Inspirational Public Speaking – Eva Eisenschimmel

Eva Eisenschimmel of Lloyds Banking Group

Eva Eisenschimmel, Group Culture Director of Lloyds Banking Group

Part 1: Putting the audience’s needs at the heart of public speaking.

I saw Eva Eisenschimmel, Group Culture Director of Lloyds Banking Group talk on September 3rd 2013 at Bloomberg as part of CIM’s 2013 Growth Summit. She gave a powerful keynote presentation that made the whole room sit up and listen and then went on to be one of the most memorable participants in a panel discussion. I knew I had to ask if she would interview for our blog as here was a great public speaker that would also be superb inspiration for clients, especially our female clients. I was delighted when she agreed to be interviewed, so two weeks later, I asked Eva to share her thoughts about public speaking.

When do you get asked to do public speaking – what are the circumstances?

The first and most frequent occasion is internally – Lloyd’s is a large organization, over 90,000 colleagues and is one of the largest employers in the country as we are a UK centered bank. So we do a lot of internal “public” speaking.

The second occasion is something that I am asked to do a lot, but which I do relatively little of – external public speaking at events or exhibitions.

Thirdly there are interviews with journalists, mainly one on one, which is a form of public speaking of course because it carries a lot of risk. Even the most straightforward of interviewers are looking for an angle or an edge and often I will be trying not to give too much away (such as details of a new campaign before launch).

So I would say that I do the most of the first internal type of speaking, a little of the third and least of the second. I do less of this for two reasons. One is personal and one is contextual. The personal one is that I’ve been here for three years and apart from a little early experience, I am new to the sector so I am therefore slightly careful and slightly reluctant to put myself out there as a sector expert as there are others with far more experience than me. At the same time, I’m still finding my feet and establishing my credibility and of course I’m working on delivering stuff and it feels like that is more important than just talking about what you’d like to deliver! So I’m therefore quite reticent to accept too many of those invitations.

So would you say that you prefer internal public speaking the most?

I would say I enjoy all types of public speaking, but perhaps the third type least, as in this age of social media what you say can be whizzed around the world in a split second and you can do untold damage to a company’s reputation or share price! I don’t think there is a lot of difference between the internal and external occasions.

How do you prepare?

There is always a lot of preparation required and I especially focus on my opening and my close. It’s a tried and tested tip but it is a good one – if you know how you are going to start and how you are ending you can usually get on well. Another thing to remember is are you a subject expert ? or more crudely do you know more about this topic than your audience ? You usually do and with that comes confidence. So I would say there is so much in common with both internal and external speaking and I therefore enjoy them both.

So as you mention good preparation is vital, do you ask questions of your organizer when you accept an invitation to speak?

Oh certainly yes! Experience has shown the more questions the better really. You want quite a detailed insight into the audience such as:

  • Who is going to be there?
  • What are they going to be interested in hearing?
  • What are they hearing before and after you – the context of the day
  • What is the theme of the day?

Making sure you aren’t going off on a complete tangent and seem disconnected from the rest of the day. You need to establish what the tone is of the day, which sometimes comes from the venue. A very grand, tiered seating venue with a stage and a lectern will demand a different approach to an audience sitting on the floor cross-legged (I exaggerate to make the point but you get the idea!).

All of these questions give you clues to the structure and tone needed for your approach. And don’t let’s forget the all important questions (which we’ve all come a cropper on at one point) about AV set-up:

  • Will you be mic’d up or not?
  • Who will press the button for the video that you are showing, you or someone else?

And then finally your entrance and exit – I always wear high heels so find out if will you be clambering up and looking inelegant and or will you be all on a level so the shoes and skirt will work? All these small elements contribute to being fully prepared – will there be water? The list is endless. You can’t have too much information to prepare properly.

