Public Speaking: A Case for the Outside-in approach

25 July 2022

    Public Speaking

    Inside out or Outside in?

    We certainly don’t believe in actively focusing on your voice or physicality when you communicate.

    It’s far too self-involved.

    When you communicate, it should all be about the other person or people.

    It should not be about what your hands are doing, whether you walk about or how much eye contact you give them.

    If you’re focusing on these things, there can’t be much time or space for you to truly be connecting.

    “Public speaking is generosity serving connection.”

    Brene Brown

    An obsessive focus on yourself is far from generous.

    So, this would suggest a vote in favour of “inside out”- something we discuss at length in our post “Our Revolution in Presentation Coaching.” We don’t coach clients to focus on the externals when they speak in public. We invite them to go deeper to work out their reason to speak, and how they want to affect their audience. Inside out.


    When clients get the wrong end of the stick:

    “BUT: Albert Mehrabian’s research on communication breaks it down as the following, Chris:”

    Words 7%

    Voice 38%

    Body Language 55%

    “If that doesn’t tell you that the “externals” are important, nothing will!”

    “It’s all about what I look like and how I sound.”

    This all sounds very shallow.

    It’s research like this that causes our clients to ask us all manner of “outside in” questions:

    “How shall I stand?”

    “Shall I grip the lectern or roam about? I’m quite dynamic. I like to work the room. Is that positive?”

    Do what you want, honestly. We really don’t care. Neither will they. I promise you.


    Ok. Let’s debunk a myth.

    Mehrabian’s research showed that communication only breaks down into these 3 strands when someone is not “congruent.”

    By that, I mean, when WHAT someone is saying is not backed up by HOW they say it. If your voice and body do not support the words that you say, then maybe people won’t believe or trust you. As they say, the body is the biggest lie detector that there is.

    “So, voice and body ARE really important! They’re externals. Let’s work on those.”

    Yes, but the externals are the results. We need to get the right conditions for these results.

    You can be sure that all those external qualities that you pick up on in a great public speaker are not achieved by exerting any energy thinking about or “doing” them.

    If you’re “doing” voice or body language, you will not be congruent. You only have to look at certain politicians who have clearly had public speaking coaching that focuses on these externals to learn that. Adopting powerful stances or attempting to drop the register of the voice. It doesn’t work. People pick up on it. It’s fake and inauthentic.

    “So, what then? Voice and body are really important but we daren’t not think of them?”

    Kind of, yes.

    If you’re relaxed, truly connect with your message and your reason for sharing it with your audience, you’ll be congruent. As my partner, Jonny, says, “your voice and body just come along for the ride.”

    Again, another vote in favour of inside out.


    BUT “Outside in” vocal/physical prep can be a huge help:

    In order to get into the best possible state for being entirely “congruent” and audience focused, there are some fantastic “outside in” approaches. I’m a huge advocate of using physiology to change the way that you feel, without having to exhaust your brain. Your body does it for you.

    Sometimes, however much you tell yourself that everything will be ok, that you’ve done the prep and the audience are just people, it won’t cut it.

    Your body says, “Who are you kidding? You’re a nervous wreck!”

    The way that we encourage clients to prepare vocally and physically is 100% outside in. Get our “Vocal Conditioning Course” for a fantastic guide on how to prepare for any public speaking engagement. It’s all technique. There’s no inside out here.

    Amy Cuddy speaks about “faking it until you become it,” with her power poses. Sure, initially, you are very consciously adopting open and relaxed physicality, and consciously controlling your breathing.

    However, the result is you become these things- no longer faking it because you’ve changed your bio-chemical make-up.

    Once you’ve done this “outside in” prep, you trust it, and forget it.

    So in answer to the question, “outside in or inside out?”

    A bit of both!

    Confused? Don’t be. Stop thinking now and try the following out.

    Here are 5 simple “Outside in” Prep tips to affect before your next public speaking engagement. I will be shocked if they make no difference to how you feel.


