Why our body is so important for successful speaking, Part 2

Linda Coyle

What the body has to do with being an engaging, confident speaker and 3 tips to help you get reacquainted!

An effective voice needs a free and flexible body

In Part 1 of this article I shared a Youtube video on why our body is important for confident, successful speaking. In part 2, I explore the topic further, and share three tips which will enable you to become a more confident and engaging speaker.

1. We speak in our body

…OK this can seem really obvious, but it’s really important to think about this one. We often think about the voice being in our throat area or mouth, but pay less attention to the fact that we use our whole body in order to speak. At most, we may hone in on breathing, having heard that it’s important to take deep breaths for good speaking, but that is often the height of it. And missing the body, means that you’re missing a vital tool for engaging and confident speaking.

In order to speak successfully we need to have a free and flexible body. What does this mean? Well it includes things like having shoulders which are relaxed and not scrunched up, a jaw which is flexible and not tight, legs which support you but are not fixed, a posture which is open and confident, while not rigidly adhering to ‘head up, shoulders back’ which we often perceive as ‘good posture.’

Another key factor is space…not the intergalactic kind! To speak in an engaging and effective manner we want space… space inside our body for our voice to resonate well, space inside our throat, mouth and nose, so that our voice sounds engaging, space inside our head for clarity, as well as a sense of space around us, the area that we want our voice to fill.

 

2.Our body reacts to fear

This is probably the biggest motivator for why we need to connect with our body when we want to come across as a confident speaker. Fear is our body’s reaction to a perceived threat, so we see a lion, we get palpitations, sweat, and get ready to run- fight or flight, or we may freeze, stuck to the spot. Stand in front a podium, and the same physical reactions are not that dissimilar! So, we’re hard wired to keep ourselves safe, and even though to our rational brain, the fear of a speaking situation, be it public speaking, or dealing with a conflict situation, may seem highly irrational, the fact is, that our body doesn’t agree. So, while we may try to either talk ourselves out of this ‘irrational’ thinking, or ignore the nervous feelings, (and/or the stressful event until the last minute!), we are likely to be on a losing battle! Essentially we’re fighting against a wave which is much more powerful that we are.

 

Another thing that happens, is that as we get more stressed we move further into our head, and if these thoughts are left unchecked, we become more disconnected from our body.  This tends to maintain a negative cycle including features such as anxiety, panic, dread, over thinking and self-criticism.

 

So, what to do? Here are three tips to get you more connected to your body in under a few minutes each day. If you practice these regularly, you’ll find that become more body aware, and this in turn will enable you to be a more confident and engaging speaker. So here we go!

 

1. Get more grounded

The simple act of standing up and noticing our connection with the ground is very powerful. While you can do this wearing shoes, it can be particularly useful to do this exercise without shoes on, so that you’re really noticing the contact of your feet with the ground. When we’re stressed we move upwards into our head, so moving downwards, brings us back down to earth…literally! It can be very powerful how settling this is. The very act of choosing to become more grounded means that we stop what we’re doing, and that that is vital if we want to speak with power.

2. Do a body scan

A body scan is simply taking a 10-20 seconds or up to a minute or two, to scan down along your body from the top of your head down to your feet. It’s a chance to stop, become more present in yourself and be a curious observer of your body. I know that for me, when I do a body scan, I often notice tightness in my body which I hadn’t been aware of before. By regularly taking time to scan through your body, then you can get more tuned in to what is happening, and be able to speak from a place of presence. It’s useful to practice body scans when you’re in a relaxed environment, so that you can use them when you’re faced with a scary speaking situation where you desperately want to be confident.

If you’d like help with doing a body scan, then you can access an audio recording on  Day 1 of my Speak with confidence e-course which is currently available for free.

Find out more

 

3. Do mindful movement and stretching.

We can be great at doing lots of exercise but not necessarily be that aware of what we’re doing. Taking time to do simple stretches slowly and mindfully gets us more connected to our body. This could be as simple as scrunching up your shoulders, holding the tension, and then releasing, but being really aware as you are doing it. I particularly like many of the exercises used by Daniela Razocher of Bodies at Work , which can be accessed here.

 

Be curious, don’t judge

With each of these three tips to help you get more connected to your body, the key thing is to be curious about what you notice, and not judge. It’s very easy to take a dislike to feelings within the body, such as pain or tightness, but ironically it’s by getting to know them that they hold less power over you when you stand up to speak. So, be brave, and take a body aware step towards speaking with confidence today!

 

I hope that you found this article useful. Do share any comments you have, and let me know how you got on with the exercises.

Why our body is so important for successful speaking, Part 1

Linda Coyle

We need our body in order to speak. That’s obvious…but it’s worth reflecting on, as it can enable us to come across as confident and engaging when we speak! What exactly does this involve? Watch my video to find out more and to learn how to do a body scan, a quick and easy way to get you more connected to your body.

