The Perfection Trap

How To Find Beauty In Your Flaws

I was watching day time TV. The world champions of ice skating whizzed around the rink. The magical whirls, the fantastical costumes and above all, the search for the perfect “10”.

Like most competitive sports, only First Place is venerated. Crushing disappointment for everyone else. I saw it in their crumbled faces, dejected shoulders and the commiserative knee squeeze from the coach. Only Second Place!

Why Oh Why?

At the end of the icy flurry, what I wanted to know was: why do we worship perfection? Why is the pursuit of being Number One still so important to us?

And, what would happen if we celebrated the quest, the journey and the process instead? Or the thoughtful gathering of all the small steps and how they come together to form a new story?

Perfect Public Speaker

I am a public speaking coach. Which means I help my clients individually learn how to manage speaking nerves. And I show them how to step up to the front and reveal themselves in a public space with well-crafted words and genuine presence. For some, that could involve giving a speech at a conference, or speaking up and standing their ground in a room full of challengers, or promoting their new book at a business breakfast.

Every person who works with me has a unique problem. We rework their issues into an inspiring Quest. And that Quest takes the bold yet fearful client on the classic Hero’s Journey. They are required to step up and face the inevitable challenges, fighting their internal and external dragons. Just like a good story, they face their fears, test their courage and try something new and scary. Our Hero learns an extraordinary amount about themselves. In the end, my clients do win something but it’s not always what they expect. It’s very exciting… but then, it’s over and they’re on to the next thing. Because now, they can.

Now is a good time to define our topic of the perfection trap, so we will begin with, what it is not.

Definition of Imperfection

“The state of being faulty or incomplete”. Gee, no wonder the fear of being less than perfect sends so many people into years of therapy! Now let’s investigate definitions of “Perfection”.

Definition of Perfection

  • “The action or process of improving something until it is faultless or complete.” Think of those tireless champion ice skaters, desperate for a hot chocolate but focussed on one more Triple Fling.
  • “The condition, state, or quality of being as free as possible from all flaws or defects.”  Think of the predictable sameness of machine mass production.
  • And a non-standard definition, rather Buddhist, is that Perfection is impossible because nothing is ever complete or finished; it’s always in a state of constant change.

According to the last and my favourite definition, Perfection is a temporary state. Why then do we strive for something so ephemeral? I think perfection is boring and an illusionary trap. Without change or growth, stagnation occurs. Give me imperfection any day. At least there is room to move and opportunity to be yourself.

While western society is currently obsessed with winning, being the best, the fastest, the biggest, the greatest, etcetera, other cultures have a different relationship with Perfection. I’d like to talk to you next about a couple of ancient ideas from Japan and the Middle East.

Japanese Art of Kintsugi (kint-sugee)

The Perfection Trap How to find beauty in our flaws

Do you know what this Japanese ceramic pot is an example of?

It was a beloved family pot and it had an accident. Rather than toss it away, they repaired it using the Japanese art of kintsugi, using gold to fill in the cracks and hold it together. Now, the family’s favourite pot wears its history with pride. It has a valued story and place.

Kintsugi is an example of the Japanese idea of wabi-sabi, “seeing beauty in the imperfection”. I share this perspective with clients who struggle with the perfection trap. Perhaps I should just invest in a can of gold spray paint.

The Persian Flaw

The Perfection Trap How to find beauty in your flaws

Traditional Persian rugs are intricately handwoven by families who’ve kept the skill alive over generations. With all that practise you would assume they’d be close to perfect. However, the faith of Islam believes that only God is perfect which means carpet makers intentionally place subtle mistakes in their rugs.

Are you rushing off to check the status of your own rug? Never fear, deliberate flaws are difficult to spot and are often placed in the pattern. Interestingly, mistakes add value to a rug. Imperfections prove it is authentically handmade and truly unique.

Weird Robot Face

The Perfection Trap: how to find beauty in our flaws

Everyone feels uncomfortable when confronted with the perfectly mirrored face of a robot or manikin. Our skin crawls because deep down we know no human face has perfect symmetry. One eye may be higher than the other or the teeth slightly crooked.

Humans are hardwired to prefer imperfection in faces; to be flawed. Facial imperfection feels more natural, trustworthy and authentic.

