Posts tagged 'public speaking':

How To Keep Things In Perspective – Public Speaking Nerves

July 24, 2014

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perspective

Butterflies in your tummy, sweaty palms and a dry mouth can become things of the past if you follow these few simple steps to turn your public speaking nerves on their head.

Glossophobia, the fear of speaking in public as it is better known, is regularly listed as the most common of all phobias and many books have been written about how to overcome this state of mind.

In my work it is often the one thing that motivates people to make contact with me and frequently turns out to be masking of an altogether different emotion.

Indulge me if you will…

I want you to imagine you have been invited to deliver a presentation to a group of important officials about your absolute field of expertise. You have had a fortnight to prepare and the presentation is written and rehearsed (finally). You will be speaking for 20 minutes and will be handling questions at the end of the session (time permitting). You know precisely where you will be meeting and what you are going to be wearing and someone else is sorting out the IT for you (hooray).

An added pressure is that your overall ‘performance’ will determine whether or not you gain a long overdue promotion at work which will attract a hefty pay rise (and I mean a seriously hefty pay rise). You have to deliver the presentation tomorrow and, if successful, will start your new job on the first of next month so those extra pounds will soon be in the bank.

So, how have you been feeling?

  1. Have you been suffering with an upset tummy (butterflies), sleepless nights and heart palpitations?
  2. Have you convinced yourself it will all be a disaster, that you will forget everything you want to say and make a complete fool of yourself and?
  3. Have you started to think you should never have put yourself forward for this stupid promotion in the first place and stand no chance of success?

All of the above are perfectly reasonable emotions and would be experienced by many in the same situation but what if we took some time to listen to what is REALLY going on here? What if we could ‘re frame’ our feelings and come up with some strategies and techniques to concentrate on making your presentation a HUGE success and that ‘hot shot’ promotion a reality?

So, what have you been feeling?

  1. What if the emotions you are experiencing are not ALL based around fear?
  2. What if the world becoming your oyster is almost too incredible to bear and you are feeling the exact emotions you felt as a child when you secretly hoped for a Scalextric, a new Chopper bicycle (the link takes you to a Chopper Owners Club!) or a Tiny Tears that really cried?
  3. What if these physical symptoms are not, in truth, a fear of messing up with the presentation but are in some way related to the fear of not being able to spend those extra earnings on holidays, houses or pension provisions?

We forget that the physical symptoms of anxiety and excitement are incredibly similar. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood these emotions become confused and ‘fear’ becomes the dominant label.

So, how can you change your perspective?

  1. How would things feel if you chose to embrace the excitement?
  2. How much more engaging and ‘real’ would you be in the delivery of the presentation if you used the excitement positively?
  3. How much easier would it be for the interview panel to make the ‘right’ decision’ if they could see how excited you were about the job in hand.

They say a change is as good as a rest so next time you start to feel ‘anxious’ stand back, change your perspective and leave the rest to success!

Bye for now.

Heather 

How To Hold Things Together When Delivering A Eulogy At A Funeral

June 13, 2014

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floraltribute

By Heather Noble

One of the most common questions I am asked about Public Speaking is ‘Do you have any tips on how I can hold things together when delivering a eulogy at a funeral?’

Being asked to speak at  a funeral is not only a great honour but is often the very last thing we are able to do for a loved one and it is that which makes us so very desperate to say and do the right thing and that leads to a fear of not being able to keep our emotions in check.

Fear of breaking down in tears in a genuine concern for so many as they feel that in doing so they have somehow ‘messed up’. I’d like to share with 5 key things to remember when taking to the lectern at a funeral which will not only help you to ‘do things right’ but will leave you feeling emotionally rewarded and connected with the person you have lost.

  1. Check in advance with the vicar, priest or civil celebrant as to how long you have available to speak. Perhaps share with them what you plan to say, if only to avoid any duplication with what they plan to cover in their tribute. They aren’t going to ask you to change your reading but more likely will amend theirs accordingly.
  2. Allow yourself time to write, reflect and become familiar with what you are planning to say. If you are reading a poem or piece of prose written by another person, give yourself time to practice reading it aloud. Things sound very different when we read them inside our head so taking time to notice the pauses, variations in pace and punctuation are all very important.
  3. Focus on the person in question and what they meant to you. This way your sincerity and appreciation of them will shine through. Of course you can make reference to what they  meant to others but the essence of what you say should be a reflection of how they made you feel. What they leave you with in terms of knowledge and memories and the spiritual part of them that you will carry with you in the future.
  4. This is one of the very few occasions where I would recommend you read your words verbatim from notes but do make sure you are familiar with the text. Print it out in large font instead of using a book and certainly not hand writing. Allowing yourself time to pause, breathe and give eye contact to the congregation will also need to be factored into the reading. Keep the pace slow (the slower the better) and keep your back straight and chin raised to help  with the projection of your voice.
  5. And finally, remember, it is absolutely acceptable to get emotional when delivering a eulogy for someone who has touched your life. Don’t try to stifle the emotion because it is this that will make the reading beautiful and sincere.

