Did you know that one of the least used, but most effective, strategies when it comes to negotiations of any kind … is silence. Why you might ask, well because silence gives you a number of advantages.
1. Learn From The Experts
What do the best negotiators generally have in common? They will always make their opponents wait for an answer.
When we are nervous or eager we have a tendency to jump in right after the other person has spoken. And the result? It looks like we’re nervous, insecure, or even worse, that we haven’t been listening.
2. A Well-Placed Silence Can Build Relationships
If you’re silent and wait, it conveys the impression that you are listening and thinking about what the other person has said. And, of course, it also sends a signal that you are weighing your answer carefully.
3. Silence Buys You Time
Silence buys you the time to prepare a response. The appearance of thinking, also buys you a few seconds to think.
Being chatty in negotiating is not very powerful, and it usually doesn’t achieve the desired result but the art of creative silence takes practice. Sometimes it takes concentration to simply do nothing.
Try practicing getting used to silence when you’re not under pressure.
These three reasons are why silence is one of the best negotiating tactics you can learn.
What do you think are great negotiation tactics?
Leave a comment below!
For more useful tips and ideas check out our other blogs here or contact us to see how we can help you to transform your voice and your communications.
Whilst you are here you might enjoy some of these:
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Have you ever overslept, and rushed into a meeting or a webinar, or maybe it was a last minute conference call; or phone call from your boss ? Even if you are lucky enough to be one of those people who snap into alert mode as soon you wake up – I wish I was one of those people!! – we’ve all had moments where our voice seems to fail to catch up with our brain. It’s sometimes referred to as our ‘Bed Voice’
You know what I mean, that flat, heavy, sluggish voice we have first thing!
A client I worked with, on one of our 121 programmes, had to speak regularly on early morning radio. I always remember her being very conscious of her “bed voice”, and was keen to know how to shake it off.
So, in a nutshell, here is how you do it;
Step 1 – Quench that thirst!
One of the primary reasons for this “bed voice” is simply down to the fact that you (and your voice) are dehydrated after sleep – hence muscles work a little slower and a little more sluggishly. Drink a glass of water, drinking coffee (although it may be more tempting) will do little to help your voice.
Step 2 – Good Vibrations
Place your hands on your head – and hum a gentle ‘mmmm’ sound. Put the focus of the hum into the top of your head until you feel vibrations in your head. Repeat a few times.
Step 3 – Get humming
Gently hum up and down your pitch range. So just like the scales on a piano, start on your lowest note and gently and slowly hum/glide your way up to the highest note you can go (without pushing or forcing) Repeat a few times.
Step 4 – Luscious Lips
Place your finger tips on your lips (palm faced in) and again gently hum a ‘mmmm’ sound. Feel vibrations, or a tingly sensation on your lips and the surrounding area. Repeat a few times, and feel your bed voice start to disappear.
Step 5 – Massage
Give your entire face a massage – your cheeks, lips, forehead, nasal area. In other words awaken your face, stretch your mouth and have a good yawn!
Check out this great talk from Julian Treasure on how to warm up your voice
So remember these five tips next time you need to get rid of your bed voice and enjoy the work out!
For more useful tips and ideas check out our other blogs here or contact us to see how we can help you to transform your voice and your communications.
