6 Ways Jordan Peterson Masters Public Speaking

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to watch Jordan Peterson from the front row of a 5000 strong audience in Melbourne. The atmosphere was electric and Jordan mastered the vastness of space with impressive and consummate skill.

As an actress, I know it takes great artistry, ability and confidence to command such a huge stage with no set or props, and many actors would balk at such a daunting prospect. Yet, Jordan deftly moved from one spontaneous moment to the next, leading us on an exciting journey into the depths of his heart and mind. Whether one agreed with his opinions, what couldn’t be disputed was the power and effectiveness of his public speaking skills.

But what makes Jordan’s public speaking stand out from the crowd? In short, it’s his luminous spirit. The greatest public speakers share this inner luminosity. For example, Christopher Hitchens, Stephen Fry, Tony Robbins, Ken Robinson and Brene Brown, all have (or had) that indefinable spark that elevates them above the ordinary. Each, in their own unique way, share an indomitable strength of spirit to mobilise enormous popularity.

I also firmly believe that this spark lies within all of us — if only we would do the work to unearth it. It requires us to slough off the old defences that keep us hardened and instead reconnect to our inner fire so that we too can speak with the same depth of passion, integrity and generosity.

But, this takes courage; the courage to express how we actually feel about what we say — rather than shut down and let our words spill out in a meaningless jumble and unsubstantiated manner. The reason why a speaker like Jordan is so successful has everything to do with how powerfully he means every word he utters. He is indisputably authentic, bristles with integrity and doesn’t waste any time posturing, pretending or contorting to ingratiate himself with a single soul.

So, let’s have a closer look at Jordan’s process, to gain insights to help us all speak more creatively and heroically!


1. Took His Time.

As soon as Jordan set foot on the stage, he paused. He didn’t launch into any crowd-pleasing antics or rush his words out of fear. He simply drew a deep breath, settled his nerves, reflected on how he might begin and, only when ready, spoke. This wasn’t some cheap trick. It was a chance to gather himself for the mammoth task ahead in the most natural and human way he knew. And, speaking to over 5000 people for more than an hour would be a daunting prospect for many of us. But Jordan didn’t indulge his fears: he focused on his objective, remaining razor-sharp present so that he could honour his audience with his full attention from start to finish.

No matter how experienced we are, daring to be present makes us feel vulnerable — particularly if we care about what we want to say. But we have to learn to steady our nerves and trust ourselves — and Jordan did just that. He gave himself time to breathe and think — no matter the pressure. Because, when you give yourself permission to breathe, relax, find your place and collect your thoughts with all the world watching, you’ll start strong. You’ll be less likely to fluster, you’ll stay on point and you’ll convey a rare emotional strength that will set you apart.


2. Trusted His Flow.

Jordan had no script. That’s more than most actors can manage, and it is certainly a rare businessperson who can speak completely off-the-cuff with no notes or slides. And it’s a daring high-wire act to behold. Most of us are far too concerned about failure, so we tend to over-rehearse. Yet, in doing so, we rob our speech of all spontaneity. Watch the majority of Ted Talks to see how sterile business-speak has become. Part of Jordan’s huge reach and appeal is his capacity to speak freely and with genuine heart. He has come to understand that personal truth needs no script. Instead, he allowed his creative ideas to ebb, flow and build momentum — often to epic proportions. Nothing was planned. And it was thrilling to watch. We simply did not know which way he would go next — and, seemingly, neither did he.

Clearly, Jordan thoroughly researches his content. He knows what problem he wants to solve, how to do it, and, importantly, why it matters. And he’s patently interrogated his own arguments. This doesn’t mean he is the arbiter of all truth. No one is. But his self-examination enables him to lay out a strong case. We also need to research and clarify our ideas so that we sound specific and on point, and can validate our arguments. Don’t fluff your way through ill-researched propositions: Get accurately on message. Only then can you abandon your script and step confidently into flow, assured that you’ve done your homework.


3. Told Stories.

Jordan is a fantastic storyteller! As he moved around the stage, he didn’t bore us to tears with endless dry data. Instead, like any great actor does, he brought his narrative to scintillating life by painting a richly visual picture. But, he didn’t just do this with his words. He also used tone of voice, change of pace, choice of emphasis and expressive body language. In other words, he gave us the opportunity to experience his story just as he experienced it, thereby enabling us to place ourselves right at the centre of the action! And, most importantly, he conceptualised complex psychological ideas with simple archetypes so that we could instantly connect to his meaning. Because, the best stories don’t overwhelm us with technical jargon or tired cliché; they are always simple at heart.

So, tell a visual story. And relive your story live on stage. Do this by using your fullest voice, body language and imagination to describe your scene in specific detail so that others can also picture what you yourself are seeing. And don’t forget that the hero of your story must be real and vulnerable, with a tough problem to face. Because stories that show flawed humans — like you and me — overcoming seemingly insurmountable fears to reach their goals, are inspiring! Don’t just reel off dull numbers and charts that cause even the brightest of listeners to drift; instead, weave a vivid and compelling narrative through your data that excites your audience and emboldens them with newfound possibilities.


4. Welcomed Criticism.

Jordan has clearly thought through many objections to his arguments and ideas. Having analysed his story from different critical angles and rooted out as many problems as possible, he isn’t afraid to be critiqued. He faces disagreement openly, generously and head-on. Because, being able to debate and discuss our well-researched ideas is a supremely confident move. It says we are not afraid of disagreement. And, if we can engage with, rather than defend against, criticism, we are in a much stronger position to refine our ideas and move closer to our personal truth. Remember: There is always something of value to be learned from the perspectives of others — even when we disagree.

Many people avoid that level of conflict. They would rather cling to being “right” and shut down all conversation in case anyone discovers their perceived inadequacy or insecurity. But, in running from our discomfort, rather than learning to handle it better, we stunt our growth, learn nothing of the world and sound arrogantly inauthentic. So, stand tall, and invite and welcome objection! Engage with those who poke holes in your argument, because it teaches you emotional strength, helps you to keep learning, think critically and, importantly, to collaborate with rather than resist others — even those with whom we may disagree. Aim for open discourse. You’ll be taken far more seriously than a person who is defensive, divisive and resistant to all question.


5. Forgets Polished.

Jordan thrilled us by refusing to project a faux polished version of himself. Instead, he stood on the stage as comfortably as he could and allowed himself to explore the rougher edges of his ideas. There was no attempt to prove himself nor downplay his ideas. He simply was irrefutably himself. At one point, his voice even trembled as he began to wring his hands in what seemed like angst. And he came across no less confident for it. Because, this is a man who simply cares about what he is saying, communicates with compassion — and his audience loved him for it!

Artful public speaking is most definitely not about standing on a stage like a perfect pitch-bot uttering pre-rehearsed, scripted thoughts that lack all vitality, spontaneity and authenticity. It’s far better to be human so you stay powerfully on message. And don’t let anyone dictate how you should be on a stage. Because, no one knows you better than you know yourself. You must have agency and let yourself discover your own rhythm. For those of us who are naturally introverted, this may mean cutting eye contact for a while so we can breathe, think and process what we truly want to say rather than mindlessly speak to avoid discomfort. And, ultimately, you need to trust yourself. This requires far less effort than you think, but much more courage. And that’s way more exciting than any idealised version of yourself that fools no one.


6. Addressed His Audience Personally.

Despite the audience numbering well over 5000, Jordan spoke to each and every one of us as if we were the only person in the room. This made everyone feel involved. He did this by only ever speaking to one person at a time. The rest of us picked up on the intimacy and subsequently felt personally addressed. No matter how great our content, if we can’t include everyone in the room, many of our key listeners will drift. They’ll consciously (or subconsciously) know we’re talking at them rather than to them and will consequently disconnect from our material.

