Category: Speaking

How I Overcame My Fear of Public Speaking & Networking All in One Night

Why would any sane individual choose to overcome their fear of public speaking in front of an audience of their peers?

I can’t think of a single good reason why anyone would do that but it’s how I decided once and for all to shake my fear of public speaking and “get over myself and get on with it”.

Failing to Plan Isn’t ALWAYS Planning to Fail

I’d love to tell you my first foray onto the stage was a well documented, highly planned strategic decision taken after hours of research and reflection.  But no, it wasn’t like that at all.

It seems like light years ago now.  I was a newly trained and very nervous coach and like anyone entering a new industry for the first time I’d joined my professional body, The International Coach Federation (ICF), to meet others in my situation and to gain confidence and creditability.

I was at an ICF meeting one evening feeling pretty darn good about having overcome the fear to actually attend a meeting.  They were having a membership drive and the President called for volunteers to speak about their ICF experience at a public meeting.  I heard my brain say “Hell no, that’s not for me”.

Watch for Flying Body Parts

Then as I noticed my hand fly into the air, the rest of my body froze.

How dare this traitor raise itself without proper consultation!

Hadn’t we discussed my wretched fear of public speaking many times?

Did this hand not understand that we had spent months creating a series of particularly cunning and plausible excuses NOT TO APPEAR in public?  We had blitzed the “appearing at meetings” thing and now without warning we were considering SPEAKING ….. in PUBLIC!

FEAR Was Cursing Through My Veins!

I was an experienced avoider.  Could the hand not remember the couple of goes I’d had at turning up to events, actions designed to help me overcome my fear of being in public spaces with strangers.  How many times did I just keep driving past the venue when the five empty parking spaces right out the front had been deemed “too far away”?  I’m even ashamed to admit that I sat on a tram and cruised past the venue glancing at my watch and realising I was a few minutes late for an ICF event, therefore unable to attend because I would “disrupt the meeting”.  I got off at the next stop, crossed the tracks and went back home on the next available tram.

The funny thing was when I did actually attend my first ICF meeting several people arrived late and no one blinked an eye.  So much for the late theory! What’s more I was made welcome and people actually talked to me (yet another lie dispelled from my plethora of irrational fears conquered in the dark archives of the groundless and illogical doubts residing between my ears).

Now having overcome the fear of turning up, I was now sitting with my hand up in the air volunteering to speak as a novice member. WHAT WAS I THINKING????

I’d rather fall face first into a plate of cold vomit than speak in public.

Volunteer Now and Think Later

Not only was I volunteering to speak in public, I was volunteering to speak in front of my peers.  Hooley Dooley, I’d done it this time!  They were sure to throw tomatoes, I would surely be asked to resign my membership and I would be ostracised from the coaching community forever and would fry in hell if I ever tried to enter again.

Then I heard the Presidents dreaded words “thank you Margaret, we’d love to have you speak”.

WHAT HAD I DONE!

I can tell you there was a LOT of hand wringing in the next few weeks.  Then I realised the only way to deal with the situation was to ignore it and continue to hope that the world would end before I had to do the talk.

Then it came the day before the talk and I realised Armageddon hadn’t happened and I would need to write my speech.  So I sat down and started to map out how the ICF had helped me as a fledgling coach.  Actually once the pen hit the paper I found it was painless and the words flowed easily because I was only writing about what I had experienced.  That wasn’t so hard.

Then it came time to practice my talk.  As I started to speak I stumbled over the words the first few times but I found the more I practiced the easier it became.

There seemed to be a pattern emerging here.  The more action I took the easier things became…hmmmmm.

I was beginning to understand that most of the fear around this event was probably residing in my head.  But I continued to practice and finally it came time to speak.  I had taken a friend along as moral support and I had my best clothes on and I figured at least I’d go down looking good!

Despite my knees knocking, my palms sweating, my heart thumping and every cell in my body ready to run for the door, I got through my talk.  I just read out what I’d written because I didn’t know any better.  I stumbled on a couple of words and no one seemed to care and at the end everyone complimented me on my heart felt words.

I got out without one single tomato stain on my silk jacket, my membership was still in tact and what’s more, every single person in that room knew who I was and what I was about.  Not only had I cleared my fear of public speaking, I’d also figured out how to successfully network all in one night.

I continue to speak in public.  I never go to networking events (unless I choose to) because I know that the most power is in the front of the room.