Whilst you are here you might enjoy some of these:
https://www.confidentspeak.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/image-from-rawpixel-id-427737-jpeg.jpg8011200adopt15https://www.confidentspeak.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/logo.pngadopt152019-10-11 11:47:032019-10-11 12:14:445 Steps To Get Rid Of That Dreaded "Bed Voice"
https://www.confidentspeak.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Cumberbatch.jpg553726adopt15https://www.confidentspeak.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/logo.pngadopt152019-09-02 16:17:192020-02-10 21:46:11Improve Your Public Speaking Skills With Lessons From Great Actors
Have you ever sat there before a presentation and felt so nervous that your stomach is like a washing machine, and you wish the fire alarm would go off so you don’t have to open your mouth? Well you are not alone. Presentation nerves affect almost everyone who has ever stood up to give a speech […]
https://www.confidentspeak.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Excitment.jpg21911460adopt15https://www.confidentspeak.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/logo.pngadopt152018-11-26 10:33:282019-03-12 12:22:18Presentation Nerves Or Excitement In Camouflage? 5 Ways To Use Nerves To Your Advantage
We’ve all felt that surge of panic or anxiety when standing up in front of a group of people, about to talk. Your body is smart, it reacts to stress, panic, or fear and tells you that something is way out of your normal, daily realm of existence. So how do we turn this around so that what the audience see is a composed presenter oozing physical presence;
‘Yikes, I am not in Kansas anymore’
Public speaking – like physical training and sport – requires training and practice; You need to put in the time if you want to take advantage of those speaking opportunities when they come up and really knock it out of the park so you get the result you want.
So where to start? The answer lies in our Physical Presence
Our physical presence is one big piece of the presentation skills puzzle. Combined with vocal presence, it helps establish an emotional connection with the audience along with the words we say. In this, our first of two Amy Cuddy TED Talks, Amy speaks about the impact our body language has on our chances for success.
Listen To Your Gut
We’ve all been guided by our ‘gut instinct’ at some point and with good reason. Our bodies are intricately and acutely sensitive to how we react to the outside world. The brain and gut are connected by an extensive network of Neurons and a highway of chemicals and hormones that constantly provide feedback.
Most of the time we make decisions from our brain, our intellect, and forget about what the ‘other brain’- our gut, is telling us. Have you ever felt ‘butterflies’ in your stomach? The ones you might feel when you’re in the first stages of love or attraction? We feel the same butterflies when we’re nervous of a talk we’re about to give. So the next time you’re stuck when you’re preparing a presentation, ask yourself, ‘What do I really want to talk about? What is my gut saying?’.
What Do You Want Them To Feel?
The impact of non-verbal messages are much stronger than words because the audience remembers them more and for longer. So, ask yourself what you’ve seen recently that made a speaker memorable? Was it the words they said or how they made you feel? Remember, what you feel up there as a presenter is what the audience gets. It’s like a mirror: What you feel, they feel. If you want the audience to feel excited, then find a way to manifest that in your own body. If it’s happy, then embody happiness.
Fake It Till You Become It
We’ve all heard the old adage ‘Fake it till you make it’, but it’s actually ‘Fake it till you become it’. Amy Cuddy did another TED Talk about physical indicators and gives scientific evidence supporting the theory that what we do physically effects how we feel. For example, smiling instantly makes us feel better. Even if it’s a fake smile manufactured by holding a pen between our teeth, we still get a release of positive energy. On the other side, slouching can make us feel defeated or depressed. Standing in a grounded, aligned posture with shoulders relaxed, feet hip width apart, and chest open elicits feelings of confidence and positivity and you will immediately exude physical presence
See It And Feel It
Michael Phelps won a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics because he was able to complete his heat without being able to see. His goggles filled up with water and he couldn’t see where he was going but because he had visualised that race over and over beforehand, he knew every stroke before he even got into the pool. This helped him be prepared for anything and when he couldn’t see, he didn’t panic.
In your preparation for a speech or presentation, sit down and breathe, close your eyes and see yourself giving your presentation See the room, feel where you’re going to move and when. See yourself smiling, see the audience. Go through every move so that when you actually present or go into the meeting, the situation is already familiar.
Prepare For Your Worst Case Scenario
This is a great one for dealing with nerves as well. Think of your worst case scenario, ie. losing your place or not remembering what comes next. Imagine it happening, and list the things you can do to deal with that situation. This way, if you feel prepared and can deal with the worst thing that could happen, then you be ready to handle anything else that comes along as well. Remember, it’s okay to make a mistake! It won’t effect your physical presence, in fact audiences are known to respond well to vulnerability. It makes you seem more human and helps them to connect with you.
