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

The Fine Art Of Self Introduction

So Who On Earth Are You & Why Should We Care?

And that Question dear reader, speaks to one of our deepest fears and is the key to the fine art of self introduction. Being able to introduce oneself with ease and memorable panache at a meeting, networking event, professional seminar or party is one of my Top 5 client requests. Are you wondering why?

The Fear Beneath Self Introduction
The fear is primarily of social rejection. What if you are not good enough? What if they don’t like you? What if you are judged and found wanting?  Most people peddle a no-thought-out self introduction that walks the tenuous line of trying to not to stand out too much and yet, stand out enough to be remembered.

What would happen if you just dropped over-thinking and self consciousness and turned your focus from yourself onto… them… your listeners… your audience… colleagues… potential friends?

I’ll tell you what will happen… you will become a Self Introduction Super Star! And for those of you who just cringed (me included), I’ll rephrase that to something suitably less hyped… you’ll forget the fear and effortlessly introduce yourself… because self introductions are not really about you.

Generally, a Self Introduction takes between 30 and 180 seconds. About the time it takes to brush your teeth, answer a text message or have a blood test. A brief rah rah and then it’s all over. But, it is important, yes?

The Impact of A Poor Self Intro
Ooooh dear, are you shrivelling with the memory of a time you really “stuffed up” introducing yourself or remembered the compassion you felt when someone else struggled like a butterfly on a pin in front of the group? Oh how we don’t want that for ourselves. And yet, it does happen to all of us, some of the time.

Common Self Intro Mistakes Quiz
1. Forget to mention your name.
2. Ramble and get gonged off for going overtime.
3. You don’t really “end”, just fade away as you sink into your chair.
4. Say too much too soon and overwhelm. (My downfall)
5. Be mind numbingly boring… because you are bored.
6. Apologise for existing before and after you speak.
7. Sound just like everyone else and be just as forgettable.
8. Inappropriately list your achievements like a verbal CV.
9. Launch into a high powered selling tirade.
10. Fail to explain who you are and why anyone should listen to you.

Tip: Know Your Listeners First
When listeners ask themselves “who on earth are you and why should I care?, what they really looking for in a self introduction is:
•    Credibility (how are you qualified to speak and why should I listen to you?)
•    Relationship (how are you related to me and people I trust?)
•    Need (what’s in it for me? Do I need you now, later or never?)

How do you fit this all in 60 seconds and still sound relaxed and enthralling? Sounds like a lot to bother with doesn’t it?

So Why Bother Learning This Fine Art?
1. It creates a positive, memorable first impression.
2. It helps listeners understand who you are and how you can help.
3. It is courteous, professional and respectful of people’s time.
4. It helps you stand out by identifying your unique point of difference.
5. It builds confidence in yourself which is radiantly attractive.

It’s Not Hard When You Know How
Here’s a great example I’ve used before because I like it’s picturesque brevity:

“Hello, I’m Wendy; I help people find their toes. I’m a weight loss consultant.”

See how these 2 short sentences introduce Wendy and explain how she can help you (if you need to find your toes) in a memorable and creative way? And here’s another of my self introduction favourites demonstrating a clear point of difference and personality:

“You know how people often struggle at tax time… well I fix that. I’m a specialist bookkeeper for small business. My clients call me “The Tax Queen” but really, my name is Julia… and I really do love tax and computers!“

Use Your Physical Presence To Introduce Yourself
And you don’t need to just use your mouth to introduce yourself. Most listeners have other senses to engage. Ever had someone call out an endorsement when you speak “She’s great!” Trust and engagement spread like wildfire because some else said it, not you.

Take a confident physical stance. Yes, re-watch the Amy Cuddy video on power poses. Hold eye contact, use gestures, voice and props. Some examples:
•    If you are a photographer, bring your camera “This is what I do” and explain how you’d take a photo of the group in front of you… “If you want an angle that shows…” If appropriate, do it and offer it up as a social media post later.
•    If you are a physical therapist, say “Neck and shoulders hold the most tension. I’m going to show you how to fix that. Turn to the person next to you, ask their permission, and if ok, press this point and massage… pause…my name is Gregor… yes no joke, I’m a Swedish physio… and I help clients release pain and get back to normal.”

And so on. Don’t get fixated on verbal gymnastics. Use your body to speak.

Be Clear, Be Honest, Be Brief
Self Introductions appear to be about you.
But Self Introductions are really about your listeners.
Use clarity, honesty and brevity to explain who you are and why they should care.

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

How To Introduce Yourself In 2 Minutes

Self Introduction Sample For Networking

Knowing how to introduce yourself in 2 minutes powerfully and succinctly, is one of your best and cheapest promotional tools. 2 minutes gives you time to explain what you do with a case study, it enables you to build rapport by showing more of yourself and it gives an opportunity to promote a current product, service or special offer. Customised to each audience of course.

We’ve all been at an event and seen how frequently people struggle with explaining who they are and how their work benefits others.  Here’s an example how to do it from a Physiotherapist at a women’s lunch:

Introduce Yourself in 2 Minutes

“Hello everyone – My name is Jo Kikidis. Have you ever had trouble reverse parking because your neck was stiff? Or you had to stay in bed for a few days because your back was so sore? It’s my job to help clients park their car and get out of bed!

