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 since 2000. I've worked with over 6000 people. 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 Taking your place in the world course is really suitable for beginners who are scared and also people who have been terrified for a long time! I know that people are coming who are scared and not sure they can do it
My advanced courses usually have entry requirements that include going on a previous course but speak to me.
Q5. How do you teach on your public speaking course?
It’s an experiential course (learning through experience and discussion) which builds up the learning in very small steps, sometimes very baby steps! We learn about audiences, what gets in the way currently as public speakers. So most of the course is focussed on learning these new skills and mindset changes we need to make to make public speaking simpler.
We do this by: • Keeping the course numbers to 6-10 people so it’s a small enough course to have individual attention and big enough to feel like public speaking • Individual coaching through the course • Pair work exercises • Group conversations and exercises, building confidence and changing what it means to be the centre of attention • Gentle Public speaking practice, building on what we are learning all the way through the course • Using ground-rules to set up the learning space to be as safe as possible • Open to any questions throughout the course • Clear Course materials and post-course materials • additional help through coaching can be arranged pre or post-course
Q6. 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