Don’t wait until you step into the room for that high stakes meeting to prepare and put skills and techniques into place. Implement small changes beforehand and as you practice and prepare and you’ll reap the benefits tenfold. You’ll establish physical presence from the offset, be more able to connect with your audience, share your ideas, and get the results you want.
“ConfidentSpeak is a Voice and Communications consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland. We have worked with leading Irish and international companies and executives. Contact us for details on our range of corporate/private voice and communications programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals.”
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When I think back to my college days and my first presentations I remember one tutor very clearly and to this day he is my public speaking guru, he’s my ‘Tony Robbins’! If it weren’t for Mr. Rutland, I wouldn’t have got the wake-up call I needed to get the focus of my presentation where it belonged: Off me and on to my audience. I want to share the strategies for great presentations which I learnt from the wonderful Mr Rutland with you.
Here’s the scenario:
I had to give a final presentation in one of my college courses. I was acting and performing regularly so I figured I had a pretty good shot of dazzling my unprepossessing tutor.
Mr. Rutland patiently sat through my 15 minute presentation. There were a lot of slick slides my friends had helped me with. I had some funny jokes, flashy body and hand movements, and a few sarcastic comments, all the bells and whistles!
When I finished, I was beaming, waiting for my tutor to tell me how brilliant I was. He smiled, nodded, and then he said the words that would stay with me until today,
‘Stop trying to be interesting to the audience. Be interested in the audience’
How could I have gotten it so wrong? Wasn’t I entertaining, polished, and prepared? Didn’t I do all the homework ?
The answer is yes to all those, however I was missing
One fundamental truth that drives all the best speakers, speeches, and presentations: It’s not about you. It’s always about the audience.
So here are a few strategies for great presentations to help you to take your attention off yourself and focus it instead, on the audience during your next presentation or keynote.
Put yourself in your audience’s shoes
You need to ask the question your audience is asking themselves, ‘What’s in it for me?’. Audiences consider their time important so they want to know it’s going to be well spent listening to you. They want a reason to listen. This is probably one of the most important strategies for great presentations, so PLEASE give it time and thought. You have to give them that reason in the first 30 seconds or you’ll lose them. Here’s where a strong ‘Hook’ comes in; have a strong hook right at the start and give them what they want – you tell them exactly why they should listen.
Great vocal delivery can make or break a presentation
Audiences are always looking for a reason to tune you out so don’t give them one. By using vocal techniques and skills like pace, pause, pitch, volume, and articulation you can change up the audio and keep their ears interested. These are the pallet of colours and textures you have to create great vocal delivery and they work, so it’s worth learning, practicing, and using them.
Make eye contact – make them the centre of your universe
Audience’s love to feel like they’re the center of attention so show them that they are the centre of your universe for those minutes by making eye contact. By using eye contact, open body posture, or hand gestures you can make an emotional connection with your audience that will keep them listening.
This TEDTalk from Daniel Levitin is an example of good eye contact
Never underestimate the power of a smile
Smiling makes you feel good and tells your audience you are happy to be there. It has to be more than just words so face them, connect with them, and show them through your delivery how important they are.
What do they know and what do they feel?
When you begin to map out your presentation (and you should do this before you even look at Powerpoint) ask yourself these questions:
(1) What does your audience know before you present and what do they feel?
(2)What do you want them to know and want them to feel afterwards?
This will help form the framework for a presentation that engages them.
This, along with a good, strong hook, will create the bones of a presentation that puts your audience’s needs first.
Remember the word GENEROSITY
When you get nervous and feel that urge to start ‘performing’ or even worse run away, just remind yourself of one thing:
“it’s not about you. It’s all about the audience. Whew!”
Take the pressure off yourself. How generous can you be with the information you have to give? How can you be of service to your audience in that moment? Take the focus off you and turn it instead, on to what you can do for your audience.
Audiences don’t want to do any work, they want you to take them by the hand and show them how important they are and all the great stuff they’re going to get out of your presentation. They want to feel good after you leave the stage. They want to get the sense that their time was well spent.
