What an extraordinary time we are living in.  How everyone is having to adapt to life without many of our favourite pastimes – but we will get through this season.

The world of training, as every other sphere of work, has had to adapt to a new ‘normal’ for the time being and it is working surprisingly well.  Of course we are not new to the effectiveness of webinars or training via Skype or Zoom – the difference is that now we do not have the choice!

Confident Communicating is enjoying continuing to work with our clients in groups or individually via online platforms.  This is being seen by many as an opportune time to do some public speaking training – you or your team may want to join in.

Happy New Year from Confident Communicating!

I love the start of a new year. It speaks of freshness, newness; new hopes, new dreams, new opportunities … a natural break to celebrate the good things of the previous year and let go of the things that didn’t go so well. A time to get up and keep doing what is working and a time to adjust what needs changing. A time to stir fresh vision.

One thing that is a definite for all of us and that is that we must keep developing and learning. If we think we know it all then we will, at best, stagnate and at worst shrink back. What might our Personal Development goals be for this year ? …

I recently read a letter from the admissions department for Oxford and Cambridge University in which were addressed the concerns of a headteacher asking as to why her academically capable student had not been accepted into either university. The reply was that although the student had a great Personal Statement and had clearly spent his/her time pursuing many worthwhile things there was a big gap in their education … this was firstly an inability to engage in verbal conversation with tutors with confidence and intelligence and secondly, a lack of ability to read English accurately and fluently.

Continuing to develop excellent communication skills and an ability to connect and engage with others must be high on our list of goals for 2020!

Imagine a typical scenario, if it is not yet typical for you it certainly will be one day! ,… “So-and-so is sick today and so you will have to go and speak to our clients and fill them in on where we are up to with the project!”

Unless you have had some practise at Impromptu speaking then the majority of people’s reponses to that instruction is not one of delight … our body begins to respond to the request and we may manifest a number of physical manifestations such as sweaty palms, heart seemingly beating out of our chest, or brain freeze.

Now, there are a number of well-proven techniques that can help us very practically to handle the above, or similar, situations effectively. However, once we have quickly thought about what we want to say and jotted down some barely legible notes on our phone or bit of paper, we then actually have to vocalise those thoughts and ideas. It is at this point that we have to consider three key things …

Clarity … will people be able to clearly hear and understand what I am saying ?

Fluency … can I fluently and articulately express what I want to say?

Variety … can I speak in a manner that is not going to send my audience to sleep in a matter of a few moments ?

As we find ourselves well into another new year, it is a great time to consider “what am I finding difficult in the world of personal communication?”

Perhaps you are needing …

  • to develop skills to prepare and deliver an outstanding speech or presentation;
  • to work on projecting confidence and assertiveness in work meetings and different work-related situations;
  • help with your staff who are struggling to present themselves well;
  • to prepare for important interviews that will open new doors for you;
  • to work on your voice – sounding more engaging, warm and interesting ;
  • to become more confident that your voice can be heard and understood, that you are getting your message across …

the list goes on of scenarios where clients have overcome fear and limitations and found greater freedom in their communication abilities.

What a privilege it is to help people to achieve their goals and more fully enjoy life!

 

“I really enjoyed the sessions and took a lot from them. Apparently I did a great job at the conference … Thank you so much!”  AC, Music Industry Exec

“It was such a great experience and my presentation went really well. It was a huge conference … All of your training and support stood me in good stead, and I adjusted my sessions to fit my audience… I followed all your recommendations to prepare myself for the presentation – and then thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Thank you for your steady guidance in the lead up. I couldn’t have done it without you.”  ST, Educator

“I’m so relieved it (the presentation) is over but it went well! I’ve had heaps of compliments …. Thank you so much.”  NE, HR professional

 

WOW – Let the comments speak for themselves!

Just because most of us are able to open our mouths and say something, doesn’t mean that what we are saying and how we are saying it, is effectively communicating with whomever our audience happens to be.