Following these few key rules will, I promise, help you to keep your emotions and nerves sufficiently in check to deliver a fitting tribute to a special person.

Feel free to share your comments, experiences and thoughts for the benefit of other readers.

Bye for now.

Heather

 

How To Fast Track Speaking Confidence

May 27, 2014

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starsnewsshops

Sometimes we all need a way to fast track our speaking confidence and one of my first jobs helped me to learn precisely this.

My first job in the public eye was in a local newsagent shop called Star News.

I can remember my first day so very clearly and all the nerves and apprehension that I was to learn would always accompany the first day in a new job.

Selling sweets, newspapers and tobacco in itself wasn’t going to be terribly taxing but dealing with customers was going to be terrifying.

That was until my colleague Paul (a gorgeous and trendy 16yr old) arrived on the scene.

As I took my place behind the news counter alongside him I looked, quite obviously, petrified. How on earth was I going to cope when we opened for business.

The rather wonderful Paul uttered 5 words that were to echo through my working career for the next 30yrs.  He assured me there was no need to be nervous and advised to simply me ‘pretend to be on stage’.

And that really was sound advice. When you are on a stage you can become a character, you can become one step removed, you can hide behind the ‘fourth wall’. The same applies when presenting and idea, delivering a speech or making a telephone call.

Naturally, there are other skills that you need to draw upon to give a convincing performance but these can all be worked upon and developed into a genuine style.

If in doubt, observe some of the great performers, the great orators, the national treasures of this world. You’ll see the real person but you will also see the ‘stage version’ of their persona. That is what looks like public speaking confidence.

If time is short and the need to ‘perform’ is real you can fast track your speaking confidence by taking a leaf out of Paul’s book. It worked for me…

You can build on the above by contacting Heather  on 01691 700800 for help with a wide range of communication skills including presentations, meetings and telephone techniques.

Everyone’s a comedian…Comedy Special for Kids

January 7, 2014

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ComedyClubPoster

I’m thrilled to be running this comedy workshop for 10-14yr olds at Oswestry Library later this month.

Aimed at youngsters who want to develop their confidence and their communication skills to give them an edge as they grow and move into the big wide world this afternoon session is guaranteed to be fun, funny and give them some tips to start developing their own communication style and enhance their listening skills too.

The session leads into our regular fortnightly Speak Easy Club that meets after school at the library every other Tuesday and focuses on the same skill set but in a more structured format. Mind you, we still have fun.

So, why not send your son or daughter along to find out more and share in the fun?

If you would like to find out more beforehand, please feel free to contact me on 01691 700800.

It’s A Matter Of Opinion

November 21, 2013

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WorldDomination

Those who know me will understand why I am so incredibly excited to have been invited to judge the next Youth Speaks Competition which takes place at Oswestry Library on Tuesday evening.

Being a confident speaker is a skill which, despite popular belief to the contrary, can be learned and whilst I work with many adults on this particular skill set I have set myself the challenge of developing this subject for all youngsters regardless of which school they attend, what their parents do for a living andor where they live. Naturally, I have to start somewhere so my first quest is to share public speaking skills and techniques with students across Shropshire and I’m working hard on that one already. Next step, world domination.

But, why do I care? Well, I recently found myself in conversation with a Head Teacher at a state school who informed me that a child does not need a private education to be a confident speaker and naturally I agreed. Until, that is, he added, ‘For instance, we have many students in school at present who are incredibly confident indeed’. And therein lies a tale.

What is it that makes a confident speaker? Somewhat surprisingly for some it’s not so much about what you say but what you don’t say.  It has little to do with knowledge and much to do with passion. It has even less to do with the words you speak and more about the way you speak them.

If you have a subject you believe in, can find a way to connect with that subject and persuade others to do the same whether for a moment for a minute or a lifetime you are half way there. The other elements such as planning, preparing and performing can all be learned. Simple as that. So step 1 is finding that gem that motivates you to speak with enthusiasm, with passion with a purpose then you can take time to work on nerves, breathing and taking the limelight. If I can learn to do it, anyone can learn to do it.

Of course I shall look forward to seeing the youngsters of Oswestry and surrounding areas speak next week but fear the majority of schools represented will be private. And so my quest continues.

If you would like to know more about the Youth Speaks Competition please click here and if you would like to find out more about speaking opportunities for your child or have any thoughts on how to get more youngsters involved please contact me on 01691 700800.

