Famed acting and presentation coach, Billie Shepard, shares how to overcome anxiety when public speaking and present with confidence. Don’t miss Billie’s expert advice including simple techniques to project your voice and your confidence the next time you are a public speaker.

How To Overcome Anxiety When Public Speaking

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Famed acting and presentation coach, Billie Shepard, shares how to overcome anxiety when public speaking and present with confidence.  Don’t miss Billie’s expert advice including simple techniques to project your voice and your confidence the next time you are a public speaker.   

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  • The importance of “intention”
  • How mindset changes your presentation
  • Simple methods to find your voice 
  • The “Quick Breathing” technique
  • Effective exercises to improve your pronunciation and voice projection
  • Confidence-boosting techniques you should know 


Famed acting and presentation coach, Billie Shepard, shares how to overcome anxiety when public speaking and present with confidence.  Don’t miss Billie’s expert advice including simple techniques to project your voice and your confidence the next time you are a public speaker.


Billie is the founder of Billie Shepard and Associates and has been a presentation coach and a professional actor and acting coach for over 30 years. She facilitates workshops that train corporate executives, engineers, HR professionals, financial analysts, managers, and public speakers worldwide to be better presenters, leaders, collaborators, and communicators.

Famed acting and presentation coach, Billie Shepard, shares how to overcome anxiety when public speaking and present with confidence.  Don’t miss Billie’s expert advice including simple techniques to project your voice and your confidence the next time you are a public speaker.


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An actor doesn’t move, talk or act without being very, very clear of our intention. What is our intention? Our intention is our job. Intention removes all self doubt, all nerves. There’s just no room for it. We have a job to do welcome to the imperfectly empowered podcast with DIY healthy lifestyle blogger on a former empowering you to transform your life.
One imperfect day at a. Hello. And welcome back to another episode of the imperfectly empowered podcast. I am your host, Anna Fullmer. Today. I am so excited to introduce you to Billy Shepherd. Billy is a professional actor and coach for the last 40 years who is using her unique presentation method to empower business men and women to overcome anxiety when public speaking so that they can.
With confidence here to share her expertise and her story. Welcome renowned acting and presentation. Coach Billy Shepherd. It’s so nice to meet you. It is so nice to meet you as well. I’m so excited about this conversation. It is an honor to have you. Oh, well, thank you. It’s an honor to be here. You look marvelous.
Well, thank you really was excited when the agent reached out and presented what you do and your story and your expertise. I have to tell you this quick story. I have been on a stage for years, whether it be singing from. Early on or speaking in various capacities, I’ve always loved the performing arts and fast forward to the last couple years I’ve been starting a business.
It’s been work, work, work. So this school year, I determined that I was going to do something fun for myself and I decided it would be an acting class. So no time like the present, so I’ve never had any formal training in acting. So I thought my daughter is really into the performing arts. She just started last year.
She loves it. I thought it’s something that we could do together. So I’m literally taking the acting two class right after my nine year old and then me with my 36 year old self walks into this class with high schoolers. Anyway, I’m loving it. It’s a blast. It’s challenging me, but it made reading this book all the more meaningful, because I’m almost a reverse student, if you will.
I’m like, you’re what, you’re what, I’m a reverse student. I’m sort of the opposite of the people you serve. So well, I’m very comfortable speaking. I’ve been on a stage many times, but I don’t have any of the acting. So it’s sort of like what you’ve done in, in reverse. Now I’m like fast forwarding. Trying to figure out the acting piece, which is very different.
It’s very different. And, and yet I must tell you, you are going to bring a lot to the class. Mm. And they’ll learn a lot from you while you’re learning. Mmm, because you have that different view and that different experience and you will get expanded and you’re so open to that. What a courageous thing for you to do.
Oh, thank you. Thank you. Yeah. It’s it’s been, we’ll, we’ll talk about this, then we’ll dive into it, but I. It’s given me a great appreciation for what so many people do experience, which is this anxiety of public speaking in this sense of, I don’t belong in front of people or almost imposter syndrome. Like I, I can’t be on this stage visible in front of people and how that affects their ability to present with confidence.
And I’m experiencing it in a different way, cuz I’ve never truly. I, I enjoy public speaking. So it’s given me a really great appreciation for that sense of feeling uncomfortable. Mm. And I’ve, I’ve enjoyed that and challenging myself. So everyone listening and watching, we all struggle with the same things.
They just come at different times in life and in different areas. But I am so excited Billy, to dive into your story. Tell me though, I like to press rewind. Just a little bit, how you got into what you are doing, which is ultimately. Coaching men and women in the business world, in the corporate world to present with confidence, using your story and your expertise in acting.
Tell us a little bit how you got to this place. Oh, thanks. That’s a great question. Because so often I think so many of us look at our lives and say, how did I end up here? This is not what I was. What’s my name. Yeah. You know what, what’s my name and, and who am I? This wasn’t what I felt in the sixth grade or high school or college.
What happened was after being an actor for decades, I was married to a, a C O of a software company here in the bay area. Silicon valley. And, um, we got divorced and I had a kid that I had to get through school. Not that he didn’t help and everything, but I wanted to continue to live the way I was living with my daughter and keep her in this wonderful school and, and get her.
