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How to Get the Best Out of Everyone at a Meeting

How to Get the Best Out of Everyone at a Meeting

I have never met anyone who says they want to attend more meetings at work! For many people, meetings are a productivity zap. So how do we make sure we aim to get the best out of everyone at a meeting?

Many people comment that meetings can be a waste of time, time which could be better spent focusing on more productive tasks. Or that meetings are unnecessarily long and boring, or that their creative ideas get ignored or that decisions are not made. 

The higher up in a company you are, the more time you are likely to spend in these unproductive and demotivating meetings. It is estimated that this can be as many as 23 hours each week

No one minds attending a meeting that is planned and productive, but it’s those poorly run meetings that are the issue. 

Here are some steps you can take to overhaul your business meetings so you avoid wasting your valuable resources and get creative ideas and ingenuity from your talented team members.

Plan ahead to get the best out of everyone at a meeting

To have an effective and productive meeting, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this meeting necessary? Perhaps you could get the same outcome with a phone call or an email. This could allow you to get valuable input from the members of your team who feel less comfortable in a traditional meeting environment. Not everyone likes to share ideas verbally. Be respectful of people’s time and resources and consider individual communication styles.
  • What is the purpose of the meeting? By setting objectives and being clear on what you need to accomplish, you’ll be more efficient. Communicate the purpose of the meeting as part of the invite and again at the start of the meeting. Having a well thought out agenda, that you stick to, will make the meeting much more efficient. Seek input from team members and list agenda items as questions the team needs to answer.
  • Who needs to attend? You won’t get the best out of your employees at a meeting if there is no real need for them to be there. Not only will they come into the meeting with a negative attitude, they’ll switch off, lose motivation, and won’t provide the creative ideas and feedback your business needs to thrive. Do you allow your employees the option to leave, if they feel that it is not useful for them to be in the room? Elon Musk tries to avoid meetings at Tesla and encourages people to leave meetings if they are not adding any value.
  • Have I given plenty of notice? Make sure you tell your team about the meeting at least a day in advance so they have time to collect their thoughts, focus and give it their best. Ideally, send out the papers and pre-reading prior to the meeting. 

Get rid of PowerPoint

Attend any traditional meeting and you’re almost certain to find a PowerPoint presentation that needs to be picked apart and discussed before the meeting can finally come to an end. 

The result? Your meeting feels overly formal and leaves your team members feeling disconnected from the core purpose of your meeting. 

They’re less inclined to contribute, less likely to retain the information you’re sharing, creativity is limited and the overall message can be lost behind the visuals. If team members prefer to absorb information slowly, the faster-paced, thinking on your feet ‘PowerPoint Approach’ is also more likely to deliver disappointing results. 

For these reasons, the CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos banned PowerPoint from their meetings back in 2018. 

The alternative is simple. Present your team members with a document outlining the points you’d like to discuss either before or at the start of the meeting and allow them time to read and digest the information. 

Keep it short

Meetings shouldn’t take hours or feel like an ordeal. To get the best out of everyone at a meeting, they should be short, sweet, and effective. 

Wherever possible, keep meetings to under 30 minutes and rely on that agenda to ensure you cover every topic. If you have an extensive list of ideas to discuss, consider scheduling a separate meeting to focus on each topic in turn. 

Don’t be afraid to end the meeting before planned if you’re not making progress or adding value. You won’t offend anyone. As a business, your time is money. You can always reschedule if required and give your team time to reflect on the issues at hand. 

Consider everyone’s personality

More extroverted members of your team are more likely to communicate their ideas without prompting in a meeting. They’ll play an active role, speak their mind, and won’t mind being the centre of attention. When working with an extrovert, you must ensure that they don’t take too long or take over the meeting. Having a skilled facilitator can help this process. 

Introverts, on the other hand, are more likely to consider the ideas carefully, take notes and avoid being in the spotlight. If this difference in behaviour isn’t addressed effectively, you won’t get the most out of your team members. 

To do so, provide plenty of time for reflection, allow them to take notes and create a ‘round robin’ style section that pushes the individual to speak without adding too much pressure.

By taking the different personality types into consideration, you’re more likely to find a balance. 

Some may feel nervous about public speaking

There may be members on your team who could benefit from attending a public speaking workshop or coaching session. When all eyes are on you in a meeting setting, some may feel a level of discomfort that prevents them from sharing their ideas. Consider upskilling your team members so that they feel confident to speak up at meetings. 

