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Voice Coaching Techniques

Avoiding Death By Monotony: The 5 Key Business Presentation Skills You Need

We’ve all been there.  You’re sitting in the conference room for a business presentation and you start to nod off. You zone out, you’ve stopped listening to the person up at the top of the room giving the presentation. Here are five key business presentation skills you can learn so that you can captivate your audience of staff or potential clients when it’s your turn to give one.

By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak

Avoid Death by Monotony - Five Business Presentation Skills You Need

 

You know what a boring business presentation is like to sit through.

When the speaker’s voice has become so dull and annoying that it starts to sound like a mosquito buzzing in your ear.

But are you aware of the pitfalls so that you can avoid them next them you stand up to deliver a presentation?

Follow these five steps to avoid the Death by Monotony presentation.

First: How to Know What Makes a Boring Business Presentation

So what’s happening?

Most of the time this unfortunate situation arises because the presenter has fallen into the Monotony Trap.

They speak from one place in their voice in one rhythm and don’t vary either one at all, and this happens without them even knowing it.

Now, this could be someone your know. It could—let’s face it—even be you and you don’t even know it.

A monotone vocal delivery is one of the worst sins and most common mistakes you can make when it comes to public speaking. Luckily, there are lots of skills and voice coaching techniques you can implement to prevent it.

Here are just a few tips you can use to stay out of the monotony trap and keep your audience interested and engaged.

The Five Key Business Presentation Skills, 1: Vary Your Pitch

Here’s one basic fact of physiology.

The ear needs to be entertained and kept interested

So first off, vary your pitch.

Pitch is your vocal range, it’s the movement in tone between the top of your vocal range and the bottom and everywhere in between. (We’ve written a whole article on pitch range and its importance here.)

As children, we naturally have a varied vocal range. As we learn to speak we explore the range of sound our voices can make.

Then as we grow older, something happens. We start to have opinions and start editing ourselves. We start to become self-conscious.

One big mistake we make is thinking that a deep, weighty, monotonous tone for credibility, maturity and gravity.

In short, we stop using the full range of our voices.

Experiment with your vocal range—it’s there for a reason. Remember that the ear needs to be entertained and kept interested so change it up, vary your tone, and use the full range of your vocal pitches.

Here’s a great example:

The Five Key Business Presentation Skills, 2: Do Not Underestimate the Power Of Articulation & Pace

Next, make sure you’re articulating and speaking clearly and slowly.

It may seem obvious but do not underestimate the power of clarity.

We may have heard our message a hundred times but we forget our audience is hearing it for the first time. Everyone can afford to slow down their delivery.

We often rush and end up mumbling our words together because we want to get through the material as quickly as possible or are afraid of forgetting what we have to say next.

Think into your consonants, breathe, and you will slow down. This eliminates rushing and your audience will thank you for it.

The Five Key Business Presentation Skills, 3: Use of Pause

Pause is perhaps the most effective and underused of voice coaching techniques.

Pause is powerful, so learn to understand and use the power of pause in public speaking.

Former US President Barack Obama is a good example of someone who uses pause well and often.

We can implement pauses to gain different effects.

When we pause before a word or phrase, it creates the classic tension—release.

And when we pause after it, it allows the audience a moment for the information to sink in.

When we use pause, we also vary the pace of our delivery. Varying our pace and using pause keeps the rhythm of our vocal delivery varied and keeps the ear from falling asleep.

The Five Key Business Presentation Skills, 4: Volume & Breath

What’s one key objective that too few people think about in speaking.

The need to be heard!

When it comes to volume, this where breathing properly comes in handy.

If you are getting enough breath into your lungs, you won’t have to worry about being heard because your voice will be supported.

Remember, breath = fuel for the voice.

We’re not talking about shouting here.

There’s a big difference between having a supported, resonant sound that fills the space and shouting. The former is about generosity, the latter is unpleasant and off-putting.

The Five Key Business Presentation Skills, 5: Make a Recording

Finally, record yourself.  Whether it’s your iPhone or your laptop, video taping yourself when you’re rehearsing has never been never easier.

It is the only way you can see exactly what you look like and sound like. More importantly it can help decide where you need to make changes.

You can also just use audio recording. Record just your voice and you will quickly know if you’ve fallen into the Monotony Trap!

Recap

When it comes to avoid the cardinal errors that add up to a boring business presentation, remember that language has music.

It has texture, colour, contrast, light and shade to it. The sounds we make and how we make them is the starting point of communication.

So be bold, be courageous, and be inventive with how you create speech and sound.

You are a storyteller and the best storytellers are people who speak to you, engage you, and keep your attention.

By putting into practice just these few simple voice coaching techniques you can avoid the monotony trap. You can become a memorable, captivating and engaging speaker.

One who will keep your audiences awake and wanting more!

About ConfidentSpeak

ConfidentSpeak is a Voice and Communications consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland.

We offer a range of voice and communications programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals. Our packages are tailored for both individual and corporate level. We work with leading Irish and international companies and executives

Contact us for details by filling out this form, or call or email us via the details below.

Telephone:- +353 1 9696056

Email: info@confidentspeak.com

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Why breathing is important for presentations

Five Reasons Breathing Is The Number 1 Tool For Great Communication

When was the last time you thought about your breathing? This morning? Yesterday? How about “Not at all”? Well, if you’re like most people the answer is most likely the latter:  Not at all. If you’re keen to learn some techniques for great communication, here are five tips on breathing correctly to optimise your speaking, performance and leadership.