Through high school and college. And someone asked me to coach some corporate people using acting techniques. They said, you’re, you’re a director, you’re an actor. You coach acting, can you help? And I went in and it was the same thing. It was the same methods. It was the same people playing roles. Of leaders, whether it was a CEO or whether it was a president or a manager of managers.
And it’s the same historic techniques that Aristot Aristotle wrote about years ago, mm-hmm, not much has changed. You know, theater is theater. Communication is still communication. And I thought, you know, to be perfectly honest, This is a wonderful experience. I’m getting joy from helping these people. I’m able to share my knowledge.
With them and watch them blossom. And there’s more discretionary income in corporations. like big corporations like Uber and Facebook and these huge companies than coaching actors who have very little, often times discretionary income. And I thought I got a Canice support. So little by little, I actually, I know I’m talking so much, but I, no, please.
This is why you’re here. Thank you. I actually picked up a phone and started calling in the old days. You know, do you have anybody that needs help presenting? And then I called UCSC extension the university, and I, I said the same and I happened to pick up the head of the department. Of business there. And she said, can you come in tomorrow morning?
So that night I stayed up at the kitchen table, writing a curriculum , you know, to present to this woman. And they hired me. And then little by little by little, it’s a very word of mouth business. Hmm. And word of mouth spread. So that’s how I got into it. It’s I love these stories where you. There was a need that arose in your own life, but then you found a need using the gifts that you were given that you could creatively fill.
And it, I mean the best success stories, I feel like that’s often where it starts is they use their story to ultimately fill a gap in the marketplace that they’re seeing. And, and here you are, it’s such a beautiful, it’s a beautiful backstory. I’m curious in your experience. You’ve bridged these two worlds and you’re seeing that ultimately the needs are very similar between whether it be the theater or business, because let’s be honest, even in business, we’re all on a stage.
life is a stage. If you will. What do you see as the number one barrier that people face when presenting? Well. Or with public speaking, you mentioned in your book, I I’m seeing you, you paraphrased like academy award winner, Alan akin. I didn’t wanna say his name wrong. And you’ve resourced him several times, which I absolutely loved, but you ultimately conveyed what I was seeing as two of the essential concepts where this idea of intention and present moment awareness, and I might be wrong, but it seems like this is really where we all need to start.
Whether we’re trying to overcome anxiety when public speaking, or simply trying to improve our ability to present confidently clearly and well, talk to me about this concept of intention and how it’s transformational in public speaking or presenting anywhere. Well, you’re a bright penny and you happen to hone in on the juice, the, the secret.
Starting in order. I would say that the first thing is every speaker has nerves going on because it’s a physiological occurrence. It’s our amygdala, that part of our brain telling us that when we’re in front of a group, We’re facing a tribe of savages who want catch us and cook us for dinner, or we’re in front of a Mastodon that wants to trams.
It’s our Amidala that hasn’t caught up with technology and culture that people don’t normally catch people and cook them for dinner nowadays. But our entire system is informed by our nervous. Amygdala. So the first thing is that everyone has to get their body present first, and that means breathe. Mm.
Because our breathing stops. Because it’s fight or flight and we wanna hide. So we even stop breathing so that the big animal can’t hear us. The first thing we need to do is some sort of breathing exercise, which is what actors do. It sounds like a tuberculosis ward in our dress rooms because we’re gasping for as much air as we can.
Yeah. Everyone needs an inhaler. Everyone needs an to get present. In this moment, not a half a second ahead, not a half a second behind, but in this moment. And that’s where our power is. That’s the first thing physically, an actor doesn’t move, talk, or act without being very, very clear of our intention. Now, why is that?
Why do we need to know our intention? What is our intention? Our intention is our. and once we know our job, very specifically, there’s no room for fear because we have a job to do. I need to pick up this pin. Excuse me. I’m picking up this pin. There’s no fear. There’s no worry. There’s no, I’ve got clown hands.
I gain five pounds. I gotta pick up this pin or give me the 50 bucks you want me? No, I mean it, I mean, it give. 50 bucks you won’t, I’ve got a job, so I’m not afraid. So intention removes all self doubt, all nerves, all self consciousness. There’s just no room for it. We have a job to do now. Here’s what I learned from Alan Arkin.
and anyone listening in your audience look up Alan akin, and you will say, oh, I saw that movie. And, oh, he was in this okay. Of all the teachers I’ve had. And I’ve had many through my life and my career, cuz you’re always getting coached. Mm. Alan is the one that somehow turned that place in my heart and my creativity.
That allowed me no fear, no self doubt. And to practice this. And this is the key, your intention for those of you listening out there is your job, your goal, what is it you want the audience to do? What is you? What is it you need? You need to attach that intention to a strong feeling within yourself. No one needs to know your strong feeling.
As a matter of fact, actors learn not to tell our intentions and our story don’t share. We show it. Mm. So you don’t need to say, oh, I figured out my intention it’s to go get bananas today. You don’t need to tell anybody, just go get the bananas. All right. But it’s attaching it to a feeling that gets you resonated that gets you moving forward to get that task done.
