Tips and ways to improve communication skills at work, including what is needed to be an effective communicator. We cover tops such as good communication and bad communication in work whether it is verbal communication or non-verbal, body language and what you can learn from it.

Effective Communication Skills – The HR challenge explored

A look at styles of communication people bring to work

Often the strength of an organisation’s culture can be measured by the openness with which staff can address personal concerns and communicate these to colleagues.

So how do companies and those entrusted with people development help create meaningful and effective communications among staff?

What tools are needed to create greater co-operation and a place,where motivated teams thrive and become more effective business units, where they feel they can share their ideas openly and contribute in a meaningful way?

The Challenge for HR business partners

One of the main issues highlighted in HR survey by SilkRoad, was how to properly retain and engage employees. The key to unlocking this door rests in finding an organisational framework for communicating effectively within teams and with staff; a structure where diverse styles can blend together and create the level of co-operation needed for an organisation to thrive and retain its talent.

Fundamentally, it’s all about permission to communicate

One of the age-old challenges facing HR is dealing with this diversity of personalities or more specifically communications styles (effective and not-so-effective). It can be quite the headache without a framework to draw from. People do not leave companies, they leave “bosses” and colleagues due to personal communication issues, more than any other reason. A quick survey of people you know will uncover at least one story, where people left due to the communication and behaviour of others that was difficult to endure to a point where the relationship became toxic.

A microcosm of behaviour patterns

The corporate environment is a microcosm of the world, where diversity and difference show up, not just in culture, but in everyday behavior and communication between staff. When staff work in close proximity and have added time pressures, the differences can become more pronounced; it can turn in a way that negatively affects the people and the organisation. It is good to be aware of this…

People under pressure revert to their natural inclinations to communicate and relate in their own specific style, which isn’t always in everybody’s best interest.

Under Pressure, people do interesting things

I have written this in other articles; there is always a pattern to what people do in behaviour. When you put two people together with totally different communication styles, a task-focussed team member vs. a people-focussed team member, for example, it won’t take long for the differences to manifest across the project or the team. They can be positive and everybody wins. Under stress, however, the more negative aspects of the styles will show up.The crux of the challenge for managing staff in your organisations is this;

people show up in the workplace speaking the same language, but with very different rules of engagement, patterns and points of view.

The rules of engagement and culture are not always clearly articulated when a new employee joins a company, but they start to learn them as they spend time there. It’s a natural learning strategy to adapt to the culture presented. And on an individual level, it won’t take long to notice when there is a mismatch of communication styles and communication starts to break down.

People notice less about their work colleagues when things are going well.

It is when things start going awry that rules of engagement show up, as people adhere to their own ways of doing things.

And as each person shows up in the work place looking through their own eyes and fitting the world into their point of view and their version of how things should be. Some will be more flexible about it than others and it’s rooted in their way of thinking and processing their experience. Black-and-white thinking (on/off) vs. a range of possibilities and ways of looking at a situation.

Decisions and Deadlines change how people function

Styles of communication will become more pronounced in a team-project environment, where decisions and deadlines are the key drivers. Some people will be flexible and dynamic, while others will work rigidly within their own framework; and this is where the interpersonal relationships can silently disintegrate or become inflamed. And it’s not fun for anybody. Without a framework to express and communicate openly and de-personalise the personal issues, the company often pays in lower productivity, poorer staff relations, or worse, loss of key employees.

A snapshot of 4 communication styles

Here is a taste of the four communication styles below, which you can explore in more detail through psychometric profiling. Can you can see these operating in your company? Notice how well they function in your team environment, and how this impacts your bottom line and productivity.

To keep things simple and explain the styles, these are based on the key psychometric models of personality from Carl Jung, the renowned Swiss psychologist. There is alot more to this, but I am just highlighting the key aspects of the styles of communication. They have been developed and expanded in the last 30 years through NLP and the Myers-Briggs models and others like it.

The key thing to note is everybody has these styles and a preferred style is usually operating. It is not completely fixed as a personality, but a pattern of behaviour and choices that people default to. You may have one style in the workplace and a very different style at home or out with your friends. However, there are layers of consistency in how people show up and communicate.

Which style is your preferred style?

These styles are about what somebody does rather than who they are as a person. This distinction is valuable in helping avoid labelling people in a certain way.

We are not our behaviours, we do behaviours!

So here are a few key points about the different styles, which I have called the Analytical Style, The Director Style, The Team Builder Style, The Visionary Style:

The Analytical Style seeks out facts first, is a logical, planner and organiser, who takes time in expressing decisions and thoughts, and may be perceived as rather aloof and inflexible at times, but very organised. This style is great for project managing and planning, managing risk, assessing the impact of decisions in a team project.

The Director Style thrives on action, quick decisions, having control over situations and is usually direct in communicating a message, and may be perceived as blunt at times. This style is great for making decisions, leading others and getting the job done quickly.

