Communication with Confidence

Coping With Pre-Speech Nerves

By on Sep 30, 2014 in Helpful Hints

I recently read a back copy of the magazine MiNDFOOD that got me thinking. It was entitled “Performing Under Pressure” by psychologist Dr Mary Grogan. The reason it caught my attention was that it talked about ‘pre-event nerves’. One of the things that has always struck me is that suggestions made for coping with nerves before public speaking invariably did not work for me. The suggestions were normally centered on relaxing techniques. Given their wide dissemination they must have worked for some people but they never seemed to for me. I conditioned myself to think, “Hey, there’s those nerves again. It’s my body getting prepared to speak and pumping out the adrenalin so I can perform well. Fantastic!” And I’d look forward with anticipation to sharing what I had with my audience. From the article it appears I may have been on the right track. “In a December 2013 study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, author Alison Wood Brooks of Harvard Business School, says we might have been using the wrong strategy to get over our nerves. Although we try to remain cool and composed, it is hard to calm down the automatic feelings of anxiety that are generated before a major event. There is now research showing that suppressing feelings is usually ineffective. Instead, Brooks suggests people are better served by telling themselves they are excited rather than anxious (this is known as reappraisal).” Brook’s research included people being asked to perform anxiety provoking activity. Those who were asked beforehand to say to themselves ‘I’m excited’ performed better than those told to say I’m anxious’. In one of Brook’s experiments “…. 140 participants were told to prepare a speech and were given a two minute time frame to do so. They had to perform in front of a camera and had been told it would be judged by peers (these conditions were designed to get people highly anxious). Before delivering the speech, half the participants were told to say to themselves, ‘I am excited’ and the other half, ‘I am calm.’ The speeches were analyzed by independent evaluators, who found that those who had said, ‘I am excited’ consistently performed better than those who’d told themselves...

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Book Release

By on Jun 2, 2014 in Latest Book, News Flash

My new book was launched on the 1st October 2014. It was a great night! “Dare to Deliver ~ The Dynamic Guide to Public Speaking” gives extensive hints on public speaking that I’ve picked up in over 20 years as a public speaker and trainer. There is something in it for everyone, from the beginner  with a one off speech right through to the experienced speaker. It will be available as an e-book, Kindle, and hard copy. Details  regarding its supply can be found on the Products tab.p  ...

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Interview with David Clarkson (Impromptu Speaking) Champion 2005

By on Aug 8, 2012 in Interview

An interview after David won the NZ table Topics (Impromptu Speaking) Title for the second time in 2005 Dandelion Theory blows opposition away By Jeff Elton I met a remarkable man on 19 November 2005 at the Toastmasters Convention in Invercargill. He not only proved a fascinating subject to interview but he also passed on three interesting snippets of information I feel I must share with you. First he told me about the Dandelion Theory (more on that later), second he extolled the virtue of training in any organisation and third he explained how to conclude a presentation. David Clarkson is the fellow’s name and on first impressions there appears nothing special about him: there is a sparkle in his eyes, a great haircut and seemingly boundless energy – but no traits that would suggest a New Zealand champion. David tells me he is an accountant and that suggests a degree of conservatism in a man – we have all heard those hilarious accountant jokes, haven’t we? Certainly there is a staid quality there, but just below the surface there is much, much more. Invercargill is in many ways a return home for David and his earlier memories of the province leave him a little cold. “Yes, Southland has many memories for me. In fact I was a freezer hand at Ocean Beach in the 1962, 1963 and 1964 seasons. Boy, did that place complete the education of a young catholic boy!” Many years passed before David had what he said was a life-changing experience – he became a member of Toastmasters. “I joined as a person who had lost his self confidence, lost his ability to relate to people.” That was twelve years ago and talk about ‘zero to hero’ – I have just seen David blow away the best impromptu speakers in New Zealand. He leapt around on stage, pulled stories from thin air and ultimately grabbed the audience by the throat and marched them off in the direction he wanted them to go. The performance was full of energy, passion and enthusiasm. He believed in what he was saying, he knew the topic and boy, did he deliver – and all with only 15 seconds preparation...

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Feedback Improves Communication

By on Aug 8, 2012 in Helpful Hints, News Flash

If we are speaking in public one of the things that can be really daunting is to not only hear ourselves speak but to also see ourselves as others see us. It is always helpful to get feedback on our performance after we have presented a speech, a pitch, workshop, seminar or facilitation. It enables us to monitor our performance and improve it in the future. That is why it’s essential to at least have some form of feedback sheet or someone who can provide unbiased feedback on our performance afterwards. Effective feedback confirms what is working well for us and identifies those areas where we can improve. That feedback can be enhanced by having some coaching based around our presentation. The coaching shows where improvements can be made and how to achieve them. The ability to then practice those suggestions not only reinforces them in our mind but gives us confidence to put the suggestions into practice in the future. We can feel ourselves improve; that is a real incentive to learn and apply the suggestions. One of the most powerful aides to improving performance is the use of video recording. The real power of video is that it shows us as we are. By casting a critical eye over our presentation we can see the areas that require our attention. Seeing is believing. By adding a coach or mentor to help us we then have a powerful mix. The coach can suggest the improvements and monitor our revised performance to ensure that the improvement is actually achieved. And we can see the results for ourselves. There can be an added benefit to having a permanent copy of the video recording on a computer file or DVD. After a course to a firm of chartered accountants one of them said that she had to do a presentation quite some time later. She went back to the coaching video and it reinforced the things she needed to address when making her presentation. It was a part of her preparation that materially assisted her to give a fine presentation that really hit the mark. So if we are to make increasingly more effective presentations we need to get good feedback...

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Tools to help fight the Recession

By on Aug 8, 2012 in Helpful Hints

The recession is starting to bite. It’s more important than ever to ensure that businesses and their staff are good communicators. Effective communication materially contributes to the survival chances of businesses. Consumers are watching ever more carefully how and where they spend their dollars discretionary and otherwise. A business’s ability to effectively communicate the benefits and ‘the fit’ of their products and services becomes more critical than ever as the competition increases for the available dollars. One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is that business people often overlook how well their staff communicate both inside, and more importantly, outside the business. Trained sales staff and marketers aside, it’s just as important that other staff members can promote the business fluently and correctly. Think back to the last time you met somebody new for the first time. The second or third question you’re likely to be asked is, “What do you do and/or where do you work?” The well organised amongst us will normally have a small ‘sound bite’ of a reply that answers both questions. To have an effective reply ready is admirable but that’s not the point. Once we say who we work for, in the mind of the questioner, we then become that firm or organisation. We are it and how we react, how we handle any questions about it, does effect how the questioner will think about our firm. Obviously if we make a good impression that view will be positive. Equally, being hesitant, disconcerted or lacking in confidence can create the opposite effect. When times are tough can we afford to take the risk that one of our staff, on or off the job, may inadvertently turn off a potential sale? Foster an understanding within your firm of the qualities and positive aspects of it, its successes and the quality of its products. This is the key. It ensures that, when asked, staff will have something positive to say about your firm This knowledge is easily provided through staff magazines, team briefs, blogs, bulletin boards and the like. The question is not how we do it, the question is do we make the time and resources available to do it? But...

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