I ponder once again, why on one hand do we obsess with being flawlessly number one and yet yearn for and instinctively trust “authenticity” and “uniqueness” in all things, not just faces? Why is vulnerable and battle scarred more attractive than neat and perfect? Time to check the definition of Authenticity:

Definition of Authenticity

Authenticity is the quality of being genuine and real. Authenticity creates trust. Foundations are built upon it. I’m now briefly going to tell you the story of one of my clients who battled the perfection trap. Simon feared losing credibility and being judged as less than the perfect professional.

Client Story – Simon* Who Broke His Foot

Simon’s topic was sensitive and controversial. He needed to raise awareness in the right way to the right people. He came to see me a couple of months in advance of a conference speaking opportunity. Simon’s main issue was how to embody credibility, awaken compassion and educate status-sensitive senior health professionals.

Two weeks before the big day, Simon broke his foot badly. He assumed his credibility would be lost, limping on stage with a stick, unable to hold his own props and looking less than powerful. He was ready to cancel. I talked him out of it.

This Is How Simon Did It

A stool and table were placed centre stage. Props were hidden in a mysterious big box. Simon walked with dignity and a stick slowly and without apology. He was vulnerable and strong. The audience sucked in their breath and put down their phones. Their interest was palpable. To maximise his physical comfort and magnify his presence, Simon took off his lone shoe, spread his knees wide, leaned forward, lifted his face and opened his palms. This is the SOLER** active listening stance, a universally non-threatening physical posture that engenders trust, openness and an invitation to share.

Before long, Simon’s audience gasped, laughed and cried. They listened beyond his words and I guess you could say, crossed the “blood-brain barrier” to absorb a radical topic and approach. Through necessity, Simon had to adopt a non-standard delivery which ended up beautifully suiting his non-standard topic. His relaxed “we are all in this together” manner brought down formal barriers, allowing something new and different to slip through.

Simon took his standing ovation, sitting down! And he began conversations with policy makers who had power to make change. During a later debrief, Simon realised that “being real was far more effective than trying to be a perfect fit for someone else’s expectations.”  Simon had struggled with the perfection trap his whole life.

Embrace Flaws To Avoid The Perfection Trap

I consulted a psychologist in my twenties. I lived in Sydney and did a lot of contract work. Always moving, never settling. The psychologist kept pieces of broken, pretty glass on the window sill. After some months, I asked why she hadn’t thrown it out. She told me she used it as a visceral reminder that just because something is broken, doesn’t mean it’s no longer beautiful or valuable. In some ways when things break, they show their authentic parts, the myriad of pieces or small steps that make up the whole.

I like to keep this philosophy in mind when I work with my clients. We all strive for authenticity because it’s better than the perfection trap, it’s real. And realness is something we trust and build our lives upon, flaws, diversity and all.

Let’s all invest in bottles of gold paint!

*Naturally I have changed some details and client names to protect privacy. ** S.O.L.E.R. active listening model developed by Gerard Egan.

© 2019 Geraldine Barkworth, Australian Speaking Coach. This article is the opinion of the writer. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

Making an Entrance: Ta Daa!

How To Stand Out From the Crowd

How do you make your presentation memorable and stand out in a long day of conference speeches?

“Ta Daa!” Introducing, YOU!

And in you come dancing to a funky soundtrack, boa feather trailing behind, your newly shaved head reflecting the strobe lights… is this the kind of big entrance you’d like to make when you give a presentation? Yes, you will be memorable unless of course your colleagues also read this article and boa feather sales go through the roof. Ok, I digress.

Here’s a short homemade video I made a while back, about engaging and holding audience attention from the get-go:

Don’t Be Shy – Make an Entrance – Geraldine’s 3 Minute Video

Making an Entrance & Holding Attention

Making an entrance engages attention from the moment the MC calls your name. An interested audience is a listening audience. And they remain listening as long as you offer lots of delicious, useful information. Useful to them, that is.

After your entrance, I recommend you focus on creating a connection with your audience, before you even open your mouth. Take the time to be present and take a breath with your listeners. Look ‘em in the eye. You will immediately make a second memorable impact as acknowledging your audience first is surprisingly rare. Bit of a nod, eye contact, a smile. Costs nothing, takes less than a minute, yet generates credibility, appreciation and attention.