Avoid distractions 

Although introverts prefer quiet spaces with plenty of time for reflection and extroverts prefer action, big groups and constant action, all team members will work more effectively in a meeting if you keep distractions to a minimum.  

Ask everyone to avoid using their devices and ban answering phone calls, checking emails, or completing other tasks whilst the meeting is in progress. If Members of your team prefer to take notes, encourage them to write them down in a notebook instead of firing up the laptop. It can also be useful to provide notes afterwards to allow your team to digest what they have heard. 

Actively manage the meeting

Every effective meeting should have a facilitator or timekeeper to ensure that the time is used effectively. This can include using hand signals, coloured cards or even using a timer to ensure that everything is covered before moving onto the next topic. 

They can also help guide the discussion, encouraging more introverted team members to speak up and limiting the time that the extroverts stay in the limelight. 

Summarise your meeting

When the meeting comes to an end, recap what has been discussed and outline details such as next steps, the time frame and who is responsible for each task. 

This provides clarity and promotes an action-based approach that can help your business move closer towards its goals. Combined with a printed copy of the next steps, you’ll ensure that even team members with a short attention span can take action. 

Switch your location and get creative

Meetings don’t have to be done in a dull, stuffy conference room

In fact, moving to another location such as a coffee shop, bar or even the great outdoors can help add new creative energy to the proceedings and make it a fun experience that team members will look forward to. 

Many multinationals also like to use office design to promote spaces that allow for different types of meetings and personality types. 

How could you switch up your meeting location to get the best out of everyone? 

Business meetings can be productive, effective, and even fun if you follow the steps outlined here. 

Prepare for the meeting carefully, set time limits, consider everyone’s personality, and actively manage the proceedings to ensure everyone can share their ideas. By doing so, you’ll get the best out of your team and turn round meetings to be an opportunity for creativity and innovation. 


About Lisa Evans

Lisa Evans helps professionals to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers. Lisa is a certified speaker coach, TEDx speaker coach, four times author, NLP practitioner, graphic recorder and visual storyteller, and improvisational actor. 

She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations. 

If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat. Download my new E-book How to Build Confidence and Overcome Nervousness.

5 Body Language Tips – Arms and Hands

5 Body Language Tips – Arms and Hands

When you take steps to improve your public speaking, there are many things to consider. Body language and, in particular, what to do with your arms and hands is one area.

It’s unlikely that you gave your arms or hands much thought before you decided to improve your presentation style; they do what they do. But when we are trying to learn or improve something, we become self-aware. And that can lead to feeling self-conscious and over-thinking.

The aim is to keep your arm gestures natural and fluid and ensure that your hands are not distracting. We want to come across as genuine, authentic and relaxed. 

Five things to do with your hands and arms

#1 Relax

If you feel stressed about speaking in public, you are most likely to hold tension in your upper body. This tension can result in your shoulders creeping up towards your ears and your arms pinned tightly to your sides. Stiff arms result in jerky and awkward looking movements, and this can result in having your hands moving in front of your face. 

Aim to get comfortable when you speak in public. Reducing any nervousness and including a breath, vocal, and body warm-up is essential for your public speaking success. Focus on adequate breathing rather than shallow high breaths, and you can adopt a simple breathing pattern such as box breathing.

If you fear public speaking and would like help to get comfortable, consider working with an experienced public speaking coach.

#2 Move with purpose

When people are nervous, their hands often flit about and fidget. When they’re confident, they are either still or move with intent. 

When you observe a speaker, you may notice they use on particular gesture repeatedly, or they may use gestures that distract rather than enhance. 

Give your hands some thought as part of your preparation to aim for natural movements that don’t take people away from focusing on your message.  

One way to accomplish a stillness in your upper body is to clasp both hands together in a relaxed pyramid (thumbs lightly touching at the top and fingers at the bottom). Then rest your hands around waist height. The pyramid is one resting position for your hands. However, I recommend mixing it up a bit, so it’s not the only resting position you use.

The ideal position for your hands is somewhere between your waist and your shoulders.

When Bill Clinton began his career in politics, he often used expansive, large arm gestures. Body language experts said that these gestures came across as untrustworthy. His communication advisors told him to imagine a box in front of his torso and contain his hand movements within that area. The “Clinton box” became a popular term.

