Public Speaking Tip #1: Create a presentation in 10 minutes

Public Speaking Tip #1

The 10 Minute Presentation Prep

In our public speaking courses, our aim is to finally get people to enjoy public speaking. But also know how to put a presentation together in 10 minutes if you had to. So if you are asked at work to give a presentation in the afternoon on your sales or an update on what’s happening in your department. What would you do? Would it set you off or would you be cool, calm and collected enough to able to put one together?

Here are some simple ways to create a presentation in 10 minutes. It’s all about making public speaking easy for you. Keep it simple and keep it short. Your audience will love you for it

The 5 Key Points Rule of Presentations

Pick 5 points you are going to make in your presentation. Point 1 is the opening point, where you set the scene for what you are going to speak about. It should be an introduction and it definitely should contain the Why or the presentation. At the end of the introduction, they audience should know why they are there, why the need to know what you are going to tell them and why it’s important. You are going to tell them what your going to tell them.

Points 2-4 are the middle of your presentation, where you will develop your introduction and expand out what you are saying. It should be a logical progression. At the end of these the speaker should know more about your introduction and why you are telling this. In points 2-4, you should probably have covered what they need to know, how it works or applies to them and what they can do with the information. IN points 2-4 you are going to tell them.

Point number 5 is the summary for your presentation. Here you are going to wrap up in re-inforce the previous 4 points. In your summary, you should leave your audience in no doubt about the value of what you had to say.  In point number 5, you are going to tell them what you told them and get them to do something about what you told them, whether it’s to ask questions or talk to you further off-line about it

The Rule of 3 for Speaking in Public

With people’s attention spans getting tested everyday with an information overload, anybody will love a public speaker who keeps it simple, gets to the point and presents no more 3 key ideas in each piece of their presentation. I suggest you aim for 2 and 3 at a stretch. So if you were doing a sales presentation, you might share the 2-3 sales strategies that are making the difference to sales results and give examples.

Tell the story that proves your point

Story-telling is a great tool to use when speaking in public, In our public speaking courses, we always get the participants to illustrate their point with a story rather than facts. Why? People love stories and respond to stories. So if you have a concrete example of a success story, it takes people right into it. People remember stories, they do not remember facts and figures. A great example I have is when I was working with somebody who was explaining a complex accounting idea.  So I suggested he turn it into a metaphor or a story. When he explained it using the metaphor of producing smart phone, it was suddenly easy to remember and easy to understand. It is a public speaking skill that I would highly recommend you develop. It will make life a lot easier for you.

Ask the audience questions

Putting questions to your audience is a great way to connect to the audience and involve them in your presentation. Plan on perhaps having 1-3 questions that you can ask, if they are appropriate, for example, how many people here have heard of x? Use

Questions to check how well the audience is following, for example, can anyone here give me a an example where they think they could use this? Questions are great at the end of a presentation to get the audience to take action of what you have said, for example, have I provided enough insight or would you like an emailed report on what I have shared? This is a great way of testing your audiences interest in your presentation and the follow-up

Give your audience a Call-to-Action

In our sales training courses, we often discuss the importance of a call-to-action. It is important that you get your prospect to follow-up and do something with what you have told the. So at the end of your presentation, I suggest the audience do something with what you have told them, whether it is to contact you, ask you questions, have a follow-up meeting or identify further discussion opportunities. When they have a call-to-action, you are more likely to get feedback on the value they got from hearing you speak.

So in summary, here is the quick and easy way to design your presentation in 10 minutes. Step 1, know the 5 ideas or concepts you want to share. Step 2. Pick 2-3 points you are going to make in each section of your presentation. Step 3: Identify 1-2 stories and examples that illustrate your points and place them where you want in talk. Step 4: Prepare questions that engage the audience. Step 5. Have an idea of what you want the audience to do with what you have told them.

These are some ideas for making your public speaking easier. If you have structure in your presentations, it can only add to your presentation skills and help you make more impact.


How to hire the Right Sales People


4 Mistakes Companies Make in Hiring Sales People

Hiring the right sales people is all about understanding what selling is really about. There is no doubt that it helps to hire somebody who knows about your industry, but no amount of industry knowledge is going overcome inadequate selling skills or people skills.

Here are some of the reasons companies hire the wrong people.

1. They believe a sales person must have industry knowledge

Think about your customer base? What are they buying? When people are buying your product or service, the chances are they have done their research and know what they are looking for. Insisting on detailing the ins-and-outs of how you are going to deliver it, connect it or the statistics on the speed of your technology, will dilute the opportunity you have to motivate your buyer to consider the value of your offering. People buy value and experiences. There is many a polite buyer who has sat through the sales presentations wondering, “When are they going to talk about me and what I need?”

Relationship and communication skills are at the heart of great selling. You may be missing out on good sales people by overlooking those who know how to sell, while selecting the CV with great industry knowledge and the weaker sales skills. Pick the sales performer and teach them about your products or industry. Selling is about people and the value they attribute to your offering. Hire a sales person who knows how to find value in what they sell, you will see their selling soar.