Foundational Question

Now we need to take a step back from the stage and discuss what happens before you create your presentation. Ask yourself this foundational question: “What do I want to be remembered for?” Your answer will determine the clarity with which you deliver your speech to conference delegates.

Now I am not talking about a deathbed legacy (although that may also be relevant). I mean, imagine how listeners might summarise your presentation over lunch or back at the office. Have you delivered a meaningful 30 second-ish munchable sound bite? This isn’t manipulative marketing, it’s practical common sense. Conferences and Events are information overloads. Your job as a presenter, is to make your information relevant and easy to digest. For them. If you are clear, they will be clear. Be relevant and you will be remembered for more than just making an entrance.

Purpose: What Do You Want to Be Remembered For?

People present to audiences for many reasons. What have been yours? Have you ever been unclear and wondered about the dodgy outcome?

To help you crystallise your memorable message, decide which of the Purpose examples below resonate. Do you want to be remembered for:

  • Being an entertaining and informative speaker that brings joy to a heavy program?
  • Delivering an inspiring vision that generates new thoughts in your industry?
  • Providing cutting edge data to benefit the practice of colleagues?
  • Standing out from the crowd and building a distinct profile?

Being clear about what you want your speech to be remembered for is similar to being clear about your purpose. Both act like a rudder, steering your speech and audience on an impactful journey toward a powerful conclusion.

How to Prepare to Stand Out from the Crowd

  1. Put time aside to research practical things like how many people will attend, where you’ll stand, microphones, if you’ll be introduced and what they’ll say, so that you’ll set up your speech confidently from the start.
  2. You are “on” as your name is called. Don’t slink in, pretending to be lost in intellectual thought or your notes!
  3. Roll your shoulders gently back, head and chest up, and take a strong, stable stance with room to move.
  4. Establish your physical and energetic presence by taking some breaths with your audience. You are saying non-verbally: “I see you, I hear you and I’m with you.” Being present is literally a present, for your listeners.
  5. Practice your speech; include the timing for your entrance, exit, pauses and even pfaffing around with slides. Ask friends for feedback. Record yourself. Are there any flat or confusing bits? Is there too much detail or not enough? Are you sure every bit of your talk relevant to your listeners? Is your message a clear and memorable sound bite?

Lasting Beyond Making an Entrance

Making an entrance is entertaining for a moment. To make a long term, memorable impact when you speak, you need to understand and deliver what your audience hungers for: personal connection and value to them. If you can do these 2 things, you will be a memorable stand-out in the conference program, way beyond your entrance.

© 2012-19, Geraldine Barkworth, Australian speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

Should I Sit or Stand When I Speak?

Use Body Language To Talk In Your Favour

“Should I sit or stand when I speak?” As a speaking coach, I am often asked this question. The decision to sit or stand sends a body language message about your conscious and unconscious intentions toward your listeners. Be clear about whether you need to establish authority, build credibility, increase connection, invite intimacy, energetically entertain or deepen trust. Like everything communication, it’s a two-way relationship; you need to consider what is right for your listeners and right for you.

I invite you to read Agatha’s Story to learn how she used body language to help her speak at a conference. Agatha’s speech intention was to gain credibility and inspire social change. But then she broke her ankle two weeks before and couldn’t stand up. Should she withdraw after all that preparation?

Client Story – Agatha

Agatha came to see me about how to present a sensitive and controversial topic at a formal conference. She was passionate about the opportunity to promote community awareness. She was also extremely nervous. Everything was going really well and then she broke her ankle. She wanted to appear strong and confident and worried that hobbling in and being helped to sit down would make her and her topic less powerful.

This is what we went with on the big day: Agatha sat on a low stool. She walked in slowly with dignity, a walking stick and only one shoe. She kicked it off. Leaned forward in her long silk caftan, rested her hands on her wide set knees and felt stable and calm. Agatha looked directly into the eyes of her audience and took several slow breaths. She waited and they waited with her…

At the end of the conference, Agatha’s speech was voted one of the best. She got a standing ovation, invitations to speak further and she was the only speaker to sit rather than stand. Sometimes, the situation you find yourself in dictates your choices. Agatha simply couldn’t stand up. We found a way to make her physically comfortable, emotionally powerful and her vulnerable yet strong body language helped her audience relate and engage with her difficult topic.