By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak

Breathing correctly is the most important thing for great communication

First off, if you don’t typically focus on breathing, don’t beat yourself up.

After all, it’s a pretty normal thing, because breathing is something our bodies do by themselves. It’s an involuntary function so whether or not we think about it, it happens anyway.

But I’m here to tell you that breathing is the number one tool for great communication, and spending the time to create good breathing habits and awareness will pay off in huge dividends in your meetings, speeches, and presentations.

Breathing is Vital for Great Communication

When it comes to your effectiveness as a speaker and communicator, good deep diaphragmatic breathing is your best friend.

Breathing is the one thing that voice coaches always, always, always bang on about!

We’re always trying to find new ways of telling you how important it is and what the benefits are of good, deep, diaphragmatic breathing.

And we tell you this with good reason.

Just look at the number of people who are taking yoga classes these days—it’s a revolution in mindfulness and deep breathing technique.

So What is Correct Breathing Anyway?

When you breathe from your belly, your lungs are expanding to their full capacity and the diaphragm, that dome shaped muscle at the bottom of your rib cage, moves down to allow the lungs to expand, and your belly moves out as a result.

Diaphragmatic breathing is a fancy term for breathing deeply from your belly, not high in your upper chest where your lungs are the smallest. Children breathe deeply and correctly from the womb, they don’t need to be taught.  It’s completely instinctual.

So if we know how to do it, then why don’t we do it?!

Typically, life happens!

We start dealing with fears and insecurities and this often manifests itself as tension in the body, resulting in shallower breathing.

As a result, we have to re-learn how to breathe naturally.

It is quite simple, but is it easy?

Actually, to do it effectively it takes practice.

Check out this video.

So why bother learning to breathe deeply and more naturally? What are the benefits of breathing correctly when it comes to speaking and presenting?

Actually, there are quite a few. Simple dedication to practising breathing correctly can ensure that you have great communication skills.

Breathing for Great Communication, 1: It’s Premium Fuel

Your voice needs fuel to perform at its best and breath is that fuel.

It supports the sound and helps to protect your voice from harm.

When you breathe deeply from the belly, you’re getting a bigger, higher quality of breath to fuel your vocal sound.

Breathing for Great Communication, 2: Think Clearly

Your brain needs fuel to run at its best too.

Good, deep breathing helps to get oxygen to the brain and supports clear thinking, so when you feel like you’re freezing or panicking because you can’t remember what comes next in your speech or presentation, take a moment to pause and breathe.

It gives you a moment to clear your head and remember the next thought.

Breathing for Great Communication, 3: Obey The Speed Limit

When we take time to pause and breathe, we automatically slow down our delivery.

Everyone, without exception, can afford to slow down. A good delivery pace gives both you and the audience time to breathe and process information.

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander!

Breathing for Great Communication, 4: Keep It Grounded

Breathing down in your belly, or ‘chi’ centre – as it’s referred to in martial arts – helps to centre your energy and gives you a sense of being grounded and balanced.  When your energy is more grounded and balanced, you are able to be more present in the moment. Being more present in the moment means being more connected to our audience.

Breathing for Great Communication, 5: Fight Or Flight

Getting nervous is largely due to irrational fears and that ancient ‘fight or flight’ part of our brain that kicks in to save us from a situation that our brain perceive as threatening, ie. getting up in front of a bunch of people and speaking.  Conscious, deep breathing, tricks the brain into calming down. It sends the rest of your body the message that everything’s ok and there’s no need to panic.

Our bodies already know how to breathe properly; we’re just reawakening the muscle memory that becomes lost over many years of bad habits.

I could talk about the theories behind good breathing technique and the benefits from practicing it until the cows come home. Learning a few simple techniques and practicing them on a consistent basis is the only way to truly experience the treasure trove of benefits that good, centred breathing can bring to you as a speaker and communicator.

Small Changes Reap Huge Benefits

So, tomorrow when you’re going through your day just take a moment every now and then and check in with yourself;

Am I holding my breath?

Am I breathing?

And take a few deep breaths.

A wise man once told me:

Life is like breathing. If you try and hold it, you’ll lose it. But if you’re aware and let it come and go, you’ll always be connected to it.

When we are breathing we are more present in the moment. The more present we are, the more effective we are as communicators because we are able to connect more fully with our audience.

So start breathing. The results—such as great communication!—might surprise you!

About ConfidentSpeak

ConfidentSpeak is a Voice and Communications consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland.

We offer a range of voice and communications programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals. Our packages are tailored for both individual and corporate level. We work with leading Irish and international companies and executives

Contact us for details by filling out this form, or call or email us via the details below.

Telephone:- +353 1 9696056

Email: info@confidentspeak.com

Final Word from Max Strom

Watch this TEDx talk by Max Strom for even more

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Vocal delivery techniques from Oprah

Five Vocal Delivery Techniques You Can Learn from Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globes Speech

Oprah Winfrey’s speech at the Golden Globes was powerful and inspiring. But let’s take a look at the vocal delivery techniques she used to ensure her message was received loud and clear.

By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak

Naturally much will be discussed over the coming weeks about Oprah Winfrey’s speech at this year’s Golden Globes.

Her message to her audience was powerful, emotive, thought-provoking and inspiring.

