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Eye contact when you speak in public

Eye contact when you speak in public

What does your public speaking eye contact say about you? Are you conversing or are you connecting when you speak in public?

Eye contact when you speak in public is of great importance. The truth will be revealed in your eyes. Like it or not, our eyes give us away. They give people a real insight into what we are thinking and feeling. And eye contact is an essential tool for making a connection and establishing credibility with your listeners.

In our everyday communication, eye contact feels so natural we don’t even think about it. But when people speak in public they become conscious of their eyes and tend to do all sorts of things with them, often not even realising. Common examples of ineffective eye contact include;  looking up at the ceiling, down at your feet or anywhere else except into the eyes of the listeners.

Where do I look and what do I do with my eyes?

These are common questions that beginning public speakers often ask about eye contact when speaking in public. Here are a few tips to ensure that your eye contact is natural and effective.

#1  Look at people, not spaces

Pick out individual people in different parts of the room and talk to them whilst you are looking into their eyes. You can establish a connection with that one person and the people around them will also feel involved. Never take the soft option and look at some object or space at the back or front of the room or the empty rows. Using eye contact in a presentation doesn’t always feel natural or comfortable, so looking at nobody, in particular, can be tempting. Avoid staring at empty chairs!

# 2 The more you look at the audience, the more likely they’ll pay attention

As an audience member, have you noticed that when the speaker is looking towards you, all of a sudden the material becomes more personal? And others around you then think that they might be the next one to be looked at and they don’t want to be caught out not paying attention. Maintain your level of eye contact throughout your speech.

# 3 Monitor the pingback from the eyes of the audience

While public speaking eye contact should be focused on one person for a second or two.  Often the person will nod or smile in response. Often they don’t realize that they’re doing it, but it makes you feel better – believing that they are listening to you.  That’s a positive pingback, a non-verbal cue from an audience member that says “Hey you’re doing ok, I like what you’re saying”.  That positive reassurance and confidence feeds back into your presentation. Don’t be put off though if you don’t receive a positive signal, just move onto the next pair of eyes.

# 4 Engage the audience with your eyes and they will stay engaged

Somehow when you engage the audience effectively through eye contact they are likely to stay engaged and as a result they will take in more of what you are saying. With a small group, eye contact is a little easier to maintain. Presenting to a large audience brings additional challenges. You can’t establish the same connection with the entire room. Keep your eye contact steady and consistent and if you get this right from the start you are more likely to have the audience interesting from the start.

#5 Public speaking eye contact is not one size fits all

How you go about making eye contact with your audience, depends to an extent on the size of your audience. If you have a very large audience it is obviously not possible to look them all in the eye. You will need to tailor your approach for the size of the room and the number of people in the audience. If you have an audience of around 20- 30  people it is achievable and ideal that you will make eye contact with each of them.

One thing you should avoid with your public speaking eye contact is sweeping your eyes around the room trying to take in everyone, this gives the appearance of one of those laughing clowns at the fair.  You end up trying to look at everybody and succeed in looking at no one.

When you have a larger area to cover you will need to spread your gaze around the room. Make sure to give each section of the room equal time and energy. Look at someone on the left side for a few seconds, then someone in the middle, then someone on the right. Don’t forget the people in the back!

When looking at the back of a large room, it’s okay to focus on a section or a head in the distance rather than try to make direct eye contact with someone far away. They will feel as though you are looking at them even if you are looking at a small group.

 #6 Share it around

Make sure that you share your eye contact evenly. Avoid favouring one side of the room over another, or one group of people over another. The ones you focus on will appreciate it, but those you look at the least will switch off (as it’s the same as showing less respect for someone).

#7 Avoid reading from your notes

Many speakers prefer to use notes. You will need to work much harder to maintain that connection with your audience. Never read from your notes. Use them occasionally to prompt you for your next point. Always use a natural pause at the end of an idea, sentence or section to glance down at your notes. Always look up and reconnect with your eyes before you begin speaking again.  If you can master the use of notes whilst maintaining effective eye contact this will probably satisfy the audience to the point that they won’t be distracted by the notes. Despite the fact that you may be able to pull if off, try if you can to go without using notes.