Timing & Empathy

Timing and empathy are very important. Hitting the right note opens up listeners and invites them to walk with you, rather than jarring an awkward moment when you lose people, fast.

Here are three scenarios when the Speaker’s timing, empathy, self-focus and lack of preparation were completely inappropriate but very funny in retrospect!

  • I once heard a feathered Facilitator sitting cross-legged on the floor, demand with his Talking Stick: “Take back your power!” His group sat uncomfortably in chairs looking like they’d rather be in another tepee. It was inappropriate for the environment, participants and style of event.
  • Who hasn’t been forced to attend a corporate motivational session with a hyped-up trainer trying to force change? This guy stood on a mini podium and thrust his hands in the air: “Scream this now… no, no, no!” to a small group of 7, seated women at 9.15 in the morning. Too much and way too soon before coffee.
  • Imagine this and it really did happen: I went to a poetry reading and an indulgent young man in a black beret turned his back to us and lay on the floor. He closed his eyes and shared overlong banal drivel about unrequited lust, crashing waves and stallions. We listeners might as well not have been there.

To inspire the action you desire, your choice to sit, stand or lie down must be congruent with your verbal message to be meaningful and influential. Just think of the remarkable impact Agatha experienced.

Just for fun, here’s an informal 3-minute body language video I made about the question, “Should I Sit or Stand When I Speak?” 

To summarise with a very general guide:

Sit to Speak When…

An informal group, especially a small one where people can’t hide in the crowd, need a Speaker who can build trust. This suggests “I’ve been in your shoes and we’re in this together.” So, join their circle and sit down with them. Sitting down also suits:

  • When it’s very important to build intimacy, trust and rapport first.
  • Drawing people in, like storytelling, sharing a “secret” or personal revelation.

Stand to Speak When…

A group with big expectations, strong and diverse opinions, or with a lot of emotion in the room (such as cynicism, anger or sadness) need confident presence from a Speaker “willing to take a stand.” Standing also suits:

  • When it’s important to establish leadership, authority or world domination!
  • Fitting appropriately into a formal situation or to formalise a too casual, not listening group.
  • Performance and a need for high impact to direct all attention on you and your message.

Mix It Up

Goodness, there are no rules here folks! You can switch from sitting to standing during a presentation. It adds variety, energy and emphasis. In fact, move around a bit and come out from behind the lectern and your slides. Why only use words to communicate when you’ve got all your senses and body language to talk in your favour?

Trust Your Gut

Above all, don’t follow expert advice, including from me. Do what feels right for you. Trust your gut. Sometimes it feels right to stand and sometimes, to sit. Just don’t lie down on the job!

© 2012-2019, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

Easy Self Introductions for People Who Loathe Introducing Themselves

6 Ways To Creatively Introduce Yourself In 30 Painless Seconds

Picture This: You are at a workshop. The Facilitator announces: “Self Introductions!” She gives everyone 30 seconds. She’d like to start with… don’t freak out… you. Yes, you!

I have written so often about “How To Confidently Introduce Yourself” that this time, I have created a 20 page EBook which explains how to do it for yourself. The link to learn more and buy is at the end of this article.

Just like washing-up styles, there are infinite ways to introduce yourself professionally. Today I explain the advantages of being a Self-Intro Superstar, I share 6 creative styles to keep boredom at bay and why you should keep a few versions up your sleeve.

Ten Common Self-Introduction Mistakes

Generally, a networking Self-Intro takes between 30 and 180 seconds. About the time it takes to answer a text message or have a blood test. A brief rah, rah, rah and it’s all over.

When it’s time to introduce yourself, especially to a group, an astounding number of people begin with “umm”. That conversational filler will buy some thinking time, but really, how much time do you need to remember how to say your name in public?

  1. Ummm, forget to mention your name.
  2. Ramble and get gonged off for going overtime.
  3. You don’t “end” but 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.

Oooh dear, are now you shrivelling up with the memory of a time you really “stuffed up” your self-intro? Or remember the compassion you felt when someone else was struggling like a butterfly on a pin in front of the group?

Advantages of Easy Self Introductions

Apart from leap tall buildings, save decimated species and your confidence as blinding as your dazzling teeth, your ability to introduce yourself creatively, quickly and memorably lets you:

  1. Expand your confidence to instantly feel good about yourself,
  2. Relax knowing you have professionally conveyed all you need to in that moment,
  3. Attract the right kind of clients and connections because the right people, heard you.

