Posts

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: 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 

Media training: issues and crisis media management

Media training is so much more than just being “camera ready” with key messages prepared.

Media training should delve deeper to ensure an organisation has recognised potential risks (commonly referred to as an issues audit) and then developed a media plan which will set out exactly what staff should do in the event of an organisational crisis.

A crisis, well handled, doesn’t have to escalate to the point of becoming a public relations disaster. Being prepared with a list of possible scenarios and potential incidents will help manage sensitive or emerging issues in the media.

Below is a list of the steps involved in preparing a comprehensive and concise issues and crisis media management plan.

  1. identify the issue/incident
  2. what is the impact? What is the level of risk?
  3. highlight who in the organisation owns the issue
  4. who are your stakeholders?
  5. identify your media spokesperson
  6. what is your media strategy – is this a reactive response or proactive opportunity
  7. what is your media response.

Make sure the appropriate people have agreed with the media strategy and the media responses are approved. Having prepared this plan in advance will ensure a speedy and coordinated response time should any issue or incident occur.

 

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.

 

 

Mediafriendly debuts on Paul Murray Live SKY News

I made my debut last night on Paul Murray Live – broadcast nightly at 9pm on SKY News.

I enjoyed some “robust” discussion with Gary Hardgrave, Jamilia Rizvi and Mitch Catlin on issues including Tony Abbott’s “sex appeal” slip, PEFO, Holden pay cuts and more.

Here’s the link to the podcast.

PM Live Podcast August 13