 

 

The wrong trousers…

July 22, 2013

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OversizedSuit

We wouldn’t allow our colleagues loose to promote our business and services dressed in someone else’s suit so why on earth do so many companies  set their representatives free to speak on their behalf equipped with someone else’s presentation?

I was recently asked to deliver some presentation skills training to an organisation that was embarking on a targeted promotion of their products and services and so brought me in to train their team on how to present the business in an appealing and consistent manner.

Ultimately, they wanted to be certain that nothing was overlooked when it came to promoting the wealth of services on offer.

Nothing wrong with that, I hear you say, and of course, I would agree. We do need to be certain that our staff not only understand what it is we have to offer but must ensure we equip them with the necessary skills to achieve this confidently and clearly. A bad presentation and a bad presenter can cause untold damage to reputation.

Some may think that creating a universal Powerpoint presentation which sums up the offerings and ethos of a business and then handing it to representatives as a marketing tool is ‘doing them a favour’, helping them to achieve consistency, enabling them to ‘keep on track’. Sadly this isn’t the case.

Effective communication just doesn’t work like that. If we are to be believable, credible and convincing we need to be using our own presentation style to convey the key messages and for that there is no shortcut, no time saving technique, no magic spell.

Put simply, any organisation that is serious about promoting itself through presentations and pitches should follow these three basic rules:

  1. Take time to communicate and get ‘buy in’ from your team as to the key benefits on offer. Satisfy yourself that they really understand what they are promoting.
  2. Invest time in getting to grips with the key messages that will motivate your audience to ‘take action’. Use a fresh pair of eyes to focus on what you may no longer be able to see.
  3. Allow the individuals the freedom to hone those messages into a presentation that works for them. A presentation that looks and sounds authentic. A presentation that helps to marginalise nerves and therefore maximises engagement.

All of the above is easily achievable and will add to the success of your face to face marketing activity. Not entirely convinced? Ask me how.

Contact Heather Noble on 01691 700800 or via email heather@salt-solutions.co.uk

How much bang do you get for a buck?

April 15, 2013

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Nowadays most businesses have some kind of online presence be it a website, a smartphone app or an entry on a directory site. Mix in some social media activity and it is hard to deny that these tools have considerable value in showcasing the products and services we have to offer.

Add to that a blog, some well placed PR and the use of some creatively designed marketing materials and you would think a business could have all bases covered.

But do they?

Using these platforms to promote your business has become almost second nature, a must have a ‘no brainer” but no matter the size of our marketing budget we should feel confident that we are maximising how much bang we are getting for our buck. We need to be sure we are achieving a maximum return on investment and that we are reaching the widest possible audience.

So, why is it that we happily spend out on a shiny new website, a glossy brochure and a few well placed press releases but pay scant attention to the things we say to potential customers?

Getting your message across clearly, concisely and creatively takes practice. It takes focus and it takes time. Developing a natural, powerful and memorable ‘pitch’ is the key to expanding your reach.

A more important and somewhat harder thing to do is make sure you are speaking directly to your target audience, you are speaking their language and you are saying the words they want to hear.

So, whether we (or one of our team) is pitching to a tender panel, presenting to a potential client or simply engaging on a one to one basis, making sure we know what it is that our client wants to hear, understanding common objections and knowing how to overcome them, and, most importantly, being able to recognise buying signals, will all ensure we get the loudest bang possible from each and every buck!

If you or one of your team needs help in crystallising the messages for your business and incorporating them into a simple, practical and easy to adopt way of working why not take a look around our site and find out more about how we can help you to achieve precisely that?

Please feel free to leave your comments below or contact Heather on 01691 700800 for an informal chat and, if you know anyone who might find this blog interesting please forward a link directly to them with my thanks in advance.

 

You need to change your attitude…

December 4, 2012

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If you suffer from debilitating nerves before stepping into the spotlight I have some great news for you.  You aren’t alone.

Just about everyone suffers from nerves of some kind before they make a public appearance or speak up in front of an audience. Even the most experienced orator has a flurry of anxiety before they take to the lectern.

Most accomplished speakers have simply mastered the ability to keep their inner nerves under check so that they don’t show on the outside.  And you can too. Believe me. It’s what I learned to do.

Friday evening was my first ever experience of live television. I was taking part in a fund raising telethon organised by County Channel TV for a local cancer unit (The Lingen Davies Cancer Unit). Having done a pre-recorded interview, which was a wonderful experience I thought live TV would be a gentle stroll in the park.

As I sat on the sofa, ahead of my interview, I became aware of my nerves, real nerves, overwhelming nerves. My legs started shaking. I felt cold, really cold, and I realised that my face was twitching uncontrollably.  Five minutes before a live  broadcast I realised that this was not good. Not good at all.

While the rest of the team started a run through of what was about to happen in the broadcast I began to think about what was happening inside me.  What was making me feel nervous? What was I afraid of? How on earth was I going to get through the next five minutes or so? Why on earth did I agree to do this?