2. They believe high performers in a previous job will deliver immediate results

How many sales people have you seen crash and burn within six months of hiring them? They seemed to have all the right traits and selling skills, yet they don’t seem to be able to deliver on the job. What is very often missed is, even if a top sales person is hired into your sales team, they still need some coaching, guidance and education how you run your business and sell to your customers and how your solutions are purchased in your market. There are often high expectations set for new sales recruits in the first six months, which is often the relationship building phase.

Set realistic targets, even it’s it just over breakeven for the first six months. As long as they are actively building relationships, getting meetings and you see progress in their sales pipeline, you know they are on the right track. It is costly to hire somebody train them and then have to let them go. A few trial runs, where you go out with them to key customers will get them on track.

Everybody needs time to acclimatize. And when if it doesn’t work out, it is important to explore what both sides did or didn’t do to make it a success. It is too easy to blame the sales person, when the company could have done more to support them. An often over-looked problem is lack of a sales coaching and industry coaching. Make sure you do your part in supporting the sales person’s success.

3. They believe product experts make great sales people

Product experts are great to have out at meeting customers, when you have to close the sale. The problem with product experts is they talk too much about the bells and whistles of the product. Meanwhile the buyer is wondering about the value he is getting from sitting through a product demo or a detailed work-flow plan.

If you do have product experts out selling, make sure they can answer the question without mentioning features and benefits of a product, “Why do people buy our product? What value does it bring them?” Deep down, people are not just buying the product, they are buying the intangible value they see that it will bring them. People do not buy the features of the flat-screen smart TV, they buy the experience they are going to have while watching it, as they visualise how it will look in their TV room and how it’s going to make them feel.

4. They believe great sales people make great sales managers

Transitioning from a sales role to sales management job requires training and conscious awareness of the difference between understanding selling and understanding people. Using the analogy of the star soccer player who retires from the game and moves into management, there are many stories of failed team managers who just didn’t have the core skills required to manage, motivate and inspire the football team. At the heart of sales management is an understanding of behaviour and how people are motivated or demotivated, coupled with the skills of communicating a vision, team building and coaching the team to excellence. When deciding who should manage a sales team, look closely at their people skills, communication skills and consider investing in some coaching or personal development training.

So what should you look for in hiring sales people?

If you are hiring sales people for your business, look for the strategic thinker with an ability navigate through the thinking of the buyers (mental skills), who can build great rapport and relationship (people skills), can get the balance between the big picture of business and the details of getting to the results in a consistent systematic way (project management skills).

During the interview, pay very close attention to their use of language and listening for their thinking style. A dazzling personality is a bonus, but personality does not maketh the salesperson. I am sure many sales managers who hired people they wished they hadn’t might agree with me. Great personality, but no substance, or all talk and no delivery. Let’s not be dazzled by personality, past results, industry knowledge alone. Start asking more questions when you hire sales people. Discover whether they have a flair for business and can demonstrate their business acumen. If they have that on top of the industry and product knowledge, you are on to a winner.


About the Author: Shiera O’Brien is a sales trainer and coach, who works with sales teams across industries to get better results from their sales conversations by changing how they engage their prospects. In any sales workshop there is a total focus on 1) what current results are you getting, 2) what skills are needed to improve the results 3) what selling behaviour are operating. Shiera works to bring awareness to what is going on from an observational standpoint, without judgement, using tools she has learned in 12 years in the field of coaching.

Sales Tips for Successful Sale Meetings

4 Ingredients to Creating a Bliss Point in your Sales Meetings

There is always a point in a purchase where your customer will probably not go back. It’s the Bliss Point. Everything they want and imagine around your product is happening inside their brain, inside the conversation that YOU are creating with them. The brain does not distinguish between what is real and imagined.


What is the Bliss Point?

Howard Moskowitz is an American scientist of experimental psychology and coined the phrase The Bliss Point. He discovered the three magic ingredients that got people addicted to food; salt, fat and sugar. Moskowitz discovered through lots of tasting and testing with people that a perfect ratio of salt, fat and sugar would tip people over the edge to The Bliss Point of loving a particular food. It created a feeling that they could never get enough of it, not unlike an addictive substance.

He was the mastermind behind the explosion and love of convenience and junk food. He consistently identified the Bliss Point for enjoying food, while being asked to find a way to limit the waste of food among army staff. This has been a boon for the creators of snack and convenience foods manufactures. Ever tried to eat only two or three crunchy, tasty, irresistible Pringles from that brightly-colored tube?

It got me thinking, well, if that works foods we love… surely there is a cross-over with things we buy in everyday life and the business world. There has to be a magic blend of “ingredients” or actions going on for the buyer to reach their own Bliss Point when they decide to buy something.

The Bliss Point doesn’t have to mean that your buyer is falling over you or your product. But…there is a point where they do positively experience and imagine what life or business could be like if they did make the decision to buy what you are selling. Inside their minds, something does flick the switch. It’s all based on the sights, sounds and emotions evoked while they are in a conversation with you.

