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Do people really want to hear this?

‘Do people really want to hear these ordinary stories?’


This is one of the most common questions I get asked and the answer is a resounding ‘YES’.


Then comes the challenge of remembering any.


Think back to your younger years. What are some of your stories that show an aptitude for or interest in what you do now? Or for the opposite, showing how you’ve had to develop the necessary skills and are well-placed to show others how to do the same?


What about the stories that show your sense of humour, a bit of vulnerability, that show your values and the person you really are?


I know it can feel uncomfortable or embarrassing, but honestly people love them. Your stories warm people to you.



Need help to rediscover some of your stories? Let's arrange a chat.

Rachel Maunder is a communication skills and speaker coach and professional speaker.

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Anticipating the unexpected

Imagine this. You’ve practised your piece and got it near time perfect, and then someone interrupts you with a comment about you or your content.


They might think they’re being funny or even supportive but really they’re not.


Known as heckling, these unwanted interruptions from someone in the audience can be one of the biggest challenges when you’re presenting.


My advice is to anticipate a heckle. You might have a good idea of who’s likely to make it, so be prepared for them.


Having a few responses up your sleeve that allow you to ride the heckle and stay in control of your stage will help hugely. Here are a couple of suggestions:

  • ‘Thank you! I thought someone would have something to say on that and there you are!’
  • ‘Audience interaction already! I must be hitting the spot.’


Keep it light-hearted. Your audience will love it and your heckler saves face.

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Imagine the moment

My interest was fading fast. I was at a prestigious business event, focusing on successful women and their journey to that success. The speakers were all – you guessed it – successful women.


They were not, however, successful at engaging their audience. It seemed that their brief had been to share their stories of how they came to where they are now and they did just that.


They started at the beginning, telling us what they studied at school, at college/university followed by what happened next, and then…, and then….


Please don’t ever do that!


Find a time in your story when the outcome was uncertain. Maybe waiting for the outcome of an interview, a moment of indecision, of when a different action could have changed the whole course of your life.


Take your audience to that moment of tension and then go back from there. Let them imagine the moment.


I can help you craft those stories. To find out how I work,...

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Present in the moment

What’s your preferred style for giving a presentation?


Do you prepare and practice or do you wing it? Or maybe you’re somewhere in between.


While I’m a great advocate of being practised and prepared, of knowing what you want to say and how you want to say it, there’s also a case for veering a little towards winging it.


The trick is be so well practised and prepared that instead of concentrating on your planned presentation it flows so well that you can really be in the moment too.


You can adapt or add to what’s going on that day in the wider world, make reference to something that’s come up at the event and most importantly you can read and react to your audience.


If you’re too busy recalling content, you won’t manage any of those and your audience won’t feel so engaged.


Aim to deliver in the moment.




Need help with preparing your presentation? Let's have a chat.


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Nurturing your audience

‘I loved how you told that story. I felt like a child at nursery school being read to, feeling all warm and cosy. It was wonderful!’


That’s what stories do. They make the listener feel warm and cosy and much more drawn to you than when you just share information. Stories transport listeners to a much more comfortable place.


To emphasise the point, this was feedback a client had after adding a story to a business presentation at her networking group. They already knew what she did and had heard her speak about it before – but this time it was different. She had added a personal story. Nothing earth shattering – but a personal story about how she helped a client.


You too can achieve that difference in response from your audience – and if you need any help with finding or crafting those stories then please get in touch.

Rachel Maunder is a communication skills and speaker coach...

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Persepolis, Perspolis, Persepolis

My history teacher at school used to repeat key words 3 times and Persepolis is one that stuck – from all those years ago!! So repetition clearly works.


It’s a really effective way of reinforcing your key points and also of making your content hang together.


Repeating key points gives them gravitas and additional meaning. You can either repeat a word or phrase 3 times one after the other, as with ‘Persepolis, or seed them at key points throughout the presentation, perhaps after another piece of supportive information.


It also works well to repeat a less key phrase for continuity. For example, ‘I’d like to see (this change); I’d like to see (that change); I’d like to see (the other change). That kind of repetition adds to your credibility as a speaker.


So how can you use repetition?


(And if you know anything about Persepolis do let me know!!)



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A bit of history

How often do you think about your family history and whether it’s similar or different from your life now?


I hardly ever do so I thought I’d share a bit of it here. You can decide for yourself whether you find it interesting and whether sharing some of yours might also be a valuable thing to do.


Both my parents were born to working class country people, my Mum one of 11 children and my Dad an only child. Money was scarce on both sides and most of their fruit and veg was home grown by my respective Grandads.


One Grandad was forester, and the other a taxi driver, driving a horse and trap instead of a car.


My parents met making Spitfires during the war. My Mum could never understand why that was interesting.


What parts of your family history would let your audience know more about you?


To find out how I can help with pulling out some of that history, get in touch and let’s have a chat.


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Making every word count

Hands up if you enjoyed doing precis at school....


At the time I hated it but I’ve more recently realised how useful it is to me now, in honing my message.


Over the summer I dusted off some pieces I’d written but never used. I wanted to shorten them and there’s nothing like an exercise like that for gaining real clarity about your message.


The first edit was around what’s relevant or not to the key point. Then it was about how to say the same thing in a more succinct way.


I apply the same principle to these weekly tips. In case you haven’t noticed, they’re never more than 150 words.


It’s something I help my clients do when it comes to gaining clarity of message in their talks and presentations too. So often less is more.


Let me know if you’d like my help with this. Get in touch to arrange a chat.


Rachel Maunder is a communication skills and...

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What were we talking about?

 How often do you find yourself talking to someone and you’re both fully engaged in the conversation, but suddenly someone says ‘what were we talking about?’


What probably happened is that one of you interrupted the flow of conversation – and concentration - by introducing another topic or story and you’ve forgotten what the original topic was.


This can happen in your business talks too. I call it ‘taking your audience down a rabbit hole’ and it’s to be avoided.


It happens when you include a part of your story that’s not relevant to your key message. However fascinating a part it is, if it’s not relevant then it confuses your audience and leaves them wondering what you’re talking about.


So when you’re deciding which bits of your story to include, keep asking yourself ‘is it relevant to my key message this time?’ If it’s not, leave it for another time.



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A favourite place

Do you have a favourite place? Perhaps more than one?


And what on earth does that have to do with promoting your business?


By sharing your insights on some of your favourite places and why tells your audience something about you. Do you like the bustle of a city, or a secluded island beach, or is somewhere from your childhood dear to your heart?


It doesn’t even need to be a specific location but might be some thing like the bow of a ship in a storm, the quiet and cool of a place of worship or the buzz of a busy market.


Just giving your reflections on anywhere does the job and of course at a later date you can write or speak about somewhere else. What does need to be genuine are those reflections because they’re the window to you, the person behind the business persona.


‘Your favourite place’ is just one of over 100 prompts you’ll find in my Story Prompt Cards and Story Journal.

To get the other 99 check the cards and...

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