Category Archives: Confidence

How to L.O.V.E. Public Speaking

hand-heart

Long ago I lost count of the number of people who have said to me “I HATE public speaking!” But what if I told you that you could learn to love public speaking?

If you fear or loath public speaking and avoid it at all costs, you may be missing out on opportunities to promote your business, progress your career or share a few words about a special person at an important occasion such as a wedding or a funeral.

Like anything, the more often you speak in public the better you get at it, and the better you get at it the more you enjoy it. You may still experience nerves and that’s okay because nerves are completely normal, they mean you care. And you can learn techniques to help manage your nerves and get those butterflies to fly in formation.

But before you do that, you need to think about why you hate public speaking in order to be able to turn that around. So here’s my 4 step process to help you to L.O.V.E. public speaking:

LISTEN

The first step is to really listen to your thoughts, your feelings and your self-talk. What do you think about when you think of public speaking? Is it triggering memories from childhood when the kids in your class laughed at your presentation about your pet cat? Or maybe your thoughts are based on someone else’s experience; you may have learned that public speaking is scary or uncomfortable because that’s how a family member felt about it. Next listen to how you feel. Deep down in your heart, what do you really feel about public speaking? Often we can get our true feelings mixed up with our thoughts and with our self-talk.

So the final step is to listen to your self-talk. What do you tell yourself about public speaking? If you tell yourself that it’s hard, that you hate being the centre of attention, that it’s embarrassing and that you’re going to make a fool of yourself, etc. then that’s likely to be the case. You are reinforcing and attracting this outcome every time you say these things to yourself (or other people). So the first stage is to listen and notice your thoughts, feelings and self-talk.

OPEN YOUR MIND

All you need to start to change your mind from hating public speaking to loving public speaking is to open your mind to the possibility of it. Could you doubt your beliefs? I often do an exercise when coaching a client to help them shatter their limiting beliefs. We’ll start with their current belief which is usually something like “I don’t believe I can be a confident presenter.” And then I’ll ask them if there was any possibility of doubting that belief. All it takes is a tiny little shift to enable them to start to move away from that limiting belief and towards a more positive and helpful belief.

You choose all of your thoughts and beliefs. You also choose your attitude every minute of every day – you choose how you approach things and you choose how you react to things. So doesn’t it make sense to choose beliefs, thoughts and attitudes that help and not hinder your life? By choosing to open your mind to the possibility that you could enjoy public speaking (or least not hating it would be a start) you will have a much better chance of turning that hate to love.

VERBALISE AND VISUALISE

The next step is to share all of your thoughts and feelings either with someone else or write in a journal. Get them all out where you can start to properly address them. It’s important not to continually focus on the negative statements but instead take time to turn them into more positive statements and start to focus on helpful and encouraging affirmations. For example, change “I’m going to mess it up” to “I will prepare and practice so that I can do my best.” Or “The audience will be bored” to “I’ll make sure I understand the audience so that what I say is relevant and interesting for them.”

The second step in this stage is to use your mind to visualise yourself in your desired state, feeling poised, calm, self-assured and speaking confidently. This powerful technique is used by successful people from athletes to entrepreneurs and will have an incredible impact on the way you feel about public speaking.

EMBRACE OPPORTUNITIES

I’ve written many times about the fact that you can’t get better at public speaking without actually doing it. You need to embrace opportunities to speak in public but you don’t have to start with a 45 minute keynote in front of an audience of 3000. Perhaps start by challenging yourself to share your point of view or ask a question in a meeting. Or join a public speaking group such as Toastmasters International or my Monthly Masterclasses where you get a chance to speak in a safe and supportive environment. You could volunteer to give an update on your work at your next team meeting. Or go to a networking event where you have an opportunity to deliver your 1 minute elevator pitch.

Whatever steps you take, make sure you prepare, practice and give yourself lots of love and kindness beforehand and afterwards. Use the 4 step L.O.V.E. process and learn to love public speaking – I can (almost) guarantee it will build your confidence, open up new opportunities and bring wonderful experiences into your life!