What does The Bliss Point have to do with Sales Meetings?

In thinking about sale conversations I have analysed over the years, I started thinking there is maybe more than one Bliss Point in any conversation. Just a thought! You don’t need to buy my idea here.

Your prospective buyer is making tens, if not hundreds, of micro-decisions around the purchase as they speak to you. If you want to test this, watch yourself in a supermarket when you get to checkout; then ask how you got to have products in your basket you didn’t need! As you talked yourself into and justified that extra item staring back at you, you made at least 3 to 4 micro-decisions in the process, where you got the “rush” of how good it would feel to have it. This is what I am talking about in a buying scenario.

So what could the bliss points for your product be? Here are only my suggestions of The Bliss Points in a sales meeting. They may relate to your product or not. Try them out next time your talk to a prospect. You may be surprised at how predictable people are, as Howard Moskowitz discovered, when he looked a little closer at his results.

Bliss Point number 1: Solving the Buyer’s Problem

Everybody feels better when a problem is solved. Right? So start by putting 100% of your focus on the buyer. Make it all about them. Help them solve a burning business or personal issue that make life so much better. When I talk about a burning issue, it’s not necessarily a negative. It could be a problem they can live with, but life would be SO much better if they solved it. A great example is the insatiable appetite for smartphone upgrades. The iPhone 5S is great, but life is SO much better with the iPhone 6 Plus, or so people believe!

For your buyers, it may be a case that they may want to grow faster, do something faster, use technology more efficiently, improve their reputation, expand their customer base, or outsource a process to a third-party more cost-effectively. Before any sales conversation, try and identify at least 3-5 possible burning business issues your buyer might be having that you could solve with your solution.

Bliss Point number 2: Buyer Insights arise from Questions

Ask questions buyers don’t ask themselves. It can sometimes give them insights into their business. Introduce your buyer to new ways of thinking about themselves or their business. The most valuable sales professionals are those who can bring their business acumen and understanding to the table by asking intelligent, thought-provoking questions and insights to the buyer . Above and beyond the price, would your buyer still get enough or more benefits to make them feel like they are getting value, if they were asked questions from a different view point? Here is an example “What could your business create and generate differently with a new way of managing X, Y, Z?” Questions are powerful catalysts for waking up your buyers.

Bliss Point number 3: The Social Proof and the Future Promise

Share real success stories of what your buyer could become, if they bought your offering. Create the scenarios of the future promise that is in store for the buyer. It is important to only use references of what has already happened for other businesses and people who are similar to them. This is where you demonstrate how the burning business or personal issue could go away, just like it did for other people. You show them what they could have. In your marketing platforms, this would be your testimonials, case studies and videos of other happy customers. In your sales conversations, these are the real, verifiable stories and case studies of other people’s success, who bought from you before.

Bliss Point number 4: The Motivated Buyer wants to Buy

Motivation is what gets people to take action. In the buying decision, there is a point where a buyer will be motivated to take the next step and not go back to what the have OR they will halt the buying process. It is important to explore how motivated your buyer is, by exploring what they want less of (pain points) and what they would like more of (gain points) compared to their current solution. This will be captured in how you ask your motivational questions. The questions you ask will trigger the anticipated feeling they are beginning to associate with your product. Here are some “out of context” examples of motivational questions: “What business opportunities could you be missing by doing what you’ve done for the last 2 years?” A positive motivational question would be”What would your business be capable of in the next 12 months with this solution in place?

The key to creating effective sales conversations is your awareness of what is appropriate to the conversation, being authentic and genuinely interested in help your buyers first and you second, and finally always acting from a place of integrity. You exist to create results outside yourself. The reward when you do it right is great sales results, which is probably The Bliss Point you want to experience at the end of every month.


Sales Tips on Improving how you Sell

Giving up the Sales Security Blanket

Product Selling versus Value-Based Selling

Would you hire a technical product expert to sell for you OR would you teach a salesperson about your business AFTER you find out how good they are at selling?

A little and too much knowledge is a dangerous thing for a salesperson. Let me explain. Product knowledge is the salesperson’s security blanket. If all else fails, you can always talk about the product’s feature and benefits. Right? The problem is, too much product talk can smother the spark of interest in your sale. It puts the wrong emphasis on what you need to be talking about; the better future ahead for your buyer. Getting into the product detail before you find out what problem they want to solve will take you down rabbit holes. They can be very hard to get out. And often they kill the sales opportunity.

Salesperson as explorer

Selling is about uncovering what your buyer wants or needs, exploring with them. It’s about sending their brains to where the solution might sit. As a sales person, your job is to become an expert in uncovering and exploring what could make life or business better. You can talk too much and un-sell the possibilities that could be on the table for your buyer. The key in every sales conversation is to leave enough room for them to draw their own conclusions.

Buyers cannot immediately get what you are talking about. I am not saying they can’t understand it. Drowning them in too much product information can often confuse and have them draw the wrong conclusions and back out of their decision. One thing you can be sure of. They do understand their own problem. They can’t or don’t want to solve it themselves. That’s why they are talking to you.