The Team Builder Style focuses on feelings and relationships and is concerned with the welfare of others and their values; they may sometimes be perceived as sensitive and slow to give a response. This style is great for getting the team to work together and generating a team spirit.

The Visionary Style thrives on social relationships, future possibilities, new ideas, and high energy interaction with others; they may be perceived by others as dreamers and impractical. This style is great for motivating the team and keeping the energy of the team high in challenging times.

So how do we communicate with these styles?

Here are a few guidelines on working with the different styles:

Analyticals like lots of detailed information, the how and what, and constantly seeks clarification on the Why of a situation, before doing anything. So make sure you include the why in asking them to work on a project or task or with others.

The Director style  seeks and likes direct, confident communication, where you come to them with ideas and solutions rather than problems, where you get to the point, and just don’t take things personally that they say. So make sure you avoid waffle, communicate clearly and succinctly, with facts over opinions. Time is money for this style.

The Team Builder wants to know how people feel about things, who else will be involved and how it impacts on them personally; they like to take time to reflect and air their views without interruption. So make sure your give the people perspective on things and how it will affect others in a considerate, thoughtful way.

The Visionary is the enthusiast in the team, who keeps their eye on the bigger picture and goals. So make sure that any ideas have energy and speak of options and possibilities and are positively motivating. They want the vision to happen and love ideas and brainstorming.

Staff will benefit hugely by understanding how different people communicate and experience the world. One size does not fit all. It helps to understand how others operate and how a message is being communicated and received by each style of communicator.

Behavioural flexibility should be central to an organisational communication model. Staff would do well if they are encouraged to adapt to others’ styles of communication and their needs, be it for more detail, directness, involvement or openness and global thinking.

Flexibility in communication comes from self-knowledge and awareness of how people respond when things are flowing versus stressful situations.

What else?

To open the doors to better communication within an organisation, it helps to have open system, with some conscious rules of engagement and an effective model of communicating, that can be used across the organisation. It will pay dividends on a business and personal level for both staff and employers. Building better businesses is about cohesive, long-term profitable relationships and keeping one of the most valuable assets – the staff.

You may also like to read When Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

Visit our Communication Skills Training Courses page to learn more about how your company can benefit from a course in Effective Communication Skills and Team Building.


Listening as an Effective Communication Skill

5 Insights into the Art of Literal Listening

The 30-Day Challenge

Have you ever been described as a great listener? Would this describe you? Are you the person that keeps saying  “Sorry, what did you say?”  I was prompted to think about listening in the past few month because I was working on some business projects which required deep levels of listening on my part to get results needed for a team and a client’s business.

I put myself up to the challenge of really noticing how well I was listening while also taking in how other people listen in a conversation, so I could learn from them.  In coaching, the most powerful tool we can use is listening, and listening in an active and fully present way. No matter where we are in our professional life, nothing gets achieved without listening.  Mis-communication is often created by under-developed listening skills. People make assumptions based on what they thought they heard. The next thing, you are sitting in a reality far removed from the actual facts. Here are some thoughts on what listening can do for you, if you take up the 30-day challenge.

1. Listening is an internal and external dynamic

We cannot be listening to the inside and the outside at the same time. There is a distinction between practicing self-listening and other-listening. When you are self-listening, you are consciously following every thought and word you speak, and ensuring that it fits with those you are addressing, the environment and context. You are noticing how congruent you are with what you are saying. So if somebody asks you, “What did you say?” you can repeat it, instead of realising that you can’t actually remember.  Being present to your own words and thoughts will keep your self-listening levels high. And it helps in negotiations to know exactly what you said throughout the discussions.

When you are other-listening, you are tracking for understanding of others, without comment, you are turning down the inner dialogue and literally hearing every word and idea being said. Distracted listening will show up where you need to repeatedly utter“Huh, What?” or a variation of this. You will look distracted, moving or fidgeting if you are thinking about what you are going to say next. This will be picked up as not being fully present to other person and will certainly affect the communication. This is a very common habit, particularly where there is a tempting smartphone near by to pick up and check. Listening deeply to the words, tone and gestures of others will give you a wealth of unspoken valuable insight into their way of working and help build a quality relationship with them. Don’t miss out on the cues to tell you how the conversation is going.

2. Literal listening creates clean language

Have you ever been in a conversation where somebody completely paraphrases what you just said? They don’t use the words you used and may even have turned what you said upside down.  How did you feel? I’ve seen one incident where it was definitely not what the person said at all. It started a whole argument because one person was just making up what they heard. Putting words in people’s mouths does very little to build relationships.

This is called inferred listening, where we put our own spin on what we hear, usually for our own benefit. Literally listening to every word will never get you into trouble.  It allows you to take what you heard and bring clear clean responses to your conversation. If you need to relate what they said, your literal listening will allow you to use their words in a clean way, rather than paraphrasing and inviting misunderstanding and, at worst, distance between people.

