Public Speaking Tips - Learn Presentation Tips | The Pickering Group
Contact

How can we help?

Thank you for your enquiry, we will be in touch.

=

Tips & Tricks

The Problem with ‘Presenting Skills’ as a Brand

November 7, 2023

With the end of the year just around the corner, I wanted to look forward at what presenting could mean for 2024 and beyond.

Read more

Not what they say, but what we hear

September 14, 2023

Welcome to the hotly anticipated – and much reviled – triannual season of point-scoring, populism and brouhaha that is the lead-up to the election.

Read more

From Waffling to Inspiring: Mastering the Archetypes of Organisational Speakers

July 26, 2023

Would you recognise a Waffler or Trickster presenter? Do you know how to spot if you’re a Reader – and more importantly, do you know how to become The Inspirer?

Read more

What 15 years of professional acting taught me about presenting

May 8, 2023

When people find out that I was a professional actor, the first thing they’ll ask – after “What were you in?", is “What do acting and presenting have in common?”

Read more

Change is the only constant

March 12, 2023

Communication is an evolving art. Not only does that keep people like me very busy, but it means that we need to keep an eye on evolving trends – lest we get left behind!

Read more

Finding your courage

January 13, 2023

In the Chinese Zodiac, 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit. Known for being calm, collected, and graceful, those born in the Year of the Rabbit are told to bring hope and peace to the world.

Read more

Key ingredients for a good open and close

December 6, 2022

What’s the most important section of any presentation? I’ll give you a hint – you’re reading it right now. The opening lines of a presentation are crucial. It’s when your audience starts to form their assumptions about you and your message – and these first impressions can be hard to shift later down the line. Nail your first three minutes with a new audience, and you have a much better chance of keeping them engaged throughout the rest of your presentation.

Read more

Informing isn’t presenting – why some speakers fall flat

November 9, 2022

Have you ever sat through a presentation only to realise the next day that you can’t even remember what was said?

Read more

Your living room stories belong in your presentation – here’s why.

October 10, 2022

If I asked you to recall the most memorable speaker you’ve seen, who springs to mind? Some of my favourites include the late Sir Ken Robinson, Brene Brown, and Margaret Heffernan. What makes them, and likely the ones you have enjoyed too, so compelling is that they are also great story-tellers.

Read more

Practice makes near perfect

September 13, 2022

How many times do you typically practice a presentation before you deliver it? Be honest. If your answer is “I’m lucky to practice once” then you’ll be joining the majority of those who filled out my course pre-attendee survey. Yep, most others practice only once, or not at all, before a big presentation. And frankly, it can show.

Read more

May I have your attention please?

August 15, 2022

Early on in my career, I took it personally when someone would yawn, fidget, or glaze over while I was presenting. Never mind how much animation and enthusiasm I was bringing to the room, or how well I’d prepared my content to be compelling, I’d see this sometimes. And it really bummed me out.

Read more

Presenting is unique from other forms of public speaking

July 19, 2022

Whatever your level, great presenting skills are an essential part of leadership. Those who can communicate effectively and demonstrate solid persuasive speaking skills go further. They’re able to engage others with their ideas and, in today’s increasingly critical knowledge economy, they’re better recognised and rewarded as a result

Read more

Loose briefs cause grief – getting super clear on what you’re there for

June 21, 2022

Numbers for the leadership team, quarterly update, employee induction welcome or conference slot… you’ve been asked to deliver a presentation. Woohoo.

Read more

What’s wrong with the shadows anyway?

May 25, 2022

Come on – admit it. You love the unthreatening nature of your comfort zone. It’s warm, it’s safe. It’s like the cosy slipper of life experiences. That’s the shadows. It’s the opposite of being in the spotlight. And it’s tempting, right?

Read more

Communicating in a hybrid environment

April 26, 2022

Early last year I ran a training with a large professional services firm. Some of the team were in-person in Auckland and the other half joined virtually from Wellington. The Wellington crew were all in a meeting room and joining from one video conference unit.

Read more

Suzi McAlpine's interview with Russell

March 23, 2022

Recently I had a blast chatting to my good mate Suzi McAlpine about my new book Step into the Spotlight. Suzi is author of the bestselling book Beyond Burnout and pens the award winning blog The Leader's Digest where she writes and chats about all things…you guessed it…leadership.

Read more

Handling questions like a pro when presenting

May 26, 2021

One of the questions we’re asked most often is how to handle, well, questions. And we have answers! A Q&A can seem nervewracking, but generally if you know your subject it can be the most engaging and convincing part of your presentation. Imagine it’s quiz night, but all the questions are on your specialist topic. You win the bar tab, your table is cheering, there’s karaoke later, life is beautiful. This could be you at work too. How? Glad you asked.

Read more

Glossophobia, Alektorophobia and more...

April 19, 2021

You’ve heard it a million times: the number one human phobia is Glossophobia, the fear of public speaking. It seems like nonsense, doesn’t it? That speaking in public could be more terrifying to more people than, say, death, or being stuck in a lift with Kanye West. But consider the consequences.

Read more

Is Persuasion a Dirty Word?

March 1, 2021

A few weeks back I had an interesting discussion with a long-standing client. She was getting some push back from a member of her team around her idea of wanting to put them through our Secrets of Influence and Persuasion programme. His concern was the perceived ‘ick factor’ of persuasive speaking skills. He was worried they would turn from careful, considered experts into Donald Trump!

Read more

More fun devices to play with

February 1, 2021

Last year we shared with you some of our favourite rhetorical devices and their infectious-sounding names. Have you managed a pleonasm yet? That’s okay, it’s perfectly natural, it’ll happen when you’re ready. Rhetorical devices are just communication tools, and we use them every day without realising it, so let’s get on a first name basis with a few more fun ones.

