A TED speaker coach shares 11 tips for right before you go on stage


A TED speaker coach shares 11 tips for right before you go on stage

The weekend before a TED conference, each speaker rehearses their talk in the TED theatre. It’s a chance for the speakers to get to know the space, for our curators to give last-minute suggestions on talk content, and for our speaker coaches to give the advice to help each speaker feel their absolute best the day of their talk. Here we give a few extraordinarily helpful tips that we’d never heard before.

Start drinking water 15 minutes before you start talking. If you tend to get dry mouth — that scratchy feeling where it’s hard to swallow — start drinking water 15 minutes before you go onstage. Why? Because the microphone will pick up that sticky, clicky sound. “When you close your mouth, don’t let your tongue hit the roof of your mouth,” Barnett offers as a pro tip to avoid popping audio. “Imagine a half a plum on your tongue, which will keep a vacuum from forming.”

Psych yourself up, not out. Barnett warns that negative self-talk can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. So don’t stand backstage thinking, “What if I mess up?” Think more like an athlete before a big game, she says. Psych yourself up with phrases like, “I’m so excited!” “It’ll be great!” “I can’t wait to share this idea!” Basically, whatever key phrase makes you feel happy. “Even just thinking the word ‘YES!’ over and over — feel how the thought enters your body and boosts your confidence,” she says.

conference public speaking

Use your body’s nervous energy for good. Don’t try to contain all your nervous energy. Let it move through you and energize you for your talk. Do isometrics while you waiting backstage if it helps. Shake your hands out. Barnett remembers one TED speaker who found a private corner backstage to put on headphones and dance — and that speaker walked onstage feeling like a rock star. And, if nothing else, always remember TED star Amy Cuddy and how to power pose.

Focus on your breath when you feel the adrenaline. What should you do if you feel the panic of nerves? “Breeeeeathe,” says Barnett, extending the sound. “We’re often not aware of how shallow our breath becomes when we’re nervous or stressed.” The exercise Barnett recommends: “Take three or four conscious, evenly-paced, smooth inhalations and exhalations. Let the belly go and let the breath go all the way down into your abdomen. This can centre your energy and focus your thoughts.”

Beware of repetitive motion. On stage, people often deal with adrenaline by unconsciously swaying or shifting their weight from foot to foot. This is not good. “Repetitive movements are distracting and set up a lullaby pattern in the audience’s brain,” says Barnett. The best way to make sure you aren’t doing this? Rehearse in front of people, who can point it out to you. And also rehearse out loud in front of a mirror to self-diagnose.

Think about how to use movement wisely. “You can walk,” says Barnett, “but not pace. You can step forward and or back, but not rock.” These are just as bad as swaying — they create that lull. Barnett has a great tip for how to make sure that you move in a way that adds to your talk rather than detracts from it. “Practice moving to make a new point,” she says. “Try coming closer to the audience when the content of your talk calls for it.” One technique she likes for this — rehearse while standing on newspapers spread out on the floor. You’ll be able to hear your movement as the paper crunches so you can really move “with intention and purpose.”

Use your tone to strengthen your words. Merge your tone with the topic of your speech, says Barnett. Don’t deliver great news in a monotone voice or serious news too excitedly, as disjunctions like that will distract the audience. Barnett recommends going through your script and tagging what each piece of news means. By doing that, you can focus on how your tone can strengthen the message, rather than undermine what you are trying to get across.

Give people a chance to adjust to your accent. Everyone has an accent — at least, when someone else is listening. Luckily, TED has a global audience and is very comfortable with hearing different varieties of speech. That said, speakers can make their accents more accessible to listeners all over the world. Barnett’s advice: keep your opening sentences slow and over-enunciated, so the audience can adapt to the way you speak. “Our ears are trained to adjust to accents,” says Barnett.

Focus on something outside of yourself. Barnett has a favourite exercise for someone who is just about to go onstage: she calls it “focusing out.” She explains: “Pick anything — like the colour green — and look all around you to see where you spot it in the room. Or pick an object to observe. Notice what shoes people are wearing, or who’s wearing a watch. Or try paying attention to how light reflects off surfaces.” Doing something like this will shift the focus from what’s going on in your body and mind to something outside. It can definitely help you relax.

Remember that the audience likes you. As Barnett says, “The TED audience — as big, scary and remote as they may seem — is totally on your side. They want you to have a good time up there, they want to hear your ideas, even if they don’t agree with them, and they want you to succeed.” Enough said.

And finally, no matter how well you prepare — be okay with the unexpected. You may forget a word; someone may drop something backstage; there might be a technical difficulty. Take a moment, breathe deeply and just roll with it. As one TED speaker laughed today as her slides spiralled out of order in rehearsal: “It’s just about having fun, right?”