#3 Own your space

When we feel stressed, we tend to shrink and make ourselves small —rounding the shoulders and adopting closed postures. Your arms may gravitate to a folded position, and you may default to clenching your fists or clasping your hands. These outwardly visible movements are a giveaway that you are not feeling confident. 

According to the psychologist, Dr Russ Harris, author of The Confidence Gap, the actions of confidence come before the feelings of confidence. We get to choose what we do with our hands; it’s an action of confidence. Despite feeling uncomfortable, we can avoid wrapping our arms around us and instead adopt a more resourceful posture. 

You may like to try power posing, made popular by social scientist Amy Cuddy . Your mindset and how you show up with open postures may help you feel more confident. It takes practice. 

When you present in a larger space with a bigger audience, then aim to match your arm gestures with more expansive movements. Your audience won’t see small hand gestures from the back of the room. Don’t be afraid to take up the space you need. 

#4 Record and review

Video is an excellent tool for reviewing your performance. The recording will enable you to assess your body language for congruency and bring any unnecessary movements or areas to address. Ideally, record every presentation you give; even if you record a few minutes, it is helpful to observe how your body reacts to any stressful situation. Some movements that you see on camera, you are probably not aware that you are doing.

When you review your video, consider the following,

  • Are my arm/hand movements smooth?
  • Do I have symmetry in my body, or am I using one arm/hand mainly?
  • Are my arm/hand movements supporting what I say, or are they distracting?
  • Are there any arm/hand movements that I repeatedly use?

Most importantly, aim for congruence so that your message and body language are aligned. 

#5 Consider your audience 

Knowing your audience is a vital part of presentation planning and delivery. When it comes to body language and hand gestures, some movements are taboo in some countries. 

The “Ok” sign is a familiar gesture to indicate a positive reaction, but in France, the symbol means “nil” or “worthless.” And, in Venezuela, Brazil, and Turkey, the gesture is offensive, especially to LGBTIQ+ people.

In summary, there is a lot to consider about your body language when learning to improve your public speaking. Aim to be as natural and authentic as you can. Develop your style and when you are setting out, try not to overthink. Record and review your talk so that you can observe and correct any stray or unwanted gestures. There are a number of articles in my blog series on non verbal communication that may interest you. Browse them here.


About Lisa Evans

Lisa Evans helps professionals to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers. Lisa is a certified speaker coach, TEDx speaker coach, four times author, NLP practitioner, graphic recorder and visual storyteller, and improvisational actor. 

She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations. 

If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat. Download my new E-book How to Build Confidence and Overcome Nervousness.

Why Leaders Need to be Great Storytellers

Why Leaders Need to be Great Storytellers

If you want to fulfil your potential and become an engaging, authentic and persuasive leader, you need to be a great storyteller.

Today’s leaders need to be great storytellers as it is one of the key Soft Skills that help leaders communicate effectively.

The most memorable leaders throughout history have always been outstanding storytellers; Gandhi, George Washington and Julius Caesar used the power of story to inspire their audience, inspire action and spark positive change.

Although most of us aren’t trying to revolt against oppressors or lead a revolution (hopefully!), we too can use stories to achieve our unique business and career goals and get our teams engaged. 

Every ambitious leader should be willing to embrace storytelling as an alternative way to open up communication and build a more promising future for all. Here’s why.

Why stories are an effective tool for communication

Stories have been a natural part of our history since time began. Almost every culture around the world has a strong tradition of sharing stories with others, whether that’s through oral storytelling, books or even our modern digital storytelling.

We love them because they help us to make sense of our lives and bring them meaning. They evoke emotions, stir our senses, spark our imagination and if they resonate with us, can even cause levels of the bonding hormone, oxytocin to spike.

But that’s not all- according to a 2017 study published in the Nature Communications Journal, stories are a uniquely human way of fostering cooperation in a social group and sharing cultural expectations. If you are the storyteller, you have a greater chance of being trusted, climbing up the social hierarchy and even having healthier offspring.

It’s hardly surprising then that storytelling is a powerful tool when it comes to business communication.

Stories can communicate messages and share values in a way that bare scientific or statistical fact can’t.