If you enjoyed this article, click here to access Mel Sherwood’s ‘Top 5 Tips for Public Speaking Success’

Mel Sherwood is a pitch and presentation specialist who prepares ambitious entrepreneurs and business professionals to take centre stage, embrace the spotlight and present with more confidence, credibility and conviction. To find out more about Mel’s talks and programmes go to www.grow-your-potential.com or for public speaking and pitching tips follow Mel on Twitter @MelSherwood_

Advertisements

Why I can’t keep quiet about my latest project!

Virtual Summit

Have you ever come across something that is such amazing value that you can’t wait to tell people about it?

Well, that’s the way I feel about the upcoming Boost Your Business Speaking Online Virtual Summit which I’m delighted to be part of.

The summit is mainly aimed at business owners currently using or thinking of using speaking to boost their business, such as speakers, coaches, trainers, authors and consultants. However, it is packed with value for anyone wanting to improve their public speaking generally or introduce speaking (online or in person) as part of their marketing mix.

I don’t want this post to sound salesy, but there are so many business owners and entrepreneurs I know who would find this summit beneficial, that I felt compelled to write it!

Over the three week summit, thirty expert speakers will be sharing their tips on:

  • How to give a great talk that engages your audience and increases your credibility
  • How to integrate speaking into your business model so you can increase your income potential significantly
  • How to market your speaking in new ways to reach those who matter most to your business

The topic I’ll be covering is ‘Offline Secrets for Online Speaking Success: How to Prime Your Body, Voice and Mind for Successful Presentations’ where I’ll be sharing why you should warm up before a presentation as well as loads of techniques to help you look and feel more centred, focused and confident when presenting.

Other topics covered include ‘Charisma: Discover the Secret of Audience Engagement’ with Nikki Owen, ‘How to Create a Persuasive and Inspiring Speech’ with Shola Kaye and ‘Confidence on Camera: How to Present Your Power for Video, Vlogs and Virtual Summits’ with Lottie Hearn. Plus info on creating online products, getting your contracts right, marketing using Facebook ads, Periscope and LinkedIn and much more.

If the summit sounds like something that would benefit you personally or your business, you can find out more and get access to the free digital magazine here.

I personally can’t wait to listen to the interviews over the next three weeks and to get hold of the value packed giveaways that every speaker will be sharing.

Here’s that link again – see you at the summit!

 

Mel Sherwood is a pitch and presentation specialist who prepares ambitious entrepreneurs and business professionals to take centre stage, embrace the spotlight and present with more confidence, credibility and conviction. She is a multi-award winning speaker, trainer and coach and the founder of Grow Your Potential, which specialises in supporting individuals and organisations to design and deliver winning pitches and presentations.

Mel’s background includes over 20 years’ experience in public, private and not-for-profit organisations in Australia and the United Kingdom and she has also worked as an actor, presenter and singer. To find out more about Mel’s talks and programmes go to www.grow-your-potential.com or for public speaking and pitching tips follow Mel on Twitter @Grow_Potential

5 Ways to Appear More Confident When Presenting

Image - Success boy small

How confident do you feel when you stand up to speak in public?

How confident do you appear to be?

Would it surprise you to know that most people appear far more confident than they think?

Nerves before a presentation are normal and important. Feeling nervous means you care and, therefore, you will put extra effort into ensuring that your message is communicated to your audience in the best possible way. Nervous adrenaline is also useful for giving your presentation the energy it needs to keep your audience engaged, as long as you use your nervousness effectively rather than allow it to overpower you.

Almost everyone, even a professional speaker, will sometimes feel nervous giving a presentation, especially in the first few minutes until they get into their flow. But regardless of how nervous you feel, the great news is that you are unlikely to look as nervous as you feel.

In the past few weeks I have had the privilege of hearing more than a dozen speakers give talks on a variety of topics; most of them have been interesting and engaging but some could have been more effective if they portrayed a bit more confidence in themselves and their message.

So here are five easy ways to look and feel more confident when speaking in public:

  1. Dress for Success

At some stage in our life, most of us have worn an outfit that we didn’t feel good in; maybe it didn’t fit well or the colours weren’t flattering or maybe it was simply uncomfortable (unfortunately I find this with most high heel shoes!) You may have attended an event and realised that your outfit wasn’t appropriate; maybe it was too dressy, too casual, too thick or too flimsy, all of which can cause a different kind of discomfort all together.

