How to Stay Cool in Public Speaking

18. desember 2009

Við birtum einstaka sinnum greinar á ensku, þessi er héðan – eftir Joan Curtis

Does the thought of speaking in public make you tremble inside? Are you one of those people who would rather die than speak before a group?

If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then fear not, you are not alone. The majority of people would prefer to turn tail and run than to rise up and speak before others. Most of these people will tell you they have no trouble speaking one-on-one, but when asked to stand and speak before groups, they cringe with fear.

This article will put that universal fear of public speaking in the proper perspective and give you some tips for turning the fear into positive energy.

The Paradox of Fear

Most people do not realize that fear is a good thing. In fact, if you are too relaxed you will not perform as well on the podium. Seasoned speakers know this. It’s a big secret we like to keep to ourselves. If everyone knew that fear was a good thing, everyone would confidently walk up to the podium, knowing that the fear would soon disappear. Others would not be so impressed with our prowess on stage.

Let’s look at what happens to effectiveness in relation to fear.

When you first walk on the stage, your fear factor is very high. This is called the red zone, when all of us, even the very best speakers experience the greatest fear. In the red zone when our fear is highest, we are most alert. Blood is really pumping through our veins. Our effectiveness as a speaker rises. As the speech progresses, our effectiveness continues to go up, side-by-side with our nervousness. After about 2-4 minutes into the presentation, we all hit what is called the comfort zone. This is where you begin to sense some relaxation. What you hope as a speaker is that you remain in your comfort zone through the remainder of your talk.

Very nervous speakers do not allow themselves to hit the comfort zone. They stay in the red zone throughout the talk, causing their fear to take over. This phenomenon causes fear not to propel but to paralyze.

If, on the other hand, you become even more relaxed past your comfort zone, guess what happens to your effectiveness as a speaker? It goes down! In fact, the more relaxed you get after your comfort zone the less effective you are on the stage. That little edge that brought you to the podium is now gone. Have you ever seen a speaker whom you thought was so good in first few minutes and then he/she began telling off-color stories or rambled on about something irrelevant to the topic? These are people who surpassed their comfort levels.

Knowing this paradox about fear and effectiveness, we as speakers embrace our fear and use it to propel us, rather than paralyze us. Fear then becomes the energy, the enthusiasm, the spark, our friend.

Tips to Manage Your Fear:

Identify the fear. What are you afraid of? What specifically do you fear? Are you afraid of what the other people will think of you? Are you afraid of losing your train of thought? Are you afraid you’ll fall off the stage? Write down everything you fear. Make the list as long as you need to.

Isolate Each Fear. Once you’ve identified your fears, list the things you can do to prevent that dreaded event from happening. For example, if you are afraid you will lose your train of thought, prepare clear, precise notes. If you fear what others will think of you, imagine what they are thinking. How can you turn their thoughts from negative energy to positive energy?

Take Baby Steps. Instead of making your first speech to the local Rotary Club, ask a question in a Sunday School class. When you feel comfortable asking questions in public, then teach a Sunday School class or volunteer to give a little talk in your public schools. You might consider joining Toastmasters International. This organization offers many opportunities for practice and feedback.

Practice, practice, practice. I wrote another paper on How to Write a Speech without Notes. In that paper I outlined a practice model. Take a look at that model. If you practice your speech to the point that you are absolutely sick of hearing it, you will be prepared for your speech.

Make the Unknown Known. One of our biggest fears of speaking is the unknown. We do not know the audience. We do not know the location. We do not know what will happen when we open our mouths. This list is endless. Of course you cannot make all the unknowns known, but the more you make known the more control you will get on this fear. For example, how can you make the audience known? Here are some tips:

  • Research your audience. Find out the kinds of people who usually attend this session. What are their ages, sex, socio-economic background and likely interests?
  • Greet people as they walk in. Shake hands and make eye contact. If possible, ask people their names. With a large audience you cannot meet everyone, but each person you greet becomes your new friend.

Engage Your Audience. Look out into the audience no matter how large and get them involved in your talk. Bring them along with you. Don’t just talk to them and please, do not read your notes or your PowerPoint presentation. When your eyes point down to read, you do not engage! Ask open questions that make the audience think. Challenge them to become part of your presentation. In another article, How to Engage Your Audience I shared some tips. Take a look at those tips and apply what you can.

Remember, fear is not something to fear. It is something to embrace. No matter how cool a speaker appears, he/she is shaking in his/her boots. We all have that little edge of nervousness when we walk onto the stage. We’re all in this together. You are not alone in your fear. What seasoned speakers have done is to learn how to make fear their friend. You can, too!


Who are the Millionaires?

11. desember 2009

BrianTracyVið birtum einstaka sinnum greinar á ensku og grein dagsins er fengin héðan – af bloggsíðu Brian Tracy

The way you think about money will determine how much of it you accumulate more than any other factor. Your attitude toward money affects your emotions and your motivations.

The Five Ways to Become A Millionaire
If you are really serious about becoming wealthy, you will want to know the five main ways that fortunes are made in this country. Number one, top of the list, top of the hit parade throughout the history of America, is self-owned businesses. It is entrepreneurship of all kinds, including in real estate. 74% of self-made millionaires in America, not only in this generation and in this century, but in the last century as well, come from self owned businesses.

How Wealthy People Start Out
The great majority of wealthy people started businesses and built them from the ground up. In the 19th century, fortunes were built by people like Andrew Carnegie, Jacob van Astor, Thomas Edison, Commodore Vanderbilt, J. P. Morgan and others. In the 20th century, especially in the last few years, businesses and fortunes alike have been built by people like Bill Gates, Steve Case, Larry Ellison, Ross Perot and Sam Walton. Each of these people started with nothing and built a business from scratch.

