Public Speaking Tips

The top three skills missing in presentations

Public Speaking Coach

Our public speaking coaches in London work with clients to help them improve their presentation & public speaking skills. People come to us because they want to get better at communicating, leading and influencing people around them. Confident communication seems to be the number 1 thing holding professionals back from reaching their full potential and taking the next step in their careers & through our experience, we typically come across three main issues and areas business professionals need to focus on – see if you resonate with any of these:

  1. Confidence, Body Language and Voice
  2. Being Authentic and Taming Your Monkeys!
  3. Structure and Message Simplification

Confidence, Body Language and Voice

Do you go to bits when public speaking?

Many business professionals are very good at their day job, but when it comes to public speaking they go to bits! Does your usual confidence disappear and instead it feels as though you’re a small child standing in front of a room full of critical adults? The problem with this is that your nerves and fear show, and your audience lacks confidence in your content and what you’re saying.

Don’t look or feel confident public speaking?

Or maybe you just aren’t as confident as you normally are when you speak, which means your stance is not upright, your head is likely to drop down, your voice becomes quieter and as a result, you sound and look less confident. (Take a look here at our video which shows you the ideal posture for presenting).

Standing upright and having a stance that demonstrates confidence is more important than many of us realise. As humans, we are looking to ‘follow’ people who demonstrate high status and gravitas – whether you like it or not this is a part of nature. So if you do not look high status because you’re nervous, then people are less likely to follow your message. Learn our skills and tips and, like many others, you can improve dramatically.

Distracting habits?

Perhaps you have some speech or body language habits or quirks that you aren’t aware of and no one wants to tell you – that’s why you need a public speaking coach! Recently I was working with the CEO of a company in Westminster who said that the more senior you become, the less likely you are to get genuine and honest feedback. Your coach is there to give honest and constructive feedback, so you continue to improve both your skills and your mindset.

You’ll have heard plenty of bad speech habits when people feel under pressure, things like:

  • Speaking too quickly
  • Mumbling
  • Stuttering
  • Too many “ums” and “ers”
  • Unnecessary words such as “like” and “y’know” repeated incessantly.

Did you know that a speaking coach can help you with all these things? Especially if the coach is an expert in helping you address your negative mindset (see below) which is so often the cause of these issues.

We have seen all sorts of off-putting body language habits ranging from:

  • Excessive movement which includes rocking backwards and forwards, stepping from side to side, moving your hands about manically, or waving your arms around for no reason. Don’t get me wrong, movement, when it has a purpose, is great. If it adds to your message and explains your key ideas more effectively than words alone that is also good.
  • Off-putting habits – worse than distracting habits, off-putting habits can make your audience feel negative. Grasping tissues or playing with your hair may even make the audience unconsciously feel that you could be unhygienic!
  • Noisy habits – playing with coins in pockets could fall into this category, or perhaps you are clicking a flip chart pen lid on and off – for the people in the audience who are sensitive to such sounds (me included), instead of listening to you they’ll get more and more distracted.

When you work with a public speaking coach, they may advise a session tailored to your needs called PRESENT WITH CONFIDENCE. This addresses these common issues and shares tips and skills that will improve your body language, stance, breathing and voice so that you come across with confidence and clarity.

And often we also recommend they work on their Public Speaking Monkeys…

Being Authentic and Taming Your Public Speaking Monkeys!

However experienced they are in their work, many people still feel like a fraud when they stand up to speak in front of senior people or large audiences. We work with our clients to get to the bottom of these unreasonable feelings of inadequacy because genuine and authentic presentations can only come from people who are confident and comfortable with themselves. And don’t worry, you do not have to be perfect to be comfortable with yourself!

We have developed a multi-award-winning approach called “Taming your Public Speaking Monkeys” (and we have a book of the same name available too available to buy from Amazon or, of course, included within the programme). This approach helps you to genuinely and permanently eliminate your personal Public Speaking Monkeys.

Image of Public Speaking Monkey

These pesky Public Speaking Monkeys represent the voices that you hear in your head saying things like “you’re not good enough” or “you’re stupid”. You rationally know that these voices are not true, but a part of you believes the monkey voices. Whilst they may be muttering at you much of the time in life generally, many people find they get particularly noisy and loud when you stand up to speak – perhaps in front of a large or a more senior audience.

The way you know if you have Public Speaking Monkeys is to notice if any of your reactions to public speaking are illogical, if so, you have monkeys! So what do you need to know about Public Speaking Monkeys?

