Centre for Continuing Education

Listen and Speak Under Pressure Course

Business Communication. Sharpen your communication skills.

COVID-19 update: arrangement of our courses

We are now delivering courses both online and in-person. Please check the delivery format for each class before you enrol.

Please note that course materials for all classes (excluding prescribed textbooks) are shared electronically within 48 hours of a course starting. Printing is not available.

You might imagine that listening and speaking under pressure is a natural ability – you either have it or you don’t. In fact, with good preparation and a structured approach you can develop the confidence to be spontaneous and articulate when presenting a proposal, public speaking, strengthening your case or selling your ideas. This lively course will show you a four-step system for doing this, so that, even under pressure, you can speak accurately, fluently and flexibly.


By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • demonstrate your improved skill in planning to listen and quickly understand questions
  • use ‘pause gaps’ and improve your use of honouring silence
  • utilise methods of improving confidence and perceived confidence through addressing your physical presentation and vocal abilities
  • utilise a range of easy to use talk structures to respond to any question
  • quickly translate ideas to speech.


This course covers the following topics:

  • how to build your thinking and speaking on your feet 'identity'
  • what the ‘client’ perceives is what matters
  • creating perceptions of confidence when listening
  • creating perceptions of confidence when responding
  • a beginning, middle and ending, and other talk structure techniques
  • how to build your fluency and flexibility with ‘under fire’ practice.

Delivery style


This training course is one of a trilogy of courses that Michael Kelly conducts for CCE. It repeats the core principles and reinforces the content of the courses: Presentation Skills: Plan and Deliver Memorable Presentations and Communication Strategies for Becoming an Inspiring Leader. However, the focus of this course is on projecting confidence in any pressured interaction, including Q&A at the end of a group presentation, responding to ad hoc questions in a sit-down meeting and handling chance encounters with senior executives.

One process of the course involves ‘repeated practice attempts’ of a technique, followed by feedback. These practice attempts can seem artificial to some people. Michael’s fieldwork with his top performing clients indicates these practice attempts with feedback are critical to improving his clients behaviour in real interactions. In effect, these top performers focus and care more about improving, than about any artificialness involved in the practice attempts.


Watch Michael Kelly’s Nine Network Australia live analysis, entitled Body language expert grades Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s performance in today’s presidential debate. Included are video grabs of a Donald Trump v Hillary Clinton debate, and an interview after the debate with Karl Stefanovic.

Getting the most from your course attendance

You’re making an investment in time, and money (if you’re sponsoring yourself), by enrolling in this course. Here are three suggestions to help you reap more benefit from your attendance:

  • Consider what work colleague/friend you could teach an idea/technique to. This means, arrange a five minute catch-up appointment with a work colleague/friend the next work day after your course to teach that person, the most memorable idea/techniques you learned in the course. This ‘teaching’ will help you retain the idea/technique. Until you can teach an idea/technique to other people you don’t really know it yourself.
  • Plan to participate/volunteer. In all of Michael Kelly’s courses, he offers various opportunities, throughout the day, for you to have additional attempts at practising techniques/interaction types. The people that volunteer for these opportunities get more worth from the course. So come prepared to participate and volunteer.
  • Before the course day write down in one sentence or phrase a specific thing/behaviour/attitude etc. that you’ll like to exit the day with. You’ll get the opportunity to share this thing/behaviour/attitude at the start of the day.


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Course materials – yours to keep
  • CCE Statement of Completion

What others say.

  • The teacher made this course that much more interesting with their expert knowledge and confidence! Very highly enjoyable course.

  • Well let me tell you! I found the course most satisfying with plenty of strategies to help control the conversation in a way that gives me time to think of what I want to say next. Also strategies to keep people intrigued in what I have to say and keeping in the moment when listening.

  • The course was immensely practical and useful. Practical sessions throughout the day meant that you were practicing the content as you were learning it. Helpful tips and tricks and very practical advice.

  • The training facilitator provided easy tips that can be put into everyday practice. It was very well run and one of the best courses I have attended.

  • I really liked the course! The presenter was great and gave really constructive feedback.

  • Our presenter was a great speaker and left me with lots of ways to combat listening and speaking under pressure. Probably I could have done with a week of it though!

  • I enjoyed the course, particularly the applied learning during the course. The opportunity to practice what we were learning and get feedback was very helpful.

  • The learning environment created by our tutor was inclusive and without judgement. This allowed for an atmosphere of open communication and feedback.

  • For a one day course it was well structured. I really liked the interactive presentation which gave opportunities to practice.

  • Such an excellent tutor who would be brilliant as a mentor. Implementing what was taught will make a difference in your career, regardless of where you are on the corporate ladder.

  • This course has changed me so much. I attended this course a week before an interview. Knowing myself that I would have struggled with certain aspects of the interview. As a result of this course I managed my nerves, confidence, and took on board all the advice given. I was successful in my application and I could not have done it without the invaluable knowledge attained as a result of this course. Thank you! I have recommended it to all my friends.

  • The course presenter is a highly skilled professional in speech and behavioural science and manages to weave the skills and knowledge into this short course really well. We got lots of practical experience and I saw and felt real results from this training day.

  • The presenter really knows what is talked about and is an excellent model of what is taught. I highly recommend this course to anyone who would like to go on a journey of being excellent at speaking.

  • I have been to many courses at CCE with many great teachers/lecturers and the tutor of this course would have to be the one who resonated the most with me. They are fantastic at what they do, and taught the course in an enthusiastic and clear way. They imparted their knowledge clearly and succinctly and were motivational. I am very happy, money well spent.

  • Great course. Well structured with lots of opportunity for practice throughout the whole day, many times but not overwhelming.

  • The tutor was wonderful! The whole structure of the day, the way he presented the information and the interactive nature of the course made it incredibly engaging. I’d recommend this course to anyone, no matter what level of confidence you have or where you currently are on the scale of turning thoughts into strong, articulate statements.

  • I did this course to develop my presenting skills because I want to get up on a TedX stage – and it did not disappoint. The presenter was really engaging and practicing what was preached. The course was really well done examining structure, stance, tone, gestures, standing/sitting etc. A truly fantastic workshop – learning to embrace the space and pause, the structure of how to craft sentences, how to really clearly get messages across and make people listen. Fantastic! I’m already recommending it to people.

  • The tutor was extraordinary – really engaging and, I think, very committed to developing each and everyone in the room.

  • I felt the pressure, and learned how to handle it! The course delivered exactly what it set out to deliver.

  • It was interesting, varied, fast flowing and I saw personal improvement throughout the day. Now I just have to practice and I’ll be super woman.

  • The tutor was very informative and helpful with individual situations. I came away with some very helpful skills that fulfill my purpose for enrolling in the course. I would definitely recommend the course.

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What others say.

  • The training facilitator provided easy tips that can be put into everyday practice. It was very well run and one of the best courses I have attended.
  • This was the best single-day course I can recall doing across a 15 year career. Venue, amenities, catering was all faultless. The best part however, was the actual course - simple and effective theory and exercises that lead to marked improvements in my own confidence and ability to speak under pressure in such a short time (same goes for the gents who also attended from my company)! We wouldn't hesitate to recommend this course to anyone who would like to build their confidence to speak under pressure. Thank you.
  • The course was excellent. I couldn't fault it.
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