How is having surgery like presenting?

Stick with me for this one!

For some people presenting to 1 or 1000 is as terrifying as going into hospital for an operation is for others. When going in for an operation you can have the same thoughts and feelings, that can go through your mind when you are facing a presentation.

You stop sleeping because you are going over and over all the ways in which the surgery/presentation could go wrong, you go through every scenario.

What if I am late? What if, after all the preparation it gets cancelled at the last minute? What will happen to all the money I’ve invested for this presenting opportunity/ Operation, missing work?

What if they are unkind to me, with terrible bedside manner and not interacting with me /your listeners are not smiling, are shuffling, and generally looking disinterested?

Imagining them thinking you are a fool, that you ask ridiculous questions/you simply don’t know what you’re talking about.

The adrenaline starts to kick in and you start to sweat, your blood pressure goes up and your short of breath.

The good old Fright- Flight syndrome just kicking in from our cave man days. Very useful when there is a real threat to life (which for some surgery really can be) but….IF you can keep “All Eyes Off You” by remembering we are all just people doing our best. Trying to do our jobs the best we can, wanting to learn and be helped by others, it puts things into perspective.

In the case of presenting, you are giving your listeners a gift. You are giving them your help and knowledge and you can focus on them, not you. And in the case of surgery, well, I just have to remember the Doctors and Nurses are experts in their fields, are used to seemingly stupid questions and really want the best for me. They have a vocation and are there to help. I can just focus on the fact that they are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers etc and wouldn’t be there if they didn’t care.  So how can I take all eyes off me for the imminent hip surgery? By being more interested in how their day is going than mine! Roll on August…I’ll be up and dancing by then!

How is having surgery like presenting?

Stick with me for this one!

For some people presenting to 1 or 1000 is as terrifying as going into hospital for an operation is for others. When going in for an operation you can have the same thoughts and feelings, that can go through your mind when you are facing a presentation.

You stop sleeping because you are going over and over all the ways in which the surgery/presentation could go wrong, you go through every scenario.

What if I am late? What if, after all the preparation it gets cancelled at the last minute? What will happen to all the money I’ve invested for this opportunity/operation?

What if they are unkind to me, with terrible bedside manner and not interacting with me /your listeners are not smiling, are shuffling, and generally looking disinterested?

Imagining them thinking you are a fool, that you ask ridiculous questions/you simply don’t know what you’re talking about.

The adrenaline starts to kick in and you start to sweat, your blood pressure goes up and your short of breath.

The good old Fright- Flight syndrome just kicking in from our cave man days. Very useful when there is a real threat to life (which for some surgery really can be) but….IF you can keep “All Eyes Off You” by remembering we are all just people doing our best. Trying to do our jobs the best we can, wanting to learn and be helped by others, it puts things into perspective.

In the case of presenting, you are giving your listeners a gift. You are giving them your help and knowledge and you can focus on them, not you. And in the case of surgery, well, I just have to remember the Doctors and Nurses are experts in their fields, are used to seemingly stupid questions and really want the best for me. They have a vocation and are there to help. I can just focus on the fact that they are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers etc and wouldn’t be there if they didn’t care.  So how can I take all eyes off me for the imminent hip surgery? By being more interested in how their day is going than mine! Roll on August…I’ll be up and dancing by then!

And Breathe……

Breathing is something we do every day. Obviously, it underpins everything we do. We’ve done it since we were born, and it comes naturally…we don’t have to think about it. That is until we think about it! Or when we are stressed, or anxious or panicking. It’s a hugely important part of mindfulness, but also vital for good voice production. Diaphragmatic breathing technique is used in singing but is also fundamental in calm and clear voice production, especially when all eyes are on you.  Simply put, to take a deep low breath, which will help with any kind of anxiety you might be feeling, put your hand on your belly. Imagine you’ve got a balloon in your stomach, obviously don’t swallow a balloon, but imagine you’ve got one there and you’re going to fill it up with air as you breath in. When someone says take a deep breath in, the temptation is to lift your shoulders up. All this does is to cause tension across your shoulders! The movement is down low, so breath in, your stomach expands out, blow out and that imaginary balloon goes down and your stomach goes back in. So, do it again, imagine you’ve got that balloon, you’re filling it up with air and blow out. Just focusing yourself on your breathing will bring those anxiety levels down, but it will also prepare you for speaking on Zoom or any of these great pieces of technology we have at the moment to keep us communicating. So, keep in touch with people, but just take that nice deep low breath to keep you calm. Take care.

