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One of my favorite quotes by the Dalai Lama is: “Sometimes one creates a dynamic impression by saying something, and sometimes one creates as significant an impression by remaining silent.”

Pausing is one of the most powerful tools you have when you speak. When we get nervous, we tend to rush through our words which, unfortunately, makes us look nervous. By pausing, we can feel and appear more comfortable and confident in front of an audience.

By pausing, you can accomplish a number of things:

• You listen to your audience. How are they reacting to your words? Do they need time to catch up? Do they have questions?
• You listen to yourself. Many people find that when they pause and slow down their pace of speech, they are able to find exactly the right words. As result, they use less filler words like um’s and ah’s.
• You calm yourself down. When you pause and breathe, you counteract the fight or flight response that makes you want to run off stage. You stay present and focused.

How do you pause?

The mantra we use in all of our workshops at Global Public Speaking is “Pause and Breathe.” You do that by physically closing your mouth and breathing in through your nose. By closing your mouth, you prevent fillers from coming out and you also breathe more efficiently.

Where do you pause?

The most powerful places to pause and breathe include:

• Before you walk into a room. It calms you down and centers you; check out our video “5 ways to calm your nerves before a speech.”
• Before you start your speech or presentation. Pause, look out at the audience and smile, and then begin. It makes you look purposeful and prepared.
• Before and after your main points. Most people rush through the critical pieces of their presentation which buries the most important information. Pause and breathe before and after your main points and you will frame them up for the audience.
• At every sentence. I normally recommend breathing at every punctuation mark but, at the very least, breathe at the end of every sentence.
• Right after your last sentence. Most people finish their presentation with a quick, shallow “thank you” and then quickly get away from the spotlight. Finish your last thought, pause and look at the audience, and you’ll ensure your message hits home. If you say “thank you,” do so thoughtfully while looking right at your audience.

Pause and breathe is something you can do at a meeting as well. It gives you time to read the room an absorb what others are saying, and it lets you decide when it’s better to listen as opposed to speak up.

By learning the power of the pause, you become more thoughtful, more purposeful, and as a result, more impactful every time you communicate.

 

Recently, I sat through a conference and decided to focus not on the speakers but on the audience. I observed their reactions to the speakers and looked for both positive and negative signs.

Communication is a two-way street. You’re not speaking at your audience but with your audience, and they are responding in different ways. Here are some reactions to look for.

Positive reactions

When the audience reacts positively to your speech, you can feel it. There’s an energy or electricity in the room; sometimes you’ll even forget about time. Here are some signs:
• Making eye contact
• Nodding heads (in an American culture)
• Laughing/smiling in the right places
• Asking questions/making comments
• Taking notes

Usually, these positive reactions happen when you’ve taken the time to frame your message in a way that is relevant and urgent for your audience. They also happen when you care about your message and deliver it in with energy, conviction, and confidence.

Negative reactions

I always caution people to not get carried away when the audience seems disengaged. Sometimes, it could be because of your presentation. However, it’s often due to outside circumstances such as a problem at home a cold room. Here are some signs:
• Looking at their phone or digital device
• Defensive body language (arms crossed, frowning expression)
• Head resting in their hands
• Not making eye contact with you
• Falling asleep

When do these negative reactions happen? Sometimes your speech or presentation is at the end of a long day. Sometimes the audience has heard endless lectures with no audience engagement. It happens when you don’t take the time to present material in a way that’s relevant to them, or you yourself are bored with low energy.

What do you do when you see negative signs? When I see the above negative reactions from a number of people during my speech (not just one person), I will include one of the following techniques:

• Open it up for questions. Pause and say, “Let me stop here for a moment. What questions do you have?”
• Ask the audience a question. I’ll say something like, “Let me stop here for a minute and ask you: who here has dealt with this topic? What did you do about it?”
• Groups of 2. I’ll ask the audience to pair up and talk through the pro’s and con’s of something we discussed in the speech.
• Summarize your main points. I’ll summarize what I’ve said so far to make sure the audience is with me.
• Tell a story. I’ll insert a relevant story that lets the audience sit back and listen.
• Table discussion. I’ll throw out a challenge and have people discuss the solution at their tables, then report back by table.

