Dr. Aleksandra Plazinic | Putting An End To The Fear Of Public Speaking
We live in a world where effective communication and public speaking have the power of influencing any room in no time.
According to Dr. Aleksandra Plazinic, an Executive Communications Coach, Trainer, and Keynote Speaker, University Lecturer, public speaking and communication is the secret recipe to grow in today's professional world.
While her experience in the industry got her acquainted with the importance of engaging people through effective communication skills, she also uncovered that a big chunk of professionals lacked this skill. She soon launched her coaching sessions and programs.
It combines the latest neuroscience research, human psychology, mindfulness techniques, healing, and motivational methods to help professionals elevate their presentation and communication skills, overcome the fear of public speaking skills, and boost self-confidence.
We recently caught up with her.
1). Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, tell us a bit about your early life and what inspired you to become an executive communications coach?
Since I was an only child with my joyful, friendly, outgoing personality, I have always been a curious person who loved connecting to different people. I was drawn by communications and the stage from an early age when I wanted to be a journalist/TV reporter and study languages. I did many school activities, from performing in theatre, recitals, singing, writing, and swimming to participating in academic competitions, being a straight-A student. Later, I decided to study business management. Then, I did my second master's degree in international relations and learned five foreign languages along the way. It brought me to connect to many internationals, traveling and working on exciting projects in the United Nations, European Commission, and business consultancies worldwide.
Communications has always been my topic, being an extrovert, people person, and interested in connecting with people from all over the world. Later, I approached it academically, gaining my Ph.D. in the subject by combining different disciplines.
Nevertheless, as an overachiever, I was dealing with an imposter syndrome and perfectionism, and my personal development path brought me to coaching. As a life-long learner, I was eager also to broaden my knowledge, and therefore immersed in the range of education, which led to the holistic and multidisciplinary approach that I use today in my coaching practice.
After finishing my Ph.D. and wrapping up the immediate professional project, I reflected on my career- Then; I realized that the two things I enjoyed most in my previous jobs were connecting with people and supporting them with my knowledge.
During my professional career, I learned that soft skills and personal development are significant game-changers in living a more prosperous life. It was a shame to see exceptional professionals hindering their success, not due to the lack of expertise, but rather because of their public speaking anxiety, low self-esteem, and communication skills, which blocked them from achieving deserved success and happiness.
Further, I saw that many people misinterpret communication as just speaking and presenting rather than a unique development ability with many fundamental layers that have a tremendous impact on many areas of our lives.
That is why I was motivated to executive communications coaching also to raise awareness and develop such communications skills to positively impact other people's lives by combining research, methods, and techniques for growth.
2). What are some of the most interesting and exciting projects that you are working on? How do you think it might help people?
Today's most exciting project is my new training and coaching programs focused on effective communications in changing online environment. The way we communicate, present, and connect as humans in the online virtual world has tremendously changed. Such a setting with modified platforms has many advantages and disadvantages; however, we need to adapt and thrive professionally and personally. Many people are puzzled about how to effectively communicate, relate and operate in this changing environment. Therefore, my new programs are based on the latest neuroscience research, aiming to provide practical solutions to successfully navigate communications within the new circumstances. Also, the central focus is adapting through nurturing authentic communications and developing soft skills that will stick despite artificial intelligence.
3). As they say, good things take time. Coaching is a slow yet powerful process to help professionals grow. What advice would you give professionals who wish to become a part of your coaching?
Coaching is a deliberate process that is very individual, and therefore, I approach it as such within my well-rounded program Communicate your way to success, adjusting to each professional I work with. However, both sides must give 100%, I provide 100%, and if the client offers 100%, we are off to a good start towards significant progress.
What I discovered in my practice, it is essential to mold the necessary change first from a solid base- bringing awareness of the root challenges and overcoming them. Coaching is not just there to offer the coping mechanism, with just tips and tricks to deal with e.g., the fear of public speaking, but to bring lasting remedy.