How To Hum?

In my last blog I suggested that it is important to warm up your voice, before you speak in the morning, by humming. I wanted to expand on this as I was asked the question “How do I know how to hum? I’m humming but I don’t know that I’m doing it properly”. So, I want to recommend that you warm your voices up because so many of us are working far more on Zoom, Skype, just on the phone and your voice is one of your most powerful selling tools. So, we warm it up by starting with a nice loose face and massage the big jaw joint on both sides of your face. Keep going, warm it up as you would have a back massage, massage your face. Now to loosen your lips up make a motor bike noise. Hours of endless fun! So, carry on doing that so that your lips are loose. Now, you want the sound to come into, what we call, the mask of the face. So, not including your nose but in the mask of the face, that’s where you want the sound to come from. You do not want to be humming on the back of your throat, because you don’t want to talk there, but also you don’t want to feel it in the nose because then you’ll sound a nasal. You don’t want to cheat, so humming with your mouth slightly with lips apart, you’re just using your tongue on the roof your mouth. That’s not bringing the sound forward it is sending it up which is also where we don’t want the voice to be. So, not on your throat, not in your nose, not up through the roof of your mouth. Where we want the sound is in the mask the face. So, you aim it there, you aim it to the front, as if you’re humming along a piece of string, out of the window to a point on the wall anywhere that’s far away from you. It doesn’t mean you’re pushing the sound out you’re humming gently along that imaginary piece of string. So, “hum”, just lifting those cheeks up. Now, this isn’t rocket science, but it isn’t necessarily something you ever even thought about. I want you to protect your voice which is why I don’t want you humming on the back of your throat. Nice and forward, along that piece of string. The only thing I’d add to that, is that you don’t have to be singing to understand that you have got a lot of notes in your voice, some of them very high, some of them very low. So, again, to warm those up before you start talking in the morning get that hum and take it up five and down five notes. Anywhere in your voice that’s comfortable. Always lift the cheeks because it’s always much better to be smiling, when you do any of these exercises. Enjoy!

Your Voice Is Your Most Powerful Selling Tool!

As I write this, we’re in the midst of Covid-19 and I imagine most of us now are working from home and therefore we can feel quite cut off. So, it’s important to keep communication open with friends and family, but also, to keep our businesses going. We need to use everything to hand that is there for us to work from home, especially to do with technology and communication. Within that, I would say that your voice is one of your most powerful selling tools, so it’s really important that you do some gentle humming to warm your voice up before you go on a call, or a webinar or a video that you may be doing. Really think about your voice, because you wouldn’t run a race without warming up, you’d hurt yourself. Well, it’s the same with your voice, you can’t utilise all the different notes within your voice if you don’t warm it up. You will be going back to presenting, you will be going back to being with people in person, so it’s really important – practice, practice, practice. As you get out of bed in the morning, just start a gentle hum. The only thing stopping your voice coming out is your lips, so that is where you need your voice to be placed. In the mask of your face. Before you speak, you can wake your voice up by moving the hum up and down your register. Very gently. This will mean, by the time you talk for the first time, you will create a well produce sound and not be clearing your throat or making rasping sounds to your family, friends or clients.

Little Women

Having watched “Little Women” I was struck by how strong all the performances were and I started to look online to find out more about the making of the film. I found an article from The New York Times about Florence Pugh.

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/2020/01/08/movies/florence-pugh-little-women.amp.html

I read the quote about Florence Pugh from the casting director Shaheen Baig “It’s rare that you find someone at that age who is so comfortable in her own skin,”.

Oh, how true. It is rare to find someone who is comfortable in their own skin at any age. Many actors go into the acting profession because they only feel comfortable hiding behind a character. I fear many people feel they have to “act” at work, at school, in life, when all eyes are on them. When you are in the spotlight you can use techniques to help your confidence grow and so get your message across effectively, especially by using the best technique of all…..just being you.

We are all unique and even if, at networking events for example, there are several who are in the same industry as you, it is important to remember you are the only you there. We all warm to different people, so just being you will be enough for some people, which is all you need.

