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5 Steps To Get Rid Of That Dreaded “Bed Voice”

 

Bed Voice

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!

Olivia

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.

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Keep your audience engaged

6 Presentation Techniques You Can Learn From Comedians To Keep Your Audience Engaged

It can be difficult to keep your audience engaged during business presentations.   How do comedians keep their audiences engaged?   Some of us are naturally funny.  Others think that being funny is a gift from birth that only the chosen few are blessed with, and that the rest of us should stay far, far away from trying to make people laugh.  The fact is, being funny is a skill like anything else, like driving a car, learning a new language, or learning presentation techniques.

 

Comedians spend years crafting and honing their content and delivery, making them one of the few public speakers that clock up Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours that he says make a master.

 

Performers learn a lot the hard way. there’s just no other way to do it.  You can practice, practice, and practice until the cows come home but at the end of the day you have to get up in front of a real audience to test it out.

Here are a few interesting presentation techniques from the world of comedy to help speakers in the business world master the art of keeping audiences engaged.

Presentation techniques from the world of comedy

 

Rock It From The Start

Everyone knows that getting off to a good start sets the tone for the rest of your journey.  When you’re practicing your speech or presentation, the first 30 seconds will make or break you.

Psychologist Jennice Vilhauer does this effectively in her TEDTalk “Why you don’t get what you want…” If you don’t engage people and give them a reason to listen in the first 30 seconds, you’ll have a pretty tough time getting them back.  

A killer start to your presentation will set the tone for the rest of your talk and keep your audience engaged.  So practice this, hone it, and know it until you can do it in your sleep.

Know Your Timing

When you’re practicing, breakdown the sections of your content.  

  • First 30 seconds
  • Numbers of key areas
  • Stories
  • Wrap up
  • Takeaways

Time yourself so you know how long each takes and how much time the whole presentation will be and when in doubt, keep it short. you will keep your audience engaged, and they will thank you for it.

Don’t Wait To Work The Room – keep you audience engaged from the get go!

Comedians are clever at working the room.  They ‘cast’ someone in the audience so they have instant familiarity with the room.  Introduce yourself to people as they come into the room; don’t wait to find common ground with your audience until you start your talk.  

Break the ice with them from the outset, greet them as they come in, have a bit of banter with them.  You’ll automatically have back story with them when you start your presentation.

 

Warm Up First

All performers warm up and do something to get them in the ‘zone’ as TEDTalk presenter Julien Treasure talks about here.  Stretch your arms up over your head before you step onto the stage, take some deep breaths, loosen up your muscles or do some articulation exercises.  Whatever you do, do something.  This will help calm any nerves and also get your body and mind focused on the task at hand.

 

 

Self Critique

Whenever you get the chance to present or speak in front of an audience, always film or video yourself.  Always.  It’s so easy now to do it now with phones and tablets.  Get a friend or someone you know will be there to video you so you can watch it back and see exactly what you’re doing and sounding like.  Performers and comedians love this because it gives them instant feedback on everything they’re doing and how they are keeping audiences engaged.

 

Be Human

No one feels comfortable around people who seem like they’re perfect all the time.  We connect with people we trust, who feel familiar to us.  Really funny material comes from comedians who know it’s not necessarily about making people laugh; it’s about making people think, it’s about showing them that you know what it’s like to be human.  The audience finds something in you that resonates with them.  Comedian and writer Ricky Gervais talks brilliantly about this here.

 

 

As a public speaker, take heed of some of these techniques from comedians and see if they help in your performance.  Comedians face the toughest audiences in the world so they know what they’re talking about.  

Remember, good preparation and practice will pay off in dividends when it comes to getting up in front of an audience and delivering the goods.  

Great communicating is learned; no one is born a great speaker.

Remember that you’re a human being in a room full of human beings and every audience loves to see people succeed.

They want you to be great!  It makes their job of listening so much easier.

 

Contact us for details on how we can help you to engage your audiences and deliver memorable presentations

t – +353 1 9696056

e – info@confidentspeak.com

 

If you found this useful in terms of advice on keeping your audience engaged, you’ll like these also, I promise!

https://www.confidentspeak.com/elon-musk-3-insights-into-authentic-presenting/

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Could The Simple Act Of ‘Stillness’ Be The Key To Achieving Executive Presence?

Stillness & Presence

Through out the years, we have supported many individuals across the corporate and private sector from all over Europe. We’ve trained C-Suite Personnel,  Business Executives, Sales Professionals, Scientist, Engineers, Legal and Medical Professionals, and one topic that comes up over and over again is ‘Executive Presence’ and how to achieve it.

Understanding The Power Of Presence

Let me share with you an insight I had some time ago, which might help you to understand and build on your own Presence

I try to go for run most days and one of the routes I have enjoyed most over the years, is the lovely Phoenix Park here in Dublin. One day, along my route, I came face to face with a large herd of deer. They were all standing very still, regarding my presence with quiet curiosity.

What struck  me most at the time, was their immense stillness. The deer possessed such calmness and a phenomenal sense of ease and yet, they were also completely alert, ready to flee at any sign of danger.

I stood looking at them for what seemed like an age, transfixed and drawn by something – their amazing ‘Presence’

Achieving Executive Presence

An audience is always connected to a speaker who communicates in a relaxed and calm way, but just like a wild deer, a speaker always needs be alert to the audience. So if building your executive presence is something on your mind, try this simple technique – stop moving, stay grounded and still!

 

The Art of Stillness Builds Executive Presence

Moving around may help you to calm nerves or to feel at ease but it can be very distracting for your audience. Instead, try to find an ease within yourself to simply stand still and be present. By just following this technique, not only will you build your presence in front of your audience, you will also connect in a stronger and more authentic way

 

Stillness is a simple, yet powerful technique to build presence”

 

 

Remember this; as a speaker, you have the ability to instil any emotion in your audience.

If you are agitated or stressed then your audience will also be agitated and stressed. If you are at ease and physically relaxed and grounded, then your listeners will also be at ease and guess what…they will also be more open to listening, and building that all important connection with you. You will have achieved ‘presence’!

Sometimes we just need to demystify things and go back to basics when it comes to communication! So next time you are rehearsing your presentation, try this technique to achieve Executive Presence.

physical presence

Trust Your Body: Physical Presence Is Key To Great Communication

physical presence

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. Itt 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.”

info@confidentspeak.com

www.confidentspeak.com

☎ +35319696056

 

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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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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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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

giving presentations review

Tell Your Story: How to Start a Presentation (and Finish It Strongly!)

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.

By ConfidentSpeak

How to start a presentation in business (and finish it strongly)

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.

Benjamin Zander

Joe Landolina

 

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…

or

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.  

As we said before, people trust what is familiar to them and what could be more familiar than humour, poignancy, or adversity. (Example: Watch Hyeonseo Lee’s Ted talk, My Escape from North Korea)

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.

Recap

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!)

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