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Public speaking and managing nerves

Many Executives we work with are terrified of public speaking. Whether it is addressing the press or sitting in the hot seat in a live interview, the very thought of either can send high-powered business leaders into a spin.  We feature a number of presentation delivery lessons geared to help you with your next public address.
1. Eye contact – the glance and grab affect

First thing first, establish and hold eye contact with the reporter/audience. Eye contact builds trust, and creates a sense of engagement with your audience. In your interview, or public address you may be offered the use of a teleprompter (there is now an app for this!). You need to speak fluidly with natural pauses and inflections, and not read straight from the prompter. The trick is to glance and grab a phrase while maintaining eye contact giving the impression you are speaking directly to the audience.

2. Yes, you can use notes, but only as a guide

Many times clients will ask to use notes when speaking, and the answer is yes. Just like the use of a teleprompter, you need to glance and grab the next point from your notes with the goal of speaking to your audience and not at your script.  The key is knowing what you want to say and using the notes only to keep the facts straight and guide your delivery i.e. beginning, middle and end. This can be particularly useful when you only have a short time to speak.

3. Body language and facial expressions

A great interview or public address can all come undone with a roll of the eyes (think Julie Bishop’s recent reaction to budget cuts).  This can happen when a reporter or audience member asks a question that comes left of field, or that you’re not prepared to answer. Your look needs to translate as calm, professional and well-equipped to answer any question that comes your way. In other words, employ your pokerface.
4. The mirror is your friend
Practice your posture and the way you stand before your interview or speech. Be aware of your tone of voice. Take your time with your responses and maintain a calm and professional presence. If you are delivering a speech, or a presentation practice purposeful gestures.  If you want to move around, make sure you move deliberately and with purpose.  Otherwise stand strong and still.
 
Everyone’s different.  We’d love to hear your ideas on how you manage nerves.  Imaging the audience in its underwear might be old school but maybe there’s some other strategies you’ve employed that have really helped?

Media training tips– the journalist is not your audience

When you speak to journalists its important to remember that an interview is not a conversation.  We address this in our media training workshops as too often, I observe the interviewee  becoming far too comfortable and familiar with the journalist forgetting that a journalist is not a friend.

Sure it helps to build rapport but in the end it’s the journalist’s audience that you are really trying to connect with.  The journalist serves as a conduit to that audience.

Here are three useful tips to make sure you’re directing your communication to your audience:

  • visualise who you’re speaking to
  • keep your key messages aimed at the audience’s level of understanding, not the journalist
  • don’t get personal with the journalist – and if you are going to use the journalist’s name make sure you get it right!

Here former PM Tony Abbott makes a complete hash of an interview with David Koch.

Former PM Tony Abbott speaks to David Koch

 

Media training: live radio

1458004497681There’s nothing like a fiery debate on talk back radio – especially when the interviewee gets hot under the collar. For the host, in this case, Neil Mitchell, its the kind of heated, sensationalist discussion that gets the phone lines jammed with passionate callers all desperate to contribute their own views.  Its talk back gold which is why this discussion runs much longer than a regular interview.

Anthony Kelly is the Executive Officer at the Flemington and Kensington Community Legal Centre.  He agreed to be interviewed in the knowledge he had an opposing view to Mitchell. Listen as Anthony Kelly becomes more and more agitated, frustrated and angry.

In this kind of forum emotions need to be kept in check.  Be clear on your messages and above all else remain calm.  Towards the end of the interview Neil Mitchell doesn’t say much – letting Mr Kelly do all the colourful talking.

And remember – the radio host will always have final say.

Neil Mitchell talks about Melbourne riots with Anthony Kelly 

Public speaking: Stan Grant’s Speech on Racism

I don’t want to diminish the meaning of broadcaster Stan Grant’s recent speech on racism in Australia by critiquing it.
In the lead up to Australia Day his words were potent, upsetting and in my opinion truthful.
If you haven’t seen it watch it.

Nat Fyfe: Brownlow Medal Winner and A Grade Communicator

1443492135945Nat Fyfe deserves a second medal for a speech that was humble, self deprecating, warm, funny and eloquent all at the same time!  A great role model for his young fans (my 12 year old son included). It’s so refreshing to see a sports man who can communicate as well as he can play!

http://www.news.com.au/sport/afl/brownlow-2015-video-nat-fyfe-delivers-hilarious-acceptance-speech-with-bruce-mcavaney/story-fndv7pj3-1227548462603

 

Media Friendly: Overcoming a fear of public speaking

Many Executives we work with are terrified of public speaking. Whether it is addressing the press or sitting in the hot seat in a live interview, the very thought of either can send high-powered business leaders into a spin. Here are some pointers geared to help you with your next public address.

