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Breathe and Break Free

Breathe and Break Free

The fear of public speaking can keep people locked in their personal cage of torment for years. I know this because I am one of those people who feared the process of standing up in front of an audience of even a few people.

Notice that I used the term “feared”, in the past tense, because I’ve learned to control my fear of public speaking.  That’s not to say that I don’t feel that stomach churning, dry mouth, sweaty palms and breathlessness; I do still feel all of those things every time I’m called upon to get up on stage!

Learning to control these feelings is all about knowing what causes them and practicing your presentation skills.

Smile, Breathe, Relax

Our autonomic response to facing an audience is for our body to release our natural “fight, flight, pain relief” hormone and neurotransmitter known as Adrenaline.

Adrenaline gives us the extra power we need in our muscles for that fight or flight mode. The problem is when we’re stood there on stage with all that extra adrenaline it causes our muscles to shake. The adrenaline is looking for somewhere to go, to get used, to lash out.

The good thing here is that the body is a very complex thing, and not only do we react to autonomic functions, we can change our state with some conscious actions. When we’re in our “fear state” we release adrenaline, our breathing gets naturally shallow, hence the breathless feeling, our heart pounds and our body is all set for something bad to happen.

STOP! Take a very deep breathe, one that puffs out your belly, and then make a big smile. Exhale slowly and force your shoulders to relax.

This simple technique can help you to overcome the effects of the fear we all feel when we’re called onto stage.

In addition to these simple physical techniques, some people will run up stairs or do some physical exercise just before going on stage. One famous speaker I have heard of, reportedly uses a trampoline before going on stage to audiences of thousands of people.

What this has done for me

I joined Toastmasters at Brighton and Hove Speakers Club in February 2011 because I wanted to make presentations to groups of local business people and I found that I really had no idea of how to create and deliver an acceptable presentation or talk.

The process that I have followed through the Competent Communicator and Competent Leadership program has helped me to understand the process of creating a good speech and then delivering it to an audience so that the audience is happy to listen to it and would be happy to have me back to give more talks.

Whenever I am being introduced, before I get up I’ll go through my deep breathing exercise and be ready to give a big smile when I get in front of the audience.

Since joining Toastmasters just over 4 years ago, I have delivered about 50 speeches, workshops and seminars to speakers clubs and public audiences. I use the techniques detailed in the Competent Communicator manual to develop and deliver my speeches. Some of these are:

  • Vocal variety
  • Eye contact
  • Speech structure and organisation
  • Body language
  • Storytelling
  • Persuasiveness

All of these techniques (and more) are part of the Toastmasters process that we learn as we deliver our speeches from the basic “ice breaker” to the most advanced speeches.

As we deliver our speeches to our “safe club audience” we have an Evaluator who will watch and listen carefully to our speech and help us by giving us an honest appraisal of the speech we have delivered. Each prepared speech in the Competent Communicator manual has a set of criteria to adhere to, and this is what the evaluation is based upon. Each speech builds on the skills learned in the previous speech and helps us build our confidence.

Why Your Digital & Social Media Marketing Sucks

Why Your Digital & Social Media Marketing Sucks

Many people assume that being on Social Media is the panacea for their online marketing. Simply being on Social Media will not gain you any new business unless you know how to attract the types of people, most likely to want what you have for sale.

I’ve seen small businesses spend hours, days, weeks, months, and years just trying to improve their stats on Google Analytics only to find that a few more visits to their website does not get them any more business at all.

The sad fact is that most people in small business marketing don’t really understand what it takes to attract their ideal customers and less still, how to encourage them to buy anything. (more…)

How To Make The Most Of Your Social Media

How To Make The Most Of Your Social Media

Creating an SEO Strategy is probably the last thing that most small business owners think about when they want to get found in the search results on Google. I’ve had many conversations with small business owners and those responsible for marketing their small business and not one of them had thought about creating a strategic approach to their overall Search Engine Optimisation and Online Marketing. (more…)

How Does Facebook and SEO Work

How Does Facebook and SEO Work

When Google first started out indexing the web they’d make a simple list of all the pages and content and index that against keywords and other things that mattered to them and what they thought their users would benefit from. But how does Facebook work with SEO these days?

The World of search has moved a significant way since the advent of Social Media and the proliferation of “Black Hat” techniques that trey to fool the search engine algorithms into thinking their content is the most relevant and shouldn’t be placed at the topic of the search results.

Social Media

How does the introduction of Social Media platforms and in particular Facebook affect the way you are to be found in search engines? It’s still possible to rank facebook posts in search engines but you need to be aware that it’s most likely not the best way to try to promote yourself or your business in terms of making it into the top end of the search results.

If you’re a regular Social Media user and post on Facebook or even consume all those Facebook Posts from your “friends”, you will know that although the posts, photos, and videos are stored for ever on the Facebook servers, your view of that content is very transitory in that once it’s passed by in your time line you’ll probably never see it again.

It’s certainly true that content is being indexed by Facebook, Google and the other search engines so it’s inevitable that posts, images, and videos will show up in search results. The point is that you want your content to show up at the top of the google search results for the best and most relevant search terms that relate to your business, your products and services.

How Do I Get To The Top Of Google?

It is a simple fact that, in the big search engines, the results that are shown at the top of the results for a search term are the most likely to be clicked on. The trick to having your content show up within the first 3 or 5 results on the page is to be the most relevant, comprehensive, and well written piece of content for that search request. Once you factor in that thought, you’ll quickly see that it’s pretty hard to fulfil those three criteria in a Facebook Post, even if you include and image or video.

