As an organisation, we try to invest in our staff’s professional development when possible. This was one of those investments, with Snowboard Technical Team member Claire Dooney.

I participated in a 5-week Speak with Confidence course facilitated by the lovely Lee Ball and 10 others from the Wanaka community. It was a blast and if you are thinking this is an area you would like to improve on, I’d highly recommend it. We laughed, we cried, we connected, and most importantly we shared our most intimate stories in confidence.

Apparently a fear to speak in public is up there with the number one fear people have, even before death. It sounds extreme but regardless of whether that is you or not there are always areas to improve on when delivering a speech, introducing people, and sharing your stories with others.

Claire Dooney at a Public Speaking workshop

Claire Dooney at a Public Speaking workshop

Think of a person who is a natural and great public speaker. You will notice instantly that they have a confident appearance, a voice that carries, easy progression of ideas, the power of persuasion, good use of language, with a knack of speaking to and not at the audience.

Over the course of 5-weeks we put into action how to plan and prepare a speech, speech structure, impromptu speaking, introducing a speaker, body language, voice, words, visual aids, and listening skills. It was all amazing but I want to share with you the real gems I got out of the course.

1. Power Pose
Holding your body in a position of power for 2 minutes pre speech increases testosterone and lowers cortisol. This results in a calm confidence that you feel and others experience. Stand legs apart, chest open and arms out wide. If you are sitting you can still achieve this by sitting up straight, chest open, legs uncrossed, head up, arms on your thighs or by your side.

2. Take a Breath
By taking 3-5 big breaths and bringing yourself into alignment helps to slow your heart rate, creates a sound of authority and supports sound to the end of the sentence where the important words come. Try breathing in for 3 seconds, holding for one, and breathing out for 5 seconds. Feel the air coming from you tummy and aim to bring awareness to your breath.

3. Positive Affirmation
Using positive affirmations will help to reduce nervousness with making you feel confident and powerful. Spend some time to come up with what feels right for you and then use your mantra before you speak. For example “I am grateful for this opportunity to connect with others.” “I am a powerful, inspiring speaker.”

4. Passion with Purpose
Being passionate through your words as well as visibly will inspire and convince others of what you are saying. It also establishes trust and connection between you and the audience. This will come naturally when you enjoy the beliefs you want your audience to accept. Be true, be genuine, be you. Your listeners will crave the intimacy and your stories will flow.

5. Tell a Story
Telling a story is a great way to deliver a meaningful, memorable message to your audience. It increases receptivity, captures attention, engages emotions and allows the audience to participate cognitively in your narrative. Make sure to draw on your own stories and experiences, not borrowed from another source. Practice, memorize and be authentic.

Finally, remember that you have something important to share, no matter how large or small the audience. Your stories are unique and designed to be heard. Identify the take home message for your listeners and pitch the story well. Have fun and don’t forget to smile.

By Claire Dooney
SBINZ Examiner