My confidence has grown so much now that I deliver keynotes at the start of conferences, I speak to a lot of associations, I’ve had some training from some of the best in the industry and I often find myself volunteering to speak in all sorts of situations.  The weirdest discovery is that I LOVE TO SPEAK and my ability to speak has brought me opportunities beyond my wildest dreams.

But even now, there are rules that must never be broken.  Stick with these and you will never go wrong:

1. Speak on topics you are passionate about and know a lot about

2. Know your target market and never speak outside it

3. Write your talk at least one week out from the event

4. Practice and tweak, practice and tweak

5. Make your start and finish impactful & learn them off by heart

6. Have notes with bullet points on the podium to remind you what goes in the middle (in case you forget)

7. Keep it succinct and don’t try to tell them everything you know all at once

8. Embrace the fear and use it to your advantage – the adrenalin is helping to pump you up for the talk

9. Get over yourself and make it about the audience

10. Be yourself; be real and be authentic – it works a treat!

I have realised my message is now more important than me so I just continue to get over myself and get on with it.  I trust this nutty little (true) story will help you overcome your fears too.

Follow This Link If You’d Like To Get A Video Each Day For 10 Days Going Through My Top Ten Speaking Tips

The last few days I’ve been living like a rock star in Beverly Hills

Did you know that what you’ve been doing in the past 90 days is what will shape the next six months?

I’m currently sitting in the United Lounge at Los Angeles airport – my 90 Day tourist visa is up!  Once Uncle Sam is done with you, there is nothing to do but ride that silver bird back to the wide brown land.  The jolt back to reality is going to be huge as the wheels hit the tarmac at Kingsford Smith Sydney in sixteen hours time.

P1000004The last few days I’ve been living like a rock star in Beverly Hills.

To be honest that whole Rodeo Drive things just leaves me cold.  I wandered there yesterday in search of food and was totally bemused by people in the omni-present tourist buses going up and down taking pictures of stores they couldn’t afford to shop in.  The whole celebrity things is a bit lost on me. although I did get to walk through the lobby of the “Pretty Woman” hotel and saw the balcony Julia Roberts sat on threatening to tobble over as the scared of heights Richard Gere just about had kittens.  Guess I’m as bad as the happy snappers 🙂

Also drove through Hollywood and Vine where the man walks across the road shouting “Welcome to Hollywood! What’s your dream?”

Our dreams are funny things.  The more action we put into each set of 90 days we get gifted – the closer our dreams get to reality.  The actions we don’t take atrophy our dreams.

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Image By Pixabay

During my last two days in LA, I had the pleasure to be gifted a one on one session with vocal coach Roger Love.  I’d never dreamed this little kiwi could be tutored by someone who has worked with some big names from downunder like INXS, Hanson, Missy Higgins plus all the greats from USA music and film.  As I sat in his office surrounded by his accolades and framed platinum CD’s – well it was all a bit surreal.

The only reason it happened was because I took a risk that as yet hasn’t fully paid off.  But being around people who work with people who follow their dreams takes you to a new level even before you get started.

As you step up to the plate and you have to be prepared to hear the truth and be prepared to listen.

I knew as I took the honest feedback about my voice and the way I speak that all those who stood in the same spot in his office had heard similar news delivered, because we rarely consider our voice.

Doesn’t matter who you are, you still have things to learn about your trade.  After taking a huge piece of feedback on an earlier teleclass with Roger, I’ve had a couple of other things added to my voice improvements list:  “the high squeaky hinge”,  “not filling the room enough”, “speaking too quietly”, “not dropping my jaw”, “tongue too high” ….. crikey it’s little wonder I have so much trouble ordering take out in the USA!  It’s not until you get out of your comfort zone or your own environment for challenges you never knew you had, to start appearing.

Roger Love & ME Lge.001Then as we stepped over to the piano Roger reminded me that anything shared is done with love – pun intended I’m sure 🙂  My response was – “let me have all the feedback, don’t meter it, just tell me where I can improve”.

That thirst for feedback has been my friend over the years.  Sure it hurts and cuts like a knife when you first hear it, but as soon as you start to work on the problem, it feels like progress is being made.

Most never progress because they can’t take the “negative” feedback.  They want everything wrapped in cotton wool, they want it watered down, they want it so politically correct that the truth gets lost in the memory foam wrapper.