Reading your audience is key. You must pay attention to them, even when you’re not directly looking at anyone. The trick here is to read the energy in the room without taking that energy personally, because this is the way to remain connected and centred however your audience reacts. In my early acting days, I performed a play whilst one gentleman slept on the front row! If I had taken his snoozing personally, I would have lost my flow and tanked the remainder of the play, which would have been disastrous not just for me but also for my fellow actors. Instead, I ignored him and resolutely focused on my objective so that the audience who were listening enjoyed themselves. I learned to never take my audience personally, good or bad, whilst still honouring what really matters — connection to the moment. With this quality of attention, you’ll start to be less self-conscious, more generous and will develop a lightness of touch you may never have imagined you possessed.

*****************

Whether we agree or not with Jordan’s opinions, it is undeniable that this is a man of enormous integrity, self-respect and honesty. He speaks to the core of who people are, knowing full well that they, like him, feel both pain and joy and may well also carry heavy personal burdens. This level of connection inspires trust. He listens generously, speaks his truth, believes in your potential and is confident enough to take on disagreement without losing his nerve.

So, if we too can develop the emotional strength to speak with integrity and never compromise our creative voice, we will communicate on a far more human level with words that bristle with our aliveness. And, whatever we say, we’ll cause ripples in ways we could never imagine. We’ll have substance, our ideas will create impact and we’ll finally evoke the change we long for.


7 Quick Tips For The Lazy Leader

If you want to scale the corporate ladder, have more influence and be successful in the workplace, you’ll need to sharpen your leadership voice. Yet, most people have neither the time nor the inclination to make the necessary effort to hone their communication skills. We prefer to get lost in social media, superficial banter and excuses that keep us hidden. Yet, unless we face the fear of speaking up and putting our authentic voice out there, we’ll never develop the emotional strength to become a true business contender.

There are no quick fixes to success. But, fortunately there are some easy hacks you can start implementing today to start the journey to finding your inner leader voice.

1. Keep it Simple.

Most people overcomplicate what they say. In meetings, we are often bombarded with useless jargon, sterile business-speak and endless data that send people to sleep. It takes a confident person to drop the faux business façade and speak honestly and directly. If you’re in the habit of delivering overly complex data and hiding behind business fluff, stop. If you can’t explain what you do in a few simple terms, you’ll sound like you don’t know what you’re talking about. Instead, imagine you’re talking to a bunch of 5 year olds or even aliens from another planet. They won’t comprehend anything complex. So, keep your language simple. Because, when we speak with clarity, we sound strong.


2Drop-kick doubt.

You must learn to speak with conviction and heart, or your words, no matter how well crafted, will fall flat. Most business presentations tank due to a lifeless delivery. In fact, over 90% of persuasion success has nothing to do with your words at all and everything to do with your ability to elicit positive emotion in others. But how can we do that? By showing how much YOU believe in what you are saying. So, say what you mean and mean what you say, and don’t ever be ashamed of not knowing the answer, because we are always in a position of learning and discovery. We are not meant to know everything. The funny thing about getting older is that you realise you actually know very little. And that’s great! It’s OK not to know. Instead, have supreme faith in your ability to learn and find endless solutions.


3. Use Criticism Powerfully.

As a budding person of influence, you’ll need all the advice you can get. We all need to be coachable and open to feedback so that we learn. However, a leader must be careful whom they let into their inner circle. We are all complex with many differing agendas. Navigating all this on your journey to the top can be challenging. The trick to success is learning to distinguish between constructive feedback and destructive criticism. Your greatest friend could be the person who tells you cold hard truths in the service of your growth, in other words telling you what you need to hear rather than what you want to hear. You may not like it, but it will be good for you. A negative critic is someone whose feedback is designed to keep you small. If you come away from an encounter feeling diminished, then you just let an unhealthy person into your sphere of trust. So start checking in with how you feel around certain people. Pay attention to whether you feel supported or crushed. Eventually you’ll disregard the opinions of those who aren’t on your side and let in the ones who only want the best for you.


4. Be Authentic.

We often feel a sense of unease when we have to sell or talk about money. To cope with this anxiety, we adopt a false persona to hide our awkwardness, but then we feel like we are not being ourselves. It’s uncomfortable and draining. The best leaders are authentic and move seamlessly from one role to another without having to alter their persona too much. In other words, it’s less of an act. So, how do we become more ourselves when the pressure is on? One hack is to simply pause and focus on your breath, rather than on what you are going to say. Take a moment to transfer all your attention on calming your nerves before you say anything. When you take the time to breathe and self-regulate, you drop any persona and move into an authentic state. Whatever words you chose to say in that moment, even if it’s to do with money, will sound far more convincing than any rehearsed answer you may have. And people will trust you more. It sounds easy, but it isn’t. So, begin pausing and focusing on your breath today, and months down the line you’ll notice a remarkable improvement in your presence.


5. Lift Others Up.

If you want to develop your inner leader voice, focus on helping others grow. Rather than worrying about yourself and how you come across, short-circuit the self-consciousness by paying attention to the vulnerabilities of others. Ask yourself the following three questions. How can I lift someone else’s spirit today? How can I engage their trust? How can I motivate them to aspire to greater heights? One way is to truly listen to people and make it safe for them to share their strengths, weaknesses, hopes and concerns without recrimination.  When you listen closely, you help people see possibilities in a situation rather than limitations. And in doing so, you become the rare person who evokes in others the capacity to dream. So, help your teams reach for a higher goal by believing in their potential no matter who they are or what their current situation might be. In turn, you’ll be seen as a leader without having to pretend because your focus will be in the right place.


6. Never Give In.

Your success is founded in your capacity to step boldly into the arena, stand tall in the eye of the storm, face your fears and stick to your guns. So, play all in, speak with confidence, spirit and passion and show your peers you’re a force to be reckoned with rather than a minion who cowers in the wings. You have to be assertive, sometimes disagreeable and be able to say no as confidently as you can say yes. And be wary of self-doubt and excuses as to why you can’t reach higher. When you let yourself believe in limitation, you’ll become a victim of circumstance. And no one will buy into you as a voice of influence because you won’t sound like one. When business gets tough, which it inevitably will, your peers needs to trust in your ability to pull through and make your ideas happen no matter what. You’ll help yourself to this end when you care less what anyone thinks – and this includes your inner critic. Sometimes we have to ignore our own minds most of all to keep moving forward.


The quality that cuts across all these tips is courage. The one true requirement in terms of what it takes to be a leader is the courage to break out of the box, confront people problems forcefully and also face your own weaknesses so that you can model growth for those around you. Leaders are not perfect, nor will they ever be. However, they have the backbone to ask questions, listen to the truth, hear the difficulties within an organisation and relentlessly search for solutions. So, if you do one thing, take responsibility for your current situation, help those around you grow, and while the weak make excuses, you make dreams a reality.


How to Crack Brand DNA and Tell its Story

You may have a brilliant business, but if you don’t crack the DNA of your brand story, your business could fall flat. Here’s your expert guide to telling business stories that wow!

 

 

Trust is paramount in business. Whether you’re speaking to a stranger at a dinner party, pitching in a meeting or designing your brand collateral, if you can’t inspire your audience to believe in you, your business will never grow wings and fly.

However, many of us struggle to know exactly how to create the required level of quality connection. Whilst we may know the value our business brings, (and if we don’t, we have bigger problems than we think!) we often can’t articulate our mission in a way that attracts and inspires.

What we need is weapons grade communication skills to bring our business ideas to life, draw people to our brand and create the loyalty necessary to fuel its success.

Enter The Power of Your Brand Story….

