How to Speak with Impact, with Allison Shapira – Ep #26

What does it take to present your message and speak with impact? Polling data shows that year after year the most common fear is public speaking. How can you overcome that fear, convey your research, or message with confidence? Here to lend her expertise and share her deep experience to this challenging subject is Allison Shapira.

Allison is the CEO and Founder of Global Public Speaking LLC, a company that helps people speak with confidence and authenticity in their speeches, presentations, and important conversations. She is a former opera singer who teaches public speaking at the Harvard Kennedy School and has spent the last 15 years working with Fortune 50 companies, government agencies, and non-profit organizations around the world. Allison has assembled a world-class team of experts within her firm who help clients build their public speaking and presentation skills, executive presence, and media skills. She holds a master’s degree in public administration from the Harvard Kennedy School, is a member of the National Speakers Association, and is an internationally-renowned singer/songwriter who uses music as a way to help others find their voice and their courage to speak.

Allison is the author of, “Speak with Impact: How to Command The Room and Influence Others”, published by HarperCollins Leadership. She has spoken at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit and was a finalist for 2017 Woman Business Owner of the Year by the National Association of Women Business Owners, San Diego Chapter.

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of When Science Speaks

  • [1:05] Mark introduces his guest, Allison Shapira.
  • [4:00] Why are people afraid of public speaking? Is it a fear across cultures?
  • [6:45] Unique challenges for women in public speaking.
  • [10:50] What is uptalk? How do you avoid it?
  • [12:45] Common mistakes people make with their body language when speaking.
  • [14:00] How to develop an executive presence.
  • [15:50] Allison talks about her personal struggles with public speaking.
  • [18:10] A tip you can use to speak better in public.

Connect with Allison Shapira

Why public speaking is such a common fear

Have you ever had someone explain to you why public speaking is such a common fear? Where does that fear come from? How do you push back against it? According to Allison Shapira, the fear of public speaking is likely rooted in our evolutionary story. The thing you fear most when you get up to speak in public is that you’ll be rejected and alienated by your community. When we were in a more primitive and vulnerable state, that rejection meant exclusion from the group, banishment, and likely death, so the fear of losing acceptance in a larger group context remains with us to this day.

What is the solution? Do you just wake up one day and decide to stop being afraid of public speaking? Unfortunately, it is not that simple. If you want to overcome your fear and speak with impact, you must put in the time and practice. That might sound like an easy solution, but you’d be surprised at how many people fail to follow that advice. Practice won’t remove all of your fear but it will make you more comfortable with the process, and that is half the battle. You can learn more about speaking confidently by reading Allison’s book, “Speak with Impact.”

Don’t let your body language hold you back

Did you know that there are nervous tics or fidgety behaviors that many people use when they are speaking in public? Do you have a tic or nervous behavior that you resort to when you are public speaking? While it might sound innocuous, the truth is, your body language communicates a lot to your audience. If you went to a presentation where the speaker was pacing back and forth on the stage like a caged tiger, would you find that distracting? Of course, you would.

Thankfully, there are inspiring leaders out there like Allison Shapira who dedicate their work to helping leaders to speak with impact. Allison teaches that you should use your body language when speaking but only as a deliberate component of your presentation. Don’t get up there and wave your arms around to sound interesting – that won’t work. If you are going to use your hands or even move from one part of the stage to another, do it on purpose, for effect.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, Allison has so many more helpful insights to share. Make sure to listen to her full conversation with Mark on this episode of When Science Speaks.

Connect With Mark and When Science Speaks



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