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Executive Presence – How to Stand Out as a Public Speaker

Executive Presence – How to Stand Out as a Public Speaker

Knowing how to command attention.

Have you ever felt executive presence? Try and remember a successful meeting. Chances are the meeting was led by someone who engaged everyone around the table. Someone who knows exactly what to say and when to say it. Their charisma and confidence are palpable. They know how to command attention and leave everyone craving for more. A person who has the “it” factor.

Defining Executive Presence

The “it” factor that so many leaders wish to emulate is called executive presence. Most of us assume that people are naturally born with these leadership qualities. The truth is that executive presence is an acquired skill – something people have put in a lot of conscious effort to attain.

Executive presence is an art, just like theatre or dance. It’s about finding out what works for you and makes you connect with people in a boardroom. There are many ways to communicate that, whether it’s through verbal skills, body language or dressing the part.

3 Practical Tips To Develop Executive Presence

#1 Preparation is Key

A person with great executive presence is never vague about the objectives of a meeting. She stays on track and puts across her points calmly and precisely.

Mind you; this doesn’t happen by magic. Behind the doors, you’ll find that this person has taken the time to point-by-point prepare what to say in the meeting. Hence, he or she never needs a reason to digress from the primary objectives. People, on the other hand, view this as their natural ability to command respect, when in fact, it’s a result of calculated preparedness.

#2 Use Body Language

If you want people to listen to you and respect you, you’ve got to stand tall. By that, I mean, you have to claim your space in the room. No one wants to listen to someone who is hunched over at the back of a room, whispering an opinion.

Powerful leaders speak clearly. They also make direct eye contact with everyone in the room. They take their time to explain themselves and pause at the right moments. In short, their whole persona, from the way they dress to the way they speak and stand, portrays confidence and strength.

#3 Make Others Feel Heard

Powerful communication is not only about saying the right things. It is also about engaging with people in the room and making them feel like their opinions matter. So the next time you’re leading a meeting, pay attention and listen carefully.

Imagine yourself as an orchestra conductor, who is seamlessly creating the perfect harmony. Only this time, it’s in the boardroom, and you’re able to get people on the same page on their own will. This way you’re not only an effective communicator but also a great leader.

Lisa-evans-public-speaking-coach

 

As a Certified World Class Speaking and Storytelling Coach, I help my business clients mine, refine and deliver captivating stories for their business or brand. Whether it is the boardroom, platform, podium or stage, I help craft powerful presentations with compelling stories that are hard to forget. Read my story here.

 

 

 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

How to Become a Professional Speaker – What I Have Learned

How to Become a Professional Speaker – What I Have Learned

How to become a professional speaker? It seems like yesterday, but it is almost four years since I set up my business Speaking Savvy. I have learned a lot along the way as a solopreneur speaker, there have been many highs and some lows, and plenty of falling, but isn’t it about falling forwards?

A solopreneur can break the rules

I am now a full-time solopreneur (whatever that means!). It is the freedom to walk the 15 seconds it takes to get to my cosy home office; to power up my diffuser with an energy oil blend, because no uptight co-worker is going to say they are allergic to the smell – being a solopreneur means I can break the rules!

Tom is never far from my side

how to professional speaker - what i've learned

When I am not out seeing clients I work at my desk with my dog Tom on my lap.

Let me clarify; my dog is a Greyhound, he thinks he is on my lap, but only his head is on my lap.

Yin yoga and bingeing

I happily work for 10 hours a day, with regular short power breaks, to fill up my flask of ginger and lemongrass tea; to stretch my body with Yin yoga moves and to binge on chocolate (maybe I fooled you for a second into thinking I am super health conscious).

No waiting for approval

I am more productive in my business than I have ever been in the workforce. When I ponder this, I realise it’s because I am solely responsible for the outputs and outcomes in my business. I don’t have to wait for approval; I don’t have to hold a meeting to discuss things – I simply get on and do it.

These are the three things I am reflecting on today as I think back on my three years in business and how I became a professional speaker.

