to move”, access to any needed tools and most of all, PRIVACY.

2. The SOLAR Posture

Use the SOLAR posture – a non threatening but physically strong stance demonstrating openness and receptivity, implying “I can handle it”.

  • Sitting – knees apart, lean forward slightly to show interest, and palms are open and facing the staff member or group.
  • Standing – fully face the staff member or group. Strong, wide legged stance (like the letter “A”) with palms open toward the staff member or group. Keep shoulders dropped, chest open and speak slowly with lots of appropriate eye contact and acknowledgement.

3. Explain Format, Purpose & Outcome

Everyone feels better and like they have a choice, when they understand where they are going, the reason and the benefit to them of the meeting or presentation.

  • Manager gives a respectful welcome, full face, eye contact, tell the staff member or group that you are going to begin by briefly outlining the format (structure), purpose and intended outcome of the session. Check their understanding and gain their permission to continue. After all, this is a 2 way conversation between adults, not an information dump or lecture.
  • Manager to summarise the main points at the end, check for agreement and leave genuine space for the staff member or group to provide feedback.

4. Edging Out

When a fire is burning out of control, you don’t give it more fuel. If the staff member or groups’ behaviour is  inappropriate, as the Manager you can take control by:

  • Acknowledge the person or situation respectfully and honestly,
  • Use body language to reduce attention to them – turn your body side on (edging out), reduce or remove eye contact and if there are others, increase your positive interaction with them to tap into group dynamics of peer pressure. At no point belittle or expose, just acknowledge, reduce and refocus. Trust your gut – sometimes the unexpected works.
  • Explain clearly what your next steps will be, the consequences if you don’t and then follow through your steps. If you are working with a group, don’t let one person wreck the experience of everyone else – your job is to work with the whole group and if necessary, ask the trouble maker to leave. Keep the group energy focused and don’t let it dissipate through distraction.
  • If the process or presentation is completely disrupted and cannot continue, take control by acknowledging the situation and stating that you are now ending it. Offer rescheduling options if appropriate. Then, go and reflect and find your own mentor to debrief and reassess the situation.

Firm Compassion

Always work with people from a place of firm compassion. This is both non threatening and strong. Don’t forget; this is a human being in front of you. Some days we wear pit boots and some days we are fragile as gossamer.

Finally, remember that you don’t always get to wear the Manager’s hat. Tomorrow it could be YOU in a group or on the other side of the interview desk, being “managed” by someone else.

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

Take Control As MC Or Anarchy Will Prevail

Time To Bring Out Your Inner Control Freak

Forget all that mush about egalitarian sharing. The fact is, as Master Of Ceremonies or MC, you must take control of your Event or anarchy will prevail. Anarchy includes people talking too long, ignoring agreements and cues to finish, interjecting, power plays, energy dissipation… the list goes on.

To ensure that everyone gets a chance to speak but not at the expense of others, take control to protect everyone’s right to be heard and to keep the show on the road. Here are tips for MC’s to work effectively with both sides of the fence, Guest Speakers and Audience.

Guest Speakers
Make personal contact with Guest Speakers beforehand and advise your requirements for the Event. This defines a clear boundary of expectation on either side. Be sure to include: length of allocated speaking time, clarify purpose of speaking topic and intended outcome, whether it’s interactive, time or not for questions, expected start and finish time for speaking. Provide Guest Speakers with the Program so they can see their own place within it and understand how to fit the context. After all it’s your Event, not theirs.

When the Guest Speakers arrive, connect with them personally – as the MC your job is to help them feel at ease. While chatting, reinforce the length of time they have to speak. Ensure they understand the Program is packed and keeping to time is important – check their understanding by looking into their eyes. Discuss the signals you will send to let them know when they are Close To Time, or Time to Wrap Up or Time To Finish. This reinforces there are consequences to poor time management and that as MC, you willing to take immediate action to keep the show on the road for everyone’s benefit.

When the Guest Speaker is presenting, make sure you follow the agreed signals. Sometimes Guest Speakers get on a roll and can’t stop, or become addicted to the adrenaline rush of all that attention, so as the MC, it’s is your job to shepherd them graciously off the stage so that others will have their turn.

Thank and acknowledge the Guest Speaker privately as well as publicly. This also sets up a good management relationship for next time.