So what are you really selling?

You are selling the opportunity to find answers, to create new possibilities. You can never know what they might be until you explore with them. Everybody buys differently! Sell a car the same way, or assume people want the car the way you think, you will end up killing the sale. The latest brand-new high-spec car is good for some people and a second-hand jalopy is perfect for others.

No matter what the product, the detail only becomes very important with the end-user and after your decision-maker is motivated to take action. This is after the buyer has answered the questions in their head on how your product might change things. It’s all about the value of life getting easier or better.

What does the farmer really want?

I worked with a group of sales people recently. They were selling a super-improved formula for helping sick animals get better. What the product is does not matter as much as what it could promise. They had every detail and could almost tell me the molecular composition of it. Who were they selling to? Farmers!

I put myself to the task of selling their product to them to prove that I didn’t ‘always’ need to know everything about a product to sell it. I had zero scientific knowledge about the product, except the name and what it was supposed to do and few jargon terms.

So in asking a few questions about the typical end users – vets and farmers – I imagined the biggest problem created by not having the product for the animals when they were sick. Common sense indicates A) The animal could die or not thrive. B) The farmer can’t sell the animal or get it producing. C) The vet can’t make the farmer happy. And the end result? Lost revenue and worst case scenario – the animal dies. I learned that key benefit in the product was built around small dosage effectiveness. This small dose could get the animal better faster. A new paradigm from the old way of giving massive dosages of liquid to get the animal well.

So in selling this, we only want to show the farmer how easy the treatment is, how effective it is. For the vet, we want to show faster and better outcomes with this treatment. We want to show how the farmers are going to be delighted with the vet’s solution. Result? Farmers have more trust in the vet and possibly become a life-long trusting customer.

Within five minute the sales team finally got it! Even without knowing too much about a product, you can get the sale moving in the right direction. Why? Focus on the problem that will go away because of you and the different end result. Before you think I’m advocating wild-west selling of anything and everything here, I want to reiterate my point. You have to know when to throw away the security blanket of product knowledge. Many sales people hide behind product knowledge when they don’t know what to do with a buyer.

Know when to call in the product experts

Again, I am not saying you should not educate yourself on your product. It’s all about knowing where to put your focus. Put it on the end-value proposition and know when to call in the product experts. What is the real problem being solved here?

In a previous sales job, I never pretended to know how we pieced the solution together as a deliverable. I understood enough and knew how to ask very pertinent questions. It was a tip given to me by a sales mentor early in my career. My only job was to focus on how to create credibility, trust and certainty that we had the right people to deliver what our clients wanted. At the right time I brought in experts to reinforce the truth of what I was offering. I was lucky to have fantastic technical delivery team. I worked without a security blanket. Result? Higher conversion rates.

I had a stint in procurement and saw first-hand how the product expects never won the business. It was the relationship builders and the sales people who sent my brain to the place of possibilities. They showed me the problem could be solved and our business was safe in their hands.

With the wide variety of clients I work with, I cannot learn it all. I’ve trained myself to get very quickly to the buyer and how they could experience the world, their fears and obstacles and hopes and desires. Easy to imagine because, it’s about the human problem, not the bells and whistles of the product.

Are you brave enough to throw away your security blanket?

So here are some questions to ask yourself this week. Can I have a sales conversation without talking about the products and my company? Can I stay focused on the buyer’s world? Why do customers really do business with me? How do I make life easy for them? Can I explain the value of what I do to a 10-year old?Does the sales experience create more possibilities? What do I need to do to stay out of the rabbit holes today?


Terrified of Public Speaking and here’s why

The top 6 reasons people are nervous speaking in public.

What’s really going on and what to do about it.

“Will you do a presentation? Would you say a few words? Would you mind speaking at our next meeting?”

Does this fill you with delight or fear when you get a polite request from your boss, your best mate or your club president to present in front of a group?

When we think of presenting, the images that often come to mind are of the charismatic, confident, well-practiced politicians, celebrity speakers or actors from West Wing who just seem to have a knack for speaking in public. We, on the other hand, see ourselves as a far cry from the powerful public speaker, more like a nervous wreck, who would rather eat worms on I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here than face our public speaking anxiety.

In the years of coaching and training people on how to conquer the fear of public speaking, I have heard many of the same reasons why people cannot do a presentation. At the heart of it are layers of judgement about self and others. Judgement is the thief of confidence when it comes to public speaking. I know first hand, having been there in the early days of my working life, until I realized that public speaking skills, like all skills, have structure and do need to be practiced.

I have listed the top 6 reasons why people are terrified of public speaking, what’s really going on and what you can do about it.

Reason 1: If only I could get past the first 30 seconds. Once I’m up there I am fine.

What’s really going on: You are crowding your mind with information overload, running negative judgments and fear-based thinking on yourself, rather than sorting your mind for the single sentence you need to get you started. This is triggering a fight-or-flight response. And guess what? All you want to do is run.