Humans hunger for belonging and a sense of shared purpose. And the best way to meet this universal need is not through dry logic alone: we must start telling inspiring stories. Whether on a website, through social media interactions or face to face, it is your story that creates a sense of commonality and purpose.

Brand story explains how Starbucks won the attention of the masses and elevated itself over its competitors, some of whom may well make superior coffee. Starbucks is founded on far more than the simple specifications of their product. In fact, the stories they tell barely mention their products at all, and instead focus on reaffirming people’s faith in humanity, and by doing so, build a stronger, more emotional connection with their customers. For example, Starbucks recently created a selection of stories that featured ordinary people doing extraordinary things in order to create positive change in their communities. These were powerful stories in which employees were respected, customers were valued and bean farmers in developing countries were paid fairly. By coupling these human stories that engender brand loyalty with a fantastic ability to execute on rigorous strategy, Starbucks has positioned itself for massive success.

Storytelling is a skill, and like any other, can be learned. And with a few simple tools under your belt, you too can create a great story and begin to build a picture of your brand that your audience will love.

7 Practical Tools to Telling a Compelling Brand Story:

1. Define your Target Market.

Before you do anything, you must define your audience. Without knowing exactly who you want to reach, you cannot clearly tell a story that will resonate. So, discover as much detail about your audience as you can. Ask yourself: What do they want? What do they need? What are their struggles and pain points? Why is it important to find a solution to make a particular aspect of their lives easier? Keep asking yourself questions about your ideal end-user and be as specific as you can about their cares and concerns. Because, once you know the answers, you will intimately understand your target audience and can position your brand as the best solution to their troubles.

2. Position your Brand.

Once you’ve defined your ideal customer, you need to accurately describe your brand with a clear positioning statement. This is a short, sharp statement that captures who you are, what you do and the value of your business. Your positioning statement is an attention-grabbing opener you can use in all online channels as well as face to face, and forms the very heart of your brand story.

To help you craft a positioning statement, define the following as briefly as you can:

1. What you do? (The solution)

2. Who is it for? (Target audience)

3. Why do you do it? (The need)

4. The amazing outcome as a result of your solution

5. Your key differentiation that sets you apart.

As you practice and re-iterate, you’ll eventually come up with a brand message of just a few sentences that will help to articulate your value proposition both online and in person — and in any situation.

3. Develop your Narrative.

Once you’ve nailed your positioning statement, expand on your story to give your chosen audience a more detailed picture of who you are, what you do and why you do it. This will become your signature brand narrative that could either be a stand-alone story or multiple stories that form part of a broader narrative. For instance, you could expand on your customer story and explain how a customer solved their problem using your product. Or, you could talk about your origin story and explain what inspired you to start this business, why you committed to it and how you eventually overcame stacked odds. You could even tell the story of the amazing milestones you’ve reached and why these have been important to you and your customers. Simply tell the stories that are emotive and bring the most hope to your audience.

4. Keep it Simple.

Keep your brand story simple, eliminate complex jargon and tell it in a relatable manner, because nobody wants to listen to a technocrat droning on. You need to capture the imagination of your audience, and you do this by replacing jargon with simple, vivid and visual language to paint a colourful picture of your business. Metaphors, similes and analogies can simplify the complex and help your audience understand the solution you are presenting. They also create powerful visual images and evoke such powerful sentiment that your audience can’t help but become immersed in your story. And greater audience engagement means greater loyalty. Consider the iconic brand Amazon, named after the river in South America. The idea was that their selection of books would be vast and wide, just like the largest river in the world. And this promise reinforces the metaphor as “a place where people can come to discover anything they might want to buy online.” What a brilliant way to clearly show what Amazon stands for!

5. Stay Human.

Focus on how your products or services touch the lives of real people. This means that your stories should include actual people, real situations and genuine emotions. So, explain — in terms people can relate to — how your company adds value to the lives of your customers, clients and stakeholders. Do you provide a quicker service? Is your product of greater utility to the consumer? Do you make complex products easier to use? Show precisely how you make life better for people. And always own your mistakes without ever over-apologising. Simply take responsibility for whatever went wrong and immediately point towards a solution. When Steve Jobs faced the PR fiasco surrounding a fault in the iPhone 4, instead of repeatedly denying his mistake, or grovelling for forgiveness, Jobs instead went for the honest approach. He said, “ We’re not perfect. Phones are not perfect. We all know that. But we want to make our users happy”. He was truthful, and in a later press conference, offered clear fixes. It’s a strong move and we relate because no one can be perfect all the time. By making truth the cornerstone of everything you write, speak and create, you’ll become trustworthy and be the type of respected brand people want to associate with.

6. Design it to be Shared.

There’s no point having a great story if it exists in a vacuum. It needs to be shared. But how do we design content that people love and want to send to others, when people only share on social what shows them in the best light? You must cater to that need and design your content accordingly — and all without losing your unique personality. However, this is NOT about selling out on your core values. Instead, it’s about discovering what people care about, helping them meet their needs and finding points of mutual interest to create a shared vision. So, look at your past creative messaging and see what resonates best with your audience. Notice how consumers engage with your brand and whether certain messaging leads to an uptick in sharing. Because, when you know what inspires, you can formulate stories your customers will want to spread.

7. Speak Your Story.

“I love networking events”….said hardly anyone! An opportunity to exchange stories and make meaningful business connections often turns into an awkward cringe-fest with most people longing for the exit. However, powerful online branding must be translated in-person to reap the most benefits, and for this we need to network with purpose! But how? Simple. By being genuine. Rather than parroting an elevator pitch to all and sundry, forget pitching full stop. Instead, start a human conversation with someone. And be generous by focusing on the other person, asking open-ended questions and gently finding out about them. Do this, and you’ll soon discover whether they’re worth talking to! And, importantly, most people will appreciate your genuine interest. Once you’ve built trust, your business stories will naturally start to flow. So, always value connection over pitching, because when you do, you’ll reap the reward!

************

The winning thread woven through all these tools is connection. The most valuable global brands such as Apple, Nike and Coca-Cola have long recognised the power of creating meaningful connection and have nurtured stories that have become legendary in status. Ultimately, we trust them.

So, whether you’re tweeting, emailing, writing a blog post or simply talking to a customer, create a brand story we all relate to, understand and like. You need to be truthful, real, and prioritise connection above all else. And when you do that, the rest will follow.

6 Tips To Pitching Your Business Like A Badass

Your ability to inspire is the single most important factor in determining the success of your pitch. Either you truly excite your investors or plunge them into eternal tedium as you drone on like everyone else.

Statistics show that most venture-backed startups will fail, so the odds are stacked against you. However, you can beat the odds by crafting an attention-grabbing pitch that puts you ahead of the pack and wins the funding you need.

Here are 6 essential tips that will give your pitch that crucial edge.

1. Craft a Compelling Story.

If you focus on delivering hard data at the expense of an exciting story, your audience will switch off because business isn’t only about facts, it’s also about feeling. As much as we like to believe humans are rational, decisions are mostly based on emotion rather than reason. This means you must tell an epic story that triggers positive emotion in your investors.  And you do this by detailing how much money your product will make them within the next five years - and which better be enough to make them rich or they’ll move onto someone more ambitious.

You can craft a compelling story by answering these questions:

1.          Who is the hero of your story?

2.          What is the hero’s problem or need?

3.          Why is it so important that you solve their problem?

4.          How exactly will you solve the hero’s problem?

5.          How will you do this better than anyone else?

6.          What is the exciting future in store for the hero once their problem is solved?

7.          What opposing forces could put your hero’s journey into serious doubt?

8.          How will you overcome these obstacles?

Once you answer these questions clearly, and sprinkle in a few sexy metrics, you have the beginnings of a solid story, one that will create all the drama and excitement necessary to turn investors’ heads your way.

