Self-Conscious And Loving It!

Finding Yourself Out the Front of Your Life

Recently I asked a friend for feedback on an aspect of my behaviour. I badgered her. She deflected. I badgered again. She gave in and chose her words with care. And horror of horrors I did not like what I heard. I reckon I did a pretty good job of appearing nonchalant. On the inside however I was reeling. Rapidly re-evaluating my entire life from this new perspective, I shifted from disbelief, anger, denial and sadness in 30 seconds. Then I stuffed myself with cheese and crackers.

What I noticed over the next few weeks was how self-conscious I felt. I wondered if everyone I’d ever met saw this flaw and judged me accordingly. Ha! I thought. This explains a lot. I suspected I had a problem. Here is the proof!

The problem gained epic proportion while I shrunk and fell through a hole in the floor.

Not So Special

Feeling self-conscious is being aware of yourself, as yourself. It’s a good thing. Means you are alive and you have the conscious awareness to know it! Self-consciousness allows you to perceive your similarity and difference to everyone else.

So yes, you are special and no, you are not so special. We all have an inner tension between wanting to fit in and wanting to stand out from the crowd. You see this tension played out on social media. And sometimes you feel it first hand when you are up there speaking in public. You up there, them down there.

I’ve briefly defined self-consciousness. But what about how it feels? The pain, the loneliness, the rejection? The dredging of all that old stuff you thought you’d successfully buried? And bugger it but there it all is, back on public display, reflected in the pitying eyes of your listeners.

But is it pity? Or is it relief that it’s you, not them, up there? Could it be admiration, that you are doing something they could not? Or, might they be thinking about dinner, and not you at all?

Safety Versus Risk

When you speak in front of others you do stand out from the crowd. And there is risk in being rejected for standing out. Finding your peace and place within this balance is the mysterious realm in which I work with my clients.

When you speak to a group, you visibly and energetically set yourself apart from the herd. Speaking up requires courage. The courage to show yourself to others. When people listen to you speak, they want to hear, you. Not a perfect cardboard cut-out. Not a series of excuses. You.

Embrace Wabi-Sabi

I love the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi. It means “beauty is in the imperfection.” Doncha reckon there’s our Permission Card right there? Flaws are beautiful! Ergo, we are all beautiful! There is nothing more boring than perfection.

People relate to flaws, not to perfection. We love to witness transformation; it gives us the courage to pursue our own. We watch people take risks, stick their heads above the parapet and wait with baited breath – will they rise to the challenge? And what can we learn from their mistakes and successes?

Self-consciousness is our opportunity to mature, learn, expand. It’s OK to be fearful, but not OK to stay stuck forever, clinging to an outdated notion of how you wanted things to be.

The Spotlight Effect

Positive Psychology describes the Spotlight Effect as the belief that others are always looking and judging us. As if we are the centre of their universe… because we are the centre of ours. Feeling self-conscious blossoms with such fertile imaginings. You can read more in my related Blog article “The Spotlight Effect is On You.” The Spotlight Effect clues us in as to how to love the opportunity of feeling self-conscious by learning from it, rather than shrink with fear and shame.

The Self-Conscious Seagull Flies Again

When I crawled off to lick my wounds, I really invested in feeling sorry for myself. I could be my own 10-part mini-series. Pride. Drama. Pain. And finally, seeing myself on A Hero’s Journey, triumphing over the perils of self-consciousness to emerge an older, wiser and infinitely more attractive human.

This could go on and on or we could cut to the chase with a story that doesn’t involve so much gut wrenching drama. Or copious cheese and crackers.

I emerged from my hole after a few weeks and realised:

  • Much of what my friend said is true. I needed a hefty dollop of self-acceptance for my quirky behaviours. They can’t really be changed. And they make me unique. I like unique.
  • If you ask for feedback, you have to be prepared to hear it. Suck it up princess!
  • Good old Gratitude… works every time to appreciate what I’ve got, rather than what I haven’t.

A Work In Progress

Am I going to divulge my friend’s feedback to you since you’ve so patiently read to the end of this article?

No way!

Just because you share a personal story doesn’t mean you have to strip your soul bare. You don’t have to expose everything. Just the bits you are ready to.

When it’s your turn to be out the front, whether for 5 minutes or for 5 days, breathe in and connect to your purpose in making a difference when you speak. We really are Works in Progress. And I know I’m not alone in wanting to hear and see the real you. To admire your unique beauty, imperfections, quirks and all.

(c) 2018, Geraldine Barkworth, All Rights Reserved. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do by Amy Morin

Book Review by Speaking Coach Geraldine Barkworth

This is a good book to help you grow onward and upward after cultivating a strong stable base. Think beautiful flower, contributing to eco system around it, rather than becoming the next CEO tyrant of Wall Street.