Therefore, during the process, I guide professionals through their childhood fears, past traumas, imposter syndrome, perfectionism, self-esteem, and other issues, that seem not connected to effective communications or public speaking. However, many source challenges are often disguised in unhelpful behavior- and manifested as lack of skills or fear of public speaking.
It is essential to trust the process and be open to this extraordinary course because you never know how you will get the results you need.
I utilize many tools and techniques offered to clients to practice. They often find it fascinating to combine different methods- from neuroscience, healing, mindfulness, and human psychology to support their development. The holistic work is always exciting because it focuses on every aspect of an individual- from mindset, cognitive, subconsciousness, emotions, energy, and bodywork. They are often surprised that some tools they find effortless are yet powerful in their transformation.
By focusing on the tailored based approach, I have also programs designed to bolster performance and skills for a particularly significant event, such as public speaking or an interview in the near future. I tend to work with clients on the individuals’ skills and see what works the best for them at a specific timeframe.
4). You are a person of great influence who has won the stage so many times. What are a few things that public speaking has taught you in your past and present?
Public speaking is the ultimate game with yourself which will test the level of your personal growth. It will push you to the limits and trigger many questions on how you perceive the world, strike inner dialogues, and reveal your aptitude in different settings, etc. It is also a great chance to face your greatest fears.
The big game-changer is the mindset, perception, and how you frame the public speaking event- a speech or standing up at the meeting, is it a dreadful task or an exciting opportunity to serve my audience?
Training is essential. It is not all about preparing the content and working on the technicalities of the delivery, using only cognitive capabilities, as we often believed. However, there are many aspects to it.
The strong performance is brought more with tapping into our authentic energy and accessing positive emotions, inspiration, and motivation. Because, as proven by neuroscience, we form stronger connections with our audience, on the emotional and energetic level, rather than a mental one. Hence, our content and words make only 7% of the impact of our overall communications.
Therefore, all-around preparation is essential, focusing on developing emotional, energetic, spiritual, mental, and physical levels.
Every interaction with another human, through any meeting, public speaking, the conversation is a breathing event, where you never know what will happen, but that is what I love the process. I have learned in order to feel vigorous and enjoy more public speaking; I also need to be open to surprises and embrace them.
I decided to ditch perfectionism, even though I strive for the best, and continually improve, smile more, laugh with my audience, and fully immerse myself in the experience. Now, I focus more on finding ways to appreciate my public speaking as much as I can, focusing on the excitement and interest of meeting the new audience. And I tend to teach that to my clients.
5). According to you, what importance does a coach play in one's journey?
Coach plays an indispensable role in the personal and professional development journey.
If you want to go faster, hire a coach. Coach is an essential factor to help you get ahead steady and qualitatively. We can do many things, but we cannot always do it alone. Coach is there to take your hand and guide you in the process of challenges and opportunities.
It is more effective to follow the successful direction with proven methods rather than to struggle. In changing your, believes and behaviors, consistency and is the key. The coach is there to support you and hold you accountable, follow your progress, and provide you with necessary methods that can facilitate your growth.
Also, with the help of a coach, one often gets a new sense of direction and vision, opening new perspectives and ways to tackle the burning issues.
6). Lastly, what are some of your works that you are proud of?
I am proud of working with my clients and seeing changes in their lives, by releasing their fears and anxiety around public speaking, and advancing in their personal and professional lives with my help.
One of the executives I worked with went from dreading the public speaking to the excitement that now she cannot wait to do it! One of the fellow trainers I coached released her childhood trauma around her public speaking, which helped her thrive in her training career. Also, I was proud to see the amazing change with the IT professionals in boosting her self-confidence and communications skills that enabled her to take-on a new managing position.
I was honored to the work on empowering Afghan women leaders with my trainings program in 2019 in Dubai. Lately, I was pleased that I got the opportunity to work with leaders of a well-known company like Microsoft.
Also, being recently placed within the Top 30 Business Coach to Look out for in 2022 and receiving endorsement by Arianna Huffington at the beginning of my coaching career are recognitions that I am proud of.