I read on the blog another respondent talking about visualization. I’m not sure I do it consciously but I do visualize the space and the audience that you will be looking at and how it will feel. So as an illustration about a year after joining our new CEO António Horta-Osório had arrived and I was invited to speak at an event he holds annually called the One Group Convention. It’s an idea he bought from Santander and it is lovely, it wasn’t something Lloyds did before. He gathers 5,000 people in a room and I was asked to speak. I’ve never spoken in front of thousands of people so this was a new escalation in anxiety I can tell you! So to visualize that was a feat – what does 5,000 people look like? Will you even see their faces? Someone said to me ‘imagine them naked’ which wasn’t helpful at all, pretty ghastly! But the point is quite serious, will the faces be a blur or will you be able to pick them out?  I soon decided that I wasn’t leaving anything to chance, it was absolutely scripted, and I knew every word. No ad-libbing at all, not least because timing was really important.

So it was more like a TED talk?

Absolutely, but still on stage, although there was no multi-media involved, everyone was in the room with me. So that was a real milestone.

And did it go well?

Really well, and I did it again the following year, which was a lot easier because once you’ve done something new once you have done it. So the point is visualization is helpful because when you do something on a big scale like that, or something is blasted around the world in tech form you need to really prepare to a different level. Unless you are brilliantly quick witted or you have a brain the size of a planet. Which I don’t. I think you need to know your strengths and weaknesses. For example I don’t do comedy well, I admire people that do and I know it is one of the techniques for opening a presentation  – I can’t do that! I think I have an odd sense of humour so I would never dare to do that, I know that’s not my strength. Whereas speaking passionately from the heart about what I feel and what I think really matters is something I can do well. So whatever it is that you do well, know it and design to it. Certainly don’t put yourself in a new situation (whether a new audience, new venue or new size of audience) and try something new. This is certainly not the time to experiment!

This may be a question more relevant to earlier in your career. Any physical sensations (good or bad) before you start speaking?

A healthy dose of nerves, butterflies in the stomach. Adrenaline in moderation always enhances a talk. I’d like to think that I’m excited more nervous, but it is a close run thing!

I was lucky in that I was taught to speak early on at Mars Confectionery as part of my graduate training scheme. We were expected to present a lot and had to even prepare our slides handwritten on an OHP. I learned to see invitations to present as opportunities to practice. If people invite you try and take them up on it because it gives you an opportunity to get less nervous and more excited about doing it.

What do you hear when speaking?

Nothing, nor do I remember what I have said afterwards which is very curious! I go into autopilot. You’re on the stage, someone says go, and then everything else disappears very much like an out of body experience.  I am very much there in the moment.  You’re performing really, I’m not an actress but it would be helpful. The few times I have been filmed it has been very interesting to watch back and see how I did. Not for cosmetic reasons but just to increase my awareness of how I come across so I can improve. There is always something to learn and improve upon to bring to the next occasion.

By | October 2nd, 2013|Building Confidence, Nerves, Presentation skills, Public speaking|0 Comments

In the spotlight,expect your body language to be under scrutiny

We were lucky enough to get tickets to the Anniversary games at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Stadium on Saturday. It was an amazing day, with great weather and a festive atmosphere as the entire stadium leaned forward to make sure the athletes felt our support.

One of the highlights of the anniversary games, especially for my young daughters, was a chance to see Jessica Ennis-Hill in action. Her achievements in 2012 and the positive role model that she presents make her a media favourite and with that comes pressure. On the run up to the Olympics the pressure was immense. She was after all ‘the face of the games’ and the whole country wanted her to win. Which she did. But does that release the pressure? No, it can make it worse as long as you are still desperate to win.

When you are in the spotlight you can’t avoid your body language being scrutinised.

On Saturday inside the stadium the giant screens showed the athletes being presented before their races and on a screen split showed parts of races being completed. However for Ennis-Hill her every movement seemed to be projected onto camera. Whether she was chatting to the other competitors under the awning during the long jump or coming over to chat to her coach there was a camera focusing in on her every move. So we saw smiles and waves but we also saw giant screen shots of a bottom lip being bitten or a concentrated frown after an attempt. I’m sure this added to the coverage that came the day after such as this.  Someone else who knows what media scrutiny after success is like, Usain Bolt, almost seemed to court the camera as he was warming up back stage, joking with the presenter and sending the message with his body language that he was relaxed and ready.

