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By Kate O'Donnell (@kateodonnell_)

It's been pretty crazy here in Chicago over the last couple of days. While many of the members that are here at the World Conference are keen to blog, finding a spare minute of the day to get our learnings down is proving to be rather difficult.

Yesterday, Jo Curkpatrick and I attended a fantastic session by IABC All Star speaker, Jeff Ansell (@JeffAnsell ), on personal communicating styles and how to become a more compelling presenter.

I thought I'd share with you Jeff's tips to resolve the nervousness and anxiety we get when speaking and just 'say it like we meant it'.

1. Breathe
When we get nervous we experience stress releasing hormones. These hormones do all kinds of funny things to us like make us sweat, shake and get out of breath. Breathing correctly relaxes the parasympathetic nervous system and reverses the effects of anxiety and nervousness when you're speaking.

Using a technique similar to yogic breath, Jeff taught us to breath with our stomachs. His mantra, breathe in (with your belly out), breathe out (with your belly in).

2. Eye contact
We have been taught to make eye contact with the audience since public speaking lessons at school. But the important thing is not to engage with every person in the room at the one time. Rather, only engage with one person, at one time.

Make meaningful eye contact by delivering one thought (or sentence), to one face, at one time.  This is really good practice not just for presentation skills, but also around the management and dinner tables.

And also remember that your eyes set the pace for the rest of your face! Use expression when making eye contact.

3. Pausing
It's powerful. Like the white space on a page of a book, a pause gives space to the important things around it and gives people time to process what you are sharing.

When you breathe and are comfortable with pausing, words will just flow and you won't find yourself getting tongue tied.

4. Use your hands while you talk.
We use our hands to help us think. Jeff seems to think the hand bone is connected to the voice bone (but I'm not quite sure where he studied anatomy!)

If you can, naturally use your hands. If you are using the one thought, one face, at one time rule this will (should!) happen automatically!

If you struggle to use your hands naturally, you can trick your body into using them as well… Simply let the rhythm of your hands match the rhythm of your words.


There's still plenty more blogs to come from the World Conference so check back in over the next few days for more learnings from the IABC Victoria team.