3. Listening is the only way to build interpersonal relationships

Whenever a person feels that you are listening and hearing them, you are actually including them. As far out from your own view as they may be, it is always a good practice to listen and then consider what they are saying. Listening to others is about receiving who they are, their contribution, ideas and points of view. Getting a reputation for poor listening will tend to alienate others and when you really need these people on your side, they may not be around. “They never listen anyway” is a good indication that relationships need building. I have heard it in many places I have worked in, and certainly in the parenting zone, it is a common theme.

4. Listening is great for concentration and recall

I noticed that the really great listeners are fully present in how they hold themselves. They are still, calm, nodding, and really seeking to understand. It comes back to one of the Steven Covey’s Seven Habits, Seek first to Understand. If you develop your skill of really listening, and recalling exactly through literal listening you will find people warm to you more readily. Over the years I have worked to develop skills in tracking what people said in earlier coaching conversations and so I can bring it into relevance where appropriate. It is an invaluable skill to have.

I recently had a conversation with a friend about learning styles in school children.  A child who has only one channel switched on will struggle more in the classroom. This can often translate into poor academic performance. Seeing, hearing and doing is how we learn best. Listening and hearing is how we understand. A great way to develop your recall from listening is to close your eyes, listen to a dialogue and see how much you can remember verbatim.

5. Listening slows down our responses

Even when you are in a heated discussion with somebody, it is always worthwhile listening to everything that is being said and doing your best to hear what the other party is saying. If you are lost in your own responses, you may be drawing your own opinions from the interaction. You will hear the stuff you don’t like and miss the real words that are being spoken. And when you slow down your listening, it gives you time to ask “When you say this, what exactly does that mean to you?” It invites deeper understanding and empathy. A wise strategy I recently learned from a friend was to “say nothing, until you know more.”

Listening is not just confined to the spoken word and daily conversations: consider how you “listen” to the messages in emails and social media posts. Are you listening with your inner ear and asking what the intention of the message was or are you assuming a meaning that is not there?  Listening as a communication skill can really take your relationships to another level.

Give yourself a 30-day challenge to see you well you listen. Can you do literal listening, as you stay fully present with the other person, instead of reaching for a distraction, thinking about your next utterance or making up your own interpretations of what somebody means.  In the power of listening lies your communication and relationship success. See where you are in 30 days!

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.


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


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.

Dealing with Difficult People

5 Steps to Handling Difficult Situations or Difficult People

A Coach’s Perspective

 I am sure you can think of plenty of times when you ran into challenging situations and people and didn’t like the experience or how the story played itself out. Working with difficult people or challenges in your organisation is definitely one place to test this out. So how do you help yourself manage these kind of experiences when they show up?

I often run this process in a coaching scenario when people are finding it difficult to handle situations or people at work. It gives them the tools to begin to take charge of the situation internally, with a view to becoming more self-aware and resilient over time.

We cannot totally avoid difficult situations or people, but the best tool to manage this is explore how we process the experience in our minds and use self-awareness to get a handle on it. The more we notice, the more self-aware we are.  Self-awareness can be reduced to how good you are at observing you, your reactions or responses to events or words of others and then how you manage your state of mind and that experience. The end game is to build your resilience personal effectiveness.

When situations or other people challenge you


Start by noticing what is going on for you, what is the event or situation and how are you responding to it. Is there one particular theme, when you hit these situations. A good example : other people are wrong, you were treated unfairly, it shouldn’t have happened, people should do things differently. We can all relate to the story we have told ourselves about a person or an event. The most important thing is to find a way to get back to happier and more contented states rapidly, when you encounter challenges, particularly when you have to work with difficult people.

Working with your response is the only thing you have


You respond to what you perceive, and as you perceive, so you behave. This tells us that what you are experiencing is your response, not the event itself.  And other people’s perceptions are indications of their behaviour too. Your response is mili-seconds behind the event.  Your response is your own spin on the story, based on your own default thinking patterns. So what if you were to catch that response and notice everything your mind does with external events?  So here’s the thing, what your mind does with an event is the only thing you have to deal with. It may be a tall order when you are incensed, furious, agitated by some injustice “created” by an external event or person.

If you want to feel better, just work on your response and how you talk to yourself about any experience you don’t particularly like. Your response is the ONLY piece you have to work with it in responding to all future similar situations. Everything outside is irrelevant.

What you can do in 5 Steps

Here are 5 steps to help you manage and change your response to what’s going on.  It’s practice that will definitely make dealing with others easier. The only thing we know we can change is ourselves and not others. Think of a challenging situation or person you have to deal with right now. Run it through these 5 steps.

1. Notice the Movie running in Your Mind

We all have the ability to notice, because, if we didn’t we couldn’t interpret anything in life. We have to find a meaning, and fill in the details. That is our innate ability to be self-reflexive or think about what we think about”.