Posting on Facebook can improve your popularity (on Facebook) and lead to a wider following if you get it right and offer value to your intended audience with every post you make. Taking the approach that offers real value in return for someone following you is certainly the way to elevate your online presence to the level of “Niche Expert” or “The Go To Person” for your type of expertise. But what does this all lead to?

Increasing the number of followers and the quality of those followers on Facebook where your audience hang oin every word you say allows you to “direct” your audience to other content on your own website and thus improve the search optimisation of that website simply by virtue of the fact that you have a significant amount of “Link Traffic” coming to your web pages as an dwhen you want it to.

An Ideal Scenario for SEO

Imagine a scenrio where you write an opinion piece blog post on your own website. You have spent time researching facts about your subject for the blog. You have taken time to craft a really relevant, emotive and keyworded tittle for your blog.

You’ve taken the time to sculpt into the main body of content suggestions that you, your business, service, or product has the solution to the problem your blog is delving into.

You publish that blog post and direct your facebook following to click the link to find a solution to the problem.

Your blog post gets a boost in traffic over the next 24 hours and continues to gain traffic for the search term you’ve targeted. You continue to post links to that blog over the next few days, weeks and months in order to reach out to those on Social Media who missed the original post because of time differences or simply due to the mass of other social content they’re bomdarded with.

Good For Google

Content that is good for googleThis scenario is one which Google will reward due to the popularity of your post and the traction it gains from Social Media, add to that the fact that you have crafted the blog post so we’ll that you’ve really focused on the keywords and phrases that real people are using to search for the solution to the problem you are writing about.

You’ve broken up the content with headings and sub-headings (H2 and H3), and added images and even video from your youtube channel. You have even gone as far as adding in links to external content that further clarifies the problem and helps with the solution. These are all the parts of Search Engine Optimisation that Google will reward with height rankings in the results.

Overall SEO Strategy For Social Media

Working your keywords into your social media posts can help you gain more visibility but it’s not really the complete answer to your overall need to be found on the big search engines. That more complete answer is to know what your basic keywords are and to develope a set of “long tail” key phrases that “ask a question” like “how does keyword research work for SEO?”. Notice that the example here is not necessarily a search phrase that lots of people will start with and that’s just fine as it’s the meaning of the search term matched with the meaning of the content in the Google database that actually matters.


When you have those phrases worked out and can create an exceptional piece of content. That content. will add value for the reader in terms of actually answering their burning questions. You can then go about advertising that content on Social Media like Facebook using the basic keywords and #hashtags to drive the search traffic from within the social platforms. Here are some basic steps to take to get you going on the path to get Facebook and SEO Working for your business.

  1. Basic brainstorm of some keywords related to your business, services, and products.
  2. Expand each set of base keywords into related and extensive “key phrase questions”
  3. set up a list of blog posts that you could write, where each blog post will have a “key phrase question” as the title
  4. write your blog posts following the basic blog structure guide on this website
  5. Refine each Blog Title using the Headline Analyser over at
  6. Assemble a set of images that help illustrate your point and use them in your blog post
  7. Create a set of related hash tags that you can use on social media that will attract searched. Especially important if you use Pinterest and Instagram
  8. Set up a social media post schedule for Facebook and Twitter to make sure that you post a link to your new blog
    • on the day you publish
    • one day after publication
    • 2 days after publication
    • one week after publication
    • two weeks after publication
    • three weeks after publication
    • one month after publication
    • two months after publication
    • three months after publication
  9. repeat this process each week.


There are no shortcuts to good search engine optimisation especially where social media and Facebook are concerned. We all need to put the work in and create the best content we are able to put out there. Using black hat or grey hat shady techniques to try to speed up your journey to the top of the search engines simple will not work with any certainty and will do you no favours at all over the longer term. Some of the dubious techniques will actually cost you a place on page 1 of the search results thus pushing your business website and social media accounts into oblivion.

Time for Social media

Set aside a couple of hours a week to write some content.  Do some social media scheduling and you will improve your position. If you’re not in a position to write your own content, then there are services out there that will write for you. These services can be a little expensive as a well written blog of 1000 words or so could cost you a few hundred pounds.

Maybe you are better at describing your point of view rather than writing it? Record your words on a smart phone and send it for transcribing using a service like

Whichever way you approach Social Media and SEO, just get started and improve along the way. You will get better with practice but you need to start!

How to succeed in Keyword Research 2018

How to succeed in Keyword Research 2018

Keyword Research for 2018 and how to be successful

For years Google have provided systems that will allow you and me to find out what people are searching for when they look for our products and services; it’s called keyword research and Google have provided the “Keyword research Tool” and more recently moved that tool into the AdWords system and renamed it the “Keyword Planner”. These tools have always been related to the Google Adwords system even before it got moved into the adwords interface Google showed keyword competition that related to the number of people advertising for that keyword set.

Throughout 2016 and 2017 I’ve been letting people know that Google don’t really care about YOUR KEYWORDS at all and that they really only care about the meaning of your content and the direct relevance to the end users Google Search Terms. In fact it goes further than that and try’s to work out what the end user (their customer) is really trying to find. (more…)

Can Email Marketing Work For Your Business?

Can Email Marketing Work For Your Business?

If you’re in business then you’ve most likely tried email marketing or been the recipient of a mass of email marketing campaigns. Many of us see the advent of email marketing as a replacement for all the old style junk mail we used to get throwing hand the post and most of us simply delete or set up a rule in our email system to trap this “SPAM” before it even reaches our inbox let alone read it.

If this is the case then you may be wondering why email marketing still happens and even more wondering why it’s so effective! (more…)

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