The first step in feeling confident is to be confident in what you are wearing. Take the time to ensure your outfit is comfortable, flattering, appropriate for the event and represents you in the best possible way.

  1. Own the space

If you have been asked to give a presentation or talk it is because someone thinks you have something important or interesting to say. Even if you’re not feeling it, the audience expects you to project confidence in your message. One of the best ways to portray that confidence is through your body language as the audience will be reading this before you open your mouth to speak.

You will appear more confident if you:

  • check out and move about in the presenting space before anyone arrives so you can get comfortable in it
  • stand tall and straight with your head up
  • use the space available and don’t stand too far back from the audience (although only ever move with purpose; no aimless meandering!)
  • make eye contact with individuals in the audience rather than scanning over the tops of their heads
  • use open gestures and make them bigger if you are presenting in a larger space so that they can be seen in the back row and beyond
  • take a moment before you speak to stand and be fully comfortable before you utter your first words; this allows the audience to check you out visually and prepare themselves to listen

These suggestions will not only make you appear more confident but will help you to feel more confident too.

  1. Open strongly

You only have a few seconds for an audience to decide whether they are interested in listening to what you have to say so it’s important to engage them from the very beginning of your talk. A strong opening that connects with your audience will get you off to a great start and boost your confidence in those crucial first moments.

There are various ways to open a presentation including asking questions, telling a relevant story or incorporating the use of a prop for the element of surprise. Or you can use simple language to hook your audience in.  Here are two examples that I particularly liked from recent talks:

  • “Think back to when you were 8 years old…” – this approach allowed the audience to engage their brain and connect the topic with their own experience
  • “I wish you could have been there to see it for yourself…” – this approach was intriguing for the audience and we were immediately ready to listen to the story that followed

Decide on your opening and then practice it so that it comes across clearly and you can project confidence from the get go.

  1. Take a moment

When speaking live, all manner of things can happen to interrupt the flow of your presentation. Distractions inside or outside of the room (or inside your head!) can lead to you losing your place or having a complete brain freeze.  I saw this happen to two speakers recently and both of them handled it extremely well even though they both felt like it was a huge disaster. Whilst your first reaction may be to panic if you mess up for any reason, most times your audience won’t notice. And even if you do get complete brain freeze, your audience will not mind if you need time to find your place again. Smile and take a moment. When you have found your place, continue on from there; if you do this with confidence your audience will remember you for your message and won’t even recall you ‘taking a moment’ during your talk.

  1. Embrace The Applause

At the end of the presentation your audience will want to congratulate you on a job well done. However, I often see presenters give a great talk and then quickly scurry away the moment it is over (I have been guilty of this myself in the past). Regardless of how you feel your talk has gone, it is important to respect the audience and give them the opportunity to show their appreciation. Ensure you have a clear finish to your presentation, stand tall and look at the audience whilst they applaud you. You can also use this time as an opportunity to silently express your gratitude and thank them for taking the time to listen to you.
Even though most people cringe at the thought, I strongly recommend that you film every speech or presentation you make and then review it objectively afterwards. If you follow these tips, you’ll definitely look and feel less nervous, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how confident you appear to your audience as well as how much more effective you are at delivering your message.

If you enjoyed this article, click here to access Mel Sherwood’s ‘Top 5 Tips for Public Speaking Success’

Mel Sherwood is a pitch and presentation specialist who prepares ambitious entrepreneurs and business professionals to take centre stage, embrace the spotlight and present with more confidence, credibility and conviction. She is a multi-award winning speaker, trainer and coach and the founder of Grow Your Potential, which specialises in supporting individuals and organisations to design and deliver winning pitches and presentations.

Mel’s background includes over 20 years’ experience in public, private and not-for-profit organisations in Australia and the United Kingdom and she has also worked as an actor, presenter and singer. To find out more about Mel’s talks and programmes go to www.grow-your-potential.com or for public speaking and pitching tips follow Mel on Twitter @Grow_Potential

 

The No 1 Way You Are Sabotaging Your Confidence (and what to do about it)

Confidence

I’m fascinated by confidence. I’m intrigued as to why people feel confident (or not), in what circumstances they feel confident (or not) and why some people are generally more confident than others.

