fbpx
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 develop your storytelling skills. Business Storytelling 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.

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 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.

Is a Fear of Public Speaking Holding You Back?

Is a Fear of Public Speaking Holding You Back?

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 this cycle of fear

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 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.

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. 

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 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. 

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

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. 

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

Building your executive presence involves much more than becoming an effective leader. By improving your public speaking skills, growing your 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 master the art of executive presence and fulfil your potential. Contact me today to find out more.


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.

Get better at public speaking by doing this one thing

Get better at public speaking by doing this one thing

Say less!

Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his son this advice about public speaking. 

“Be sincere. Be brief. Be seated” 

It is much easier to give a long talk, as being brief means spending more time preparing and editing out the bits of your talk that are non essential.

According to Joe McCormack, author of Brief: How to make a bigger impact by saying lessthere are three tendencies that stop people from being brief when they are speaking in public;

  1. The tendency of over explaining
  2. The tendency of under preparing
  3. The tendency to completely miss the point.

Don’t add to the overwhelm

In today’s world we are bombarded with emails, interruptions, and the frequent checking of smartphones and other distractions. 

The need to be brief, to cut to the chase, and to avoid any extraneous information is essential if you want to be an effective communicator.

Yet, many of us struggle to keep our message brief, as it requires more effort to plan and refine the content. 

Being brief is a skill worth mastering when you are dealing with people who are overwhelmed with information – and that is most of us!

“If I say 150 words a minute, and you can hear 750 words a minute, the less I say, the more you hear.  

The more you say, the less they’re going to hear,”

Joe McCormack

Filter out the non-essential

Start by removing any non-essential information from your message. Aim to get better at filtering the ‘must have’ from the ‘nice to have’. It is often a challenge to ‘slash and burn’ your own material, as we can get attached to it. This is where a skilled editor or copywriter can be a great asset. 

Timing is fundamental to your credibility as a speaker

Don’t say more simply because you have the time. If you can deliver a message with impact, in less time than you have been allocated, there’s no need to fill up the extra time for the sake of it. 

Noone is going to complain about a bit of extra time for networking, grabbing a stretch, or having a refreshment break. 

However, what is considered bad mannered, is speaking way over time. Planning your time and knowing where you can cut out material on the fly, is a skill that sets an exceptional speaker apart from the rest. 

You didn’t have time to prepare?  

Your audience should not have to bear the brunt of lack of preparation. Being underprepared can lead to fluff and waffle, as you are gathering your thoughts as you go. 

As you think about what comes next or what you had planned to say, you may drop in an excessive number of  ‘ums, ahs, so, you know’ as you buy more time. This lack of preparation is obvious to all in the room and is hard to disguise. It can give the impression of ‘your time is not as valuable as mine’.  

On the other hand, a well prepared speaker will look and sound natural, and their material will flow and appear effortless. 

When you are at ease and fully across your material, you can focus on the audience, read their non verbal cues, change up your delivery or content as needed, and the experience will be more relaxing and enjoyable.

It takes more time to be brief, but it is worth it. A speaker who is considerable about time, and can make their point concisely with content that is memorable and compelling, is the speaker who will be appreciated and asked back. 

What’s the point?

When you plan and practice your talk, the first thing you must determine is the key message. If you cannot clearly state the point of your talk in ten words or less, it’s probably too complex or lacking in structure. 

Having a tagline, a takeaway and a WIIFM is a way to articulate your message in a concise way. 

When you are clear on your point, you can add supporting evidence, story, and delivery techniques to round it out. 

When you have a simple framework to your talk it keeps you on track. 

If your preference is to write out a script for your talk, then I suggest you write it as you will speak it. We speak very differently than how we write, and when we speak a piece that is meant to be written, it sounds like it’s being read aloud. 

Write your speech lines like poetry, aim to have shorter sentences with room for pauses. 

When you are standing in front of the group speaking and you find yourself unintentionally wandering, pull yourself back so that you stick to the point. 

Every time you speak in front of an audience you have the opportunity to stand out, to be unique and to make a difference. Be the best speaker you can be. 


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.

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.

