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A story within a story

A technique that can take your storytelling to another level is using one story to set up another. In other words, to tell a story within a story.

I recently heard speaker John Stapleton, co-founder of The Covent Garden Soup Company do this with great effect.

He began by telling an evocative and emotional story from when he was 6 years old when he learned that when things go wrong it’s not the end, you just start again. By the end of this story, he’d engaged his audience fully.

He then went on to outline the history of his company and how he had to apply what he’d learnt from the earlier story more than once, before taking us back to his childhood to make the link and to bring his presentation full circle.

What lessons have you learned from a specific previous event that you continue to apply in your business?

How can you bring those stories into your presentations?


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Mind your language

Have you noticed how different groups and organisations have their in-phrases that everybody uses, that don’t mean much at all to others outside the group?


During my time as Cabin Crew, one of our in-questions was ‘Are you going or have you been?’ meaning, are you about to go out on a trip of have you just arrived home.


When stopped for speeding on the airport perimeter road by a policeman and asked where I was going, my default reply was ‘I’m not going anywhere. I’ve just been.’


‘Now we must be going somewhere, mustn’t we?’ he said, in that semi-amused semi condescending way police officers often have.


He clearly didn’t know Air Crew speak.


Back on sensible street, the conversation continued and I was allowed on my way with a warning.


It’s the same when you’re addressing an audience. Make sure that your phrases and language match theirs. If they’re not in...

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Owning your expertise

Presenting with confidence isn’t just about being a confident presenter. It’s also about owning your own expertise.


I recently had a meeting with someone who was looking for a new trainer on a specific area of my expertise and I was keen to impress.


I started by thinking about how they might find me lacking. Frantically trying to do last-minute research on the topic, I stopped and took a breath.


I stopped to remind myself that I knew this stuff. I’d been doing it for years and training in it for almost as long. That was all I needed to get across.


It’s the same for you. When you relax and remind yourself that you know your stuff, some of your anxiety about presenting will go away, leaving you to focus on sharing that expertise.


Plan, prepare, practise – and relax.




Why not a book a call with me now to see how I can help?


Rachel Maunder is a communication...

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Creating connections

Within less than a minute of small talk with a prospective client, I learned that she’s game for an adventure such as kayaking, is married to someone she enjoys spending time with and has children.


I learnt that because she told me how she’d spent her weekend.


As it happens, I’m also someone who’s game for things like kayaking so we’re already resonating with each other at a different level. We created a meaningful connection.


And that’s what sharing information about yourself can do.


Even if you shy away from sharing stories as such, just letting your audience take a peek into your world tells them something about you, about the things you like to do and about your lifestyle and that’s what can create connection.


People like to work with people they relate to and can have that connection with – so how can you take more of yourself to your business?




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Eyes or ears?

Imagine a situation where what you can see doesn’t quite match what you’re hearing.
It might be one of those film clips where the original soundtrack is replaced by something else, designed to make you laugh. Imagine some footage of a formal occasion where the voices and music indicate a completely different scenario.


When our eyes and ears are bringing us conflicting messages it can become confusing.


Picture someone saying how passionate they are about their topic while slouching and their head hanging down.


Picture the opposite, where someone is bouncing around seemingly full of energy at the same time as saying that they’re the shy retiring type.


Do you believe your eyes or your ears?


It’s the same when you’re giving a talk or presentation. However underconfident you’re feeling, act as if you are feeling confident and your audience will believe their eyes.


Do you need help with becoming more confident in...

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Good morning Vietnam


Do you remember the movie Good Morning Vietnam, where the character played by Robin Williams started his daily radio show with that greeting?

How do you usually address your audience in your talks and presentations?

If you want to make sure you’re being seen to include all of your audience, using ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ is no longer fit for purpose. What about someone who chooses to identify as something other than male or female?

A simple way around that is to greet the location, the event itself, or the name of the organisation you are addressing. ‘Good morning London;’ ‘’Good morning (name of organisation);’ or even ‘Good morning everybody.’

Even if you’re confident that everyone in your audience identifies as male or female, there may well be some who takes notice of how current you are in the way you address your audience.

So just remember Robin Williams.


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Have you hung your washing out?

As I was hanging washing out recently for the first time this year, I reflected on the joy I get from recognising those small seasonal milestones.

Whether it’s cosying up with the heating on for the first time in the autumn, to the first time I see a daffodil flowering I love the signs of change.

What about you? What are your first and last milestones?

What about other firsts and lasts? That you tried a new skill, that you achieved something you’d found challenging or the first time you visited a new place?

Sharing your firsts and lasts is yet another way of letting your audience into your world and when they can identify with those experiences, however insignificant – like hanging out washing – it helps them to connect with you.

So what are your firsts and lasts? Start making a list so that you’re never stuck for an idea.

For more ideas on stories, download my free pdf 7 Simple Story Prompts 


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Enthusiasm comes with a health warning

Working on adding passion and enthusiasm to his presentations, I asked a client who finds it challenging to vary his speaking voice to tell me about something from his recent holiday that he’d really enjoyed.

The difference was amazing!

His face lit up, his demeanour changed and his voice become so much more interesting to listen to.

Enthusiasm is contagious. When you convey your own enthusiasm for your content your audience will be so much more engaged, not only with your content but ultimately with your call to action too.

Whether you’re telling your story or doing a sales pitch, show enthusiasm.

How to do that? Here are a few tips:

  • Emphasise the descriptive words;
  • Describe what was going on for all 5 senses;
  • Relate your content to your audience with genuine interest;
  • Make full use of pitch, tone and volume in your voice;
  • Use pauses for great effect;
  • And of course SMILE!


Need help with presenting and public speaking? Let’s have a chat.


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Read like you’ve never read before

‘You’ve taught me how to read properly.’

Honoured to be asked to read a popular bible reading at my niece’s wedding, I wanted to make it a bit different. I wanted to read it so that people would really listen as they’d possibly never listened before and for 1 person at least as this feedback shows, I achieved that.

How had I done that?

I had to read it as if I’d never read it before – but as with all good presentations, that required practise.

I experimented with which words and phrases to emphasise; I practised looking out at the congregation; I practised so that I could read it without my emotions tripping me up.

It’s the same with your own presentations. You need to practise so much that it sounds as though you just made it up.


Need help with that? Get in touch to arrange a call.


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


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How fast?

How fast should you speak when you only have a short time to deliver your message?

Generally speaking, speeding up in order to cram more content into your allocated time isn’t the answer. You’ll leave your audience exhausted and confused.

But sometimes adding a bit more pace is absolutely the right thing to do.

Pace is a great indicator of the mood you want to convey so if you have something exciting to say then speed up a bit.

When you have something more serious then slowing your pace helps drive that message home. Even separating out your words gives time for your audience to process what you’re saying.

Either way, keep your sentences fairly short. Too long a sentence delivered at speed becomes way too hard to process. Too long a sentence delivered with gravitas loses impact.

In summary, use pace to add quality, not quantity.


Need help with taking your speaking to the next level? Book a call with me to see how I can help.



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