Read more

Our annual Xmas Jokestravaganza

December 21, 2020

Last year we started our tradition of providing you with cracker jokes that you can read aloud to your loved ones around the dinner table until they politely ask you to stop. They’re puns! They’re vaguely business related! They’re better than the paper hats!

Read more

Have you heard of Vulnerable Narcissism?

November 23, 2020

Is there someone in your workplace who always has to draw attention to themselves? Or do you have a client whose demand for your focus go way beyond what’s necessary to service their needs? Does Dave really need to spend all that company time making TikToks? You might be dealing with a narcissist.

Read more

Are your PowerPoint's poisoning us?

October 26, 2020

It seemed like the best idea ever: liven up business presentations with a slide show. Pictures! Graphs! A weird 80s Dr Who-style spiral dissolve vortex! Surely visual aids would turn boring meetings into a mashup of Mad Men and a game of laser tag.

Read more

A guide to using humour in your presentations

September 20, 2020

We often stress that your one job in any business presentation is to deliver your message - clearly, concisely, in a way that’s relevant to your audience – communicate your message. You shouldn’t feel any pressure to entertain, especially if worrying about your delivery is going to distract you from the job at hand. But - and it’s a big but – humour can be a way to deliver that message more effectively.

Read more

On spontaneous pleonasms and other devices

August 31, 2020

Riddle time! What sounds like a disease, but makes people want to get closer to you? Literally any rhetorical device. Many can make your written and spoken language more engaging, some we should be wary of, and some we should avoid.

Read more

Ready to see the light? Evader to Inspirer - Pt III

August 3, 2020

Over the last two weeks we’ve been breaking down our Spotlight model, our tool for identifying your current public speaking skills status.

Read more

What is your public speaking type? Evader to Inspirer - Part I

July 20, 2020

20/07/20. How many personality quizzes did you do over lockdown? Whether you prefer to tell people you’re a Virgo Dragon or an ENTJ, it can be fascinating, even enlightening, to find a fitting category. Did you know your public speaking style falls into one of ten categories too?

Read more

Comparison: The Thief of Joy

June 3, 2020

03.06.20 It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparison when it comes to our public speaking.  We see a compelling speaker and wonder if we can ever rise to those standards.

Read more

May Webinar: The End of the Beginning

May 6, 2020

Expert Panel Webinar: 4:30pm – 5.30pm, Wednesday 13th May 2020 Facilitated by Russell Pickering with Special Guests Suzi McAlpine and Dr Harold Hillman

Read more

Tips for your next Virtual Meeting

April 28, 2020

22.04.20. By now you’ll have many virtual meetings under your belts, as well as far too many biscuits. Us too. If you missed it, here you'll find a link to our last Webinar on Virtual Meetings. We've also distilled the key points for you here.

Read more

Free Webinar: Remote Presenting Tips.

March 19, 2020

Wednesday 25th March - 11am. Please join me, Russell Pickering, for a free 45-minute webinar on the fundamentals of presenting remotely. Open this blog post to register.

Read more

U2 can embrace a growth mindset

March 7, 2020

07/03/20. How do you feel about your talents? Are they limited to what you were born with? It may surprise you to know that Bono couldn’t sing when he started fronting U2. Maybe that didn’t surprise you because you still think Bono can’t sing, but let’s leave that debate to a reddit thread somewhere.

Read more

Gif of Sean Connery as James Bond lighting a cigarette - with the text Bond. James Bond.

Why repetition is your friend when presenting

February 7, 2020

11/02/20. We live in a world that celebrates novelty, a world in which repetition is seen as a bit of a faux pas. But repetition is useful in so many ways. As a rhetorical device it can be an effective way to make our public speaking memorable. It’s also a key component of useful rehearsal, and it’s the basis of deliberately creating new positive habits.

Read more

How To Avoid Procrastination

January 29, 2020

14/01/20. Happy New Year to you! How are you doing with your resolutions? If your goal for 2020 was to procrastinate less, you’ve probably already put it off. New Year, new you… eventually, right? It’s honestly not your fault. Let’s tackle it together. Yes, now.

Read more

Can Stand-up Make Your PowerPoint Better?

January 29, 2020

4/12/19. Greetings, fellow human. We are communicating with you via a televisual interface, whereby our words are transmitted directly into your brain without the necessity of speech. And you prefer it that way.

Read more

What's your Presentation Preparation Personality?

January 29, 2020

31/10/19. Why am I great ‘til I gotta be great? Or whatever Lizzo said. You know the feeling: you were sure you could wing it right up until the moment you couldn’t. Maybe you prepared a good deck but blew the delivery. Or you think decks are for drinking on which is how you came up with the idea to pad out the last quarter financials with twerking and jazz flute. Blame it on the juice.

Read more

How to Manage Nerves and Increase Your Confidence Around Public Speaking

August 5, 2019

At The Pickering Group we hear it more than anything else: how can I be more confident? But what exactly do people mean by confidence?

Read more

How to Improve Your Business Presentation Skills

August 5, 2019

Maybe you’ve asked yourself, what exactly is a Business Presenter? Then, as your phone sends you a cheerful alert about tomorrow’s report meeting, you realise. Oh no. It’s me, isn’t it?

Read more

How To Use Spoken Storytelling In Your Business Encounters

August 5, 2019

Stephen King calls it telepathy: the power of a story to take an image from an author’s head and effortlessly place it in the heads of others. Storytelling is a powerful tool…

Read more

You don’t have to be the best presenter to be the right presenter

October 23, 2023

A lot of books out there focus on the leader’s duty to deliver inspiring messages, unite teams, and drive people towards a common purpose. But what about the presentations that happen at every level of your organisation? What do you do when you’re trying to persuade your people, and you’re not at the top of the heap?

Read more

Want to win hearts and minds?