You couldn’t help but wonder how things might have gone if the attention had been better shared around. Katarina Johnson-Thompson won the Long jump but her jumps were barely on the big screen, with her last being during one of the men’s track races.

As you start to do better in whatever discipline, be it sport or presenting at work you will naturally be under more scrutiny. For leaders this means you will be watched by your team even when you are not ‘on stage’. Appearing calm and assured for the annual meeting and then acting slouchy and slumped at a direct reports meeting can cause your team to suspect all is not well. 24/7 scrutiny is not pleasant and nor is it fair. But people do make judgment calls based on how your body language yourself so be ready for it. This is just as important when we are offstage as on.

By | August 2nd, 2013|Blog, Body Language, Featured, Perception, Performance|0 Comments

Inspirational Public Speakers- Frank Dick OBE

Last Saturday I went to an open morning  hosted by my excellent career coach Simon Scantlebury. The keynote public speaker was Frank Dick OBE and as a sports fan and communications coach I was definitely interested to hear his message.

I wasn’t disappointed. Simon introduced Frank as ‘probably the greatest coach in the world’ and after he finished his talk I could also see why he is one of the UK’s most sought after public speakers. As we like to collect examples of inspirational public speakers on our blog I thought I would share my notes on his excellent technique:

Voice: Frank projected well throughout but going softer to make us lean in and even using a comic ‘role-play’ voice in one great anecdote about an aspiring young runner. The way he managed it made it easy to visualize the little girl talking to him. You could see Frank conjuring up the scene and it made it easy for us as an audience to conjure it too.

Making use of space:  At times the AV was a little shaky but it didn’t fluster Frank, he just paced to the other side of the room and posed a question to us from there. In fact if all of the video equipment had broken down it wouldn’t have mattered as the delivery more than compensated.  I could tell that Frank was passionate about his subject matter and this is what carried the talk. The videos he selected illustrated his points really well but the videos weren’t the main event.

Great facial and hand gestures: As a keen gesticulator I love to see a speaker who isn’t afraid to use the hands and face to back up their words. When describing pain or failure Frank’s face looked in agony, in total contrast to a few seconds later when he perfectly conjured up the elation of winning. As an audience it challenged us to empathise with the point he was making and feel it alongside him.

The content was excellent, and from a man who has coached the UK athletics team and super-stars like Daley Thompson, Boris Becker and Justin Rose that was almost a given. But what I loved most was his energy. He talked about ‘essential fear’ and reminded us ‘that without fear there is no such thing as courage’. He shared with the audience that despite frequently speaking to big audiences he still felt a flutter of adrenaline before speaking to us. I really admired this as a message we can all embrace – nerves are healthy and make us perform at our best.

My thanks to Simon for arranging such an inspirational event.


By | June 24th, 2013|Blog, Nerves, Voice|0 Comments

Why doing something you fear helps to build your confidence

I’m an amateur triathlete and chose the sport because of the variety. But I also chose it because initially both the swim and the cycle sections filled me with fear. We spend a lot of our time at MSB Executive helping people to overcome their fears of communicating in public and I felt it would be good to face some of mine so I could experience nerves and the physical effects they have on the body.

Stop avoiding what you fear

Initially I spent a lot more time focusing on running as this was something I had done for a long time. So too with some people we work with – they feel more comfortable working on their slides yet avoid practising their talk in front of others. Luckily I have a good friend who after one swim which involved more swallowing water than swimming suggested I try out her swimming coach. After a year’s training with Mike at streamline swims my 400m time had reduced from 11minutes to 7.43! But better still I had learnt some ways to calm myself when the nerves appear.