If you know the context of your speech in advance – room set-up, timing in the day, composition of the audience – then you can pre-plan those energizers throughout the speech.

Use the above indicators to read the room while you are speaking and be flexible enough to change your outline in response to your audience’s reaction. The result will be a more engaged speech and a more engaged audience.

 

One of the most common fears today is public speaking. And yet it is essential for many professionals when it comes to growing at your organization or in your career. I’ve spent countless hours practicing and delivering speeches myself. But I still wouldn’t call myself an expert. So here are my three fundamental public speaking tips that I don’t always hear from other coaches (outside of Global Public Speaking) but that I make sure to practice myself:

1.  Visualize success.  There is a reason this works so well for athletes.  You tend to accomplish what you first imagine—especially if you imagine your success in rich detail.  I try to do the following:

If possible, I visit the venue at least one day before my speech. I get comfortable with the setting and picture myself in control of the room.  I imagine a very smooth and energetic delivery, the rapt attention of my audience, and loud applause when I finish. This is about going beyond practicing my speech; I am practicing success.  And if I fully expect success, I go onto the stage with the confidence and energy to deliver.

2.  Practice before someone who is brutally honest.  I am careful in who I pick as my audience for practice sessions.  I want it to be someone with experience in public speaking and whose instinct is not to be a mere cheerleader. Quite the opposite: I need a completely candid critique from someone who won’t worry about “offending” me.  I can’t afford to miss opportunities to improve—especially since my “real” audience won’t be concerned with protecting my ego! I consider this a form of bullet-proofing the speech before the moment arrives when I “go live.”

3.  Meet and greet before your speech.  Some speakers, especially if they suffer from anxieties about public speaking, want to find a quiet corner before their presentation and sit alone studying their speech over and over. I find it is far better if I put my speech to one side (since I’ve already practiced it thoroughly, right!) and mingle with members of the audience. This accomplishes several things for me. I limber up my voice by chatting with people; I learn more about my audience (which can help me position certain points more effectively, and may also suggest a nice impromptu comment or anecdote), and I quell anxiety through the reassurance that it’s a group of likable people who are not there to judge me but to learn from what I have to say.
 

“I have no problem speaking in public when I’m an expert in my field. But if I’m speaking to an audience that knows more than me, I’m constantly second-guessing myself.”

Many of our clients struggle with this issue. For those of you in sales, how can you come across as a trusted advisor to your clients when they know more about their industry than you do? For all of us, at some point in our career, we will address an audience that has more knowledge of or experience with an issue than we do.

I’m reminded of an event I went to about book publishing. The speaker said, “If you’re holding back from writing a book because you think someone has already written about the topic, don’t hold back. There is no topic that hasn’t already been covered. Your differentiator is your unique perspective on the topic.” I never forgot that idea, especially now that I’m writing a book on public speaking!

Here are seven tips for speaking to an expert audience.

1. Do your research. Learn more about the audience’s perspectives and challenges by doing research and interviewing other experts. Continue to learn and build your knowledge. This helps you get a better sense of where your unique perspective lies.

2. Prepare your own unique insight. Some of the most innovative ideas come from outside our industry or sector. Think about your experience in other areas and identify a unique insight that your audience wouldn’t have known.

3. Share personal examples. Bring in relevant anecdotes or stories that highlight your background. Using the phrase “in my experience” builds your credibility and authority.

I remember working with a young woman from Egypt who was uncomfortable speaking in public. Due to her age, she couldn’t understand how anyone would ever want to listen to her speak. I said to her, “You have lived through a revolution. You have more credibility than someone with a Ph.D. in the subject.” Own your experience.

4. Find information that is not publicly available. In your research, seek out statistics or background information that is not easily available online. Don’t quote the same studies that everyone else is quoting, look for things that people couldn’t easily find.

5. Make it a discussion, not a lecture. Instead of simply presenting to the audience, make it an interactive discussion. When I’m speaking to communication experts, I mention that they will learn as much from each other as they will learn from me. Instead of dictating solutions, I ask them, “What has worked for you?”

