- hosted by Clinical Psychologist, Life Coach, Distinguished Toastmaster and Professional Speaker, Reinette Steyn
The Head Office of the Selfgrow Development Group is in a peaceful garden setting in Milnerton, in Cape Town, South Africa. Clinical Psychologist Reinette Steyn and the Selfgrow group may be contacted, for appointments or quotes only, at
Tel +27 021 555-4248 [Office hrs; GMT +2]
This site is intended as a source of information and practical referral assistance for LAY persons, and not as a resource for academic research or debate, or for clinical direction. Explanations of complex issues are therefore given in greatly simplified and concrete form, to make them accessible to a wide readership.
Time devoted to this web site is pro bono in service to the community: We regret we do not have time to answer queries about any of the information published, or accept any email correspondence. In a crisis situation, always contact a psychologist, social worker, medical practitioner or hospital in your area.
Please browse the Articles page for helpful information and techniques on various topics. We will gradually add articles over time, and update old ones as necessary. Also look at the Links page for useful connections to other sources of information.
About Professional Speaking
Reinette, aka Ret Steyn, presents inspirational and motivational speeches on a variety of topics, from insights gained from the study of the neuropsychology of brain/mind, or information about the processes involve in the material universe, to her experiences as a teacher, actress/singer, director and psychologist, and the ability of human beings to overcome obstacles and disabilities.
Ret is a Distinguished Toastmaster and has also won inter-Club English Prepared and several Humorous Speech Contests, produced plays and musicals, has appeared on various radio shows, and is a member of the Professional Speakers’ Association of South Africa and the Toastmasters Speakers Bureau. Ret is also a voice and acting coach, and has performed lead roles in plays and musicals since early childhood. She has sung for CAPAB chorus and has sung several roles for the CT Gilbert & Sullivan Society, the Cape Singers’ Guild, and her own ensemble and soloists group, L’Opera. In 2007 she directed the acclaimed comedy The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of ‘Macbeth’ for the Milnerton playhouse.
All Ret’s presentations demonstrate virtuosity of structure, vocal expressiveness, richness of imagery and – despite impaired motor functioning due to neck injury – good body language. Even the serious topics are speckled with elevated humour and entertaining anecdotes and infused with sparkling energy.
Examples of Speech Topics / Titles
Informative / Educational / Inspirational / Entertaining speeches:
- Self-Hypnosis: Your tool to Unlimited Growth and exquisite Joy
- Resolving Conflict
- Creativity Crash Course
- Money-Magnet Skills
- Difficult People and How to deal with Them
- Panic Mechanics: Never be overwhelmed by Anxiety again!
- The stuff Dreams are made of: How the brain works to create reality
- “No Lame Excuses!”
- “So I’m Fat: Deal with it!” [Making peace with your foibles]
- “Curtain Up!” [Entertaining stories from her stage experiences]
- “I’m Disturbed Already!” [experiences in the field of training in Mental illness]
- “Catch the Hours” [inspirational/motivational: make the best of your life]
- “Mental Magic” [Exploring the power of the human mind-brain]
- “He-She-Me” [Gender identity issues from a neurological perspective]
- You can’t buy Lipstick from a Hardware Store – Realistic Expectations between Genders
Reinette, aka Ret Steyn, presents inspirational and motivational speeches on a variety of topics, from insights gained from the study of the neuropsychology of brain/mind, or information about the processes involve in the material universe, to her experiences as a teacher, actress/singer, director and psychologist, and the ability of human beings to overcome obstacles and disabilities. She is equally fluent in English and Afrikaans and at home in different cultural milieus.
Ret is a Distinguished Toastmaster and has also won several Speech Contests, has written and produced plays and musicals, has appeared as consultant on various radio shows, is a member of the Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa [PSASA] and the Toastmasters Speakers Bureau, and is a Trainer for the Toastmasters Leadership Institute.
Ret was also a professional voice and acting coach, and has performed lead roles in plays and musicals since early childhood.She has sung for CAPAB chorus and has performed several lead roles for the CT Gilbert & Sullivan Society, the Cape Singers’ Guild, and her own ensemble and soloists group, L’Opera.
Ret’s presentations demonstrate virtuosity of structure, vocal expressiveness, richness of imagery and – despite impaired motor functioning due to neck injury – good body language. Even the serious topics are speckled with elevated humour and entertaining anecdotes and infused with sparkling energy.
In addition to presenting hundreds of training workshops in the fields of psychology, hypnosis, motivation, communication, critical thinking, brain differences and gender relationships, conflict resolution, problem-solving, goal-achievement, creativity, advanced leadership, and quantum manifestation techniques, she has also been a keynote speaker at various conferences and AGM’s.
Reinette can be contacted through her web site www.selfgrow.co.za .
What others say about her presentations:
“Over the last few years I have attended numerous presentations and training sessions presented and facilitated by Reinette Steyn. I find her material interesting and thought-provoking. Reinette encourages audience participation, getting them involved in her workshops, helping the audience members to learn by doing, and not just by listening.
I recommend Reinette as a facilitator, speaker or trainer, and I certainly will be attending more of her workshops in the future.”