How to Become a Professional Speaker #1 – I have all the knowledge I need to be where I am right now

I could have started my business earlier; the passion and motivation were there. But, like many who have a dream of starting a business, it’s the ‘starting bit’ not the ‘business bit’ that is the most daunting.

Just one more

I’ll just do one more certification, read one more book, do more free speaking. Whatever the “one more” is that we tell ourselves, it boils down to fear. Fear of being found out, of not knowing it all – the dreaded Imposter Syndrome.

Public-speaking-book-review-lisa-evans

The reality is, I knew more than the people I wanted to help. I knew enough for where I was then. I knew more than I gave myself credit for, and rather than thinking about what skills I had to offer, I was focussing on what skills I didn’t have.

There is always more to learn. I am committed to lifelong learning, but I am content that what I know right now is enough for where I am right now.

As a Public Speaking Coach, I get to work with some amazing clients,helping them on their speaking journeys. I continue on my speaking journey, and I have an incredible mentor who helps me.

How to Become a Professional Speaker #2 – The hardest and most valuable resource to manage is time

We all have the same 1440 minutes each day; it is what we choose to do with them that counts.

In my previous career, I managed people, assets, large budgets, and contracts. Until recently, I was juggling a job as well as a business, Monday to Friday in my job and my business at the weekend (in the early stages, creating content, building relationships and my brand).

It’s easy to forget the time when you do what you love

When focusing on how to become a professional speaker, it’s easy to lose track of the other areas of your life. Gradually over the next two years, I reduced my hours in my job and the rest of the time in the business. I am grateful I was able to access flexible working policies to allow me to work part-time to allow me to grow my business. I had set days at work and the same for business.

As my speaking and coaching business got busier and I still had a contract with a government department I found myself working more hours. A seven-day working week is not uncommon but it never feels like work. Efficiently managing my time has meant that I can fit a lot into my working day.

Power breaks for productivity

I gave up watching TV when I started my business; all my information I digest in the form of podcasts or videos. I make phone calls while I walk the treadmill or around the local park with my dogs, I use the Pomodoro technique to ensure that I take power breaks for productivity for posture and to recharge. It’s  easy to forget the time when you do what you love.

How to Become a Professional Speaker #3 – Ask better questions

I have worked with some fabulous people who have helped me develop my business, several I couldn’t do without.

I have also made some costly mistakes by engaging people to help me, and then finding out they were not a match for me. A couple of bad coaching experiences did put me off for a long time. There are many “experts” out there, people who promise a lot and then can’t deliver on those promises.

Living by my values

To me, the values of integrity, respect, fairness, and commitment are important.

I understand that for others their values are different. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with these people. Instead of thinking of this as a bad business decision, I think of it as a valuable development experience. As a result, I have learned to seek out people who share the same values as me. I now ask better questions.

Work with people who come recommended

I work with people who come with a recommendation from others I know who have used their services, and I don’t recommend people whom I haven’t tried their services.

If you are thinking of starting a business, then start. You have the knowledge you need right now if you are passionate about what you have to offer and are willing to learn.

You can manage your time by focussing your efforts on what matters most and don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions when choosing who you want on your team.


As a storytelling expert, known as The Story Midwife, I help leaders to create compelling presentations through business storytelling.

Before becoming a Professional Speaker, I worked for over twenty years as a midwife.

I now live and breathe stories as a speaker, trainer, performer and coach.

As a World Class Speaking & Storytelling Coach, I’ll help you mine, refine and deliver a captivating story for your business or brand. Whether it is the boardroom, podium or stage; I can show you how to develop a persuasive presentation with a compelling story that will be hard to forget by anyone who gets to experience it.

If you would like to find out about training for your team, I’d love to hear from you.  Contact me lisa@speakingsavvy.com.au or call +61 (0)438 902042.

Presentation Skills Topics: How to plan and deliver an Ignite Talk

Presentation Skills Topics: How to plan and deliver an Ignite Talk

Fast-paced, concise and compelling

Presentation skills topics – There are many different styles of presentations. I recently gave an Ignite-style talk and I want to offer some tips on how to create one as these fast-paced lightning talks are a lot of fun.

