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

Bad Experiences Make Good Stories

story-telling-4x3

 

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

 

 

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

 

Turn Boring Into Compelling With Story Telling

Here’s How To Wake Up People

Oh dear. It’s your turn to present “the boring talk.” Facts. Data. Process. Working Party Analysis. Procedure. Treasurer’s Report. Policy Revision Announcements, again. Your shoulders droop in anticipation of everyone’s boredom, including your own. There goes that influential career, that great first impression… But wait! It doesn’t have to be like this!

Turn Boring Into Compelling
Facts, figures and data do not engage emotion or imagination. No picture is created when detailing complex data and procedural information in a droning voice. This means your labouriously crafted fact-filled presentation just sent people to sleep or at least created a texting opportunity.

What to do? You need to create a story that demonstrates the relevance and meaning of your data that causes your listeners to care. When people care, they wake up, get engaged and take ownership of your ideas and recommendations. Stories create action!

Information sharing allows you to make sense of the data. Story sharing allows you to make connection with listeners.

Both are important and need to be mixed together. But remember, people remember feelings before facts. Set your data free and make it compelling by placing it within the context of a relevant, emotion filled, picture based, prop assisted, short story, metaphor or analogy.

This Is How To Do It
Step 1:
Choose your central message. Consider your data to be shared. Ask yourself, “What will make my listeners sit up and relate and then care enough to do something about it?” (Or if you were in the group – what would get your interest?)

Step 2:
Best fit – you must ensure the story is the best fit for the audience and the data. Any hint of flakiness or irrelevance will lose engagement.

Step 3:
Decide on structure – the conveyance vehicle in which to house your data. Does it best suit a simple analogy because you have only 3 minutes to speak? Is it a complex series of steps that would be better understood within in a story which has echoing steps? Do you need to give a warning? A tale of dire consequences of inaction may be best.

Step 4:
Craft a relevant short story – use sensory description to engage emotion and imagination. Then add dynamic movement and interesting props to make your data come alive with meaning and feeling. Don’t assume listeners are silly – if you paint a clear picture they will work it out for themselves (and thus become more engaged.)

Step 5:
Never hurts to practise – don’t memorise – just learn the essential bits. Keep in mind that if you are interested, you will be interesting.

Example: I Use This One All The Time… And It’s A True Story
Dull Version:
Welcome to our annual talk on Manual Handling and Safe Lifting Practise In The Workplace. Take out your Procedural Manual and add these extra pages in – they are colour coded – yes I know there are 48 different colour codes… As you know it’s important to maintain a safe workplace. Keep a look out for electrical cords you could trip over and faulty equipment…

Vibrant Version:
I’ve fallen off my bike, I’m 10 years old, a semi trailer is coming at me. Fast. Instead of keeping my eyes on the road, I had turned around to boss my brother about.

What I learned from that experience was the importance of paying attention and of keeping my bike in safe working order. My brakes you see, had failed and I knew it but hadn’t bothered to do anything about it…. today I’m going to talk to you about the importance of keeping yourself safe in your workplace. My hope is that none of you will experience anything similar to what I did that day on the highway…

How To Work With Geraldine On Telling Your Story
Telling Your Story is easy with expert, objective help. Contact Geraldine to schedule a coaching session via skype or phone or book her to run a workshop for your organisation.

© 2015, Geraldine Barkworth @ Goddess Of Public Speaking.

Speech Structure That Fits Perfectly

How To Elegantly Craft Your Thoughts

Imagine this: I’m holding up a beautiful green silk shirt. It has a Chinese collar, long sleeves and 10 tiny buttons up front.

Now imagine this green silk shirt without the structure of seams. Without seams, there is no shape, no clarity of purpose and no defining detail. What I am holding up to you is simply a large green piece of silk. Could be anything really.

A speech without seams or structure is simply an incoherent ramble. Could be anything really.

Speech structure provides context and helps you and the audience make sense of your message. Audiences like to know where you are taking them – structure assures them that you know where you are going. Nothing loses the interest of an audience faster than pointless rambling.

Writing speeches, presentations and workshops becomes easy when you use a defined structure to elegantly hang your thoughts so that they look, sound and feel like a shirt, not a shapeless, vague thing.

I have created a delightfully simple structure to help you write and deliver your next speech, presentation or workshop. To set yourself up for success, you need to invest preliminary time and energy into creating great structure to ensure the perfect fit.

A Speech Structure That’s Simple To Use

The simple structure I use and teach clients is my own. I call it PAPISA and yes, say it with an Italian accent so it rolls off the tongue, as will your speech. PAPISA stands for:

P: Purpose
A: Audience
P: Problem
I: Impact
S: Solution
A: Action

If you have a speech, presentation or workshop coming up and you want a perfect fit for your speech writing and speech structure, email me to set up a time for a private coaching session and we can work together over the phone or Skype to craft something truly beautiful.

(c)2014, Geraldine Barkworth, public speaking coach at Goddess Of Public Speaking.