Craig Strachan – Past District Governor, Toastmasters Southern Africa
“Ret Steyn spoke to [the PSASA meeting in Cape Town] on Self Hypnosis and Mind Power, and it was an awesome session. No, we didn’t all fall asleep! In fact the whole chapter feels super clever, having learnt about Embedded Suggestions, Jacobson’s Relaxation Technique, Autogenic Training, Seeding, Focused Waking Trance, Rational Emotive Therapy and the Principle of Utilization. Ret is an incredibly insightful and highly intelligent woman and she really gave us a different meeting and taught us much about ourselves. Now we can all relax ourselves and get rid of all the stress in our lives.”
Wolfgang Riebe – PSASA President
“Please find below my sincerest reference
“I have attended several training sessions, workshops and presentations conducted by Reinette Steyn. From these sessions, I have found many an interesting and thought-provoking topic. Reinette has that rare ability to extract from her wealth of knowledge, information and exercises which personally impact on the audience while making it entertaining and interactive. I have personally grown from these experiences and look forward to more!”
Corrine Clifford-Mundy - Cornastone Wellbeing
OPERA SINGERS’ TIPS FOR SPEAKERS by Reinette Steyn
Learn to be able to speak for hours without hosting frogs in the throat or getting physically or vocally tired! – After all, a Wagner opera may go on for over four hours with the soloists belting away for most of it, night after night, without any sign of vocal or physical collapse. Or you can use Plan B: continue speaking with casual disdain for your speaking instrument, and pay an understudy to stand by to deliver your next speech!
Stance [or Seat – for disabled speakers and workshop facilitators!]:
Balance implies equi-librium, or “equal freedom” to move effortlessly and with control in any direction. Always speak and move in balance.
When standing, put one foot slightly ahead of the other at comfortable width –usually at ½ o 2/3 of shoulder width. Balance so that body’s centre of gravity is in the lower torso, equal distant from both feet, i.e. “centre” yourself in the lowest part of belly, groin and buttocks. Lean in onto front leg for connection or emphasis when suitable.
Stand in a “pelvic tilt” position – singing and speech teachers often use the metaphor “push the pelvis up as if you’re on the toilet”. This ensures free breath energy and strong, enduring posture.
When sitting, sit up straight, with both feet on the floor; do not cross your legs. Do not lean back into the seat [If you’ve ever been in a wheelchair you’d know the exquisite surprise of landing on your neck and head if you became too “laid-back”!]. If necessary, balance on the front half of the chair to ensure good mobility, sustain energy, and free the lungs for proper breathing. Always use lower back and belly muscles to create a groin centre of gravity and free arms and legs for non-verbal communication.
While it is not essential to hold arms up and carry a huge white handkerchief throughout your speech, your posture should be balanced enough so that such an operatic moment – or any other weird and wonderful pose you might wish to strike – is effortlessly achievable. The Recipe: chest out, chin strong, jaw relaxed!, belly and buttocks held in but not too tightly [unless your speech is about the army, or on how to look thinner], head up, eyes wide open and pupils moving with energy, shoulders comfortably back, and hands relaxed at sides when not intentionally conveying meaning.
Lungs are pear-shaped, and proper and healthy breathing, for speech and health, is to draw air into to bottom half of the lungs, so that the lower belly and back can fill out like an inflatable tube, allowing you to speak from the abdomen, rather than the danger zones of chest [good for night club crooners and drunken rock stars only] or throat [only good for when you catch your spouse in bed with a lover].
Speak on the breath: use all the air from the lungs in a controlled way, without letting air escape from nose or sides of mouth, which may sound breathy or soft or lacking in confidence. Make sure you save enough breath – or breathe again – for endings of phrases… If using Power Point, tele-prompters or notes, don’t look down at end of phrases! Look at your crib aid in the course of the phrase, or during a meaningful pause after its completion, to avoid losing vocal control and audience contact.
In the Mask:
Voice should resonate in sinuses and other spaces in head in order to be audible, full-bodied and clear. If you focus your voice in the “mask” [front of face], you will get a resonant sound that can be heard far and clearly even when speaking softly. A good way to practise this is by doing vocal exercises using nasal sounds or “ree” combinations:
- ng… nnn… mmm… ngah… ngoo… ngay… mmmmmee… [etc]
- bring me spring ringing in freely…. [make all the “i’s” a long “ee” sound and tie the together: “breengmeespreeng-reengeengeenfreelee”]
Paint the Walls…:
When speaking softly, you must still be heard clearly and effortlessly by everyone in the audience. A great technique is to imagine you are painting the back wall of the venue with your voice. [This is how opera singers can be heard above an 80 piece orchestra even when they whisper an evil plot, loving words, a prayer, or a 50 minute death scene!]
Respect: Prepare Well!
If opera singers can learn many hours of singing off by heart in many foreign languages, in addition to their own music lines, movements, responses, orchestra cues, and other singers’ entrances, there is simply no excuse for speakers to be PPt or note bound, to have meaningless gestures or comfort-movements, or to speak in boring or irritating voices. Avoid mannerisms like repeating phrases or stock words [“obviously”, “naturally”, ”of course”, etc] or crutch gestures [like smacking lips, flapping hands like dying fish, etc]. Always bring the finished product, the complete opera [which means “work”] to your audience, who pay you, whether with money or their time and attention. There is no such thing as an unworthy audience – only an unworthy speaker.
Final words: Remember “You are just as good as your last performance.” If you can’t bring performance-level preparation, enthusiasm and passion even to a small audience or your colleagues or mentees, rather insult them unashamedly on a social media site than to waste their time with a show that doesn’t live up to your or the speaking community’s reputations!
“Break a leg!”