What to do: Ask yourself, “what is the best way to get started; can I tell a story or ask the audience a question?” Another great way to launch those first 30 seconds is share what you plan to talk about with others in casual conversations before you get up to speak. Tell yourself, “it’s an information-sharing session, rather than a performance I am doing. I am not looking for an Oscar here.”

Reason 2: I just don’t like standing up in front of people with all those eyes on me. But I’m okay sitting down.

What’s really going on: You are assuming that because people are looking at you, they could be judging you. You may not like being center of attention and never have. Standing up makes you feel more exposed than sitting down.

What to do: This one is simple! Let people look at you! Allow yourself to be vulnerable and trust that people want the best for you. If the setting is less formal, say you are going to sit down to do the presentation and when you feel comfortable, casually stand up to complete the presentation. Volunteer often to give a presentation in more causal settings.

Reason 3: I find it hard to present to people I don’t know. I find it hard to present to people I do know.

What’s really going on; This is about rules you run with your audience, and how you selectively decide one audience is nicer or easier than another. Once again, there are underlying judgments operating here about what you think people think of you and most of them time it is “made-up” in your head and has no bearing on reality.

What to do: See your audience as just people, who need the information you have. See the humanness of everybody in front of you. Most people would empathize and support you.

Reason 4: I don’t mind a few people. It’s the bigger groups I can’t handle.

What’s really going on: Somehow your thinking is rooted in the idea smaller groups are easier, nicer, kinder, less intimidating, which is also a mental invention. The size of the group is not as relevant of your perception of what bigger and smaller groups do. Most people are only there for the message and will only get distracted by your nerves, but will be engaged if you focus on what you want to tell them.

What to do: Remind yourself, these are just people with the same concerns and challenges in their daily lives. They do want to hear what you have to say. They will more likely remember the message over the speaker. And there are relaxed when you relax. Do them this favor.

Reason 5: People are going to think the worst of me and I am going to get it wrong.

What’s really going on: You are projecting onto your audience, based on your own self-criticism and the “wrongness” of you, which is about high standards and perfectionism. Who doesn’t get things wrong? The difference lies in being self-forgiving and doing better preparation next time and allowing people to see your vulnerability.

What to do: Keep it simple, which includes your ideas and your language. Prepare and practice. Always present on what you know and feel comfortable with. Always prepare your own material so you know what you are talking about. Get comfortable with not knowing everything and allowing people to see that you are open to learning more.

Reason 6: I will never remember all of this and what if I forget what I am going to say?

What’s really going on: You are relying too much on your detail-oriented memory. Your presentation flow is too reliant on tracking every word written in your script. You may be hiding behind your words rather than expressing your expertise. Experts on a subject can always speak off the cuff and rarely use this way of communicating their knowledge.

What to do: Create and share key points rather than learn a speech-by-heart. Some people are good at memorizing a speech, but most people find it more challenging. It’s easier to find your place if you have an outline and key points, rather than a verbatim speech. We often lose our train of thought in conversation, just acknowledge it by saying, “let me just refer to my notes.” The number one thing is to just keep going.

As a final point, watching a nervous speaker is uncomfortable for your audience. Take your mind off who you are, what you do, and how you are preforming. Let your audience enjoy your presentation by preparing, relaxing and letting people make up their own minds about you.

Read 5 Ways You can Improve your Presentation Skills and How People Create a Phobia of Public Speaking


Fear of Public Speaking – How to overcome it

Fear of Public Speaking

Ways to overcome your fear of speaking in public



I came across this very question on a public forum – “Help! Will the fear of public speaking ever go away?” It prompted me to write down again the common things that keep people trapped in the fear of speaking in public and avoiding giving presentations at all costs.  So here is my answer for those of you who might have that question running in your heads and could do with some ideas on how to overcome that public speaking fear.

The most talented and articulate people can be stymied by their fear of public speaking. It is not uncommon to lock ourselves into a story about how we cannot speak in public. Even when there is more to be gained than lost by getting out there and taking the first steps to becoming better speakers. Yes it can be challenging. And, yes, it can go away!  If you are one of these, you might find thecoaching questions useful to get the root of what’s going on for you.

So what are the common patterns of the fear?

I keep a little track of what I see as the common patterns that stop us from sharing who we are and what we know in presentations. The way people think about their fear of public speaking is much the same. They often say to me.  “I’ve been trying to understand this. Why I do this?  What am I afraid of? I will just never get over it. I’m not going to be able to do this. People are looking at me. I will look foolish. I will forget what I am saying. I can’t handle the silence in the room.”

Here are the patterns I have found to come up over and over again. Are these familiar?

Fear of Humiliation

Nobody likes to feel humiliated. It’s like a raw, open wound. All we want to do is cover it up. Many of us in the past have been put in the spot light inadvertently and way before we wanted to be. We perceived it as the wrong kind of attention. Or the wrong time for people to see us at our most vulnerable. We equated it with making a mistake. It was about saying the wrong thing or just not being able to speak at all. We lock it in to our memory do whatever it takes to steer away from experiencing that feeling again. It becomes a permanent fixture in our minds, stored in the Do Not Enter Zone.