August 23, 2023

I recently ran a mastery programme. Four half-day workshops and coaching sessions, with eight people in the group. All the participants were highly skilled professionals who dealt with figures and analysis for a living. They worked by and for the balance sheet. But the result of living in this world was that they were all heavy on the rational side of explaining: they were the Informer archetype.

Read more

In praise of physicality – but why great presenting doesn’t stop there

June 14, 2023

Whenever I run a presenting course, I will get one or two people who are tied up in knots about their bodies and their physicality on stage.

Read more

How understanding obstacles can lead to creating great content

April 11, 2023

If you want to capture your audience’s attention – and their hearts and minds – then relevant, engaging content is going to be a top priority. If you understand your audience, you’re that much closer to creating content that really resonates with them.

Read more

Is 2023 the year for showing up?

February 12, 2023

We’ve been forced to show up a lot already this year. Many of us have had homes or workplaces affected in the flooding and, if we didn’t, then chances were high that we knew neighbours or family members who were impacted.

Read more

Signing off for 2022

December 18, 2022

Just a short note from me to wish you all the very best Christmas wishes and special time with your favourite people over the break.

Read more

Easier said than done: Owning who you are

November 21, 2022

Courage trumps confidence. Where confidence is a feeling (and I don’t know about you, but I haven’t yet mastered total control over my feelings!) courage is a decision – a choice we make about how we show up.

Read more

Who wants to present with impact, inspire confidence, and get results?

October 25, 2022

2022 has been a year… and it’s not over yet. We’ve seen the end of lockdowns, vaccine passports and (for the most part) masks. We’ve reopened our borders – welcoming visitors and losing Kiwis with itchy feet. We’ve seen the cost of living rise, and pressures on businesses around staffing, supply chains and navigating a contracting economy. But still we battle on.

Read more

A peek at the data - What years of participants tell us about presenting

September 28, 2022

Presenting is intimidating, and most of us are quick to admit we’ve got room for improvement. But that’s why I do what I do.

Read more

The thing that stands between you and where you’re going

August 30, 2022

You’re up there with all eyes on you for one reason: to get your audience to that golden destination where they’re compelled to act or adopt your big idea. I call it point B and it’s the purpose of your presentation.

Read more

Point B: The Destination – aka ‘Where are you going with this?’

August 2, 2022

You know the well-worn phrase; ‘it’s the journey that matters, not the destination’. While it’s a good mantra for life, when it comes to presentations, the destination – your prime objective – is king. Without precise coordinates, presentations have no direction, and waste the audiences fuel on waffle, leading them down the road to nowhere.

Read more

A is for Audience

July 5, 2022

When we’re worried about presenting, it’s common to focus on ourselves – our worries, how we’re feeling. But the most important element in any presentation is your audience. You’re there to connect your ideas to them in a way that elicits some form of action. Your presentation is for them, not for you.

Read more

We may be back in the office, but we need to avoid the old traps

June 8, 2022

Now that we’re back in the office – and presenting in person more again, hooray! – many of the old bad habits are popping up again. Already, many of us are suffering from ‘Death by PowerPoint’. You may even have been guilty of perpetrating it.

Read more

Start with something worth saying

May 11, 2022

You wouldn’t believe the number of calls I get from people that go something like this: “We need you to come in and work with [insert name here] on their presenting skills. They’re really struggling to make an impact. The issue’s not with their content – that’s sorted – it’s more to do with their delivery. We need them not to suck.” I’ll let you in on a little secret...

Read more

Presenting is not about acting...or is it?

April 12, 2022

We tend to think of acting as pretending – as something constructed or contrived. However, great acting is the opposite. It’s about truth. Great acting isn’t really about acting at all – it’s about being.

Read more

Imposter syndrome: are you faking it?

June 13, 2021

Imposter syndrome: a lurking doubt in your achievements and abilities. What if you’re actually not competent and no one’s noticed yet? Surely the truth will eventually come out. You’ll be humiliated, but ultimately relieved that you can stop this insane charade and take up an enticing new pastime, like rocking gently in a corner. Here’s the thing: you’re probably fine, and you deserve to feel fine about it. Let’s work through this.

Read more

More tips from the vaults

May 9, 2021

When you’ve been around the block a few times you get to know the neighbourhood. We’ve been around the presenting block for long enough to know about the tricky bits of footpath and that vicious cat at number 43. In the interests of, well, interesting things, we’re going to share a few of the little tips we’ve learned over the years.

Read more

Are you a nervous presenter?

March 15, 2021

Are you, like Mr Brooke, a nervous sailor when it comes to business presenting? It might depend on how you regard an open sea. The sea can be calm and smooth under an untroubled blue sky. Foils in the water, spinnaker doing whatever spinnakers do, filled with opportunity and adventure and the odd superyacht. Like Rod Stewart, we are fricking sailing, yo.

Read more

5 Tips for Better Virtual Communication

February 15, 2021

Okay Zoomers, it’s déjà vu all over again. But virtual communication is part of life now, and hopefully the basics are familiar enough to really start finessing your skills.

Read more

Welcome to 2021

January 13, 2021

Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind, hi! It’s us! Your friendly neighbourhood Pickering Group wishing you a very happy New Year.  We hope it’s everything you want it to be, but there’s a ton of pressure on 2021 to deliver us everything we missed out on last year. 2021. You got this.

Read more

Seven stories leaders should tell

December 7, 2020

Now settle in, Best Beloved, it’s time for a story. But what kind of story?  When we talk about business stories, we’re really talking about illustrating our core message with a tale that puts it in context.  We’re making points and making connections, and we’re using stories to make them memorable, clear and emotionally effective.

