Breathing Exercises For Confident Public Speaking

Breathing is really important for making you sound and feel confident when you are in front of an audience.
The first thing you should think about is the placement of your breath. A common mistake that people make when they are nervous is to start breathing up into the chest. This increases the adrenaline flowing around your system and you enter into ‘fight or flight mode’.

The best way to overcome your nerves is low breathing. Use your diaphragm by relaxing your stomach muscles and allow your breath to drop in and fill your lungs. Use your ribs and the intercostal muscles too, like you’re filling up a barrel!

The simple breathing exercise I share in this video will help you to calm yourself down before a presentation. What you are actually doing is lowering your cortisol levels (your stress hormone) and at the same time increasing your testosterone levels (your confidence hormone) so it’s an absolute win-win!

I hope that you find my video on breathing exercises for confident public speaking useful. Please share your comments with me in the box below and I’d love to hear about any other tricks that work for you.

Keep shining (and breathing)!


The Secret To Connecting With Your Audience


There are many things you can do to make your audience love you but in my opinion the simplest and most effective is to make brilliant eye contact.
In my latest video I give you my top three tips for connecting with your audience using your eyes. If you find eye contact a little uncomfortable or you’d just like more engagement with the people you’re talking to, then this video is for you.

I really appreciate the comments these posts have been getting recently. It’s been amazing to hear people generously sharing their experiences and their own ideas for how to be brilliant communicators. So, if you’d like to join the debate I’d love to hear from you in the box below.

Keep shining!


Game, Set & Match. How To Win At Public Speaking.


What a match! Novak Djokovic pounded a cross-court winner past Roger Federer on Sunday afternoon to seal his third Wimbledon championship and ninth grand slam title. But what can the world’s most famous tennis tournament teach us about public speaking?
#1. Love your audience.

In a game of tennis the cheers of the crowd make a big difference. When they feel like the audience is behind them, it can give players a big boost. When they loose the audience, Centre Court can be a very lonely place! Standing in front of large groups of people can make us nervous. Put yourself in Djokovic or Federer shoes and imagine standing in front of an audience of 15,000 people (plus a few million more watching from home)… pretty scary stuff!! For most of us the idea of presenting in front of 100 people causes anxiety. So what can we do to make sure that we give a confident performance and get our audience on our side?… Simple. Show them some love!
The big secret is that there is little difference in speaking to an audience of one or an audience of one thousand. I understand that it feels different but don’t let that feeling fool you. Look at the people we consider great speakers, Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, Stephen Fry, they all have different styles and different subject matters, yet they all have one thing in common: whatever the size of their audience, they make every single person feel engaged and special. Treat the people you’re speaking to as if they were your best mates and you can’t go wrong. Just like in a game of tennis, the audience is your friend and they want to be part of your success.

#2. Focus on the task at hand.

It’s easy to get distracted, especially when things don’t go our way or we make a mistake. However, great performers and athletes focus on their objective and don’t let themselves get pulled off course. If we stumble over a word when we are speaking or forget to mention a key point, we can often spend the next few minutes beating ourselves up. When we see this on the tennis court we know a player is in trouble. If they can’t move on quickly they will find themselves heading towards defeat. The key to success is having a strong objective to focus on. If you know what you are trying to achieve – to inspire the audience or to challenge their current way of thinking for example – then you can direct your energy towards that goal when you find yourself in trouble. If the goal is big enough and exciting enough it will outweigh any negative emotion and help you to continue to move forward. Without a strong objective you’ll trip yourself up at the first hurdle and find yourself crashing out of the competition!

#3. Get in the game.

The more you do something the easier it gets. No athlete, whether professional or amateur, would ever advocate competing in their chosen discipline without first putting in many hours of hard work before the event. In the same way that Djokovic spends most of his time training, you have to seek out opportunities to speak in front of large groups. So many people say “ I’m not a public speaker, I’m just no good at it”. The truth is that if you’ve ever had a single interesting conversation with another person in your entire life then you already have all the skills that you need to be a great public speaker in front of thousands of people! It’s just a case of practicing (and working with a good coach) to find out what works and what doesn’t. Djokovic has been knocked out of many more competitions than he’s won but that doesn’t stop him playing, in fact it probably makes him more determined. That’s the sign of a true champion in any discipline!

What do you do to make sure you “win” when you’re performing in front of a large audience? What other professions have you learned lessons from? I’d love to hear your ideas (and what you thought of the match!) in the comments box below.

Keep shining!


How To Start A Presentation: Three Guaranteed Ways To Grab Your Audience's Attention.


No presenter in their right mind would set out to bore their audience to death! So why is it that so many presentations start in such a dull way?
“Good morning everybody, it’s very nice to be here. I hope you had a safe journey….” SO WHAT!?

Research suggests that it takes less than seven seconds to make a first impression, so the way you kick things off really counts! If you want to stand out from the crowd it makes sense that you have to do things differently from everyone else but most people are scared of rocking the boat. I’m confident that if you try one of the simple techniques I’m going to share with you below you’ll never fail to grab you audience’s attention again.


Thanking people for their time, starting with your biog or giving an overview of what you’re about to cover puts you on the fast track to forgeability. So many people set themselves up to fail by beginning their presentations with what I call “middle management speak”. If you’ve got the courage to stand up in front of an audience then I’m sure you’ve got something important to say. So, don’t let it get buried under tons of small talk. Worse still never start with an apology. I’ve yet to see anyone start their TED talk by saying “I know you’re busy so I’m going to keep this brief. I promise not to take up too much of your time”!! The bottom line is, if what you’re about to say isn’t important, get off the stage and send an email instead!

So, assuming you’ve got something you really want to share, how should you begin?…


One of the best way to begin a presentation is make your audience curious. Starting with a fact or a question means that audience members have to engage their brains. How many times have you been bored watching someone go through their PowerPoint slides? .... It’s impossible to stop your brain from trying to answer the question! A bold statement or fact at the top of a presentation has the same effect. It also signals to the audience that you’re different and that you’re not going to follow the same format as everybody else.


My third tip is probably the most powerful and can be used in all sorts of situations, not just presentations. Rather than bounding up to the front of the room and starting to talk straight away, try the following technique. Walk up to the spot you are going to speak from, stop, take a deep breath and count from 1 to 7 in your head, all the time making gentle eye contact with your audience. Most people start talking straight away and this means that the people watching you don’t have a chance to take you in. Stopping before you start allows them this opportunity and also give you a chance to calm your nerves before you open your mouth to talk. Not only will you have instant gravitas you’ll also make sure that you have the audience’s full attention so that they don’t miss any of the important stuff you’re about to say!!

Are you brave enough to try out one of the techniques above in your next presentation? If you are, I’d love to hear what impact they on you and your audience, so please share your experience in the comments box below.

Until the next time

Keep shining!