That takes breathing. And getting in the present moment, cuz it takes guts. Mm-hmm it takes guts to play that intention. So let me, let me see if I can weed out an example of this. So if we’re talking about, you know, a middle management position, maybe she’s been given a PowerPoint to go present to whoever is supposed to be in the room, how would you help her specifically?
To use that concept of intention and then attaching it to a strong emotion, especially if it’s something that she couldn’t even really care less about. like, because that’s really acting right. Talk about acting when you’re in a business model that you’re like, I don’t really care about this product, but I am basically being paid to go convince these people.
So how do you help her practically. Use the, the concept of intention and then attach it to a strong emotion to help present with confidence. Well, that’s excellent. And it’s very typical and it happens a lot because, you know, in business they’ll be walking down a hall and their CEO will say here, can you deliver this information at the meeting?
You’ve got five minutes and they look at a bunch of data and couldn’t care less about. What I say is two choices. Either give that presentation to somebody who does care as if you don’t care, why should I care or which sometimes they have to deliver it. Find something in that presentation that you do care about.
Find a factoid, find a statistic, find a quote, find. Something that you say, Hey, yeah. You know what? That’s right. Or, Hey, yeah, we did do that. I remember that was a good day. And if you find one thing in that presentation, you’ll be much more solid and confident and here’s the keyword enthusi. To present, to work toward that bit of information, get to that information, be enthusiastic.
And then you grab the audience because enthusiasm is contagious. Mm-hmm so it’s either give it to somebody else. Or find one thing, at least in there that you feel strongly about that, and you can always find something and that you can read the dictionary and find one word that gives you an image or a feeling.
Yeah. And I love that concept. The idea of trying to connect yourself to something that you are presenting, cuz I do believe that in audience, whether it be a business audience or a stage audience will very quickly determine whether you’re for real or not. whether you actually feel some connection to what you’re saying, or you are just presenting for the sake of presenting.
So I love that idea of authentically trying to. To something to be able to intentionally present it. Now here’s a question. So let’s flip the script for a minute. Here is where I struggle is for example, in this acting class, I don’t have problems with confidence in the sense that I’m very comfortable speaking in front of people.
I’m kind of over that hurdle. However, to relate this. The audience that you serve. So well, the monologue that I chose is a woman who I frankly can’t really relate to in real life. So for example, this script is a woman who has just been proposed to, she is a woman who has self sabotaging. The dialogue is almost her own little Jacqueline hide.
She goes back and forth in this monologue between telling her. The man who just re proposed all the reasons she’s not right for him. So it’s like witty self deprecating. That part comes a little more naturally to me. But then the beauty of this monologue is in between these moments of witty self deprecation.
She has these really heartfelt moments where she’s expressing her frustration with herself because she can’t let herself be happy. She’s self sabotaging and my acting teacher said, you need to pull out that dichotomy more. He’s like you made it too light and funny. But she’s really struggling here. She hates the fact that she can’t let herself be happy.
And so you need to be able to pull that out. And what I’m finding really difficult is that is not me by nature. Like I can’t relate to that woman. I’m not a self sabotage. And so for me, it’s how do you basically learn how to step into somebody else’s mindset, almost like that imposter syndrome, like. I don’t know how to be that woman, cuz I’m not that woman.
And then be able to convey visually with my body, how that woman’s thinking and feeling. I set that up because on the flip side, I think there’s a lot of business women who don’t see themselves when they’re asked to go present men to. But I think especially women, they feel like an imposter because they don’t see themself as the visual leader.
Somebody who deserves to be standing on a stage and having people listen to what they have to say. So I ask this question because I think a lot of women would relate to this, this idea of how do you almost step into a role that is beyond what you can even relate to meaning you’re encouraging these women, you are a leader.
You can do this. Here’s how to assume this role. Of a visual presenter and convey the confidence through your body, through your words. I’m trying to do the opposite. Mm-hmm does that question make sense? It, yes. And there’s several ways to go in and you tying it together with the woman in business, but let’s start with your monologue.
Yeah. An actor would approach this and say the first thing we do when we get a script. Is we looked at it, we look at it and we say, I could never Rob a bank. , you know, I’ve signed a contract to Rob a bank and I would never murder somebody. I could never murder somebody. So the first thing we do is distance ourself role.
So when we say I’m not like that role, I’m not, it’s a good role for us because it’s a little bit scary to stretch, to not do my habit. Which is to be confident. And I don’t do all that. The second artistic technique that you might play with is what we do when I talked about intention and not telling your intention.
What if you didn’t play it, that it was you talking to a guy. What if you didn’t play the static reality of the scene? Because as an audience person, I can see the scene. You’re a woman talking to this guy about, you don’t need to play that. What an actor plays is the internal conflict. So hang with me now.
What if you explored in yourself, places in your life? Where you do do that, have a decision and a conflict for me, it can be, do I really wanna eat that sugar or not? I could eat it. Everybody else is eating it. They offer it’s free. I could no, no. If I eat that sugar, I know I’m gonna wake up tomorrow morning, but it’s so beautiful and nobody’s even looking nobody.
But on the other hand, if I do eat it, it leads to eating more. And then I’m, that’s a. I don’t know. They don’t know that I’m talking about a sugar item, but to me, you’re on the line saying I love you. I love you. It’s great. It’s great. No, but I just can’t allow myself that it, it, but you’re talking about a donut, right?