#8 Be natural – Don’t overthink

How long is long enough? How long should I make eye contact with the audience? These are common questions.  You don’t want the eye contact to be like a blink, you want the contact to be long enough so that you are holding that persons gaze for several seconds as you look into their eyes and speak to them. There is a natural point in your speech such as a pause or a change of idea, that is a natural point in which to smoothly shift your gaze onto the next person.

The best advice I have concerning public speaking eye contact is – don’t think too much about it! Don’t try to remember who you have looked at and who you haven’t or when is a good time to move on to look at another person, just let it happen naturally. After some practice of speaking in public, this becomes natural and you won’t need to think consciously about it. There is no magic figure of how long is long enough to maintain eye contact with one person. My rule of thumb is – long enough to connect but not long enough to be creepy!

#9 Smile with your eyes

Don’t forget to smile, when you smile your eyes smile too. Smiling eyes are warmer and softer and allow a deeper connection. If you want to look and feel relaxed, start off with a simple smile and the eyes will appear natural too. Relax and your eye contact will become unconscious again and appear natural. That is when you will have that connection.

So the best advice above all – Try not to think about your eye contact! Imagine that you are having a conversation with many people and look at them as though they are your friends.

Preparation and practise will allow you to feel good about your speech and able to relax and be in the moment. If you are nervous and unprepared it will show in your eyes. Do you know the deer in headlights look? Try to avoid that look, by putting in the time and effort to practice and refine your speech so that your eyes can reveal a calm confined and relaxed speaker. Remember your eyes reveal a lot about you.

Effective public speaking eye contact is the difference between conversing and connecting. Successful presenters are able to use this to their advantage and use eye contact to add a connection to your communication.


About the author

Lisa Evans helps leaders and entrepreneurs 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

Business Storytelling Coaching – together we can get started to create your suite of stories. A minimum of three sessions is recommended 1:1 in person or virtually via Zoom.

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.

Storytelling for Leaders Interactive 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 at your next conference or event – I have several topics to choose from ranging from a 30-minute talk up to a 90-minute interactive session.

How to overcome nervous body language

How to overcome nervous body language

You may notice that the speaker standing in front of the room is nervous when they show visible signs of nervous body language. 

Feelings of nervousness can manifest in the way that we hold our body. There are give-away clues that people may spot, such as; wringing of hands, rubbing or excessive touching of clothes, fiddling with a pen, watch or bracelet, and the more apparent signs of closed postures and shrinking to make oneself small. 

When the speaker in front of you looks awkward and uncomfortable, how does that make you feel? The chances are that you may feel awkward and uncomfortable too. And we don’t want that. 

One of the skills of effective public speaking is the ability to make an audience feel comfortable. We want them to feel like they are ‘in good hands’. We want to look confident, credible, approachable and genuine. We may ordinarily possess those qualities, but if our words and our body language are not aligned, people may perceive us as incongruent, and our audience is likely to disconnect.

Put your best self forward every time you speak in public, by using these five power tips to help you avoid nervous body language.

Presence

Presence is about understating the importance of now. No past. No future. Only this moment, and your focus on this presentation, right now, with this audience. 

The golden rule of public speaking is – it’s not about you. The message that you have to share is the critical part; you are the messenger. 

When you are fully present in a room, you will connect and engage on a deeper level.  Effective eye contact with your audience will allow you to be present in the moment. 

It starts with developing rock-solid confidence and a firm belief in yourself. 

You can ask yourself ‘How can I give value? How can I contribute today?”. 

Remember, you are not fully present if you are reading aloud, or if you have memorised your talk as then you will focus your energy on recalling your words. 

Preparation

The work you do behind the scenes will give you the results you want on the day of your presentation.

Set aside enough time to plan, and then do the work. Spend as much time on the delivery of your talk as you do the content. Aim to be relaxed and comfortable with your material, and avoid memorising or rote learning your content as that often comes across as robotic and inauthentic. 

Prepare your mind and body for the task. Mindset is key. Visualise yourself delivering the best version of the presentation that you want to give, and making a difference to those you are there to serve. Ensure you are adequately hydrated, nourished and you have warmed up your voice.

Posture 

The Confidence Gap by Dr Russ Harris is a valuable resource. Harris talks about the Cycle of Confidence and how the Actions of Confidence come before the Feelings of Confidence.  

We can choose to act confidently with open postures, even if we don’t feel that confident on the inside. The feelings will gradually come, if you are willing to do the work. 