But as a voice, communications and executive presence coach, I feel compelled to examine the importance of “how” she delivered her empowering message as much as the content of that message.

I’ve written before about Oprah’s exceptional speaking skills, in my blog “The Oprah Communications Manual in 8 Easy Steps“.

But specifically on her phenomenal Golden Globes performance, allow me to break down and analyse the vocal delivery techniques Oprah used to ensure her message was loud and clear.

These are delivery techniques that you too can take into your speeches and presentations.

1. Showing up Authentically is a Key Vocal Delivery Technique

There is no question with this speech, Oprah delivered her message with authenticity and honesty.

The reality is that any audience will connect and engage with people who are truly themselves. Yes, the content is emotive, but you really get a sense that she truly believes her message.

Once there is authenticity in your message, then strong vocal techniques will be easier to access.

When you deliver a business presentation, how authentic are you with your audience? Or do you drop into presenter mode? Because, so many do.

Your Task

Ahead of your next presentation, consider these two questions carefully:

  • What do you feel about your message to the audience?
  • What do you want your audience to feel about your message?

“Feel?” I hear you ask!

Yes, FEEL!

Not what you want them to know and understand, but what you want them to FEEL.

Do you want them to feel excited, curious, frustrated, sad? Whatever that feeling is, you need to think carefully about it, as it needs to be conveyed in your vocal delivery.

2. Great use of timing. She combines pause and pace brilliantly.

The space between your thoughts can be as powerful as the thoughts themselves. She makes great use of pause throughout her speech.

With such strong words she understands her audience needs this time to process her message. Pause is used to strong dramatic effect also.

We can implement pauses to gain different effects.

When we pause before a word or phrase, it creates the classic tension/release.

If we pause after, it allows the audience a moment for the information to sink in.

As opposed to highlighting specific examples in this speech I would simply urge you to listen to the full ten minutes for her use of pause.

It requires bravery for any presenter to accept that silence. If we trust the pause we will hold a listener’s attention.

There is no question about this. It’s so compelling.

When we use pauses, we can also vary the pace of our delivery and the two go hand in hand.

Varying our pace and using the power of pause keeps the rhythm of our vocal delivery varied and keeps the ear from falling asleep.

You can hear throughout this speech she varies pace – for important statements, you’ll hear she slows right down to emphasise the importance of her words.  You’ll hear increases the pace to create energy.

Your Task

For your next presentation, accept the silence.

Try this useful Tempo Technique to engage your audience

  1.  Speed up the tempo before you make that important point
  2.  Pause
  3.  Then slow down to deliver it

It carries your listeners forward and then make them wait.  It’s a classic tension/release at work.  It takes practice, but it’s a very clever device, and it’s powerful.

(Example: Listen to 5.00-5.16 minutes in Oprah’s speech)

3. The Power of Your Consonants in Vocal Delivery

This is where the voice geek in me comes out!

They don’t get much airtime, but consonants can really work for us when we speak and they are used well in Oprah’s speech.

They can grab our listeners’ attention and hold onto it. I believe they give speech emphasis and intent. People often think that they need to speak louder to make their messages stand out, but this is not the case.

I think by Oprah focusing on her consonants she really drives home her message throughout. Any time you want to drive home a point, implant a thought, do it by giving more thought to the consonants in your words. They will make what you say more effective and dynamic.

Your Task

Try this useful Consonant Technique to drive your message home.

Lengthen the consonants in the word or syllable you want to emphasise.

This creates the illusion of being louder by bringing everything to a halt while we wait for that word.

4. The Importance of Power words: What They Are, and How to Make Them Powerful

All words are not created equally.

When we speak we do not pronounce each and every word and syllable with the same importance.

It is so evident in Oprah’s speech.

If you want your audience to listen and engage then you need to understand

  1. What are power words, and
  2. How to give these power words the power!

Power words are the 1-3 words in each phase or sentence that absolutely reduce it down to its basic meaning.

They communicate the essence of what we are saying.

These words require more time more emphasis, more vocal importance, if they are to resonate with the audience.

But how does Oprah do this? And how do we do it?

First things first: like Oprah does, you need to be authentically communicating your message. To be really connected to and truly believe your message.

  • Change of volume: Listen how Oprah either increases or decreases volume on specific power words
  • Pitch variation: She changes the pitch on certain power words to highlight and bring importance to them—she makes them stand out
  • Articulation: She will overly articulate certain consonants in the power words to bring the word out further—lest the audience forget!
  • Change of pace: She tends to speed up and then slows down on her power words/phrases.
  • Pause: She will pause before or after key power words

Your Task

Try combinations of any of the above.

They are vital to a strong vocal delivery – that will be listened to and understood by your audience.

You can hear examples of Oprah using power words effectively throughout her speech, but skip to 8.00 mins and onwards for a series of great examples, such as:

  • “ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning
  • “even during our darkest nights
  • “when that new day finally dawns”
  • “the time when nobody has to say me too again”

5. Mastering the Skill of the “Clap Trap” is One of the Best Vocal Delivery Techniques

She doesn’t wait for the applause and she doesn’t wait for clapping to stop before she continues.  Pausing and waiting for the audience to clap is a faux pas, it removes the sense of spontaneity.  Carrying on with her message and refusing the applause implies that she is not expecting a clap, she is more focused on her message than herself.   A speaker always needs to be more committed to the message than to accepting praise. This she does very well throughout her speech

Skip to minutes 2:22, 3:22 and 7:02 to see Oprah do this.