Read more

KISS: Keep It Simple, Squad

November 9, 2020

Let’s be clear: no really, let’s. Clarity in both written and spoken communications is key to getting the results you want. And yet persistently we see superfluous and extraneous verbiage that is impedimental to both comprehension and ratiocination. Or rather, words are confusing and it sucks.

Read more

It's a conspiracy!

October 3, 2020

This election cycle we’ve seen conspiracy theories come to new prominence. The upswell in conspiracy thinking is having a tangible influence over political discourse, and it's tiring. Even the lizard people are over it.

Read more

Should you use memes in presentations? Take the test.

September 14, 2020

What is a meme? We’re glad you asked. It’s a unit of social currency, a piece of concentrated information that spreads around a group. It’s an in-joke, like what we all know about Ian since the conference last year.

Read more

Working with the Uncertainty

August 17, 2020

Sometimes it feels like the only thing we can control is the remote, and we’re all out of Netflix. Life seems paused, but at the same time world events are rushing forward at a terrifying pace. The best way to cope with chaos is to identify what we can actually effectively do, then do the things.

Read more

Evader to Inspirer - Part II

July 25, 2020

27/07/20. We’ve been breaking down our Evasion to Inspiration model for you. If you’re just joining us, our model identifies ten archetypes of organisational communicator (presenter or public speaker), grading them on a continuum from in the shadows (not reaching their potential in terms of communicating clear and effective messages) to in the spotlight (achieving persuasive, authentic and impactful communication).

Read more

The Bold And The Beautiful: Modelling Courage

June 29, 2020

29/06/20. There’s a famous quote attributed to Mark Twain: “There are two types of speakers: those who get nervous, and those who are liars.” The Venn diagram of people who speak in public and people who are nervous about their public speaking is a circle. But what if we had another Venn diagram for you – one that showed how to draw on your courage when it comes to public speaking? Because – wait for it - we do have one.

Read more

Our virtual communication skills webinars

May 19, 2020

Check out our three free webinars: virtual presenting tips, virtual meetings tips, and leadership post-lockdown. At The Pickering Group, we’ve always been champions of spoken business communication that leads with clarity, confidence and compassion. We’ve all seen the importance of these qualities over the past few months: effective communication has been crucial for both our physical and emotional wellbeing.

Read more

Ok Zoomers...the fatigue is real

April 30, 2020

1/5/20. You’ve finished a long work week of video meetings and you’re looking forward to some hard-earned video work drinks. You’re gearing up for a weekend of video calls with family and you’ll fit a video quiz night in there. Maybe you even make a little on the side with other on-camera activities. That’s fine, no judgment, you do you. But if you’re like everyone else (at least, everyone in the third of all humanity currently on lockdown) you’ll be experiencing a brand-new phenomenon known as Zoom Fatigue.

Read more

Tips For Giving Great Remote Presentations

March 31, 2020

31/03/20. One of the most disconcerting things about working in a virtual environment is having so many things out of our control. Tech can let us down, someone might forget to dial in, our pyjama pants might fall down at a crucial moment. Just kidding, all the snacking means those pants are going nowhere. But how can we feel more in control?

Read more

Plandemic: Tips to handle your COVID-19 response

March 16, 2020

16/03/20. It’s a famous old curse: May you live in interesting times. Well, here we are. You’re likely to have some difficult conversations with your team at some point, whether it’s about the current pandemic or future interesting times. We’ve put together a guide to help you prep for those conversations.

Read more

Is Public Speaking Anxiety A Form Of Selfishness?

February 12, 2020

21/02/20. Take a look at this video. It comes not from the world of presentation training, but from Westeros. Actor Jonathan Pryce (The High Sparrow in Game of Thrones) somewhat bluntly describes stage fright as selfishness. Ouch. That’s so cold it actually feels like winter is coming. Jonathan suggests your focus should be on the audience and what they’re getting out of the encounter, not yourself and how you’re performing, and we think he’s onto something.

Read more

Gif of the woman leaving the meeting - with the text How you leave when the office meeting could have been an email

Dreading Your Work Meetings? Read on...

January 29, 2020

28/01/20. Chances are your day will include a meeting. Our condolences. If it’s like most meetings it will drag you away from something else you were in the middle of. It’ll be held up by that one colleague who just has to make a coffee first, keeping everyone in awkward silence while the milk froths. The PowerPoint will develop an interesting issue that the IT guy has never seen before, leaving the projection screen ruthlessly frozen on your holiday selfie wallpaper. Nice togs btw.

Read more

Bad Xmas Jokes

January 29, 2020

16/12/19. Sleigh-bells ring, are you listening? It’s Santa, or at least someone cosplaying as Santa charging for selfies in a mall. The silly season is upon us! Formerly sane colleagues suddenly want to chat about Elf on the Shelf. There was talk of a company float in the Christmas parade, but no one owns a ute. There’s an increasingly angsty office-wide debate about the eco-friendliness of tinsel. Are you getting anything done at work these days, apart from bravely not commenting on the receptionist’s antler headband?

Read more

Supersize Your Business Storytelling Skills

January 29, 2020

19/11/19 Q: What did the Arts student say to the Engineering student? A: Would you like fries with that? And there it is, a joke loaded with all the linguistic originality you’d expect from someone who scorns the arts.

Read more

The Philosophy of Persuasion

October 1, 2019

Excellence is not an act, but a habit. If that sounds like the kind of glib phrase you’d read on the back of a 90s self-help book – firstly, you’re right, but secondly, it’s much older than that.

Read more

How to Practice for Business Presentations & Public Speaking

August 5, 2019

You’ll hear it often: the key to successful business presenting is preparation. A huge part of that preparation is effectively practicing your presentation. The important word there is ‘effectively’…

Read more

Why Business Storytelling Is Crucial

August 5, 2019

In what has become the most watched TED talk of all time, Ken Robinson tells the story of a Gillian, a little girl who couldn’t sit still at school.