Think of it as being ‘in training’. When you choose to hold your body in an upright, open position and with a powerful positive stance, you are likely to feel more confident than when you shrink and make yourself small (watch Amy Cuddy’s TED.com talk)

Avoid nervous body language and train your body to choose open and strong postures such as;

  • A solid stance with your feet hip-distance apart and your feet firmly grounded.
  • Your shoulders relaxed and away from your ears and your head up and chest out – this will ensure you have full use of your diaphragm and lung capacity. 
  • Arms are resting at waist height or by your sides, bringing them up to use when you speak but not waving them around aimlessly. 

Positioning

When you are speaking in public, try to be in front of the audience rather than behind the lectern. You will be able to build rapport faster. A lectern serves as a barrier between you and those in your audience. Try to remove any unnecessary barriers wherever possible. 

If you are using slides, then avoid standing in front of them. It sounds obvious but surprisingly, I see people do this often. The ideal position for you to stand if you are using slides is to the side of the screen and the audiences’ left. 

It is an option to use the space to move intentionally as this helps anchor your talk. When you want to indicate a timeline, use the area to the left (your right) to indicate the past, the middle position for neutral statements or a step closer to the audience for a power statement. Finally, use the space to the right (your left) to indicate the future. The use of space is useful for a talk that has a chronological timeline – past-present-future. 

Proxemics 

Proxemics is the study of people’s territory and the implications of space in relationships with others, developed by Edward T. Hall, an American anthropologist. 

The space between the speaker and the audience can influence the interpretation of the message.

Aim to make your talk an experience to be remembered. Get out from behind the lectern, and use the space between you and your audience to deepen the connection. An important consideration with any body movement that you do is to make it purposeful. Sometimes with excitement and nervousness, it is easy to pace, rock or fidget.  Aim for intentional positioning and to use proxemics appropriately. 

With practice, you can eliminate signs of nervous body language, and as you choose to change the way you hold your body, you may notice that you feel empowered and more confident. Public speaking and the ability to project confidence, authenticity and trust is a learned skill and a skill worth learning.


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.

Graphic Recording will make your message more memorable

Graphic Recording will make your message more memorable

Graphic recording Lisa Evans

I am often asked about my work as a graphic recorder and the question most people want to know is, how to get started. 

In this post I will share basic tips on how to take that first step in putting pen to paper, or stylus to device (depending on your chosen medium). 

If you would like a 1:1 coaching session or an interactive workshop for your team on how to record any information in a graphic recording, then get in touch to find out about my workshop.

Sketchnoting for Business (even if you think you cannot draw) 

Firstly,  what is Graphic Recording? 

Graphic Recording is a way of capturing visual content in an eye-popping and compelling way, using a combination of lettering, words, shapes and figures. Graphic recording is Ideal for both online and in person events or meetings, in fact any occasion where you want your message to stand out and to grab people’s attention visually.

A graphic recording will help to spark imagination, highlight the key talking points and keep the conversation going long after the speaker has finished. This form of visual storytelling appeals to busy people who want a snapshot of information in a one page summary. 

‘But I cannot draw’

I hear this everyday. The truth is I can’t draw either, and it’s not necessary. The purpose of a Graphic Recording is to quickly and efficiently capture ideas and highlights in a fun way, whilst improving the chances of recall of information as our brain loves visual imagery to help us connect the dots and remember things. 

Anyone can draw basic shapes and all you need to get started is to be able to draw a square, circle triangle and a straight line. These are the building blocks. 

How to get started? 

Initially you will need to decide if you would prefer to capture your ideas via pen and paper, or whether you would like to use a digital device such as the iPadPro. 

Choose your Medium

Digital Vs Paper.

If you choose digital, you will need a tablet with a stylus and a drawing app. The benefits of using a tablet is that your graphic recording can be transmitted easily and saved in different formats. It is also possible to edit and undo and correct mistakes. On the down side, I personally found that mastering the IPadPro with Procreate and Concepts (the main apps I use) to be a very steep learning curve. 

I started off using paper. I prefer a combination of flip chart sized paper as well as moleskins and sketch pads. 

You will also need pens/textas/markers

Tip:   It is faster to get your ideas down onto paper, so you might like to start with this and progress to digital.  Of course, digital is much quicker to be able to share, so take this into account if you need to get the content out quickly to attendees/participants.  