Why Do I Need Different Versions & Lengths?

Because every moment, every group and every situation is different.

You begin a new conversation with every self-introduction. You may spend the rest of your life or just a workshop day with those new people. How many times has a chance conversation with a stranger turned into something you really valued?

Long Term Ripple Effect

Self-introductions create potential long-term relationship ripples, yielding valuable friendship, contacts, clients and new ideas. Self-introductions mean you are out of the office. How many new people have you met lately stuck in your chair?

  • 5 Seconds – yummy bites to suit informal, off the cuff moments.
  • 30 Seconds – tantalising tasters to generate interest, connection and conversation.
  • 60 Seconds -here is the showcasing opportunity – prepare efficiently to make effortless.

No One Size Fits All

While there are many ways to introduce yourself, here are 6 creative styles to explore.  I share them with clients who pick and choose what suits them best:

  1. I Fix That!             (shows how you fix typical client issues)
  2. Expert Tip             (demonstrates expertise, credibility and generousity)
  3. Client Story           (explains who your clients are and the results they achieve)
  4. Off The Cuff           (shows confidence to casually interact and segue elegantly)
  5. Show Don’t Tell    (enables you to speak less and creatively show what you do)
  6. Raving Fan Praise (demonstrates credibility and results without you over explaining)

And Here’s How

Below is a practical example of the I Fixed That! Self Intro. Depending upon the time allocated or appropriateness to the situation (because you don’t want to be weird) it’s a great one to simply explain how you fix typical client issues and thus, clearly identify what you do and who you do it for. Remember, there are many ways to personal pitch nirvana, this is just one style: 

 

I Fix That! In 30 Seconds

“You know how when some people speak, you remember them and ask for their card, but others, you simply forget?

Well I fix that! My name is Geraldine. I’m a public speaking coach and I transform the speakers you don’t remember, into the ones that you do!!!

Work with me, if you want to be remembered when you speak!

I’m Geraldine Barkworth, chief voice, of Goddess of Public Speaking.”

And For Those Looking For Mastery…

If you want to speed up mastery of the art of easy self-introductions, you need to expand beyond just one self-intro style. Try mixing it up with Off the Cuff and Show Don’t Tell. Your listeners will thank you. You also need to know about a few other bits and pieces, namely:

  • The 3 Unconscious Questions In Every One’s Mind – as in, “Why should I listen to you?”
  • Understanding Your Audience – you need to customise to each unique situation.
  • Your POD (Point Of Difference) – what makes you different, valuable and memorable?
  • Authentic, Conversational Delivery – not too fast and not too slow.
  • Confidence & Handling Nerves – generate respect, credibility and opportunity.

Become A Self-Intro Superstar – Stop Cringing – Next Step!

If you are keen to never freak again when asked to Introduce Yourself, the next step is to purchase my Ebook, “Easy Self Introductions: For People Who Loathe Networking & Introducing Themselves.” I provide examples from different occupations (such as therapist, photographer, physio, bookkeeper, solicitor, author, coach) to get your creative juices flowing. I demonstrate examples of 6 Self Intro styles, each 30 seconds in length, plus I include a few 5, 60 and 120 second versions. Naturally you can have fun plundering, mixing and matching.

There’s also exercises to help you put your own together, so you come out sounding like you, not me! It contains 20 pages of how-to notes, examples and templates.

Why have one when you can have six ways to introduce yourself? Whip ‘em out and you’ll never be caught short when a Facilitator suddenly invites you to speak first. Never freak out again.

Learn More, Preview & Purchase The Easy Self Introductions EBook

© 2019, All rights reserved. Geraldine Barkworth, Public Speaking Coach, Goddess Of Public Speaking.

Video: Activism Needs Introverts

TED Talk by Sarah Corbett

Activism and public speaking roles traditionally favour loud confident extrovert personalities, willing to beat the door down to be heard. Think of street fundraisers who boldly approach for donations and brush off rejection and disinterest like dandruff on a collar.

50% of the population identify as introverts. Introverts want to contribute but often struggle to be heard in meetings, groups and in the street where the loud and quick, dominate.

Sarah Corbett’s delightful and inspiring 13 minute TED Talk Video Activism Needs Introverts shows introverts how to participate without compromising themselves and becoming… an extrovert! No offense intended!