Read more

The Problem with ‘Presenting Skills’ as a Brand

November 7, 2023

With the end of the year just around the corner, I wanted to look forward at what presenting could mean for 2024 and beyond.

Read more

Not what they say, but what we hear

September 14, 2023

Welcome to the hotly anticipated – and much reviled – triannual season of point-scoring, populism and brouhaha that is the lead-up to the election.

Read more

From Waffling to Inspiring: Mastering the Archetypes of Organisational Speakers

July 26, 2023

Would you recognise a Waffler or Trickster presenter? Do you know how to spot if you’re a Reader – and more importantly, do you know how to become The Inspirer?

Read more

What 15 years of professional acting taught me about presenting

May 8, 2023

When people find out that I was a professional actor, the first thing they’ll ask – after “What were you in?", is “What do acting and presenting have in common?”

Read more

Change is the only constant

March 12, 2023

Communication is an evolving art. Not only does that keep people like me very busy, but it means that we need to keep an eye on evolving trends – lest we get left behind!

Read more

Finding your courage

January 13, 2023

In the Chinese Zodiac, 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit. Known for being calm, collected, and graceful, those born in the Year of the Rabbit are told to bring hope and peace to the world.

Read more

Key ingredients for a good open and close

December 6, 2022

What’s the most important section of any presentation? I’ll give you a hint – you’re reading it right now. The opening lines of a presentation are crucial. It’s when your audience starts to form their assumptions about you and your message – and these first impressions can be hard to shift later down the line. Nail your first three minutes with a new audience, and you have a much better chance of keeping them engaged throughout the rest of your presentation.

Read more

Informing isn’t presenting – why some speakers fall flat

November 9, 2022

Have you ever sat through a presentation only to realise the next day that you can’t even remember what was said?

Read more

Your living room stories belong in your presentation – here’s why.

October 10, 2022

If I asked you to recall the most memorable speaker you’ve seen, who springs to mind? Some of my favourites include the late Sir Ken Robinson, Brene Brown, and Margaret Heffernan. What makes them, and likely the ones you have enjoyed too, so compelling is that they are also great story-tellers.

Read more

Practice makes near perfect

September 13, 2022

How many times do you typically practice a presentation before you deliver it? Be honest. If your answer is “I’m lucky to practice once” then you’ll be joining the majority of those who filled out my course pre-attendee survey. Yep, most others practice only once, or not at all, before a big presentation. And frankly, it can show.

Read more

May I have your attention please?

August 15, 2022

Early on in my career, I took it personally when someone would yawn, fidget, or glaze over while I was presenting. Never mind how much animation and enthusiasm I was bringing to the room, or how well I’d prepared my content to be compelling, I’d see this sometimes. And it really bummed me out.

Read more

Presenting is unique from other forms of public speaking

July 19, 2022

Whatever your level, great presenting skills are an essential part of leadership. Those who can communicate effectively and demonstrate solid persuasive speaking skills go further. They’re able to engage others with their ideas and, in today’s increasingly critical knowledge economy, they’re better recognised and rewarded as a result

Read more

Loose briefs cause grief – getting super clear on what you’re there for

June 21, 2022

Numbers for the leadership team, quarterly update, employee induction welcome or conference slot… you’ve been asked to deliver a presentation. Woohoo.

Read more

What’s wrong with the shadows anyway?

May 25, 2022

Come on – admit it. You love the unthreatening nature of your comfort zone. It’s warm, it’s safe. It’s like the cosy slipper of life experiences. That’s the shadows. It’s the opposite of being in the spotlight. And it’s tempting, right?

Read more

Communicating in a hybrid environment

April 26, 2022

Early last year I ran a training with a large professional services firm. Some of the team were in-person in Auckland and the other half joined virtually from Wellington. The Wellington crew were all in a meeting room and joining from one video conference unit.

Read more

Suzi McAlpine's interview with Russell

March 23, 2022

Recently I had a blast chatting to my good mate Suzi McAlpine about my new book Step into the Spotlight. Suzi is author of the bestselling book Beyond Burnout and pens the award winning blog The Leader's Digest where she writes and chats about all things…you guessed it…leadership.

Read more

Handling questions like a pro when presenting

May 26, 2021

One of the questions we’re asked most often is how to handle, well, questions. And we have answers! A Q&A can seem nervewracking, but generally if you know your subject it can be the most engaging and convincing part of your presentation. Imagine it’s quiz night, but all the questions are on your specialist topic. You win the bar tab, your table is cheering, there’s karaoke later, life is beautiful. This could be you at work too. How? Glad you asked.

Read more

Glossophobia, Alektorophobia and more...

April 19, 2021

You’ve heard it a million times: the number one human phobia is Glossophobia, the fear of public speaking. It seems like nonsense, doesn’t it? That speaking in public could be more terrifying to more people than, say, death, or being stuck in a lift with Kanye West. But consider the consequences.

Read more

Is Persuasion a Dirty Word?

March 1, 2021

A few weeks back I had an interesting discussion with a long-standing client. She was getting some push back from a member of her team around her idea of wanting to put them through our Secrets of Influence and Persuasion programme. His concern was the perceived ‘ick factor’ of persuasive speaking skills. He was worried they would turn from careful, considered experts into Donald Trump!

Read more

More fun devices to play with

February 1, 2021

Last year we shared with you some of our favourite rhetorical devices and their infectious-sounding names. Have you managed a pleonasm yet? That’s okay, it’s perfectly natural, it’ll happen when you’re ready. Rhetorical devices are just communication tools, and we use them every day without realising it, so let’s get on a first name basis with a few more fun ones.

Read more

Our annual Xmas Jokestravaganza

December 21, 2020

Last year we started our tradition of providing you with cracker jokes that you can read aloud to your loved ones around the dinner table until they politely ask you to stop. They’re puns! They’re vaguely business related! They’re better than the paper hats!