That’s in the most literal terms, play. Acting because you’re taking action acting. That’s why they call it acting actors take action. We act, we don’t just think and discuss we act and you’re playing. So explore, you know, today, just say. Oh, my conflict is, do I go to the grocery store and drive that five miles?
I better? I better do that. No, no. I’d better do this with the kids for it’s a conflict. So that was the word that jumped out with me in your description of what was going on. And if I just may raise the stakes on an example, there was a wonder, of course, I can’t remember his name. Who was in a terrible circumstance.
And the, the bad guys that was near the end of the movie are coming into this like block room that he was in and he had a gun and he had one bullet left and this bad guy’s coming in and everything. And he has two choices. Should I kill myself? Cuz it’s over. If the guy comes in and the bullet doesn’t get up or should I try and shoot him and try and go.
So the decision is, should I kill myself in the scene? We can see that mm-hmm or the audience, or should I try and continue to go well, who can play that? I don’t know, but what the actor shared later was. I wasn’t deciding, should I kill myself or not years ago, I was in a field deciding if I should ask this woman to marry me and I was doing my Daisy, should I?
Yes. Should I know, should I? Yes. Should I know? And he started playing with the gun, should I? Yes. Should I know? Mm I, and that was his decision and it was riveting. Mm. So this acting thing. That you’re into is going to expand you and observe how you behave and think and feel in colorful ways that you may not have explored.
If you didn’t acting class. Yeah. I, I love that. And what I’m hearing from you as I’m processing it is, it’s less about the very, very specific minutia of the concept of self sabotage. And it’s almost like taking a couple steps up and looking at the higher view emotion there, which is conflict. Like what you’re saying, it is conflict.
Who of us has not experienced. So I appreciate that. That makes so much sense is trying to step away from the very specific issue and taking that higher view and tapping into that, which I think is certainly applicable to the business woman. Who’s handed the slides. It’s the same, same concept tapping into a different element of who she is in recognizing.
Oh, I can relate to this. Here’s how I can relate to that. I can relate to this. Excuse me for interject, please, please. The terrible habit that I’ve tried to cure, but it’s, it’s careless, please. No worries. The thing that strikes me in this with regard to the woman, not caring about this material is not about her.
Don’t you see it’s about them? Mm she’s called to be in front of this audience. To deliver and share information to give the audience security, to give them something. So I don’t care about it. If an actor says, I don’t care about it, don’t do this play. Yeah. Don’t do this scene because it’s boring and there’s no energy and that’s not, no, you have to find a way to care about it.
I, I love that. That’s, it’s a beautiful example of also allowing yourself to enter a place that’s a little uncomfortable, which is specifically why I took this acting class because I wanted to do something fun, but it’s also, and again, I think this is very applicable to the business side of things. For me, it’s allowing myself to enter this space where I am willing to exhibit behaviors that I would never do in real life.
May I just say something a please. Yes. Give it to the character. Mm you’re not watching you. We’re watching the character be conflicted in this situation. Right. So her behavior, you know, a lot of us become actors, so we can Rob banks. Right. and, and not, and shoot guns and everything else. Yeah. Oh yeah. And shoot guns.
And I. if you honor this character that you’ve been asked to play by the universe, cuz frankly, I don’t think we’re given anything by accident to Mockus mm-hmm mm-hmm I think the universe puts things in our life that, oh my gosh, I’m here. I’m gonna be brave and intentional design. Yeah. And digital design is another way of, of saying it.
You’re playing this character to set her free. We often say let her out. It’s not you, it’s not you. And it’s the breathing exercise and the preparation of intention that gets us past ourselves. We already know how to do ourselves. You know how to do honor really well. But this character, most days depends on how much coffee I’ve had.
depend on that this character wants out, let her out. Yeah. Yeah. Well, and on that note again, I think that’s a great interjection there because then on the flip side, so for the woman who does have trouble with public speaking or the man, it’s literally letting that person out, it is sort of allowing the walls of your own perception.
Who you are and who you should be and allowing certain thoughts and behaviors to help T. You into that confident presenter and speaker. So I, I love that even though our struggles may be different. The bottom line problem is still the same. And that is basically we have to get over ourselves. We’ve gotta get.
And, you know, I had an acting teacher that, that used to say, get out of your own way. And I didn’t know what that meant. I was a young actor and I, what does she mean? Get out of your own way. And for me it meant that black dog that’s directing myself and how to do it and how to say it. No, the drug, for lack of a better word that you get addicted to on the other side is being in the present moment and letting that creative energy take me.
And that’s fantastic. The, the getting in my own way, directing myself is exhausting. And another thing too, I’m going to take it a step farther. It’s not being a good presenter necessarily. I think that stops it short. When people say, I wanna be a good speaker. I wanna be a good presenter. I think it, it helps to expand it to, I want to be a good teacher or I want to be a good leader.
I’ve got this group of people on my team. I need to lead them with this new endeavor or I’ve got a group on and on my team or this company. And I need to teach. That this is what’s working lately. It’s putting a character on it. Mm-hmm and then act as if act accordingly. How would a good teacher speak with this data?