Coaching Question 1

Who or what in the past am I keeping the lid on to stop myself from growing? What story am I using to keep me from daring to do and be more? What if I allowed myself to be vulnerable and speak about it?

 Public speaking means performing

This is about confusing information-sharing with “performing.” Proving to yourself how good you are and using the standards of high-profile actors and public figures out there, who have been doing presenting for years. You do not have to copy them, but you could dare to give it a shot! You are not an actor. You are not being paid to speak. You don’t have to be funny. You don’t have to impress. You just have to share your information. What if you gave it that meaning?

Coaching Question 2

Who am I playing my life or my presentation to? A parent, a school teacher, a boss, an authority figure from the past? Where did I confuse sharing information with being a performer? What if I called my presentation an ‘information-sharing session?’

Perfectionism and Over-responsibility

All of us run a level or perfectionism in our lives, where nothing can be short of 100% perfect.  It is a strong point of view we hold when it comes to speaking in public. You think “I have to be perfect and right and know everything. I can’t forget anything or appear foolish in front of others.” We are also taking responsibility for making others create the ‘perfect’ impression of us, so we don’t feel those bad feelings of not being good enough.

Coaching Question 3

What if my audience wants me to be relaxed with being good enough as a standard? What if I can learn from this? Where am I trying to be over-responsible for the thoughts and feelings of my audience, as if I can control and manage them?

External References

This to me is at the heart of the problem the fear. We grow up with external references from the day we are born. We grow up through a time when others tell us who we are and what we do. We confuse people’s judgements with what could be true for us. Instead of asking ourselves how we define ourselves, we take on the opinions of others as real. If other people think it’s great, then I must be ok. Thinking that they are the ones with the right point of view. They have a point a view, yes! It is just one of many.

Coaching Question 4

What if I created a point of view that people are supporting me, wishing me well and only want the information I am giving them?

Blind Spots and Focus

When we function from a state of fear, we do have blind spots and our focus is only on one aspect of the whole experience. Think about this from 3-5 points of view and focus on what you are not seeing. So think about what’s going through the mind of those your audience. If you were in the audience and any one of the people watching, what would you be really thinking about? Some might be doing their shopping list for the weekend, thinking about a loved one, or just how long it will be until they get back to the pressing work piling on their desk. You may well be the last thing on their mind. Doing this exercise lightens your thinking. It may even make you laugh. Your presentation is really not as significant as the meaning you are giving it.

Coaching Question

What if I am giving this more significance than I need to? What if the audience is full of a mix of distracted, attentive and supportive people? Will this matter in 20 years?

An Undeveloped Skill of Public Speaking

A default line of thinking around presenting is ‘if I can talk, I must be able to present.’ No, not true! Presentation skills are a whole different ball game. They are learned like anything thing else. Over the years I have learned that there is a structure to giving a talk in front of people. There is a way to put a message together in a simple way. Telling stories and using your body language and voice to get that across to people is part of the delivery process. It take understanding of how to do it and practice to get better at it.

Coaching Question

What can I do to start developing this skills? Where are the opportunities to speak in front of group where I can feel slightly comfortable? What would it take for me to take a chance and show myself to the world?
In the public speaking courses I have delivered over the years, I had to do it differently to get people out of the nervous states.  This was even before they could look at putting a presentation together. No amount of well-meaning encouragement boosted confidence, without digging out the root cause of the fear. The number one thing for me is to show people what’s sitting underneath it first. Then we have to clear it out. That’s where coaching gets to the heart of what’s going on in a constructive, gentle way.  It is only then that we can work on developing presentation skills in a course.

The good news is, you can get better, feel more at home at the top of the room and share yourself with the people in front of you.  If you rebuild the foundations which are about beliefs and the meaning you give to presentations, you can become the speaker you want to be. It truly is possible.

 Learn More About  Public Speaking Courses

 About the Author: Shiera O’Brien is a business and soft skills trainer and coach who works with sales and executive management teams and individuals across industries to get better results from their business conversations and presentations. In any workshop  or coaching session, there is a total focus on 1) what current results are you getting, 2) what skills are needed to improve the results 3) what behaviours are operating. Shiera works to bring awareness to what is going on from an observational standpoint, without judgement, using tools she has learned in 12 years in the field of coaching.

Public Speaking – How to make it work for you

What makes an effective presentation?

What can you do?


How can I improve my presentation skills in a short space of time? What will it take to be a better public speaker? This is a question on the minds of many of you who are giving presentation to their clients and peers every day. You have a short space of time to make a point. You probably are doing more or will have to do more as you progress in your career? So a few reminders.

Make presentation skills part of your personal development plan

When you think about giving a presentation, are you delighted at the prospect of sharing your knowledge or does an old familiar feeling of dread emerge at the prospect of speaking in public?  Developing your skills in this area should really be part of your on-going professional development plan, but here are some tips on getting more comfortable with your audience.

