Well it is day four and my true love is at it again…


On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me..a heart full of confidence and joy

On the second day of Christmas my true love sent to me ..two brilliant questions

On the third day of Christmas my true love sent to me…three alternatives to err

And on the fourth day of Christmas my true love sent to me……FOUR steps to answering questions ( yes, I know it doesn’t scan but stick with it!)

Step One:  Acknowledge the answer.  This important even if you know the answer and in your head you are saying easy peasy.  It is important if you don’t know the answer and in your head you are saying oh heck.  And it is important if in your head you are seriously questioning the questioner’s intelligence.  it is is important because it is respectful, it gives the questioner ‘significance’ and above all it gives you time to consider and think..  So a pause is great or phrases like, ‘ thank you ‘, that’s a great question’ no one has asked me that before, let me think’, Hmm, a challenging one…’

Step Two: Frame your answer to give it structure.  We do this so that it makes sense , not just to us or the questioner but to everyone else as well.  By framing I mean using words and phrases like, ‘ there are two issues here…’, I guess that highlights three things…’, I think what you are asking is…’

Step Three: Answer the question ( if you know the answer. If you don’t say so and add in some action on your part ie you will find out or chat over coffee).  While you answer the question, start off by looking at the questioner, then look at the whole audience as you answer .  This will mean all the audience is included and participates in the answer. If you only answer the questioner, everyone else will switch off and get ready to leave!

Step Four: Return your eye contact to the questioner and check that you have answered the question.  Sometimes you will then want to break off eye contact because you do not want a follow up question or you wish to give someone else a chance to ask a question.  You can check in with he questioner either by asking if you have answered their question or simply by nodding and moving on.

So, what shall we do on the fifth day of Christmas.  Post your comments and suggestions below.

Thank you to Useful Graphics for the fab FREE pictures


I imagine that the recepient of ‘my true love’s gifts might be getting a bit surprised (alarmed?) now by all these gifts…

On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me..a heart full of confidence and joy

On the 2nd day of Christmas my true love sent to me..2 brilliant questions

On the 3rd dayof Christmas my true love sent to me…3 alternatives to err ( thank you Jan for this suggestion)

Lots of people have asked me how to stop the errs and the hmms and the arrs and I guess it is because when we think of confident speakers, we think of a smooth perfect flow of language.  In reality that perfect flow consists of words…AND pauses.

So the first way of eliminating those ‘filler-in’ hesitation is to replace them with pauses.  Go on, try this out next time you speak – doesn’t have to be in public (although it might seem strange to talk to yourself, or maybe not.  I digress!)  Catch yourself and then stop, breathe, put in a mental full stop and restart .  The plus side to this is twofold.  Firstly the audience get time to think about what you have just said and secondly your voice will have more energy about it for having stopped and restarted.

The second way of getting a flow is to build up for yourself a stack of ‘link’ words and phrases which take you and your audience to the next thought/comment/section without any umms.  For example: ‘so, what happened next?..’  ‘that leads me nicely onto..’ ‘you might be asking …’ They are a little bit like signposts ( more of that later in Twelve Days of Christmas)

And the third way you knew already…practice, practice and practice.  Not to get it rote perfect ( that just makes your presentations too stilted and squished of any life at all) but practice to hear , feel and experience what words come out when and how you can get it to sound natural and comfortable.  Partly this is  to familiarise yourself with content, partly to get the flow ‘right’ and partly it is to get the sound and the look of it right – intonation, body language, eye contact etc

So there you are…please post any other suggestions you might have in readiness for the fourth day of Christmas. Look forward to hearing from you.

Oh – check out our Speaking Club starting in January ( locations in Lancashire and Cheshire) A great way of regularly honing your presentation skills and learning tips and techniques that take you from novice to professional and good to great!

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me….Two  brilliant questions and a heart full of confidence and joy…

Ok, this is harder than I thought.  Having said that these two brilliant questions have the power to transform all presentations from boring monologues where the speaker speaks AT the audience to meaningful, participatory and engaging presentations which are compelling.

And they are…So What?  and What’s in it for me?.  If your presentations answer these two questions for the audience and are pitched to address relevance and benefit, then how could your audience not listen?  I seem to say this all the time – in fact someone told me recently that I should have these two questions engraved on my gravestone ( Hmm).

So remember…make sure that what you say is relevant for that audience and is expressed as relevant.  Phrases like ‘you will be aware of…’, I understand that what you are experiencing is..’ I guess that you must be asking these sort of questions’,  ‘of course we are all in the same boat’  makes what you say relevant because you have stepped in the shoes of your audience.

And even more importantly, make sure that you make it clear how what you do/produce/serve etc helps them – to be more productive, profitable, enjoyable, delightful, entertaining, richer, easier, …etc

So, come and find out what my true love gave to me on the Third day of Christmas tomorrow…?  Any suggestions?  What questions do you have about presenting in public?  Drop me a line, I’d love to hear from you…

Check out our Phenomenal Woman Experience Weekend in March 2012.  Bookings being taken now…

So today I started thinking about the key elements of making an inspiring and impacting presentation and decided on a whim to set it out as the twelve days of Christmas ( yes, I might just regret this I know but let’s just run with it for now..)

My first verse then is: on the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me…a heart full of confidence and joy


Because to deliver a presentation with poise and power, you need to start from the inside out. What we are thinking ( and saying to ourselves) on the inside will affect what we do on the outside, Try it…think miserable thoughts ( not too bad as this is only a test!) and then try to stand upright and well…poised. Difficult isn’t it? On the other hand, what we do on the outside ( our physiology) can impact on what we think on the inside. try this….put a great big cheesy grin on – look at the ceiling if you want to avoid eye contact with anyone near by – and try to feel miserable. equally difficult isn’t it?