How would a good leader speak with this? So it’s not being a good speaker or a big that puts it on me. The character takes me into creativity. It’s more proactive. It’s a more proactive mindset. I mean, in reality, anybody could present this data. Yes. Given a PowerPoint with numbers and figures on it, anybody could present it to your point.
It’s different to teach it. Yes, it’s different to lead the conversation than just simply speak the words. And I think that is a great tip for any of us when we’re feeling a little intimidated about standing up. It’s a mindset shift that needs to happen initially is I’m not just speaking this, I’m leading this.
And I am teaching this. So how then would that change? How I deliver it? It would probably make me speak a little bit louder, a little bit clearer. I’d probably stand at a little bit more attention, cuz I’m now leading all these people in this information. Even if it’s talking about this brand of toothpaste, it’s still a mindset and that I think that’s a great.
Great way to look at it. Just a simple technique for those business people out there that are listening to you, the intention can be your start to organize, can be writing the word to do, to teach, to lead, to excite, to make safe, motivate. Yeah. To motivate, and then get that intention connected to a feeling.
So it’s a task. Actors do it for, for every play, every act, every scene, every line we need to know. I’m curious, I’m just curious. How would you hearing this monologue? I’m giving it as an example. I specifically picked it because it was a little outside my comfort zone. What would you say that intention is?
If you had that and I’m acting this out, what’s my intention for. As, as an actor, it starts with questioning. That’s my training. It starts with questioning. Does she end up with them? Hmm. Does she I’m gonna say no that doesn’t say in the monologue, I would have to create this myself, but I’m gonna say no, she self sabotages, maybe 10 years down the road.
Right? The end of the movie. Now, wait a minute. Now I’m going to ask you another question. Is this from a. or is it just a book of monologues? It’s just a book of monologues. It’s a book of monologues. So your job I’m creating her story. oh yeah. You you’ve got words. You’ve got the words. Yeah. Now you have to write the story.
Mm-hmm because when you first started talking about it, I thought. Oh, my gosh, she likes him so much. She really likes him. And she’s so afraid that she’s not going to get him and it’s gonna be another broken relationship cuz of her past. And mm-hmm , there’s a history. I saw a whole history happening.
Mm-hmm but for me, the bottom line was a woman. Doesn’t talk to a man. We don’t even look him in the eyes if we’re not interested. right. We don’t have time. We’ve got other things to do to keep us busy. She’s having a conversation with this guy she’s with him. So you are going to write. How did they meet?
What is the cutest thing about ’em? Do they end up together or does she take the chance and fail all of this? And then we call that filling it up. Mm-hmm filling it up and then you’re gonna let all of that go and play the action of your intention. If you want you and I can do a little coaching session just, oh, you’re so sweet.
Look at you. I get my gifting because it is a tremendous. Joy to work with somebody who’s doing it. Who who’s. Oh, you’re so sweet. Oh, I would take any of your expertise. Yes. Well, I, we’re gonna take a really quick break, but we come back, stay tuned for speed round of this or that with Billy, we’re gonna learn a little bit more about her and we are going to tap into her expert advice on overcoming anxiety when public speaking, so that you can present with confidence using her incredible.
Presentation method. You do not wanna miss this. We’re gonna talk about her book, why you need to buy it, why you need to hire her. The list goes on, right? When we come back, you have tried it all worried. You will never lose the extra weight or reclaim the energy you once enjoyed, want to achieve bat loss without spending hours in a gym or eliminating entire food groups from your.
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Accelerator course today and start your own transformation story. We are back here with Billy. We’re gonna play a quick round of this or that speed round. You get two options. Whichever one comes to mind first. No stress. Would you rather cake or pie cake? What’s your favorite cake? Oh chocolate with white frosty.
Ooh. What’s your favorite chocolate cake you have ever had? Is there a local store that somebody must buy chocolate cake? No, I think I made it and I’m not a cook. Yeah. but she can make a chocolate cake. What is worse? Laundry or dishes, dishes. And this is a very, very controversial question. I have realized when you put your glasses in the cupboard, do you put them upside down or right side up and it’s so controversial.
You’re so funny. Down down. There you go, folks. It is down. Oh my gosh. I’ve had the most extensive conversations. People who don’t like them down it’s because when they come outta the dishwasher, they’re still a little bit damp and the condensation get stuck inside. So they say they have to go up. Isn’t that hilarious.
that’s that’s they need a new dishwasher. That’s what I say. They’ve get a new dishwasher that dries your glass. No dishwasher. That’s funny, but they’re accommodating the issue. yeah. I mean, you do what you gotta do, I guess. Would you rather go camping in the woods or go to a beach house? Beach house. Do you have a favorite beach where you are?
Is there one that you absolutely love? Yep. We go down to Carmel. I live in the bay area, so we’ve got half boom bay. We’ve got Carmel. We’ve got, you know, three hours away. We’ve got beaches that are beach beach beaches everywhere. Everywhere. Yeah. So I that’s amazing. I, I would say that we spent summers in Coronado when I was a kid.