The Rise of Craftivism

Sarah is a professional activist (and therefore public speaker). She campaigns using creative, thoughtful, quieter forms which won’t lead to being arrested by police or endless public conflict. Sarah’s quiet activism opens conversations. New ideas delight and engage rather than repel and close down. The 3 methods she uses (and discusses in her book, “A Little Book of Craftivism”) are listed below. In case you think “Oh no way, how can this be useful?” as I did initially – watch the video to see evidence, examples and surprising impact of her work:

  1. Group Handicrafts. People slow down and think more deeply rather than rush off in reactive rage. Participating in calm, repetitive artwork together is unifying. This is a boon for the shy who can have interesting conversations without heavy duty eye contact.
  2. Gift Making. Creating and presenting clever and simple gifts for the influential in power. Rather than using threat, they create quirky gifts like a hand sewn handkerchief with a pertinent message. The personal thought and heartfelt message combine to create a new way to reach people.
  3. Provocative Art. Create art in small, personal ways like T-shirts and signs that initiate 1 to 1 conversations (something introverts are good at). They use intrigue, strategy and social movements rather than force or noise.

Contribute In Your Own Way

In my late teens, I joined a group of social activists because it looked more interesting than going to the pub every Friday night giggling in white stillettos. The group waived placards, beat drums, tied themselves to trees and dressed up in post nuclear rags. Lots of makeup. It was fun, but ineffective. I noticed the general public were uninterested and even repelled. Certainly our plucky activist numbers did not grow. I’m not saying causing a ruckus is a waste of time. It’s just one of the ways to draw attention to important causes. Perhaps a way that’s more suited to extroverted personalities. Being an introvert, I feel thrilled by Sarah Corbett’s approach.

Sarah closes with a call to Activism Action to gain the best results for everybody: Extroverts must consciously include introverts rather than ignore or dismiss their contribution. Introverts must actively join in their way, rather than give up or hang back, to ensure everyone’s unique voice is heard. To listen to more TED Talks, visit www.ted.com.

© 2019, Geraldine Barkworth. This review is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

Tough Times Make Good Story Telling

It’s What You Learn That Counts

We all have tough times and sometimes you don’t want to talk about them, ever.

But if you are ready to consider them, think about what you learned. It’s the learning that’s character-forming. Not whether you succeeded or failed, but what you learned as a result. And if that learning benefits you, then it will likely benefit others. And that’s the basis of good story telling.

Often, it’s the so-called “failures” that provide the most benefit. Knowing not to do something again, is powerful. It’s the beginning of wisdom and confidence in yourself to make the best choices for you. No mistakes or scary challenges equals a boring stunted life.

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 end of Australia.
pause
A government minister was to open the conference and he was twenty minutes late. In he shuffled apologetically, flanked by four flunkies. He hid behind the lectern and studiously read a long jargon filled paper, clearly written by somebody else. His voice was a fast monotone, his were eyes cast down. Who was this man? Why was he here?
pause
I had no idea what he was talking about because his language was unclear and so was his point. I looked around. The audience was more interesting than him. There were 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, engage and be relevant to his audience, they switch off and stop listening.
Two: 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 was an opportunity here. I already knew how to help people feel confident, craft scintellating messages and sensitively lead groups. Right then I decided to switch from life coach to speaking coach. I chose to specialise in showing nervous speakers how to relax and give themselves and their audience a good time. A time they would value and remember.

bigger pause
The result of that initially bad experience of the first speaker, the one who “lost me at hello”, is this public speaking course that you’ve signed up for today: “Free Your Inner Public Speaker. Welcome!“

 

Be Personal

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?

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.

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”.

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 good 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 it from my free Treasure Chest of public speaking goodies.

Good Story Telling Is Not Just For Kids

You don’t need to spill secrets, share personal tragedies or make up stories to create drama and get attention. A good story contains all the elements of life: a problem, the journey to resolve, the joy and pain of the learning. Your private life is private. You choose your level of disclosure… and you can bend the truth a little… especially if it makes even better story telling! Adults and children understand that a story is a metaphor for a powerful life lesson. It contains a core of truth. What’s most important is the learning, because that’s what you are transmitting, the learning you gained from your tough time so that others benefit from the wisdom of your experience.

