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Public Speaking Training

Happy New Year! 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 in 2018;
  • 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!

Difficulties with speaking -“Can’t breathe, talk or think!”

 

The whole subject of speaking is absolutely fascinating and difficulties in this area are so often not what they seem on the surface.

Absolutely we can have a difficulty with the distinctness of being able to say our ‘th’ sound or our ‘l’s’ and we need to work on those in order to have clear speech. However, we do have to come at speech work, at times, in a more holistic manner …

In another arena of life, people may experience financial difficulties which could be simply due to the loss of a job or a stream of income, but so often it can be more a symptom of a deeper issue ie. overspending due to lack of self esteem, an inability to budget and so some fiscal discipline and management is needed. Similarly, very often, this can be the case with regards to being able to confidently stand up and speak in front of others. The moment the spotlight is on us, if we are untrained and unskilled in this area, a myriad of thoughts and feelings can manifest which make it extremely difficult to function and do a great job.

Happily, I believe that there are some very practical ways through these difficulties …

Overcoming the fear of public speaking

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“Hi Sarah, just wanted to let you know that my presentation went really well. I didn’t get that anxious feeling, which was great!”  NH, Sydney

 I love receiving feedback from my clients and hearing how well they have done, and are doing, in achieving their personal communication goals. One of these goals can be about actually beginning to enjoy standing up and sharing our thoughts, knowledge and ideas with others.

What is it about speaking publicly that can make even the most robust of us tremble at the knees, and to be cited as one of the greatest fears for people, second only to the fear of death?

Is it the knowledge of all eyes being just on us? Is it the acute awareness of the responsibility to ‘deliver’? Is it a mistrust in ourselves not to do something that would make us look foolish?

There are certainly proven strategies and techniques for handling nerves that do not include drinking lots of alcohol prior to speaking, or taking beta blockers!

Using your voice

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As we consider the miraculous gift that being able to speak is, we realise that, as with any other gifting, we can ignore it; take it for granted or abuse it.

Most of us probably fall into the second category with regards to using our voices until such time as we strain them through misuse and unwittingly find ourselves in the third category.  However, what about those of us who ignore the gift, and maybe due to negative experiences or self-inflicted limitations, find ourselves for the most part Silent.

Our mental health is improved as we yield to the deeply human need to speak and to be listened to. Remember Wilson, the volleyball that Tom Hanks’ character Chuck, dressed up in the film “Cast Away”. Wilson proved critical to Chuck’s mental health as his deep need to speak to someone – or anything(!) was evidenced.  Some people speak to their dog or cat or plants in the event of having no-one else to speak to.

For those of us who have become “silent”,  it is time to pick up the talking spoon again and start connecting with others verbally.

Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking

“Training with Sarah has demystified the art of public speaking. I always thought it was something some people were just naturally good at – and I wasn’t one of them! With Sarah’s help I realised there are some very real skills I could learn to turn me into one of those ‘naturally good speakers’. Thank you Sarah, I feel so much more confident and now I do well with my presentations and speeches.”
JW, Sydney

It is so easy to look at the strengths of others and feel intimidated or lesser and as not hitting the mark ourselves in a particular arena of life. However, as with any area of training and personal development, a little bit of knowledge goes a long way. Get wisdom, get understanding!

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

If we look at an accomplished public speaker when even the very thought of getting up and speaking in front of people makes us feel sick it can make the whole process seem even more overwhelming. However, if we begin to break it down into bite-size pieces and identify what that person is doing well and why they appear so relaxed and confident we are well on our way to conquering the fear and limitations around our own lives.

Some adrenalin and nerves are a positive as we stand up to speak and whether entirely fear-less public speaking is a possibility for every person isn’t really the issue … it is more about facing the fear, overcoming it and growing in skill – we enjoy the things that we feel we do well at! I have testimony after testimony from clients who are actually now enjoying the whole experience of presenting and doing talks in front of colleagues, bosses and peers. There is nothing more rewarding for me than to hear that what was so terrifying for clients is now something they are improving in and even enjoying.