My mantra ever since I began my public speaking journey has been:

Speak at every opportunity, because every time you speak it is an opportunity to make a difference.

I gave a Lightning Talk at the ACS WA hosted by Microsoft in Perth. The organizers of the event were Michelle Sandford and Ming Johanson 

What’s an Ignite-style talk?

A Lightning Talk is a short presentation lasting only a few minutes, often given at a conference or similar forum. A single session can have multiple speakers. It is fast, fun and a great way to entertain while educating.

There are different formats of the lightning talk, including PechaKucha and Ignite. Each has a specific number of slides that automatically advanced at fixed intervals.

The hosts of the ACS WA event chose the Ignite style which is a five-minute presentation, with 20 slides in the deck and each slide auto-advancing every 15 seconds.

I decided to say yes to the opportunity to try out some new presentation skills topics in this format.

It’s not about the slides

I rarely use slides in my presentations as I like tell stories. When I do use slides (when I’m training for example), I ensure my slides support and enhance my message, rather than distract from it. The latter is a common presentation skills mistake and pet peeve I see with most Powerpoint presentations.

Choose images that are going to help get your message across. Aim for no, or very few words. A picture says a thousand words right? Let your picture do some of the talking.

I believe the focus of the audience should be on the speaker, and the slides are there for the benefit of the audience. When a speaker gives 100% attention to the audience, you can connect and engage fully.

The approach I took in creating and delivering my Lightning Talk was to “create, practice, set and forget”.  I didn’t want the slides to steal the show

Pick one main idea to share

My passion is storytelling. I teach business storytelling and public speaking and have plenty of content on various presentation skills topics, as well as a lifetime of stories. The challenge was to pick one thing. As the audience was predominantly those new to Public Speaking, I wanted them to leave with some simple tips on why storytelling is a valuable tool and how to structure a story.

I decided to share my 5 C’s of Compelling Storytelling™

In preparing for the talk, my challenge was to ensure that the timing of the words synchronized with the auto-advancing slides so that;

a) the audience was able to follow along, b) the flow was seamless and c) because that is how to play the game!

Presentation Skills Topics – 10 tips on Ignite-style speaking

It took me around 2 hours in total to select content, set up the slides and rehearse the talk.

  1. Set up your slide deck with 20 slides and set the timings to fade and advance at 15-second intervals (do this for the first slide then click select all).
  2. Chose images that are going to help get your message across. A picture says a thousand words. Let your pictures do the talking.
  3.  Write a few lines about each slide, brevity is key.
  4. Ensure the talk has a logical flow include an introduction to youself and your topic and a call to action.
  5. Practice your timings with the slides running (rehearse mode works well for this).
  6. If your timings are not aligned to the slides, adjust the number of words to match as near as possible.
  7. Avoid bullet points on your slides,  large pictures with few words works best. That way it is not as obvious if the slides and your words go a bit out of sync during delivery.
  8. Get comfortable with your material. Aim to present without notes and away from the lectern if you can.
  9. When you are ready to start your talk “set and forget”.
  10. Once the slides start rolling, that’s it!  Focus on your audience and don’t worry what is going on in the background.  Avoid turning back to look at your slides (you may have a comfort screen in front of you, but in my case, there wasn’t one).

Relax and have fun

I really enjoyed the experience,  it is fast, fun and a good way to practice creating a speech that is concise and captivating in a short time frame. Ignite talks are a wonderful way to try out new presentation skills topics.

I loved the format of the evening because this style of presenting is fast and fun and allows multiple speakers to be part of the program. At the event I was part of, there were 11 speakers.

To make the night even more fun. The hosts added some Roulette slide decks to the mix, volunteers enthusiastically made up a story on the spot, based on the image that flashed before them.  They did a fabulous job at coming up with a talk that aligned with the theme of the slides.

If you want to get better at Public Speaking, say yes to every opportunity.

Out of all the presentation skills topics to focus on, the Ignite-style talk will force you to be concise and organized in your approach. With a little practice, you will then be ready to share one idea in a short time with the added value of pictures to help get your message across.

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As a storytelling expert, known as The Story Midwife, I help leaders to create compelling presentations through business storytelling.