Conclusion

Be under no illusions, Oprah would most certainly have practiced and rehearsed this speech many times to refine her vocal delivery techniques.

It would have been a shame to have a great message delivered poorly.  My message to you is that it’s not enough to have a strong message—your vocal delivery needs to support that importance of your message.

So, finally, record yourself when you’re preparing and practicing your words.

It is the only way you can hear exactly what you sound like and then you can make changes accordingly.

  • Are your showing up authentically in your speech?
  • Are you using pause and pace combined to engage your audience?
  • How are you making your power words standout and be POWERFUL?
  • Are you giving Consonants the importance they deserve?
  • Finally, don’t fall into claptrap mistakes!

Here’s Oprah’s Full Speech

About ConfidentSpeak

ConfidentSpeak is a Voice and Communications consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland.

We offer a range of voice and communications programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals. Our packages are tailored for both individual and corporate level. We work with leading Irish and international companies and executives

Contact us for details by filling out this form, or call or email us via the details below.

Telephone:- +353 1 9696056

Email: info@confidentspeak.com

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Vocal warm up before presenting

Why You Should Do a Vocal Warm-Up Before Speaking

Joe Duffy, the presenter of Ireland’s most popular radio talk show, does a daily vocal warm-up before he goes on air. You might not be speaking to hundreds of thousands of people, but if you’re talking or presenting in any way, you should do a vocal warm-up too. Here’s why.

By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak

Joe Duffy does a vocal warm-up before going on air

In an article in the Irish Times newspaper recently, Joe Duffy, presenter of Liveline, Ireland’s most listened to radio programme, mentioned that he does daily vocal warm-up exercises before every show.

(Not only that, but he admitted that he goes into the bathroom to do so!)

Why does he need a vocal warm-up, you might ask?

To prepare himself both vocally and mentally for the show ahead.

Every day he has a ritual, he says. “I go into the loo at 1.30pm to wash my face, do a few vocal exercises and say two words to myself: ‘libel’ and ‘entertainment’.

(“Entertainment” is obvious enough. “Libel” because Liveline is a live phone-in talk-show where anything can happen, and often does!)

Why does a vocal warm-up matter ahead of presenting?

When you decide to exercise, whether  a jog, or playing any sport, a warm up is always done.

It’s a good way to prepare, to improve performance, and prevent injury to yourself.   Funnily enough, the same applies when you use your voice.   We don’t think about our voice as a muscle – but it is.  We don’t think of presenting as a dynamic activity that uses many muscles – but it very much is, and these muscles need a vocal warm-up for peak performance.

A short vocal/voice warmup improves the quality of the sounds you make and helps prevent vocal injury, keeping you in good voice and making your voice production feel better.  It will also bring you right up to your best speaking voice and will energise your speaking voice

I was listening to a key note speaker recently who was opening a conference and started with a dry, croaky, crackly voice – he could have been so much better if he had done a short vocal warmup pre-presenting.

​Here is a 10-minute vocal warm-up you can incorporate into your pre-presentation preparation

 

1. Wake Up the Body

  • Shake your shoulders and release the tension.
  • Stretch out your body, pat your face, open up the chest area.
  •  Massage the Face – Jaw, shoulders, and neck.
  • Stretch out the neck, roll shoulders

2. Connect to the Breath

  • Hand on lower belly, Sigh out on breath on a ‘fffffff’ sound.
  • Allow the belly to relax and the breath to become centred.
  • Speak a sentence with the focus on your breath

3. Resonators/Articulation

  • Soft Palate stretch (breathe in & out on a ‘ka’)
  • Tongue Stretches (keep the tip of the tongue behind the bottom teeth and then stretch out your body of the tongue!)
  • Articulation on ‘puh-tuh-kuh-tah’ and ‘guh-duh-buh-duh’
  • Tongue twisters:  ‘Peter Piper’, ‘Mother Pheasant Plucker’

4. Short Sharp Sniffs

Breath up one nostril and breath out the other.  Repeat 3 times.

5. Try some gentle humming and intoning

A little like this.

6. Do a Superwoman/Superman stance for 2 minutes!

Breathe deep into your belly – have a listen to this video for guidance on superhero pose.

Conclusion

If the man with arguably Ireland’s most recognised voice practises vocal warm-up exercises, then so can you!

Our Mantra is always “It’s not about you!”

It’s about the AUDIENCE and what you can give to them today.

You’re bringing your best to this presentation so give your best.

So try out these vocal warm-up exercises for yourself and see how you get on.

Contact us (details below!) if you need any more details on any of the above.

About ConfidentSpeak

ConfidentSpeak is a Voice and Communications consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland.

We offer a range of voice and communications programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals. Our packages are tailored for both individual and corporate level. We work with leading Irish and international companies and executives

Contact us for details by filling out this form, or call or email us via the details below.

Telephone:- +353 1 9696056

Email: info@confidentspeak.com

Brene Brown an authentic speaker

With 32 Million Views Of Her TED Talk, We MUST Learn From Brene Brown About Becoming A Confident Presenter

Brene Brown is an Internet phenomenon. Her speeches have been viewed tens of millions of times on YouTube, TED and elsewhere online. But just what is it about Brene Brown that makes her talks so compelling? I want to share with you what can be learnt from her presenting style that will help you also become a confident presenter and perhaps transform how you approach your next presentation. Here we break down the key things to take away from Brene Brown’s confidence, to help you become a better speaker, presenter and communicator.