6. Turn questions back to the audience. If someone asks a question you don’t know the answer to, turn it back to the audience and say, “Who here has faced this in the past? How have you handled this?”

7. Ask “Why You?” to build confidence. Before any speech or presentation, I always recommend people ask themselves the 3 Questions: Who is your audience? What is your goal? Why You: Why do you care about your subject?Answering Why You? reminds you of your interest in or passion for this subject which fuels your sense of purpose.

When you walk into a speech or presentation with a mindset of learning and collaborating, you make the conversation much more productive. You validate the expertise of the audience members and start to build a relationship of trust.

 

One of the best ways to practice your public speaking skills is by speaking up in a meeting. Many of our clients say that if you’re in the room for a meeting, you are expected to add your voice to the conversation. But if you’re in front of high-stakes clients or senior leaders, speaking up can be nerve-wracking.

See the 5 tips below to help you feel comfortable and confident when speaking up. Check out more of these tips in the full article here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the best ways to practice your public speaking skills is by speaking up in a meeting. Many of our clients say that if you’re in the room for a meeting, you are expected to add your voice to the conversation. But if you’re in front of high-stakes clients or senior leaders, speaking up can be nerve-wracking.

Here are some tips to help you feel comfortable and confident when speaking up:

Come prepared to speak. One executive we work was deathly afraid of public speaking early in her career, so she decided to come to every single meeting prepared with a comment she would make or a question she would ask. She is now an incredibly confident speaker and the head of her organization.

Ask the 3 Questions in advance (Who is your audience, what is your goal, why you?). Come up with 2-3 points you could make or questions you could ask. Don’t write a script, just bring bullet points. Run those questions/comments by a coworker in advance to make sure they move the discussion forward.

Ask the meeting head in advance. If you’re afraid you won’t be able to jump into the conversation, let the person leading the meeting know you’d like to make a point. Ask them to call on you during the meeting so you can confidently respond.

Be fully present and listen to others. It’s easy to get distracted thinking about what you’re going to say and not listen to what’s actually being said in the meeting. Stay present and you will hear a chance to jump in. You’ll also get a chance to redirect the conversation if it’s going off-topic.

Use deep breathingIf you’re nervous about speaking up, deep breathing will both calm you down and give your voice resonance so that when you do speak, your voice is strong and confident.

Wait for a pause in the conversation. Many meetings will move rapidly and you might not know when to jump in. If someone has been rambling, wait for them to take a breath and then use our next suggestion.

Compliment and build. When you have to interrupt someone, one way to soften the impact is to compliment what they’ve just said. If Steve has been rambling off topic and you sense others in the meeting are getting impatient, you can jump in with something like, “I appreciate Steve’s perspective and I’d like to come back to something we said earlier.”

Be clear and concise. Once you do have the floor, make sure your comments are clear and to the point. Make one main point and provide one main example using the PREP framework. If you start to ramble, you lose your credibility and authority as a speaker. That’s why we recommend preparing in advance.

Get rid of minimizers and fillers. When jumping into a conversation, a transition word like “so” or “well” can be helpful up front. However, keep those fillers to a minimum or they will distract others. Also get rid of minimizers like, “I may be way off base here, but…” If you do need to hedge your comments, say something like,  “We may want to consider…” which hedges your language but doesn’t diminish your idea.

Smile on the phone. If you’re speaking up on the phone, make sure you physically smile before you speak. Over the phone, your voice can come across more harshly than you intend. A smile literally makes you sound more confident and warmer which is particularly helpful if you’re interrupting someone.

Find allies. Especially if you are frequently interrupted during meetings, find allies in the room who can build you up. Someone could interrupt the interruptor by saying, “Hold on, let’s hear what she has to say,” or compliment and build on what you said earlier.

Be strategic about when you speak. Finally, remember to speak judiciously. If you constantly speak up without giving others an opportunity to do so, you monopolize the meeting time and reduce your credibility and authority. Give others a chance to speak just as you would want a chance.

