The Art Of Audience: Know To Whom You Speak

If you thought giving a talk was about you, think again!

No matter how scintillating your information, if it’s not a perfect fit for your audience, they won’t hear you or your words.

While you have opportunity to influence when you speak, you don’t have total control. Audiences have free will! They can stay, leave, come back and these days change channel.

Let’s Define Audience

In 16th Century France, if you wished to speak to the Queen, you asked for an “audience”. The origin of the word means “to hear”. In the 21stcentury, “audience” retains its original meaning and refers to “assembled spectators at an event”. If the word “audience” sets your googlies rumbling, try swapping a synonym such as throng, gathering, company, group or my preference, “listeners”.

Is it just me or does “throng” sound like a gathering for a hanging, while “listeners” sounds like what you want from people when you speak! I notice that “gathering” is often used by the arts and literary crowd, “Mmm, we’re having a small gathering at the studio. Pino Grigio of course and some of that ash-dusted goat fetta.”

Why You Need an Audience

Without an audience, listener or friend you are just talking to yourself. And that’s OK if you like a one-sided chat. If you do have something you wish to say, share or promote publicly then you do need an audience. An audience however, does not need you.

It’s a privilege to speak to an audience. And don’t they know it! They want respect, rich content and to be emotionally lifted from the daily dross, connecting to something bigger. Yes, they want it all and they want it now. Read on to learn how to know and keep your audience.

Respect Every Audience as Unique

Audiences are diversely shaped and sized. On any given day, you may address:

  • Workshop participants keen to learn new skills.
  • Team meetings with colleagues who wait tiredly for your report.
  • Board members whom you must persuade to accept your funding proposal.
  • Children at the dinner table demanding to know why the beach party is cancelled.
  • A room full of expectant listeners waiting to hear the answer to the meaning of life!

Research Audience Nitty Gritty

To understand what your audience needs, loves and wants, research to help you customise:

  • Demographics: How old are they? What do they do for a living? Are they strangers?
  • Psychographics: What do they care about? What are their common problems?
  • Logistics: How big is the audience? Do they have special needs, like wheelchair access?
  • Promotion: What are the best methods to reach and motivate them to attend?
  • Learning Preference: How best do they absorb information? Visually? Doing? Discussion?
  • Morale: What’s the mood of the audience? Excited? Bored? Do they want to be there?

Set and Exceed Audience Expectations

Who hasn’t been to a workshop that overpromised and under delivered? It’s irritating, disappointing and a waste of time. The best way to manage audience expectations is to be the one who sets the them. An audience will come and stay, if you deliver beyond your promise. Be clear about:

  • Why this topic and its importance;
  • Who will benefit from attending;
  • What result they can expect to gain;
  • How you will deliver the goodies to them.

Customise Fresh to Every Audience

Just like a restaurant, audiences desire fresh, authentic and good value dishes on the menu. They want to be entertained, informed and inspired. Inauthenticity repels and b*s* detectors are set on high. Listeners want you to be real, otherwise, how can they trust you?

  • Entertain: Open with a juicy story your audience specifically cares about.
  • Inform: Shower generously with rich, interactive content, case studies and results.
  • Inspire: End by helping them to see rewarding change is within their grasp.

Appeal to Heart and Head of Your Audience

When an audience connects emotionally with your message, they feel it. When they see evidence and proof, they believe it. And when you give them a personal experience of it, they take ownership.

Help listeners take ownership by engaging deeply. Ask rhetorical questions, pause while they think. Look into their eyes and read their face, just as you would a one-to-one conversation. Facilitate interactive exercises, use physical props and invite questions. Listen and hear your audience.

Listeners do need more than data and a touching story. Most importantly they need to know WHY. “Why” gets you out of bed in the morning and connects you to the Big Picture. When people understand and care about the “why” of a topic, they take action because they want to. And that’s when your idea and message grows wings. It flies away to reach an even bigger audience.

Inspire Your Audience to Fly

It’s often quoted that only 2% of audiences follow through and get results. The other 98% think it’s a good idea and forget about it the next day. So how can you inspire your audience to fly into action?