And it’s interesting that a lack of confidence shows up in different ways for different people. In my work I come across a lot of successful people who have confidence in their business idea or their area of professional expertise; however, they have a lack of confidence when it comes to standing up and speaking in front of large groups of people. Other people I know have confidence to take on new and unfamiliar tasks or make huge changes in their lives such as moving to a new country; however, they may lack the confidence to speak up in meetings or challenge a decision made by someone they perceive to be more important than themselves.

Often a lack of confidence will stem from three fears:

  • the fear of not belonging
  • the fear of not being good enough
  • the fear of not being liked/loved

These fears are all about what other people think, but confidence really comes down to a belief in yourself; a belief in your own power and own abilities. So essentially confidence is really about our ability to judge our own abilities; it’s about the story we tell ourselves.

Having said that, one of the things I’ve noticed is that some of the most overly confident people I know can often be a bit lacking in ability and some of the most under confident people I know have loads of ability; and sometimes there seems to be no correlation between someone’s ability and their level of confidence!

You probably know someone who is amazing at what they do but completely lack confidence; maybe that person is you.

So we need to become aware of how we judge our own abilities and the story we tell ourselves. Examples of some of the stories we might tell ourselves are:

  • “I’m hopeless at speaking in public.”
  • “I have to work long hours in order to feel like I’ve earned my place in this job.”
  • “I’m not good at speaking up in meetings because everyone else in the room knows more than me.”

Stories are self-fulfilling – whatever story you consistently tell yourself is likely to be true for you.  For example, if you consistently say “I’m terrified of public speaking”, you actually start to believe it and it becomes embedded as a belief. But it really is just made up in your mind. If you recognise and change your story, you can significantly change your life.

So the first thing to do if you want to build confidence is to start to become aware of the stories you are telling yourself and interrupt them; start to question them and challenge them.

What’s your confidence story? Is the story you are telling yourself sabotaging your confidence? In what way can you change your story to improve your level of confidence?

In a future post, I’ll share my confidence story, how it sabotaged my success and what I have done to change it. In the meantime, I urge you to take time to understand your own confidence story and change it if it is hindering your ability to achieve your personal and professional goals.

If you enjoyed this article, click here to access Mel Sherwood’s ‘Top 5 Tips for Public Speaking Success’

Mel Sherwood works with ambitious entrepreneurs and business professionals who want to speak with more confidence, credibility and conviction. She is a multi-award winning speaker, trainer and coach and the founder of Grow Your Potential, which specialises in supporting individuals and organisations to design and deliver winning pitches and presentations.

Mel’s background includes over 20 years’ experience in public, private and not-for-profit organisations in Australia and the United Kingdom and she has also worked as an actor, presenter and singer. To find out more about Mel’s inspiring talks and programmes go to www.grow-your-potential.com or follow Mel on Twitter @Grow_Potential

The Show Must Go On: 7 Tips on How to Give a Presentation When it’s the Last Thing You Feel Like Doing!

Professional Speaking Association

For many people, the thought of delivering a presentation makes them feel sick with nerves. But what if you’ve been booked to speak at an event and you are feeling unwell?

I was brought up with a strong work ethic and wouldn’t dream of not going to work unless I was in hospital or dead! I’ve also had many roles in theatre shows where I had no understudy so there was no option but to perform, or I would be letting down both my fellow cast members and the paying public. As the saying goes, “The show must go on.”

However, last weekend during the Professional Speaking Association Annual MEGA Conference, I was starting to worry that the show would not go on, or at least my 45 minute session wouldn’t. The conference ran from Friday until Sunday; my session was on Sunday morning and I started to feel unwell on Friday evening. By Saturday lunchtime I felt like I had been hit by a truck; my body ached, I was overcome with exhaustion and my mind was so jumbled that I could barely string two words together. I was concerned but determined not to let anyone down so on Sunday morning, despite not feeling 100%, I put on my happy face and delivered the session I had been booked to deliver.