(c) 2016-2019 Geraldine Barkworth, public speaking coach, www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

 

Public Speaking Fear Begone!

A Speaking Fear Relaxation Exercise That Really Works

So many public speaking fear exercises out there… which one to choose and which one is right for you?

A solution feels like a good fit when it exactly addresses the specific problem. In other words, you don’t just have anxiety, you have “public speaking anxiety”. If you apply a generic formula, you’ll 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.

I’m a specialist public speaking coach and I introduce my clients to a 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 works whether you are a coach, therapist or CEO.

Breathe Your Way To Inner Calm

I call this special mindful breath technique, dum de dum daa:  The Inner Calm Exercise. Below is a short MP3 audio recording of my voice and a quirky home-made video on how to breathe your way to inner calm with this public speaking relaxation exercise that really works.

Simply click the “Play” triangle below and you’ll hear me talk you through it. Make sure you turn up your sound button.

The Inner Calm Exercise MP3:

 

The Inner Calm Exercise Is The “Hit” of Every Workshop

It’s such an effective technique I offer it free to everyone. It’s the “hit” of my retreats, workshops and private coaching. Years later, clients contact me to exclaim over how it’s still changing their life. They use it before speaking, to help them go to sleep, to help them wake up and focus, to deal with moments of overwhelm and with difficult conversations of life.

And here’s a short training video demonstrating how to do it:

http://youtu.be/9USBMc_C64s

 

Public Speaking Fear Begone and Stay Gone!

To enjoy the full benefits, I recommend you 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 part of your daily routine.

If you prefer to have step by step help to stay on track with learning this new habit, try my Online Course called Confidence & Connection. It’s a 43 page eBook covering weekly public speaking confidence exercises to make your public speaking fear begone! It includes MP3 recordings of 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. Finally, a public speaking relaxation exercise that really works.

© 2013-18, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

Write Your Speech With A Kiss

And Make Your Speech Flow

Ever listened to a presentation that didn’t flow or make sense? What it needed, was a KISS.

To clearly link your ideas and emphasise major points or direction changes, write your speech with a kiss. The KISS principle is of course: “Keep It Simple, Silly.” A KISS efficiently tells your audience what you are doing next with your use of language, pausing or emphasis. This allows listeners to stay with you rather than wander off the path in wild confusion. Here are some KISS examples I’ve used when speaking:

Link With a KISS

  • “The PURPOSE of my 20 minute presentation is…”
  • “Now I’ve explained how to craft a snippet, you are going to PRACTISE on your own website…”
  • “If you only remember ONE THING today… make it this…”
  • “I’ve told you a little about my background, now I’d like to hear about yours. So next we’re going to 
do a warm up exercise to help us to get to know one another better…”
  • “The 3 steps of a, b and c, are pivotal which is why we’ve just spent half an hour on them.
 Now I’m going to show how YOU can apply the same ideas at work…”
  • Pause…”I’d like to talk to you about… ROCKET SCIENCE.” Pause.
  • “It’s been a big 3 days. Now it’s time to finish. I’m going to summarise, then open it up to 
your questions for half an hour. Then we’ll end with our powerful completion process and I’ll invite you to register for our ongoing program…”

Be Like A Book

To write your speech with a kiss, link sections of your talk with connective sentences to demonstrate logical progression. Use language, tone and pausing to emphasise major points and signify changes in pace and direction.

Think about how books are written to aid understanding; not just the content but the format and the structure. Consider:

A book is divided up into chapters, sections and paragraphs. These are broken up further into major headings, minor headings and general text.

Your presentation is like a formatted book, except your audience is listening to it, rather than reading it.

If you were reading a story out loud to a child, you would pause at the exciting moments, speak slowly to emphasise important moments and throw in some vocal drama here and there.

No Convoluted Slobberings

Whenever there is confusion in a story line, an argument, a speech…. the listener gets lost. Keep your listeners on a clearly lit path and write your speech with a kiss. No convoluted slobberings, just clear, logical links to gently invite your listeners to walk with you.

Public Speaking Freebies for women Want public speaking freebies? Sign up to access our Treasure Chest. Filled with 30+ downloadable pearls of public speaking confidence, know-how and wisdom from Goddess Of Public Speaking.

© 2015-18, Geraldine Barkworth, public speaking coach. This article is the author’s opinion only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

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