So remember, take the spotlight off yourself and turn it on the most important people in the room: Your audience. Through great delivery, give them a reason to listen: Look and sound confident and engaged, get into your audience’s mindset and do your homework on who they are and what their challenges might be, and above all be generous. If you remember it’s always about the audience, you’re halfway there to a knock out delivery that will get you the results you want and keep everyone wanting to hear just a little bit more.
Confident Speak is a Presentation, Voice and Communications consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland. We have worked with leading Irish and international companies and executives.
Contact us for details on how we can help you build great strategies for presentations.
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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
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?!
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.
https://www.confidentspeak.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Brene-Brown-an-authentic-speaker.jpg402525adopt15https://www.confidentspeak.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/logo.pngadopt152017-12-04 11:48:152020-02-11 15:36:18With 32 Million Views Of Her TED Talk, We MUST Learn From Brene Brown About Becoming A Confident Presenter
When it comes to business presentations, consider this. When you recall a great presentation you experienced, do you recall how great the bullet points were? Or how those technically challenging and crowded slides really did it for you? Unlikely, right? You’re much more likely to remember great storytelling. Here is how to start a presentation to ensure your audience is with you every step of the way.
Let’s face it.
Business presentations tend to strike dread in the hearts of most people, and it’s not just for those in the audience. It’s often the case for the presenter, too.
On either side we’re fearful of being bored and being boring.
For the presenter, part of alleviating those fears is making sure we sound interesting and look interested in what we’re talking about. (That’s where a good executive presence coach comes in.)
But body language and a resonant, clear voice isn’t the be-all and end-all of presenting.
Think for a moment.
What do people actually like listening to?
The answer is, they like listening to a good story.
It’s pretty simple. All of us love stories.
We are programmed at a deep level from childhood to love hearing stories about other people’s experiences, and the more we can bring great storytelling into our business presentations and communications, the more effective we will be.
1. How to Start a Presentation: The Opening Story
For your business presentation, you need to hook ’em from the get-go!
Stories are powerful because they hold people’s attention. Like the stories Benjamin Zander or Joe Landolina use to begin their speeches, they occur in a specific time and place and therefore hold our attention and feed our imaginations.
Stories ask us to imagine being in that time and place with the speaker.
Stories bring drama, mystery, tension, or surprise.
So, how do you begin?
Start by setting the stage and introduce the situation, then there’s a problem that arises that needs to be solved, and then the resolution to the problem. A beginning, a middle, and an end.
Every story has these and so, too, does every good presentation or speech.
Take a minute to watch these two clips.
2. How to Start a Presentation: Paint The Picture
When you’re thinking about how to start a presentation, remember this: audiences love to identify with the speakers.
We trust what we know and we trust what is familiar to us, so laying out the landscape at the beginning with a statement or fact that we can all relate to helps to create an instant rapport with the audience.
The more the audience can use their imagination and see the story, the more they invest in what you’re talking about, so give them a bit of detail to set the stage. Use statements we can all identify with.
Two quick examples:
We all know what it’s like to be rushing because we’re late…
It’s always a push in the 11th hour of a deadline…
3. How to Start a Presentation: Your Mission Is…
The picture that the speaker paints could also be, for instance, a problem.
Such as: “If we don’t diversify in our social media strategies, this company is going to fail in 2 years.”
That’s a powerful picture to paint and grabs people right away.
This great storytelling technique immediately creates credibility because it shows you’re familiar with the issues.
It also creates anxiety, and therefore emotional and intellectual appeal.
Because now that we’ve heard the bad news, we automatically start searching for solutions.
Next, now that you’ve hooked your audience, here’s how to keep going in a winning vein!
4. Show Vulnerability
Never underestimate the power of personal identification.
There’s something satisfyingly voyeuristic about hearing other people’s tales of woe, embarrassment, or adventure.
When we reveal something personal about ourselves (within reason, of course, we don’t want to be baring our souls!), we become vulnerable and open to our audience and their judgements.
This is an invitation for them to think, ‘Oh, man, that happened to me, too!’
And in that moment we all become human together. And it is our humanness that ultimately keeps us interested.