If you’d like to access an audio file to help you to do a body scan,

then try out Day 1 of my ‘Speak with confidence’ 5 day e-course for FREE.

Find out more

Do you ramble when you’re nervous?

Linda Coyle

Do you talk too much when you’re nervous?

Rambling rose, rambling rose
Why you ramble, no one knows”  

                                 Nat King Cole

 

 

 

 

 

When we’re nervous about speaking, we’re likely to do one of two things, freeze and not say anything, or let the pendulum swing the other way and ramble. We say more, repeat ourselves, repeat ourselves a little differently, or go off on tangents. It’s possible that we may not really have noticed what we said in the first place! We talk faster, barely catching a breath, and may talk at a higher pitch than usual. Does any of this sound familiar?

 

So, why do we ramble when we’re nervous about speaking?

Ultimately this is linked to fear, or nervousness around the speaking situation. Why do we do this? I’ve been mulling over this question, and I think that there are three reasons.

We’re busy in our head: The more nervous we get about a speaking situation, the more we move into our head. Our head is racing, gets busy, and the words tumble around our heads and out of our mouths!

We’re afraid of silence: Silence is so scary! So, if in doubt, fill it!

We distract ourselves: If we keep talking it can distract us from how nervous we’re feeling. It also shields us from feeling judged by the listener. I’ve written more about feeling judged and how it’s interconnected with fear of public speaking, which you can read here.

 

Does it matter if we ramble when we’re nervous?

Well, yes, because, if we’re rambling:

  • We’re not listening
  • We’re not getting our key message out there.
  • We’re not being truly present in the moment.
  • We’re not connecting with our listener

 

What can you do about rambling when you’re nervous?

To me it comes back to two key things, being in our body and being in the moment…but actually, this could be narrowed down to one…being in our body. Because if we’re more aware of our body, we are in the here and now, and are present. When we’re more present, we can sit with our uncomfortable feelings…about silence, about what the listener thinks of us, and not go off into a spiral of panic, and we can be pleasantly surprised by our ability to cope!

So, how to do this? There are many ways. The simplest way that I find, is to simply stop, close my eyes, and scan down through my body, being curious and interested, noticing what I’m experiencing. Other people may find that taking a deep breath is really helpful.  Whichever method you choose, the key result is a quietening of the incessant chatter, busyness and panic in your head, and in that quietness you get clarity….and it’s hard to ramble when it’s quiet.

So, instead of rambling out loud take a moment to ramble through your body, connect with it, and you’ll find that it all feels a lot easier!

 

What are your thoughts?

Do you ramble or do you freeze…or perhaps a bit of both?!

When does this happen to you?

 

If you’re interested in the song ‘Ramblin’ Rose’ here’s a version by Chuck Berry:

 

Other posts about speaking when nervous which may interest you:

Feeling judged and how it’s interconnected with fear of public speaking.

Why our body is so important for successful speaking.

Does it matter to your listeners if your voice is hoarse? 

Linda Coyle

Listeners need to work harder to listen to a hoarse voice.

Does it matter to your listeners if you voice is hoarse? 

The short answer is yes! Some research conducted by Evitts and colleagues in 2016  found that while being hoarse didn’t affect how well someone was understood, it created more work for the listeners. When faced with a hoarse voice, it took the listeners more time to process what was said, and they more frequently misheard what the person had said. This issue is even more pronounced when it comes to children, as it has been found that children have more difficulty understanding a hoarse voice than a healthy voice, and that even a mildly hoarse voice can have an effect. In a world where attention spans are shrinking rapidly, and there are plenty of other distractions to compete with, the last thing you need is to add another one! So, if you are a professional voice user, i.e. someone who relies on their voice for their job, and your voice is not humming, do something about it…And here is one thing you can do!

 

Sign up to my mailing list, and get a free ‘Voice Health Check Questionnaire’. I have one for Trainers and Educators, and one for Professional Phone Users, so if you are a recruiter or work in sales, then this one is for you. I have also put together tips on how to take care of your voice. For a limited time, you can also access a free recording of my webinar, ‘Preventing Voice Burn-out for Trainers and Educators’ which I ran for World Voice Day on 16th April.

Room to Improve…my Powerpoint presentation

Linda Coyle

How I improved my Powerpoint presentation

I had the privilege of being invited to present a workshop entitled ‘5 Take Aways to Get you Speaking with Impact’ for Kerry Businesswomen’s Network and LEO Kerry on Friday 23rd February at the Rose Hotel, Tralee. In preparation for the workshop, which was going to include a Powerpoint presentation, I pulled out the book ‘Awful Presentations’ by Barry Brophy, as I had listened to him speak at a Women’s Inspire Coffee morning back in December 2017, and subsequently bought his book.

 

Death by powerpoint- Text heavy powerpoint presentations!