Also,  starting with paper is a low cost way to dip your toe into graphic recording.  You don’t need to get fancy with markers when you are starting out.  You can definitely borrow some from the kids, or just pick up a basic pack at the supermarket or stationary store. 

To start I recommend;

  • A pack of Staedtler highlighter chisel tips  in both pastel and brights
  • Some calligraphy markers and lettering pens – Artine is a good starter option
  • A pack of brush lettering pens – make sure there are a range of skin tones.

Once you feel ready, you can invest in quality pens and tools.   I like to use Neuland Markers from Graphic Gear.   

Next, you need to develop a visual library.  Shapes, lines, lettering, figurines, faces, objects.   Be patient – it takes time and practice.   9/10 adults say they can’t draw, but you can.  You are not aiming to be the next Picasso, this is about capturing the essence and points of a meeting or event.   If you are struggling for inspiration, have a look on Instagram or Pinterest for some ideas or check out my gallery!

There are also some great books about graphic recording;

Practice every day!   Use a conversation as a prompt, or something you see in a coffee shop, or read in a book. You can make a graphic recording of anything.  Maybe find a drawing buddy or enrol in a workshop.

Don’t leave home without them…your pens that is!

I found a nifty grey felt holder from Ikea that is perfect for carrying pens around with me. 

I suggest you always carry some tools with you (even just a notebook and a few coloured pens) as you never know what you might come across, and there are so many opportunities to draw!

Have fun, be creative and you will be on your way to becoming a visual storyteller!   


About the author

Lisa Evans helps leaders and entrepreneurs 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

Whether you have a hidden story of your feet, or you want to nail your next presentation, I can help you.

My services include:

Business Storytelling Coaching – together we can get started to create your suite of stories. A minimum of three sessions is recommended 1:1 in person or virtually via Zoom.

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.

Storytelling for Leaders Interactive 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 at your next conference or event – I have several topics to choose from ranging from a 30-minute talk up to a 90-minute interactive session.

7 Signs of Nervous Body Language

7 Signs of Nervous Body Language

Have you ever sat in the audience and felt uncomfortable as you watch the speaker?

You are anticipating listening to the speaker, curious to hear what they have to say. Then during their presentation, you notice that you feel a bit awkward and are beginning to lose concentration. They are showing signs of nervous body language, and that can turn the audience off.  

Chances are, it is not the content that the speaker is sharing that is making you feel disconnected; it is the way they are holding their body and how they are moving.

When a speaker is moving their body and standing in a way that looks awkward or is distracting for others, that is a sign of nervous body language, and when a speaker acts this way it can impede their ability to make a lasting impression. 

So, what are the telltale signs of nervous body language and why is it important to ensure you are sending the right message with your non-verbal communication?

Our body has a language of its own, and nonverbal communication is critical for leaders to understand and master. When we stand in front of others and project nervous body language—looking and feeling awkward—it can make them feel awkward too. Part of our role as speakers is to help our audience feel comfortable, so to do that we need to look and feel as comfortable as possible and avoid being a speaker who fidgets.

Maybe you have been that fidgety speaker? Or you know someone who is, and you don’t know what advice to give them.

When you are speaking in public, the way you move and hold your body is as important as the words you are saying. 

There are many signs of nervous body language, I have included seven of the main ones that I often come across. You may be aware that you do some of these things, and you will certainly have seen others do so. Chances are, you may not even be aware that what’s going on inside your head, what you are thinking and feeling, plays out in your body language. It is only when you are willing to be self-critical that you can iron out any body language nuances that are detrimental to your reputation as a speaker. 

7 signs of nervous body language and what you can do instead

Freezing

If you are feeling nervous, your body may stiffen, making you appear glued to the spot. On a micro-expression level, when we experience nervousness our facial nerves tend to take on a frozen ‘deer in the headlights’ appearance. Your listeners may pick up that you are tense and perceive this as a lack of confidence. This can drastically reduce your credibility in their eyes, and it’s hard to build trust and rapport when you are projecting a stiff solid stance. 

What you can do instead. 

Record yourself speaking in front of an audience so that you can see what they saw. Watch out for the parts of your presentation where you look frozen: is it at the beginning of your presentation as nerves are high? or are you generally a bit stiff in the upper body as you speak?