Okay. And Coronado, if you’ve not been there, it it’s. No. An island connected by a little peninsula off of San Diego. And there’s a wonderful hotel there called the Dell Coronado. And we used, we would spend our summers there because Phoenix was so hot and that’s wonderful beach. That sounds amazing. Would you rather you’re on an airplane?
Would you rather sit beside a crying baby or an adult who doesn’t stop talking? That took her a second to register. I know that that’s very, that’s I think an adult that doesn’t stop talking because you have a chance with a baby that’s crying. There’s yeah. And it’s like, what can you, the poor baby? It’s like the baby can’t we’re an adult.
You can feel a little less bad about ignoring them. Yeah. Yeah. Little more control. Exactly. Okay. Last question. Would you rather a personal yacht or a private jet? Jet. Where’s the first place you’re going on? Your private jet, all expenses. It doesn’t matter anywhere in the world. Where are you going? Uh, Italy.
Mm, you and me both. I’m coming with you. I have you been to Italy? Yes, I have. It’s gorgeous. Oh my goodness. Well, I’ll tell you what we’ve done. We’ve done Rome and Florence. And I wanna go back to some place in Tuscany and get a place for a month. And then the kids can come in with their mates and we can go different.
PLA have you, did you go to Rome and see? Um, no. So I actually grew up in great Britain. I’ve been to Poland. I’ve been, but I’ve never been my, my dream is to go back and do like a whole European, but Italy is like right up there and France. you and par. You gotta go. It’s on my to do list. You will. You will.
You will. Yeah. Yeah. Maybe not in my private jet, but I will, I’ll get there beside the crying baby and the adult that doesn’t stop talking. Be mine. It’ll my adult and my crying baby. So it’ll be your you baby. Oh God. Oh, well, so I love that you mentioned one of the things that is the first step to speaking with more confidence is breath.
It is one of the simplest things that we can do. It is essential. It happens without us even thinking about it. But the downside is we also minimize breath without even thinking about it. And you talked about a really great technique where you start at your feet and you work the whole way up your body.
Just relaxing everything, but then you also gave an excellent example of having somebody stand on a stage and instead of giving them a role to play or something to present, you just let them stand there and experience the tension of just simply being there with all eyes on them. And I thought it was such an excellent technique because all you can do then is be aware.
Of yourself and your body and, and what you’re feeling. I thought that was such a great example. Talk to me a little bit about how you have seen people learn to truly relax through this approach, through the, the feed up approach, and then also putting themselves in a position where they have to just focus on the tension in their body and how being in front of people is inhibiting them.
Physic. The an actor. It’s one of the most challenging exercises that we do as young actors in training is stand there and not be able to play a character, not to be able to crack a joke, not be able to act the way we just stand there and feel it. And then I talk them through it. Where you feeling it in your body and to get them really aware?
I think it might be helpful if you don’t mind to just describe the quickie breathing for your listeners. Yes. It might be helpful for them to try. The next time they have to go into a meeting or talk to their teenager or tell ’em they can’t go to the party. Something, it works for anything. Exactly what the quickie breath is.
Is actors do it before we go? We do the long version, of course, before we hit the stage. But before we open the door to go on stage or before we step in front of the camera, or before we hit the playing area, we take two big deep breaths in it’ll sound like this. Through an open mouth
and then we’re going to tighten our toes and release. Tighten our toes calves, thighs, and rear end, tight and release. Tighten our toes calves, thighs rear end stomach, chest and release. Tighten toes calves, thighs, rear end. Stomach chest, tighten your hands, tighten your arms, tighten your shoulders and your face go and release, and you will automatically take a big deep breath in.
And if you do this, you will be in the present moment and then you can go on stage. I love it. It’s the idea of counter pressure really is what you’re doing. You’re almost forcing, you’re forcing the pressure to then force it to relax. Oh, yeah. That’s, that’s a good way of saying it. Yeah. It’s like, well, physiotherapists do this very same thing to help release tension.
So if you have tension in this side of your neck, you put pressure on this side of your head and then it almost forces this to release because you’re putting counter pressure. So it’s literally what you’re doing through the whole body is applying counter pressure to force it then to relax. Well, I will cite you.
When I share that information. Absolutely. Yeah. It’s a great technique. It’s like a full body counter pressure experience to force the entire musculature to do the opposite. I love that. Well, there you go. Everyone. Full body counter pressure for instant. Relaxation to be in the present moment. Deep breaths, before you present step number one, full body counter pressure.
Or as Billy said, basically, you’re gonna tighten every muscle from the toe up to the head, to the point where you’ve done the entire body deep breath. Before you go out on stage, or I love how you said to talk to a teenager or in my case, my five year old, who is acting like a teenager. Who whomever it is, or maybe it’s a spouse, whomever.
It is. That’s a great step. Number one for relaxing. You also gave two excellent exercises that I loved. I am going to chat with my daughter about these. I thought these were really, really good. It’s also great for singers is you gave two exercises to help with diction and projection. One involves a pencil.
One involves an imaginary ball, but you guys, this is an excellent, excellent way of helping yourself become a better speaker. Talk to us about the diction exercise with the pencil and the projection exercise with the imaginary ball. And these are the ball is proprietary to you, right? This was your, did you come up with this one?