By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak

How You Can Learn from Brene Brown's Confidence

 

Firstly, who is Brene Brown?

Brene Brown is a researcher of shame, vulnerability, courage and empathy.

Like, there’s not many of those people around, right?!

Her TED talk—The Power of Vulnerabilityis one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world with over 30 million views.

She is also the author of three #1 New York Times bestsellers.

But the real reason I’ve put this blog together is because Brown is a stunningly powerful presenter. Brene Brown’s confidence on stage is a sight to behold. Here we analyse why.

Brene Brown’s Confidence is Based on Wholehearted Living and Wholehearted Presenting

One important thing to know about Brown’s teachings is that she speaks about wholehearted living.

This roughly translates to:

By accepting vulnerability in our lives we can live more meaningful, more connected, successful lives.

Her research is based on following 10 guideposts which she urges us to practice daily.

But does she practice these guideposts when she speaks to her audiences?

In short, is Brene Brown a wholehearted presenter?  

The answer is “Hell Yes!”

And you can learn so much from her if you want to connect in an authentic way with your audience.

Let’s discuss a number of her 10 guideposts in the context of her presentation approach, so that you too can bring Brene Brown’s confidence into your own presentations.

Guidepost 1: Cultivating Authenticity– Letting go of what people think

‘‘To be willing to let go of who you think you should be,  to be able to connect” Brene Brown

Brown communicates with her audience as if she’s having a chat over coffee.

She talks in an authentic, conversational easy way.  She has the courage to be herself (in true Texan fashion), to “show up authentically”, no pretense, no facade.

To adopt Brene Brown’s confidence and become a more powerful, impactful, confident presenter, we need to let go of what others might think of us—our colleagues or managers.

You need to have the courage to show up for your presentation as your true self, not trying to be something you are not—this honesty connects powerfully with any audience.

Guideposts 2 & 3: Cultivating Self-Compassion– Letting go of perfectionism, and Cultivating A Resilient Spirit– Letting go of numbing and powerlessness

Brown’s TEDx talk—“The Power of Vulnerability”—was originally going to be named something like “Variables Mitigating Self Actualising”.

Which begs the question: why the change?

Well, how often do we intellectualise our language? Speaking in conceptual language stifles audiences.

Why do we do it?

In truth, we do it to protect ourselves, to appear like we are worthy and perfect. We put “armour” on—complex language, or a data dump on a PowerPoint slide—to protect ourselves from being vulnerable.

We strip the humanness from our presentations, and this results in numbing and stifling both presenter and audience.  

By allowing self-compassion (as Brene does in her talks) we allow ourselves the permission to be imperfect in our presenting.  This allows us to show vulnerability, to show emotion when we speak, whether that’s fear, anger or asking for help if we need it. 

By allowing this self-compassion, a presenter becomes more resilient as a result.  And ultimately creates a more honest, authentic, stronger relationship with the audience.   

Guideposts 4 & 5:  Cultivating Gratitude and Joy—Letting go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark, and Cultivating Meaningful Work—Letting go of Self-Doubt

Brown refers to scarcity as a mindset of “never enough, never perfect enough, never relevant enough…” 

Many presenters live in constant scarcity, or what some people might recognise as “imposter syndrome”.

Brown admits to working daily to overcome her scarcity self-talk and to conquer her “imposter syndrome”.

Moving from “I am not worthy” to I am worthy and enough. In the context of becoming a confident presenter, we need to let go of our scarcity self-talk.  This is a huge factor to overcoming fear/lack of confidence when presenting.

Guidepost 6: Cultivating Creativity – “Stories are just data with a soul”

One of the most striking things about Brown is the skill with which she weaves years of research with her personal, vulnerable, honest stories—both funny and painful.  

 I just love the quote: “Stories are just data with a soul.”

The vulnerability in her stories, metaphors and analogies resonate very strongly with her audience.  

Stories help audiences to remember important points and they also build that important empathy with listeners.

In order to connect with audiences, there needs to be a balance of Evidence-Based-Content (Head content) mixed with emotive content (Heart content). Brown achieves this balance perfectly.  This results in a fully engaged audience when presenting.

Throwing data coldly at audiences will numb them, and yet we see this all the time.

So I strongly encourage you on your journey be becoming a confident presenter that you close your laptop, get pen and paper out or go for a walk.

Get creative, brave, and playful with your presentation content. This is powerful and I would say mandatory to fully engage your audiences.

Guidepost 8:  Cultivating Calm and Stillness

This one is, I believe, absolutely essential to becoming a confident presenter.

Listen to Brene Brown speak (I’ve included the videos at the bottom).

There is no rush, no anxiety, no sense of urgency. She pauses, to think and reflect.

Now this is confident presenting.

She’s not distracted with whatever content is coming next. She’s not worried about “getting through” her content. She remains present with what she is speaking about.

Of course she has researched and prepared her talk.

But she is also a big believer in the power of meditation and the importance of breathing, and we experience this as she speaks.  Working to understand the role breath plays is vital to help connect with both our content and our audience.

Guidepost 10: Cultivating Laughter, Play, Intuition, Trust – Letting go Being Cool and “Always in Control”

Brown has fun in her presentations, and as a result the audience has fun.

She laughs at her stories, she laughs at herself!

Whilst her content is grounded in strong evidence, she allows herself not to take herself too seriously.