Before becoming a Professional Speaker, I worked for over twenty years as a midwife.

I now live and breathe stories as a speaker, trainer, performer and coach.

Looking to add to your presentation skills topics arsenal? As a World Class Speaking & Storytelling Coach, I’ll help you mine, refine and deliver a captivating story for your business or brand. Whether it is the boardroom, podium or stage; I can show you how to develop a persuasive presentation with a compelling story that will be hard to forget by anyone who gets to experience it.

If you would like to find out about training for your team, I’d love to hear from you.  Contact me lisa@speakingsavvy.com.au or call +61 (0)438 902042.

Public Speaking training and Public Speaking tips for technical people

Public Speaking training and Public Speaking tips for technical people

Public Speaking Techniques for Technical People

What are the best public speaking techniques for conveying technical information to a non-technical audience? To be able to get ahead in your career, it’s important to be able to articulate your message clearly and concisely in a way that engages an audience.

This can be a challenge when trying to get complicated information across.

Talking to your tribe is easy

Scientists and engineers are most comfortable presenting information to their peers and can find it very different when presenting to a non-technical group.

With a science or technical background, you are likely to enjoy presenting to your tribe who fully understand and appreciate your area of expertise.

You feel at home, you speak the same technical language and you can maintain their curiosity with your data-rich content.

You know you are doing a good job when you present as your audience nod in agreement while you deftly flick through your deck of data-rich slides, rattling off numbers, formulas, and strings of jargon.

Your peers will thank you for the detail and analytical information and the way you present your data accurately…

And then there’s the rest of us.

Deliver the same presentation to a group of non-technical people and the results will be different. You may be met with a few polite head nods at first, but beyond the good manners, people will get bored and fidgety, their eyes will glaze over and they may end up nodding off!

Increasingly, technical information is presented to non-technical audiences (or a speciality that may be totally different).

You may be pitching in a start-up competition, rallying for future funding or presenting to the board of directors.

When considering public speaking techniques for these scenarios, the first rule of thumb is: Don’t assume these people think as you do. Learn to change your delivery style to accommodate a non-technical audience.

There are some presenters who don’t bother to change their public speaking techniques, delivery or material, as they feel that their research or work will be considered dumbed down if they do. If you think that way then best to leave your ego out of it.

You may be the smartest person on the planet with an amazing idea for a life-changing product or innovation, but if you cannot get that across in a clear, concise and captivating way then it’s very likely your idea will gather dust along with all those other technical journals left unread.

Being able to explain your complex data to anyone is an essential skill to have if you want to influence and connect with people from all walks of life. After all, you have spent a long time coming up with your start-up idea, researching and collating your data or testing your product, but it doesn’t matter how good your idea is if you cannot present it in a clear, articulate way. No matter how good your public speaking techniques, people won’t be interested if you can’t get your message across.

The idea of using an elevator speech formula for scientists presenting their research has been trialled by a group of graduates at the School of Biomedicine in Houston. The students took part in an elevator speech competition, partly to improve their public speaking skills but also to practice delivering scientific material in a way that anyone can understand.

According to the contest organizer Carrie Cameron, the brief was that the speech had to be intelligible, less than 90 seconds and FUN!

This style of presenting encouraged to students to be creative in their language and delivery style, coming up with metaphors from ordinary thinking to help non-scientists understand their material.

One of the students who studied ovarian cancer explained how the cancer cells knew how to “adjust the thermostat” and that similar to the air conditioner, cancer cells are able to adjust to the surroundings by the right amount.

Another presenter explained complex mutations in proteins by breaking it down into the simple metaphor of a city.  The cell is the city, the nucleus is the city hall and the mitochondria the power plants, the lysosomes as the city’s waste plant and the endosome the rubbish truck that transports the waste. Anyone can understand that metaphor.

Scientists or technical folk may be resistant at first to this style of communication, but there is no point baffling people with a scientific explanation if they don’t get it. They will switch off and walk away with nothing.