I really encourage you to be up for feedback and up to take on new information in your own business and personal ambition.

You see the thing that is our greatest enemy is what we don’t know, we don’t know.

The confidence and courage that comes from knowing you have at least one small part of what you need to learn is taken care of, well it automatically brings you to a new place.

Anyone who lives from a place of higher ambition, will always be seeking new knowledge, new feedback and new ways of doing things because they are desperate to find all those things they don’t know and start to work on correcting them.

I’ve had some wonderful conversations with the fabulous speakers and coaches, about the theory of the voice.  I knew it was important, but I didn’t realise how important our voice is until I attended World’s Greatest Speaker Training.

https://rogerlove.com/wgst1/It was amusing and alarming all at the same time to hear Brendon Burchard tell us how he met Roger Love.  After a very grueling schedule, Brendon was standing in the carpark at one of his mega events, hundreds of red cordial filled fans screaming for more, still with a couple of days left to present and NO voice.  Roger was able to give him enough exercises in the carpark to enable him to go back on stage and present.

But as Roger warned us, its not ideal to get your voice into this type of situation.

Of course we never put the work in before hand, because we don’t know what we don’t know.  So Roger inevitably gets the emergency call, where a miracle is being asked for and what’s more expected.  In a sick sort of way, its nice to know this stuff happens at every level of someone’s career.

It’s also sort of heartening to me (in a sick kind of way) to hear that many big names have picked up the phone and been squeaking down the line, desperate for a miracle.  It makes all the things I haven’t known needed work seem a little less “doh” on my part.

All our “squeaky hinges” dwelling in our throat’s and “Yogi bear” sounds and “cheshire cat” voices mostly go un-noticed, until we start to put pressure on them.  We simply don’t know they are a problem nor do we understand just how much air needs to roll past the vocal chords, nor are we prepared to spend twenty minutes each day working the vocal chords, the six pack of our voice.

Its hard to work out anything when you don’t even know it needs working out.

I trust you will at least start to investigate what the voice needs to stay strong, or at least remember this communication and know what to do when you find yourself “desperate in the carpark” at the back of your venue.

If you are interested in working with your voice a little more and beginning to understand what you need to know to get your vocal chords up to a level where they won’t break down on you, then I recommend you make some time with Roger Love, either in person or via skype.

Our voice is our wand in everything we do and the stronger our voice and the stronger we can communicate, the more successful we are going to be.

The next 90 Days is going to be a bit rough for me as I adjust back to life downunder and get down to some serious work.

Throwing myself back into work is something I find works after these magical adventures “upover”.  I also know that putting some solid work into the next 90 days is going to make the first six months of 2014 look way different.

7 Things You Absolutely Must Know Before You Start To Record Videos

Video is very different to recording audios.  There is no where to hide!

I still have a lot of practice to do, but these are just a few of the challenges I’ve overcome to get a half decent product.

1.  Look Directly at the Camera

To get good contact with your audience you have to be looking straight at the camera – like straight down the lens or on a laptop you need to be looking at the lens not the green light beside it, otherwise you get a strange “sideways’ look about you.

2.  Avoid Jowls

To avoid looking all “jowlie” or like you have more chins than a Chinese phone book – make sure you are looking slightly upwards at your camera, not too far up though or they’ll be looking straight up ya nose 🙂

Also if you are looking down at the camera it gives the effect of “looking down” on your audience and we certainly don’t want that!

I find if the camera is just slightly above eye level, then it works really well.  In a weird twist if I sit my laptop on my Yeti microphone box on a dining room table – I get the exact right height.

3.  Don’t Move About Too Much

If you have expensive camera’s then you can move and sway as much as you like because they will self focus.  However, the tiny little camera’s in most laptops or iPhones can’t focus quickly and you keep going out of focus if you move too much.  Allow the camera to lock onto you and then stay as still as you can, while not appearing to “wooden”.  Use your arms and hands to get the movement …. that way you won’t look like a talking clothes peg.

Golden rule, in most instances of course is:  The better the equipment, The better the end product

4.  You Need MakeUp – Even If You Think You Don’t!

If you are a bronzed tanned beauty then by all means go ahead and roll cameras with just a dab of lip gloss.  But for an old gal like me with pasty white skin, well we need a lot of help.  I found a make up artist who specialises in video work and she was amazing.

