How to get rid of the nerves with public speaking trainer Lisa-Jane Bell
She has a long career in event production design and event management and has worked on extravagant and expensive weddings, done some incredible work in New York and across Asia, and has many full and rich stories to share that have become great teaching tools for her courses.
Public speaking did not come naturally to Lisa-Jane and she has done extensive research on oral presentation, the struggles of it and put it all together in her teaching materials.
She now enjoys teaching the public speaking course almost more than her event work and is able to pick up quickly what students need to work on, a skill that she didn’t know she had before.
We chatted with Lisa-Jane about the importance of strong public speaking skills, to see if she has any tips on how to get rid of presentation nerves and what you can expect in the Public Speaking for Absolute Beginners course.
How did you go about overcoming your fear of public speaking?
LJ: I’ve done it through a whole lot of different things but the main thing is breathing. I’ve really done a lot of work on different breathing exercises, I’ve tried quite a few different ones that were just basic and weren’t really doing it for me, so I just ended up by doing this crazy Wim Hof Method that this Dutch extreme athlete came up with and you do ice baths and you do this really full-on breathing to be able to stay in these ice bath. I don’t really like sitting down and breathing that much, so I had to do something that really made me have to do the breathing. So I did the ice bath and that’s what kind of helped me to just go, ‘Oh, yeah. Geez, I can do anything now’, and that’s kind of what helped me get over it.
“It’s like I’ve put together this road map for the students”.
LJ: I think the other thing that’s important too is I did a lot of research on how to feel comfortable doing public speaking and just all the little tiny tips that you kind of hear. It’s like I’ve put together this road map for the students now where they just add this, and then this, and then this, and a lot of what I do in this class with them is I say, ‘Look, you know you’re engaging, now hold on to that and let’s move on to something else’. It’s all of these little tiny things and building it all up is another part of how I’ve got here.
Why do you think it’s important for people to improve their public speaking?
LJ: I just really love feeling comfortable with anything, getting yourself to a state where you can feel comfortable in your own skin in any situation is really so good for you and that’s number one. And then number two is that it really does open up business opportunities for people. I think so many of the people that come through the classes know that not being able to speak in their business is holding them back and they can see many opportunities where they could have stood and said something but they didn’t and it’s been a bit of a barrier.
“I think so many of the people that come through the classes know that not being able to speak is in business is holding them back and they can see many opportunities where they could have stood and said something but they didn’t”.
LJ: There is a simple exercise that I do on the second day and that’s making a very simple plan. That exercise is so great because it’s a short one but the students sort of realise it’s like standing up and doing a speech to someone you know really well, like family or friends. They stand up and do these speeches and they sort of realise the things that they would loved to have said in their lives to people they couldn’t say it to, but now they can. They now have a little pattern, a little plan of how to do it, and from just even that tiny thing, they learn a lot of about just being able to speak up.
What are some other common mistakes that people make when delivering a presentation?
LJ: I think the most common mistake I hear is that the students often believe that there are people that are just natural and can wing it and they’re not one of those people. People don’t understand that it really is bit-by-bit and that you can improve. You can have a plan, you can do some breathing, all these different things, it can get you there. I think that’s the most common sort of misconception about public speaking.
“People don’t understand that it really is bit-by-bit and that you can improve”.
LJ: I’m here teaching public speaking but I’m really not, I’m really teaching them breathing because, for most of the students, that is the most common thing that people aren’t doing. They’re not breathing properly so they’re getting themselves getting caught up, they’re either going red, or they’re running out of breath, or they’re feeling stressed, and having this funny stance, and a lot of the problems just come from not being able to take some nice solid, deep breaths right at the start and walking to your mark calmly.
What strategies help make a speech incredible?
“Definitely having a plan is important, being really relaxed is important and understanding your audience, and really speaking to your audience.”
LJ: I think definitely having a plan is important, being really relaxed is important and understanding your audience, and really speaking to your audience and getting into their shoes rather than getting caught up in who you are and what you’re saying. Using the language of the audience and spinning the presentation back on them wherever you can, involving your audience, and making it as relaxed as you can.
Lisa-Jane says that the people who come are so broad, from seniors to the owners of large corporations all looking to improve their communication skills and confidence.
“They all write these great letters at the end, so many of them and they just love it,” she said.
“I think it’s good for anybody”.
If you are interested in becoming an excellent public speaker, enrol in the Public Speaking for Absolute Beginners course here.
Check out the other MSA Training and Professional Development courses on our website.
Written by Xenia Sanut – xeniasanut.wordpress.com