So, what do we learn from this? Well first of all if you want to feel more confident, then you need to adopt the physiology of some one who looks confident. Check out the people confident people you know and copy their stance, their breathing, their eye contact and notice how that changes how you come over to others. Years ago when I was still developing my own confidence in presenting people would come up to me and say how confident I was ( clearly they couldn’t see the little me inside quaking!) But funnily enough the more times people said that, the more confident I felt, knowing that if I looked confident, then I could present myself and therefore my ideas confidently.

And the second thing is to remember that the ability to speak confidently and clearly to people is a great ( and rare) gift. When we have it, we have an amazing opportunity to influence and impact on people’s lives…wow, how joyful!

revisit the blog tomorrow for the second day of Christmas….

What do you think my true love should give to me? and what do you think is the worst thing about presenting? or the best? leave a comment below. Look forward to hearing from you

Wow! Didn’t we have a fabulous time! This is what some of our Phenomenal delegates said they gained from the workshop:

  • “Friends!!
  • How to structure a presentation
  • How to tell my story in a way that has universal appeal
  • How to translate my passion into an ordered logical presentation
  • Confidence not only in my presentation skills but in myself and what I have to offer
  • What my story is…”

Alison Colyer, Yoga Teacher, Blissful Living

“Oh what a fabulous, uplifting, life-confirming weekend. I have been on a wonderful journey of development and it’s been a real privilege to see everyone else’s journey too. It has massively improved my confidence and given me really useful, easy to understand techniques to begin to powerfully and effectively deliver presentations.”

Amada Jackson, Tigerfish PR

  1. “A structure to speak my story in a way not to tell it all and create a curiosity
  2. How to hook the audience
  3. How to give something to the audience to take away
  4. Grow my confidence in a safe environment.

“You are absolutely Phenomenal – I feel so privileged to be on the first seminar. Thank you :-)”

Roslyn Bell

“Confidence to speak in front of an audience, especially about such a personal and passionate subject. Good techniques and great pathways and simple tools to piece together. A safe environment to practise speaking and to be allowed to make mistakes, improve and be supported.”

Becky Campey, Director, Blush

“So much more than presentation skills! I’ve learned so much and gained confidence and am sure that I can stand up in front of a crowd and speak well – something I could NOT do before the course. I’ve learned so much about structuring a presentation and how to stand and speak. It’s the most useful course I’ve ever done. Phenomenal!”

We ran a seminar in July and wondered if we might start a northern franchise of ‘Formidable Woman’ because we were so impressed by the Lancashire business women in our audience! Such intelligent and determined women deserve success.

From Panic to Poise is our two-hour seminar specifically targeted at women in business or women who have their own business and is tailored to give you a step by step approach to  increasing your impact, your influence and your income through engaging, professional and targeted presentations.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What value would it add to your business if you were supremely confident about standing up and speaking to groups of people?
  • Have you ever thought there must be some other ways out there of reaching and having an impact on your customers and potential customers and clients?
  • Have you ever wished that you knew what to say and how to say it at networking meetings, conferences and client meetings?
  • What are your nerves and lack of confidence in speaking in front of groups costing your business and your career?
  • Do you want to hone your presentation skills so that you can create more opportunities to stand up and speak out about your business and your passion?

What will you learn?

  • How to prepare and deliver an engaging, powerful presentation which persuades and influences using a ‘five star’ approach
  • How to get into a state of perfect poise whenever you deliver
  • How to spot opportunities to reach your customers and potential customers through public speaking
  • How to create immediate impact when introducing yourself at networking events

We’re running another series of events in November: click on the link above to go to our blog Events Calendar. We hope to meet you there!

Catherine and I were delighted to be invited to speak at what was surely one of the most glamorous events on the women’s networking calendar this summer, East Lancashire Chamber’s Lunch & Learn at the Inn at Whitewell.

Appropriately enough, the theme of the day was ‘speaking skills’ and we were joined at the top table by fellow presenter Kim Chamberlain of Chrysalis for Women. I’d love to think that between the three of us, we gave the Chamber members a taste for public speaking and the business benefits that are within reach of any woman in business: entrepreneur, owner/manager or executive.

Several of the members subsequently joined us for our seminar, ‘From Panic to Poise’, in Haslingden a month later and we’ll be adding photos to the blog soon. Proof if it were needed that speaking skills are great for winning business. Just think for a moment how much simpler it is to stand up and talk for half an hour to an audience of 30 or 40 people, some of whom will undoubtedly be interested in your products or services, than it is to work the room every time you attend a networking meeting, hoping to reach those same people by good luck alone.

All of us are far too busy these days and here is one way to maximise your time and energy to great effect. Don’t let a lack of confidence hold you back any longer!

If you’re a member of a women’s networking group and you’d like us to come and speak to you and your fellow members, please contact us directly or post a comment on this blog. Our focus is North West England but we’re branching out, so please get in touch wherever you’re based and we’ll do our best to meet your needs.

Thanks are also due to Kim Chamberlain who paid us the greatest compliment of assuming Catherine and I had been working together for a long time, based on our polished performance together. You’ll have to come to one of our talks to Cherchez Networking or Forward Ladies groups this autumn or join us at our ‘From Panic to Poise’ seminars in November to find out the real answer!