Magical…

Today I went to the meeting of https://southoxfordshirebusinessnetwork.co.uk/  and a Magician Josh Luland took the slot of the 10 minute presentation…it was truly Magical, not only from the point of completely bamboozling a group of over 40 adults, but from the perspective of a masterclass in confident presentation skills!

The room was not obviously conducive for a magic show as it had several posts that slightly obscured the full view of the tricks. Also, the audience were surrounding him, so no matter which way he turned somebody got his back. In spite of these potential obstacles, Josh held our attention the whole time. He made each one us feel he was talking directly to us, by using good eye contact, taking each of us in. His took his time and his voice was clear and well produced, so none of us missed a word. All of this without being at all “flashy”, he really knew how to put on a show. Not only can I recommend Josh for any corporate event, wedding or party as a magician, but also in a masterclass in confident presenting. Bravo Josh!

Can you really coach someone to feel confident?

I have just had a wonderful holiday. While I’ve been away, I have had some interesting questions asked. Can you really coach someone to feel confident? Confidence isn’t an emotion, is it?

Can you coach some to feel happiness? Can you coach someone to feel excitement? I believe you can use techniques that help you feel happier, to feel more excitement and to feel more confident. I believe you can coach someone to feel more confident because I believe confidence is an emotion, a feeling.

Travelling and arrangements are one of the areas where I can lack confidence or undermines my confidence. I’ve mentioned before that I think this comes from undiagnosed dyslexia as a child. Times, structure and clear arrangements help me feel confident. On this occasion my marvellous partner had all the arrangements sorted. He understands my need to be everywhere early, and to be told several times when the plane leaves, or how long the journey should take. He helps me build my confidence by giving me the details repeatedly! The man is a saint! He understands the techniques I need to help me build my confidence. He naturally coaches me. He has the skill to treat me like an individual and understands my needs are different to others in his life.

That’s how I work; one to one, confidentially, listening carefully to my clients, to really understand where they feel they lack confidence. We are all unique and no one persons insecurities are the same as another. So yes, you really can coach someone to feel confident.

“Wild Girl”

I watched Helen Skelton being interviewed about her new book “Wild Girl: How to have incredible outdoor adventures” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pw0oClsb0AA

In the interview I got quite emotional when I heard her say;

 “One of the things that made me write that (Wild Girl), was I was with my son in Blackpool and we saw a little girl on a slide and he went “Oh she’s on her own, why’s she not with her mummy” and I said “Oh she’s very brave” and my son went “Oh like you mummy” That’s the best thing anyone’s said to me”

I thought how wonderful for your children to think of you as brave. This book is about not being afraid to try new things, but for some to be brave you don’t have to take on feats of endurance, just stepping out of your comfort zone and doing something for the first time, can be enough. Most of us lack confidence in a variety of different situations, fear and anxiety can stop us in our tracks. But often asking for help can be the first step.

Walker books description http://www.walker.co.uk/Wild-Girl-How-to-Have-Incredible-Outdoor-Adventures-9781406387643.aspx “From kayaking the length of the Amazon to cycling to the South Pole and running an ultra-marathon across the Namib desert, the Blue Peter and Countryfile presenter Helen Skelton has taken on record-breaking feats of endurance and shown that adventures definitely are for girls. Helen shares six stories of her most daring adventures across some of the world’s most extreme wildernesses, explaining how she embraced her fears and found the positives in the toughest situations. Alongside her inspirational tales are ideas for where readers can find their own wild adventures closer to home and accounts of the real-life wild girls who inspire her.”

“Stickyjamfest”

The Teapot Tearoom and Garden at Britchcombe Farm, Oxfordshire put on a yearly music festival “Stickyjamfest”. This year I went to see it and all the performers looked so comfortable on stage, having been given a wonderful opportunity to perform with an appreciative and confidence building audience.

For some, performing on stage or presenting, can make them feel physically sick. But there are tips and techniques to take all eyes off you and make the experience far more pleasurable for all concerned. You don’t have to be a professional singer or performer to enjoy the experience of being on stage and loving every minute of it, or presenting to a room full of people feeling confident as an expert in your field. Understanding you can’t please all of the people all of the time, means you don’t have to. Put all eyes on your audience and your enjoyment will radiate out to them, so they have a good time too. https://www.facebook.com/TheTeapotTearoomandgarden/