Nadine Dereza is a truly experienced host, speaker and facilitator. She has gathered together her wisdom and experience to co-author 'Insider Secrets of Public Speaking', a true go-to guide for anyone needing to deliver a talk or presentation. With our very own Nick Gold featured on the back cover, we caught up with Nadine to ask more about this exciting book.
‘Insider Secrets of Public Speaking’ is written in an easy to read Q&A style – what made you choose this format?
We adopted a Q&A format because real-life issues and challenges demand practical solutions; the book allows you to look through the contents and quickly find answers to the questions that most closely fit your own dilemmas.
The book isn’t written as a course. It is intended as a reference tool, with short actions that are easy to digest and put into practice. We show you where to make quick gains when it comes to standing in front of an audience, whether you’re speaking at a conference, presenting to shareholders, or pitching for business to potential clients.
You don’t have to read it in any particular order. You can just dip in, look at the contents and see what strikes you as being relevant to your abilities and circumstances. We cater for the absolute beginner right up to speakers who are paid thousands of pounds to do so.
Speaking in public is a great life skill to have, and the best way of learning how to speak in public is to go out and just do it. No book will replace experience; although ‘Insider Secrets of Public Speaking’ will guide you through the process of learning. We think learning to speak in public is a bit like driving a car: our intention is to show you how the gears work and where the mirrors are so that you can drive to wherever you like.
We are biased towards the practical, but we also have our share of big ideas in the book, which are all based around our philosophy on speaking - our 3 golden principles.
Nothing cuts through today’s information overload like a well-delivered speech
You mention the 3 Golden Principles of public speaking – could you tell us a little about them?
In the heat of the moment, when you’re about to speak in public, it’s sometimes hard to remember all the advice that’s out there, so if you want to deliver a better presentation or a speech, our 3 Golden Principles – Authority, Authenticity and Audience – are the basis of a good presentation or speech, whatever the occasion, whoever you are.
It’s important for you to have authority when you are on ‘stage’. Public speaking is an act of leadership. Although you don’t want to come across as a demagogue, you still have to be very careful about letting anything undermine your authority. Know more about the subject than you have put in your speech and be at ease with the subject matter. You are an expert on the topic, and your opinion matters.
Part of being authoritative is being in control of your performance space, and arriving early to check the sound, visuals and lighting are all working will help bolster your confidence. There is nothing worse than unexpected feedback from a microphone or a rogue PowerPoint slide.
Be the best version of yourself, rather than a second-rate copy of someone else. Audiences like to feel that they’ve been let in to see the ‘real’ you. Good speakers are, above all, themselves.
What do people like about you? What are the qualities that attract people to you? Play to your strengths rather than worrying about your weaknesses. If you don’t think you’re naturally funny, don’t open with a joke.
We all have unconscious habits that we adopt when under pressure, and if you can review footage of yourself, you’ll catch any distracting hair touching and shuffling from side-to-side that you do without thinking about it. Watching a replay will teach you a lot about yourself.
The most important people in a presentation are the audience. Give them information in such a way that is useful to them. It’s really not about you.
Audiences want you to keep to time. Be aware of how they are feeling and justify that listening to you is worth their time.
You won’t please everyone all the time, but think about who you are talking to, and what sort of information they need, be it facts, a personal story, inspiration or a heartfelt thank you.
Audiences are not passive: they are either actively engaged or they are turned off. Be conscious of this, and if you sense they’re not engaged, turn the speech into a conversation that draws people in and have a few anecdotes or statistics that will help you achieve this.
By following these 3 Golden Principles, your speech will be remembered, talked about and possibly acted on, for all the right reasons.
Audiences are not passive - have tools ready in order to engage them
What one piece of advice would you give to someone looking to speak in public for the first time?
One of the questions we get asked a lot is about how to control nerves.
Nervousness can make the best of us tongue-tied and fog-brained. Good deep breathing will help oxygenate the brain and control any excessive nerves. Shift the focus from yourself and turn that nervous energy into enthusiasm for delivering your presentation because a small hit of adrenaline is a useful way of keeping your energy levels up.
Public speaking isn’t something that comes naturally – though the best speakers in the business do manage to make it look that way. So the one piece of advice is to enjoy it. There is absolutely no harm in having a good time. Audiences respond well to it, you’ll feel better for having had a good time and you will have that indefinable ‘something’ about you that says ‘I should be here’. Even if your presentation is on a serious topic, remember you are giving the audience information that is helpful, comforting or will save them from disaster.
When you have finished the presentation, try to feel satisfied with what you have done. If you don’t, ask why not - and what you can do about next time to improve and make the necessary changes.
Turn nervous energy into enthusiasm for delivering your presentation
As a speaker and facilitator, yourself, are there any difficult moments which you have learned from?
Being heckled by electricity, due to extreme weather at a conference I was facilitating, must rank up there with the worst that can happen to a speaker. Although it’s rare to experience a power cut, it does focus the mind and highlight the importance of having a Plan B under any circumstances.
I had just introduced the celebrity speaker before the impending disaster struck. Having only spoken for a few minutes, his presentation slides went down and the lights were out with everyone in darkness aside from the fortuitous candles on the tables, but he decided to carry on entertaining over 300 delegates by launching into the Marriott Edgar/Stanley Holloway ‘Albert and the Lion’ monologue which he knew off by heart - it resulted in a standing ovation at the end – what a trooper!
Staying in control, being professional and taking things in your stride is something that stays with me because audiences tend to be forgiving in the face of disaster.
What next for Nadine Dereza?
2017 is shaping up to be a busy year, chairing and facilitating numerous conferences and events in the UK and around the rest of the world, including a leadership conference in Lisbon in January. I am also looking forward to moderating the British Library’s Inspiring Entrepreneurs Internet Icons event on 7 February 2017, which will be great for businesses with big online ambitions, with an opportunity to quiz a panel of internet icons and find out how they have created some of the best-known internet brands.
My company PS Programmes run coaching programmes to individuals and teams which include presentation skills, media training and crisis media management training and work with some of the biggest names in business, politics and sport. We also run a Crisis Media workshop, exclusive to Speakers Corner, which is growing in significance because, in today’s 24-7 world of broadcast and social media, the way people respond when a crisis hits can be the difference between an organisation being able to restore or maintain its reputation quickly v.s. facing months or even years trying to rebuild it.
One of the highlights in 2017 will be delivering a PS Programmes presentation skills training workshop to Auditory Verbal UK in February - our chosen charity for the year - and we will be providing this pro bono.
We are also running a 'Speak Like a Leader' masterclass for the Institute of Directors on 19th June. Through the session, we will be looking at our 3 Golden Principles - how they work together, and how they inform everything you say and do when you're in the spotlight. Nothing cuts through today’s information overload like a well-delivered speech to a live audience, and leaders who can give a good account of themselves on the platform or around the boardroom table are at an advantage when it comes to positioning their brand and beliefs.
Our very own Nick Gold featured on the back cover of Nadine's book
Nadine Dereza is currently running a book competition giveaway on Twitter. For your chance to win one of five signed copies of Insider Secrets of Public Speaking simply head over to Twitter and RT @NadineDereza tweets by midnight on 16 January 2017.