Recognising  nervous adrenalin and what it can do

My first olympic length triathlon was a Dorney lake last year. It was a chilly September day and despite the wetsuit I was feeling very cold and shaky. I had done the training for the 1.5k swim but as I started I could feel myself gasping for air and floundering around. Panic had set in and the build up of nervous adrenalin caused by the wait to start was making my body move in some very erratic ways. But I had two things to help me overcome the fear. The first was thinking of coach Mike’s voice reminding me to start slowly, to enjoy it and to remember that I had done all the preparation and training I could do. And the other was a technique that is advocated by famous confidence coach Dr Rob Yeung in his yellow book Confidence that we use with many of our clients to help them face their fears and go the extra step. It is really easy to remember and it goes like this:

A – Acknowledge that you are nervous and name the feeling “this is my feeling of panic!”

B – Breathe. Super helpful when you are swimming but also key before public speaking as nervous adrenalin can cause us to take shallow breaths. Taking deep breaths helps send oxygen into the blood stream to feed the heart and muscles that are working really hard.

C  – Chuckle! or smile. This was key for me as I remembered that triathlon for me is a hobby and that I can only do as well as I can do. Likewise in a business situation – the consequences of not even trying are often worse long term than having a go and maybe making a mistake or two.

D – Do. Confidence as defined by Dr Yeung is doing something you are scared of.

Once I had walked myself through this in my mind I gained a surge of energy and went on to have a really decent swim. The combination of acknowledging I was scared of the swim, getting some help with it, practising as much as I can, smiling and then just doing it is a great way to overcome a fear and also to build up confidence.

By | June 3rd, 2013|Blog, Building Confidence, Nerves|0 Comments

Public Speaking:Flying Without Notes

Public Speaking dilemmas

I met someone at the RSA AGM this week and they mentioned that they had been critiqued for referring to their notes too much during a recent piece of public speaking. They asked for my thoughts on using notes. My reply was that it depends on your  public speaking objective and how confident you are in what you are delivering because leaving notes out can be both a blessing and a curse.

Luckily there are some great recent examples of speakers not using notes for public speaking so let’s take a look at how successful they were.

Should you use notes for Public Speaking?

Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour Party, made his keynote leadership speech at the Labour Party conference this week The speech lasts for just over an hour and received praise from almost every quarter. One of the most consistent pieces of praise was the fact that he made the speech without notes. As Lord Sugar tweeted “Ed Miliband deliverers(sic) a brilliant performance for over an hour (without notes) a very powerful speech”.

Ed Miliband and all of his team knew that the outcome of this speech was going to be pivotal in whether the party and possibly the country could take this former self-confessed geek as an actual contender. And they employed some fail-safe oratorical techniques to help him do so.

Mr Miliband used the whole stage, confidently walking around and looking at different parts of the audience. He had no notes in his hand, but there does appear to be something on a lectern just in case. He takes pauses (for applause and for impact) and isn’t afraid to use his hands. He speaks clearly from ‘the now’ so that the stories, like the ones about his son and his parents are believable and genuine.  It is clear that Miliband had practiced his speech. This was no mere “ramblings of a future leader”. You do not come up with some of the phrases he employed on the spur of the moment.

But you can practice your stories and themes until they run together naturally. And this is what he did. No doubt the sheet on the stand said something like Dinosaur/Family/One Nation  – and Miliband had practiced with family friends and colleagues until every story was mastered.

Contrast this with Clint Eastwood’s speech at the US Republican Convention. For a full breakdown of what worked and what didn’t we recommend Hans Zimmer’s excellent blog on the subject

Clint’s lack of preparation and thought meant that his no notes talk would’ve been an all out disaster had he not had his Hollywood reputation to fall back on. The chair idea was a last minute thought that didn’t work out and had he planned it someone may have told him to abandon the idea.  In fact there was no real objective for his talk aside proving he supported the Republican party.

So going without notes can be hugely positive and win you a ratings leap like the one Miliband is enjoying. But it is something you should only consider if you have rehearsed to make sure that your performance is watertight. Even then having a crib sheet with your broad themes on a table nearby is an important safety net in case nerves make your mind go blank. And if you aren’t making a pitch for leadership and don’t have the time to rehearse then having notes to refer to is a very good idea.