1. Your presentation is about your audience

When you are speaking in public and have an audience watching you, there are two thing that matters, how you are managing yourself and how your audience is experiencing your presentation. The first you can control, the latter you can only influence. How can you help the audience have a quality experience in what they see and hear from you as a presenter?  Everything you say should help the audience understand the purpose of the presentation, get something valuable from what you are saying and walk away with an action. How many times have you sat in a presentation bored to death by the long introductions about the merits and the great achievements of the speaker? Save this information til last and only present it if it’s relevant. Nowadays, people are overloaded with information and they can only take in what is relevant, so make it all about your audience,  and work with the idea that ‘less is more.

2. PowerPoint is a support tool, not the star of the show

PowerPoint presentations are as ubiquitous a tool as the phone in business. People are used to cramming their PowerPoint with information, bullet points and very often using it as a reading tool throughout the presentation. This doesn’t always create the intended impact. To improve a PowerPoint presentation, it is important to understand what the purpose of it is. It is there as a visual support tool, not a reading tool and it is not meant to be centre stage.

When you design your PowerPoint, a rule of thumb to make the most impact is: Think three minutes per slide. The more visual pictures you have, the better. Use only key words and images to convey an idea. Take advantage of the SmartArt to demonstrate stats or flow charts or to link your ideas. It will ensure your audience retains more. The most important thing is to get rid of all those bullet points. Everything you have in the bullet points, turn it into a hand out and combine this with the visual graphics on your PowerPoint software. One important but often forgotten idea: Never turn your back to the audience and read from the slides on the wall. Read from your laptop and use one the best tool out there, a clicker to help you navigate the slides. There is nothing worse than seeing a presenter move back and forth to the keyboard to move to the next slide. Keep looking at your audience, no matter what. Maintain eye-contact with your audience.  It keeps the rapport and connection with them.

3. Put some pizazz in your presentation

When making a presentation, where you are working to convince your audience of your ideas, the most powerful way to make an impact is to develop a presentation style that works for you. You do not have to be a slick charismatic presenter.  It helps, but it is not essential. The most important thing is that you connect with your audience by how you present. The key points to remember are: Stories work really well in a presentation. People like sharing and hearing stories. They are easier to remember for the presenter and definitely help you to relax. Build your presentations on a story if you can. Include questions to stimulate interaction with the audience. Develop a logical progression in your presentation that is easy to follow. Keep your presentations as short as you can. Work on your voice and ensure the audience can hear and understand you. Much can be lost through poor voice projection and diction. The back wall in the room needs to be able to hear you.

4. The presenter’s mind-set – try it on

If you want to improve your presentation skills, there are a number of things you can do while waiting for the opportunity to show off your skills. Firstly, get at much practice as you can, especially if you are one of those people who have a fear of public speaking or dread the idea of speaking in front of your professional peers. Key to developing your presentation skills is to cultivate a professional presenter’s mind-set.

What you do in your mind will show up in your body. Start with giving the presentation a quality meaning and a quality inner script, such as,  ” Train your mind to relax about the idea of being seen speaking in public and having people look at you.  Learn from every experience and keep telling yourself that you are well able to do it. Developing your skills is a lot about training your mind until it behaves exactly the way an experienced driver does when they get into their car.

5. Practice, Practice, Practice

If you still suffer from nerves when you are about to speak in public, then you will need to do a bit more practice. Presentations skills are just that – “skills” The only way it is going to get better it to practice, practice and more practice. When you have an idea of what you want to present, then develop your ideas.  Put them into your PowerPoint presentation based on the tips listed above. Create the story and the points you are going to make. Plug your PowerPoint into a projector and practice is a few times as if you are in front of the audience.

Visualize a positive response from your audience and rehearse it until you feel very comfortable with the material. As the brain doesn’t know the difference between what is real or imagined, I suggest you continue practicing in your mind, seeing your speech or presentation going really well and being well received by your audience. On the day of the presentation, try to speak with your audience in an informal way before you have to speak. That way you won’t get a shock at the sound of hearing your voice in the room for the first time.

If you take every opportunity to speak, you can only get better and build the confidence to speak in public, without giving it a second thought. Give yourself permission to enjoy it. You may even get to a point where you really enjoy giving them. There’s a thought!

You may also like…

Terrified of Public Speaking? Here’s Why ; Fear of Public Speaking – How to overcome it ; Public Speaking Tip – Create a presentation in 10 minutes

About the Author: Shiera O’Brien is a business and soft skills trainer and coach who works with sales and executive management teams and individuals across industries to get better results from their business conversations and presentations. In any workshop  or coaching session, there is a total focus on 1) what current results are you getting, 2) what skills are needed to improve the results 3) what behaviours are operating. Shiera works to bring awareness to what is going on from an observational standpoint, without judgement, using tools she has learned in 12 years in the field of coaching.