Read more

Have you heard of Vulnerable Narcissism?

November 23, 2020

Is there someone in your workplace who always has to draw attention to themselves? Or do you have a client whose demand for your focus go way beyond what’s necessary to service their needs? Does Dave really need to spend all that company time making TikToks? You might be dealing with a narcissist.

Read more

Are your PowerPoint's poisoning us?

October 26, 2020

It seemed like the best idea ever: liven up business presentations with a slide show. Pictures! Graphs! A weird 80s Dr Who-style spiral dissolve vortex! Surely visual aids would turn boring meetings into a mashup of Mad Men and a game of laser tag.

Read more

A guide to using humour in your presentations

September 20, 2020

We often stress that your one job in any business presentation is to deliver your message - clearly, concisely, in a way that’s relevant to your audience – communicate your message. You shouldn’t feel any pressure to entertain, especially if worrying about your delivery is going to distract you from the job at hand. But - and it’s a big but – humour can be a way to deliver that message more effectively.

Read more

On spontaneous pleonasms and other devices

August 31, 2020

Riddle time! What sounds like a disease, but makes people want to get closer to you? Literally any rhetorical device. Many can make your written and spoken language more engaging, some we should be wary of, and some we should avoid.

Read more

Ready to see the light? Evader to Inspirer - Pt III

August 3, 2020

Over the last two weeks we’ve been breaking down our Spotlight model, our tool for identifying your current public speaking skills status.

Read more

What is your public speaking type? Evader to Inspirer - Part I

July 20, 2020

20/07/20. How many personality quizzes did you do over lockdown? Whether you prefer to tell people you’re a Virgo Dragon or an ENTJ, it can be fascinating, even enlightening, to find a fitting category. Did you know your public speaking style falls into one of ten categories too?

Read more

Comparison: The Thief of Joy

June 3, 2020

03.06.20 It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparison when it comes to our public speaking.  We see a compelling speaker and wonder if we can ever rise to those standards.

Read more

May Webinar: The End of the Beginning

May 6, 2020

Expert Panel Webinar: 4:30pm – 5.30pm, Wednesday 13th May 2020 Facilitated by Russell Pickering with Special Guests Suzi McAlpine and Dr Harold Hillman

Read more

Tips for your next Virtual Meeting

April 28, 2020

22.04.20. By now you’ll have many virtual meetings under your belts, as well as far too many biscuits. Us too. If you missed it, here you'll find a link to our last Webinar on Virtual Meetings. We've also distilled the key points for you here.

Read more

Free Webinar: Remote Presenting Tips.

March 19, 2020

Wednesday 25th March - 11am. Please join me, Russell Pickering, for a free 45-minute webinar on the fundamentals of presenting remotely. Open this blog post to register.

Read more

U2 can embrace a growth mindset

March 7, 2020

07/03/20. How do you feel about your talents? Are they limited to what you were born with? It may surprise you to know that Bono couldn’t sing when he started fronting U2. Maybe that didn’t surprise you because you still think Bono can’t sing, but let’s leave that debate to a reddit thread somewhere.

Read more

Gif of Sean Connery as James Bond lighting a cigarette - with the text Bond. James Bond.

Why repetition is your friend when presenting

February 7, 2020

11/02/20. We live in a world that celebrates novelty, a world in which repetition is seen as a bit of a faux pas. But repetition is useful in so many ways. As a rhetorical device it can be an effective way to make our public speaking memorable. It’s also a key component of useful rehearsal, and it’s the basis of deliberately creating new positive habits.

Read more

How To Avoid Procrastination

January 29, 2020

14/01/20. Happy New Year to you! How are you doing with your resolutions? If your goal for 2020 was to procrastinate less, you’ve probably already put it off. New Year, new you… eventually, right? It’s honestly not your fault. Let’s tackle it together. Yes, now.

Read more

Can Stand-up Make Your PowerPoint Better?

January 29, 2020

4/12/19. Greetings, fellow human. We are communicating with you via a televisual interface, whereby our words are transmitted directly into your brain without the necessity of speech. And you prefer it that way.

Read more

What's your Presentation Preparation Personality?

January 29, 2020

31/10/19. Why am I great ‘til I gotta be great? Or whatever Lizzo said. You know the feeling: you were sure you could wing it right up until the moment you couldn’t. Maybe you prepared a good deck but blew the delivery. Or you think decks are for drinking on which is how you came up with the idea to pad out the last quarter financials with twerking and jazz flute. Blame it on the juice.

Read more

How to Manage Nerves and Increase Your Confidence Around Public Speaking

August 5, 2019

At The Pickering Group we hear it more than anything else: how can I be more confident? But what exactly do people mean by confidence?

Read more

How to Improve Your Business Presentation Skills

August 5, 2019

Maybe you’ve asked yourself, what exactly is a Business Presenter? Then, as your phone sends you a cheerful alert about tomorrow’s report meeting, you realise. Oh no. It’s me, isn’t it?

Read more

How To Use Spoken Storytelling In Your Business Encounters

August 5, 2019

Stephen King calls it telepathy: the power of a story to take an image from an author’s head and effortlessly place it in the heads of others. Storytelling is a powerful tool…

Read more

You don’t have to be the best presenter to be the right presenter

October 23, 2023

A lot of books out there focus on the leader’s duty to deliver inspiring messages, unite teams, and drive people towards a common purpose. But what about the presentations that happen at every level of your organisation? What do you do when you’re trying to persuade your people, and you’re not at the top of the heap?

Read more

Want to win hearts and minds?

August 23, 2023

I recently ran a mastery programme. Four half-day workshops and coaching sessions, with eight people in the group. All the participants were highly skilled professionals who dealt with figures and analysis for a living. They worked by and for the balance sheet. But the result of living in this world was that they were all heavy on the rational side of explaining: they were the Informer archetype.