2.  Tell The Story Like You Mean It.

Now that you have your killer script, you must tell it with conviction. Otherwise your words, no matter how well crafted, will fall flat. And, sadly, most pitches tank due to a lifeless delivery. As I said before, humans are not rational. They care more about how you say what you say than the actual content. In fact, over 90% of persuasion success has nothing to do with your words at all and everything to do with your body language and ability to elicit positive emotion in others. This is where actor training is extremely useful. The best actors bring their scripts to life. They inject passion into what they say so you believe their every word and want to follow them on their journey. As an entrepreneur, you don’t necessarily need to learn your script by heart. However, it is crucial that you too tell your story with every fibre of your being so that people buy into you.

And the only way to do this is to show how much YOU believe in what you are saying. There is absolutely no substitute for self-belief. People instinctively know when you’re faking it and when you’re being real. Always aim for the latter.

Having the guts to show how much you care about what you’re doing is an extremely admirable trait. It makes a statement about who you are – someone who will make their dreams happen with or without investors’ help. When you have conviction, investors will more likely want to be a part of your success story.

3.  Keep it Simple.

Next, make sure your language is kept simple. The art of being simple is difficult. Yet, simplicity is the only way to ensure your messages not only land but also take hold in people’s imagination. As Tom Hardy’s character in the movie Inception says:

“You need the simplest version of the idea in order for it to grow naturally in your subject’s mind. It’s a very subtle art.”

If you’re in the habit of delivering overly complex data along with fussy slides, then stop. You’ll overwhelm people, because if you can’t explain what you do in a few simple terms and visuals, it will sound like you don’t know what you’re talking about. Your listeners will drift. So, cut the linguistic fat and distill your pitch down to its bare essentials. Sometimes even a single word will convey more meaning than a 100. Brevity is power. The less you say the better.

4.  Rehearse Rehearse Rehearse.

Practice your pitch over and over till you know it inside out and can speak it with spontaneity. No actor would dream of setting foot on a stage without having rigorously rehearsed their material. But, unlike an actor, you don’t need to get the words exactly right. It’s much better for an entrepreneur to sound authentic and conversational than like a scripted robot. However, you must rehearse how you will handle the inevitable pressure as you speak your words. Through rehearsal, we practice facing the very fear public speaking engenders. This includes rehearsing how you will navigate difficult audiences and tricky objections. Think of every possible question that could trip you up and rehearse answering in a calm and assertive manner. With practice, you’ll start to look like a serious contender on top of your game. Better still, if you dare to be playful, even in the most contentious moments, you’ll come across as a supremely confident person. Contrast that to a founder who clings to their script reciting it word for word for fear of making a mistake. They appear weak, as though the slightest obstacle could knock them over - like a fragile tree in a high wind This hardly inspires faith in their ability to lead a company. So, rehearse, relax and let yourself play. Because, when you do, you’ll look and sound more solid.

5.  Stand Tall in The Eye of The Storm.

On pitch day, trust in the knowledge that you have done everything you possibly can to hone your craft. Now, all you need do is forget your prep and simply go for it. A thrilling pitch is founded in your capacity to step boldly into the arena, stand tall in the eye of the storm, face your fears and stick to your guns. So, play all in, speak with spirit and show your investors that you’re a force to be reckoned with rather than a minion who cowers in the wings. Because, when the heavens rain down and business gets tough, the investor needs to trust in your ability to pull through and make your ideas happen no matter what. You’ll help yourself to this end when you care less what anyone thinks. Some people won’t rate you whatever you do. Ignore them.

6.  Be unique!

And, most importantly of all, embrace your individuality. In business, where most people try to copy others, your uniqueness could be the high-grade weapon that turns the game in your favour. So, trust your own instincts. Don’t follow some prescribed recipe to delivering the perfect pitch, as that will merely turn you into a dull pitching robot. In fact, don’t even listen to me. The best ammo you could possibly have is to be fully and audaciously you. This means to trust yourself and your unique spontaneous responses in any high-pressured scenario. With self-trust, you’ll be able to seize the stage, leap into the unpredictability of the moment and face the danger necessary to win. Only then will you move from droning on like everyone else with the same mediocre spiel to actually inspiring your audience and pitching like the badass you really are!

As Walter White from Breaking Bad memorably puts it:

“I am not in danger; I AM the danger!”

BE A BADASS IN THE BOARDROOM

I'v been abroad for a few weeks taking on some alternative clients – video HERE for those interested in my unusual techniques ;)
 
Returning to London, I’m reminded of how hard it is to stay authentic and creative in such a fast-paced environment. The pressure is on and we must keep up - even if it means crushing our spirits in the process. 
 
Happy January folks! 
 
But fret not.  I bring you an AWESOME antidote to stifling pressure, fear of failure and playing safe at the expense of our enormous creative power.
 
Welcome to my new signature masterclass, introduced this very week to much success in one of London’s biggest ad agencies.



How to Be a Badass in the Boardroom.

download-1.jpg



What came up?
Frustrations with playing safe in high-stake meetings.
Never saying what we think.
Struggling to negotiate beyond mediocre results.
Never express our “edgier side” for fear of what others might think.
More a nervous nellie than a kick-ass master.
 

What results?
Endless meandering meetings.
Business & people lacking edge & moving too slowly.
Playing “good” & fitting in so nothing changes and on we plod.
 
 
What did we do instead?
Got real.
Took on risk, lowered our guard & broke a few pointless rules.
Thought for ourselves and explored how bad-ass we can be. 
Spoke, acted, negotiated with back-bone.
 

The aim?
Park our suffocating conformity to ignite our conviction.
Own any room, meeting or moment – no matter what. 
Have fun in the process otherwise what’s the point?!?




We also developed a quick

BADASS MANIFESTO:
 

1st Rule:
A badass does not talk about being a badass.
 
2nd Rule:
A badass does not try to prove they are a badass. They just are.
 
3rd Rule:
A badass doesn’t do what they “should” or fake it to please anyone. A badass does what they LOVE even if it risks the displeasure of others. They don’t settle for crumbs – they create legacy.
 
4th Rule:
A badass never gives up on their dreams. They dare to dream big, take on far more risk than the average person, face fears, shake things up and jump in all the way.
 
5th Rule:
A badass rarely lets their inner critic or the opinions of others stop them reaching for their star. In the process, they learn courage, faith and grit – all essential qualities to major badassery.
 
6th Rule:
A badass is tough but also kind! They know they don’t need to be an ass-hole to get things done.
 
7th Rule:
A badass is not afraid of offending others and won’t tread on eggshells to maintain status quo. They say no, push back, express ideas respectfully and disagree with others without being sucked into drama.
 
8th Rule:
A badass doesn’t waste time on low-level minutiae. Whilst others are distracted by social recognition, a badass keeps focusing on moving forward, warrior-like, towards a big juicy sexy goal.
 
9th Rule:
A badass always has a sense of humour, never getting too earnest, overly serious or stuck in emotional heaviness. A badass can fly because they take them selves lightly. And fly we must - otherwise we’ll never get anywhere.
 
10th Rule:
And a badass who breaks any of these rules is the biggest badass of them all.
 



As challenging as this sounds, it’s nowhere near as painful as waking up in the middle of the night feeling like a truck just parked on your chest, crushing you under the realisation that life is zooming by and you’re yet to embrace how exciting you can be. 

Don’t wait. Don't meander. Don’t settle for half a heart. 
 
Be. More. Badass.
 
