Georgina Shaw Of Shaw Marketing Services On The 5 Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Public Speaker

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Focus on Your Message, Not on Your Fear — The more you think about being anxious about speaking, the more you will increase your level of anxiety. Instead, in the few minutes before you speak, mentally review your major ideas, your introduction, and your conclusion. Focus on your ideas rather than on your fear and then go for it.

At some point in our lives, many of us will have to give a talk to a large group of people. What does it take to be a highly effective public speaker? How can you improve your public speaking skills? How can you overcome a fear of speaking in public? What does it take to give a very interesting and engaging public talk? In this interview series called “5 Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Public Speaker” we are talking to successful and effective public speakers to share insights and stories from their experience. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Georgina Shaw.

Georgina Shaw is a Chartered Institute of Marketing Qualified professional with experience of all areas of marketing and communications. She is an offline marketing specialist, copywriter and event organiser and the Director of marketing agency Shaw Marketing Services. Since 2007 she has been representing high profile clients, as well as helping many small businesses achieve their goals. A trained teacher and experienced public speaker who has offered marketing advice and guidance for many years, she also offers training courses in Spain and Gibraltar to help businesses promote themselves effectively, the most popular of which helps people to overcome their fear of public speaking.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I was born in London, studied English and Philosophy at University and at the same time obtained my TEFL English teaching qualification. I taught English in Spain, China and Peru, worked in TV as a runner and warm-up artist, as an Events Organizer and finally found my way to marketing and PR in in 2005. I have been focused on marketing and communication since then, gaining a Chartered Institute of Marketing qualification and working for a number of agencies before opening my own agency, Shaw Marketing Services in 2008. As well as representing clients, I’ve also been able to combine my love of teaching and my TEFL qualification, with my passion for marketing and have been giving speeches and running training courses in all aspects of marketing. I also train professionals in public speaking, as I believe it’s a crucial skill for success.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

Interestingly, I was determined not to go into marketing, as both my parents were in the advertising industry and I wanted to forge my own path. I originally wanted to be an actress and TV presenter, but after working in TV during my gap year I realized that wasn’t the place for me and started teaching, really as a passport to travel. I loved teaching, but wanted something a bit more corporate, so got into the events space, which I really enjoyed but was highly stressful. It was a chance meeting at a wedding that brought me to PR and marketing.

I was the Chief Bridesmaid at my best friend’s wedding and got up to make an announcement about someone’s car blocking an entrance during the wedding breakfast. My friend’s cousin came up to me after and praised me for how confident I had been giving the announcement and we spoke for a while about our jobs and what we were doing. At the time I was organizing events for an engineering association and he worked for a PR agency which specialized in representing engineering firms. By the end of the wedding he offered me a job, and I’ve never looked back. So you could say that my love of public speaking was what brought me into the career that I’ve enjoyed so much over the last 20 years!

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

What I love about working in a marketing and PR agency is that there is so much variety. One minute you can be sending out press releases, the next organizing big events, or dealing with politicians, celebrities and influencers.

One of the more unusual things we launched was a skydiving simulator, where you can fly on a column of air and we got the Mayor of the Town and a bunch of journalists to try it out as part of the launch and I joined them too. That got us a lot of great coverage and it was really fun too.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I was just starting out giving marketing presentations, I was a speaker at a big conference for International Women’s Day. We’d had a new template designed for my talk and the designer had added fades and timings on the slides which I hadn’t realized.

When I got up to speak the presentation was running on its own, going through the slides super-fast and I had to rush to catch up. I had no idea what was going on, but with 200 business women watching I just had to keep up with it and so finished the presentation in record time. The organizer was pleased as we were running late, and apparently no-one noticed my technical issues, but it was really nerve-wracking for me.

I learned three important lessons from that experience –

  1. Check and double check your presentation and practice it as you will be doing it on the day so that there are no nasty surprises.
  2. Strip out any timings or fades so you are in charge of how the slides run.
  3. The show must go on! Even if it feels like things are going wrong for you, if you can keep a smile on your face and keep going, many people won’t even notice that anything is up. If you keep calm and in control, they will feel safe in your hands. Remember they don’t know what was supposed to happen, so keep a smile on your face and keep on going.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

The Founder of the networking group Costa Women Ali Meehan has been instrumental in building up my reputation as a marketer and public speaker on the Costa del Sol. She has regularly given me opportunities to speak at events and took a chance on me early on to be the MC for their big annual conference. Her faith in me and the buzz it gave me to speak in front of such a big crowd led to me pursuing more speaking opportunities.

