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

Let Your Words And Body Speak: Nigella And Obama Style

 

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

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

 

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

Change Is Here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 Ways To Spruce Up Your Verbal Language

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

3 Ways To Luxuriate In Your Body Language

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

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

My One-Minute Demo Self-Introduction
This one-minute self-introduction formed the opening of a 30-minute speech about what we can learn from expert communicators like Obama and Nigella. Watch the 10 minute edited version here.
Have you ever wondered, how some speakers inspire you with every word and others, don’t?
How some speakers inspire you to trust and believe in them and others, don’t?
How some speakers inspire you to ask for their card, work with them, connect to something bigger and others, don’t
My name is Geraldine. I am a public speaking coach and I transform the speakers whom you didn’t want to work with, into the ones that you do!!!
I show professionals like you, like authors, coaches and business owners how to relax and overcome nerves. How to find your true voice and how to craft meaningful words into memorable presentations you can be proud of.
Work with me if you want to get hired whenever you speak!
I’m Geraldine Barkworth, director, Goddess Of Public Speaking.”

 

Above All, Stay Real & Stay Open
In a world of superfluous verbosity and redundant superlatives, whose services, products and ideas do we believe, trust and follow?

The speaker-leaders who embody warmth, credibility and authenticity. Who aren’t afraid to look you in the eyes. To help you grow, learn and connect to something bigger than what you saw for yourself. Speakers are compelling when they offer that gift of intimacy and invite you to join them there.

So… welcome to Brunswick Heads! Let your words and body speak. And don’t forget your g-string.

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

Give A Persuasive Speech With A Paper Towel

Great TED Talk Video: Joe Smith, How To Use A Paper Towel

Ever tried to convince / persuade / sell / people a new idea to change their behaviour? How did you go with that?

Joe Smith, a USA lawyer, has a thing about reducing the outrageous waste of using too much paper towel when you dry your hands. Small thing to you perhaps, big thing for forests and pollution. In just over 4 minutes, Joe teaches the audience his simple technique – “Shake and Fold”. By asking the audience to call out the steps he simultaneously engages their attention, reinforces learning, increases ownership and makes it fun.

I’ve been using his technique now for years. It works! Saves paper and gives me a glow of virtuous satisfaction every time.

Watch this short video and not only learn to dry your hands efficiently, learn how to imprint a persuasive argument and promote positive behaviour change in 4 minutes.

(c) 2015, Geraldine Barkworth, Calm Coach For Public Speakers, www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

How To Read A Speech Conversationally

Great Video – Meryl Streep, Women In The World 2012

Ever wondered how to read your speech and not sound like you are READING it? Actress Meryl Streep shows how with effortless ease in this video. She is natural and engaging and you forget, or even don’t realise, that she is reading a prepared speech. Note how she talks directly, conversationally and inclusively. This is my current second most favourite video I refer to clients who struggle with “how do I read, memorise or ad lib and yet be natural?”

(c) 2015, Geraldine Barkworth, Calm Coach For Public Speakers, www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

Recommended Video – Power Poses

TED Talk: “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are”

This is a brilliant TED 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. I probably share this video for public speaking confidence and conveying authority more than any other TED Talk.

(c) 2015, Geraldine Barkworth, Calm Coach For Public Speakers, www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

But What If I Cry? The Vulnerability Of Public Speaking

“But what if I cry when it’s my turn to speak?” 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 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 that they may cry in public.

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 on 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 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, speaking coach, Goddess Of Public Speaking. Contact Geraldine at http://www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au/

Do Men & Women “Do Public Speaking” Differently?

Public Speaking Differences Between Men And Women

A question I’m often asked is: “Are public speaking differences between men and women and do they develop personal presence in the same way?”

Communication and it’s subset of public speaking does vary between men and women. The ability to speak with presence however, crosses the gender borderline. We all get goosebumps whether the speaker is male or female, as the 2013 video link below of Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard shows.

In terms of gender difference, generally, men compartmentalise into narrow specifics and thus need to join more dots and use more descriptive language. Women open many interconnected doors to a broad picture and thus need to to focus and hone.

Gender and power are tricky subjects and liable to assumptions and false beliefs from which of course miscommunication often results. Please take my generalisations for what I intend – a broad summary of my observations over the years. There are no rules of course, everyone is different and not confined to a label.