It’s funny because I would have felt that I’m not too text heavy in my presentations, and that I use slides to assist my talk, rather than being reliant on them. However, reading through Barry’s book, I realised that I still had plenty to learn, and so I did a complete overhaul of my slides, with a focus on eliminating any unnecessary text and instead portraying things visually. It’s a bit like when you start doing something and then you can’t go back, so despite the fact that there were several points where I thought, “No more, making this presentation visual is too much like hard work,” and  “I have no idea how to make this Powerpoint presentation visual,” I’d take a deep breath and keep going. Often it was in the moments when I stopped thinking about it, an idea would come to me.

The other key piece of advice that I took on board was having the outline of the presentation in a visual format, with your own symbols/images/colours to represent different aspects of it, such as lecturing, group discussion, group work, with just key words for reminders….So I found my presentation notes resembled an interesting form of hieroglyphics! (Some would argue that my handwriting typically could be hieroglyphics given its legibility!)

So like any good up-do show, here are a few before and after images!

 

Re-frame nervous as excited: Original slide

BEFORE

Reframe nervous as excited: Revised slide

AFTER 

 

BEFORE

The difference between feeling nervous and excited about speaking

AFTER

 

So, a big thank you to Barry Brophy for a great book, and for changing the way I do my presentations…even if it places quite a stretch on my creative skills!

Other articles which may interest you:

Why (just) calm down is bad advice for nervous speakers

7 quick tips when speaking to a crowd

Voice Spotlight on: trainers

Linda Coyle

If you’re looking for a feature on different types of running shoes, I’m afraid you’re not in the right place! Instead, this post is about the speaking demands for professional voice users who do training.

Giving training has many challenges, some of which include:

  1. Needing to deliver at your best, even when you’re not feeling at your best.
  2. Working long hours be it direct training, travelling and/or preparation
  3. Training in environments where the air is dry and/or the temperature isn’t ideal.
  4. Speaking in uncomfortable positions, such as standing in one place for a long time or bending down to speak to people.
  5. Wearing footwear that looks great but may not be comfortable or giving you good support.
  6. Needing to use your voice to engage, inform, persuade, inspire and/or lead others.
  7. Feeling under time pressure/stressed,  and feeling that you can’t stop or take breaks.

Voice Health Check for Trainers and Educators

Does any of this resonate with you?

…If yes then read on…

 

Can you do anything different?

While there may be some things that we can’t change, there are plenty of other things that we can. Here are three to get you started:

  1. Stay hydrated– drink water, preferably at room temperature or warm, but not ice cold, as it keeps your vocal folds hydrated.
  2. Choose comfortable footwear. Look at your shoes, are they comfortable? (Maybe a link to running trainers may be useful here after all?!) Do they help you to be grounded, which is important both for your body and your head?
  3. Take short breaks during the day to do…nothing!

 

 

If you find that you’re running into trouble with your voice then check out my Resilient Voice Services.

Find out more

 

For more ideas, sign up to my mailing list and access my page of FREE stuff, including, voice care tips for professional voice users, and a Voice Healthcheck Questionnaire.

 

 

LEO Waterford National Women’s Enterprise Day event

Linda Coyle

I’m really excited to be kickstarting the Waterford National Women’s Enterprise day event on Thursday 12th October with a fun, practical and interactive ‘Speak with Impact’ workshop. During the session we will explore what gets in the way of speaking with confidence, look at how important listening is to connecting, and why women are particularly strong at this, along with learning simple tools to help you to come across as the competent person you are.

There are some great speakers lined up for the evening, so it’s not to be missed! Read more about this great event here.

National Women’s Enterprise Day, #NWED

Why “(Just) calm down” is bad advice for nervous speakers.

Linda Coyle

Saying, “Calm down,” to a nervous speaker is just not helpful!

 

Many people find public speaking difficult, even terrifying, and given the choice, would rather not have to talk, but unfortunately (or perhaps more accurately fortunately!) we sometimes need to do something, even though it terrifies us! Typically people feel nervous when faced with a speaking situation. While we may experience nervousness differently in our body, it’s something that we can all relate to. a feeling which we can all relate to. Symptoms of nerves when we’re about to speak include sweaty palms, racing heart beat, tight chest, dry mouth and/or nausea. So how do you cope with these anxious feelings when you’re feeling nervous about speaking? Advice people hear, be it from others or within their own heads is to “(Just) calm down.” I don’t agree! Watch my video to find out more!

I’ve three problems with the advice, “Calm down”:

1) It doesn’t work: If you’ve ever tried to think yourself into a calm state by saying ‘calm down’, then let me know! Frequently people tell me that they try to tell themselves to calm down, but that they still struggle with presenting, and/or their voice shakes.