- Amy

On Creating Genuine Impact At Work

“There are two wolves, 
 and they are always fighting. 
 One is darkness and despair, 
 the other light and hope. 
 Which one wins? 
 The one you feed.” 
 
-Cherokee Legend

I’ve always been obsessed with creativity, imagination and spark. I was a rascal at school, full of curiosity and an unquenchable thirst for adventure. Nothing whatsoever could stop me in my drive to achieve absolutely anything I wanted. I dreamed high-voltage ideas and was permanently poised to ignite them.

Then I “grew up”.

Higher education and beyond were a more solemn affair. Like most, I was pushed to hyper focus on results and being “correct”. Child-like curiosity, daring and discovery were no longer welcome in a world where only test results mattered and fitting-in was now the suffocating norm. I became anxious, hyper-vigilant and afraid of failure as I tried to cut myself to fit the pre-prescribed academic cloth. I tried to please; my parents, teachers, friends. And when I quickly realised this would never get me what I needed — I went AWOL …from school, from dreams, from life.
 
But not anymore.
 
Having worked with countless individuals, both privately and in groups, I know now that I’m not alone in this experience. Perhaps most people have not endured suffocation to the same extremes, but I still witness first-hand how many of us have been conditioned out of our authentic voice in favour of conformity. We hold back, mute our expression and firmly sit on our creative responses for fear of disapproval. We may not even be conscious of this terrible self-imposed tyranny. It’s common for us to think the problem is “out there” when all we’ve really done is internalised a harsh judgment system that bullies us into being a certain way rather than becoming who we are.

We’ve been taught to feed the wrong wolf; to focus on mediocrity, darkness and calamity.

To truly develop an exciting winning presence, in both business and in life, you have to start feeding the right wolf; the wolf that encourages you to act, speak, challenge and dare — when all other voices scream “but what if you fail? What if you get it “wrong”? And what will people think? 
 
We always have a choice.
 
We can choose possibility as we ignite our inner spark and do the very thing that scares us. We can seize the stage, create a new idea and assertively challenge a status quo. We can think crazy big and know our ideas count so we keep going no matter what. And we create impact because our convictions are so luminous that we shine a light on all those with whom we connect.
 
The alternative is to choose passivity as we hold ourselves back, speak in monotone, never question, dull our edges and squash our burgeoning ideas. We may not even know what we want to say because we rarely give ourselves the opportunity to clarify our own feelings and thoughts. So we come to business conversations, or indeed any conversation that matters, with a broken sense of self not realising how much potential, presence and impact we already have.
 
It’s simple, yet incredibly tough to choose aliveness in a world that seems set on keeping you down.

Of course, the moment you dare is the moment all the critics pipe up incensed at your audacity. These could be internal voices or external voices. Regardless of who says what, if we listen — if we let them shame us into being small — we lose.

But what if we stop feeding them? As challenging as it is, we have to feed them no attention whatsoever, not even a shred of our precious time, and leave them flailing in the background as we keep moving forward to a possibility they themselves dare not imagine.

As Oscar Wilde puts it:

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”

It takes enormous courage and strength to reach for your impact. You’ll need a fighting spirit. And you have to take it on — whatever “it” is. No matter your background or disadvantage, you have to reconnect to your inner fire. And, as you let your ideas clash and collide, you’ll come alive.
 
So feed the right wolf. Become luminous in a sea of mediocrity. Grow something truly special; be it a business, new project, collaboration or even mini kingdom! We alone take responsibility for our journey and have to root out anything inside that keeps derailing our adventure. So we find strong mentors and positive friends who believe in our growth and we also help others up along the way. And most crucially, we banish the corrosive acidity of resentment as we stop listening to all the negativity and instead build build build….. because taking risks is so much more fulfilling than living the same reality day-in-day-out like some dystopian nightmare.
 
In a world full of absurdity, one without any inherent meaning, we have an incredible freedom — if we notice it. We are free to find and become our most exciting, dynamic self and to make meaning in whatever tiny corner of the world we chose to carve it.
 
Something so simple as the determined belief in a brilliant future and then taking the steps to make it happen — that’s true impact.


6 Ways to Strengthen Your Leadership Voice.

Recently I was asked to facilitate leadership workshops for senior teams in two of London’s largest advertising agencies. These are agencies with a long legacy, an outstanding reputation and massive global reach. To say the pressure on their future leaders is intense is an understatement!

The focus for each workshop was the same: How can each individual sharpen and toughen up their leadership voice as they start to assume more responsibility within their organisation? And, most importantly, how can each leader become more inspiring, visionary and strong in a fast-paced, ever-shifting landscape with as many differing personalities as there are conflicting agendas?

These are difficult questions: and there are no easy answers. However, closely facilitating a challenging conversation around these themes is both important and necessary.

Each workshop begins with a frank discussion about what currently works, and also what stands in the way of our leadership success. We shine a light on our personal blind-spots and give and receive constructive feedback to accelerate our growth. The process is often electric as people slough off facades, dare to speak directly and raise points of urgency. For many it can be the first real workplace conversation for some time, and this fosters a strong sense of togetherness, openness and egalitarianism that is often missing.

At heart, though, the work is about developing team edge. We learn to play shoulder to shoulder with greater skill, acumen and competitive advantage so that we win more battles than we lose on the corporate battlefield.

6 Insights to Power up your Leadership Voice…

1. Bias.

We all have it. It is the personal filter through which we view our complicated world and is based on our upbringing, experiences and interpretations that don’t often withstand rational analysis. However, if we fail to challenge our strongly held assumptions, we create the very divisions we abhor. And, sadly, the result is a polarised “them and us” attitude that fuels militancy of opinion and passive aggression in the workplace. If left unchecked, our environment becomes toxic with little room for openness, exploration and discovery — all of which are essential attributes for both personal leadership and corporate growth.

The Solution?

Question your assumptions, particularly your most strongly held beliefs. When we stop blaming other people’s behaviour for our lack of power, we have to take the necessary responsibility to change. And, in doing so, we move from a powerless victim state to a stronger sovereign state. This doesn’t deny injustice in the workplace, but instead means asking yourself the more powerful question: What are you going to do about it?.

When we channel our anger constructively, we assert clearer boundaries, strengthen our resolve and rally others behind the values of integrity and respect. Leaders operating from this position can more powerfully navigate the tough business conversations that bring progress.

2. Listening.

Few do it, or are even able to when pushed, and many instead prefer to speak over others to win peer recognition. Silence can feel like death or is so incredibly uncomfortable that such people will keep looking for opportunities to voice their fixed opinions. Discussions feel one-sided and closed because if leaders lack strength and can’t effectively govern the space between people, the balance tips unfairly towards the more dominant and denies airtime to the more timid and sensitive. And, ultimately we lose contact with large swathes of people who could contribute positively.

The Solution?

Develop rabbit ears, paying close attention to the non-verbal communication of your teams. If the power is out of balance, be assertive and ensure that interpersonal boundaries are respected. The benefits of this type of leadership are huge! As the more reticent learn to speak up and the dominant learn to listen (rather than wait for their turn to speak), we all realise that, despite the discomfort of breaking habits, we can now pay attention to what is actually going on. And, with this improved awareness, we acquire valuable information that would otherwise be missed, information that is often fundamental to a team’s success.

3. Emotional Intelligence.

This is the ability to read emotions, both in one’s self and in others, and then to use this data to effectively steer the whole team towards a shared goal. This level of emotional sensitivity is woefully lacking in most workplaces. Instead, what we often get are leaders struggling to be honest with themselves, let alone their teams, and it’s little wonder that unspoken resentments constantly brew below the surface. Goals are often missed and morale sinks as staff turnover inevitably accelerates.

The Solution?