James Whale & David Bell to host Media, PR & Speakers Masterlcass


James Whale & David Bell to host Media, PR & Speakers Masterlcass

James Whale (well-known broadcaster and radio presenter) and David Bell (The founder of The Speaker Expert) will be sharing their biggest secrets about media & PR to delivering killer presentations & professional interviews. 

This one day masterclass will cover all the little things that are important about media, PR and speaking, but James & David will also be sharing so much more.

The Masterclass is being held at Anglia Ruskin University in Chelmsford, Essex on Wednesday 15th June and is open to anyone who is interested in developing their skills in these three core areas of media, PR and public speaking. 

The masterclass is designed to give you the skills, tools and techniques to help you become the go-to expert in your field of expertise. Often experts are asked to provide their opinions in the media or on stage in front of an audience. However more often an not these experts miss out on these opportunities as they don't have the skills or confidence to stand-up and deliver a compelling talk or interview. 

If you want to join James and David for this one day masterclass which is going to be interactive, fun and educational then book your place before the end of May and receive not only the Media Masterclass with James and David but also as a bonus get David's Speaker Expert Masterclass on Wednesday 20th July, "How to speak and present like an expert" at no additional cost.  

To find out more visit http://www.thespeakerexpert.com/whale or email hello@TheSpeakerExpert.com



QuestionTime Evening was a huge succcess


QuestionTime Evening was a huge succcess

On the evening of Thursday 22nd October, David (Founder of the Speaker Expert) hosted the first of what is set to be many QuestionTime events. The QuestionTime evening was organised by David and the Essex FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) team. The event which was held at the Anglian Ruskin University in Chelmsford, Essex was a super success and the feedback from the audience was extremely positive. 

The Panelists

QuestionTime audience getting ready

from left: David with James Cleverly MP

From left: Cllr Kevin Bentley, David Bell and James Whale

David who is also the Essex Regional Chairman for the FSB commented "The QuestionTime evening was brilliant, I thoroughly enjoyed my role hosting the evening and keeping our expert panel under control throughout the event. We had some brilliant questions from the audience and the panel did a super job of providing quality answers".

David Continued "I am looking really forward to our next QuestionTime event, we haven't agreed a date as of yet but we are hoping to confirm this soon, it is likely to be around May 2016". 

The QuestionTime evening was filmed by David Strelitz and his crew from DSVP. David (DSVP) is working hard on editing a highlights showreel of the evening and this will be available soon. We will paste a link here when it is live. 

The QuestionTime panel of experts included;

Ben Hunt-Davis MBE - Olympic Gold Medalist & Founder of Will it make the boat go faster

James Whale -   Broadcaster and Radio Presenter

James Cleverly - MP for the Braintree District

Cllr Kevin Bentley - Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Growth, Infrastructure, Waste & Recycling

Chris Heaffey – Essex Police Aviation Crime & Risk Reduction Officer, Forensic Phone examiner

Professor Simon Down – Deputy Dean for Research and Enterprise at Anglia Ruskin University 

Sarah Brockwell –  Essex Businesswomen & Managing Director of SarahBee Marketing

If you are interested in joining David and the team at the next QuestionTime evening, sitting in the audience or even asking a question, then send us a email and we will keep you updated with the details.  

Also many thanks to our sponsors as without them the night wouldn't have been possible


QuestionTime Sponsors



It Is Good To Talk... Business East Monthly Interviews David Bell

Last week David was interviewed by Ross Bentley from Business East Monthly about the forthcoming event being hosted by at Anglia Ruskin University in Chelmsford by the Chartered Institute of Marketing. David has been asked to speak at this years CIM autumn conference during the afternoon session. David will be sharing his entrepreneurial journey to date and sharing some of his biggest secrets and successes. During the interview with Ross, David was asked for some words of advice that could be shared with business owners to help their business grow.

Read the full article by clicking below. 

Click the above image to download the full PDF Document

If you would like to join David at the CIM conference on Thursday 12th March, then click below to find out more about the event and how you can book your tickets. 

Chartered Institute of Marketing event at Anglia Ruskin University



David launches Speakers Masterclass

David has just released the news that there is going to be a new Speakers Masterclass workshop.  The Masterclass is designed for anyone who is looking to gain confidence or polish their keynote presentation skills. The workshop will run over one day and teach all the basics required to standup and present to a small to medium size audience. David will provide techniques and tips on how to make your presentation memorable, and more importantly show you how to calm your nerves before you take centre stage. 

The first Masterclass will take place on Wednesday 1st April 2015 at Anglia Ruskin University in Chelmsford at the Lord Ashcroft Campus.

For more information contact David or his team.  You can email us at hello@thespeakerexprt.com