Over the past couple of years, I have helped many scientists and engineers understand the need to be able to communicate effectively with a non-technical audience and adjust their public speaking techniques accordingly. Sometimes it may work out well to have two versions of a presentation:

One that you deliver to peers with all the jargonistic “bells and whistles” and the other version, a visually rich (and data-poor) simple presentation with a balance of logic and emotion that is told in an engaging and fun way.

7 top tips for technical people who want to talk to the rest of us

  1.  Start off with an interesting attention-grabbing opening. Don’t get straight into the hardcore stuff.
  2. Use visually rich and data-poor slides.
  3. Get the balance between the logic and the emotion (especially important if you want to influence).
  4. Don’t speak too fast, allow adequate pauses to give the audience time to reflect.
  5. Use metaphors to explain a complex topic in everyday things and paint visual word pictures.
  6. Make it fun and engaging – if you present your material like you are really enjoying it the audience will too.
  7. Keep it short and simple. Avoid cramming too much information into your presentation, stick to less than five main points and ensure your presentation is structured so that it flows well.

Adapt your presentation style so that your non-technical audience will appreciate your work.

____________________________________________________________________

As a storytelling expert, known as The Story Midwife, I help leaders to create compelling presentations through business storytelling.

Before becoming a Professional Speaker, I worked for over twenty years as a midwife.

I now live and breathe stories as a speaker, trainer, performer and coach.

As a World Class Speaking & Storytelling Coach, I’ll help you mine, refine and deliver a captivating story for your business or brand. Whether it is the boardroom, podium or stage; I can show you how to develop a persuasive presentation with a compelling story that will be hard to forget by anyone who gets to experience it.

If you would like to find out about training for your team, I’d love to hear from you.  Contact me lisa@speakingsavvy.com.au or call +61 (0)438 902042.

Public Speaking Delivery – Eye contact is important

Public Speaking Delivery – Eye contact is important

Public speaking delivery is important and eye contact is a huge part of that.

The eyes are the windows to the soul

The way you use your eyes when you are speaking can make all the difference in how your message is received. It might sound minor but it is the little things that make a difference. Two little things that are so critical when you speak are your eyes and how you use them.

Eye contact is part of your public speaking toolkit

We communicate to our audience with our words and our body language. Both are equally important to your public speaking delivery. When you see and hear a skilled speaker they use their eyes to communicate.

Eye contact is part of your public speaking toolkit, learn to use eye contact effectively. It’s a way of showing the audience how you feel, a way of keeping them with you and most importantly a way of letting them know that you are there for them – as it’s all about the audience right?

Our eyes give away so much about how we are feeling. The movement of our facial muscles is intricately linked to our eye movements. The eyes, the body language and the words you use have to align. Otherwise, you will look fake.

Our words might be saying one thing, but there is the real possibility that our eyes might be saying what we are really feeling. Your audience is going to be looking for that message.

It’s going to be your eyes along with your face that will be telling your audience the story.

The emotions that you are currently feeling during your speech will be communicated to your audience via your eyes. If you are surprised, then your eyes are going to become larger. If you are sad, then your eyes will appear to become smaller. Make sure your eyes match what you are saying.

Public speaking delivery – The power of eye contact

The reason that we need eye contact is that it allows us to build a connection with our audience. It’s this connection that will allow our audience to understand that we can be trusted and we are sincere in what we are telling them.

So what’s the best way to incorporate effective eye contact into your public speaking delivery? The one thing that you don’t want to do is stand and look like one of those laughing clown games that you see at the fair with the oscillating heads.  This happens when you make up your mind to have eye contact with everyone in your audience, and so you start on one side and you proceed to stare into the eyes of each and every person in your audience in a slow sweeping movement. This looks weird and it can be quite distracting for your audience.

A much better way to go about using eye contact in your next speech is while you are speaking, look into your audience. Pick an area in your audience and then look into that group while you cover a point in your speech.

When you are ready to move to the next point, move your eyes to another group in your audience and deliver the next point while looking at that group. This technique is effective if you have a large audience everyone in the group will feel as though you are looking at them.

When we give a speech, we tend to worry about what we will say,  the slides that we show and even what we will wear. Remember the critical part of your speech is what you are doing with your eyes.