Remember to breathe and smile. Stand tall and allow your shoulders to move away from your ears. Practice your talk so that you feel comfortable with the words and your ability to present with confidence. Aim to use natural and simple physical gestures that aren’t overdone and arm movements that originate softly from the elbow. You want these movements to appear smooth and natural, never jerky. The more comfortable you feel, the more relaxed and natural your body language will look and feel.

Backwards Stepping

When you are lacking confidence or you are not totally committed to the words that you are saying, you may take one or more small steps backwards as you speak. If you have ever been in a position where you were required to deliver a presentation on a topic that was not aligned with your values or you did not believe in, then you will know the feeling. 

It may only be a slight movement of one or two steps, but it is enough to look as though you are retreating. That is how your audience will subconsciously perceive this movement. When you retreat from your audience, your message becomes less believable.

What you can do instead.

Again, play back a video recording of yourself and pay close attention to any backwards stepping. Note what you are saying at that particular time. What are your thoughts on that part of your talk—does it feel awkward and unnatural? Perhaps you can tweak the words so that they sound more authentic to you. Instead of stepping backwards when you have an important point to make, you can use forward movement to help emphasise your point and help it land the right way.

Rocking

If you stand with your weight on one foot then transfer it to the other and back again you may look as though you are not relaxed or prepared to give your talk. Whilst we want to avoid appearing glued to the spot, it is equally distracting to be looking at a speaker who is constantly swaying. Once again, it takes the audience away from what is really important. Often speakers tell me that they rock because it feels comforting and that their rocking increases as their stress level increases. But the way we hold our feet is an important part of a speaker’s posture. Add the blog post here 

What to do instead. 

Practise positioning yourself in a stable, grounded base as your neutral position. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes so that you can stand tall and poised, and most importantly, have your weight evenly distributed. You can tell a lot about a speaker by their feet. 

Fidgeting

This undesirable habit can be highly irritating for your audience. Any repetitive and unnecessary movement can be considered fidgeting, and if you are guilty of this nervous body language, taking action to eliminate this bad habit will improve your delivery instantly. 

It can be tempting to have something on your person or within reach that you can fidget with. Some fidgety actions that I have observed as a speaker coach include: twisting or playing with rings, bangles, or watches; clicking the top of a pen; jangling keys in pockets (it is especially irritating for others when there is noise as well as a visual distraction); twisting; smoothing and patting of clothes or body parts; and frequently adjusting hair (more common in women). 

What you can do instead.

As you get up to speak, avoid having anything unnecessary on your person that will later be tempting to fiddle with. Try to have your hands soft and relaxed by your sides as a neutral position and raise them to gesture when it feels natural to do so. 

Asymmetrical stance

It is quite common for us to favour one side of our body. This may manifest as leaning (having our weight more to one side of the body) or using your dominant hand exclusively when you gesture. When we stand in front of an audience to speak, we want to look centred. 

Take a look at a recording of yourself speaking. Do you appear asymmetrical? And if so, could you improve your stance by becoming more centred? You may have an unconscious tendency to lean to the right or left without being aware of it. Another reason why an asymmetrical stance can be detrimental to your speaking success is that it affects your ability to use your voice to its maximum.

Incorporating diaphragmatic breathing is important for speakers to do as it allows you to unlock your vocal potential. Consider an article on diaphragmatic breathing for speakers

What you can do instead.

Experiment with using your non-dominant hand to gesture. It might feel strange at first but with practice you will be able to correct the asymmetry in order to appear more balanced. If balance and posture are something you’d like to focus on, then both Pilates and yoga are really useful to help with posture, presence and confidence. 

Pacing 

If you have lots of energy as you take the stage, you may pace from side to side. Or, it can feel a bit scary to have all eyes on you, and pacing is an easy option to avoid their gaze. Whilst it is a good thing to have some purposeful movement when you speak, avoid random pacing.

Watching a speaker who is a pacer is super districting and your audience will no longer be listening to you speak; they will be watching your body language. If you are a serial pacer, then you are not adding gestures that enhance your message—you are adding noise.

What to do instead.

Practise remaining relatively still and poised, standing tall and balanced. If you begin to feel the need to pace, then take a few deep breaths, anchor your thoughts, and try and resist. As you start to embrace speaking and build your confidence, this trait will disappear. If you move, do so with intent—think of the stage as an extension but avoid pacing just because.

Screen Gazing

A final telltale sign of nervous body language is when the speaker frequently looks and\or points back to a screen. If you are not comfortable speaking in public or standing in front of others, you may look behind you at the screen as a way of avoiding all eyes on you or to read your material from your slide. 