She doesn’t rely heavily on a script or slides, and she reacts to her audience’s reactions throughout.  She “lets go of total control and certainty” – not totally but just enough!

Conclusion: How to Gain Confidence from Wholehearted Presenting

Implementing all of this in your own talks, speeches and presentations is easier said than done, of course, but as we’ve seen from Brown, weaving personal stories through your talks certainly makes it easier.  

To reach the level of confidence embodied by Brene Brown requires preparation, practice and BRAVERY, but when achieved it will totally captivate an audience.

All 10 of Brene Brown’s guideposts encourage us to show vulnerability in some way.

As a presenter in a corporate context, this requires immense bravery.  This bravery will ultimately give you a deep sense of connection with both your message and with your audience.

I strongly encourage you to explore wholehearted presenting if you want to become a confident presenter.

It really does work.

Watch Brene Brown’s confidence at first hand in her two most lauded TED talks below – “The Power of Vulnerability”, and “Listening to Shame”

About ConfidentSpeak

ConfidentSpeak is a Voice and Communications consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland.

We offer a range of voice and communications programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals. Our packages are tailored for both individual and corporate level. We work with leading Irish and international companies and executives

Contact us for details by filling out this form, or call or email us via the details below.

Telephone:- +353 1 9696056

Email: info@confidentspeak.com

The Real King's Speech Techniques for Breathing and Speaking

The Real King’s Speech Techniques: What You Can Learn About Breath and Speaking

The movie The King’s Speech won so many awards and so many admirers when it arrived in cinemas. But what can you learn about speaking from the real King’s Speech techniques? Read on for more.

By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak

The Real King's Speech techniques for breathing and speaking

A few years back I watched a documentary, which looked at the true story behind one of my favourite movies, The King’s Speech.

Winner of a host of awards, the critically acclaimed The King’s Speech highlights the inspiring story of Prince Albert (later to become King George VI) struggle to overcome his crippling stammer.

Prince Albert suffered with a nervous stammer from childhood and prior to his succession to the throne, his wife Elizabeth, sought the help of Lionel Logue, an Australian Speech Therapist practicing in London.

Albert was at first rather reluctant, but he began seeing Logue and partaking in his then perceived, unorthodox training, and his speech, gradually, improved.

Logue and the Prince (and later King) maintained a strong bond and Logue was present in the room to provide support for the King’s important wartime address to the British people in September 1939.

 

I remember that it stuck me at the time (and this was very evident from the documentary I watched) how vital was the importance of correct breathing in helping “Bertie” to overcome his stammer.

When he had control of his stammer he was described as having gravitas, with a slow paced, clear and articulate style.

As a voice coach, the importance of breathing is a constant focus of my training in helping to establish composure and confidence.

Five Important Points About Breath from the Real King’s Speech Techniques:

1. Awareness: Breath = Voice, so make sure that you are aware of your breathing.

2. Support: Breath is your key support for the voice.

3. Warm up: Always warm up first and make sure you are breathing deeply to support the sound. (Read this article on warming up your voice for every talk, speech or presentation.)

4. Breathe correctly: Breathe properly and into the centre of your body, and not your chest. (Read here for more on breathing properly)

5. Take a moment: Take the time to relax the body, and to concentrate on breathing.

Read More About the Importance of Breathing for Great Communications

Read our in-depth blog on the importance of breathing correctly for great public speaking here.

About ConfidentSpeak

ConfidentSpeak is a Voice and Communications consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland.

We offer a range of voice and communications programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals. Our packages are tailored for both individual and corporate level. We work with leading Irish and international companies and executives

Contact us for details by filling out this form, or call or email us via the details below.

Telephone:- +353 1 9696056

Email: info@confidentspeak.com

King George’s speech from September 3rd 1939

Why not take a moment to listen to Bertie himself in action.

Sales Presentation Techniques to Win a 6-Figure Contract

Avoiding the Safe Seat to the “No Blame” Game: Eight Sales Presentation Techniques to Win That 6-Figure Contract

For over a decade in this business I have seen and heard so many sales presentations. I’ve seen good sales presentations, I’ve seen bad sales presentations. And yes, I’ve seen downright ugly sales presentations. So what are good sales presentation techniques? The kind of sales presentation techniques that can win that six-figure contract? Here are eight sales presentation habits to identify and avoid—at all costs!

By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak

Sales Presentation Techniques to Win a 6-Figure Contract

In the years since I founded ConfidentSpeak, I’ve worked with so many sales executives on their presentations, vocal skills and executive presence. I’ve seen at first hand what makes for a successful sales presentation—and I want to share with you today some of the presenting habits which can seriously impact your confidence, the success of your sales presentations, and ultimately the bottom line in your businesses.

If you  are a CEO, a sales director or a sales manager with responsibility for a team, I hope that the eight sales presentation techniques below will help you to identify whether these habits are commonplace within your teams.

Because if your team has any or all of these bad habits, they are most certainly having a detrimental effect on sales figures.

1. Stop Thinking About Yourself

I’ve seen this happen so many times. So often, in fact, that it deserves to be Number 1 in this list.

Many executives might say they are “focused on their customer”, but what happens in reality?

In reality, they might know their customer’s name and job title, but have not given a single thought to them apart that. And this is recipe for a certain letdown.

Without careful and strategic consideration for your audience and without tailoring your message to their requirements—remember here, your audience is your prospective decision maker—you are losing so much credibility.