As I rationalised with myself.  As I tried to get things into some kind of perspective.  As I listen to the hubbub surrounding me. I had a light bulb moment, a realisation, an epiphany. I wasn’t nervous, I wasn’t nervous in the slightest. I was excited!

Excitement and nerves manifest themselves in very similar ways but so often we decide that we must be feeling nervous when in fact we are quite simply excited beyond belief!

Nerves are a protection mechanism. They are our body’s way of telling us that we might be in danger.  That we should be on guard.  To keep our wits about us.  Feeling excited, on the other hand, is a wonderful emotion. It is a spontaneous flurry of enthusiasm. It is what reminds us that we are alive.  Alive and kicking!

What danger could I possibly be in on live TV? What really was the worst thing that could happen to me and, more importantly, would it have any lasting impact on my ability to survive the night? No.

Once I recognised this, and I have to say it was only just in the nick of time. My legs stopped shaking. My palms became less clammy and my thoughts became clearer. And as the director counted down 3…2…1…ACTION. I was ready.

So, next time you start to feel those nerves welling up inside you. Next time your palms start to sweat and your knees knock. Ask yourself this…

  1. What is there to be afraid of?
  2. Am I in danger?
  3. Is my life at risk?

If none of these is a reality, then consider this.

You might just be bursting with excitement and my overwhelming advice to you would be to ENJOY the moment before it passes!

Of course, recognising the difference between the two emotions can be tricky and, keeping them both in check takes skill and practice but people there are many tricks and tips that you can learn to help you do that.

 

 

 

 

 

Are you for real?

October 4, 2012

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When it comes to building rapport, we need to get real.

Whilst you would never think it to look at me, I drive a 150 mile round trip just to get my hair done. It’s a long story but, for the past 8 years or so, I have driven from my home in North Shropshire to Cheltenham every 6 weeks or so to be primped and preened.

Last Saturday was one of these days and for some reason I had booked my appointment for 11am, so a nice early start was on the cards.

I don’t know about you but, for me, the greatest dilemma when driving early on a Saturday morning is deciding what to listen to as I drive. My CD collection, whilst eclectic, isn’t always what I need  as I traverse Junction 8 of the M6 after a long working week.

Last weekend I decided, as usual, to give Sounds Of The Sixties a miss and opted instead for Radio 4 until Brian Matthew had finished sharing his magical mystery tour of that particular decade with us.

As I approached Cheltenham city limits and following John McCarthys fascinating tour of Martello Towers of the south coast  Saturday Live welcomed a very effusive Italian called Gianni Golfera who was being interviewed about his role as a memory man extraordinaire. He was sharing some tips on how to store information so that when we need to recall it, on demand, we don’t suffer those embarrassing moments when our memory simply refuses to produce the name of the person in front of us who greets us like a long lost friend.

Gianni mentioned one particular tip that I try to use when meeting someone for the first time. When introduced, and as soon as I have been given their name I immediately (at lightening speed, or as fast as my brain allows) try to visualise someone else that I know with the same name and connect the new acquaintance with that other friend, family member, colleague or client.

If, like Gianni, they have an unusual name or come from somewhere that I have never heard of, I increase my chances of remembering it by asking them to spell it for me. For me, this helps the name to stick in a similar way that writing things down often makes them easier to remember.

Gianni explained that this technique centres around emotional attachment and the fact that, at the point of communication, only 31% of what we receive resonates with our logical brain but, remarkably, 69% connects with our emotional brain, our inner being, the real person. I found this statistic not only fascinating but reassuring in that my preferred communication style is to connect with the emotional side of my audience.

Whether professionally or personally, and those who know me will testify, I am interested in the reality of a given situation, the real issue, the real person, the true emotional connection, whatever that might be.

In any form of communication, if we can connect on an emotional level, however deep that might be, we are more likely to make firm, lasting and valuable relationships with family members and colleagues, friends or business associates.

My message to you would be to recognise and harness your strengths, know what motivates and inspires you and use that enthusiasm to connect with your target audience.

Keep it real!

Heather

x

 

Derren Brown – the perfect presenter?

March 28, 2012

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 Derren Brown Svengali
I never imagined, when I set off to Llandudno last Thursday evening to see Derren Brown’s latest offering ‘Svengali’ that I would be inspired to use it as the subject for my Blog but what I witnessed on that evening was so much more than a mystical, magical, marvel.

The ticket was part of a combined birthday treat for my mother and my husband and I was fortunate enough to be roped in as chauffeur for the evening. Lucky me!

As we sat waiting for the show to commence the atmosphere in the theatre was, literally, electric. Not simply because of the noise and excitement that was clearly evident in the audience but because of the very real anticipation that we were about to be part of something amazing. We weren’t disappointed.

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