As an award winning speaker and current President of the West Kent Speakers Club, Aly Harrold treated us to an excellent presentation on improving our public speaking at Women in Business in July 2015.

Did you know that a fear of public speaking is one of the top 3 fears that everyone has?

You may not think it but being nervous before speaking is a good thing. Nerves come from adrenaline and you need adrenaline (or energy) to boost your performance. I’m sure you’ve been to talks when the speaker has not held the room or connected with the audience. Nerves can be your battery and give your performance an edge.
WIB affirmation 1

Master your breathing

The throat chakra in women is often blocked and this prevents people from getting volume and clarity and can lead to throat problems.

To help control your nerves Aly suggests the following:

  • Take 6 slow breaths before speaking.

This will make your voice bigger so you sound better and it will calm your body. You will think more logically and clearly when you are calm. She suggests doing this regularly, preferably twice a day.

We also tried alternate nostril breathing – put your finger over one nostril to close it, breathe in, move your finger to the other nostril and breathe out. This balances the left and right side of the brain.

  • The Kundalini ‘Breath of Fire’ is also worth considering.

This YouTube video demonstrates how to do it, there’s also a second one here.

You do need to be careful with this one as it can make you feel dizzy so start gradually and build up. This pays into an energetic bank that you can draw on when you speak.

WIB affirmation  3Before any presentation Aly suggests you

  1. practice your pitch or talk so you are confident in what you are saying
  2. do the Breath of Fire for 30 seconds (you can do this standing up too)
  3. be aware of your body and what is happening around you. Feel your feet on the floor, notice sounds etc.
  4. do some stretches or yoga exercises if you have access to a private space
  5. think positive – what you think about, you become
  6. visualise everything going smoothly
  7. visualise a successful outcome

If you are speaking on a stage try to stand on the stage prior to your talk so you can see your audience and learn how everything is set out.

Building rapport

Think of your audience as individuals not as a general mass.

  1. Make eye contact. Do a slow sweep around the room and rest on a person in each area, for example, the front, middle, back and sides. This will make the people around them feel included too. ‘The iceberg effect’ happens when you warm one person up and it then warms up the people around them and gradually spreads.
  2. When you speak try out a new small technique or tip each time so you get comfortable with it.
  3. Vary your voice and tone, be quiet, soft or loud when appropriate.

Public speaking is a skill that can be learned.

WIB affirmation  2Affirmations

Create some affirmations and put them where you will see them regularly, for example, on a noticeboard, on your fridge or mirror or next to your computer. For example:

  • I am a confident and charismatic speaker.
  • I recall everything I want to say easily and effortlessly
  • I feel confident and inspired

The affirmations shown in the images in this post plus others can be downloaded as a pdf from here.

Final thoughts…

  • public speaking is an art so practice and learn
  • accept every opportunity to speak
  • cure perfection paralysis (good is enough, it doesn’t have to be excellent)
  • know you have a valuable message and you need to be out there to share it

You can view Aly’s slides here.

Aly has an eBook available with speaking tips on her website www.alyharrold.co.uk.

Aly is available for speaking engagements as well as training opportunities for individuals and businesses.

She is running a speaking clinic at The Royal Wells Hotel on 29 September. For more details or to find out about the training offered email Aly@alyharrold.co.uk

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