These experiences also led to lots of people speaking to me after the events saying how frightening they found public speaking and asking me for advice. These requests inspired me to start training people in public speaking and help them to build the confidence that comes to me naturally from all my years acting and teaching.

You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging and intimidating. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?

I would describe myself as a reluctant entrepreneur and someone who has been surprised at the success that I’ve had, both as a marketer and a public speaker. However, what has made it all possible has been establishing a support system around me of strong and confident business people who believe in me and never being afraid to say yes and give it a go. Remember that everyone has fears and self-doubt, and so try to think that it’s OK to get up there and give it a go. It’s never as bad as you think it will be once you start — so put yourself forward for that presentation, new job, or big client — it might just be the best thing you’ve ever done!

What drives you to get up everyday and give your talks? What is the main empowering message that you aim to share with the world?

I am passionate about teaching people and empowering them to take control of their own marketing to be able to grow their business. I believe that if you can get the right skills and mindset, you can be a brilliant asset to your brand. I like to inspire people to not be afraid of marketing and send them away with practical tips and a belief in themselves to give it a try. The same goes for the public speaking training, my overall goal is to help my students to banish their fears and start to create opportunities for themselves and their businesses through public speaking confidence.

You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?

I love my job and am so lucky to be able to be running PR campaigns for the optical group Specsavers in Spain, alongside real estate agent Cloud Nine Spain, as well as copywriting and managing social media accounts for a number of clients in many different fields. There’s always lots going on and it’s never boring.

During COVID I had more time to pursue my passion for teaching and gave a number of online training sessions, as well as preparing a series of short marketing training videos called an A-Z of Marketing. Since travel restrictions have lifted I’ve been able to do some in person training courses in Marbella and Madrid as well as being the MC for a few big events and it’s been wonderful to get back out there. I’d definitely like to do more training and events moving forward.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I love the quote from Richard Branson — “Always think, ‘what’s the worst that can happen’ and have some kind of strategy to deal with it”

I like it for two reasons, because it inspires us to think about the worst that could happen, and then make a plan for success. I also think that when you think of what the worst outcome is, it isn’t normally as bad as you fear it could be. That’s certainly the case with public speaking!

Ok, thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Public Speaker?” Please share a story or example for each.

1 . Remember it’s normal to be scared and don’t let that fear paralyze you!.

75% of people feel nervous about speaking in public, so you are not alone, but everyone can do it if they can build their confidence. I love the quote “good oratory is not the absence of fear, but taming it” and definitely believe that is true. If you can put your fears into perspective and get some coping strategies in place it will make everything else fall into place. So don’t let fear stop you from reaping the benefits that public speaking can bring! Being a good public speaker can give you more promotional opportunities, get you promoted at work, help you win more clients or earn more. It’s worth the effort!

2. Prepare properly.

Fear of speaking often leads speakers to delay preparing their speeches until the last minute. The lack of thorough preparation often results in a poorer speech performance, which reinforces a speaker’s perception that public speaking is difficult. Don’t let fear freeze you into inaction. Take charge by preparing early. Being prepared means that you have carefully chosen your topic to suit your audience, researched your topic, developed a logically coherent outline with a clear introduction, body and conclusion and created some great slides which will illustrate your points and help you stay on track.

My preparation and practice tends to start with a bullet point plan, which I’ll then develop into my script. I then move to producing the slides based around the script and making sure I have enough slides to support each point I want to make. I tend to do a number of read throughs, then record one to hear how I’m sounding. If I want to be really confident, I will listen to that recording for a few nights before my presentation just before bed, I find it really helps it sink in.

Once you’ve got a good grasp on your content you should practice aloud, standing up, with the slides running as they will be on the day. Vividly imagine the room where you will give your speech, or consider rehearsing in the actual room. It feels silly at first, but those practice sessions are invaluable to controlling the fear and giving a great presentation.