By | February 9th, 2013|Featured, Nerves, Presentation skills, Public speaking|0 Comments

Does arriving at the last minute help calm nerves?

When working with nervous interviewees we often get questioned on our advice to arrive early to an interview. “If I arrive early”, one client insisted, “my nerves always get the better of me”.  And watching the “Miracle at Medinah” unfold last night at the Ryder Cup it looked like such an opinion was going to get extra weight after Mcllroy’s dramatic late arrival.

McIlroy won his match, and seemed quite unruffled by the near miss of the game and the jibes from the USA supporters. It is testimony to his golfing prowess that he was able to perform in such a situation. He said, “I was lucky there was a State Trooper outside when I realized I was on the wrong time. He gave me a ride and maybe I was lucky that I didn’t have too much time to think about what was in front of me”.

Yet it wasn’t really lucky that a state trooper was outside his door. Probably something to do with the fact that he is an international golfing legend. The majority of us would struggle to get a police escort to a meeting or an interview, however much we pleaded!

As for the lack of time to think about what was ahead, well the European team had been talking strategy only the night before. Whatever he said on the day, McIlroy had put plenty of thought into what was ahead and a lot of training to boot.  For the rest of us out there, this means that leaving it to the last second and ‘winging it’ isn’t really a viable option either. McIlroy didn’t ‘wing’ his golf, he works at it professionally everyday. What he really aced was dealing with the nerves such a precarious situation would’ve given him and knuckling down and playing the game as best he could. And that isn’t luck, but skill.

Don't leave it to the last second!

Don’t leave it to the last second!

That really is the lesson we can learn from McIlroy. If you put the effort in and work hard at what you are aiming for then, should something untoward happen, you are less likely to fail. This work could be preparing your examples for interview questions, working on your posture and voice exercises or going through your presentation with a colleague or coach. Your nerves will have less power to topple your performance. But leave everything to chance in a bid to avoid feeling nervous and guaranteed you will get the nerves and do yourself an injustice. If McIlroy had planned to get there at the last minute, the chances are that it would’ve backfired.

By | October 2nd, 2012|Interview Skills, Nerves|0 Comments

Inspiring Public Speaking – Dee Blick

Do you need inspiration for your Public Speaking? Read our interview with Dee Blick for some great ideas to help you enjoy Public Speaking more.

Dee Blick - really excellent at Public Speaking

Dee Blick – really excellent at Public Speaking

How do you do public speaking?

In many different ways; from a 10 minute informal talk at a networking event to a seminar or exhibition all the way to running a 60 minute master-class. I am also a paid speaker at business conferences. My goal in the early days was to move from being a terrified wanting-to-run-away-and-go-home-to-my-mum -speaker to being a you’ve-got-it-all-together-speaker able to command a decent fee more as a measure of achievement than the money if truth be told.


How do you prepare after getting the request? What questions do you ask?

A request doesn’t come out of the blue but usually after a dialogue where the person representing the event wants to see if I meet their needs. We talk about the event, the attendees, whether there are other guest speakers. I appraise it as a marketer standing in the shoes of my target audience. I am quite firm on the content. I’ll ask questions about the venue, how long I am speaking for, whether it’s a formal or informal occasion and whether audience involvement is appropriate. I won’t accept the commission unless I am totally comfortable with the event and the brand. Preparation is easier now given I’ve been speaking for many years. It comes down to mapping out the headlines and using the clock in my head so I don’t run over.

How do you feel just before you speak? During and After? How does your body react? 

How I feel varies and depends on my mood and the venue. Whether I’m being paid or not is irrelevant. The pressure is the same regardless. Sometimes I feel terrified, my heart will pound and I’m thinking “why am I doing this?” but more often than not I feel fantastic, born to step into the spotlight and rock it! The reason I can do this without sounding cheesy is that my motives are to share information, never to pitch. I practice lots of positive self talk beforehand and the fear subsides. Sometimes I feel vulnerable and scared but talk myself out of it. Fear can be unsettling but it goes!