I think so. I, I love. Anyway. Thank you. Go ahead. Uh, the first one is the pencil in the mouth exercise, and I’m going to show you, hold on. I’m gonna reach over for a pencil. Look, you guys. I have one too, cuz I knew this was coming. She’s a teacher. Oh my gosh. And a tissue. If you have a tissue. Great. I do because there’s no way of doing this without a little bit of spittle.
I’m sorry to say my microphone appreciates that and your microphone appreciates that. Actors need to work out our lips, our teeth, the tip of the tongue, because this is our football game. Pre-work you know, mm-hmm nobody does this sport without warming up and we need to warm up this. So what one would do is you’re going to look silly.
I’ll show you first. You’re going, I’ll show you first. You’re going to take a pencil and have your back molars. Hold it like. And you’re going to read a few lines or a poem. We usually read of your choice over enunciating, and it’ll look like this over enunciating. We are the music makers. It looks silly.
We are the music makers also notice the difference between mine and hers. That is impress. No yours was yours was very clear. Yours was good. Yours was really good. and you would read the poem or the little bit in the wall street journal or the New York times or whatever it is or of your presentation.
Don’t do it less than one minute and don’t do it more than one minute because it doesn’t do any more help for over a minute before you go on stage. So you’re going to first do it with the pencil and then you do it without the pencil. We are the music makers over enunciating. So basically it’s lifting weights for your diction.
Now, the volume, when people aren’t loud enough for their modulation, they need to project. What I do is, and, and some people are so terrified that you can barely hear. If it’s in person, or if it’s on zoom, I’ll have ’em stand at the end of the room, but in person I’ll start. And I’ll say, this is my catcher’s net and your voice is the baseball.
So just now just toss your voice right in and say the letter a, well, it fell down in front of my minute. yeah, I didn’t even see it. can, can you, can you tos that a Hey. Good. And then I’ll move back and they’ve gotta project louder, and then I’ll move over that part of the room or that part of, and eventually they’re Hey, you know?
Yeah. They’re throwing, throwing the vows and consonants across the room. Yeah. Right. That is such a brilliant, you know, it was really interesting walking my daughter through the first year of acting and projection was one of the most challenging. It’s almost like we subconsciously don’t want. To be loud.
And as soon as you’re, even for people who are naturally loud, they get up on the stage. And then when they’re told to be loud, it’s kind of like, Hey, you know, it’s almost like this weird subconscious you pull back. It was really, and my daughter is quite loud by nature, but as soon as she was up on the stage, it was like, it, it disappeared.
She suddenly felt like she needed to be quiet. So I thought that was a brilliant exercise. To really work on that sense of no you’re being given permission to speak loudly to the back of the room, especially when you’ve connected. As you said, you have an intention and you are connecting with that intention, then you need to be heard.
So the people at the back of the room deserve to be able to hear you again, it’s that mindset shift. It’s a, my set shift. Do you know, I used to call, uh, one of my workshops, finding your voice. Mm, two things happen. First of all, as the audience can hear you when you project loudly enough. And the second thing is you do find your voice and when the voice, that’s why we breathe in and out through our mouth.
It’s the beginning stage of giving our permission to our mouth, to. Mm, there’s breathing through the nose exercises, as you know, and there’s breathing through the mouth to give ourselves permission to speak. So if there’s someone out there listening who is too quiet and they’re hearing that they can’t be heard, take a risk and find your voice because you need to be really heard.
We wanna hear what you have to. You have this section in your book. And I, I loved this where you talk about speaker confidence. We’ve talked a lot about confidence in. Interview, because it is a very essential element to how you look and how you sound and how you portray yourself, especially when you’re shifting that mindset to you’re a leader and you’re teaching, connecting to that.
And it’s a chicken and egg conversation. So oftentimes actually just did a recorded a podcast episode on this. And the question is, do you look confident because you feel confident or do you feel confident because you. Confident. I mean, you could go round and round in circles. And, and I talked about this a little bit in the podcast episode, but you gave some excellent examples of physical attributes of somebody who conveys confidence versus somebody who does not.
And a lot of what you mentioned. Is scientifically proven, meaning there has been a lot of research to suggest that these are human perceptions of somebody who is confident versus somebody who is not. And do you wanna run through some of those? How does a speaker appear confident versus what are characteristics of a speaker who does not appear confident?
Oh, wow. I wish I had, I wish I had the memoriz. Oh, well, I can open it to here. You got it. Open. It let’s play. Okay. Let’s open it. Yeah. And I mean, these are so good. And I actually addressed some of these because, so I worked in emergency medicine for 10 years and what’s really interesting is I oftentimes was mistaken when I was a nurse for the doctor.
And I think it is simply because I appeared confident by nature. Have tended to be, I have my insecurities, like anyone else, but I, I tend by nature to operate out of a place of boldness and confidence. So I didn’t even think about how I was standing or how I was speaking just as the way God designed me.
But on the flip side, then when I became a nurse practitioner and I was the provider, it was also very helpful in conveying my authority to a patient. As well in the way that I stood, the way that I spoke. So I say all this only to convey that this goes beyond just speaking on a stage, if you want to feel more confident, there are physical things that you can be more aware of to help convey a sense of confidence, which is only gonna help you feel more confident too.
so, anyway, I loved this list. A high confident appearing speaker is somebody who is keeping their body still. Speaking precisely maintains good posture allows for space in between. Words uses concise. Wording moves with certainty, keeps heads still. When speaking makes gestures strong and firm, I thought this one was really fascinating.