I learnt some important lessons as a result – here is a quick overview of what worked for me and what I will do differently in the future:

1. No one needs to know

Regardless of the fact that I was feeling increasingly unwell (and the pressure of speaking in front of 200 professional speakers when I wasn’t in top form), I knew that I would do my best to deliver my session as promised. Therefore, I decided not to let people know that I was struggling with my health and kept it from the organisers – they had enough to worry about already, especially as it turned out that two other speakers had to cancel on Sunday! I’m so glad I was able to fulfil my obligations and I hadn’t worried anyone unnecessarily.

2. Cancel all non-essential commitments

I had been really looking forward to the convention, the speakers, the learning, the networking, the gala dinner and seeing the fabulous Celia Delaney providing the after dinner entertainment. But it wasn’t about my wishes; I knew I had to do whatever it took for me to show up on Sunday morning and give my all to the audience. So I stayed in my hotel room and focused on getting well.

3. Give yourself the time to rest

Our mind and body cannot continue to deliver what we need it to if we don’t give it enough time to rest and recuperate. I had a lot of work on in the lead up to the conference and had been burning the candle at both ends. Eventually I just had to stop and give it some rest or I would not have been capable physically or mentally to deliver a 45 minute presentation to the standard that I and the audience expected. A good night’s sleep definitely contributed to feeling a bit better by Sunday morning. In hindsight, I realise I should have managed my diary better in the lead up to the conference and ensured I had enough rest time.

4. Treat yourself well

Not only do we need enough rest but we also need to fuel our bodies with healthy foods to perform at our optimum. As I had been so busy I hadn’t been food shopping so wasn’t eating well enough to give my body the nutrition it required to function at its best. I had even run out of vitamins! Once again, a reminder to myself to make my health a priority and to balance work with looking after myself.

5. Warm up effectively to give your best

My talk was titled ‘Prime Your Body, Voice and Mind: Off Stage Secrets for On Stage Success’; ironic when I hadn’t prepared effectively in terms of looking after my health! However, the focus of my session was about warming up immediately prior to giving a presentation to ensure you are in a state of readiness and fully present when you step onto the speaking platform. Therefore, I took my own advice and did a thorough warm up of my body, voice and mind. This really helped to lift my energy and enabled me to focus fully on the audience and the task at hand. If you don’t currently warm up before a giving presentation, I strongly urge you to do so and notice the difference.

6. Get over yourself and get on with it

My partner laughs when I use the phrase “get over yourself”, but that’s exactly what you have to do sometimes to get on with it. After an obligatory moment of feeling sorry for myself, rather than dwelling on how poorly I felt it was important to focus on being positive and on doing whatever it took to ensure I was able to meet the expectations of the audience and the organisers.

7. Smile!

Smiling releases endorphins that make you feel happier. Smiling is also contagious so it makes people around you feel good. Smiling, even when you don’t feel like it, is one of the best ways to feel better. I’m known for my smile so I shared it freely with the audience and by the end of my 45 minute session I felt much better. The feedback from the audience indicated that they felt good too!

Was I completely happy with my performance at the conference? No… (If I’m honest, I’m never completely happy and am always looking for ways to improve!) However, given the way I felt the day before, I was really pleased that I managed to find my sparkle and lift my energy enough to deliver the session to the best of my ability. And even better, the audience were none the wiser – they got what they needed and that’s all that matters!

Have you ever had to perform at your best when you’re feeling at your worst? What tips do you have to ensure the show goes on? I’d love to hear them; please do share in the comments section.

If you enjoyed this article, click here to access Mel Sherwood’s ‘Top 5 Tips for Public Speaking Success’

Mel Sherwood works with ambitious entrepreneurs and business professionals who want to speak with more confidence, credibility and conviction. She is a multi-award winning speaker, trainer and coach and the founder of Grow Your Potential, which specialises in supporting individuals and organisations to design and deliver winning pitches and presentations.

Mel’s background includes over 20 years’ experience in public, private and not-for-profit organisations in Australia and the United Kingdom and she has also worked as an actor, presenter and singer. To find out more about Mel’s inspiring talks and programmes go to www.grow-your-potential.com or follow Mel on Twitter @Grow_Potential

Are You Ready to Say Goodbye to Your Fear of Public Speaking?