During my talk I am taking in and assessing the audience, focusing on my performance, my body language and voice tone whilst trying to look and sound utterly natural! Afterwards I feel high but mentally drained!

How do you hold yourself? Any tips? 

I connect my feet with the ground, radiate my biggest smile and take in the audience. I use natural body language, it’s okay to drop your arms by your side. Be as open and smiling as you can and sweep the room with your eyes. Some say you should fixate on one point but I believe it is important to make a connection with your audience throughout.  Be conscious of your natural abilities but be aware that you aren’t in a pub or a café relaxing with your mates. You are putting on a performance so bring life and vigor to your talk.  A great message can be lost with a poor performance. If you have a great message you need to deliver it with a fantastic performance; a touch of theatrical flair. Use your voice as a powerful tool, walk a little, and make appropriate gestures to support what you are saying.

 What do you hear when speaking? 

Because I don’t use notes, cue cards or a lectern I’ve accepted that my mind will go blank now and again. When it does I pause, take a sip of water and reconnect. It is important to share this because it shows that you don’t have to be perfect! I might hear myself saying “Slow down” or “he looks bored”  “are they enjoying this?” which is natural… Sometimes like today timing can come into my mind because it is unprofessional to overrun. I’ve learned that you need to master the physical and the visual, have great content and be on time. I have an internal director saying things like “Dee cut that” so that we can finish in time for questions.

Why does public speaking help you?

It helps me personally as I believe that avoiding your fears impacts on self worth. Public speaking gives me self-esteem, courage and confidence. Professionally you are well paid for a few hours of work and preparation and of course your many years of experience and expertise. As an author it enables me to carry the messages in my books. The benefits are immense but you should never take them for granted. Treat your audience with respect.

Why is public speaking important to women? 

It’s a great skill to add to your repertoire. It gives you mental agility, builds expert status, makes you stand out positively and commands respect.

Who are your public speaking heroes? 

I saw Lara Morgan talk at Women Unlimited 2012 – she was natural, sassy, and unafraid. She was mesmerizing, commanded the stage and had no notes. Someone else I admire is Sam Garrity – he finds public speaking a real challenge but when he hits the stage is amazing.

My path to public speaking has been exciting and challenging.  My first goal was to get out from behind the lectern, my second to ditch the cue cards and my final goal to stand and talk without notes. At my very first gig at the NEC I thought I was going to come out and drop dead! I survived and improved. I’m now at the stage where I want to add more props and tools to my repertoire. I’m always watching, always learning.


About Dee…

Dee Blick is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, the World’s largest marketing body. She has 28 years’ marketing experience gained working with blue chip organisations and SMEs and a track record of planning and delivering successful campaigns on a shoestring budget..  Dee has won 10 awards for her press releases adverts and business articles from ABC1 audited publications and is  the author of  the Number 1 best selling marketing book on Amazon, The Ultimate Small Business Marketing Book with 75 5 star reviews.

You may be interested in Dee’s renowned ‘How to Write Sales Copy That Really Sells’ one day copywriting Boot Camp on Friday 23rd November with Dee sharing tips for great sales letters, printed communications and adverts plus special guest Ben Locker sharing his wisdom on how to write killer web copy.  You’ll be shown dozens of simple, proven and effective copywriting techniques and formats and be provided with copywriting templates that Dee has developed in the last 28 years of her award-winning writing career. Go to to find out more, read unedited delegate feedback and book your place for just £150 plus VAT including all refreshments and a copywriting workbook worth £1200. (Similar one day copywriting boot camps are being marketed at £295-£500)

By | September 12th, 2012|Public speaking|0 Comments

Can you embrace Jantelov (Jante’s Law) and still be an effective when networking?