Improve your public speaking by attending networking events

Improve your public speaking by attending networking events

If you are nervous about public speaking, you may also feel uncomfortable about networking. For many people, small talk and meeting new people can be a source of anxiety. 

If you don’t care much for the chit-chat that comes with a networking event you may be thinking:

  • I don’t have anything interesting to say.
  • I don’t know how to introduce myself without making it all about me.
  • I feel uncomfortable when it seems like everyone else is in a group. 

I’ve felt all of the above, and over the past few years, I have had to work at getting comfortable attending networking events. If you are nervous about speaking in public, then networking events are an excellent place to immerse yourself in conversation, even if it feels awkward at first. You may also like to try to focus on being a connector at a networking event.

The way to tackle a networking event is to have a strategy.

Consider the following:

  • You are there to serve
  • You are there to learn
  • Your aim is to make quality connections
  • You can leave when you want
  • You are probably not the only one in the room who is feeling uncomfortable.

What can you do when you arrive alone at networking events?

Your first stop may be the bathroom. Try on a Power Pose and say to yourself ‘you got this’.

Then as you step into the room ensure you have a confident posture, open body language and a smile. 

Actions of confidence come before feelings of confidence. 

Find someone else alone. That person may well be feeling a little awkward too.

You may prefer to stick to the edge of the room for a while, as you will be less overwhelmed by people. 

As you build your courage, you can look for a group of three or five and find a gap in their circle, step in to say ‘hi, can I join you?’. If they are deep in conversation, they may not immediately acknowledge you, wait it out and then introduce yourself.

What can you do if you arrive with a friend?

It’s easy to stick with the friend who you came with; however, that doesn’t help you network and ultimately get over feeling nervous about public speaking and meeting new people. 

Perhaps you can stay together for the first 15 minutes and then make an effort to go separate ways. Or you could invite another person along to join the two of you making a group of three. One of you could then step out and go and meet others. 

Alternatively, the two of you could look out for a group of three and go and join that group.

It is best to avoid attempting to join others in pairs or groups of four as those people are likely to be deep in conversation in their couple, and it is harder to be accepted in. 

Feeling awkward?

Don’t be tempted to get out your phone and start scrolling on social media or pretending you are talking to someone, and avoid offering to help the organisers or staff.  I’ve done both of these things to avoid feeling super awkward. It doesn’t help! I used to have a habit of attending conferences and ending up behind the registration desk or helping set up tables – the organisers may appreciate it, but it is not helping you push out of your comfort zone. 

Exit networking events gracefully

Sometimes it feels like the time to go, but you are stuck in a conversation, or you may think it’s impolite to leave early. When the time is right for you to leave, best you do so with grace and without fuss.

If the host is free, you can thank them and leave. If the host is engaged in conversation, then leave the event and follow up and thank the host the next day. 

If you are in conversation and you want to leave, you can state “I’ll be leaving in a few minutes,”. And then go—no need to make an excuse or offer apologies.

Business cards or not?

It’s a personal preference. I will carry a limited number of business cards with me and only offer a card if I am asked for one. I prefer to connect with the person right away using Linkedin. 

Some people will hand a card to everyone they meet. One way you can accept the card without adding to the stack you may have at home, is to take a picture of it. There are plenty of Apps that store business cards. 

What is your follow up system?

Follow up is extremely important. Let’s assume that you met at least one interesting person at the networking event. Perhaps you had a conversation, and you felt some alignment with them. Maybe there were others who you had a brief interaction with, and you’d like to continue a conversation.

LinkedIn is a great way to stay connected, and as a professional platform, you can’t beat LinkedIn for ease of use. There is a neat feature built into the search bar of LinkedIn on a mobile device. You can scan and connect with  the other person using the QR code that is part of their profile. It makes it easier to continue the conversation via message afterwards. 

There are plenty of CRM systems that can make it easy to store contacts and make notes to help you remember.

Whatever works for you, have a way to follow up those contacts who you would like to speak more with.

Networking is about finding out who you can serve, who you can ask for help and how you can continue the conversation. It can be the beginning of a fruitful business relationship and a great way to improve your public speaking. 


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.