The speaker could be Barack Obama but when he’s talking about how he grew up, the neighbourhood he lived in, and his parents’ struggles, even though he was President of The United States and his status is much higher than ours, we can all still relate to those details.
5. Unleash Your Creativity
Above all, be open to being creative and thinking outside the box.
John Bohannon is a science writer who uses dance instead of PowerPoint to illustrate new laser and molecular technology ideas.
Not only does this create compelling and captivating viewing but it simplifies complex concepts, tells a visual story, and is irresistibly memorable.
We won’t all be getting a dance company up on stage with us to illustrate our story but it just shows what you can do when you let yourself be inspired and use your imagination.
Have a look:
6. Give the presentation that YOU want to experience
Ask yourself what kind of presentation would hold YOUR attention and then map out your story, include personal anecdotes, and allow yourself to be moved by the power and logic of the story you’re telling.
Tell yourself this, because it’s true.
You’re in a room full of human beings all of whom have the same insecurities, challenges, and desires that we all have.
So grab them, keep them, and then bring it home.
Finally, you’ve done everything right. Now you need to finish!
7. How to Finish a Presentation: The Closing Remarks
If you’ve done all that, you’ll have hooked them, introduced tension, given them something to relate to.
Before you finish, though, it’s time to give them a bit of release.
When you’re wrapping things up at the end of a talk, remind the audience of the problems they face, and then give them some solutions.
You can also suggest actions to take to move towards solutions or how to think differently to solve their problems.
But above all, make sure you’ve told given them some great storytelling. You, and they, will be glad you did.
There you have it. Seven tips to delivering the perfect business presentation.
For a quick recap:
Start by setting the stage and introducing the situation
Lay out the landscape with a statement or fact everyone can relate to
Outline one possible solution (which you’ll go through in the key points of your talk)
Be your vulnerable self (because everyone before you has the same insecurities)
Allow your imagination to run loose
Think about the presentation that would capture YOUR attention
Close with a quick recap (a bit like I’m doing right here!)
ConfidentSpeak is a Voice and Communications consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland.
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Here I discuss the power of pause in public speaking, and outline why a genuine, honest pause is so powerful for your presentations.
By Olivia MacDonnell, Confident Speak
So, I could share with you the different techniques and theories in relation to “pause” in public speaking to give your speaking and presenting a sense of performance.
There are many clever pause devices, and some, when used well, are hugely effective.
But I won’t share those just yet.
Very often these “pause” devices complicate and confuse. Today, I want to bring the “power of pause” right back to its core, right back to basics. I want to share with you the value of a genuine, honest pause and its importance for both you and your audience.
What is an Effective Pause in Public Speaking?
First, let’s define what a true, effective speaking pause really is.
Are all pauses in public speaking effective?
The answer is no!
When a presenter is truly connected to their message, truly present with what they are saying, they will pause naturally. A pause always needs to serve the purpose of authentic communication.
The pause serves the presenter if they have a strong intention to communicate something to the audience in an honest way.
To paraphrase Patsy Rodenburg, an effective pause is one that is “full with breath and has your attention on what you are communicating”.
Ineffective pause in public speaking occurs when we pause expecting a response or approval from our listeners. For example, when we pause to wait for a clap, wait for laughter, when we pause as if to say: “Look how dramatic I am!”
Listen to any political speech and you will hear them.
Max Atkinson has written a brilliant, forensic book Our Masters Voices, for the nerds out there (me included!) who like to explore the language, body language and delivery devices of well-known orators.
He dissects these ineffective (needy) pauses brilliantly along with other very cool observations.
A Pause To Breathe (Or “Come up for air!”)
We discuss breath a lot at ConfidentSpeak. What you need to understand is that the breath you take into your body (when you inhale) is the fuel for voice.
If you want to have a strong, resonant, commanding voice then you need to understand the role of breath.
If breath fuels your voice, then you need time to take that breath, and what’s more, you need time to breathe deeply.
To have this breath, you need to pause in order to refuel your body. If you are not pausing and simply taking quick “top-up” breaths, the truth is that you simply will not have a strong voice. You might be heard, but your voice will lack power and control.