Use these tools in an upcoming meeting and you will be able to practice your speaking skills every single day. Let us know how it goes!

 

Exactly 5 years ago, I moved to Washington, DC to launch Global Public Speaking after 10+ years in the Boston area.

At first, I ran the business from my kitchen and then moved into a co-working space as soon as the business was profitable. A few years later, I hired an assistant, Meghan Gonzalez, who very quickly proved herself a capable Business Manager. We moved into our own office in DC and brought on (remotely) Britt Stockert to manage operations and social media.

The response to our work has been overwhelmingly positive: client success stories have turned into enthusiastic referrals and we now have an incredible list of clients and partners, from multinational banks like Bank of America Merrill Lynch to global nonprofits like Vital Voices Global Partnership to federal agencies like the US Patent and Trademark Office.

This increased demand has led us to seek out some of the best trainers in the country to join our team and allow us to help more clients with more services.

We proudly welcome to our team Bill Beaman, Casey Carpenter, and John Watkis as our GPS Trainers and Britt Stockert as our new Operations Manager! 

With expertise in media training, sales leadership, and speechwriting in addition to demonstrated success in public speaking and presentation skills, we are thrilled to start 2018 with a team of expert trainers/coaches and skilled administrative staff. Please click here to get to know them or read their quick bios below!

In addition, I’ve just signed a book contract with AMACOM, the publishing arm of the American Management Association, to write The Leader’s Voice: A Handbook for Public Speaking and Presentation Skills. With an anticipated release in late 2018, it will be a practical guide for the busy professional.

As you finalize your 2018 learning and development plans, please reach out to us if we can help you or your colleagues speak with confidence and authenticity in speeches, presentations, and everyday conversations. Our newly expanded team offers executive coaching, group workshops, and keynote speeches.

Thank you for your trust and your partnership over the past 5 years and for your commitment to helping people find their voice and their courage to speak. We cannot wait to work with you again and welcome your continued referrals.

In the meantime, we wish you a happy holiday season and a healthy new year.

Click here for tips on keeping your voice healthy and strong through the holidays!

 


New Additions to the GPS Team

To learn more about our new team members, click here

 

Bill Beaman comes to Global Public Speaking with decades of accomplishment in international journalism and extensive experience as a public speaking coach and media trainer. Bill has worked with clients at the highest level—from CEOs to government officials to Supreme Court plaintiffs—to assist them with critical messaging. He also teaches Strategic Communication and Public Speaking at American University.

Casey Carpenter comes to Global Public Speaking with an impressive background as a professional speaker, coach, and mentor with an expertise in sales, leadership, and confidence.  An introverted, shy, and highly sensitive wallflower turned dynamic business-builder, Casey knows that anyone can improve their skills with the right training and the right mentor. An accomplished speaker, she is a national board member of the National Speakers Association.


John Watkis joins Global Public Speaking with a strong background in speechwriting and stage performance. John is an international speaker, speechwriter, and public speaking coach. In addition to delivering keynote speeches and workshops in six countries and on three continents, he has written speeches for corporations, government officials, non-profits, professional speakers, and hall of fame athletes. He was the first Canadian-born actor to play “Mufasa” in the Disney musical, “The Lion King.” 


Britt Stockert, our new Operations Manager, joins our team from the other Washington…state, that is. Britt is an entrepreneur groupie/apprentice with more than a decade of experience in marketing, sales, and business development. In addition to her time in the United States Air Force, she has spent most of her career helping smart, creative people get their innovative ideas off the ground.


 

Most of us don’t learn about Executive Presence until we grow into careers that require leadership and influence. However, I discovered the power of Executive Presence when I was fifteen years old.

As a sophomore in a performing arts high school in Florida, I was auditioning for a performance troupe that toured through our campus. During the audition, 10 of us lined up in front of an auditorium full of students. One by one, we stepped forward and simply stated our name. No explanation, no bio, just our name.

When my time came, I walked forward, paused, and took a deep breath. I looked calmly and purposefully around the room and felt a sense of anticipation as the audience waited for me to speak. Then I slowly and clearly stated my name as if it were the most critical piece of information that someone should know about me.