2) You’re seeing nerves as a problem: Feeling nervous is energy flowing through our body from adrenaline. Adrenaline energises us and gets us ready for action. We want this energy so that we can speak with passion and enthusiasm.

3) You’re fighting against your body. Our bodies have such wisdom, and ultimately if we fight against our body we lose. Instead, listening to the internal signals that we’re getting and accepting them can empower us to move forward, rather than be stuck in a state of fear and dread.

So, the solution is to embrace these nerves as energy that’s in your body and let it flow. Sounds great in theory, but how do we do this? In my workshops I share different ways in which you can learn to do this. One simple technique is to re-frame it from nervous…to excited. This technique was researched by Alison Wood Brooks (2014) who found that people who  said to themselves, “I’m excited” before carrying out one of three tasks- karaoke singing, public speaking and Maths, performed better than those who said, ‘I’m nervous’ or who said nothing at all. She called this ‘reappraising anxiety as excitement’. So, the next time you need to give a presentation, focus on feeling excited, and let me know how you get on!

Other articles related to speaking with confidence which may interest you:

Lisa Kelly’s review of her top 4 speakers at Womens Inspire Network Conference in October 2017. I was delighted to be included in her list!

Why it’s better to project the voice than focus on speaking loudly

Linda Coyle

Do you try too hard to have your voice be heard?

One reason that people contact me is that they find that their voice doesn’t project, or that if they do project it, that their voice becomes hoarse or strained. One of the reasons for this is that people equate projecting with being louder. I find that this isn’t helpful, as when we think ‘loud’, we tend to push our voice and our body, using excess effort. This results in closing the space within our body and throat.

Instead, we need to focus on space and openness, and allowing the sound to come out.  How to do this? Here are five tips:

1) Tune into your body: Become aware of how you are standing or sitting. Imagine your body like a tree. Your feet are connected to the ground, and from the waist upwards you rise up tall. As you tune into your body, you may notice areas of tension…just observe them, don’t try to stop them.

2) Don’t push the sound out with your body: Sometimes people feel that they need to use their body to get the sound to project. This is often seen in thrusting the neck forwards or pushing the upper body forwards. Often this is something that people do without realising.

3) Visualise space: Visualisation is very effective when working on the voice. Picture a vast open space, be it a scene from nature, or a high vaulted ceiling in a building. The idea of spaciousness is useful both in terms of space within your body, but also the voice projecting within a large space.

4) Open your mouth more: As you speak, let you jaw drop and open your mouth more. This helps to bring the sound more forward in your mouth, and so helps it to carry.

5) Enjoy what you are saying: Notice how you say words, and allow time to say them. Being playful helps your body, mind and voice to become more in sync, and this helps your voice to be more flexible and engaging…and to project with ease.

 

Expert Voice consulting successful communication

SPEAK WITH IMPACT EVENT – THURS 25TH MAY – CORK

Linda Coyle

Speak with impact workshop, Celtic Ross, March 2017

Speak with Impact Training for Women in Business

May 2017 Workshop + 1-to-1 Skype sessions.

Do you need to engage, lead and/or influence others in your job?
Does your voice let you down?

Then my Speak with Impact workshops will help…

This workshop, designed specifically for women in business, focuses on:

Body awareness: this is the starting point for effective communication…becoming aware of what is going on in your body and what you do with your body when you’re talking.

What you say: looking at the content of what you say, the words that you use, and how you construct your message.

How you say it: focusing on how to use your voice effectively so that you can speak with clarity and confidence in any situation.

Thoughts and feelings: Becoming more aware of how thoughts and feelings affect how you speak and what to do about it.

Book in to my next Speak with Impact Workshop for Women in Business
When: Thursday 25th May from 2-5pm
Where: Bru Columbanus, Wilton, Co.Cork.
Price: €90

This includes a place in the workshop and a 30 minute one to one Skype Coaching session that happens 2-3 weeks after the workshop.

 

7 Quick Tips when Speaking to a Crowd

Linda Coyle

Some of us are natural public speakers, many more of us are not. When we’re nervous, this can affect how we speak, as we stumble over words or struggle with a weak voice. If you fall into this category, then here are a couple of tips which can help you feel more at ease, and help your voice to carry without strain.

 

1. Notice your posture

Try some Power posing as described by Amy Cuddy in her inspiring Ted talk called ‘Your body language shapes who you are’.

2. Tune into and accept feelings within your body

Instead of pushing away your nerves, tune into these feelings, and accept them. Use self talk, ‘I’m feeling butterflies in my stomach…that’s OK.’  When you do this, you put yourself in control, and reduce feelings of panic and stress.

3. Speak slower than you normally do

 When I ask people to do this, they often feel that they’re speaking extremely slowly, and it’s only when they listen to recordings of themselves that they realise that in fact it wasn’t that slow at all.

© [2018] Linda Coyle, Speak Brilliantly. All rights reserved.