This “pause to breathe” is vital to enable deep breathing, and also hugely important to control nerves and composure.
A mantra I always tell my clients is: “Give yourself time to pause and breathe because it gives you the fuel to speak.”
A Pause for the Audience (Or “Give them a break!”)
When we truly want the audience to digest and remember what we are saying and if we as presenters are honestly committed to our message, then a pause is essential.
If you “plough on” through your content, then you’re not respecting your audience.
You’re not giving them the time to think and feel about what has just been communicated. There is no question, you will overload your audience, you will frustrate them.
And ultimately they will stop listening.
A Pause to Allow You to Think and Reflect (Or “Give the brain a break!”)
When you are speaking and you literally are not giving yourself any time to either reflect on what you have just said, or any time to consider what you are about to say, you can be described as disconnected.
You may know your content very well and feel very confident, but you are not present or connected to your words.
I’m sorry to say that this often results in unauthentic, meaningless presenting.
And the sad fact is that we see it so often.
By not giving the “brain a break”, what can happen in these situations is that you can lose your concentration or “train of thought”.
When you don’t give your mind time to pause and think, you often experience what my six-year-old daughter refers to it as the “Brain Freeze” – your mind draws a blank.
Allowing a pause to think will help you to punctuate your ideas and remain connected to your words and message.
Should you have the “Brain Freeze” a pause (and breath) will help you to recover and get back on track.
Exercise time! How to Critique the Use of Pause in Others and Yourself
Try this. It’s very simple.
Next time you are:
Having a conversation with a colleague or friend
Listening to a presenter (perhaps at work or a TED talk).
Exercise 1: Observe the use of pause
The use of pause – what effect does it have on you?
Watch out for the ineffective pause and the authentic pause
How does it make you feel about the presenter and the message?
Observe if there’s time for pause or if there’s too much pause – note what the experience is like for you.
Now it’s your turn.
Take 2 minutes of your work related content – your presentation or meeting minutes.
Exercise 2: Put it into action
As naturally as you can, speak it aloud – but first hit record on your phone
After you finish, allow ten minutes to distance yourself from it
Play it back and listen for your pauses
Ask the above questions (part 1)
Ask this important question “do I believe ME?”, “am I honestly, authentically communicating this message?”
If the answer is NO – then simply repeat the exercise with the focus on pausing for authentic communication.
Share the recording with someone and get feedback.
It will take a few goes – but it’s a great little exercise in self-critiquing
So whilst there are many effective Pause devices we can build into our communication and presentation skills to achieve performance quality – we need to come right back to basics and understand the authentic pause, because it gives you (and your audience) something special, and that something is authentically you communicating.
Exercise 3: Listen to these three well-known speakers
Using Exercise 1 above, listen to these videos and critique.
Mark Zuckerberg’s 2017 Harvard Commencement Speech
That final address from Michelle Obama
Steve Jobs being Steve Jobs
ConfidentSpeak is a Voice and Communications consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland.
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Some of the best presenters and performers admit to being nervous about performing in front of an audience. Everyone from superstar music performer Beyoncé Knowles to Rugby World Cup winning Dan Carter have spoken about why being nervous about performance have spurred them to their greatest performances. If you suffer from nerves, here are five things to set your mind at ease … and stop your pulse from racing!
There is no question. Nerves can be debilitating.
With so much available to readers on how to control nerves, I felt it was important to share my experience of nerves from a different perspective. By understanding a little more about nerves we can start to use them to our advantage.
I get nervous when I don’t get nervous. If I’m nervous, I know I’m going to have a good show. – Beyonce Knowles
I am a big believer that it is normal and healthy to feel nerves before any presentation. Some of the best presenters and performers I have worked with will admit to being nervous in front of an audience.
When clients tell me they “don’t get nervous”, I worry, why? Because in my mind it’s a sure sign that their presentation may not succeed.
Being over-confident can often translate to boring, uninspiring and a disconnected presenter.