Develop your sensitivity by paying attention to what you feel. Then, use your own feelings as data to powerfully intuit and detect what’s really happening under the surface. You can then use this information to bring out the best in everyone. Emotional intelligence isn’t about pouring out our emotions in a bid to be “authentic” and real: it’s about being emotionally attuned and reading the temperature in the room. And, most importantly, it’s about developing the wisdom to know when to strike and when to refrain, given the constraints of the commercial world.

4. Political Correctness.

The larger the firm, the more complex it becomes to navigate everyone’s diverse opinions, emotions and behaviour. What results is often a rigid political correctness in a misguided attempt to create group cohesion amidst the chaos. Yet, political correctness is an anathema to creativity, innovation and edge. When we can’t share our unique ideas for fear of recrimination from the more militant voices in the room, we lose our spontaneity and ability to engage in critical discourse. We can put out as many colourful bean bags as we like and keep scrawling our motivational quotes on whiteboards, yet without honesty and openness, corporations become sterile, tense and humourless places. A leader that buys into this ethos lacks any real power as most of their precious energy is wasted on pleasing the masses.

The Solution?

Develop a healthy dose of assertiveness, and get some backbone to say what you think and challenge group think. When said with respect, we ought to be able to express our unique viewpoints — especially if they go against the grain. No one person or group holds a monopoly on truth; this is about open discourse and critical thinking. Standing up to political correctness is absolutely imperative in encouraging your teams to show up fully, contribute different ideas and actually get excited! A strong leader will facilitate a space where all ideas are encouraged and openly critiqued without resorting to shame. This is true diversity.

5. Passivity.

Many leaders weaken their presence by over-apologising or subtly dismissing what they have to say. The problem with excessive apology is that we signal our sense of unworthiness to others and actively give them permission to devalue our needs. There’s a clear payoff; we get to stay small and gain only pity and sympathy, rather than risking disapproval for stepping up. On some level we think we don’t deserve equal respect. But we are wrong.

The Solution?

Take your worth seriously. Know that you deserve respect and space. And notice that whenever you dismiss your worth through yet another apology, the only person putting you down is you. The idea that we must somehow grovel for respect is abhorrent and puts us in a vulnerable position where we become open to exploitation. So, pay attention to this habit and redirect your finite energy into strengthening your voice rather than devaluing it. The less we apologise for ourselves, the more direct we become with our teams and the more respect we gain.

6. Aggression.

The flip side of passivity is aggression. There are those who use coercion, threat and hostility in an attempt to gain dominance and authority. Such people misguidedly believe they get better results by beating others with a proverbial stick. However, all this behaviour really achieves is the destruction of creativity, morale and respect. The more subservient among us, especially those keen to win approval, will keep running on the hamster wheel to keep their managers happy — but at what cost? Anxiety, burn out and secret dissent.

The Solution?

Become a positive role model in the workplace. Lead through powerful example by encouraging, rather than crushing, the potential in others. Never resort to blame, shame or attack just because someone is not acting how you think they should. There is zero strength in that approach. Instead, model confidence, respect and sensitivity so that you inspire your teams to step up rather than wallow in weakness. Because, when we care for our teams, we bring out the best in everyone. This doesn’t mean we cant challenge others, question consensus and say what needs to be said. Instead, it means we always use kindness when we say it. 

****************

Developing our leadership voice is challenging work. It demands that we look within, root out our own barriers to communication and get really honest with ourselves. It means we individuate from the pack and relinquish our need for constant approval. And, most importantly, it means we focus on what really matters: people. If, above all else, you care about the grandest of pursuits — the development of our fellow humans — you’ll become a fine leader indeed.


TechStars Demo Day - What I learned from directing the CEO’s in their Pitches

TechStars demo day is always an exciting experience.

Not just for the ten brilliant tech founders who each pitched their business to an auditorium filled with big investors & VIP’s.

But also for the large audience that had gathered so early in the morning.


This was The Royal Institute in Mayfair, a space that rivals any West End Theatre. It’s an impressive stage, with the audience gathered on all sides, and can be daunting to anyone who has never taken on such expanse – and especially if English isn’t even your mother tongue!

Yet in spite of the obstacles, each and every CEO owned it. They took the stage, looked the audience in the eye, revealed their voice and showed genuine leadership in action. It was thrilling and alive.

Having worked with TechStars both in Berlin and now in London, I have learned that the number one factor that makes a winning pitch is - brace yourself - some genuine feeling. Not the BS razzmatazz, but some authentic delivery. I know .. strange!
 
 
Our strength does not lie in presenting a slick, polished, shiny self. Our strength lies in our shared vulnerability. 


We cannot pitch our business ideas to an audience through the straightjacket of perfection. We’ll sound monotone and flat. It’s as if our humanity has been parked whilst we deliver our polished pitches … and then we resume “normal human behaviour” once we step off the stage. It’s an epidemic that breeds lifeless, fake and disingenuous pitches and presentations across all business - not just in tech. And it’s my mission to ensure leaders cut through the pretence to speak up with their real, most powerful selves.

Leadership and a winning presence is simply about acknowledging our fragility on stage and stepping up anyway. As my brilliant acting coach used to always tell me - invent nothing, deny nothing. Show up. Aim high. Try.
 
 
People often ask me …
 
“Amy how do I bring more of MYSELF to my pitch?
 
Hmmmm

The irony is that whenever ANYONE asks me that question, they’re already bringing their full self to the moment between us.  I observe them smiling slightly, with a little nervousness showing through their facial expression as their passion comes through their voice. I see their hunger and a little of their inner story.
 


And my answer is always this…
 


“You’re doing it right now. Here you are. No technique needed. No BS pretence. Bring this part of yourself to your “performance”. Stay in this imperfect messiness and speak up anyway trusting that your message has value and needs no frills.”
 


That’s authenticity. Nothing to prove. No smoke and mirrors. Just truth, one breath at a time.


 
Having taken on some super tough roles, both in my real life and in theatre, I’ve learned that to create great work, we must fight for what matters to us. We have to dare to commit through blood, sweat and tears and regardless of what anyone thinks. We must know what we want, face the setbacks head-on, fail … and then fail some more… What stands in the way becomes the way. Embrace the difficulty and never loose sight of the prize.


The day you stop daring is the day you let your inner demons win. The day you loose sight of your purpose is the day your spirit crumples. And the day you hold yourself back for fear of disapproval is the day you loose.
 
 
So dare. That is all.
 

- Amy Tez

Rise Up : How Your Body Language Can Accelerate Your Business Success

Our body language is crucial to successful communication and yet it is one of the most overlooked components of business strategy.  We focus on our business plans, our marketing drives and our spreadsheets, but we never stop to think about what our facial expression or posture is communicating or what our physical gestures might be saying about us. The fact is, no matter how impressive our words are, if our body language is unconsciously sending out a negative message, we will more than likely lose the client, the deal and the opportunity.


Having spent countless consulting hours observing human behaviour, it is safe to say that our body language is magnificently complex, rich and highly worth developing. By connecting to your much forgotten body, you’ll be in touch with an enormous well of power that most people deny. So start paying attention.  Learn to trust in your body’s natural intelligence rather than forcing it into a contrived expression that reeks of weakness. This is first and foremost about developing self-respect so you become a rare person of high value - rather than merely pretending to be one.


What is Body Language?

Let’s define exactly what I mean by body language. It is every single expression of your physical body apart from the words you use – though these are important too. It includes your breathing, posture, facial movements, gestures, voice, quality of eye contact and so much more than that. Your mind-set also plays a part in how your body language expresses itself. A fearful mind-set prone to apologetic or aggressive thinking often straitjackets your physiology. You literally shrink when you think badly of yourself. Emotions too, though felt within the body, always show up physically in how you move, stand, walk and talk. In fact, your emotions can be the deciding factor in how someone treats you. The body will never lie and you may think you are concealing how you feel, but the body broadcasts the truth for all to see.