What I especially liked about 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do was:

  • no pop psychology, quick fixes or faddish positivism – back to basics learning how to manage your own self defeating behaviours through your thoughts, behaviours and feelings – the basis of strong mental health.
  • the wake up call I received upon reading it – I had slipped into a self indulgent habit of decline.
  • the emphasis on self responsibility – taking control of your inner life to create a satisfying outer life.

A Snapshot of Chapter Headings To Inspire You

  • Chapter 2: They Don’t Give Away Their Power
  • Chapter 4: They Don’t Focus On Things They Can’t Control
  • Chapter 5: They Don’t Worry About Pleasing Everyone

If you have already worked with me as your Speaking Coach or Trainer, you’ll recognise many of these same themes. Speaking starts from the inside. Cultivate your inner life to communicate with richness.

Gentle and powerful. I’m keeping psychotherapist Amy Morin’s 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do by the side of my bed to keep me on track. And here’s a link to Amy’s website which includes pdf downloads and a link to a TED Talk for those who prefer video to books.

(c) 2018, Geraldine Barkworth, From Fear to Fabulous Speaking Coach. This book review is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

What People Really Think Of You

And What You Can Do About It

The Answer?

You guessed it; there is nothing you can do about them.

But there’s quite a bit you can do about you.

I bring this topic up because “ fear of what people really think of you ” is such a recurring biggie for people who avoid speaking up in a public space.

Most of us have experienced this public paralysis. It’s a shocker and the quickest way to drain your self-esteem smoothie.

Why Oh Why Oh Why?

I could talk knowledgably about:

  • “Separation from the herd” anxiety (personal fave); or
  • “They’ll see I’m a fraud” anxiety; or
  • “I’m going to fail and ruin my entire career” anxiety; or
  • “The weight of expectations through all those eyes” anxiety; or
  • “I’m just not good enough, smart enough, experienced enough” anxiety;

but, I will not talk about them, again. We all know them well and I for one, am sick of them.

Sick of them controlling who I am and what I want.

Are You With Me?

If you are – keep reading.

The easiest place to start? Labels. Language is something you can control. Let’s drop “public paralysis”, also known as “ public speaking fear ” and all its dreadful baggage and instead choose something… attractive, powerful, energising.

I tried out many nifty names and phrases on the casting couch of change, but they sounded:

  • Too serious – no, I want to have fun!
  • Too new age – ooh, such self-important wisdom!
  • Too biiiggg – no, I’m not promising to save the world. Yet.

And My Winner Is:

“From Fear To Fabulous!” Yep and with that exclamation mark.

Why? It just makes me laugh. It’s over the top with a boa feather-ish. My whole body quivers with the joy of it. My husband says my shoulders give a little cheeky wiggle and back they go, chest out, big smile. It’s not just my mind that recognizes the good fit, but my body and spirit too. Energy returns with the right words.

I like From Fear to Fabulous so much I’ve decided to splash it about my website, add it to my logo and have renamed my enewsletter in its honour. It’s a clarion call to anchor and remind me of who I am and what I want. With no fear of judgement.

No more “crash and burn” or “public speaking fear” for you either. Adopt From Fear to Fabulous or choose your own inspiring, powerful words.

Don’t Believe Your Wild Imagination

What people think about you is always and can only ever be, a reflection of their own beliefs and values. Contrary to your wild imagination, other people do not have the power of x-ray vision to see all your flaws.

According to research, most people are thinking about dinner and sex at any given moment. So, count yourself lucky if they squeeze in a random thought or judgement about you.

Challenge

Is the problem: “Fear of what people really think of you ?”

Or is the real problem, our own fearful belief that they must be thinking the worst?

You cannot control what’s inside other people’s heads, but you can control what’s inside your own.

© 2018, Geraldine Barkworth, Fear To Fabulous Speaking Coach. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

The Highly Sensitive Person: How To Thrive When The World Overwhelms You by Elaine N. Aron

Book Review By Speaking Coach Geraldine Barkworth

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

Scared Speechless: 9 Ways To Overcome Your Fears & Captivate Your Audience by Steve Rohr & Dr Shirley Impellizzeri

Book Review By Speaking Coach Geraldine Barkworth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(c) 2016 Geraldine Barkworth, speaking coach, www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au 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.

Be Heard Now! Tap Into Your Inner Speaker & Communicate With Ease by Lee Glickstein

Book Review By Speaking Coach Geraldine Barkworth

♥ Love This One

Be Heard Now! is one of only two public speaking books I recommend. Buy, clutch to your bosom, then set it free as you step forward unfettered by fear! I’m a big fan of Mr Lee Glickstein and his work. His book is beautifully and simply written, filled with oodles of personal growth and public speaking-related stories, transformations and practical examples.