Nervous Woman Holding Microphone

Each week I see a number of clients who come to me for one to one coaching to improve their public speaking. For some, it’s to learn how to design and confidently deliver a presentation that engages an audience and effectively communicates their message. For others, it is because they have a fear of speaking in public and need to overcome it due to an upcoming presentation or pitch they need to deliver.

It has been said that up to 75% of the population fear public speaking so it’s hardly surprising that the majority of my clients experience a level of anxiety in relation to this. And whilst most think they are alone with this feeling, their concerns are remarkably similar to many people.

They generally feel fine and confident when speaking with people one to one or in small groups. But they don’t enjoy being the centre of attention so the minute they have to stand up and speak in front of a group and feel everyone’s eyes on them they become anxious and start experiencing many of the symptoms of nervousness. Actually, this happens even at the mere thought of having to stand up and speak in public! Symptoms may include churning stomach, dry mouth, red face, shaking, sweating, heart palpitations, shallow breath, constricted throat and complete brain freeze. This is the natural fight or flight response to a perceived threat and if you don’t know the tools and techniques to manage nerves and turn them to your advantage it’s pretty clear why you would want to avoid speaking in front of an audience!

Does this sound like you or someone you know?

I think it’s such a shame that so many people avoid public speaking (often since childhood) and are missing out on opportunities to progress their career, promote their business or even to say a few words at the funeral or wedding of a loved one.  One man I met recently was in the process of becoming a full time property developer because he knew that to increase his salary and progress his career in the field he was working in he would be required to do presentations and he couldn’t face the thought of it. I’m sure he’ll do very well as a property developer but I think it’s really sad to have to leave a career in an industry you love because of a fear that can quite easily be overcome.

So how do you overcome it?

There are various techniques including hypnosis or hypnotherapy, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), visualisation, affirmations, coaching, NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and even just getting out there and practicing in a supportive environment such as Toastmasters International.

But regardless of the method you choose, firstly you have to be ready and willing to say goodbye to your fear and anxiety. In my sessions I often use a technique that can be quite emotional for my clients because it is so simple and so life changing. And the great thing is that you can try if for yourself! Here’s how:

  1. Find a quiet place where you can relax and won’t be disturbed
  2. Sit or stand in a comfortable position, close your eyes and take a few slow deep breaths; on each out breath feel your body relaxing
  3. Clear your mind and enjoy the silence and relaxation for a few moments
  4. Take a moment to get a sense of the anxiety or fear you feel when you think about public speaking; notice where you feel it in your body
  5. Thank the feeling for being there and acknowledge that it has been doing a good job of protecting you from having to do something that might have been out of your comfort zone; let the feeling know that it is no longer serving you and it’s time to say goodbye
  6. Imagine a bubble in front of you, and then imagine taking the feeling and putting it inside the bubble
  7. Now imagine the bubble moving away from you; use your mind to push it further and further into the distance and imagine it getting smaller and smaller and smaller as it moves away until it is just a tiny speck in the distance
  8. Remind yourself that it’s time to say goodbye to the feeling that has been holding you back and impacting on your life to this point
  9. When you are ready, let the bubble completely disappear into the distance
  10. Notice and enjoy the feeling of freedom you have now that you have released the feelings that have been stopping you from fulfilling your potential

After completing this exercise, my clients report feeling lighter, freer and excited. Often this release will be accompanied by some tears, partly because they’re saying goodbye to something that has been part of them for so long and partly because of the realisation of the exciting new possibilities that are available to them. They can’t believe they allowed their fear of public speaking to have a negative impact on their lives for so long.

If you are playing small and losing opportunities, credibility and money due to your anxiety about public speaking, I urge you to think about taking steps to overcome it.  There are many benefits; not only will it be personally satisfying, but your increased confidence and self-belief will lead to you seizing other opportunities to improve your personal and professional life today into the future.

Mel Sherwood is a multi-award winning speaker, trainer and coach and the founder of Grow Your Potential, a company passionate about providing the seeds to speaking success. Mel’s background includes over 20 years’ experience in public, private and not-for-profit organisations in Australia and the United Kingdom and she has also worked as an actor, presenter and singer.