Read more

In praise of physicality – but why great presenting doesn’t stop there

June 14, 2023

Whenever I run a presenting course, I will get one or two people who are tied up in knots about their bodies and their physicality on stage.

Read more

How understanding obstacles can lead to creating great content

April 11, 2023

If you want to capture your audience’s attention – and their hearts and minds – then relevant, engaging content is going to be a top priority. If you understand your audience, you’re that much closer to creating content that really resonates with them.

Read more

Is 2023 the year for showing up?

February 12, 2023

We’ve been forced to show up a lot already this year. Many of us have had homes or workplaces affected in the flooding and, if we didn’t, then chances were high that we knew neighbours or family members who were impacted.

Read more

Signing off for 2022

December 18, 2022

Just a short note from me to wish you all the very best Christmas wishes and special time with your favourite people over the break.

Read more

Easier said than done: Owning who you are

November 21, 2022

Courage trumps confidence. Where confidence is a feeling (and I don’t know about you, but I haven’t yet mastered total control over my feelings!) courage is a decision – a choice we make about how we show up.

Read more

Who wants to present with impact, inspire confidence, and get results?

October 25, 2022

2022 has been a year… and it’s not over yet. We’ve seen the end of lockdowns, vaccine passports and (for the most part) masks. We’ve reopened our borders – welcoming visitors and losing Kiwis with itchy feet. We’ve seen the cost of living rise, and pressures on businesses around staffing, supply chains and navigating a contracting economy. But still we battle on.

Read more

A peek at the data - What years of participants tell us about presenting

September 28, 2022

Presenting is intimidating, and most of us are quick to admit we’ve got room for improvement. But that’s why I do what I do.

Read more

The thing that stands between you and where you’re going

August 30, 2022

You’re up there with all eyes on you for one reason: to get your audience to that golden destination where they’re compelled to act or adopt your big idea. I call it point B and it’s the purpose of your presentation.

Read more

Point B: The Destination – aka ‘Where are you going with this?’

August 2, 2022

You know the well-worn phrase; ‘it’s the journey that matters, not the destination’. While it’s a good mantra for life, when it comes to presentations, the destination – your prime objective – is king. Without precise coordinates, presentations have no direction, and waste the audiences fuel on waffle, leading them down the road to nowhere.

Read more

A is for Audience

July 5, 2022

When we’re worried about presenting, it’s common to focus on ourselves – our worries, how we’re feeling. But the most important element in any presentation is your audience. You’re there to connect your ideas to them in a way that elicits some form of action. Your presentation is for them, not for you.

Read more

We may be back in the office, but we need to avoid the old traps

June 8, 2022

Now that we’re back in the office – and presenting in person more again, hooray! – many of the old bad habits are popping up again. Already, many of us are suffering from ‘Death by PowerPoint’. You may even have been guilty of perpetrating it.

Read more

Start with something worth saying

May 11, 2022

You wouldn’t believe the number of calls I get from people that go something like this: “We need you to come in and work with [insert name here] on their presenting skills. They’re really struggling to make an impact. The issue’s not with their content – that’s sorted – it’s more to do with their delivery. We need them not to suck.” I’ll let you in on a little secret...

Read more

Presenting is not about acting...or is it?

April 12, 2022

We tend to think of acting as pretending – as something constructed or contrived. However, great acting is the opposite. It’s about truth. Great acting isn’t really about acting at all – it’s about being.

Read more

Imposter syndrome: are you faking it?

June 13, 2021

Imposter syndrome: a lurking doubt in your achievements and abilities. What if you’re actually not competent and no one’s noticed yet? Surely the truth will eventually come out. You’ll be humiliated, but ultimately relieved that you can stop this insane charade and take up an enticing new pastime, like rocking gently in a corner. Here’s the thing: you’re probably fine, and you deserve to feel fine about it. Let’s work through this.

Read more

More tips from the vaults

May 9, 2021

When you’ve been around the block a few times you get to know the neighbourhood. We’ve been around the presenting block for long enough to know about the tricky bits of footpath and that vicious cat at number 43. In the interests of, well, interesting things, we’re going to share a few of the little tips we’ve learned over the years.

Read more

Are you a nervous presenter?

March 15, 2021

Are you, like Mr Brooke, a nervous sailor when it comes to business presenting? It might depend on how you regard an open sea. The sea can be calm and smooth under an untroubled blue sky. Foils in the water, spinnaker doing whatever spinnakers do, filled with opportunity and adventure and the odd superyacht. Like Rod Stewart, we are fricking sailing, yo.

Read more

5 Tips for Better Virtual Communication

February 15, 2021

Okay Zoomers, it’s déjà vu all over again. But virtual communication is part of life now, and hopefully the basics are familiar enough to really start finessing your skills.

Read more

Welcome to 2021

January 13, 2021

Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind, hi! It’s us! Your friendly neighbourhood Pickering Group wishing you a very happy New Year.  We hope it’s everything you want it to be, but there’s a ton of pressure on 2021 to deliver us everything we missed out on last year. 2021. You got this.

Read more

Seven stories leaders should tell

December 7, 2020

Now settle in, Best Beloved, it’s time for a story. But what kind of story?  When we talk about business stories, we’re really talking about illustrating our core message with a tale that puts it in context.  We’re making points and making connections, and we’re using stories to make them memorable, clear and emotionally effective.

Read more

KISS: Keep It Simple, Squad

November 9, 2020

Let’s be clear: no really, let’s. Clarity in both written and spoken communications is key to getting the results you want. And yet persistently we see superfluous and extraneous verbiage that is impedimental to both comprehension and ratiocination. Or rather, words are confusing and it sucks.