As with everything in life that we want to do well at, practise and skill are necessary. Being a great speaker, whether in a small group setting, a large audience or on media takes time and effort.

A talk begins as a little seed that has to be nurtured, thoughtfully developed and worked on if we are going to hit the mark with our listeners. We so want to be able to microwave everything and produce it in 2 secs flat! Very few people are really able to brilliantly speak spontaneously, and the few that can have had years of practise and experience, although they may not tell you that!

When I hear, occasionally, people say that any sort of public speaking courses, presentation skills training or vocal coaching is unnecessary, I just smile; remember and celebrate the many individuals that I have had the privilege of working with, in so many different professions and walks of life, who have successfully achieved and enjoyed the fruit of having grown in their communication skills.

I believe that, as individuals, we all want to be considered “a confident person”. We recognise the benefit of coming across to others as being fearless and self-assured. It is always interesting to clarify the exact meaning of words that we use so regularly …

‘confident’ –marked by assurance, as of success

having strong belief or full assurance

very bold

trust or faith in a person or thing

the state or quality of being certain.

Trust, assurance, aplomb, self–confidence … these nouns all denote a feeling of emotional security resulting from faith in one’s ability to achieve a certain goal.

So if we desire to be confident in the area of verbal communication we remember that a ‘communicator’ is someone who is skilled at conveying information or ideas to others. ‘Communication’ is the art and technique of using words effectively to exchange thoughts and to express oneself in such a way as to be readily and clearly understood.

Let’s put time, focus and intentionality behind achieving the above and we will be able to confidently say “I am a Confident Communicator!”

So, for those who read my blogs, you will know by now that I feel pretty passionate about what I do! I am absolutely committed to helping people to Find their Voices ie. overcoming the fear of public speaking in all its various forms – whether to a small group, a large conference or improving everyday interpersonal skills.  Confidence is simply having an assurance that we can do something well.

As I have explained to many of my clients, I may be confident and experienced at speaking publicly because I have had a lot of practise at it over the years, however, put me in a laser (as some friends of ours did a few months ago) and I capsize the thing! Quite simply, all I needed was some training, some practise and encouragement. By the end of my first lesson with my very patient and kind teacher (thanks Niel) I was jibing brilliantly and sailed into shore relatively confidently. Now I am not intending to sail single-handedly around the world … yet … I need to build up my skill level, practise and so increase in confidence.

However, there is a great difference between sailing and speaking, and that is that whilst sailing is a great hobby to have, it is a choice and my decision as to whether I want to pursue it. Public speaking though, for all of us, is a very necessary part of life in our workplaces, schools and universities.  Be smart and get some help – you will even begin to enjoy it … or your money back!

I heard shrieks and shouts coming from our sitting room very early the other morning, my husband was freely utilising his vocal cords!  My son poked his head out of his bedroom and asked if everything was alright … I ventured into the afore-mentioned room to find my darling shouting at the TV as England equalised against Italy – very serious stuff!

It has also been an interesting week for Phil Neville, the former Manchester United and Everton player, who has been maligned in the press for his less than auspicious first effort at commentating.  His co-commentary of the England vs Italy match was met with 445 complaints to the BBC due to his monotone delivery and lack of emotion.  Jokes were made that England’s physio, Gary Lewin, had injured his ankle “falling into a coma” brought on by the monotony of listening to Mr Neville.  Phil responded in a good natured way by saying that he was glad he could help the nation to fall asleep: We may have young children who we would like to be lulled to sleep at bedtime, but not passionate adults wanting to be inspired whilst watching their beloved footie!

It is a problem that, in many walks of life, we can be excellent at our chosen careers but have had no training to enable us to successfully commentate, speak publicly and effectively communicate information or our thoughts and ideas.  I am sure that Phil will now be quick to employ the services of someone who can help him to improve the modulation and energy behind his speaking ….

… Is that my phone ringing now?!