Specialising in helping others transform their life and their business through clear, confident and credible communication, Mel empowers ambitious entrepreneurs and business professionals to clarify their message, engage their audience and use their body, voice, mind and heart to enthusiastically and authentically express their ‘inner oomph’. To find out more go to www.grow-your-potential.com or follow Mel on Twitter @Grow_Potential

Fitness, Focus and Fashion – 3 Public Speaking Tips from a Broadway Show

Image - Broadway
oneinchpunch / Shutterstock.com

I absolutely love live theatre, both performing in shows and watching them. Recently I had the opportunity to see several shows on Broadway and three things came to mind with regard to what presenters can learn from the theatre:

Fitness

Actors in a live show will usually perform eight shows a week. This requires significant stamina to ensure they can deliver a strong performance every single show. It is in their interest to ensure they eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep and do regular exercise which helps to keep their mind sharp and ensures they can bring enough energy to portray their character and engage their audience.

Good public speaking also requires a sharp mind and a high level of energy. So if you have a presentation coming up, make sure you are well rested and eat nutritious food to ensure you give your best performance.

Focus

To portray a character, an actor spends a considerable time researching and rehearsing the role. Focus during rehearsals is crucial so that by the time they step on stage they embody the character’s movements, the lines sound natural and the audience believes that the actor is the character. Once they’re on stage they must stay focused the entire time. If they lose focus they may still be able to recite their lines; however, it will become obvious to the audience as the performance will not be as immediate and engaging.

When public speaking, it is essential to stay focused on delivering a natural and authentic presentation that connects with your audience. Distractions that can pull your focus from the task at hand can be external or internal. External factors could include a disruption outside of the room in which you are speaking, a problem with equipment you are using or someone playing with their mobile phone. Internal factors could include becoming aware of the way your nerves are affecting you such as noticing your shaking knees or dry mouth or paying attention to your negative self-talk.

The moment you are distracted you lose focus so it is important to immediately get your mind back to the task at hand – concentrate only on communicating your message to the audience in a way that will interest and engage them. (Get your free Know Your Audience guide here)

Fashion

The fashion or costume an actor wears not only helps the audience to better understand the character and the situation, but also helps the actor to really feel the character and give a more realistic portrayal. For example, if an actor is playing a female CEO of a blue chip company, she is not going to deliver the boardroom scene in a housecoat and fluffy slippers (unless the script calls for this!)

From my own experience one of the most important parts of a costume is the shoes. A pair of shoes can completely change the way you hold your body, move about the stage and feel inside; some characters I have played in the past I have not truly ‘felt’ and been able to portray authentically until I was wearing ‘their’ shoes.

For presenters, what you wear can significantly impact on both how you feel and how your audience responds to you. If you are presenting to an audience of high powered lawyers dressed in sharp suits, it will be more difficult to build rapport and establish your expertise if you are dressed in jeans, t-shirt and trainers. Finding out about your audience and the context of the presentation will help you select the most appropriate outfit for the occasion. Ideally your outfit will flatter your figure, enhance your complexion and make you feel fabulous. The better you feel in your outfit, the less likely you are to be distracted by what you are wearing and can focus on the audience and your presentation rather than yourself. Always aim to wear something you feel confident in – it may be your favourite pair of heels, your lucky tie or your best underwear (under your outfit!) Just like an actor, use your costume to enhance your performance and present the best, most authentic version of you.

Mel Sherwood is a multi-award winning speaker, trainer and coach and the founder of Grow Your Potential, a company passionate about providing the seeds to speaking success. Mel’s background includes over 20 years’ experience in public, private and not-for-profit organisations in Australia and the United Kingdom and she has also worked as an actor, presenter and singer.

Specialising in helping others transform their life and their business through clear, confident and credible communication, Mel empowers ambitious entrepreneurs and business professionals to clarify their message, engage their audience and use their body, voice, mind and heart to enthusiastically and authentically express their ‘inner oomph’. To find out more go to www.grow-your-potential.com or follow Mel on Twitter @Grow_Potential