And because of that, you are almost certain to lose out to your competitor for that prized contract.

Your audience is more than just a title, you need to understand them deeply.

You must keep your audience in mind all the time. You must tailor your message to meet their requirements, not yours.

Every audience you present to has different wants, wishes and challenges – it’s your job to find out as much as you can about your audience and tailor your message to meet their world.

Yes, it takes time but will be worthwhile when your audience feels valued and understood. Then they will feel positive towards listening—and ultimately opening the “chequebook”.

Three-Word Takeaway: Get Outside Yourself

2. Winging It

Following on from the point above, so often I hear sales executives saying they have no time to prepare for sales presentations or meetings, or that they feel they don’t need to prepare.

They say they have their “tried and tested” presentation. So they’ll just “wing it”.

It makes me tear my hair out! Even if you are an experienced presenter, this is not setting you up for success.

You need to remember that ultimately, you do not decide how good your sales presentation actually is or how good you are as a presenter; your audience (not you) is always the decision maker.

Even more importantly, they also get decide how they spend their money.

You need to get out of the habit of believing that “winging it” is enough.

If you want a greater level of success you need to realise that planning is vital. Yes, this requires thought and time, no question about that and this needs to be factored into your day/week.

There are a number of planning tools and techniques you can use to be able to plan very efficiently and reap the rewards. (Get in touch with us for more on planning tools and techniques to prepare better for your sales presentations.)

Three-Word Takeaway: No Winging It

3. Social Bore, Business Setting

How often do you start your presentation with some variation of this.

“Here’s our company, here’s our employee numbers, here are our services. Oh, here are our clients too. And here’s blah blah, blah…”

If you do just one thing today, make a commitment to yourself to notice when you’re being self-centred and to STOP right now!

Think about the last time you met someone out socially and they “rattled on and on” about their holiday, their family, their car or their job, and never once stopped to ask your opinion or about your life.

How did that make you feel?

Not great I’m guessing? You might even go so far as avoiding that person now.

Now think of that in a business context. If you want to build a relationship with a prospective client, do your research and find out about them before you launch into your message.

Then bring their world into your message.

Starting getting curious about your audience to understand their needs.

Three-Word Takeaway: Don’t Do Boring

4. Delivering 30-Minute Sales Presentations

Think about this for a moment.

What is your attention span when you sit in an audience?

How quickly do you get distracted? Of course it depends on the situation, but even if you’re being regaled with a Verdi operetta, it’s not uncommon that in any given moment of downtime you’ll feel a little twitchy and do something like checking your watch or your phone, right?

I have news for you.

Your audience is no different.

Equally they have a short attention span, so make sure you respect their time. To put it a different way, respect their attention span.

If you cannot communicate your sales presentation in 10 minutes (or under) in a concise, audience-focused and memorable way, then you probably are going to struggle getting your audience to make that decision you so badly require.

So share your short presentation and then open the meeting to a focussed discussion.

Three-Word Takeaway: Ten Minutes (Tops!)

5. Unleashing the Jargon

Tell me when you start groaning.

“It is what it is.”

“Do more with less.”

“Take it to the next level.”

“Low-hanging fruit.”

“Let’s circle back.”

“Think outside the box.”

There are lots more where they came from. If you’re being really uncharitable, you could try a game of Cliché Bingo next time you hear a sales pitch.

I hear it so often—generic, clichéd, jargon-filled content that is simply meaningless to the audience.

There is absolutely nothing more exhausting for any audience.  Yes, you might feel comfortable with this language and it can be your “go-to content” when you’re under pressure, but unfortunately for your business it is much more than likely to be raising the hackles of the audience.

So bear this four-step process in mind.

  1. Make life as easy as possible for the audience
  2. Strip back all banal clichés or complex corporate lingo
  3. Speak in simple short sentences
  4. Use real examples and stories to illustrate your points

Another four-step checklist. This time, four questions you should always ask yourself before any presentation:

  1. Is this content meaningful and understandable to the audience?
  2. Is this content relevant to the audience?
  3. Is this content helping the audience make a decision?
  4. Is this content relevant in helping me achieve my goal?

If you answer “No” to any of those four, you have to be ruthless. Delete!

Three-Word Takeaway: Watch Your Language

6. Sitting Down (Also Known As: Taking the Easy Option)

I am often told by sales executives I work with that they tend to sit down, open the laptop and “talk through the slides”.

Two things about this approach.

  1. It is the safe and easy option
  2. It is totally forgettable

Even that phrase—”Talk through the slides”—gives me the shivers.

I say, set yourself up for success.

Plan to stand up and fully own and inhabit your presentation.

If there are more than 3-4 people in your audience you will have a much greater impact in a room.

Yes, it’s true that sometimes you will be on a client’s site and there may be physical limitations. But be brave and take control.

Do whatever you need to investigate the room setup and technology in advance. It requires a quick call ahead of time,  but it will send a clear message to your prospective client that you are focused on their meeting and giving them your full commitment.

Standing up does not mean you are formal. If you maintain a conversational style, you will be more memorable and professional.

Three-Word Takeaway: Stand and Deliver

7. Thinking Rehearsal is for Rookies

When we explain to our sales clients the importance of rehearsal, they look at us like we are crazy. Often they say “you don’t understand how busy we are” ! Wrong, we understand very well, we work with hundred of sales executives yearly.  We also know how decisions are made by your clients and we know what a polished, confident presenter can achieve.    So, imagine taking 30 minutes over the course of a few days, practicing your message aloud (not in your head pressing the slideshow button).  This rehearsal will ensure you are confident, concise and polished – now that is priceless.