1. Eye contact – the glance and grab affect
First thing first, establish and hold eye contact with the reporter/audience. Eye contact builds trust, and creates a sense of engagement with your audience. In your interview, or public address you may be offered the use of a teleprompter (there is now an app for this!). You need to speak fluidly with natural pauses and inflections, and not read straight from the prompter. The trick is to glance and grab a phrase while maintaining eye contact giving the impression you are speaking directly to the audience.

2. Yes, you can use notes, but only as a guide
Many times clients will ask to use notes when speaking, and the answer is yes. Just like the use of a teleprompter, you need to glance and grab the next point from your notes with the goal of speaking to your audience and not at your script. The key is knowing what you want to say and using the notes only to keep the facts straight and guide your delivery i.e. beginning, middle and end. This can be particularly useful when you only have a short time to speak.

3. Body language and facial expressions

Image result for julie bishop eye roll
A great interview or public address can all come undone with a roll of the eyes (think Julie Bishop’s recent reaction to budget cuts). This can happen when a reporter or audience member asks a question that comes left of field, or that you’re not prepared to answer. Your look needs to translate as calm, professional and well-equipped to answer any question that comes your way. In other words, employ your pokerface.

4. The mirror is your friend
Practice your posture and the way you stand before your interview or speech. Be aware of your tone of voice. Take your time with your responses and maintain a calm and professional presence. If you are delivering a speech, or a presentation practice purposeful gestures. If you want to move around, make sure you move deliberately and with purpose. Otherwise stand strong and still.

Everyone’s different. We’d love to hear your ideas on how you manage nerves. Imaging the audience in its underwear might be old school but maybe there’s some other strategies you’ve employed that have really helped?

Sharing your life experiences is a brave way to connect with your audience.

In business we often steer away from revealing personal experiences, for fear of ‘over sharing’ in the work place.   Being “authentic” at work doesn’t always extend to what’s really going on in our personal lives.

Today, Channel 9’s Georgie Gardner stepped out from her news reader role to share a very personal story about miscarriage and the ongoing emotional effect it has on her family. Georgie’s decision to share her story is a brave one and will no doubt resonate with many women (and their partners) who have also experienced miscarriage.
We all have our own personal stories that shape us and have the potential to connect us to not just friends and family but work colleagues, clients and associates.  Don’t be frightened to share them.  Bravo Georgie!

Great Keynote Speeches

Here are a couple of great keynote speeches you might like to watch for inspiration.

Remember when you come to preparing your next speech or presentation to:

1.  Think about your audience.  Your presentation should be about ‘them’ not you.

2. Your objective.  Are you planning to educate, entertain, persuade, inspire … ?

3.  Be authentic.  Don’t try to channel Ellen or Tim or even Bill Gates.  It won’t work!  Be yourself.

4.  Spend time rehearsing.  Say it out loud.  Punctuate your presentation with deliberate pauses.  Be descriptive and use metaphors and analogies to colour your speech.

5. Enjoy it.  There is nothing more off putting for an audience than watching someone who is clearly uncomfortable and can’t wait to get their presentation over with.

 

Ellen DeGeneres Key Note

 

Tim Minchin Key Note

 

Bill Gates Key Note

Media Training Tips: Eliminate uums and aahhs.

Australians are champions when it comes to peppering their speech with uums and aahhs.   Younger Aussies, particularly girls have replaced uum with “like”. Others have a tendency to overuse a favourite phrase: “‘to be honest”, ‘like I said before’, ”actually” and ”ectetera” just to name a few.

Old habits die hard and a few uums and aahs in my book don’t really matter – but when a presenter or spokesman uses them in every sentence it’s a habit that can really distract from the message.

While I’m yet to find a magic pill to cure this verbal afflication I really encourage my clients to slow down and before answering a question to take a breath.  Rather than uttering an um, try pausing.  Give your brain a chance to catch up and forumulate an answer.  As well as buying some much needed thinking time, a deliberate pause will provide punctuation in your delivery.  A pause can help to emphasise a word or a point, it can also provide some much needed light and shade in your speech pattern.

The second exercise you can try (and I’ve shamlessly stolen this idea from Mr Media Training, Brad Phillips) is to practice delivering a 30 second speel about anything without an uum, aahh or verbal stumble.  Any inanimate item will do as a topic:  your phone, handbag, a landmark – record yourself and listen to it back.  Remember to pause whenver you are tempted to throw in an uum!   With a little practice and some self awareness there is no doubt anyone can reduce what I call verbal garbage.