Lee’s approach is relationship based rather than performance based. He shows readers how to transform fear into magnetism simply by becoming present and speaking from the heart. “To be heard, you have to be here, now” is how Lee sums up the power and simplicity of presence. My work here in Australia shares many of Lee’s values and ideas.

The 13 chapter headings entice with titles including “Vibrant Vulnerability: The Wisdom Of Not Knowing” and “From Agony To Ecstasy: Tapping Into Your Own Natural Power”, “So You Are Going To Give A Talk: Preparing From The Inside Out.”

This book changed my life and caused me to finally find my groove as an authentic speaking coach. Highly recommended. Gush, gush, gush. Learn more about Lee’s work and his books: www.speakingcircles.com

(c) 2016-17 Geraldine Barkworth, public speaking coaching. This review is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain

Book Review By Speaking Coach Geraldine Barkworth

♥ Love This One

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

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

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

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

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

Mini Quiz: Do you prefer open plan offices or your own space? Prefer 1 to 1’s or parties? Do you enjoy team brainstorming to solve problems or prefer to nut it out on your own and in your own time? Do you gain energy being from around people and high stimulation or do you feel more nourished by quiet reflective, low stimulation time?

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

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

 

 

But What If I Cry When It’s My Turn to Speak?

The Vulnerability Of Public Speaking

Uh, oh… your chest feels like it may explode, your throat is constricted and your face is hot. Strong emotions are rising and about to overwhelm your carefully constructed boundaries. Oh no, not now! Now you need to look good. You need to convey strength, confidence and above all, professionalism. Too late. A tear escapes and more are following. The vulnerability of public speaking.

The fear of breaking down or crying in public is a powerful and common fear. These are the 3 main ways people choose to react:

•    1. Strive harder for polished perfection.
•    2. Become invisible with no voice.
•    3. Completely relax into all your flawed glory.

Which appeals most to you? Let me introduce you to two of my clients, Sandra and Ms M who both came to me with a fear of the vulnerability of public speaking.

Real Life Cases
1.  Sandra*, HR Manager
“If I break down, I’ll look unprofessional.” Sandra was great 1 on 1 and decisive, empathic and warm in day to day communication. However, in formal speaking situations she felt overwhelmed, teary and spoke in a forced, staccato manner. This made Sandra hard to listen to, stiff and ineffective as a trainer as she struggled to “control herself.” She received feedback that she was perceived as angry and distant.

2.  Ms M*, Bondage Mistress
“If I cry, I’ll look weak.” Ms M was a strong, articulate and insightful woman, extremely adept at keeping her clients safe. She was brilliant at maintaining strong boundaries for others but was terrified of crying and losing control when she was due to speak at a conference about the power of trust.

To Cry Or Not To Cry
Both Sandra and Ms M learned to handle their fears of falling apart in public and to overcome stage fright.

Sandra learned to shift the focus off herself and instead shift her attention to the individuals in front of her. She also learned to soften her jaw and voice and to telegraph her message visually as well as verbally. Sandra stopped being angry with herself and learned to respond differently. The biggest surprise for Sandra was when a few months later staff began asking her advice about public speaking skills.

Ms M’s experience took another route. When it came to the big moment in front of 500 people, she did cry. But instead of shrinking, she expanded and held her ground. She paused, gathered herself and looked up to find the whole audience was crying with her. Her genuine emotion, beautifully handled and not hidden, moved everyone and deepened her credibility and professionalism.

What You Can Do Now
One of the quickest ways to learn how to handle the vulnerability of public speaking or something you find challenging, is to observe how others do it.  I highly recommend a terrific 6 minute speech by Candy Chang about the impact of identifying what’s really important to you and to do it, before you die. The subject is a very personal one for Candy and she handles her tears graciously. Do not fear that you will be watching 6 pain-filled minutes of wallowing. Candy’s speech is innovative and clever and like most TED speeches, “an idea worth spreading.”

http://www.ted.com/talks/candy_chang_before_i_die_i_want_to.html

Next time strong emotion arises in you when you speak in public, just notice it and don’t get caught up in the story. Instead, pause and connect through your eyes with another person to help keep you grounded. Pause and continue with your speech.

I’ve cried a number of times when speaking in public. It feels like a storm has passed through leaving behind peace and acceptance. Certainly the words seem to flow much better once emotion is released. “Better out than in” as someone infamous once said, and through my tears, I couldn’t agree more.

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

Stop Feeling Intimidated In The Boardroom

Boardroom Presentations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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