Your screen is not going anywhere! 

What you can do instead.

Try doing your presentation without a screen. Some of the best speakers either don’t use PowerPoint or use it very sparingly. Your slides are there to enhance your message, not to be the main feature of your talk. Use a comfort screen if there is one available and set up your equipment so you can see it without looking back. Be familiar with the slides so that you know what is coming next without having to look back. Practise making eye contact with the audience members so you will be able to engage better with people. Generally, they have come to listen to you, and not watch you watch the screen.


About the author

Lisa Evans helps leaders and entrepreneurs to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers.

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: 

Virtual – Live Online Training – Public Speaking and Presentation Skills, Business Storytelling and executive Speaker Coaching is available online.

Business Storytelling Coaching – together we can get started to create your suite of stories. A minimum of three sessions is recommended 1:1 in person or virtually via Zoom.

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.

Storytelling for Leaders Interactive 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 at your next conference live of virtual event – I have several topics to choose from ranging from a 30-minute talk up to a 90-minute interactive session.

Lisa Evans, MBA is the CEO of Speaking Savvy. She is one of less than 150 Certified Speaking Professionals in Australia. She is a Certified Public Speaking and Storytelling Coach, Certified Virtual Presenter, Accredited Business Coach (ICF), Author, TEDx Speaker Coach, NLP Coach, Graphic Recorder, Host and Curator of Stories From The Heart, and Improvisation Actor and Marketing Director at Perth Playback Theatre.


8 Practical Tips to Communicating Effectively in Virtual Meetings

8 Practical Tips to Communicating Effectively in Virtual Meetings

As a leader you are most comfortable presenting in the boardroom and with your team in a face to face setting. 

With the new way of working and the rapid shift to the online world, leaders are having to adapt to communicating in virtual meetings. 

I have spoken to many leaders who are unfamiliar with presenting online and hosting virtual meetings. 

Now is a vital time for efficient and effective communication. As well as accurate and timely information, we need to build and maintain rapport and engagement in a time when a high level of trust is essential. 

8 practical tips to tips to communicate effectively in virtual meetings.

1. Have an agenda  

Just like you would in any other meeting have an agenda that you can send out prior to the meeting along with any required reading or notes. If you are new to virtual meetings it may be easier for you to send the information by email rather than try to share your screen during the meeting. 

You may want to make your online meeting shorter than you normally would. It’s harder to keep people engaged online, and even more so now as our routines are disrupted and we are coming to terms with this new way of working.

2. Start and finish on time 

Often virtual meetings can start and finish late due to technical glitches. Sometimes technical glitches are blamed when the issue is lack of planning!

If you are the host of the meeting, arrive early to the online space. Set up your workspace and your surroundings so that you are ready to start on time. 

Remember to allow some social interaction.  Now is the time that we need to feel connection. Perhaps a quick ‘round the virtual room’ and making time for questions. If your team generally has a bit of light chit chat prior to or at the end of a meeting, continue that. 

3. Dress for business

How you show up is important. As a leader you want to exude executive presence and confidence. Your non-verbal communication has to be congruent with your words. 

It’s too easy to turn up in our casual clothes and opt to have your webcam switched off, but I think it’s important that we show up dressed for work, and have the video camera on. 

Think about your posture too. When you sit up straight with your back supported in the back you will look confident.  You will be able to use your voice effectively when you have good posture.

4. Meet and greet 

Be present and ready in the virtual meeting space as people arrive online. It doesn’t instil confidence when the host of the meeting is head down looking at other screens, on the phone, or fiddling around with papers. 

As the host it’s your role to be there and be ready and to be available to meet and greet people. If your meeting is large and there may be lots of online chat or questions, it is useful to have another person to manage this side of it. You can make them a co-host of the meeting so they have the same onscreen access as you. 

5. Be stationary 

Ideally you will have your laptop set up somewhere but you may be hosting the virtual meeting platform using your phone. That’s ok, but it’s best not to wander around while you are speaking, the people on the receiving end will be distracted by the shakiness and movement. Prop your phone onto a shelf or desk somewhere so that you are still. 

6. Sound

Remember to turn off any unnecessary distractions. As our notifications often come through the same device we are using for the virtual meeting it’s easy to forget to turn them off. And of course there is the dog! Maybe the children and other household sounds that are not usually there when we are in the office. 