Ask yourself What do I need to believe here to create this response? What am I noticing in my mind when I run the replay of the event? How am I talking to myself about the event? What movie am I running in my head? What is the quality of it? What emotions are running around inside me? And how real are they? If I were to stand back and just get the theme of this movie, how would I describe it? A tragedy, a comedy, a crime, injustice, a learning?

Notice the texture so that you can detect how your brain is interpreting this event. That is the beginning of creating an experience you want to have and managing your own state of mind.

2. Find the Trigger

When you have a heightened response to somebody or some event, it is usually because it reminds you of something that you possibly have an aversion to, usually found in your mental database from the past. So just go find the trigger by asking yourself, what it reminds you of and name it. When you name it, you are on the way to clarity.

So if the situation reminds you of something from the past, notice what your brain did with it, it probably went into a self-talk about it and stepped into the “flight or flight mode”, just like the event it reminded you of. When you know what it’s triggering, you can train yourself to spot the old trigger running. Is it time to update you trigger event to a more positive trigger? This may be the trigger to choose a more favourable and helpful pro-active response.

3. Articulate the Meaning

The meanings you give to anything are what is making you respond the way you do. If you have a meaning and a value-system operating that people and events should operate in a certain way, according to your perceptions, you will feel at odds with yourself, when you run into an event you don’t like.

So ask yourself What meaning am I giving to this and how is it affecting me, when I give it that meaning?” Then put a time questions on it  “Will this matter in 1 year, 2 years, 5 years or 20 years?” What else could it mean and if you can find a positive meaning, that will certainly help you move from this? eg. This is teaching me how much I value X, or care about” Find 3-5 new meanings beyond the orginal meaning. This will help you tap into your creative brain and rewire the meaning so you can learn from it and handle it differently the next time.

4. Find the Reflection

If you are only perceiving, then your response is only mirroring to you, how you have run this experience through your mind. If your response is angry, then how aware are you of how easy it is to anger you. I always think it’s useful to reflect on what happened and how you were in that situation.

If  it activates emotions of fear, anger or resentment, then this is the reflection piece on your own perceptions. What is this reflecting to me about myself and my need for certainty? And how would you like to feel in a similar situation?

If you can do this, you will begin to find new ways of working with similar situations. E.g. if somebody is offensive in your eyes, a way to reframe it is “ I respect myself enough here to voice my concerns in a constructive way” This person may or may not be aware of what they are doing, and they are looking for some result here that you cannot give them. What if I asked them exactly wha they need right now so that we can move on from this”? That way your brain goes into solution mode instead of problem state.

5. Change the Movie

Watching the same movie over and over again is really not the most uplifting thing, unless it is an experience you loved. Replaying and event I have learned only deepens the negative meanings, so to ensure your find a way to improve your chances of having more positive experiences, is to change the movie and change the script.

By changing the colour and sounds in your movie you can change everything. If you watch it like a cartoon of human craziness and tell yourself, “next time I am just going to be a Zen master when this happens, knowing that I am self-aware, then it’s going to very different.” You’d never go to see a bad movie, twice, yet people replay their past experiences and events over and over and figure some how  they are going to find happiness there.

Like every habit, 30 days of using this tool, will increase your self-awareness and give you a tool to handle the challenges in your life. It is never the event, but your response and replay of the event that is your greatest challenge to overcome. It is an on-going practice even for the Zen masters of the world.

 Summary of 5 Steps:

  1. Notice the mental movie you are running
  2. Find the trigger for running the mental movie this way
  3. Articulate the meaning that’s true for you
  4. Find the reflection for learning
  5. Change the movie and how you see it

Building Self Confidence

The Most Popular Topic in Coaching

The start of any coaching conversation starts with a question. This is followed by more questions. It becomes an exploration. It is about getting to the heart of what somebody desires in their life, their work, their career, business and their relationships with others. I often say to people ‘A coach will ask you questions you don’t often ask yourself.’

It often takes you down avenues you never thought possible. That is the beauty of this type of conversation. So many things can be uncovered and explored in the safety of sacred, safe conversations. Anything is possible when you commit to growing in a coaching conversation.

Where the journey starts

People often decided they want to work with coach. They look to get someone outside, impartial, who has some skills that can help them get clear on some area of their life.  The list varies from a career change, going for a job interview, starting a business, being better at public speaking, a better sales person, a better manager and even a better parent. There is no subject that doesn’t show up for discussion. The reason is simple; you are not just your job, your career or your business. Your life and who you are shows up when you choose to work with a professional. They are just expressions of you. So the questions asked can often be about how you operate in life and it can end up as a conversation about your life.

Why does confidence as a topic show up so much?

As a person who loves noticing patterns and how they shape people’s lives, jobs and self-concept, I started of course to notice a pattern. The single theme that seems to come up over and over is this idea of having more self-confidence to take a risk and do something different. People will say things like “I’d like to have more confidence in myself to do or be X.” Indeed, when you read this question, I am sure you have an area where you’d like a way of building confidence. So let’s look at what that means.