Depending upon the situation, I advise my clients to start with answering the “why” to generate interest. Then stir emotionally to engage feelings, followed by solid evidence to satisfy the mind. Deliver interactively so listeners have a personal hands-on experience. Lastly, show the next steps to take. Make the pathway attractively simple to inspire immediate action.

The (He)Art of Audience

Often when we get asked to speak, we’re so caught up with ourselves, we forget the whole point is to communicate fabulously well to others. To help them understand, learn and grow. The Art of Audience is to know to whom you speak. To research, customise and exceed expectations. To entertain, inform and inspire.

With the art of audience, you’ll know how to deliver powerful talks that get under your listener’s skin, into their hearts, out of their chairs and into action. Ta daa!

(For further reading on working with Audiences, here’s links to a few of my other articles: Speak and Listen With Presence, The Radiantly Attractive Communicator,  3 Questions In The Mind Of Your Audience .

© 2018, Geraldine Barkworth, fear to fabulous speaking coach. This article is the author’s opinion only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

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

Bad Experiences Make Good Stories

story-telling-4x3

It’s true! Here’s a bad experience of my own turned into a good story:

I was second speaker at a conference, talking about the elusive mystery of work life balance. So elusive, the first speaker was missing. He eventually turned up twenty minutes late and spoke AT the audience instead of WITH them. I had to re-energise, re-engage and refocus a hostile audience. I gained a lot of value from that crappy experience. It propelled me to morph into a specialist public speaking coach.

He Lost Me At “Hello”

Here’s how I translated that bad experience into a two minute introductory story:

“It was hot, it was sticky… it was a tropical conference at the top of Australia.
pause
A government minister was to open the conference and he was twenty minutes late. He shuffled in apologetically, flanked by four flunkies and hid behind the lectern. He studiously read a long paper written by someone else. He spoke quickly, his eyes down. Who was this man? Why was he here?
pause
I had no idea what he was talking about because he didn’t appear to be saying anything in ordinary English. I couldn’t tell where he was going or what was the point. I found the  audience much more interesting. There was a lot of glazed eyes, long suffering sighs and checking of text messages…
pause
I didn’t hear the rest of his speech because, “he lost me at “hello”.

bigger pause
Two important things I learned at that hot, sticky conference:

One, when a speaker fails to acknowledge and personally connect with his audience, they switch off and stop listening.
Two, when a speaker fails to make his message customised and relevant to the audience, they switch off and stop listening.
pause
What is the point of speaking if no one is listening?

bigger pause
As I was the speaker following him, I felt jittery. He was not only over time, but he’d lost our audience. This meant I had to work hard to regain attention and respect from the audience and keep my own spirits up after a dismal start.
pause
The turning point for me was the realisation that there is a big market  to show speakers how to connect heart to heart with an audience and to keep them listening.

bigger pause
The result of that turning point experience is my public speaking course, “Free Your Inner Public Speaker”, which you are now experiencing.“

 

Being Personal Is Being Real
When you begin your speech with sharing a personal story, it begins a relationship with your audience. Start with a simple, graphic opening line. Pause to let the audience catch up and have their own experience of relating to what you said. Briefly tell the rest of the story. Tell what you’ve learned from that experience and how it relates to the purpose of your talk. Engage their interest first. Then explain how it is relevant to them. Make eye contact one person at a time.

Drop Trying To Be Clever
Don’t struggle with trying to put something “clever” or “perfect” together (that’s a “should” coming from your head). Instead, take a leap to trust your instincts (coming from your body and heart) that what tumbles from your lips will be good enough. It’s your true story in glory and simplicity. Your story telling just may a bit of polish.

The key is to practise again from a fresh perspective, using what you learned from your first story telling practise. Ask yourself each time: What flowed and felt good? What didn’t?

And Don’t Forget To Pause
Taking the time to pause often while you speak, gives you time to gather your thoughts, tune into your feelings and speak from that place. It allows your listeners to catch up and travel along with you.

Sometimes speakers feel nervous or believe they don’t have anything of value to say, so they too speak quickly or nervously fade away. Which are fabulous ways to lose your audience. The “pause” draws people in – they want to be with you, because you are with them. Pausing is natural and normal and feels like relief.

Now It’s Your Turn
Choose a story from your past, it may be twenty years ago, it may be yesterday. Choose a turning point for you, a significant learning that caused you to change, grow or overcome a problem. Or maybe you didn’t overcome it. Perhaps that was the valuable learning.