7. Lighting 

If possible position yourself somewhere where you have some natural light. By the window is a good spot. You will see in this eight minute video that I have used some lights as it was recorded on a cloudy day. 

When you have your camera on for the virtual meeting look directly to the camera. Eye contact is really important. Look directly into the camera lens and avoid looking at the image of yourself or others on the screen, and we don’t want to be looking up noses or at the top of people’s heads, so set up your video camera at eye level. 

8. Gestures

Remember to smile! A smile will help people feel welcome to the virtual meeting. Building trust is essential right now. It’s also ok to use your hands when you speak as you normally would in a face to face meeting.  

Keep your arm movements close to your body otherwise your hands look enormous when they are close to the screen. 

I hope that those tips have been helpful for you. I have not gone into any of the software or technical tips for virtual meetings as I wanted to keep this post short and simple. These are only some of the tips required for effective online communication. If you would like to take part in next weeks’ virtual masterclass then contact me.

If you’d like a virtual coaching session or virtual training on how to effectively communicate with a remote force then do get in touch.

Soft Skills Are Key to Your Success as a Leader

Soft Skills Are Key to Your Success as a Leader

Soft skills are critical to your success as a leader, and so, the term ‘soft’ belies their true value. Soft skills are becoming increasingly important to organisations, and yet, leaders with strong soft skills are in short supply. In this article, I take a closer look at why soft skills are such an important part of your aptitude as a leader.

What are soft skills?

As many as 93% of employers consider soft skills to be an essential factor when hiring new employees, including leaders. And yet, many organisations find it incredibly difficult to source candidates with the appropriate soft skills.

Soft skills are hard to measure, quantify and evaluate. Unlike your ‘hard’, or job-specific skills, soft skills are transferable to any role and any situation. They are interpersonal skills, and include your personality traits, communication skills, listening skills, empathy, and ability to understand unspoken social cues.

While your hard skills are obtained through on-the-job training or certification, soft skills are acquired through years of interaction with other people, both in your working life and in social situations.

Why are soft skills essential for a leader?

The difference between a leader and those they lead is not simply a job title. Leadership is all about influence. An effective leader has a superior ability to communicate, direct, and inspire those that they manage. Not only do leaders need to have a solid technical and job-specific expertise but they must also possess the soft skills that enable them to motivate their teams, communicate important messages, and bring about change in their organisations. Too often, businesses make the mistake of assuming that a highly-performing team member will make a good leader.

 A great salesperson does not a leader make.

How often have you encountered leaders who simply make demands, without communicating their intentions, or taking on board the feedback and opinions of their team? These types of leaders, who lack interpersonal skills, are not only unpleasant to work with, but are ineffective as leaders. It’s well understood (and backed by research) that people do not leave companies, they leave managers. In fact, a recent Gallup poll showed that around 75% of workers who voluntarily leave their jobs do so for reasons that are directly related to management.

Success as a leader relies heavily on the use of soft skills, often in subtle ways. Having well-developed soft skills means being better at negotiating, organising, motivating, and making both employees and clients feel heard and understood; which is why these skills are so critical when it comes to being an effective leader.  

Are your soft skills letting you down?

 Do you find that, no matter how technically proficient you are at your job, you have difficulty in closing deals, negotiating, or running successful meetings? Do you have trouble organising your team, or achieving your desired outcomes? Any of these issues might indicate that your soft skills are letting you down. It’s time to get working on them!

How to develop your soft skills

In today’s increasingly competitive world, it’s no longer OK to be average. Not only will soft skills make you a better leader, they can make an incredible difference to all areas of your life. By developing your soft skills, you can become a better negotiator (both at work and at home!), run more productive meetings, become a better public speaker, build trust, and win more clients.

Unlike hard skills, soft skills aren’t often taught on the job. Luckily, although they can take years to cultivate naturally, these skills can be taught and developed in specialised soft-skills training programs for leaders.

As a qualified and experienced corporate speaking and training expert, I have helped countless senior leaders to develop their soft skills to become better leaders. I offer a range of speaking courses which will help you to develop your own leadership voice and hone your interpersonal skills, to make you the most effective and inspiring leader you can be. If you’re ready to close the gap in your leadership skills and develop your soft skills to expert level, book into one of my workshops today.