Read more

It's a conspiracy!

October 3, 2020

This election cycle we’ve seen conspiracy theories come to new prominence. The upswell in conspiracy thinking is having a tangible influence over political discourse, and it's tiring. Even the lizard people are over it.

Read more

Should you use memes in presentations? Take the test.

September 14, 2020

What is a meme? We’re glad you asked. It’s a unit of social currency, a piece of concentrated information that spreads around a group. It’s an in-joke, like what we all know about Ian since the conference last year.

Read more

Working with the Uncertainty

August 17, 2020

Sometimes it feels like the only thing we can control is the remote, and we’re all out of Netflix. Life seems paused, but at the same time world events are rushing forward at a terrifying pace. The best way to cope with chaos is to identify what we can actually effectively do, then do the things.

Read more

Evader to Inspirer - Part II

July 25, 2020

27/07/20. We’ve been breaking down our Evasion to Inspiration model for you. If you’re just joining us, our model identifies ten archetypes of organisational communicator (presenter or public speaker), grading them on a continuum from in the shadows (not reaching their potential in terms of communicating clear and effective messages) to in the spotlight (achieving persuasive, authentic and impactful communication).

Read more

The Bold And The Beautiful: Modelling Courage

June 29, 2020

29/06/20. There’s a famous quote attributed to Mark Twain: “There are two types of speakers: those who get nervous, and those who are liars.” The Venn diagram of people who speak in public and people who are nervous about their public speaking is a circle. But what if we had another Venn diagram for you – one that showed how to draw on your courage when it comes to public speaking? Because – wait for it - we do have one.

Read more

Our virtual communication skills webinars

May 19, 2020

Check out our three free webinars: virtual presenting tips, virtual meetings tips, and leadership post-lockdown. At The Pickering Group, we’ve always been champions of spoken business communication that leads with clarity, confidence and compassion. We’ve all seen the importance of these qualities over the past few months: effective communication has been crucial for both our physical and emotional wellbeing.

Read more

Ok Zoomers...the fatigue is real

April 30, 2020

1/5/20. You’ve finished a long work week of video meetings and you’re looking forward to some hard-earned video work drinks. You’re gearing up for a weekend of video calls with family and you’ll fit a video quiz night in there. Maybe you even make a little on the side with other on-camera activities. That’s fine, no judgment, you do you. But if you’re like everyone else (at least, everyone in the third of all humanity currently on lockdown) you’ll be experiencing a brand-new phenomenon known as Zoom Fatigue.

Read more

Tips For Giving Great Remote Presentations

March 31, 2020

31/03/20. One of the most disconcerting things about working in a virtual environment is having so many things out of our control. Tech can let us down, someone might forget to dial in, our pyjama pants might fall down at a crucial moment. Just kidding, all the snacking means those pants are going nowhere. But how can we feel more in control?

Read more

Plandemic: Tips to handle your COVID-19 response

March 16, 2020

16/03/20. It’s a famous old curse: May you live in interesting times. Well, here we are. You’re likely to have some difficult conversations with your team at some point, whether it’s about the current pandemic or future interesting times. We’ve put together a guide to help you prep for those conversations.

Read more

Is Public Speaking Anxiety A Form Of Selfishness?

February 12, 2020

21/02/20. Take a look at this video. It comes not from the world of presentation training, but from Westeros. Actor Jonathan Pryce (The High Sparrow in Game of Thrones) somewhat bluntly describes stage fright as selfishness. Ouch. That’s so cold it actually feels like winter is coming. Jonathan suggests your focus should be on the audience and what they’re getting out of the encounter, not yourself and how you’re performing, and we think he’s onto something.

Read more

Gif of the woman leaving the meeting - with the text How you leave when the office meeting could have been an email

Dreading Your Work Meetings? Read on...

January 29, 2020

28/01/20. Chances are your day will include a meeting. Our condolences. If it’s like most meetings it will drag you away from something else you were in the middle of. It’ll be held up by that one colleague who just has to make a coffee first, keeping everyone in awkward silence while the milk froths. The PowerPoint will develop an interesting issue that the IT guy has never seen before, leaving the projection screen ruthlessly frozen on your holiday selfie wallpaper. Nice togs btw.

Read more

Bad Xmas Jokes

January 29, 2020

16/12/19. Sleigh-bells ring, are you listening? It’s Santa, or at least someone cosplaying as Santa charging for selfies in a mall. The silly season is upon us! Formerly sane colleagues suddenly want to chat about Elf on the Shelf. There was talk of a company float in the Christmas parade, but no one owns a ute. There’s an increasingly angsty office-wide debate about the eco-friendliness of tinsel. Are you getting anything done at work these days, apart from bravely not commenting on the receptionist’s antler headband?

Read more

Supersize Your Business Storytelling Skills

January 29, 2020

19/11/19 Q: What did the Arts student say to the Engineering student? A: Would you like fries with that? And there it is, a joke loaded with all the linguistic originality you’d expect from someone who scorns the arts.

Read more

The Philosophy of Persuasion

October 1, 2019

Excellence is not an act, but a habit. If that sounds like the kind of glib phrase you’d read on the back of a 90s self-help book – firstly, you’re right, but secondly, it’s much older than that.

Read more

How to Practice for Business Presentations & Public Speaking

August 5, 2019

You’ll hear it often: the key to successful business presenting is preparation. A huge part of that preparation is effectively practicing your presentation. The important word there is ‘effectively’…

Read more

Why Business Storytelling Is Crucial

August 5, 2019

In what has become the most watched TED talk of all time, Ken Robinson tells the story of a Gillian, a little girl who couldn’t sit still at school.

Read more

Keep up to date with the latest tips and resources by joining our mailing list.

Step into the Spotlight

Russell's new book is available now
Find out more.