Winning at the Sales Game

5 reasons people are more likely to buy from you

After looking at reasons why people don’t buy from you in a previous article. Here are five ways to increase the chances of people buying from you; the areas worth paying attention to and what actions you could take to make your selling game a little easier.

Consider these five points; they could change the course of your sales conversations. This applies to any sales interaction, whether over the phone or during those sales meetings. It might be worth observing how you conduct yourself and see if there are gaps in how you are creating your sales conversations. You can never be too skilled and there is always another level of excellence to move to. You might put this in your ‘buying signals’ part of your sales tool kit. The points below are connected to the non-verbal communication and language side of the selling game.  Is this something you are mindful of each time you enter a sales conversation?

People are more likely to buy from you when you have these things operating….


1. You Understand their World and Speak their Language.  This is the most obvious way to get people to buy from you. And the doorway into their world and language is strong listening and questioning skills. This will show that you have really listened and heard their story. Seek first to understand , then you know what they want and can easily reflect that back through questioning, summarising and co-creating a solution that works.

Everybody is operating from a different language channel

You might not have noticed it before, but every single buyer is operating from a different language channel. Some like to imagine and see the visuals aspects of what you are selling. They will use visual words and will say things like see, view, look, survey, examine, find, read, show. Others will be all about what they hear and will use words like listen, talk to, speak, clear, sounds right, ask. And  in another channel is the person who is all about what they sense and feel from the interaction. They will use words like get a sense, handle, grasp, move on it, feel.

Everybody has one preferred channel but they do use all of their sensory language channels. Some see first, others hear and others feel first. This will be one of the key filters that can open the door to reading your buyer on a whole new level. Listen out for them in your next sales meeting. They are the visual, auditory, kinesthetic sensory systems. And the person who doesn’t seem to be using these is often described as the more cerebral type who lives in the world of words rather than senses and tend to use words like assess, criteria, compute, analyse, understand. Everybody has these operating. If you listen for them, you will start to discover a whole new world of language inside your conversation.

2. You show Confidence, Courage and Commitment. You are confident in your ability to deliver the message, the service and value to your client. You have the courage to ask great questions that serve the clients decision to buy. You are committed to getting to the heart of what matters to the client and helping them achieve their outcome at the right price. This is rooted in belief in your product or service, your understanding of the value it can bring and the integrity with which you communicate the product.

3. You Have Excellent Rapport and You are a Relationship Builder – Rapport and relationships succeeds or fails from the second a client meets you.  It is only in rapport and good relationships that sales are made. People buy people, and they buy from people they like and trust.  If clients feel and believe they have a relationship with you, it’s because of your rapport building skills. At that point the trust begins to build and they will commit time and effort to you. Rapport is about entering the buyer’s world and understanding their world from their point of view, capturing it and showing skill in reflecting that back to them. When you meet somebody and feel like you’ve known them all your life. You can be sure the other person has excellent rapport skills.

4. Your Focus is 100% on Your Buyer and their Result. In meeting hundreds of sales professionals, the people that stand head and shoulders above the rest are the people that focus completely on their client.  Their sales figures are always higher. The client feels this through the quality of questions, the conversation and the service that is finally delivered to them. All the way, the buyer should feel this in every interaction, as you demonstrate how you understand their world, which is linked to the rapport skills. You put aside your own interests to gather the information you need to position your offering in a way the buyer can receive it, appreciate it and consider buying it.

5. You Are Responsive and Attentive. This comes with great listening and observation skills. This requires a high level of flexibility, moving away from the scripted sales pitches. it also requires a very strong skill in sitting fully-present with your buyer and with no distractions. Practice this often enough, you will gather lots of information to help you position your offering in just the right way that works for them. I always encourage salespeople to put away notebooks and practice being more attentive and listening. It improve retention and allows you to address requests and concerns more deliberately.  Some people may see that as not being prepared, but listening to me is the most important skill to understanding the buyer.  Make the needs of your buyer paramount in your mind. Take action immediately, send them information as soon as they ask, clarify concerns after they raise them, and go out of your way to pre-empt and anticipate what would make their job of buying easier. You are helping to make their decision effortless and growing a robust client base.

Non-verbal communication can make or break a sale.

It’s all about pacing and understanding and reading the signals that are being communicated back to you. For your next 10 client meetings, listen for the language and see what channel your buyer is operating in, match their language and see what happens. Give yourself feedback on where your focus was, and how you behaved in the meeting. Self-observation will help you master these aspects of communicating with your buyer next time you reach for the phone. Enjoy the revelations!

You may also be interested in: Strategic Selling – 5 ways to outpace your competition; Never sell the same way twice; Why Selling on Price doesn’t work.

About the Author: Shiera O’Brien is a sales trainer and coach, who works with sales teams across industries to get better results from their sales conversations by changing how they engage their prospects. In any sales workshop there is a total focus on 1) what current results are you getting, 2) what skills are needed to improve the results 3) what selling behaviour are operating. Shiera works to bring awareness to what is going on from an observational standpoint, without judgement, using tools she has learned in 12 years in the field of coaching. 

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