1. Embody happy high status

Happy high status is the art of embracing your status as a speaker, stepping up to the challenge and taking on the task in a calm and relaxed way. Viv looks to Michelle Obama as someone who has happy high status for her ability to ‘occupy the highest and most prestigious spot in the room while talking to charity workers, the homeless, hip hop stars and the Queen all in exactly the same way.’

Put it into practice

  • Reflect on how you can bring happy high status to your speaking. Avoid making quips that put yourself down (this undermines your status) and use anecdotes and the intonation in your voice to build connection with your audience.
  • Embody the posture of happy high status, whether you’re sitting or standing: a straight spine, grounded feet and relaxed movements.

2. Project presence

According to Viv, ‘while status confers the external message that you are ready to lead and other people should pay attention to you, presence is the projection of how you are feeling right here, right now.’ Body language is a huge giveaway to how we’re feeling on the inside, but adopting the right posture can ‘trick your brain into feeling confident, so that you can relax and be present.’

Put it into practice

  • First reflect on how you’re feeling internally in order to project presence. Use a meditation app such as Headspace, to help calm any racing thoughts and help bring you back to the present moment.
  • Use your body and your breath to get grounded. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, send your breath into the soles of your feet and imagine drawing your breath up and down the length of your body.

3. Be true to you

What kind of a speaker are you? How should you deliver your words in a way that feels true to yourself? Viv advises ‘There is a huge lesson in finding your own path, working it out for yourself, ignoring what everyone else is doing, and not bothering about being likeable.’ Be authentic and seek out the speaking opportunities that feel aligned with you.

Put it into practice

  • The above requires self-belief. To help develop this, Viv recommends putting pen to paper for two minutes and writing ten things about yourself that make you feel proud. When you’re done, read them through and allow the feeling of pride to sink in. Then set another timer for twenty minutes and write forty things. Whenever you feel yourself sinking into self-doubt, take some time to look at your list of 50 proud moments.

4. Get inspired by others

From Oprah Winfrey to Joan Rivers, throughout the book Viv celebrates a range of inspirational female speakers and their many unique ways of owning the room.

Put it into practice

  • Put some time aside to watch TED talks and YouTube speeches. Note the bits you like and don’t like, and the qualities that make each talk successful or unsuccessful.
  • Look out for the speakers whose style resonates with you and reflects what you aspire to.

5. Make it happen

Exercises can help us prepare, but the best way to get better at owning the room is to do it. Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking spent a year pursuing speaking opportunities in the run up to her book launch, despite being an introvert. And if you’re worried about having something to talk about? Remember this advice from Susan: ‘there is zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.’

Put it into practice

  • Start small with offering to do a toast at a gathering. Viv says: ‘Get used to silencing a room and having everyone turn to look at you.’
  • And when it comes to ideas, ‘put your best ideas forward even if, right now, you don’t think you’re the best talker. The more you talk about your ideas publicly the better they will sound.’
  • How to Own the Room

  • A powerful little book about what happens when women find their voice.


    'Full of helpful concepts... I'm finding it very useful.' Philippa Perry
    'Plenty of tips and tricks.' Sunday Times

    Most books about public speaking don't tell you what to do when you open your mouth and nothing comes out. And they don't tell you how to get over the anxiety about performance that most people naturally have. They don't tell you what to do in the moments when you are made, as a woman, to feel small. They don't tell you how to own the room. This book does.

    From the way Michelle Obama projects 'happy high status', and the power of J.K. Rowling's understated speaking style, to Virginia Woolf's leisurely pacing and Oprah Winfrey's mastery of inner conviction, what is it that our heroines do to make us sit up and listen - really listen - to their every word? And how can you achieve that impact in your own life? Here's how.

    ***** 'Easy to grasp practical tips... all served up with lightness and generosity.'
    ***** 'It has made me realize I don't even need to be good, but I can be brave.'
    ***** 'Brilliant, engaging, honest, vulnerable, often damn funny.'

  • Buy the book
  • Lift as You Climb

  • 'Empowers, enlightens and entertains with every sentence.' Elizabeth Day

    We all have difficult moments at work, times when we feel awkward, when our daily micro interactions make us uncomfortable, perhaps when we have to say no or assert ourselves in a way that makes us feel less like ourselves, less 'sisterly'.

    Part self-help guide, part master class in survival skills for life and work, Lift as You Climb examines what sisterhood looks like these days, asks what you can do to make things better for other women and considers how to do that without disadvantaging yourself.

    It's the ultimate confidence bible for women who want to plan a career in a fast moving world, but without leaving anyone else behind. And it addresses one of the biggest issues women face in the workplace - how to be ambitious without losing your sense of self. It must be possible, right?

    Full of tips, takeaways and invaluable insights, this is everything you need to know about making life better for yourself - without making it worse for others.

    Praise for How to Own the Room:

    'I recommend Viv Groskop's How to Own the Room to anyone wanting more self confidence. Full of helpful concepts you can get your head round and embody. I'm finding it very useful.' - Philippa Perry

    'Plenty of tips and tricks... The most valuable lesson is that, in Groskop's words, "You don't have to be a great speaker to give an amazing speech."' - Style

    'The ultimate guide to public speaking. Inspirational.' - Mary Portas

    'Demystifies the art of talking to people and winning them round to your cause.' - The Times

    'This book is going to help so many people. It's brilliant.' - Emma Gannon

    'An excellent, truly useful guide to getting more women front and centre, encouraging us to take part, noisily, in public life. (The podcast is also fabulous.)' - Daisy Buchanan

  • Buy the book

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