“I never thought I could do so well” … “I did soooo well!” … “I felt so confident and in control!”

Accent Softening – Clarity brings Confidence

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I love the English language! However, as a native English speaker I have the utmost respect for those endeavouring to get to grips with the language’s abundance of inconsistencies and idiosyncrasies. There is a wonderful, if rather long, poem called “The Chaos” (Anon) which charts the majority of the rebellious sounds and would challenge the most confident of English speakers!

My wonderful father-in-law spoke nine languages fluently but I couldn’t begin to get my mouth around the unfamiliar guttural sounds, diphthongs and triphthongs that he rattled off effortlessly in Dutch, Indonesian, French, Japanese, Norwegian, Italian, Spanish and German.

It is only with a great deal of practice and focus that ESL students can master the unfamiliar sounds that are ‘th’, ‘v’, ‘s’, ‘sh’, ‘ch’ etc. However, there is no doubt that the investment of time, money and focus does reap great rewards as “Clarity undoubtedly leads to increased Confidence”. It makes the world of difference to my students to know that they can easily be understood and that there is no lid to their potential for promotion, job satisfaction and social interaction.

In extreme situations, our ability to be understood could be a matter of life and death; in more common situations it can save awkwardness, misunderstandings and even the loss of a job. As English continues to be one of the most widely spoken languages and the official language of the majority of nations we need to persevere with ‘The Chaos’ – Get rid of the lid!

Happy New Year!

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 2015!

The Power of a Smile

 

As I walked down an extremely busy street in London sometime ago with a friend, a young man stopped me and said in a rather puzzled manner, “Do I know you?” I replied that I did not think so.

Later, as I considered this brief exchange of words, bearing in mind that I certainly had never seen him before; that I am not world-famous nor was he trying a smooth chat-up line, I concluded that the only reason he could possibly have had for stopping me was the fact that I had smiled at him, as I tend to do to many people. This little scenario got me thinking how important it is to maintain an openness and connection with other people even if we do not know them. Mother Teresa said “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.”

Children, apparently, smile about 400 times a day; adults, however, smile 40-50 times a day when happy and only 20 times a day when not! Interestingly though it actually takes far less effort, from a physiological point of view, to smile than it does to frown and I often find myself encouraging clients to remember the power of a smile in connecting with others and simply to feel better.

The benefits of smiling are well documented and proven …

• Smiling helps you to feel happy and relaxed. If you are in a bad mood, simply by choosing to smile you can lift your spirits. Consequently, smiling can change your mood, your feelings, even your resulting actions by helping to generate more positive emotions.

The scientist Andrew Newberg has said that in experiments, the smile was “the symbol that was rated with the highest positive emotional content.”

• Smiling stimulates your brain’s reward mechanisms in a way that nothing can match.

• Smiling boosts your immune system.

• Smiling reduces stress as it leads to a decrease in stress induced hormones, this positively affects physical and mental health.

• Smiling is contagious. A recent study in Sweden showed that it was extremely difficult for others to frown when they looked at others who were smiling!

There is a reason that the most read book in the world says “laughter does good like a medicine”.

It’s All In A Word

Occupied (with upper case O), occupied (with lower case o) or not occupied… How much passion can be aroused over the absence, removal or addition of one small word.  Julie Bishop’s stance to no longer call the Gaza strip “occupied” resulted in much heated debate around the world.

Politicians, lawyers, barristers and writers are, by necessity, very skilled in the art of well and carefully chosen words because, as we have seen so recently, one word can carry so much weight and significance.

Similarly, as excellent communicators – ones who are skilled at conveying information, ideas and policy to others – we must have a broad, rich and well chosen vocabulary.  Some strategies for developing a dictionary in our brains that means we do have the necessary words available are to read, read, read; listen to excellent communicators; learn a new word a week on a dictionary app; do crosswords; play Scrabble etc …

My father had a very broad vocabulary, the result of being an avid reader, and I can still hear him now, in my mind, saying words that I would guess at their meanings and have fun trying to use them myself.

My word for this week is ‘Omniscient’ meaning “all-knowing”!