Title: Why we choke under pressure — and how to avoid it

Presenter: Sian Leah Bellock



  • You appeared calm throughout your speech. I didn't notice any nervous habits.
  • I felt that you gestured simply and adequately. If you want to add some drama and excitement, I think there's room to add gestures during your story to reach for the ball and then let your body language show us your dejection after the game. Nothing wrong with what you did; I just felt that you're telling a sports story, and it's an ideal opportunity to pump up the audience's interest and involvement..
  • You spoke very clearly, and you were easy for me to understand. You didn't speak too rapidly for me to follow, and you provided convenient pauses. 
  • When you say a line, give us permission to laugh. You used the line "Take math. Yes, I said math." I know that you intended it to be humorous. I'd like to see you say "Take math." Then pause and smile at us and say "Yes, I said math." And pause again, nod, and smile even more. This signals to us that you and we know this is a funny line because it's unexpected, and you're giving us time to laugh. You didn't pause at this point, and I suspect that's why you didn't get any reaction.


  • You began with a personal story that explained the point of the presentation and then transitioned to your question of how to perform at our best. I describe your organization as flow of consciousness." (That's not a criticism.) It flowed well from point to point.
  • You had a good example about driving and talking on the phone at the same time. Instead of telling us that it's hard to do two things at the same time, and that's why it's best to avoid driving and phoning, I saw this as a missed opportunity to draw in the audience some more. After you tell us it's hard to do two things at the same time, pause, look at us, smile, and ask "how easy is it to drive and talk on the phone at the same time?" Instead of just telling us, my suggestion lets the audience reach the same answer and then agree with you. Asking questions, even rhetorical questions, is a good way to keep an audience engaged.
  • You told us about you and your research team. Go ahead and name the university or the team to help me do more than to see them as a nameless group. It can improve your credibility. And it's another way to help me connect with you and your team. If you were using slides, that's where I would have you insert a team photo. 
  • Thank you for getting the grammar right. I heard you say "my research team and I" as a sentence's subject.
  • I really liked your examples about math anxiety and the marketing of T-shirts that are anti-math. I will complain about the math-hating Barbie being "not so long ago." Wasn't that at least 25 years ago? It's still a good example, but just don't tell us that it's recent; it can make me wonder if you've been out-of-touch for the past twenty years.
  • You ended with another story. I liked that your stories and examples weren't recycled. I also liked that you had a sports story and an education story. You ended by reminding us that what happens in our head matters and that we can prepare ourselves for success. I think the ending was good enough. I also think it could've been better if it had been more active and include a challenge. Perhaps end by reminding us that what happens in our head really matters, and (point at the audience) you can achieve success on the playing field, in the boardroom, and in the classroom by visualizing and preparing for the moment in advance.
  • Overall, I thought you chose a good topic and presented your work thoroughly. My main recommendation is to look for ways to engage more with the audience. The stories were personal, but the rest of your delivery and content felt impersonal to me. I felt that this was more like a classroom lecture than a presentation.

Chuck Hinkle has been formally evaluating and coaching speakers worldwide for over thirty years.

“Chuck took my story I was giving at a TEDx conference and turned it into a powerful presentation. Then he coached me so that I could deliver it confidently and effectively. It was the most impactful presentation of all the speakers.” Sr. Business Analyst & TEDx Presenter

“Even more than being terrified of public speaking I am more terrified of sharing my personal past with others. That was until I encountered Chuck Hinkle. Chuck listened to my ideas for my first TEDx talk and gently coaxed me to share part of me that was not a part of my work persona. He helped me develop the skills I needed to convey a message that would reach the hearts and minds of folks literally around the globe. My New Years resolution was to overcome my fear of speaking in public by possibly talking to a group of school children or at a senior center as part of a group. By working with Chuck, I gained the confidence and skills to stand on the stage alone and reach out to over 17 different countries and Dare them to make a difference. And what is even more amazing is they took the challenge and told how they did. Chuck used a combination of presentation techniques on how to use PowerPoint and pictures, to what stories to tell and how to paint a visual picture. I grew personally and was able to land an amazing new role professionally thanks to Chuck.” Commercial Contract Manager & TEDx Presenter

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