If you, as a leader, can share your data or information into a compelling story, you’re much more likely to drive engagement, your message will become more memorable, and trust will grow. By using story, you give your listeners a reason to keep striving for a better world.

Why your story is worth sharing (even if you think it’s not)

You’re likely nodding your head at what I’ve just shared. You’ve already read your fair share of books, watched numerous TED talks, and poured over the studies that encourage you to use storytelling to unlock your public speaking power.

But the problem is, you don’t believe that you have any stories worth sharing. So why leaders need to be great storytellers is because storytelling works!

Or you think that others just wouldn’t be interested in what you have to say. Or you’re clueless when it comes to selecting the right stories to share and how to structure them for the best impact.

However, you can learn how to tell inspiring stories, even if you believe that you are hopeless. Although there are one or two gifted storytellers in the world, most of us learned through dedicated focus and attention, and you can do the same thing.

By identifying the most relevant stories to convey your message, tailoring your story for the environment, monitoring how people react and getting plenty of practice, you can perfect your storytelling skills.

Master the art of storytelling for leaders

Becoming an outstanding, engaging storyteller depends on three key pillars:

1) Choosing which ‘type’ of story you want to use

2) Identifying the right story for your audience.

3) Understanding how to structure stories so they have the greatest impact.

Let’s look at each of these in turn.

Which type of story

There are several stories that every leader should have at the ready. The first story you should begin with is the Signature Story. This is a story that is about you and your journey, but also includes how you help others (we want to avoid ‘all about me’ stories!).

Decide which story to use

Next, you should consider which of your stories will resonate with your audience(s).

This story doesn’t have to be long. In fact, a short story is better as you simply want it to complement your message, not take over entirely.

Select the stories that are likely to resonate with your audience and aim to weave a few through your presentation so they appear effortless.

When you manage to choose the right story for the right moment, you can create an immersive experience for your listener so they feel like they could be part of that story. Your audience will relate better to what you are sharing, you’ll foster trust and you’ll be more likely to inspire positive action.

And yes, it is possible to do this in a shorter time than you think.

If you’re stuck for ideas, you can create a story bank that includes details of the things you’ve seen, heard or observed an experience that has had an impact on you. Just jot them down and then you will be able to refer to them later.

Perfect the structure

An effective short story for presentations should follow the shape of an arc. It should have a clear beginning, middle and end and should be able to get a point across in a short time. There are three main elements to a story;

  • Context: E.g. “Once upon a time…
  • Challenge: What happened to disrupt the status quo, and then what?
  • Change: What did you/they do about it and how are you/they different now?

Conclusion

Storytelling is the most effective way to engage your audience, build your authority and encourage positive change for the future and can be learned relatively quickly.

Start by collecting stories, select the most effective and structure your stories carefully so they can have the maximum impact. Find out more about my Business Storytelling for Leaders workshops.


About Lisa Evans

Lisa Evans helps professionals to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers. Lisa is a certified speaker coach, TEDx speaker coach, four times author, NLP practitioner, graphic recorder and visual storyteller, and improvisational actor. 

She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations. 

If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat. Download my new E-book How to Build Confidence and Overcome Nervousness.

Is a Fear of Public Speaking Holding you Back? Top 3 Tips

Is a Fear of Public Speaking Holding you Back? Top 3 Tips

If you want to get ahead in your career and fulfil your potential, you need to master the art of public speaking. You need to be able to clearly articulate your message, engage and inspire others and speak with confidence about what you do. 

This is true even if you don’t plan to give a formal presentation or get up on stage to present a TED talk. 

Unfortunately, fear of public speaking (or glossophobia as it is formally known) causes otherwise talented, motivated and highly driven individuals like you to hit that ceiling because they don’t have these essential soft skills their industry needs. 

If you are one of the many people who fear public speaking, you may feel like you are overlooked in the workplace and are ignored when it comes to promotions, and you avoid pushing yourself to achieve your best because that fear is always there. 

What causes this fear of public speaking, and how can we overcome our nerves, become influential public speakers and start grabbing our career opportunities with both hands? Let’s have a closer look. 

Why are so many of us afraid of public speaking? 

According to a 1999 study, a surprising 77% of people feel anxious, nervous or even afraid of public speaking. While many can control their nerves effectively, others find that it becomes a full-blown phobia. 