From my observations as a coach of hundreds of people since 2002, 80% of those being women, I have noticed 4 primary differences:

  1. Gender variation in processing information. To generalise again, men often place more importance on facts and status, women on relationships and emotion, so it’s wise to adjust speech delivery to an all male or all female audience as they will relate differently to content and style as you do with audiences of different age, culture, industry and community.
  2. Personality and cultural differences – a reflection of individual personal qualities such as confidence and their environmental upbringing.
  3. Power imbalance – many women still communicate from an assumed non dominant position, often diminishing and negating their words and impact. For instance they “forget” to mention their achievements and begin by saying “they don’t know much about it”, speaking with lesser volume and eye contact.
  4. Societal perception and interpretation of gender behaviour (the classic: an assertive man described as forthright and strong, while a woman using the same language and manner is described as “demanding and unfeminine.”).

Public Speaking Shared Issues

And in terms of similarities, the common public speaking issues I work on with both
male and female clients include:

  • Learning to say “no” and negotiate from a place of natural strength.
  • Energetically ‘holding the space” and not be ‘elbowed out”.
  • Increasing personal confidence and self belief in one’s abilities.
  • Asking for what they really want (assertion) and not hoping for a miracle.
  • Becoming comfortable with eye contact, pausing, speaking conversationally.

The underpinning issues here are the lack of belief in one’s right to be worthy, to be heard and to take up space. These issues are not solely gender issues, but the issues of anyone feeling disempowered or needing a confidence boost, regardless of gender, age, culture or (dis)ability.

Development Of Presence Regardless Of Gender

Now on to the second aspect of the question concerning developing speaking presence and I’ll start with a definition: Presence occurs when someone speaks directly from their heart to yours. It is something you feel, rather than know. Understanding leaps across the room as an energetic ripple, bypassing the rational mind. Heads turn. Hearts engage. Minds open.

Speaking with presence generates attention and impact through natural charisma. This means if you have a message you want heard, rather than struggle to keep audience attention, you can simply tap into this natural resource once you learn how.

You can see speaking with presence clearly in the very popular 2013 “Misogyny Speech” from Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard in the House of Representatives directed toward Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott.  The speech went viral around the world as a breath of fresh air in politics – spoken from the heart with passion and personality. She used the reinforcing and emotive technique of repeating the words” “I am offended when…” Her body is electrically charged, she is fully focused, you believe her…  http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ihd7ofrwQX0

Male or female, speaking with presence is far more powerful than a bland, memorised speech.

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

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

Let Your Body Do The Talking

12 Short Articles And Videos About Body Language And Public Speaking

Public speaking confidence and communicating under pressure needn’t be a hard slog or a terrifying ordeal when you know how to tap into what you’ve already got. Here’s a summary of the previous 10 articles and related short video demonstrating how to let your body do the talking:

February 2012
Rabbit In The Headlights: How To Stop Freezing When You Speak
Freezing when public speaking generally feels much worse to the speaker, than it looks to the listener. A 30 second blank, can look like a pause. Taking time to gather your thoughts is appreciated by listeners because it means  you are thinking about what you say in the present moment, not repeating mechanised rote. When I film clients for the first time giving a talk, they are amazed that their occasional blank moments come across as natural pauses…

March 2012
Look At Me! How To Easily Maintain Audience Attention
Trying hard at anything is tiring. And people, well we can just be perverse. If an audience knows you desperately want their attention they will likely choose to not give you any. Stop trying so hard. Who ever said speaking with people had to be hard work? I’m not suggesting you don’t put in any effort – just stop trying to force people to listen to you. Instead, give them a choice and something worth listening to – you…

April 2012
Sitting Versus Standing: Position Yourself Powerfully When You Speak
Should I sit or should I stand? Believe it or not I get asked this question regularly. For those of you who are thinking, “Pish! What a question!”, there is a lot more going on here. The decision to sit or stand sends a non-verbal signal about your intention to establish authority, power, attention, intimacy, connection and relationship…

May 2012
Pause Power: Slow Down And Speak With Spacious Ease
You do not need to change your essential self and be something you are not. You just need to pause frequently. Imagine where the commas, colons, dashes, fullstops and new paragraphs would be begin if your talk was in writing. That’s where you pause. Give people time to digest. A pause is like a non-verbal full stop. So take a risk and stop. It is only a matter of seconds or a couple of breaths…