    5 Easy Tips

    • Open up and Expand
    • Breathe Deeper
    • Slow Down
    • Be deliberate and move on purpose
    • Smile and allow it to affect your whole body

    Now, just go and have a conversation.

    Client Reviews



    The Speakers’ Gym is like the iPhone. You don’t realise you need it until you have it, and then you can’t live without it.

    Magda Gonzalez, Group CFO, Monex Europe



    It was completely practical and the open-forum feedback was so valuable. You created a safe environment for everyone to learn. Thank you!

    Nicola Koronka, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Missive



    I was recommended by a friend who works in the same sector to contact The Speakers’ Gym to help me with my presentation delivery skills and I have not been disappointed with the results. Chris and Jonny work with you to provide bespoke training for your goals and needs. They are highly professional and make you feel at ease from the first minute the first session begins. I would highly recommend them to those who have a role which involves public speaking!

    Julia Peake,Technical Development Manager, Sanlam



    It has challenged both my thinking and approach and I will be sure to keep The Speakers’ Gym ‘fireworks’ readily available on my desk to refer to when not only presenting but also when needed through everyday management.

    Liz Paradine – Chief Operations Manager - 7iM


    Transact first engaged with The Speaker Gym late in 2018 where Chris & Jonny made a concerted effort to get under the skin of our business and understand how they could best help us hone our presentational and empathetic skills. The resulting sessions were hugely helpful giving my team plenty of opportunity to practice and also benefit from a great deal of feedback, not just from Chris & Jonny but by including the rest of the Transact team in the feedback and group learning too. I would highly recommend The Speakers Gym

    Glen Sweet, Head of Sales, Transact

    Transact London


    Working with The Speakers’ Gym has been fantastic. We knew what we wanted to say and who we wanted to speak to, so all we needed was technique. Or so we thought. Chris and Jonny helped us to understand the key elements of communication, through a structured process. We now think about communication in a completely different way. There’s a line they gave us that now resonates in my head, every time I write or talk to someone about what we do. We feel we’ve met two great guys and they’ve become an important part of us, our story and how we tell it to others.

    Thomas Skinner, Founder, Barnaby Cecil Financial Planning

    Barnaby Cecil Financial Planning


    The impact of The Speakers’ Gym™ at Mako can only be described as transformational. Over a three month period, they helped transition a group of individuals into a highly collaborative and consultative leadership team. Chris and Jonny have a unique ability to connect individuals with their true purpose, driving them towards self-reflection and ultimately growth. Overall the entire experience of working with them has been a pleasure and I am deeply grateful for their impact. They more than surpassed my expectations and I look forward to working with them again in the future!

    Trystan Morgan-Schauer, CEO, Mako



    We engaged The Speakers’ Gym to provide us with clarity and direction in the look, feel and messaging of the Worldmaker brand in preparation for our official launch. From start to finish, the process has been truly collaborative. They worked with the expertise and experience in our team to create branding that truly represents who we are and what we represent, whilst moving us into a more modern, expressive space – which was our desire. We know that we’re in great hands with The Speakers’ Gym. We’ll certainly be continuing to work with them

    Mollie Marti, CEO, Worldmaker International

    Worldmaker International


    They first took the time to understand our brief and delivered the programme incorporating our culture and brand throughout. They were thought provoking and their unique techniques very well received.

    Mairi Cameron, Learning Manager, Nucleus Financial



    The Speakers’ Gym gave me the skills and confidence to be my normal self whilst speaking and facilitating. They took the anxiety out of public speaking and gave me practical tools to prepare for and manage public engagements. They also helped me to engage more meaningfully with my clients, for which I am thankful. Highly recommend them.

    Matthew Marais, Director, Vertus Capital

    Vertus Capital


    I found the sessions to be a revelation, and I wish I had known some of the techniques sooner. It has completely changed my mindset and focused me in on the needs of the audience. With that, the ability to achieve those aspirations has come more naturally. There is always room for improvement, and I will definitely be revisiting The Speakers’ Gym for a refresher from time to time.

    Kelly Devlin, Wealth Management Consultant - St. James’s Place Wealth Management

    St. James's Place Wealth Management
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