These feelings are always based on fear. We’re afraid that we’ll say something stupid or embarrassing, forget what we want to say, feel self-conscious or that we won’t be able to hide our nerves and that our audience will notice the truth. Perhaps we previously had a negative experience with public speaking, which planted that seed of doubt in our heads, and now we’re afraid that the same will happen again. 

But as you’ll know all too well, if you’ve ever felt those butterflies in your stomach as you prepare to speak, it’s not only psychological- our bodies also react to the fear

This triggers your autonomic nervous system to kick into action and respond to what it perceives as a threat, and it gives us all those physical symptoms of fear such as a dry mouth, shaking, high blood pressure, nausea, and so on. 

Let’s recap. You experienced those thoughts that you were going to mess up or make a fool of yourself by speaking in public. The experience turned to fear, which triggered those horrible, uncomfortable and even debilitating physical sensations and left us feeling worse than ever. We’re unable to focus, more likely to make mistakes, forget what we’re saying and quite understandable, and start avoiding these kinds of situations. 

Breaking free from a fear of public speaking

As you may have noticed, the whole cycle of fear mentioned above starts with your thoughts and beliefs, or in other words, your mindset. It is all that stands between you and becoming a successful public speaker. Learn to master your mindset, and you can become an engaging, inspiring public speaker who feels comfortable in front of a crowd. 

The fastest and most effective way to break is this cycle is to invest in yourself and work with an experienced coach to guide you and help you manage your nervousness and step into your best self when it comes to speaking in front of others. 

As an experienced coach who has worked with thousands of leaders (and someone who used to feel extremely nervous about speaking in public, I can provide you with the support and guidance you need. Let’s make a time to chat about how I can help you.

You can also use the A-B-C Technique to help you deal with your fear of public speaking. 

1. Accept that your feelings are normal

The feelings associated with nervousness, including racing heart, shallow breathing, sweating, trembling and so on, are part of the classic fight, flight or freeze response. It’s a normal physiological response to stress (real or perceived). When you feel this, it means you have a functioning body that is doing its job. 

Instead of trying to fight those feelings as they enter your body, simply acknowledge and accept what’s going on.

2. Breathe: use the square breathing technique

There are a couple of simple and effective breathing techniques that are of great help when you are waiting to speak, and you can feel the tension rise in your body. 

Here is the Square Breathing Technique. It’s an effective tool to regulate your breathing, get you to focus and make sure your breath out is complete. 

  • Imagine a square frame around your head and shoulders.
  • Start at any corner.
  • Trace with your finger or with your mind along each side.
  • Breathe in on the count of 4 (one side of the square)
  • Hold your breath for the count of 4 (one side of the square)
  • Breathe out to the count of 4 (one side of the square)
  • Hold to the count of 4 (one side of the square)
  • Each side of the square and each breath and hold has equal time.

3. Change your mindset

Instead of thinking of public speaking as something to be feared, think of it as an opportunity to serve.

Every time you step up and speak, you are there to serve, to share your knowledge and wisdom with others.  

It’s not about you. You are the medium, and the message is the crucial thing. 

Instead of public speaking, think of it as public-serving. 

Summary

By mastering your mindset and using proven strategies to control your fear and improve your public speaking skills, you can become an engaging, inspiring and confident communicator who exceeds their expectations and gets the promotions they deserve. 

As a qualified Neurolinguisitic Programing Practioner and Speaker Coach, I have a range of practical tools and strategies that have helped hundreds of people conquer a fear of public speaking.

If you are ready to get over being afraid of speaking and you want to forge ahead with high-level public speaking, then lets chat. 


About Lisa Evans

Lisa Evans helps professionals to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers. Lisa is a certified speaker coach, TEDx speaker coach, four times author, NLP practitioner, graphic recorder and visual storyteller, and improvisational actor. 

She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations. 

If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat. Download my new E-book How to Build Confidence and Overcome Nervousness.

6 Ways to Boost Your Executive Presence

6 Ways to Boost Your Executive Presence

Executive presence is the leadership quality that will help you become the leader that others can’t help but notice. It helps you to inspire confidence in others and demonstrate your capability, reliability and potential as a leader. 

Here are 6 ways to boost your executive presence.

It’s built on three pillars; how you act, how you look and how you speak and includes your attitude, confidence, non-verbal communication, emotional intelligence, public speaking skills, and even your personal brand. 