June 2012
The Grand Entrance: Start Your Speech With Impact
“Da Daa!” Introducing, YOU! And in you come dancing to a funky sound track, boa feather trailing behind, your newly shaved head reflecting the strobe lights… is this the kind of impact you’d like to make? Yup, you would be memorable unless of course your colleagues also read this article and boa feather sales go through the roof. Actually, that’s quiet a nice thought…

July 2012
End Well: Why A Strong Exit Makes You A Memorable Speaker
Think of a finale as a delicious taste lingering on the tongue. If your speech was a flavour,  what would it be? The lingering velvet of chocolate oohs and ahhhs or  a sharp tangy, citrus wake up? I reckon audiences want to be:
engaged (connection), informed (data), inspired (action), in that order. If you engage your audience first, they will listen to your information which if inspiring, will motivate them into action…

August 2012
Why Relaxing Your Eyes Makes You A Better Speaker
Imagine your eyes lazing in hammocks, heavy and supported. Miraculously, when the eyes are relaxed, the brain sends a message to your whole body, saying “You are safe and can relax now.” So let your body do its natural thing and ignore any contrary mental self talk when you speak…

September 2012
Communicating Under Pressure
Some days we wear our pit boots and some days we are are fragile as gossamer. 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…

October 2012
Take A Deep Breath: How To Use Breath To Mange Speaking Nerves
Doncha hate that the very thing you teach, you struggle with? And isn’t it always the way? It’s why hairdressers have bad hair and builders’ homes are half renovated. Too busy helping others and not taking time out for self care is part of the issue, but not the only issue. Helping professionals are often better at giving than receiving. I struggled for years too, but then I came up with a method to help. I call it, “Make It Right For Me”…

November 2012
Public Speaking Tips For Shy Silent Types
I define “public speaking” as “whenever you have a conversation with anyone other than yourself, you are, “public speaking.” So, face to face, phone, verbose or taciturn, whenever you speak with someone you are in fact, speaking in public. We can all benefit from improving our interpersonal skills, no matter your personal communication style. Here’s 4 tips for the naturally taciturn to remain in integrity with their natural style…

December 2012
2012: A Year Of Letting Your Body Do The Talking
You are reading it now! For further reading on the subject of non-verbal communication, read my October 2011 Cool, Calm & Connected issue, “Shut Up & Let Your Body Talk”. It was the popularity of this particular issue  which inspired me to focus on non verbal communication in 2012.

I’d love to hear your suggestions or your public speaking challenge – just email me – Geraldine

© 2012, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic public speaking coach. Geraldine shows you how to feel comfortable in your own skin by being real, raw and authentic, rather than perfect, polished and “powerpointed” every time you speak.

Contact Geraldine at http://www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au/

Public Speaking Tips For Shy Silent Types

You don’t have to be a “natural” talker to be good at public speaking. Often I work with shy or taciturn people who are inclined to silence and avoid public speaking and unnecessary conversation – but not because they are scared of it. They come to me because they want to maintain their natural style and ensure their message is effective. Let’s face it – in our society there are times when you must speak up and out, especially in your career and if you want to stay in it. Communication is one of the most highly prized people skills.

I define “public speaking” as “whenever you have a conversation with anyone other than yourself, you are, “public speaking.” So, face to face, phone, verbose or taciturn, whenever you speak with someone you are in fact, speaking in public. We all benefit from improving our people skills, no matter your personal communication style. You can either watch this short video or continue reading below, my 4 speaking tips for the naturally taciturn:

1. Short & Sweet
Accept that your honed message is good enough. People do appreciate short and sweet as a breath of fresh air to the endless drivel of fluffy verbiage. Listen to feedback to find out if listeners want more from you and if so, put the next 3 tips into action…

2. Great Structure
To ensure you have spoken effectively and not missed any vital links between points, use a talk structure which acts as a foundation for your  whole message. I use the structure of: Problem, Impact, Solution and Action.

3. Invite Questions
Always invite questions at the end or throughout  a longer presentation to ensure you have satisfied your listeners need to know:

  • “I’d be happy to take questions now; are there any?”
  • “Would you like more detail on any aspect?”
  • “Is anything not clear?”

Actually, answering questions is a great way for the naturally taciturn and those who prefer speaking off the cuff, to speak in public without preparing a ginormous presentation. It can also be a delight for the audience as they get the exact answers they want, rather than having to sift through detail.

4. Gestures & Props
A simple way to dramatically increase impact and effectiveness is to use gestures and props during your presentation. This requires forethought but the rewards are great.