  • Most of the business professionals we talk to have Public Speaking Monkeys… or used to have before they worked with us! It could be argued that the more you’ve achieved, the more likely you are to have Public Speaking Monkeys!
  • Public Speaking Monkeys motivate you. You may well ask why, and the answer is because monkeys give you the motivation to work hard and achieve more. If they are constantly in your ear telling you that you are not good enough, you may be striving continuously to prove them wrong. Of course, the issue is that they eat away at your confidence levels. However, this doesn’t work long term. Earlier in your career, generally when it is down to you to achieve all the success, it’s fine, but in your 40s or 50s, we tend to find this manner of motivating yourself causes stress, frustration and burn out.
  • One of the reasons ‘monkey motivation’ doesn’t work is that the higher up the ladder you go, the more you need your teams and the people around you to do the work and you cannot rely on yourself to achieve everything. Having Public Speaking Monkeys doesn’t help you to be a good manager. But if you are a good manager, imagine how much easier it will be when you get rid of those negative voices and your natural confidence can come through.

Image of Taming Your Public Speaking Monkeys Book

If you want to talk to a coach, they may advise a session tailored to your needs called The Mindset for Speaking Success which helps professionals to ‘Tame Their Public Speaking Monkeys’ and become calm and confident presenters.

We also have training courses that cover the next vital skill which is structuring your presentations and simplifying your message

Structure and Simplifying The Message

Even confident public speakers benefit tremendously from adding more structure when they present. We share our unique approach called the Simply Amazing Structure (SAS).

This structure has many benefits:

  • When speaking, you know what you are going to say so there is no need to over-rely on PowerPoint slides
  • You can engage with the audience when speaking, using eye contact instead of looking behind you at slides or down at notes
  • You have ‘tracks to run on’ which gives you the flexibility to engage with the audience in the moment and, importantly, get back on track after.

We have developed our unique SAS approach based on years of study and adaptation. In order to help our clients learn it easily and be able to recall it when standing in front of an audience, we practice what we preach and use visuals. This example is the outline we use to teach presentation or communication and you can use it at work, home or anywhere in life, even when influencing your kids!

Simply Amazing Structure Outline

Here is an example of a completed SAS using a company conference as a case study.

Completed Simply Amazing Structure

Your coach will make it easy for you to learn this structure – we know it works because we get amazing feedback from people who have worked with a coach and now use SAS in all of their communications (not just when they speak in public). A senior Sales Director we worked with recently in Holborn said to his coach that SAS had transformed his communications and he is now teaching it to all his teams.

As you can see it contains several sections. Importantly the structure is designed to represent the key questions that people in the audience will ask:

  • The first is, “what’s this all about?” To answer this you give a small INTRODUCTION to the topic. It would normally contain a title and a little bit of context. But always keep it short.
  • Then we work around the grid in a clockwise direction starting with the WHY? This is to answer the question the audience will ask which is “why am I here?” To answer this you give three brief reasons why the audience would be interested in spending more time listening to you.
  • The next section is the WHAT section and the audience’s question is “what do I need to know?” This section will contain most of the content, data or ideas. We recommend that you divide your content into three chunks (you have probably heard about three being the magic number, right?) and then subdivide that further (if needed) into three further chunks.
  • Following on from the WHAT section is the HOW section. The audience will be asking, “how do I implement or action what you are proposing?” This may be a short section or a long section depending on the type of presentation you are doing.
  • If you are doing a training presentation, the HOW section is practising what you have taught them and will take up much of the time.
  • If you are doing an exercise in a conference and split people out into working groups, this section and will take some time.
  • Usually, say in a board meeting, the HOW may not take too long, but it is important to always include it.

If people do not action what you want them to after you‘ve spoken, look back and see if you have been clear about those actions, checking to see if you made these actions small and simple.

If you would like to know more about our unique Simply Amazing Structure, there is more information, including two fully worked through case studies, in our book “High-Performance Presentations – public speaking tips and presentation skills to engage, persuade and inspire”.

Image of High Performance Presentations Book

In our public speaking coaching programme Present Like A Pro, we share unique techniques and skills to improve your talk structure and improve all your other business communication too. We share and work with you on a real-life presentation using the SAS.

If you need public speaking training, we have two public speaking coaches in London. Here at Simply Amazing Training, we are small enough to care, yet big enough to work with your needs. Whether you feel nervous when presenting, or maybe you have some big pitches or meetings coming up that you want to fine-tune, we can help you become a confident, authentic and engaging public speaker.

Get in touch with us today for more help or an informal chat with a public speaking coach in London or elsewhere.

Dee Clayton

Posted by Dee Clayton on 6 Aug 2019

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