When you improve your executive presence, you’ll be more likely to stand out from your peers and be offered the kinds of opportunities that you deserve. Working with an executive coach who is experienced in helping leaders boost their confidence and influence with executive presence characteristics will make a significant difference to your performance. 

In the meantime, here are 6 tips that can help you get started. 

1. Polish your speaking and presentation skills

If you want to improve or boost your executive presence and increase your confidence, you must work on improving your speaking skills. When you can speak with clarity, you will share your message more effectively, appear to be more confident and, perhaps most importantly, inspire your audience and connect with them on a deeper level. 

It’s not only the words that you use that will have an impact, but how you deliver that message will determine the way in which it is received. Working on your leadership voice is part of developing your executive presence.

Leaders who speak too quickly or too slowly, use a monotonous voice, speak in a high pitch or don’t articulate the words clearly are likely to miss the mark. Own your voice, speak up and be heard. 

2. Develop your confidence

Confidence is one of the most important ‘soft skills’ you’ll need to become an inspiring leader and develop ways to boost your executive presence. When you can demonstrate quiet confidence, and move with energy and intention, you will inspire a sense of trust and senior management will be more likely to sit up and notice you. 

However, many of my coaching clients feel that their lack of confidence is permanent and they will never be able to work through it, but as I explain to them, this certainly isn’t the case. There are many tricks and techniques we can use to help you control your nervousness, cultivate confidence and stand out from your peers. There is a lot written about mastering executive presence.

Learn to speak with confidence by attending my one day training course in Perth.

Here are 6 ways to boost your executive presence

3. Use the power of non-verbal communication

Strong, positive body language is essential when it comes to building your credibility, connecting with your listeners and again, inspiring confidence. Here are some tips that can help you boost your skills:

  • Prepare: know your message and practice speaking beforehand.
  • Visualise: imagine yourself speaking with confidence and presence. 
  • Make eye contact: whether you’re speaking to just a few people or a larger audience, making eye contact will help you build your executive presence.
  • Be present: remember that you’re there to deliver a message. It’s not about you.
  • Stand confidently: keep your feet hip-distance apart and your feet firmly grounded. Relax your shoulders. 

4. Create a positive first impression 

Did you know that it takes people just a few seconds to decide a person’s characteristics when they meet them for the first time? 

This includes traits like trustworthiness, competence, charisma and likeability that are critical for building business relationships and growing a successful career. When a person believes that you are professional, you’re more likely to be presented with new career opportunities and foster growth. 

To maximise your impact, start by tweaking your appearance. Dress to impress. Be neatly groomed at all times and wear the correct style of clothing for your industry, culture and level of formality. A solid first impression will boost your executive presence.

You can have everything in life you want if you’ll just help enough other people to get what they want!”

Zig Ziglar

5. Showcase your personal brand 

Effective personal branding can provide you with a winning advantage when it comes to your career, especially during these uncertain times. It’s practically impossible to succeed in the modern world unless you are maximising your impact in this way. Be proactive and ensure that you’re maximising the impact of yours. Consider the following:

  • How are you showing up online and offline? 
  • Are you using social media to showcase your expertise? 
  • Do you have an up-to-date profile picture on LinkedIn? 
  • What does Google say about you? 
  • Are you grabbing public speaking opportunities to share your message? 
  • How effectively do you network
  • How do you dress?

Each of these factors will affect your personal brand and allow you to promote yourself and your expertise more effectively. 

6. Build your self-awareness and Emotional Intelligence

Effective leaders are always aware of how emotions can influence the outcome of any relationship or negotiation. They are aware of their own emotions, how they can impact others and how they can effectively manage them for best effect. They also make the effort to notice other people’s emotions, demonstrate great empathy and can resolve conflicts effectively. 

The great news is that emotional intelligence isn’t a skill that you need to be born with. You can improve your soft skills by tuning in to your emotions and noticing how to respond in stressful situations or when faced with conflict or change. Also, get feedback from others to understand how you are perceived by others and be willing to make any changes needed to help you develop your executive presence and grow your career. 

Summary

These 6 ways to boost your executive presence will help you to build your leadership communication skills. By improving your public speaking, confidence, harnessing the power of non-verbal communication, creating a positive first impression, improving your personal brand and building your Emotional Intelligence, you can inspire confidence and trust so you can build your professional career.

