It’s our favourite time of year again and as the CS team wrap things up for Christmas (both literally and figuratively speaking:) we’d like to take a moment to say to all of our clients, Thank You For Choosing Us And Making Us Part Of Your Journey!
We feel privileged to work with people, every day, who make our job so interesting; and who make what we do so very worthwhile!
So whether you’ve worked with us in the past, are considering working with us in the future, or are just shooting the breeze browsing our blog; we would like to wish you all a Wonderful Christmas And A Peaceful New Year 2020!
Ps In keeping with CS tradition, here is one of our favourite Irish Christmas adverts. Check out the vocal delivery!
https://www.confidentspeak.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Christmas.png476850Ariadne Laurennshttps://www.confidentspeak.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/logo.pngAriadne Laurenns2019-12-20 10:00:322019-12-20 11:35:58A Christmas Message From The ConfidentSpeak Crew!
Mark Twain once said ‘There are two kinds of speakers in the world: Those who get nervous and those who are liars..’ And he wouldn’t be far off. Everyone gets a dose of presentation nerves, some just hide it better than others! Even the greatest orator in history Marcus Tullius Cicero once ran from the forum where he was set to speak because he was terrified with nerves.
TED coaches, CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies, even presidents get nervous. But the trick is to look and sound cool, calm, and collected even when you’re not feeling the love.
Cicero knew that you have to “fake it ‘till you make it”, but it’s actually more than that; it’s fake it until you become it. Unless you’re soaked in sweat and physically unable to speak, audiences don’t know what you don’t tell them.
The ancient Romans and Greeks invented this kind of thinking; they called the art of oratory actio as in ‘acting’. A speaker is an actor, and the best actors are the ones who are most truthful, convincing, and authentic on stage.
These ancient orators also knew about nerves and that they can be an important part of pumping up your energy before you go on, and, if managed properly, you can channel that energy to give your performance passion, charisma, and memorability.
People won’t be able to take their eyes off you and they may not even know why. Here’s Cicero’s 5 Cannons and how they can help you knock it out of the park even when you’re feeling like you can’t even suit up to bat.
The 5 Canons
Cicero, that great orator, came up with five aspects of giving a great speech or ‘Canons’. There’s no substitute to combat presentation nerves than being well prepared and he was the king of relentless preparation and practice, as he was taught by his Greek tutors.
Cicero’s canons are thus:
Invention, Style, Memory, Arrangement, Delivery.
1. Invention: The Hook
This is the nugget of what you want to say. It’s the distilled essence of what your speech or presentation is all about and why people should listen.
It’s usually around 40 words or less and about 12 seconds, roughly the length of a human breath, and it is one sentence. But that’s it!
Brevity is beauty. Keep it simple and keep it short and audiences will love you for it.
2. Arrangement: Road Map The Journey Of A Presentation
Before you open PowerPoint, sit down and map out your story. Every speech or presentation is a story that has a beginning, middle, and end, and once you’ve got that clear, it’s time to open PowerPoint and see what you need to support and illustrate your message that will add colour, texture, and memorability.
Story first, PowerPoint after. This will ensure you are clear in your journey and will help you avoid using PowerPoint as a report or crutch.
3. Style: Channel Your Inner Obama
Everybody has their own style and in order to develop that style, watch as many people as you can give presentations and speeches. What are they doing well? Using pace, pause, pitch, volume?
Observe what they’re doing that works and, equally importantly, what doesn’t. Steal from the best and leave the rest. As you practice and video yourself, you’ll begin to discover and develop your own style.
No two speakers are the same so don’t worry about being like someone else. Remember, it’s about being the best YOU, not becoming someone else.
Great sources are Youtube, TEDtalks, and people at your own company or place of work.
4. Memory: Build Your Palace! It Helps Reduce Presentation Nerves
Presentation nerves are often brought on by that fear of forgetting. Mnemonics is the learning of techniques to aid in human memory. A mnemonic device could be an acronym or image that helps you to associate information and recall it more efficiently.
The Roman orators often used the image of a palace or great house with many rooms where they attributed sections of their speeches to different rooms in order to remember the information better.
5. Delivery: Bring It On, Superman
After you do your warm up (and everybody does something), the last thing you do is stand with your feet wide apart and hands on hips a la Superman/Wonder Woman and smile (master of all your survey)
It will help banish those presentation nerves and give you a sense of expansion, positivity, and being grounded.
Then, picture your audience and send out a thought of generosity, ‘I love you guys!’ and make it all about them, not you.
So take it from the guys who started it all and use the five canons and take heed of Cicero;
‘Whatever you do, do it with all your might.’
It’s all there for the taking so practice, practice, practice and give it your best shot. The worst thing that can happen is you try and fail, so try and fail again, and then try again.
“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 programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals.”
https://www.confidentspeak.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/5-canons.jpg7681024adopt15https://www.confidentspeak.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/logo.pngadopt152019-03-25 15:58:362019-03-25 15:58:36Cicero' s 5 Canons Of A Great Speech Still Relevant? Try Them To Help Banish Presentation Nerves
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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 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
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!
ConfidentSpeak is a Voice and Communications consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland.
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https://www.confidentspeak.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/christmas-2892235_1920-Custom.png450800adopt15https://www.confidentspeak.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/logo.pngadopt152017-12-22 09:21:302019-02-21 11:43:48As 2017 Comes To A Close We Have A Little Christmas Message To Share With You
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
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
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’
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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.
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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
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.)
Why not take a moment to listen to Bertie himself in action.
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Would you like to be able to communicate with credibility and confidence? Imagine instantly improving any presentation or speech. Our Vocal Presence Programme is designed to help you do just that. Read on for more.
By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak
Imagine yourself instantly improving any presentation or speech, simply by you controlling your voice deliberately and then imagine consciously using your voice as an effective communication tool is a skill.
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