As with everything, there is a trick here. If you make eye contact with anyone in your audience for too long, then they are going to start to feel as though you are staring at them and that will end up making them feel uncomfortable.

Instead, make eye contact with a member of your audience for between 3-5 seconds and then move on and make eye contact with someone else. This way you’ll be able to make a great deal of your audience feel as though you are talking directly to them. They will feel included and you will form a connection with them.

Start looking and you will see the benefits

As the poets said, our eyes are the window to our souls. When you are giving a speech your eyes are one more way that you can connect with your audience and enjoy the benefits of public speaking.

Knowing what to do with your eyes is the first step in becoming a better speaker. Taking the time to focus on one person in your audience at a time and that will allow you to create a bond with them. Make sure that you don’t spend all of your time looking at just the smilers  – you need to look at every one.

Your public speaking delivery, the way you deliver your message, is important. In order to make sure that your audience stays with you and is able to be affected by your words, use your eyes.

As a storytelling expert, known as The Story Midwife, I help leaders to create compelling presentations through business storytelling.

Before becoming a Professional Speaker, I worked for over twenty years as a midwife.

I now live and breathe stories as a speaker, trainer, performer and coach.

As a World Class Speaking & Storytelling Coach, I’ll help you mine, refine and deliver a captivating story for your business or brand. Whether it is the boardroom, podium or stage; I can show you how to develop a persuasive presentation with a compelling story that will be hard to forget by anyone who gets to experience it.

If you would like to find out about training for your team, I’d love to hear from you.  Contact me lisa@speakingsavvy.com.au or call +61 (0)438 902042.

Public Speaking for Success: Be confident and charismatic

Public Speaking for Success: Be confident and charismatic

Influence in a genuine way with powerful public speaking for success

Public speaking for success. You want to exude executive presence, but you want to remain genuine? You want to inspire and influence people to take action but you don’t want to be manipulative? The ability to communicate executive presence with powerful public speaking is a learned skill.

It’s a paradox and for many executives, there is a pull between striving for perfection and showing an authentic and charismatic side.

I’m a recovering perfectionist  – it’s a work in progress.

I have been my own worse enemy when I have at times torn strips off myself for a less than perfect presentation.

My public speaking for success skyrocketed when I began to speak less about my “areas of expertise” and the facts, and more about my journey and how I came to be where I am today.

Personal stories can hold multiple meaning and messages. The ability to chose the right story at the right time and for the right audience is a skill worth learning. It will take you from being a polished perfectionist to an authentic presenter.

Communicating executive presence means developing an authentic speaking style.

Becoming more authentic in your speaking style is a way to build a connection, to earn more credibility as a leader and to get the most out of the people around you.

I work with super-achievers often, and I can see that in the quest to be perfect, they can come across as a rigid presenter, one who lacks depth and a sense of the genuine.

It is extremely dull and uninspiring when too much emphasis is put on the content of a presentation and not enough on the meaning and the way the words are delivered.

The first step in public speaking for success is becoming an authentic communicator and learning to drop your guard (when appropriate), and to stop aiming for perfection but aim for being present. You will then be able to engage and make a connection on a deeper level.

Do you want to be known as a data-driven uninspiring, but technically able presenter who can neatly plough through a slide deck whilst smoothly reading word for word?  Or, would you like to develop your own unique style of public speaking and presenting that includes ditching the robotic presentation for a natural ability to speak conversationally, and incorporate stories into your messages so that the most important information is not left in the room but it is imprinted on the minds of your audience?

As a storytelling expert, known as The Story Midwife, I help leaders to create compelling presentations through business storytelling

Before becoming a Professional Speaker, I worked for over twenty years as a midwife

I now live and breathe stories as a speaker, trainer, performer and coach.

As a World Class Speaking & Storytelling Coach, I’ll help you mine, refine and deliver a captivating story for your business or brand. Whether it is the boardroom, podium or stage; I can show you how to develop a persuasive presentation with a compelling story that will be hard to forget by anyone who gets to experience it.

If you would like to find out about training for your team, I’d love to hear from you.  Contact me lisa@speakingsavvy.com.au or call +61 (0)438 902042.