I can help you boost your executive presence and fulfil your potential. Contact me today to find out more.


About Lisa Evans

Lisa Evans helps professionals to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers. Lisa is a certified speaker coach, TEDx speaker coach, four times author, NLP practitioner, graphic recorder and visual storyteller, and improvisational actor. 

She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations. 

If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat. Download my new E-book How to Build Confidence and Overcome Nervousness.

10 Public speaking mistakes that are easy to avoid

10 Public speaking mistakes that are easy to avoid

10 Public Speaking Mistakes That Are Easy To Avoid

Did you know that many speakers can reduce the impact of their message with any of these common public speaking mistakes? 

Whether they don’t use their body language effectively, their presentation skills are lacking, this can impact their ability to share their message and connect with their audience. 

I’ve gathered together 10 public speaking mistakes that are easy to avoid (plus a bonus one!), along with public speaking tips to help you polish your performance. 

Mistake 1: Reading aloud

Although reading aloud is a fantastic way to practise your public speaking skills at home, you should avoid it at all costs when you’re in front of an audience. Even if you’re a very fluent reader, you’ll struggle to sound authentic and connect with your audience on a deeper level (or worse still, you’ll end up sounding robotic!) 

How to fix it

Make notes that are brief bullet points or trigger words to remind you of the key points of your presentation if needed but avoid writing the whole sentences. Under pressure, you could default to reading aloud again. People will switch off if you lose them and it’s hard to get them back. Also ensure that you’re also looking up from your notes when you speak and making eye contact with your audience. 

Mistake 2: Memorising a script

When you memorise a script, you’ll need to spend a lot of energy learning your ‘lines’ that would be better spent practicing your non-verbal communication and presentation skills. You also run the risk of forgetting one sentence or section of your message and struggling to continue with the presentation. 

How to fix it

Instead, have a theme and use several chunks to organise your ideas. I recommend three chunks as our brain loves triads. Then talk through these chunks, using your own words. You’ll sound more natural and there will be much less pressure on you. 

If you’re worried about forgetting what you want to say or your nerves getting the better of you, consider working from notes (see above) and consider working with a public speaking coach

Mistake 3: Poor use of slides

Great public speakers use high-quality slides to highlight features of their message and tell a story. Used correctly, they can help your audience stay engaged, add extra details to your story and provide extra visual input for those who best receive information in this way. 

However, many people struggle when it comes to using slides and fill them with complex information, use them as a memory prompt, focus on the slides not the audience and fail to use them effectively. 

How to fix it

If you want to become a better public speaker, you should ensure that your slides are professional quality and that you use them seamlessly. Use presentation mode and a remote clicker when you use slides so you can keep your focus on your audience and don’t need to look back. 

Create clear, crisp slides that are visually rich with a minimum of text, a font that is large enough to read and images wherever possible. Finally, make sure you stand to the side to avoid blocking the screen. 

Mistake 4: Speaking too quickly

If you’re speaking too quickly when you’re making a presentation or giving a talk, the audience will struggle to understand your message and could switch off entirely. They’ll be less likely to like and trust you, you’re more likely to get out of breath and you’ll find your stress levels increasing. For those reasons, you should slow down what you’re saying, even if you feel like a bag of nerves and want to get through your presentation as quickly as possible. 

How to fix it 

Slow down, take a breath and be OK with silence – it’s a good thing. Also consider how you can use pauses at key points in your speech or presentation to better connect with your audience and drive your message home. 

Mistake 5: Using a monotone voice 

Most of us have attended someone’s speech or presentation and found ourselves daydreaming and struggling to stay engaged with their message or story. The speaker’s voice was so flat, dull, and monotonous that, despite our efforts to focus, we started daydreaming. 

As a public speaker, you should ensure that this never happens to your audience. You should be using your voice to add inflection, bring colour and character to your presentation and bring energy to the room. 

How to fix it

Before starting your presentation or speech, take a few deep breaths to help you calm your nerves so your voice will appear more natural. Then speak in the same way as you would with your colleagues, allowing your voice to flow and contain all of the highs and lows of natural speech. If you’re unsure whether you use a monotonous voice in your presentations, record yourself when you’re rehearsing. 

