Some years ago, I was at a networking lunch, full of people ready to speak about their work for a minute while we ate. Some were nervous, some were prepared, some talked much too fast, or too quietly.
There was one woman who sat calmly and quietly. When it came to her turn, she rose and spoke directly, concisely, with enormous poise, conviction and grace. You could see all of us compelled to listen.
She was Caroline Goyder, one of Britain’s leading voice coaches. Caroline trains actors, politicians and media presenters how to have some of the gravitas that she exudes. Author of two books, her TEDx talk has been viewed more than 2.3 million times.
I’m so thrilled to welcome Caroline, now a friend, onto this week’s Creative Life Show. She share her tips and guidance on how we as creatives can use our unique skills and powers to compel others to listen to use.
As creatives, speaking in public means often having to put non-verbal ideas into words. That brings plenty of challenges. How do we talk about design or art, music or movement, in a way that brings them to life? How do we convince other people to believe in our work simply by standing up and talking about it?
And yet, if we don’t, our voices remain unheard.
Being able to speak powerfully in front of other people changes everything. It means we can get ourselves the jobs we want, or the partnerships we need. We can get clients or funders on side and convince get other people to believe in our ideas. Not least, we open up a whole world of media opportunities, interviews, and even paid speaking opportunities.
Overcoming our fears around public speaking is a core part of being a successful creative. But it can be hard.
The myths of speaking in public
There are a lot of myths about speaking in public. So firstly, do you believe any of these things?
- It’s about having a grand message
- You need to be a fully paid-up extrovert
- You have to not care what people think of you
If so, stop right there! None of those are true. As Caroline and I talk about, it’s exactly the opposite.
As a creative, you have many advantages when you speak in public
- You’re good at responding to the atmosphere and the environment you find yourself in
- You have a deep commitment to your work that can become your unique voice
- You’re naturally drawn to different ways of presenting, bringing in emotion, passion, sound or visual ideas
However, there are lots of emotions we experience standing up in public and speaking. As Caroline tells us, it’s an entirely unnatural thing to so, and it triggers all our fear responses. That means that as creatives, with all our inherent sensitivity and responsiveness, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But the solution isn’t to hide.
We talk about some easy, practical ways of overcoming nerves that you can use right now – including FOFBOC. That stands for Feet on Floor, Bum on Chair, and it’s a fantastically useful anti-anxiety technique that I use in challenging situations.
We also talk about how to understand what your audience needs from you, and the importance of seeing speaking as a skill to be learned.
And Caroline also shares a special training gift for all listeners to this week’s episode.
The world needs your voice. We need more creativity out there, not less. We have a responsibility to convey to the the rest of the world how important our work is.
Help me help you with speaking and resilience
I’m working on some ideas for you around helping you express yourself more effectively as a creative. I’d love to hear about how you feel about speaking in public about your creative work.
Whether that’s an audience of 500, to a group of clients, or just to your boss – does the idea thrill you, or fill you with fear? Do you grab any opportunity to speak, or do anything to get out of it? And do you come away from speaking energised, or slightly nauseous?
If you speak in public, or if you avoid it, what impact does that have on your success? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts, and i’ll reply to them all.