Gestures – use your whole body, hands and face to speak for you. If you talk about moving to the centre of a room, then physically move to the centre. If you describe something as “amazing”, show ‘amazing” with your whole body.

Props – a “prop” is a physical item that accompanies and enhances your talk. It includes powerpoint projections, music, products and stuff like boa feathers. Even if your talk is about a new Procedure Manual, take it along and wave it around. Audiences love to learn through seeing, touching and doing as well as hearing. The more interactive and practical, the more interesting and effective your presentations. Props also act as a memory prompt rather than having to rely on notes.

You will speak with greater ease and authority and when you use less words and create more action. Why not show a naturally taciturn or shy speaker this article if you know they have something that needs to be heard?

© 2012, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic public speaking coach for women. Geraldine shows you how to feel comfortable in your own skin by being real, raw and authentic, rather than perfect, polished and “powerpointed” every time you speak.

Contact Geraldine at http://www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au/

Take A Deep Breath: How to manage speaking nerves simply by breathing

Helping professionals are often better at giving than receiving. For instance, I have worked with counsellors and psychologists who teach others how to relax and manage anxiety, but they struggle with managing their own public speaking anxiety.

Doncha just hate that the very thing you teach, you struggle with? And isn’t it always the way? It’s why hairdressers have bad hair and builders’ homes are half renovated. Too busy helping others and not taking time out for self care is part of the issue, but not the only issue. I struggled for years too, but then I came up with a method to help. I call it, “I Did It My Way”.

I Did It My Way
When any of us have a problem and it hurts enough, we look for a solution. As the problem gets bigger in our mind, it takes more and more of our energy and focus, thus making it even bigger. Even avoiding a problem takes considerable energy. Pretty soon the irritating ant has morphed into a bear. Our world becomes narrow and rigid around the problem and we develop fears and beliefs.

When a solution is offered, it is more likely to be a good fit when it appears to exactly address your specific problem. In other words, you don’t just have anxiety, you have “public speaking anxiety”. If you apply a generic formula, you’ll likely get a generic result, one that’s just not quite right for you. So you abandon it and lump it in with all the other failed solutions.

That’s when, as a specialist public speaking coach, I introduce my clients to a special mindful breath technique I’ve developed for nervous public speakers. It works for speaking nerves and it works for dinner with your mother in law. It just plains works whether you are  a boiler maker, counsellor or CEO, it works.

I Did It My Way means taking a specific technique and practicing it until it becomes automatic (unconscious competence). Then if you need to, modify it to suit you and your circumstances. Ownership of any technique is the key to making long term, powerful change and integrating solutions to once-were problems.

I call this special mindful breath technique, dum de dum daa:  The Inner Calm Exercise. Click this link will take you to the free download of the MP3 audio file (you can hear me talking you through it) and a free A4 poster for your wall to remind you to use it every day. And here’s a short video I made demonstrating how to do it:

Now this is such an effective technique I offer it free to everyone. It’s often the “hit” of my retreats and workshops. Years later, clients contact me to tell me how it’s still changing their life.

Maximum Effectiveness
To enjoy the full benefits, you must practice it every day for 6 weeks and continue to use it on a regular basis. Pretty soon, your body and mind begin to associate mindfully taking a breath in and out, with taking  emotional control. Make Inner Calm a daily habit and find a way to make it your own.

If  you prefer to have step by step help to stay on track with learning this new habit, try my Confidence & Connection eWorkbook. Its 39 pages cover weekly public speaking confidence exercises plus MP3 recordings with me talking you through 4 visualisation exercises to help you speak with ease and authenticity. More information on using the Inner Calm exercise is included.

Now you can take a big breath in… and out and finally use a public speaking relaxation technique that really works.

© 2012, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic public speaking coach for women. Geraldine shows you how to feel comfortable in your own skin by being real, raw and authentic, rather than perfect, polished and “powerpointed” every time you speak.

Contact Geraldine at http://www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au/

Communicating Under Pressure

I am often asked by people managers, how to balance staying strong and non-threatening in a “difficult situation” like a performance appraisal or 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 to handle “difficult” situations with staff and these techniques are also useful when presenting to 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 approachabillity.
  • 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.

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 are wearing our pit boots and some days we are 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.

© 2012, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic public speaking coach for women. Geraldine shows you how to feel comfortable in your own skin by being real, raw and authentic, rather than perfect, polished and “powerpointed” every time you speak.

Contact Geraldine at http://www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au/