Mistake 6: Pacing or fidgeting

Do you have any tiny mannerisms or habits that you used to help you cope with your fear of public speaking? This might include pacing up and down, fidgeting, rocking, playing with a pen, twisting a ring, gripping a lectern, and doing any similar repetitive actions. If this is the case, you can learn how to get these habits under control – as they’ll distract your audience from your message and destroy your confidence and credibility.

How to fix it 

Stay grounded to the spot whenever you can, keeping your feet hip-distance apart and relaxing the upper part of your body. Allow your arms and hands to move naturally. When you want to move, do so with purpose. Don’t let your nerves get the better of you! 

Mistake 7: Lack of facial expression

When making a presentation, you should use your facial expressions to help convey your message, connect you with your audience and allow those around you to feel at ease. The trouble is, when we’re nervous, we tend to tense the muscles in our face, jaw, and neck. This can cause us to look blank, expressionless, or even like a deer in the headlights! 

How to fix it

Become more aware of your face and consciously relax and release any muscle tension. Smile when it’s appropriate- you’ll release a flood of feel-good chemicals like dopamine and serotonin that naturally slow your heart rate, reduce your blood pressure and help you feel much more comfortable and confident in front of your audience. 

Mistake 8: Avoiding eye contact

Avoiding eye contact and looking at the ceiling or floor might seem like an excellent coping mechanism when you’re nervous. But again, it can prevent you from connecting with your audience and will affect how your audience perceives you and your message. If you want them to like and trust you, you need to bite the bullet and make eye contact. 

How to fix it

When you start your presentation, take a deep breath and glance around the room to become more aware of your audience. Then pick one person and make eye contact with them for 3-5 seconds (about one sentence) before moving on to someone else. 

Mistake 9: Standing behind a desk or lectern

When you stand behind a physical object such as a desk or lectern, you’ll be putting space between yourself and your audience. You’ll find it much harder to connect authentically, you’ll limit the natural hand gestures that can add character to your presentation, and you could look less confident. 

How to fix it

Be brave and step out from behind that desk, lectern, or other prop. You’ll relate so much better with your audience and share your message more effectively. Make sure you inform the organisers beforehand so they can provide you with the right microphone to ensure you can be heard at all times. 

Mistake 10: Lack of preparation or practice

Winging it is not a professional or effective public speaking strategy, especially if you want to create a good impression and enhance your career prospects. Take this approach and you could miss key points in your presentation, appear disorganised and unprofessional and look like you lack experience. If people are giving up their most valuable resource- their time- we need to honour that. Preparation and practice are key.

How to fix it

The preparation and practise side of speaking in public can be boring and time-consuming but it makes all the difference. Why not consider rehearsing your presentation to the wall, or your pet dog to start with? You can also record yourself (an excellent way to improve your body language) or ask a friend to help. 

BONUS TIP: [Mistake 11]: Not sticking to the allocated time

Ex-Cuban leader, Fidel Castro was famous for his long, rambling speeches that could continue for hours and literally send his audience to sleep. Needless to say, you shouldn’t be doing this if you want a successful public speaking career, especially if you are a guest speaker or have a fixed amount of time available. 

Stick to the allocated time and you’ll save yourself needless embarrassment and again, find it easier to keep your audience engaged. 

How to fix it

Make a note of the time you’ve been allocated and don’t speak for longer than this. Plan, prepare and practise so you can deliver on time, allowing a short amount of time for questions and other disturbances. 

Summary

By staying away from these 10 public speaking mistakes that are easy to avoid, you can become a more effective public speaker who can engage better with their audience, share their message with ease and create a strong professional reputation. 

About the author

Lisa Evans helps professionals to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers. Lisa is a certified speaker coach, TEDx speaker coach, four times author, NLP practitioner, graphic recorder and visual storyteller, and improvisational actor. 

She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations. 

If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat.

Here’s how I may help you

My services include:

Business Storytelling Coaching – together we can get started to create your suite of stories.

Executive Speaker Coaching – if you have an upcoming guest speaking opportunity, funding pitch, conference talk or you want to be an outstanding speaker, we can work together on your technique. You will see the results after one session.

Tailored Workshops – I can come to you, or we can host a workshop offsite for your team. From half-day to two-days immersive, this customised workshop is an ideal way to kick start your business storytelling strategy and get the whole team telling stories.

Keynote/Guest Speaking either in person or via virtual means at your next conference or event.