The Audience
When the “floor is opened to questions”, things can get very exciting if you are dealing with contentious issues. Your diplomatic lion tamer skills are needed. (You may find it useful to watch Jenny Brochie the facilitator from the SBS television program, Insight, for great role modeling.) Of course if the subject fails to raise a ripple of interest, you may want to have some staged questions or prepare some of your own if the Audience is quiet.

Prompt Audience interaction by clearly displaying a time set aside for questions or discussion in the Program.

Next when you address the Audience, repeat this information, speak slowly, watching your words sink in as you articulate the parameters. For instance, “We have 10 minutes for questions so that’s probably about 3 questions…”, or “Each person has  5 minutes to share their view. Any longer and I’ll have to gong you off (sound the gong to show consequences) to ensure everyone gets a chance” (stating context and appealing to universal fairness.)

After you’ve described the parameters and if you anticipate heated discussion, ask for everyone’s agreement up front and wait. Say nothing until you see a sea of agreements. This method uses group dynamics to enforce the parameters, rather than you.

And of course, you must stick to the parameters. No matter how scintillating the Question from the Audience, the same rules must be applied. If they stir strong interest within the group, suggest they meet later after the program is finished. This keeps the Event on track, provides options to continue the discussion and means Audience members build trust in your ability to handle the situation. It may also give individuals the confidence to speak out, knowing they too will get a fair go.

When you clearly and graciously take control as the MC and Event Coordinator by setting parameters in advance and reinforcing consistently throughout the Event, both Guest Speakers and Audience will relax and enjoy themselves under your firm guidance.

© 2011, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

Shut Up & Let Your Body Talk

Blah, blah, blah… talk, hype, buzz, “like”, “totally”, “awesome”, “it’s all good”. It’s hard to hear anything of value when people speak to one another these days. Mouths are endlessly moving but the meaning is lost in the babble.

I know I hunger for something true, something juicy, something meaningful. And more words, even if they are clever words, aren’t the answer.

What I want, and what most people want,  is credibility and realness. Followed by a hefty dollop of “what’s in it for me” content. Is this something you want too? Hell, we’ve only got one life, let’s make the most of it.

Credibility & Realness In 5 Simple Steps

When communicating, the key is to let your body talk for you. Actions do “speak louder than words”. We watch movement before we process word meaning. Make sure the messages your body sends to your listeners are congruent with your verbal message.

Here’s how to create credibility and realness with body talk whenever you speak:

1. Gently roll your shoulders back before you speak 1:1 or 1 to a group. This will open your abdomen, chest, shoulders, throat and face. People interpret this open posture as self confident, capable and receptive. They are more likely to listen to you, figuring if you believe in you, there’s good chance they will too.

2. Maintain gentle, neutral eye contact one person at a time. Focus on people who’s bodies are receptively listening to you. Stay with one person long enough to watch your words land on their face, for you to see the connection occur between you. Allowing yourself to stay still with one person at a time says without words, “I see you, I hear you, I am with you”. An audience / group feels respected when it knows the speaker is listening as well as speaking to them.

3. Keep a  stable, open leg stance if you are standing, or sit up straight if you are seated. If a strong wind arises, you won’t blow over and if there is critical interjection from the group you won’t crumble. A strong stance says without words, “I am capable of delivering and handling whatever comes my way.” This generates confidence, groundedness and a sense of permanence.

4. Take a breath, pause and slow down when you speak. There is no race to be won. People take speakers more seriously when they perceive the message is conveyed with gravitas. A pause is like a non verbal full-stop or comma. When you pause, it gives your listeners a chance to entrain with you, to match your pace and process your ideas. Offer choice, not imposition. By attending respectfully to the diversity of your group you convey, “I have something of importance to say, and I invite you to listen.”

5. Let natural hand, face and body gestures flow and underscore your words. If you describe something as “amazing”, express your amazement with your whole body. Eyes wide, mouth agape, fingers spread, shoulders lifted, a step back or a breath in. The word “amaze” is just a word, one word lost in a long presentation of sentences, paragraphs and points. When you show “amaze” with your whole body, people feel it and it travels deep inside to connect emotionally, beyond their ears.

When an audience, group or your friend connect emotionally with what you are saying and your words and body talk match in meaning, you will have credibility and realness whenever you speak. And that’s precious in today’s “like totally awesome it’s all good” blah blah world.

On a scale of 1-10, how do you rate your credibility and realness when you speak? Do your words have impact and are people inspired to follow through? Do you believe, you?

© 2011-17, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au