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

Let Your Words And Body Speak For You

 

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

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

 

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

Change Is Here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 Ways To Spruce Up Your Verbal Language

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

3 Ways To Luxuriate In Your Body Language

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

How And When To Apply These Techniques
Written directly below, I delivered this rather formal, 1-minute self-introduction at a business breakfast where we took turns to stand and introduce ourselves to the group.

It was a good opportunity to demonstrate the use of anaphora (underlined), rule of 3, ascending tricolon (in bold)  and the use of personal, conversational language (in italics). To see the body language gestures, you’ll have to either watch the video or use your imagination. It’s probably easier to watch the 1-minute video…

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

 

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

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

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

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

What My Dentist Taught Me About Communication

How To Convey Calm With Body Language

True confession. I have panic attacks at the dentist. In fact last time I went I was so embarrassed I didn’t go back for 5 years. Hence my 4 treatment visits this year. Luckily I’m rich. Well, not any more.

The thing is, apart from now being the proud owner of immaculate hole-free teeth, I learned a lot from my new dentist. He embodied the Art Calm Under Pressure. And it wasn’t just the generous supply of Rescue Remedy flowing like champagne from the dental spit cup. It was so much more!

1. Glide, Don’t Run
Nothing generates fear faster than abrupt, staccato movement. In body language terms it implies: “I’m busy!”, “I don’t have time for you!”, “Lets’ do this fast!” or even, “Danger, Will Robinson!” Darting, shifting or avoiding eye contact does not inspire confidence; instead they suggest a lack of mindful presence – the dentist would rather be somewhere else or you have a big big problem in your mouth that’s going to require a semi trailer and a crane.

On the other hand, a smooth glide says “I”m with you. I have time for you. I am paying you attention and do not intend to go anywhere else.” Willingness to make eye contact builds trust and rapport and you know, they are in it for the long haul. They truly see you and even understand your muffled questions. Their movements are languid and unruffled, suggesting an inner, saint-like calm.

Am I laying it on too thick? Well too bad. It worked for me! And of course, I joyously embraced (great distraction) analysing the parallels between nervous public speakers and nervous dental clients.

2. Reframe In The Positive
This dentist of mine kept up a steady stream of praise and positive feedback. I noticed when he said: “Oh this is going so well. Just a little bit longer”.  My cynical mind vaguely registered he may be telling porkies, but in that moment I chose to suspend suspicion and go with the trust option.  He gently suggested it was a good idea to buff and polish to finish it all off. “Buff and polish” sounds delightful, like a luxurious manicure you can only afford to get in Bali.

I now describe myself as a “Buff & Polish Survivor.” Two long months later and a lot of sensitive-teeth toothpaste have allowed the trauma of dental jackhammer ripping through my jaw bone, of trying to remember to do yogic breathing but really, just praying to a god I didn’t believe in, to get through it.

OK, I’m not intending to make a case for using misleading language. What I relearned was the power of language to influence and persuade. And how powerfully it can be used to settle anxiety and induce calm. And it can be used for the power of good or evil.  Just choose wisely folks.

3. Build Confidence
Working with nervous people necessitates sensitive interpersonal people skills and the ability to build rapid trust (“trust me, I’m a dentist!”). My dentist was very smart. He set out a plan of 4, sixty minute sessions. We began with the initial consult, a modern X-ray (boy things have changed in 5 years) and a tooth and gum brushing lesson (use a 45 degree angle on your gums). He even gave me a Utube link to watch professional teeth brushing.

Session 2 comprised of a review of my new teeth brushing skills (I got a gold star) and a simple upper jaw filling plus 1 needle. Easy. I breezed through the second appointment without even crying! A first!

Oh dear. Sessions 3 and 4 he had strategically left to last. By building my confidence in handling dental treatment I was amazed to experience hell in the dental chair. 3 needles at one point had to be administered. But handled it, I did. He was wise to leave the worse to last because if they had been first, I would not have returned and my panic would only have deepened.

The thing is, I survived. I’m a better public speaking coach for it. And, I have fabulous teeth. When I am coaching and training clients to work with groups, especially of a diverse and sensitive nature, I share the insights I was reminded of at the dentist:

1. Glide, Don’t Run – Slow down, relax and be present.
2. Reframe In The Positive – Choose your words carefully as they carry impact.
3. Build Confidence – Learning requires risk taking and that requires confidence and trust.

Have you booked your next dental appointment?  If so, I encourage you to observe your dentist carefully for the unexpected pearls you may pick up. In the meantime, feel free to join me at my one day workshop in Newcastle on June 29th or 4 day Public Speaking Goddess Retreat in Bundanoon NSW on Nov 22-25, 2016. And yes, nuts and ice cream will be on the menu so get your teeth done at least 2 months before!

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

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

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

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

TED Talks: Ideas Worth Spreading.

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

Let Your Body Do The Talking

10 Articles And Videos About Public Speaking Body Language

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 ten of my articles and home made videos demonstrating how to let your body do the talking. Click the Heading to read more…

Stop Freezing Like A Rabbit 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…

Look At Me! How To Keep 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…

Should I Sit Or Should I Stand?

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…

Pause Power: Slow Down When You Speak

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…

The Art Of Making An Entrance

“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 a nice thought…

The Art Of Making An Exit

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…

Relax Your Eyes And Be 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…

Communicating Under Pressure

Some days we wear our pit boots and some days we 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…

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”…

Public Speaking Tips For Shy People

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 are 4 tips for the naturally taciturn to remain in integrity with their natural style…

© 2013, 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