1. Being Nervous About Performing Means This Is Important To You
Very often people perceive nerves as a weakness.
But what if we think about this differently?
What if we flip this on its head and think about it completely the opposite way?
I say that feeling nervous is not a weakness, but the best sign that what you are doing is important to you.
Think about the last job interview or presentation you had.
If you were nervous, you also probably had a clear focus, a drive to succeed and a clear intention. That counts for a lot.
2. Nerves Mean You Will Strive To Be The Best You Can Be
Nerves mean the stakes are high!
You don’t want to screw it up.
Being nervous will remove complacency in my experience. If the stakes are high you will prepare with more focus, you will rehearse more, you will put in the graft, you will give your all to the preparation.
What happens then?
You will reap the rewards!
A healthy dose of nerves will keep you on your toes, keep you focused and ultimately lead to a better presentation.
3. Being Nervous About Performing Helps Realise Your True Potential
If you feel nervous, then that means you’re not being safe.
When we try new things, when we make changes, we will always experience nerves – but if we don’t try new things, we will never know what we’re really capable of in life.
Here’s the thing.
People who do the same thing every day, who are afraid to try new things probably do not suffer from nerves.
They never feel nervous because they never actually challenge themselves, and that I believe is a bigger weakness than being nervous. I think that feeling nervous is a sign that we’re actually living life to the fullest.
And that has to be worth something.
4. Nervous About Performing? It’s Not Nerves, It’s Excitement!
Would you believe anxiety and excitement are not that dissimilar on a physiological level?
The heart pounds faster, cortisol surges, and the body prepares for action in both cases. Our brain can very quickly switch between both.
In contrast, the brain has greater difficulty switching to a feeling of calmness and relaxation.
Excitement suggests there is something to look forward to, whereas anxiety suggests it’s something to be feared.
Harvard Business School psychologist Alison Wood Brooks has researched what is known as “anxiety reappraisal.”
If we’re nervous about performing but choose to consciously reframe nerves as excitement instead of anxiety or fear, she says, our performance can be improved.
So if we start putting a positive association with those physical feelings (heart pounding, palms sweating), we will no longer fear our presentation, but will present better as a result.
Instead of attempting to calm down our nerves we should be harnessing them. It takes practice but it’s certainly an interesting challenge to explore.
5. Nerves Are a Sign You’re Prepared For Action
In a 2013 study in the Clinical Psychological Science half of the participants were told prior to having to present that they’d probably feel nervous about performing, but that sweaty palms and racing hearts, sweating were signs that their bodies were prepping for action.
The other half received no information.
Participants briefed about the benefits of nerves were less distracted by them and performed better.
So if we know to expect feelings of nervousness we can embrace them and harness the energy.
Conclusion: Embrace the Butterflies!
There is nothing wrong with having butterflies in your stomach, provided you make them fly in formation. – Jon Jones
Nerves certainly mean an element of discomfort – no argument there!
We all know the feeling – the heart is pounding, palms moist, mouth like sandpaper. Our body’s natural response is thrown into overdrive.
What can happen is that we focus on the response – pounding heart, sweating palms – and get distracted from the task at hand.
If we are able to keep ourselves from turning our focus in on ourselves, then nervousness can be a helpful tool. Focusing on your surroundings and your audience during a presentation, rather than on the thoughts inside you, is the key.
With nerves, the adrenaline gives you a boost of energy. Actors use the adrenaline rush to take their performances to a higher level. This can be seen in their physical and vocal delivery – presenters can also harness this.
The day I lose my stage-fright is the day I will stop acting. – Sir Laurence Olivier
So, all in I think we need to accept that nerves are normal and natural. Yes there is discomfort and there are many ways to control them, but it is useful to challenge ourselves to look at nerves from a different perspective.
Thank you for reading! Please share your thoughts and join the conversation.
By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak
ConfidentSpeak is a S.T.E.M. Specialist Communications & Coaching Consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland. We have worked with leading Irish and international companies and executives. Contact us for details on our range of corporate/private programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals.
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