“Rehearse your message aloud at least three times – even if it’s in the car on the way to the meeting”

Three-Word Takeaway: Practice Makes Perfect

8. Playing the Blame Game

When we don’t secure the contract or business after a meeting or sales presentation, there are of course many reasons, but don’t jump to conclusions and blame (1) a biased member in the audience, (2) a product, (3) competitor advantage, (4) some other external factor.  You must always ask yourself what you could have done differently, it is vital to do a debrief and self reflect:

Did you consider the client’s needs/challenges and create a compelling message for them?

Did you prepare relevant, tailored and memorable content for your audience?

Did you plan effectively and rehearse ahead of the meeting?

Did you have slides that were relevant to your client?

If you are answering “no” to any of these, then you need to re-assess, get feedback from the client or your colleagues and take ownership of your sales presentations.  If you do you will have a much greater chance of securing that 6 figure contract.

Three-Word Takeaway: No More Blame

Conclusion

There you have it.

Eight things to bring into your sales presentation techniques to bring you so much closer to six-figure contracts.

Here’s a quick recap.

  1. Get Outside Yourself
  2. No Winging It
  3. Don’t Do Boring
  4. Ten Minutes (Tops!)
  5. Watch Your Language
  6. Stand and Deliver
  7. Practice Makes Perfect
  8. No More Blame

Finally, remember this.

Presentation skills are a muscle.

It responds to constant work. So NEVER stop developing your presentation muscle.

If you are an experienced sales presenter and have had great success, well done to you!

If, on the other hand, you want to stand out among today’s busy decision makers by presenting effectively to secure that contract, know that this is a skill that can be learned and practised.

At ConfidentSpeak we teach you how to use these skills and techniques to get the results you want, and we have designed a dedicated “Sales Communication Bootcamp” especially for Sales Executives.

Find out more about our Sales Communication Bootcamp here

About ConfidentSpeak

ConfidentSpeak is a Voice and Communications consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland.

We offer a range of voice and communications programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals. Our packages are tailored for both individual and corporate level. We work with leading Irish and international companies and executives

Contact us for details by filling out this form, or call or email us via the details below.

Telephone:- +353 1 9696056

Email: info@confidentspeak.com

Desert Island Discs

Six Reasons Desert Island Discs Is A Masterclass In Great Communication

Communication masterclassWant to be educated, inspired, humbled and entertained—all while listening to great music? The BBC radio series Desert Island Discs is simply great listening. It is also fruitful learning ground for anyone keen in the art and science of exceptional communication.

By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak

 

I tend to be in my car a lot.

When I am, there is nothing, in my opinion, better than downloading a few podcasts of Desert Island Discs to engage me for an hour. (I have to confess, recently it’s even replacing my bed time reading!)

What makes Desert Island Discs so good?

Below are three reasons I think it’s a perfect place to study perfect communication skills—and be entertained while you’re doing so!—and three examples of phenomenal Desert Island Discs interviews.

Three Reasons Desert Island Discs is Such a Good Study Guide for Top-Class Communication

 

1. The Quality of the Presentation and Communication

I’m in the communications business, and Desert Island Discs stands out because it boasts both a great presenter (currently Kirsty Young) and many, many fantastic guests who virtually always prove themselves to be exceptional communicators.

I’ve just listened to the interview with Dame Judi Dench—I’ve laughed, cried and been awestruck all in 35 minutes!

2. Desert Island Discs is a Wonderful Escape

The premise of the programme is a well known person is “cast away to desert island”.  They are required to choose eight discs to bring with them (they also bring with them the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare, but that’s another story).

It’s been airing for over 75 years (they even referred to gramophones in the early days of broadcast) and we hear from a diverse spectrum of “castaways”—actors, musicians, artists, politicians, sports people,  business people and everyone in between.

3. It is a Masterclass in Interviewing Skills

Kirsty Young is the current presenter of the show and she’s a great communicator in her own right.

She gives a masterclass in interviewing—excellent listening skills, empathy and interest.

Her vocal delivery is just wonderful, so pure, and for this alone it’s worth listening to the show. Her clarity, calm and resonant quality, all whilst retaining her Scottish accent.  She is Britain’s favourite female radio voice, after all.

Young is genuinely interested in every “castaway” and she wants to get the very best from the interview.

She is also brave,  in that she delves into peoples lives to ask the often difficult questions.

Three of the Best Desert Island Discs Interviews

1. Stephen Fry

2. Ed Sheeran

3. John Cleese

Still Want More Desert Island Discs?

Here is the link to the celebration of 75 years of Desert Island Discs.

It takes us through 75 years of history, politics, business, showbiz and sport. It’s wonderful to hear the different accents, the voices, music.

Now sit back, have a listen, and enjoy. (And also learn and put what you into practice, because as we like to say, presentation skills are a muscle that benefit from constant work.)

About ConfidentSpeak

ConfidentSpeak is a Voice and Communications consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland.

We offer a range of voice and communications programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals. Our packages are tailored for both individual and corporate level. We work with leading Irish and international companies and executives

Contact us for details by filling out this form, or call or email us via the details below.

Telephone:- +353 1 9696056

Email: info@confidentspeak.com