She recommended a product called Kryolan.  I was surprised how much makeup I needed to wear to look like I only had a little bit on.  I was also surprised at the colours she gave me, that are quite gaudy and give you an eery resemblance to an Oompa-Loompa in normal light, but look fine once you look back at the video.  The Lip Gloss she recommends looks pink on camera but is a funny orange colour.  So I recommend you book in and have someone help you out if you are going to get serious about video.   Danni at Its All About MakeUp really helped me a lot.

I also met another great makeup artist, Julie from Sapphire Hair and Makeup on the Gold Coast.  She works a lot with photographers and does a lot of weddings so she is really versed in what works in the video field.  Never go to a big department store to get makeup advice.  What looks good in normal light can look really different under bright video lights.  Something Julie recommended to me was a lighter foundation that is used in air brushing.  I would never have got to that solution in a million years. but it’s brilliant.  You just apply it with your fingers and it’s very running, but gives great coverage with a much less “made up” look and a much lighter feel.   Plus it lasts for ages!  The product is called Elementwo Canvas Blend Foundation and you can buy that here.

5.  You Need Good Light

Thing is you just can’t film anywhere and get a good result.  I’ve found the more natural light you have in front of you, the better it is.  You can find me at new house sits wandering around doing test recordings with my laptop until I find the space with the best light.

Professional lights of course are best and not as expensive as you might think.  Friends sent me links to these light systems, one in Sydney Australia and one in New York, both of which will ship for under $250 and that includes back drops as well!

My colleagues son is into lighting and he said the bulbs you get with the kit from the New York company will make you look younger – I guess if you buy two kits you look twice as young!

Aussie Lights – here

New York (age defying) Lights – here

If you want a Lavalier microphone, I have the Rode lavalier – but should you wish to go to that level, you can get them drop dead cheap from Amazon here

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If you really want to bend your brain, Brendon Burchard, who has the ultimate set up, recorded this little video where he explains in depth how he gets his look and feel.  You don’t need all the hi tech stuff he uses, I’m told the cheap lite boxes will give a similar effect as his expensive ones.  You can also buy small HD cameras now that will do a great job with the right lighting, but get a geek talking about which camera to use and you’ll be here for days!  Once he starts selling Geoff Walkers program (which is now finished) he is done on the video stuff but up until then its pure gold.  Oh for the day when I have a whole apartment to create and play in!  Click here for the video

I’ve also found the little iRig Mic Studio to be quite good.  You’ll need a microphone stand to hang it above your head – remember sound rises.  When you see singers in a studio you’ll notice the microphone is always slightly higher than their mouth and they’re singing up into it.  That is because sound rises, but if your voice is strong enough you’ll fill the room and the sound will go into the microphone just fine.

Don’t forget any microphone you use will only capture what is coming out of your mouth.  The more you practice your vocal exercises and the stronger you make your voice, the more quality you will get in your recordings.  I highly recommend you have sessions with a reputable voice coach or you could get Roger Love‘s audio program and learn how to strengthen and protect your voice, in doing that you will naturally project more sound out of your mouth and into the microphone.  You will notice an amazing difference in what your voice can do it you do the exercises each day.

6.  You Need to Look Confident

OK – the makeup covers any zits or bits you don’t won’t the world to see.  But you must be upbeat and confident ….. whether you feel that way or not!

Droning on in a video just won’t work.  So you need to raise your energy and vibration.  Dancing like no one’s looking before you do your recording is one of the quickest and easiest ways to change your energy state and prepare you to record.  But it’s a personal thing so whatever activity vibes you up and makes you feel full of zest for life is the perfect things for you!

I’d estimate you need to be amped up to at least twice as perky as normal to look normal.

7.  Be Yourself – Everyone Else is Taken

Of course being you is the most important part of video because video more than any other type of communication will nail you as a fraud if you are pretending or are trying to be someone you’re not.

Funny thing, the closer I got to the camera, the more ME I became.   You find your truth in funny places, usually the places you’ve been avoiding the most.  I found filming from a distance didn’t work so well.  I had to develop a real heart connection with the camera, which is of course ultimately your connection with your audience.

So its very much about figuring out what is right for you and experimenting A LOT!

THEN PRACTICE A LOT!

Then once you get your clip recorded, well your problems aren’t over – then you got to load them to the internet and that’s a blog post for another day!  I recommend you start with YouTube because its just easier.

I’d love you to leave a comment below about your video experiences to date.