Uses downward inflections to end sentence. That one was really interesting to me, point, you know, if you’re doing that. Yeah. Tell you if you’re saying, uh, I’m going to the bank and it’s like a question I’m not sure. Am I? Yeah. Right. So fascinating. Okay. Really quick. The ones with low confidence and those of you listening, like assess yourself because next time, when you need to be in a position of authority, think about how you’re appearing fidgeting, mumbling, slouching, talking too.
Looking away using qualifiers, touching face scratching, using upward inflections. That’s very eye opening. I mean, really like record yourself, speaking and look at yourself. And then I wanted to add that either works, whether you work from the internal to, or do the other stand up like a leader and it’ll kick you into.
Just make a choice to correct. And it’ll manage the fear. Yeah. I love that. You said that. And to be clear, it hasn’t published yet, but the episode that I I recorded is addressing both it’s addressing ways that you can actually inhabit. A sense of confidence in yourself, not just how you appear, but habits you can incorporate into your life that will actually improve your feeling of confidence and then things that you can do.
Exactly. Like Billy just said to appear more confident, as you said, chicken in the egg chicken. It doesn’t matter. Just grab something from your Louis Woodton bagging and go for it. Yeah, go for it. Um, you merged a lot of your skill sets with the virtual world. Tell us of which is brilliant. We have to constantly change with the times, but tell us a little bit kind of what you do, what you offer, where people can find you and how you are able to help from a virtual standpoint, as well as that is a huge reality for a lot of people.
Well, what happened of course was COVID right. And Facebook came to me and said, I’d been working with them for years. And they said, we need to go online. I said, nah, I don’t, I don’t wanna do it. I, I really don’t. They said, well, we’ll give you a project manager and we’ll give you, you know, an assistant we’ll help you design it.
And I said, well, if you are gonna do all the tech stuff and if you’re gonna teach my assistant and we did that and do you know the marriage. Of my methodology, the artistic approach using these acting techniques, it used to be an eight hour workshop. Now it’s a four hour workshop online. The marriage of both techniques, the benefit of the camera.
Was marvelous. And now I just adore teaching these workshops and teaching people the benefits of, of communicating online, which you do so well. Oh, thank you. Um, so it took some learning, but I’ve learned that about myself is that I got guts. I got and I evolve. And, uh, you have to, you were a single mom who took a risk and you did what you had to do.
I have so much respect for that. You have to have guts to make it happen. Yeah. You gotta have guts to make it happen. And these zoom meetings, these virtual meetings are, uh, have a lot of benefits. A lot of benefits. Mm-hmm so I work with people all over the world. Now I used to have to fly and go to the airport and do all of that.
Now, now it’s all over the world. Meet interesting people. If somebody is listening and they. Would love to connect with you or find out how you could potentially help their employees, or maybe it’s themselves personally, or people in their company. The list goes on. What is the best way for people to learn more about what you do, how they could hire you, how they could work with you.
Well, I I’d love to help or chat with anybody. That’s one of the benefits of, of, of zoom. Um, yes, we can go to my website and look a little further and see if, if that grabs them. It’s, uh, Billy shepherd.com not surprisingly. And if they’re interested, they can email me and I’ll gladly get back. They can order the book on I Amazon.
The book is good for people that are thinking about having the workshop, brought the company or people who have taken the workshop as reminders, that’s on Amazon and, um, email me, Billy, Billy shepherd.com and we can start a discussion. I love helping people. Yeah, well, and you’ve done an amazing job. I’m gonna end with something you wrote here and all of these links will be in the show notes@hammersandhugs.com.
Certainly, if you’re watching on YouTube, it’ll all be in the description below as usual. This is the book that we have been talking about. A lot of these things are in this book and it is a great introduction or reminder, depending on where you’re at in the process. But I wanna end with something you said at the beginning of the book and the end of the book, you said that the aim is to remove fear and replace it with techniques that give the speaker confidence in themselves.
Ultimately clients consistently tell me that they are equipped to communicate much more effectively, which often translates into greater influence, happier customers and better relationships of all kinds. And this is the beauty I think, of, of what you do. You’ve seen this, this gap. And this need in the workplace and you filled it.
So this is more than just public speaking. I mean, truly it’s learning how to communicate, finding your voice, finding more confidence in being able to communicate and teach and lead people in what you have to say, cuz ultimately. They need to hear it. So I pray God’s richest blessing over your family, over your daughter, whatever she’s up to now and your business and the amazing ways that you are changing people’s lives.
It was an honor having you. It was an honor meeting you too. And. Hello to all of your listeners. I, I hope I was helpful in some way. You’re lucky to have on. Aw, thank you. Thanks for listening to this episode of the imperfectly empowered podcast. I would love to hear your thoughts from today. Head to your preferred podcasting platform and give the show an honest review and let me know what you think.
Remember, you cannot be redefined only redeveloped one imperfect day at a time. Your story matters and you are loved.

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