3. Know your introduction and conclusion by heart.

Actor and famed public speaker George Jessel once quipped, “The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public.” The opening moments of your speech are when you are likely to feel the most anxious. Being familiar with your introduction will help you feel more comfortable about the entire speech. If you also know how you will end your speech, you will have a safe harbor in case you lose your place. If you need to end your speech prematurely, a well-delivered conclusion can permit you to make a graceful exit. So don’t be afraid to learn those opening and closing sections off by heart, as if you were learning lines, they can really help you.

4. Engage your audience.

Boredom is your biggest energy, so start with a bang and tell people why they need to keep listening and then use variation, relevance and emotion to be memorable. Don’t be afraid to look around the room and make eye contact with different people, it keeps the audience interested and engaged. Last but not least slow down, use the pause and try to enjoy the experience, so your audience enjoys it with you.

Channel the confidence that you admire in others, there’s a lot of truth in the concept of faking it until you make it! Don’t be afraid to gesture, smile and share anecdotes and stories and make it larger than life with plenty of energy. By keeping your energy high you’ll also keep the audience awake and with you. Finally don’t take yourself too seriously — remember it’s only a presentation and whatever happens it isn’t the end of the world. So, if something goes wrong like you drop your notes, lose your place, or trip over, just laugh and get back to it. The show must go on!

5. Seek out public speaking opportunities.

The more you give presentations, the better you become, and only by putting yourself forward can you overcome the fear. However, don’t start too big and scare yourself to death! A great first step is to start networking and work on delivering the best one-minute introduction of yourself and your company that you can. Over the course of the meetings, you’ll see yourself improve and start to build confidence. From there, ask the organizer if you can give a presentation to the group, it’s a safe space where you can practice. Once you’re feeling up to it, start to offer to give the presentations at work, or at events and build up to the bigger stages from there. Another great way to start is to find your nearest Toastmasters, an organization which teaches and develops amazing public speakers, or to take a few acting classes. Wherever you start doesn’t really matter, just put yourself out there and believe you can do it and you’ll be great.

As you know, many people are terrified of speaking in public. Can you give some of your advice about how to overcome this fear?

I always tell people to remember that it’s only talking and if they can speak to one person, they can speak to 100. People build public speaking up into something bigger than it really is.

If they can discover their confident persona and reframe the feelings of nervousness and anxiety to be excitement and readiness to perform, then they can start to enjoy it. I personally love that buzz I get from those pre-presentation jitters and then the satisfaction I feel when I’ve done a good job. I think those jitters usually take over and cause the problems, but if you can take control of the fear, that adrenaline can make you perform better than you ever thought possible!

I recommend being as prepared as possible and knowing your presentation inside and out and using some deep breathing techniques before they get on stage to calm and center themselves.

An adrenaline boost before speaking can make you jittery. While seated and waiting to speak, keep both feet on the floor and wiggle your toes. Gently (and without calling attention to yourself) grab the edge of your chair and squeeze it. Unobtrusively, lightly tense and release the muscles in your legs and arms. It really helps release that nervous energy.

Focus on Your Message, Not on Your Fear — The more you think about being anxious about speaking, the more you will increase your level of anxiety. Instead, in the few minutes before you speak, mentally review your major ideas, your introduction, and your conclusion. Focus on your ideas rather than on your fear and then go for it.

As you wait to be introduced, think and act calm to feel calm.

Walk to the front of the room as though you were calm.

Take a moment to look for a friendly, supportive face before you begin.

You can do it!

You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I would love to inspire people to support each other, be kind and be generous with their time and energy to help people succeed. Taking the time to help others really helps you too, and you could make a huge difference to someone’s lives by being kind and offering help and encouragement. If we all did it, the world would definitely be a better place!

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

There are so many fascinating and inspiring people out there, it’s so hard to choose. I love the author Bill Bryson and think he’s got so many interesting things to say about the world and is so funny — he’d be a great lunch companion I reckon.

Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?

Yes you can follow us on social media and also watch our A-Z of Marketing videos on our YouTube channel and we also have lots of great marketing articles and information about public speaking on our blog

This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

Georgina Shaw Of Shaw Marketing Services On The 5 Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Public… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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