Networking and Jantelov

Du skal ikke tro, at du er noget

(Don’t think YOU are anything special)

The first of the 10 rules in Jantelov/ Jante’s Law

I was running a “Confidence in Networking” session last week. One of the delegates, who was originally from Scandinavia, explained that some of the impressions he had about networking were very much in conflict with the idea of ‘Jantelov’. He explained that this is a social law that promotes humility and frowns upon showing off.

Showing off and the social concerns about being seen to do so are worries that are often aired when we are coaching on communication skills. Although Jante’s Law is more extreme, most people with a Northern European background have had the ‘showing off’ aspect of their personalities squished from a very young age.

You can be confident and still almost obey Jantelov because confidence is not about showing off. Stating facts, such as an achievement that you have made or something that you can do to help someone you meet at a networking event is not showing off but being truthful. How you carry yourself, with a confident neutral posture, how you engage with others with good eye contact and an un-tense body all aid towards an air that you are someone comfortable in their own skin, not a rampant ego. In my desk based research for this blog (thank you Google and Wikipedia!) some examples of Jantelov in action are when people go as far as lying, deliberately underplaying their achievements to not appear to be bragging. In the UK and US falsifying either way is a strict no-no so stick to the truth at all costs.

The very best networkers are those who listen well, engage with interest in the person they are meeting and follow up the offers of help they have given. You may not even have to proffer your achievements. Those with a Scandinavian background may therefore be naturally better at networking because they will have been bought up not to be ‘me, me, me’ all the time. This would be such a refreshing change for many who often meet crashing bores at networking events. When we run these courses it can be the good listeners, quite frequently the more introverted delegates, who are the ones that feel that networking isn’t for them. But the reality is that those who listen well and understand that networking is farming not hunting are going to find it more successful for them than those who think that networking is a direct selling event.

So my advice to those who have been bought up with Jantelov is to go forth and network because you will be very adept at it. Try not to judge those who aren’t humble though. Many people are nervous on these occasions and that’s often when the showing off gets worse. You can be modest and a good networker but don’t underplay to the extent of lying about it as it could backfire.


p.s. Following Jante’s Law to the letter at interview however may be more problematic. I think that will make for an ideal Part II to this blog.


By | July 20th, 2012|Featured, Nerves, Networking Skills, Portfolio|0 Comments

Inspirational Public Speakers: Jo Tall

New Series: Inspirational Public Speakers

When we ask delegates about inspirational public speakers they rarely mention any from the UK or many women. So we’ve decided to start interviewing some of the best to share their real experiences.

I saw Jo  give a talk as part of the Women Unlimited “Thrive” conference in 2012. She was a real hit with the audience and I knew she would be inspiring for any budding public speakers.

One of the things Jo had done that really impressed me was that she had listened intently to the other speakers before her. As a result she started off by relating one of the funniest and most pertinent anecdotes in relation to what the previous speaker had just said. I was so glad when she agreed to share her experience.

Q: How long have you been a public speaker?

A: Prior to the Women Unlimited event I had actually only spoken at smaller conferences and training meetings, taking clients through new legal developments.

Q: How do you prepare after getting the request?

A: After Julie Hall sent me the request it was clear  that what was needed was a short synopsis and a key message about the business journey I had been on, setting up my business ‘Off to See My Lawyer’.  I knew that the context of the talk was key and that relating to the previous speakers would help the flow of the event.  I followed the brief and spoke from the heart although I did also have postcard sized notes of the journey just in case.

I also did some mental preparation and envisaged the audience clapping and enjoying the talk, and telling myself that it would be a successful speech and all would be okay.

Q: How do you feel just before you spoke ? During and After? How did your body react?

A: Before the talk my heart was racing and I had somewhat shaky hands! My mouth was quite dry and I had some tightness in my voice.

After my first anecdote went down well and everyone laughed I really relaxed and smiled and found I didn’t need to refer to my notes. That validation and feedback from the audience which let me know they were engaged and enjoying what I was saying really helped. I smiled and quickly calmed my nerves.

Q: What do you look at when you speak?