The interesting thing is, people start with a challenge or a desire to change. Once the conversation begins, they begin to get insights into themselves and get to the place of realising that the challenge was a symptom of something else they were seeking, deeper inside themselves.  This can be expressed in many ways; such as feeling more at ease or having the guts to do something they’ve always wanted to do.

Everybody thrives on confidence

“So why can’t I just have confidence?” you might ask. You can! You just have to know how to “do” confidence. Confidence has structure to it. Confidence has reference points to what you have done before. They can be positive or negative. One black-and-white way to look at it is this; you will never try something again because you think you failed the first time.  Or, you will give it a shot and see how it goes, because you learned from it and can improve, if you try it again. There is truth in the ‘fake it until you make it’ idea. The risk-takers and people who look at the options will always give it one more shot. These are the people are more likely to build and expand their confidence. It them becomes the place they function from. And from there, they develop the skill of knowing how to build confidence.

Where does a lack of confidence come from?

Confidence is a multi-layered state, is how I can best describe it.  It’s a combination of knowing enough and believing enough that you can do or be something.  So why does a ‘perceived’ lack of confidence show up in coaching so often and how can you build confidence in yourself? Here are a few things to help you explore your own confidence in areas of your life and why we often find it hard to do confidence. Here are the key things I have noticed.

Using the past as a reference

This is where we did something once. It didn’t go well. We decided we would never do it again. If this is true for you, think of times where you did something similar and felt well-able to do it. An example I have is, a client I was coaching around his leadership skills, which he needed to demonstrate in a second-round group interview. He had completely missed the fact that he had been team captain on the sports pitch for years. He didn’t make the connection unti we had the conversation. Once we captured all he did well there, we translated it across to the group interview, which secured him the job. He was looking in the wrong places and not mapping across his skills to lead a team of men to sporting victories of which there were many.

Using other people’s points of view

This is a big one. What will other people think? Many times we don’t take the risk because we are pleasing some invisible “authority figure” from the past, present or further. This I describe as the judgement of ourselves through the imagined negative judgements of others. I hear this often said to me in a coaching session “you probably think it’s crazy, but…” I don’t, in fact, because I am too busy listening and hearing what you are saying.

What if you dared greatly and tried something new?  At least you gave it a shot. What if you did what other people wouldn’t dare to do? It builds a stock of experiences to create your own reference points of view. An example I give to people when preparing presentations for public speaking is to practice reading aloud to get used to the sound of your own voice. If you have children, even better! You have no excuse then, to at least create your own internal point of view to build that confidence you need in this situation.

Using the fear of failure or losing face

Failure is an interesting concept preceded by the question and conclusion, ‘but what if I fail? I don’t want to fail.’ So question to that is. ‘What if you never try at all? What if you are missing out on a great experience or a new way of being because you were afraid of failure?’  Failure can mean that you didn’t have the skills or resources you needed at them time to make things work. Losing face is rooted in an expectation and functions from a place of perfection. It is about seeking to meet the unrealistic expectations you want others to have of you. A great example is the perfect social media profile; nobody sees the faux pas, the mistakes and the bad days we all have every now and again.

How much more human we would be without these judgements? So the question now is, ‘do you have the confidence to try something and learn that there must be a better way to do it?’ Just like Thomas Edison’s answer to the 10,000 light bulbs experiments. Instead of seeing it as a failure, he learned 9,999 ways ‘not to make a light bulb’. This is a great example of a reframed point of view. If you can reframe failure, your confidence will certainly grow. Do it often and you will be building that confidence-muscle.

Using an outdated perception of yourself

I often ask clients where they got their idea of themselves as not able to do something and who they bought it from. Within reason or course. If you don’t have the right vocal chords to be an opera singer, no amount of confidence is going to change that! We spend our formative years and early working years being given lots of points of view of ourselves. We start to believe them as fixed and immutable.

Everybody can change and does change over the years. So next time you decide that you can’t do something, think about how old that idea of yourself is. Did you get it from a school teacher, a parent, a school friend? People carry fixed ideas of about you and what were like in the past. Are you buying them as being locked into a one-time event or a time in your life when you didn’t have the experiences you have now?  Having the confidence to update who you are and let people see that you have indeed grown and changed is one way to keep recreating a new version of you every day. We all need an upgrade. Ask any software company! This is another way to give yourself more confidence. You have infinite possibilities to change and become more than you are today and next week. You have to keep asking better questions.

Confidence is built over time, but you can tap into it by asking yourself quality questions.

So here are four to consider next time you have that nagging doubt that you don’t have the confidence to take a risk.

  1. What time in my life am I stuck in that stopping me from trying this?
  2. Whose version of success or failure am I functioning from?
  3. What if I took steps to build a pathway for others and show them a way?
  4. What story am I telling myself about not being able to do this?