 

Let’s consider for a moment a person who slumps, fidgets nervously, speaks in a flat tone and evades eye contact. Perhaps they’re facial expression is inscrutably frozen and their physical movements are closed and feeble. Psychologically, they may not feel up to the job and will refuse to acknowledge their potential in case they, heaven forbid, make a “mistake”. Their body language leaks fear and hardly breeds our faith in their capability to lead or inspire.

trustmecartoon copy.jpg

 

Now imagine a person who moves in a more open manner, making relaxed eye contact and at times smiling warmly. Let’s assume they stand tall with their shoulders back and chest open, and there’s a sense of ease to their movements.  Gone are the subconscious micro-expressions that signify insecurity. This person confidently takes up their space. In fact, their entire demeanour demonstrates the courage and strength necessary for leadership and we tend to feel safer in their competent presence.

 

Obviously, body language is much more nuanced than these two extremes and people can come across in a whole myriad of ways. And thankfully there is always scope for development and many practical ways to grow into a more convincing being. This skill has never been more pressing given the increasingly chaotic pace of business life along with people’s ever decreasing attention spans. We absolutely must start attending to the power of all our non-verbal communication if we are to create any impact at all.

 

The Power of Your Voice.

One of the most direct routes to empowering your communication is through the quality of your voice. Your personal voice is hugely important in the workplace and can literally make or break your success. The pitch, timbre, volume and cadence of your voice, the speed with which you speak, and even the way you modulate pitch and loudness, are all influential factors in how convincing you are, and how people judge your character. Being able to lower your voice at just the right moment is an art form, as any decent actor will tell you, and not only enhances your credibility, but lends you an air of intelligence. And by allowing your voice to dance in the danger of the unpredictable moment, you’ll snap the even the most tired audiences out of their corporate slumber. You’ll sound real in a world saturated with the contrived.

 

The difference between voice quality is very apparent in theatre. Two different actors will play Hamlet, but the one who convinces will be the one whose voice is most resonant, powerful, expressive and rich. The same for business leaders: we prefer to listen to those who are more engaging as opposed to those who are monotone and flat. Aggressive voices that lack any sensitive undertone tend to push us away whilst softer voices that lack harder edges tend to imply weakness. Voices that fear disapproval attract the very thing they fear and a flimsy voice with no emotion at all will simply not be heard. It is only the voice that is strong, fearless, liberated and real that wins.  We must fill our voices with our range and depth if we are to be taken seriously, if indeed we are to take ourselves seriously when we speak.

 

The Power of Intuitive Listening.

But excellent speaking skills only represent one half of leadership expression. You must also attend to your listening skills.  If we cannot listen to our peers, we will miss the hugely valuable information they are often silently transmitting. And it is precisely this information that informs our best response and shows us exactly how to motivate, lead and inspire.

 

A good listener is however incredibly rare. Most of us are too preoccupied to truly see another. We are driven by ingrained assumptions, unthinking bias and mindless thoughts that deny us the ability to clearly observe the person before us. But when we do, a remarkable thing happens; we start to notice not only what a person is saying, but can more accurately decode what they don't say. Once you are trained and know what to look for, it becomes relatively easy to determine whether someone is feeling calm or anxious, trusting or suspicious, angry or evasive, or even whether a smile is truly felt—or born from insincerity. You’ll also know if someone is positive or whether they harbour malevolent intentions towards you simply by witnessing what their body is saying. With these highly specific observations, you are much more likely to attune to another person, and either create the secure bonds crucial to a successful working life  – or power apart.

 

The Necessity for Emotional Intelligence.

This level of listening develops our emotional intelligence; the intuition to ascertain the reality of a situation. When emotional intelligence is lacking, we can misinterpret the intentions of our peers, invent unfounded bias and fail to decipher what really makes them tick. Whole teams descend into unspoken resentments and strife when team leaders refuse to pay attention and facilitate the difficult yet meaningful conversations that foster connection. We can of course attempt to gather this information about our teams through unproven “personality tests” that proliferate most organisations still today. But their results will be, as ever, inconsistent, inaccurate and totally meaningless. And no amount of unscientific personality testing will ever beat the superior powers that emotional intelligence gives you.

 

Please note: while body language offers more accurate insights into the emotional state of someone else, it cannot tell you why the person is exhibiting that emotion. Yet many of us make unsubstantiated snap judgements - and we tend to assume the worst. Consider a high-pressured business meeting where you really hope to leave a good impression.  If you anxiously read into the reactions of another person’s face rather than simply observe their reactions, you can end up provoking a host of unwanted internal responses such as self-doubt and insecurity. If enough stress is produced, you trigger your pre-limbic neural defence mechanism that sets you up for fight, flight or freeze. Your brain literally prepares you for attack and you forget you’re just in a simple meeting.  Unless you can calm yourself down fast, your performance spirals.

 

We have to nip this neurological chain reaction in the bud. Firstly, we must remember that we cannot ever accurately know what another person is thinking  - so why worry? And secondly, when we realise the other person, like most humans, is probably more preoccupied with their own performance to even notice ours too closely, the pressure subsides.  We calm the nervous system and come back to reality. However, let us assume the worst; that the other person is unfairly judging us and it’s plain to see. The only appropriate response in this situation is to realise that their reaction speaks volumes about their proclivity to negativity and has no bearing on our self-worth. The ignorance and stupidity of others is no good reason for you to start whacking yourself with an internal stick.


Why Assertive Body Language Wins

Emotional intelligence naturally leads to assertive expression; the skill to direct all our emotions in a constructive manner. However, one emotion that is hard for many people to manage is anger. Most of us do not even know how to express it healthily in our personal lives, let alone at work. Yet, it is the unusual person who can positively direct their anger, set boundaries and stand firmly behind their convictions, who is strong. They command respect because they respect themselves and their body language communicates solidity. It won’t even matter how they are standing, moving or sitting; their inner resolve emanates a consolidated physical presence that cannot be exploited. If you cannot access your anger, you won’t be able to assert your boundaries. You’ll be walked over, taken advantage of, and worse, left behind. Others will put you down because you let them. And your resentment will build, which, if unexpressed, evolves into bitterness and defeat. We cannot control others - that’s a fools game. The only sensible solution in this complex world of ours is to focus on changing ourselves and learning to become mentally strong. Intention is power and with that your body language falls graciously into place.

 

Treat Yourself like Someone You Are Proud Of.

Sadly, we often treat ourselves with much disrespect. We cruelly put ourselves down and shame ourselves into submission.  We tell ourselves that we are no good, not worthy of success, and worse,  we discredit our achievements. After all, who do we think we are?  Get back in your little box you pathetic worm. What results? People clamouring to look strong on the outside when the reality is they feel the exact opposite. No wonder many of us report feeling like frauds at work, as if one day we will be mysteriously “found out” to be un-deserving of our position. This tragic feeling has been conveniently named “The Imposter Syndrome” as though it were an illness we have caught. Make no mistake; it is simply our natural human response to a part of our own psyche that is hell-bent on bullying us into a sense of inadequacy. The enemy is, and has always been, within.

CERSkvoWMAAGrS9-2.jpg

 

When we try to hide our authenticity, we actually become contrived, compliant and weak. Not only that, when we don’t speak our truth, our subtle micro-expressions, tone of voice and physical ticks will give us away in any case. The body never lies. And it is these subtle expressions that reveal our inner world no matter how hard we try to conceal it. This self-repression can start the moment we decide to speak. We shallow breathe, brace our chests, lock our knees and sometimes set our facial expression so tightly that no warmth can escape. Some of us look as if our jaws have been super-glued together. By the time we open our mouths to form words, we've already sunk the ship.

