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Introvert or extrovert? We Can All Be Confident Public Speakers

Communication expert Shola Kaye shares how to make the most of speaking in front of an audience – big or small

By Florence Robson

26 May 2021

This article is one in a series covering The Stack’s Spring Business Summit. Take your business to the next level with the help and advice of our business experts.


here are few things more impressive than a great public speaker. From investor pitches to team meetings or Facebook Live, as an entrepreneur, the power to communicate confidently is a skill you need to develop. For some of us, it doesn’t come naturally but you don’t have to be a born extrovert to become a confident speaker.

“Whether you’re a quiet or loud person – it doesn’t matter – you can still be heard,” says communication expert Shola Kaye.

At The Stack’s Business Summit, Shola shared some of the key elements of her DIVA speaking system, which she developed to help women improve their public speaking skills. Here’s what we learnt from Shola and how you can use the DIVA formula to level up your next public speaking opportunity.

Kaye presented her 'keys to change' at The Stack's Business Summit this month over Zoom for members of The Stack World

D is for Dynamic

“This is about being powerful with your delivery,” explains Shola. “There are lots of ways to be dynamic. Move around the stage, use descriptive language, interact with your audience, show obvious passion and enthusiasm for your topic. There’s no right or wrong, choose what works for you.”

If you are presenting online, being dynamic is especially important as your audience can more easily get bored or distracted.

“If you can stand up in front of your screen, that will give a little more energy and movement to it,” Shola explains. When you’re seated you are a bit more rooted, but you can still gesture and lean in and out of the camera.”

You can also use the technology to change the energy and pace of your talk.

“Play with backgrounds, use screen shares and video clips. I like to use tools like polls, chat and ‘hand up’ to be more interactive,” adds Shola.

‘Whether you’re a quiet or loud person – it doesn’t matter – you can still be heard.’

I is for Inspiring

“If you want to inspire other people, you have to tell stories,” says Shola. But if you find yourself rambling or getting off point when you tell an anecdote or story, Shola recommends using the ‘now-then-how’ framework.

“First, tell your audience where you are now. Blow your trumpet.”

Have you authored a book? Are you running two businesses while raising a child?

“By starting with the now, the audience knows that what you’re about to share is relevant today,” she says.

Next, take it back to the past.

“Contrast your current success by sharing some of the struggles you faced previously.” What things have gone wrong? “Share your feelings – your anxiety, your fear – that’s what people will connect with. You come across as likeable, relatable and interesting.”

Finally, share your “how”. Shona explains: “How did you get past the difficult times? What steps have you taken to get where you are today?”

This is where you share your knowledge and insight so your audience learns something from you and your story.

Shola shares her 'DIVA' formula to help members of The Stack World level up their public speaking

V is for Valuable

This is about establishing your credibility and showing why you’re valuable to the people listening, but also that you value them and their time.

“Be on-point, punchy, organised and well-structured,” says Shola.

“The PEEEP [point, example, example, example, point] framework is an excellent way to get your ideas together. You make your point then you back it up with three examples or explanations, before closing by summarising your original point.”

“Signposting” is another important technique. It means stating explicitly what is coming up in your talk e.g. “I’m going to give you three reasons why…” It reassures the listener that your speech will be concise and organised.

A is for Authentic

“To be authentic you need to know your values and let them shine through,” says Shola.

Think about which three qualities you want to embody when you communicate – for example, informative, relatable, understanding, funny, honest, clever, happy, engaging and authoritative.

“This is how you start to gain confidence as a speaker because you know who you are and what you need to deliver every time you speak,” she adds.

Another way to build confidence is to use Shola’s 10x10 Flip It exercise. Write down 10 worries you have about public speaking – for example, “I’m rubbish talking on camera” or “I always get tongue tied”. Then next to each one flip that negative into a positive. So, “I’m rubbish talking on camera” becomes “I’m getting better each time I speak on camera” or “I always get tongue-tied” becomes “I am practising speaking more clearly”.

Now delete or cross out all the negatives “and keep re-reading the positive statements until they become part of you. This will help you feel stronger and more confident in your abilities.”

This article was taken from a live membership workshop. You can access the recording, and much more, on demand when you sign up to become a member.

The Short Stack

Great public speakers are four things: dynamic, inspirational, valuable and authentic.

By Florence Robson

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