Sarah’s Story – about me
If you have something to say (or are employed to do so), and want to become comfortable and engaging in front of groups, I could well be the right coach for you.
After years of struggling with performance and public speaking anxiety (see my story below), I’ve learned what’s needed to prepare and perform at your best in front of an audience. I’ve also performed as a Classical pianist, my original training.
My background is in the performing arts as a chamber musician, professional accompanist and piano teacher. I’ve performed a range of styles – from cocktail pianist in five-star U.K. hotels, to playing the piano in the Purcell Room, Southbank, London, as one of the Park Lane Group Young Performers of the Year.
I’m a certified Master Business Coach Graduate of B-Coach (2004); a graduate of Coach U in life coaching (2002) and I have a Master’s degree in piano performance (1990). I’m a certified trainer, with my TAE40110 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. I’m also a member of the Institute of Learning Professionals (ILP). I also have over 60 recommendations on LinkedIn: view my profile here.
My struggle with performance anxiety as a musician
During my six years at music college in the U.K. I suffered from performance anxiety. The competition and pressure was intense, but I coped – until the chronic and disfiguring illness, severe eczema, took over my body. I deteriorated until I had to be hospitalized. At one point I didn’t leave the house for three months – my world couldn’t have shrunk any smaller. When I resurfaced, not cured but improved, I had a problem. My previous slow decline while I was still performing, plus time away from the world, had made my performance anxiety overwhelming, and I could barely get on stage. I was self-conscious, worried about what the audience were thinking of me, and couldn’t keep my focus on the music; I had to do something or lose my career.
So I took six months off to backpack around the world on my own (challenging for a shy introvert!). After meeting a man from Melbourne, I moved to Australia and started a new life in Melbourne, teaching piano. And I found my performing anxiety solution: the way back to performing well was through learning how to speak in public. I started as a very nervous speaker, trying to speak to parents at the concerts I put on for my piano students. My voice shook, and I couldn’t look at the audience face-on, but swung my gaze from side to side, like I was watching a tennis match! I decided to do something about it.
I joined the speaking club Rostrum and found that with specific tools – and practice – I actually began to enjoy public speaking! And my performing skills as a musician improved dramatically as well. I learned how to be more engaging as a speaker, how to structure a speech, and how to do impromptu speaking. In fact after one year, I was runner-up for the state of Victoria in the Rostrum national speaking competition.
I then became passionate about helping others to communicate well in front of groups or in social situations which made them nervous, such as networking events or client meetings. I started to run coaching workshops, and developed tools to help people with public speaking and performance anxiety. I now do this through a combination of techniques learned as a performing musician, speaker, long-time devotee of meditation, and keen researcher of the latest neuroscience into effective communication skills. Learn more about my workshops, classes and coaching…
Recent media interviews include in the business and career sections of The Age Melbourne, Sydney Morning Herald and ArtsHub Australia; Exemplar Magazine
Some client comments (To see more, click here):
“I was able to get my confidence back using techniques suggested by Sarah. Do this course if you want to overcome your public speaking demons. I have attended many such courses over the years, however, none of them come close to the effectiveness of Sarah’s course. Sarah is awesome! A great coach, full of encouragement and a calming influence. Her course is great, so are her techniques. Thank you Sarah” – AV Narayanan, Unified Communications & Collaboration Sales Specialist Telstra
“The Complete Presentation Skills course is not only an excellent grounding in public speaking, it is a transforming experience. Sarah has a particular style that is both supportive and honest. She manages to ignite confidence in the most anxious of public speakers. It was great seeing everyone in the course come so far in just 5 sessions. If you want what it takes to be a strong public speaker, this course is a great place to start.
I believe the supportive and encouraging environment was one of the highlights of the course. I always felt that I could take the risk and try out new stuff. It was also good to know that Sarah had gone through the same anxiety about public speaking before turning it around. It gave me confidence that good public speaking was possible for everyone.” – Gavin Ackerly, Director Empowerment Pillar ASRC
“To be honest, I was at first really skeptical whether this course would help me. But the transformation in me has been amazing! I feel so empowered now, and ‘pumped’ to keep consolidating the new skills I have been taught. I have already been recommending Sarah to friends and family. I say: “give it a go! You will be amazed at what you’ll achieve. I am proof of it!!” Sarah was brilliant. She genuinely wants to help and make everyone believe that they can overcome their fear of public speaking – Sarah listens with her heart!” – Mai Chow, Melbourne
” I never thought I would look forward to a course where I would have to speak in public each week, but this course was so interesting and helpful I did look forward to it! It can really actually improve your public speaking a lot!” – Angela Constantine, DPI Melbourne
“I gained confidence throughout. I loved the tone and supportiveness of the course. Liked the balance between skills and dealing with some of the internal/psychological issues around public speaking. Felt my confidence and clarity grow week by week.
Sarah was direct, no nonsense but also very gentle and kind. A great combination! I loved her authenticity and way of being.
About the course: I’d tell people how transformative it is, how much I watched myself and everybody else blossom through your guidance. I liked the 5 week format.” – Tanya Wolkenberg, Heritage Victoria
Recent clients include:
Ritchie’s IGA supermarkets executives
Art Series Hotel Group
Johnstaff – Project Management, Property and Construction
Monash University Science Dept (Student Leadership)
Jellis Craig Real Estate
The Legal Network
Connect with me on Google+ +Sarah Denholm