Want to learn more on about subject? Read this article What does a coach do?

Talk to A Coach

Management and When Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast

Why Strategy often gets lost in Company Culture


When a business executive team sets its eyes in a new direction, with a vision on a new business strategy, how often do they look to see how strong their culture is to execute and succeed with their business plans?

Peter Drucker put it eloquently when he talked about how “culture eats strategy for breakfast every time”. What could he mean by this? Essentially, your strategy will only be as good as the level of  training and the behaviours operating inside your organisation  as you seek to enact the change or get the team behind the strategy.

As a coach, I have seen companies with great strategies take time to get their strategy off the ground, and once they began to work and pay attention to getting the internal behaviours and actions right, higher quality results begin to manifest. A wise business manager once said to me, “it take a totally different set of behaviours to take a company from $20 to $60 million.” So what does a management team need to be aware of if they are developing a key business strategy and seeking to grow their business or change direction. Three things;  awareness of the existing behaviour and culture, a change in behaviour and a willingness to ask better questions of its people.

Behaviour is what makes up a Culture

Culture in a company is really the collective behaviours, beliefs and values operating within a group of people. They can be healthy and productive or quite the opposite. When there is pull and push actions going in with a team, you know it is time to start asking what is really going on. Looking at what shows up in organisations, there will always be a scale of behaviours that we can deem constructive or counter-productive. People may not always be aware of what exactly is going on. Here are a few aspects to think about:

Counter-productive behaviours come from viewing the world in a certain way. It can often be noticed in a levels of inflexibility, seeing the world through the ‘self’ point of view, working from all or nothing thinking, staying stuck in the detail rather than seeing the big picture, discounting ideas and people’s contributions, and following what you have always done instead of trying some new options.  Ask the question, “are we doing any of these behaviours that will stop us from making this strategy a reality?”

Constructive, quality behaviours come from a high level of awareness in the team on the right behaviours that will get the results, behavioural flexibility, seeing options and future possibilities, multiple view points, focussing on the bigger picture and the detail equally, while considering all ideas and contributions offered within a group or team. Ask the question “is our thinking expansive and high-level enough to deliver the strategy we are looking for?” These are all styles of thinking and perception. Creating a culture of behavioural awareness can be that difference that makes all the difference to developing a healthy, productive culture.

Culture has a structure, find out how it is built

What makes up the culture is a collection of individual behaviours, thinking styles and frames of mind; it is important to explore what collective values and beliefs are operating in your company and how they are aligned with the culture needed to make the strategy a success. When looking to change elements of the existing culture, it is important to find a structure that allows you to stand back and examine it in a way that takes the personal elements out of it.

With the companies I have worked with, we work systematically in looking at the culture through different filters. We ask penetrating questions about how the individuals are thinking about the strategy, their team and their customers and how healthy and productive they are. Key to this is to create a model of what the right culture would look like; then it’s about getting the behaviours to support it and the mind-set to execute the strategy. Critical to this is identifying key performance indicators that you can measure and the tangible behaviours needed to make things happen. A key question to ask is, “how can we benchmark and map tangible behaviours that will give us the results we want?”  An example is operating from solutions-mind set, where a problem is articulated with a potential solution, rather than just honing in on why the problem is a problem. Then it’s about tracking who and what behaviours contributed to getting to the solution that’s working.

Coach Your Organisation and Ask Quality Questions

The quality of your questions will determine how well you can adapt the culture and make the strategy come to fruition. Take a hard look at your culture and ask some key questions around the impact of how people think and behave and how it plays itself out in the organisation. Everything we do and think has some effect; because as we think, we then give meaning to our experience and then we take action or no action.

If we have productive, healthy and constructive ways of thinking about our organisations where the common good of others is considered, we will make progress. When we ask questions of ourselves and others without judgement, we open the doorway to higher insight and to that higher performance we are looking for to get the strategy working. The questioning mind-set is probably the most powerful mind-set you can bring to an organisation to explore the culture, its facets and its impact on your business strategy. Here are some questions to ask to take a look at your culture.

  1.  What are we not seeing in our culture that is taking from our business success?
  2. What part are we playing, as individuals, that is creating the collective culture?
  3. What won’t happen if we don’t change and let go of the old ways of doing things?
  4. Is what we are doing working for our clients, our business and our people?
  5. Is our culture  keeping up with the pace of change?
  6. Is our culture adaptable enough to the demands of our business?

As you think about your organisation, are you asking enough of the right questions to make your business strategy successful? Bring the power of coaching to your team and see what happens. A final closing question for you, what is your existing culture costing your business?


If you would like some information on our Management Training Course, view the course outline here.


Selling Tips, Selling Skills

5 Sales Tips from a Coffee Pod Barista – The Science and Art of Selling

Because I spend my time with lots of salespeople out in the field, coaching and training them how to sell, my antennae never stop working when I am out and about shopping or buying products and services. I love to see the science and art of selling in action. I can spot a top notch sales person in an instance.