 

What to do? Start by treating yourself as though you are someone you are incredibly proud of. Stand tall, relax your chest and let yourself breathe deeply without trying to change your natural presence. If you notice any constrictions in your body, invite yourself to let them go. Psychologically, you’ll be turning to face your fears rather than habitually running. You’ll own the moment rather than be governed by it. And you’ll start to trust your body and feelings rather than constantly trying to manipulate them to appease the bully within. Your nervous system will thank you for it. And in this relaxed alertness, your body language will spring back to creative life.

 

Final Thoughts...

Our body language can emanate huge psychological power - if we let it. This is not about being better than anyone else. This work is about becoming your most integrated, congruent and convincing self. So it’s time to take a deep diaphragmatic breath, honour your needs and say something you actually mean. Most don’t have the guts. Take a seat at the table; don’t wait for it to be offered – you may be waiting a long time. And worse, complaining about it. By becoming less compliant, you’ll reach an edgier, emboldened and more genuine you. Your body will vibrate with an incredible luminosity no matter what is happening around you, and there can be no greater body language than that. In a world saturated with the cold, hard and dim of spirit, you’ll shine.

 

 

 

MEETING THE 11TH PRESIDENT OF TURKEY AND INSIGHTS ON PUBLIC SPEAKING WITH NO PREP!

(That's me addressing my Inner Critic!)

 

 

MEETING THE 11TH PRESIDENT OF TURKEY AND INSIGHTS ON PUBLIC SPEAKING WITH NO PREP!

Having set up my business just under 11 months ago, I have come amazingly far.
 
In that time, I've gone from running £10 meet-up groups in a dilapidated church hall on Exmouth Market to hosting Leadership and Pitching workshops for global corporate players in London, New York, San Francisco and Brussels.
 
A few weeks ago, I was in the EU training delegates to pitch their businesses to investors, and most recently, I hosted a conference to over 1000 delegates in Istanbul, where I got to introduce the 11th President of Turkey, firmly shaking his hand and giving him a little wink ofcourse!
 
I mention this not to gloat, but to highlight that I practice exactly what I teach. Think big, no half measures and always go for it!
 
I didn’t used to be this way....
 
I’ve played small for much of my life and felt highly depressed about my unrealised potential, finally hitting rock bottom in May 2017.  My relationship ended, I was heartbroken and generally felt pretty useless. I had little money, a job I hated and limited self-belief; I thought I was a failure.
 
Luckily, my beloved younger sister picked me up and took me to Istanbul to cheer me up.
 
Sitting in our hotel room one evening, she looked at me and said with absolute directness: 

"Come on Amy, just launch a bloody website and start your own business!".

I’d been talking about doing just that for three years; however,  I'd never done anything about it.  In fact, I had always found a myriad of ways and reasons to stall myself. Classic fear-based procrastination.
 
So, my wise sister ordered a couple of strong tequila cocktails, and we both worked till the early hours; she on her investment stuff, whilst I wrote copy for this new scary wonderful website.
 
By early morning, I’d finished my first ever webpage.  I took the plunge and hit launch!.
 
Now, that might sound easy enough. All I’m doing is pressing a button, right?
 
But it wasn’t easy. It had taken me years to get to the point where I trusted myself enough to put myself out there in what felt like a major way.
 
Pressing launch was a BIG deal. We drank another tequila cocktail to celebrate.
 
And, to my complete surprise, from that point on, my business grew exceptionally fast. Not because I know any special business tricks, or because I have some secret marketing sauce. You see, I’ve never listened to the so-called gurus or experts, and I barely use social media or self-publicise as, I’m actually quite introverted.
 
Instead, I believe my success to date is wholly the result of my renewed sense of conviction, spurred on - of course - by my sister that evening in a Turkish hotel. Sometimes, we don’t realise our own strength until someone who cares about and understands us reminds us of our potential. And, when that happened, it dawned on me that if I could haul myself up off the floor through some of the toughest moments in my life, then there’s no reason why I can’t make my business project a great success. Resilience is my middle name.  Think huge, act quick and commit 100 per cent!
 
And, most importantly, care... Always care about the quality of your attention.
 
That's my secret sauce.
 
Like most people, I have an inner critic that accuses me of not being good enough. However, I’ve also developed another much louder, brighter, sassier voice that looks the inner critic squarely in the eye and says:  'Sit the f*** down and shut the f*** up!. I’m in charge now, bitch!.
 
And that feels good.
 
What I've learned is that our personal and business success is directly connected to the quality of the relationship we have with ourselves.  The more you believe in and trust yourself, the greater the risk you dare to take. And, with courage on your side and the inner critic firmly relegated to the naughty step, you’re free to dream really big and act even bigger without fear of recriminations or personal attack. After years of living in fear of my own “good” opinion - as well as the opinion of others -  what a joy it is to no longer care. I can’t quite describe the freedom and sense of empowerment. And to think, I spent years hiding myself and even crying whenever I got asked to speak up.  I used to feel such shame.
 
The less we care for the judgements of our inner critic, the better our results - and this goes for all areas of our life. In fact, there is no limit to how far we can go: the possibilities are endless - and it's exciting.
 
That’s not to say I always get things perfect or right.  Far from it. I’m actually quite a messy, often conflicted human despite my outwardly “together” appearance. However, if I waited until I was supposedly perfect before I committed to any dream or action, I would still be sitting in my pokey bedroom mindlessly looking through Facebook feeds wondering why I exist.  Instead, I’m now hosting one of the biggest conferences in Turkey and introducing their 11thPresident - and I don't even speak Turkish and can barely pronounce his name!.
 
Lets be frank: I made a few “mistakes” that weekend. I got words wrong, walked into a wall and said a naughty word on live TV!  What was even worse was that I got pushed onto the stage at the last minute in front of a thousand people and told to speak for half an hour  “to make sure no one leaves before the president arrives!”
 
What?!? Really?!?

Yes really, and I had no speech prepared! So, imagine the pressure....
 
But, as I myself have done over the past year, I walked directly towards my fear, stood centre-stage, looked my audience in the eye and smiled... And, as I always instruct my students, I stood tall, owned my space and took a very deep soothing breath. Only then, when I felt the power of my own presence, did I start talking  - or ad-libbing to be accurate!
 
What did I really have to loose?  It’s always only ever a personal conversation; albeit one on a bigger stage and to a larger audience. And, most importantly, I enjoyed myself, I involved my audience and I let them matter.
 
Also, no one in the audience cared about my mistakes. Why? Because I  didn’t care about my mistakes. They’re not a problem to me. In fact, I welcomed every slight error with a warm smile and a mischievous glint. Because I know that if I am at ease, my audience is at ease. Lightness of touch and a sense of humour is ALWAYS infectious.
 
What I do care about is human connection, well above seeking personal perfection. Because, that’s all that ever matters. That’s how I win. That’s how we all win. And that’s how I managed to connect with such a large audience for 30 minutes whilst making an entire speech up as I went along. I greeted my audience with warmth and made them feel important. Because they are.

“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”  - Theodore Roosevelt.
 

So what’s key when it comes to public speaking, presentations or general presence in business?
 

The answer is YOU!
 
You just have to be you. Find out who you are by taking risks and learning the resilience that comes with each daring experience. Let go of the struggle. It doesn’t have to be so hard. All you need do is simply TRY. Step out of your comfort zone and let yourself create, and with compassion, allow yourself to make mistakes. What’s so wrong with imperfection anyway? Share your humanity, and people will love you for it. Because it gives the rest of us permission to do the same.