Get Your Story Straight

I’m a Speaker Coach. I get people comfortable and excited about speaking to an audience (be they, one or many) but here’s what you don’t know about my job…

65, maybe 70% of the work I do with clients has nothing to do with their voice and everything to do with their content?

In most cases, I get a call when there’s a speaking engagement or presentation coming up and with the expectation that I help with vocal clarity, confidence, and nerves and provide tips on how to avoid brain fog and those tumbleweed moments.

And of course, that’s exactly what I do.

However, the physicality of ‘speaking’ is just the icing on the cake. It’s not where the confidence to speak to an audience comes from.

The CAKE itself is made when the client is comfortable with the content and believes what they’re saying.

“Sorry, what…? Why would a person not believe what they’re saying?”

When we’re presenting in a ‘professional’ capacity, we feel the need to be seen as ‘professional’. We use language that makes us sound credible and knowledgeable. Usually, we present a version of us that doesn’t exist. We play at being the person we think we should be and therefore we don’t ‘believe’ what we’re saying. We feel uncomfortable because our words are not aligned with who we are, which makes our imposter syndrome go into overdrive, our mouth go dry, and all the words fall out of our head!

Before I start working with a client, I ask them to write down everything they need to say. Get it all out.

Generally, what I get is a 2000-word essay. A fabulous piece of writing but dry and devoid of any personality. Having said that, we may not use any of it, but I don’t rip it up immediately. It’s a starting point.

“What a waste of all those words,” you say. “Why don’t I just recite what I’ve written. It’s all there.”

Yes, but it’s surface. It means nothing to anybody but you and besides it will sound monotonous because you don’t speak like that!

Nobody speaks like that! You, (we all) write more formally than we speak so why would you recite something that doesn’t sound like you… that you don’t ‘believe’.

Plus, do you know how many words you’d have to learn for a 10 min talk? Around 1000. That’s over 2 A4 pages of text! Good luck with that.

So, how then do we (me and you) get to a meaningful, effective presentation that’s impactful and entertaining. That you’ll remember and enjoy giving?

We find stories.

Not just any stories. Ones that illustrate or underline the points you’re trying to make and resonate with the audience. Ones that have taught you something important, a learning you can pass on. They don’t have to be from your own life experience but generally they are the best because you’ve lived them. You won’t forget or get caught out by them.

Another benefit of storytelling is the difficulty to tell a story in a monotone voice. We naturally become more energised and tend to speak with feeling when telling a story, evoking emotion.

Maya Angelou said, “People won’t remember what you did, they won’t remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel.”

“But I don’t have any stories!”

Oh, yes you do, we all do but a lot of the time we don’t value them because we’ve lived with them for so long. They get buried and feel unworthy.

That’s where I come in. It’s my job as an ‘outsider’ to uncover them. I listen with an objective ear and pick the story that I, as an ‘audience member’ find interesting, useful, and relevant.

Once the stories are chosen, we work together to create a ‘flow’ that takes the audience on an interesting and engaging journey through the talk, illustrating it with visuals – if necessary.

Only then, when you are completely happy and comfortable with the content, and we are happy with flow do we start looking at the ‘performance.’

Image of Shelley courtesy of Zelda De Hollander

Recent client, Brand Strategist, Shelley Rostlund, presented the talk we worked on together to an audience of over 200 peers. She spoke about Personal Branding and reflected afterwards.

“The power of your story, told in your voice, in a way that’s comfortable for you speaks to the heart of someone else. It’s overwhelming but incredibly rewarding.”



Ancient philosopher, Cicero says “Confidence is a trust in oneself.”

Stories are integral to any talk or presentation and once you take ownership of your past experiences, i.e., your ‘story’, you will speak with honesty and confidence.


So, Get Your Story Straight…

I’ve got a coaching programme that can help you with that (it’s the one that Shelley used to get her on stage 😊)

Get Your Story Straight is for growth minded founders who want to increase their speaking confidence by uncovering the stories that speak to the heart of their audience so that they are excited to tell them without overwhelm or anxiety.

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