The Coffee Barista

One day, on my way to buy a new kitchen gadget, I came across a crowd gathering around a young lady with a beautiful coffee machine, talking about coffee pods. Apparently, the coffee pod is the freshest cup of coffee you are going to get from the designer coffee machine they were made for. The coffee pod is small. It’s clever and exclusive. You can only order these coffee pods on-line. Coffee pods were a whole new concept to me on this day. You could put your small pod into the machine and out pours a delicious fresh coffee with an aroma to send you into a sensory reverie.

My guess is this lady didn’t even know how gifted she was as a sales person. She was a natural and I guessed she had been product trained rather than taken a sales training course. But what she was doing worked quite beautifully in winning over her audience. She was the science and art of selling in action.

I watched her speak to the onlookers. I watched their faces as she used language, gestures and actions that crossed all the sensory barriers. She had us in in a sensory trance. She was so effective that you couldn’t but resist the notion of having one of these machines in your kitchen. She moved with grace and ease. She set the scene for us to want a coffee. She talked about the freshness of the roasted coffee. She made us the coffee with finesse and swiftness. We tasted the fresh coffee. She asked us how we liked it. She explored our love of coffee. She asked us again about our coffee-making experience at home. Answers varied from instant coffee, to perculators with filters to coffee pots on stoves. She asked us “was it as fresh as this?” She smiled, nodded and affirmed our experience.

She wrapped it all up by telling us how easy it was to get the coffee pods that were the freshest you could get straight to your kitchen. In essence, she created a luxury experience, right there and then that was almost irresistible. It was real and tangible and it made you really want to buy one of these coffee pod machines.

So where was the Science in Action?

The science is to be found in the steps taken in gathering interest from her audience, creating a sensory experience and then testing the buyer’s experience by asking for feedback on the experience. She created a want from a passing interest and turned that into a need through a sensory experience. She took the buyers all the way back home to their kitchen. She kept them inside the experience through great questions about our experience of the coffee, until we sufficiently locked into want to know more.

So where was the Art in Action?

The art was in her passion for the product. She spoke with enthusiasm. Her presentation was compelling. Her public speaking skills, of course, were elegant and refined. She explained in lovely simple ways how machine and pod worked. Her art was in the natural way she spoke, the language she used, how she paced the experience and built rapport with her audience. “How do you like the taste?” she asked. What a suggestion! Of course the smell is the most powerful scent of all, so the coffee created that experience that you would want in your kitchen every morning. She mirrored our coffee experience perfectly. The result, two coffee machine sold and customer for life. You can only buy the pods straight from the factory.

5 Sales Tips from a Coffee Pod Barista

  1. Activate as many of the senses around your product as you can; the images, sights, sounds and aromas; this increases your chances of closing the sale.
  2. Create an emotional bond between the buyer and what you offer by getting them to try it or imagine trying it. Every buying experience activates emotions. The sense of smell is the most powerful, hence the success of our coffee pod barista.
  3. Create the experience with the buyer and ask them to share it as a feedback exercise. This is a way of testing the level of desire for the product. If it’s not high enough, ask some more questions.
  4. Create a comparison scenario to create a contrast in the buyer’s mind between what they have and what could have.
  5. Work on your delivery skills and pay attention to the language you use. Is it enticing enough. Our coffee pod barista knew how to motivate her audience. Her communication skills and interpersonal skills were second to none. Work on yours.

I didn’t buy the coffee machine in the end. But I witnessed the science and art of selling in action. And the coffee was exceptional!


If you want to learn the science and art of selling,

contact us for a training course or a coaching session

The Art of Public Speaking – How people create a fear of public speaking

The fear of public speaking is often quoted as the number one phobia ahead of the fear of dying. The question is “Why do people dread public speaking so much and what can they do to overcome it?

A phobia is a well-practiced state of fear. Like all skills, a phobia is a skill, albeit a very useless skill. It’s particularly useless when you have to stand in front of a room and give a presentation and look into a hundred pair of eyes and your body starts to go into an unwanted state of fear. This is the perfect occasion to use that phrase “It’s all in your head.” Speaking from my own past experience I remember going through this on numerous occasions before I stopped one day and wondered whether public speaking skills were skills I had not yet learned.

So if you are one of those with public speaking phobia, perhaps you have reached a point where you are asking yourself “How can I stop doing this and what causes me to do this?” A phobia is very simple and complex at the same time. Very simply, you are running a movie your run in your head that has layers of scripts and meanings about standing at the top of a room, while others watch and listen. The movie has sound, pictures and feelings built into those meanings. It’s the Neurosemantics of speaking and how you carry the meaning in your body. We all carry either healthy, empowering meanings or crazy, disempowering meanings in all situations in life. The key to unlocking them is to become aware of how you talk to yourself.