I made it into the troupe.

Later on, when explaining why we were chosen, the troupe director would point to my introduction – not my name, but how I had pronounced my name – as the reason why I was chosen. At the time, he had no idea that I was an opera singer in training or that I had performed in front of thousands of people. It all came across in those two words.

Think about how you introduce yourself when you walk into a room or speak up on a conference call. Your voice is one of the most powerful tools you have as a leader. The sound of your words, the energy in your words, and the intentionality behind your words, can all make the difference between being heard or not, between being listened to or not.

Voice is not the only component of Executive Presence, though it is one of the most important and the one I speak about most frequently when I teach leadership communication. Other components include confidence, a sense of purpose, body language, and the way you interact with others.

Think about what gives an opera singer stage presence: it’s the way the soprano walks purposefully out on stage, her sense of passion for the music; it’s the tenor’s confidence in his craft after years of study and practice. It’s the deep connection they both feel to the material, to the music, to why they do what they do.

These skills are even more important in a corporate setting because so few leaders learn them in business school. We believe we are either “born with it” or at a natural disadvantage. Maybe we’ve heard or have even spoken the words:

“We’d love to promote him, but he just doesn’t have leadership potential.”

Those of us in leadership positions and who have taught leadership know differently. We know that even these “soft skills” are both teachable and critical for our professional success at every level. The more senior we become, the more time we spend communicating the company’s message, and the more we wish we had learned these skills years ago. When coaching business executives, I frequently hear the same comment, “I feel like everyone else at my level learned this already; somehow I never did.”

Anyone can go through a technical training program and become technically competent. But the ability to communicate with others, to inspire others to achieve outstanding results, and to foster camaraderie and collaboration – these are crucial elements of business success which are often missing from professional development programs.

Now I’d like you to imagine a great business leader: perhaps the CEO of your organization, perhaps a member of the board, perhaps one of your colleagues. What gives that leader Executive Presence?

It could be the confident way she walks into the room and starts a meeting. It might be the clear, concise way he speaks, cutting out the jargon and the bureaucracy and getting straight to the point. Perhaps it’s the reputation that person has within the company. Maybe it’s in the power of their voice. All those attributes are critical elements of Executive Presence and they combine together to make a crucial impression on your audience.

Earlier this year, I was preparing to give a presentation on Executive Presence to a group of banking executives in a Fortune 500 company. In preparing my program, I interviewed three different individuals who would be in the audience. I asked all of them what they thought of Executive Presence and why it was important when presenting to clients.

Their answers were incredibly illuminating:

  • Do you look like you deserve to be there?
  • Does what you say make sense?
  • Do you look like you’ll be able to execute the business?

Whether your audience comprises external or internal clients, every presentation is an opportunity to influence people’s behaviors, beliefs, or actions. You might be attempting to persuade the CEO to increase your budget to hire additional staff or adopt an experimental new program. Do you truly believe in what you are saying? Are you confident in your ability to deliver results? Do you have a sense of purpose in why you do what you do? Your Executive Presence addresses all those questions.

It’s not about creating a false leadership persona – your audience can see right through that and it negatively affects your reputation and your credibility. Presence requires you to connect authentically with what drives you in your work and then allow that sense of purpose to infuse your words, your actions, and your energy which creates a very powerful, persuasive argument.

Every time you speak up, you have an opportunity to change people’s behaviors and influence their actions. By focusing on your Executive Presence, you ensure that every aspect of your communication delivers the same powerful message.

 

One of my clients was preparing the opening remarks for a fundraising event. The goal of the event was to raise money to cure a disease that her father had suffered from. She was concerned that she would break down in tears during the speech, so she asked me, “How do I manage my emotions in a speech?”

When you have a personal connection to your subject, showing emotion is a powerful way to connect with your audience as an authentic, genuine person. We connect with people through shared feelings and emotions, whether we are in a corporate boardroom or a nonprofit fundraiser.

However, there’s a difference between showing emotion and being overwhelmed by emotion.