Take a closer look at the format I used for my turning point story above, “He Lost Me At Hello”. Let that rest gently in your head like a memory, not a lesson.

Right now I want you to resist writing out your turning point story so it doesn’t get caught up as a carbon copy of the one above. Writing things out perfectly often leads to memorising and sounding like a stiff piece of cardboard. Trust yourself you can tell your story, what you learned from it and what you can therefore share or teach others, because… you were there… how could you forget?

Distill The Essence

Start by recalling the story… identify what you learned… and then distill the essence into something you find valuable and can assume your potential listeners will too.

Now say it out loud. It’s ok to ramble a few times. It’s may be easier to practise with some one else. Get the guts out, then reduce and create a story telling picture. Remember to pause as you recall it and to allow listeners to share in the picture you are painting. Another benefit of saying it out loud first, is your language will sound more natural.

If you want to write it out, you can do it now! And if you’d like to learn the rest of the “He Lost Me At Hello” story, you can download my free 6-page e-book and learn how to re-engage, re-energise and refocus yourself and your audience.
(c) 2016 Geraldine Barkworth, public speaking coach, www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

 

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

Introduce Yourself With A WIFM Not A Wish

How To Speak To A “Closed Group”

Have you ever tried to introduce yourself in a meeting, group or event and as much as you tried to insert yourself into the conversation, you are passed over by the others, as if you don’t exist? It’s hard to maintain self-confidence in an environment where you feel ignored. Actually it’s hard to not feel paranoid!

Unfortunately this is a common experience for many first timers when they attend an established group who often close ranks rather than open and welcome the newbies. Newcomers often feel they have to “force their way in” and “prove themselves”. Sometimes, they just don’t come back.

I’m going to outline how to introduce yourself using a simple WIFM strategy to show you how to break through this social communication barrier. It will enable you to be seen and heard every time you speak.

What’s In It For Me?
The strategy is called “What’s In It For Me?” (WIFM) Whenever we evaluate a product, service, idea or even a relationship, there are three questions running subconsciously through our mind. When you speak, especially if it’s to a group who don’t know you well, within the first two minutes people will be asking themselves:

1.    Who are you? (What qualifies you to talk about this?)
2.    How will I benefit?  (What will I get out of this?)
3.    And what do I have to do, to benefit? (What steps do I need to take?)

You may now be re-evaluating the last time you spoke, whether it was in a small meeting, large group or a networking event. Did you establish the answer to those questions with your listeners? And did you do it right up front so they quickly became engaged and interested?

Whether we browse for a new breakfast cereal, analyse the government Budget or listen to a colleague speak at a meeting, these are the same three critical questions we subconsciously ask ourselves each time.

 

WIFM Sample For A Networking Event

“Hello, I’m Maud and I manufacturing gizmos for reinforced concrete to keep our bridges safe. I’ve implemented 5 projects using gizmos and I’m going to tell you how I did that today.

My purpose is to help you avoid pitfalls in your business expansion and take to advantage of my experience

…and when I’ve finished in 30 minutes time, you’ll know how to do such and such… with your business. Is that something you want for your future?”

 

Play around with the WIFM Strategy sample and substitute your own language. If you use this style to introduce yourself when you speak at meetings and groups, especially when you know your audience may not want to hear what you have to say, you will answer those three critical, unspoken questions and objections running through their minds.

Once you establish credibility, explain the benefit and the steps to get that benefit, the audience will be welcoming, open to hearing what you say and more likely to follow your recommendations. Your influence will grow with your credibility every time.

Contact Geraldine for help with creating the WIFM for your next speech.

(c)2014, Geraldine Barkworth, public 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

9 Public Speaking Blunders & Their Remedies

Public Speaking Blunders

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

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

Public Speaking Blunders 1, 2 & 3: No Preparation

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

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

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

Public Speaking Blunder 4: Unclear Purpose Or Message

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

Public Speaking Blunder 5: Failure To Establish Trust & Rapport

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

Public Speaking Blunder 6: Talk AT Rather Than BE WITH

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

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

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

Public Speaking Blunder 8: TOO Much Information

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

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

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

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

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

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