“I’m a physiotherapist and I specialise in sore necks, sore backs and sports injuries. I’ve run a small clinic with 4 staff, just down the road for the last 3 years. We work Monday to Saturday.

Recently, one of my clients who runs a small local business, hurt his back lifting something he shouldn’t have. He said he thought about asking for help with lifting but then decided he didn’t have time. So ignoring his intuition he went ahead and did it anyway… and ended up barely able to walk and unable to drive. His wife brought him in to see me – he was on high dosage pain killers. They’d had to employ someone temporarily since he couldn’t work. He came to see me every week for 4 weeks. By week 2 his pain had decreased by 50% and his mobility was also up 50%. I showed him some simple ways to strengthen his core and make his back muscles more stable – he does them every day at home. Yesterday was his last appointment and he’s now pain free and back at work. “Bad Backs” are such a frequent problem for my clients I’ve created a special program just for learning how to look after your back.

What I need at the moment are 3 more clients interested in undertaking a 6 week ‘No More Sore Back Program” I’m running next month. I only have room for 8 people who have a history of back problems. If you or someone you know would benefit from my back care program, please take one of these flyers. I’m Jo Kikidis, your local physio.”

See? It’s easy to introduce yourself in 2 minutes when you know how. Now it’s your turn to create your very own version. Don’t forget to read it out loud and time it, including your pauses. Oh, and don’t forget to pause! Less is more. Keep it light and experiment until it’s juusst right for you and each occasion.

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

Self Introductions: Be Intriguing

Sample Self Introduction For Networking

There are so many ways to introduce yourself at networking events it can be confusing. I am going to offer you one simple sample self introduction. It’s a short and simple script enabling you to effortlessly explain who you are and what you offer at any event, meeting, workshop or party.

Drama Queen 2.5 x 1.5This sample self introduction will stop you waffling and forgetting important facts like your name!

Here are examples I’m fond of because they are creative, fun and effuse credibility:

•    “I help people find their toes. I’m Wendy and I help people lose weight.“
•    “You know how some people look 20 years older than they really are? Well I fix that. I’m an anti-aging specialist and my name is Sai.“
•    “I’m the person that people call when the wheels have come unstuck in their life and they want to do something about it. I help people get back on track with a 12-week program. My name is Lou Phillips and I’m an accredited Counsellor.“

It’s a good idea to have a few scripts up your sleeve to adapt to different networking events and to avoid sounding like a broken record. Once you have internalised the concept, you will start to ad lib and customise to each occasion without having to prepare for it. You will be authentic, off the cuff and relevant every time. Say bye bye to your memorised script.

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

How To Create A Compelling 30 Second Self Introduction

Be Short And Sweet

We live in a society with advert-length attention spans. You can grab that attention by creating a short personal ad also known as a 30 second self introduction. 

One of my bugbears occurs at functions when the harassed facilitator pleads: “Now we’ve got a lot to cover today, so please give a brief 30 second self introduction.”  Before long, someone grabs 4 minutes of “Me Me Time” at everyone’s expense.  A new trend begins of 4, 5, 6 minute mind numbing self-introductions.

I used to think such people were insensitive, selfish and can’t follow direction.  As a veteran function-attender, I’ve gleaned the true reasons for self introducers who rave and ramble. And that’s because they:

  • don’t know how to structure a succinct self introduction.
  • simply are so nervous about speaking, they blank out and ramble.
  • are totally unprepared and have no idea what they are doing there.
  • really are insensitive, selfish and can’t follow direction!

Key Benefits Of A 30 Second Self Introduction

  • Good First Impression – more work upfront means less work long term.
  • Less Is More – keep your words clutter-free will make you easier to understand.
  • Being Succinct – shows respect for other people’s time and this is always appreciated.

Most people want to get a sense of who you are and what you can do for them, before they want to know your name.  And if they are interested in what you offer, they are likely remember your name.  So think about Them first, not You, when you give a 30 second self introduction.

Introduce Yourself With Ease and Grace To

  • Quickly establish rapport and open a connection.
  • Give an ‘elevator” speech and create an opportunity.
  • Make a powerful impression that gets you noticed.

It’s a good idea to have a few self-intro’s up your sleeve, because you don’t want to sound like a broken record and because everybody, every situation and everyday is different. Here’s what to include in your little personal ad plus my examples:

1. Describe the benefit of what you do for others (not your title or process.)
2. Use visual, graphic examples to which people can easily relate.
3. Give your name.

Examples: Be Intriguing, Not Boring

  • ” I help people find their toes. I’m Wendy and I help people lose weight. “
  • ” You know how some people look 20 years older than they really are? Well I fix that.  I’m an anti-aging specialist and my name is Sammi. “
  • ” I’m the person that people call when the wheels have come unstuck in their life and they want to do something about it. I help people get back on track with a 12 week program. My name is Lou and I’m an accredited Counsellor. “

Be intriguing and not boring by creating your very own 30 second self introduction. Don’t forget to practice with a Timer and include smiles and pauses in the 30 second time limit. Grab those short attention spans before they pass you by.

© 2011-18, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au