A: I anchored in on some friendly faces  – especially those whom I had met before and got great reassurance from that.

Q: What do you hear when speaking?

A: I really try and listen to the audience and what they are feeding back to me.

Q: Why does public speaking help you?

A: I’ve raised the awareness of my business and what my company delivers since my talk.

Q: Why is public speaking important for women?

A: I think that it is important to give other women confidence and really spread the word about. A lady came to me after my talk and said that my talk had really given her confidence to change her job – she identified with my story.

Q: Why is public speaking important to you?

A: It is important for me to encourage other female entrepreneurs and it has led to other speaking engagements. I recently gave an interview to  which is on Youtube.

I think Jo’s story is really important for several reasons. She came across as a natural and yet she had never spoken to an audience as big before. This showed how her active listening and ability to stay in the ‘Now” of her talk really benefitted her. All too often, people’s minds are worrying about past or future events when they go to speak and fail to pick up on the things that are happening at present.

She visualized a positive reaction from her audience, and made sure that she had made some human connections before going up on stage. This gave her both an anchor and a ‘friendly place” to look to as well as a feeling of benevolence rather than fear towards her audience.

Finally she prepared well and had notes in case she lost her thread, and as a result didn’t need to refer to them. She stuck to the brief that she had been given and delivered something that pleased all concerned.  You can watch Jo’s speech in full here

Thanks to Jo for sharing her public speaking experience. It will be a real help to those on their public speaking journey.

About the speaker :

Jo Tall is the founder of  and is a solicitor with over 20 years’ experience in commercial & IT law having worked both in high profile City of London law firms and freelance for global companies through her parent business Trading Terms Ltd. Her speciality is drafting tailor made agreements for businesses whether it is sourcing products & services or selling them, reviewing advertising copy and competitions or drawing up guidance notes for sales teams. She speaks fluent French and German (and pretty good Spanish) which will come in handy for those cross border deals when you start to expand!

By | June 7th, 2012|Public speaking|0 Comments

Public speaking skills: Rituals vs Crutches

Public Speaking Skills

Yesterday at one of our City Business Library seminars I was asked my thoughts about using a ritual to help overcome nerves when public speaking. My response was that rituals can certainly help but to be cautious about developing one that relies on something or someone else to achieve success. A lucky pair of socks can get lost! There is a fine line between a ritual that can helps you prepare you and a crutch which supports you but that can easily get knocked away.


The question was really good so we thought it a good idea to expand on it here.


As a good example of a ritual, I spoke about a city-based client or ours who imagines a large friendly dog jumping up and licking his face before high-pressure meetings. Thinking of the dog makes him smile, which relaxes him and allows him to work through his nervous adrenaline.


One of the most famous rituals is that used by Jonny Wilkinson the England Rugby player whose distinctive movements pre-kicking caused several reports he was looking to trademark the movement. His series of movements culminating in a prayer-like gesture with his hands helped him to overcome his nerves. Like our client’s imaginary dog this is a ritual that helps him take a moment to breathe and focus on the job in hand, rather than worry about past or future concerns. Because the ritual is reliant on him it is less likely to go wrong.


Looking into this however I found an article by Jonny where he talks about wearing the same t-shirt under his shirt. This is less of a ritual and strays more into crutch territory, which means should the t-shirt get lost in the wash it could cause him some stress that isn’t wanted (although he insists that it wouldn’t)!


We often tell our delegates on presentation skills courses to plan that anything that can go wrong technically will go wrong. If your presentation is reliant upon Youtube streaming well or your iPad to function properly we always counsel making sure that you can still deliver the goods if they don’t work. If you have made technology your crutch and have decided that your presentation will go well because of it, you can feel very adrift if they let you down.


Having a pre-public speaking ritual is therefore a good idea if it works for you and helps you to take a moment, acknowledge your nerves, breathe, smile and then go and do it. But beware the crutch that can let you down at the crucial moment and could plunge you deeper into your nerves and worries.


By | May 10th, 2012|Public speaking|0 Comments
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