FAQs - frequently asked questions
Q1. Will I be the only nervous person on the course? Will everyone else be better than me?
No is the quick answer. Most people on my course don't want to be there! So the feeling nerves will be shared by most people on the course. My job is to make the course as safe as possible for people to come but I know public speaking is something that lots of people want to avoid so they come on my course with reluctance. The good thing about that is that everybody is the same boat and quite often there is a sense of huge relief that "Its not just me who feels like this". On the course I don't ask people to reveal what they do - it might come out but it doesn't have to. So I've had courses with 19 year old students working with 45 year old businessmen and maybe a 35 year old teacher (I'm guessing the ages here!). Knowing all that - it becomes my job to make the day/s as safe as possible to explore what is getting in the way, (I've been running the courses since 2000). What happens is that the course turns quickly into a very supportive place where your main job is to support other people. A place where it doesn't matter how fearful you are at public speaking - but as long as you bring some curiosity about changing how you feel. And yes you can make huge changes about how you feel.
Q2. Can you help me? I have shaky hands, red face, feel sick, huge fear etc.
I often get emails like this: " I have great difficulty with public speaking. I have even gone to therapy in a bid to cure this but nothing seems to worked. I feel very anxious, tight chested and short of breath at the mere thought of doing a presentation. Could you help me in any way?"
What is happening here is a combination of fears, memories and adrenaline are overwhelming you. However it is possible to make a huge difference in how we see public speaking. My job is to make public speaking easier for people and I've been doing this for 12 years. We over think public speaking massively and we are under the effects of the adrenaline 'fight and flight' squeeze which doesn't make for a great mix. We need to make public speaking simpler and that's what the course is all about. We need to re-think public speaking - to do so you need a safe place to explore what is going on and with small steps change how you see public speaking.
We are using the wrong skills when we speak. We, as speakers tend to use normal conversational skills when we are speaking to a group. When you have a conversation - you normally get nods, smiles, agreements back from the listener however when we speak to a group ALL that changes. People don't listen in the same way. They are more passive and blank faces are the norm. When we start speaking to those blank faces they don't usually smile (at least not very often) or nod their heads (some people will but again not a lot) so we are left struggling with critical thoughts about our performance, as well as dealing with adrenaline surge. What we need are the new skills and some re-thinking to be in front of group and that is what my courses are about. The aim of the course is to help you connect more, be more yourself and more comfortable in front of people rather than learn how put on a performance. When you become more relaxed, more present in front of an audience you can connect more with the audience and create a better experience for the audience and yourself. Public speaking then becomes more conversational and more natural. On the course we explore and build these fundamental skills in small steps with an emphasis on making it as safe as possible.
Q3. I'm fairly confident until I get in front of a group. Can you help me?
We are sometimes shocked about the difference between speaking to two or three people and speaking to a large group. Our reactions don't seem to make sense. Heart-rate increase, dry mouth, sweaty palms, over-thinking along with a blank mind (there is a paradox!), going red, shaky legs. It feels like a huge over-reaction - irrational and overwhelming. You are not alone. It's not that you are failing (although it might feel like that) - it's because we are using the wrong skils and over-thinking the situation.
We need to use the right skills when we are in front of a group rather than standard conversational skills. That's what I teach.
Q4. Are your courses suitable for beginners?
Yes, The fundamentals of public speaking course and the Taking your place in the world are suitable for beginners. Those are the most popular courses. Re-thinking presentations is more suited to people who already have some confidence around presenting.
My advanced courses usually have entry requirements that include going on a previous course but speak to me.
Q5. What type of people come on a course?
Anyone - the courses are not aimed at a particular group. Here is a list that I've gathered over the years. But I only find out what people do after the course. So we don't go around finding out where people are from and what they do as part of the course.
Academics • Accountants • Actors • Actuaries • Architects • Artists • Arts People • Authors • Barristers • Best Men (lots of them) • Brides (not as many) • Carers • Carpenters • Civil Engineers • Civil Servants • Change Managers • Charity Workers • City Council Officers • Clinical Psychologists • Coaches • Comedians • Company Directors • Complementary Therapists • Consultants for the NHS (lots of them) • Counsellors • Designers • Doctors • Editors • Educational Psychologists • Engineers • Environmental Consultants • Entrepreneurs • Estate Managers • Facilitators • Factory Inspectors • Fathers of the Bride (lots) • Film People • Freelance people • Fundraisers • Furniture Makers • Gardeners • Golf Club Captains (lots) • GPs • Grooms • Head Teachers • Health Administrators • Health Visitors • Housewives • Hypnotherapists • Human Resource Managers • Investors • IT People • Job seekers • Lecturers • Managers (lots) • Managing Directors • Mathematicians • Mums returning to work • Naval Officers • Neuroscientists • Nurses • Occupational Psychologists • Opticians • Osteopaths • Painters • Personal Trainers • Pharmacists • Photographers • Physiotherapists • Pilots • Planners • Podiatrists • Police Officers • Probation Officers • Project Managers • Property People • Psychiatrists • Psychotherapists • Psychologists • Public Speaking Trainers • Registrars • Researchers • Sales Reps • Secretaries • Self-Employed • Social Workers • Software Engineers • Solicitors • Speech and Language Therapists • Statisticians • Students (lots of them) • Tax Inspectors • Teachers • Tefl teachers • Town Clerks • Trainers • Vicars • Volunteers • Wedding Photographers • Web Developers • X-ray person (otherwise known as a Radiographer!) • Young People • Zoologist
Q6. Choosing between a 1 day course and a 2 day course?
Learning a new skill takes time. Two days is more time. It could be that simple - but if you want more...
Both courses have the same aim I'm trying to get you to re-think, re-see, re-imagine what we do when we speak publicly so you will feel far more comfortable in front of people. And both courses are run in a way that makes it as safe as possible to explore public speaking.
Both courses are open to anyone Nearly everyone who comes is scared, frustrated, anxious about public speaking. They can be a first year student, retired nurse, a business person who hasn't told their organsation that they are getting help with their public speaking, it could be a teacher who is worried about addressing parents' evenings. It's a mixed group.
Both courses are full of small steps When you are scared it's really hard to learn, so I've broken the skills and thinking down into really small chunks (not kid size) but adult size small chunks. So you can learn and reflect easily.
Both courses share day one So the day course is obviously quicker, shorter and finished in a day. In some ways that is great if you are really scared because it's all over in a day!
Both courses are run by me Depending on whether you like me or not that is a good thing or not..
The two day course is different The two day course is far better because we go deeper, we have more time to understand what is getting in the way for you, the group usually bonds very well on a two day course and you can see more change happening in the room (and hopefully in yourself). My best feedback comes from two-day courses and people seem to really make bigger strides in the rest of their lives after a two day course. Day one on a two day course is more relaxed, if we get into an important conversation we can have that conversation, I don't need to rush you onto the next exercise. There is more time to reflect, and more bad jokes from me. The two day course is more money but in the long run better value.