Showing emotion can include:

  • Smiling as you talk about an accomplishment you are proud of
  • Softening your voice as you reflect on a personal loss
  • Speaking with passion about an issue you care about

Being overwhelmed by emotion is when you get flustered to the point where you lose the main message of your speech.

So how you do you show emotion without being overwhelmed by it?

In advance of your speech, ask the 3 questionsWho is your audience, What is your goal, and Why you (why do you care about your subject)? The third question, Why you? helps you connect with an authentic emotion around your subject.

In addition, ask a few other questions, such as, What level of emotion is appropriate for this audience? Where can you push the boundaries without pushing them too far? Let the answers to those questions guide your choice of stories or anecdotes.

If you are concerned about being overwhelmed by emotion in your speech, practice it with someone else in advance. Do you consistently break down at a certain story? If so, you may not be ready to share that particular story. Find a different anecdote that makes the same point but draws less emotion.

Despite our best efforts, there will still be times when we are overcome with emotion in a speech. In those cases, here are some ways to get back on track:

  1. Pause and breathe
  2. Have water with you and take a sip when you need a moment to collect your thoughts
  3. Have notes ready so you can find your place
  4. Take another deep breath and keep going
  5. Consider adding the emotional story to the end of your speech, so that you end with meaning and can leave the stage without feeling like you cut the speech short

Tapping into emotion is a powerful and authentic way to connect with your audience. You can feel comfortable showing emotion in your speech and you now have some tips to keep your cool when you are overwhelmed by emotion.

 

She said: “I have been giving speeches for 10 years. You’d think I’d be more comfortable with it by now! But I’m always afraid that my mind will go blank. That thought alone makes me so nervous!”

Those were the words of a woman I worked with during a recent public speaking workshop.

It happens to all of us. The more important the occasion, the more you care about an issue, the more worried you are that your mind will go blank.

There are ways to prevent it in advance and there are ways to deal with it when it happens. Let’s go through each one.

First, don’t memorize a script. When you memorize, you become an actor reciting lines instead of a genuine person having a conversation with the audience. Instead of memorizing your script, draft bullet points of your remarks and practice giving the speech from those bullet points. Each time, you’ll say something slightly different but each time it will be genuine.

Second, draft your main points in advance. One client I worked with mentioned that when she debates someone who doesn’t believe in the value of her work, she gets so angry that her mind goes blank. I reminded her that because this situation happens frequently, she can anticipate those questions in advance and prepare notes with her main points so that she has them in front of her, like a trusty guide, to keep her focused.

Third, make sure your speech is logical. Another key to prevent your mind going blank is to make sure your speech flows logically from one point to the next. When I’m practicing a speech out loud and can’t remember what comes next, it’s usually because I didn’t take the time to bridge the two ideas. My mind goes blank because my speech lacks structure.

Fourth, calm and center yourself in advance. The more you can relax before your speech, the more present and focused you will be in front of an audience. Take 10 minutes for yourself and walk through these 5 steps to center yourself before the speech.

The more you can relax before your speech, the more present and focused you will be in front of an audience.

But still: what if your mind goes blank even having done all of the above?

  1. This is the technique I recommend to all my clients:Pause and calmly take a sip of water (which is hopefully located on the nearby lectern or a small table)
  2. Nod thoughtfully while looking down at your notes
  3. Find your place
  4. Keep going with your presentation

You don’t need to tell the audience that you lost your place. Most of the time, they won’t even notice. Simply pause and breathe, find your place, and move on. If you catch yourself rambling and want to get back on track, pause and nod, then say Let me move on to a different point or Let’s come back to a point I mentioned earlier. You look thoughtful and purposeful.

A note about notes: Prepare your notes in a way that makes it easy to find your place. Print them out in large font with plenty of white space and print them single-sided so you’re not turning papers over in front of your audience.

There are ways to prevent your mind going blank and there are ways to deal with it when it happens. Find the right way to prepare and center yourself, and you will ensure that even if your mind does go blank, you can smoothly move through it and give an impactful presentation.