Public speaking is the number one fear (often beating fear of death in polls), so the CIPR Marketing Communications Group was thrilled to welcome Deborah Frances-White to share her wisdom on how to be charismatic in the world of corporate networking and giving presentations.
Deborah is well known for her workshops and talks on charisma, diversity and inclusion. Her TEDx talk on Charisma versus Stage Fright has nearly 23,000 views. As a stand-up comedian she knows what it is like to stand in front of an audience and not only get their attention but to change how that audience feels.
Here are 5 tips that she shared:
1. Act like a 4 year old.
When children want to join in with a game or activity others are doing, they don’t wait to be invited, they don’t introduce themselves. They boldly walk up to other children and just join in the play without sharing names.
But in the corporate world of networking, Deborah described how we lurk around and sidle up to others waiting for the right moment to introduce ourselves or to be included in the conversation.
Her advice – start acting like children by assuming inclusion and we will be included.
2. Cheer up the room
Confidence often comes easily when we feel comfortable in the room. Deborah told a story of how corporate (white) men always seem at ease in a board room or heading up a conference. But that’s because those rooms have been created by them. Take the same man out of that corporate environment and put him in a back street room with a drug cartel and he’ll hold back. He won’t say anything.
Her advice – change your attitude to a room that makes you uncomfortable. Approach any talk or presentation in that space as an opportunity to cheer up the room. That’s what comedians and aeroplane pilots do so well.
3. Watch your body posture
As so well demonstrated in her TEDx talk on Charisma versus Stage Fright, Deborah demonstrated how the whole body becomes more charismatic when weight is put on the front foot. And the effect is even more powerful when the speaker comes forward and talks to someone in the audience, gently putting a hand on their shoulder.
Her advice – put weight on your front foot, as though you are walking towards the audience.
4. Be stiller
Deborah demonstrated how small fluid movements, flitting of eyes from side to side and over use of hands actually manufacture stage fright. The heart rate increases, breathing is faster and the voice starts to sound nervous.
Her advice – be in charge of your own head and your own hands because you are telling a story. So make your head stiller than normal and when you move, command the stage.
5. Don’t kill them with a slide show
The corporate world loves PowerPoint and when someone is not confident about speaking, they’ll often hide behind a lectern or over-focus on the slides.
Her advice – make yourself the star, not PowerPoint
Deborah is best known for her signature keynote for her BBC Radio 4 comedy ‘Deborah Frances-White rolls the dice’ and as the host of the wildly successful podcasts The Guilty Feminist and Global Pillage. Deborah was recently nominated for a First Women Award for her work in this field in the Best Mentor category.