Every meaning you have about anything puts you in a state, where you have thoughts and feelings about something. In this incidence, you are thinking and feeling fearful thoughts about public speaking. The problem is how you are thinking and feeling and the meanings you are giving to i.t Like any habit, if you do it often enough, as you think of giving a PowerPoint presentation in public, you will trigger your brain into the public speaking phobia STATE or the fun STATE of sharing knowledge with others. Notice the two different meanings in each of these states? One empowers and one disables.

Anytime I work with people in helping them overcome their fear of public speaking, I hear the same story and script about how they “dread public speaking”. It is always pre-empted by “I know it’s stupid, but” followed by “it takes me back to that time when I was in school and my name was called out….” Perhaps this resonates with you.

Our mind-body system is great at storing all the experiences we have had, both good and not so pleasant. Then it keeps reminding us, in this instance, to “steer clear of that experience, because it’s dangerous.” This is never going to help you improve your public speaking skills. So stop right now and let’s see how are skilfully building your fear of public speaking. Then I am going to give you some tips on how to overcome it.

To get into your phobic state you have to think about what you fear

These are the typical fearful meanings I come across from clients: Fear of humiliation. Not knowing something. Losing face. Being looked at. All eyes on you. People judging you. Reliving a past unpleasant moment where you didn’t know something when you had to speak in public. Sounding stupid. Disliking silence or disliking the sound of your own voice. The list goes on. Your mind runs that movie and before you know it, you don’t want to go there and run through that awful experience in your mind. Of course, you don’t just do this awfulzing once. You do it over and over as you think about that important Powerpoint presentation that you have to give at your sales meeting or to your customers. I am not saying this isn’t real, because phobias are real to people.

Meanwhile the presentation you could be giving is lost to these irrational thoughts, based on your own internal judgements about other people’s judgements of you that you are making up anyway.

To create and build the phobic state you have to give yourself a phobic script

“What if I don’t know something? What if I sound stupid? What if I forget something? What if they think I am stupid? I am going to panic.“ To really take it up a notch, you have to use an internal tone that is pretty harsh ad critical or fearful. Most of these scripts are hypothetical meanings about an event that hasn’t happened. All this is doing is pulling you away from doing the right kind of preparation for your presentation. What you tell your brain is going to determine how successfully your present to your audience. So a healthy script is vital to your success.

To continue that phobic state you have to carry a posture of fear

So while you awfulize and run the horror movie of your presentation going badly wrong, your body takes on a posture of fear ready for the fight-or-flight scenario. You notice your voice and breathing change. Your body temperate may go up and you may notice a tremble.

It’s time to stop this and find more pleasant movies to run in your head. Ask yourself “Can I physically speak? Yes? Can I communicate? Yes? Can I put ideas into a logical sequence so others can understand it? Yes?” Then all you need is a better sequence in your mind to run a quality presentation when you are at the top of the room.

So are there any cures for the fear of public speaking?

The first cure is to understand what you are doing and recongize the symptoms as a call to stop and notice what you are doing, when you run the fear of public speaking. You are skilfully building a state of mind that wants to protect you from a perceived threat; possibly generated by memories of a one-time event where you felt fearful in front of an audience.

There are three steps to overcoming your phobia:

1. Manage your State

Manage your state of mind by doing 3 things after you have done your preparation and arranged your ideas. Visualize a positive result, where you see yourself, speaking calmly, sharing information, allowing the audience to make up their own minds about the information you are sharing. Tell yourself that this will go fine. Let go of the need to impress anybody and let them decide what the presentation is about for them.

2. Manage Your Meanings

The meaning of public speaking is the most important piece to practice. Give yourself some new meanings in your script, for example, “It’s just a conversation, where I am standing up and sharing information. People want to learn. They are only interested in the message. I allow myself to be seen and heard in public, knowing that everybody supports me. I know my subject. I’ve practiced it. I can relax. People will think what they think.” Coach yourself on your meanings and write down at least 5-10 healthy meanings you could give to public speaking. You will transform your presentation by that alone, if you do it on a consistent basis.

3. Take Command of your Presentations

The most important thing is to take command of your presentations. Here are 5 Ways to Improve Your Presentation Skills. Remember, you are in charge of the information, what you are going to say and how you are going to say, the speed at which you are going to say it. If you prepare well, then decide that you are only going to say 3 things. Imagine you are sharing those three pieces of information with the most supportive people you know. Set some frames around the presentation, why you are giving it and what you are going to talk about. To really get comfortable in the room, start with some story, question or some casual conversation with your audience, so it’s not the first time you are speaking. Most important of all, be present to yourself and your audience and enjoy the conversation that you are having while standing up. How’s that for a healthy meaning? Henry Ford often used to say “if you think you can or your think you can’t, you’re probably right.”


If you want to work on your Presentation skills and eliminate your public speaking phobia

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