Become A Millionaire Where You Are
The second major source of self-made millionaires in America is senior executives. Ten percent of the self-made millionaires in America are men and women who have joined large corporations and worked with those corporations for many years. They rose to positions of seniority, were paid extremely well, given stock options, profit sharing and bonuses, and as a result of holding onto the money, they became millionaires.

Success Pays Big Rewards
Richard Eisner of Disney Corporation received a $126 million dollar bonus in a single year. Lee Iacoca of Chrysler Corporation was paid $26.7 million dollars as a bonus in a single year. It’s not hard to become a self-made millionaire when you are making that kind of money.

The Professional Road to Wealth
The third source of self-made millionaires in America is doctors, lawyers and other professionals. Men and women who become very, very good at what they do and rise to the top of their professions are eventually paid, very, very well. The top five percent in every field earn 10 and 20 times as much as the average person in that field.

Sell Your Way to the Top
The fourth major source of self-made millionaires in America are salespeople and sales consultants. Fully five percent of self-made millionaires are men and women who are the top salespeople in their fields. They never started their own businesses. They never went to college or university to get professional degrees. They just became very good salespeople for their products or services and were paid very good money. The secret was that they then invested the money conservatively and held on to it. 99% of self-made millionaires come from these four categories: self-owned businesses – 74%; senior executive positions – 10%: doctors, lawyers and other professionals – 10%; and salespeople and sales consultants – 5%.

Other Ways to Get Rich
The final one percent of self-made millionaires is made up of all the people in all other areas. This one percent consists of people who have made their money by inventions, in show business, in sports, through authorship of books and songs, lottery winners and inheritances. But these people make up only one percent of the total.

The bottom line is that there are so many ways for you to become a self-made millionaire that it is almost impossible for you not to achieve this goal if you are really serious about it.

Action Exercises
Here are two things you can do to put this information into action as soon as possible:

First, decide what it is that you really enjoy doing and then throw your whole heart into doing it extremely well. There is a direct relationship between excellent performance and the kind of high income that leads to financial independence.

Second, be perfectly honest with yourself on an ongoing basis. Is what you are doing right now going to lead you to financial independence, or do you have to begin making some serious changes in your work and in your life? Whatever your answer, take action on it immediately.


How to move out of your comfort zone

4. desember 2009

Við birtum einstaka sinnum greinar á ensku, þessi er héðan – eftir Paul Sloane

Most people and most organisations operate in a comfortable rut that limits their possibilities, their thinking and their achievements. If you want a more interesting life then you have to take some risks. If you want to be more adventurous in your thinking then you should be more adventurous in your activities. Deliberately push yourself out of your routine. Try things that you do not normally try. Do things that you have never done before. Do things that scare you.

Here are some ideas for pushing yourself out of your personal rut.

  • Take salsa dancing lessons
  • Try a new sport.
  • Drive a different route to work every day for a month.
  • Learn to knit.
  • Read some special interest magazines that you have never read before.
  • Perform in a karaoke bar.
  • Go to an art gallery.
  • Go on a flower arranging course.
  • Learn a foreign language.
  • Join an amateur dramatic society and act a minor part in a play.
  • Help in a charity shop.
  • Become a prison visitor.
  • Talk to somebody new every day. Listen to them carefully.

The same philosophy applies to your business. We tend to hide behind old mottos like:

  • Stick to the knitting.
  • Focus on your strengths.
  • Don’t try to be all things to all men.

These can be excuses for staying within our corporate comfort zone. It is by trying new activities that we gain new experiences and skills. If we keep doing the same things we learn very little.

Nokia was originally a small Finnish wood pulp company; it has diversified many times. It has tried all sorts of different things. At one time Nokia made rubber boots. Now it is are one of the world’s leading providers of mobile phones and is admired as a leader in innovation.

Virgin group started as a record label. Richard Branson has led countless diversifications. Many experiments have failed but they have established businesses in areas such as trains, airlines, books, cola, etc.

If we as individuals need a good push to get us out of our comfort zones then unwieldy organisations need a mighty shove. It takes guts and determination to try new business initiatives in areas outside our core competence. This is what Lou Gerstner did when he turned around IBM. Gerstner was brought in as CEO to halt the slide as the giant corporation lumbered towards irrelevance and oblivion. He took many deliberate and highly symbolic steps to change the company’s culture and to turn it away from a dependence on products to become a leader in computer services.

If you want to succeed at a personal or organisational level then you need to continually challenge yourself. Keep trying something new.


It’s about time!

27. nóvember 2009

Við birtum einstaka sinnum greinar á ensku, þessi er héðan – eftir John C. Maxwell

It seems that everyone’s busy these days. And life shows no sign of slowing down.

Here’s a harder question: Are your efforts effective?

Are they? Or do you sometimes feel like you’re spinning your wheels?

Now more than ever, we seem to have more work than time to do it. But time, according to Denis Waitley, “is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day.” So since we can’t increase the amount of time we have, we need to learn how to control our use of it. Here are some tips to help you grow in the area of time management.

Keep a detailed time log of your work. Break down every day for a week into 15-minute increments. Write in every single thing you do. This means what you actually spend time doing – not what you intended to do.

Identify your major time wasters and work to eliminate them. Everyone falls prey to certain time wasters, based on personality or work habits. Use your time log to discover yours. Then target and try to eliminate one each week.

Identify the activities you value. The greatest time management tool I ever learned came from the 19th century economist Vilfredo Pareto. The Pareto Principle (which I quote a LOT) states that if we devote our energy, time, and resources to the top 20% of our priorities, we’ll achieve 80% of the results we desire. Use your time log to clarify which activities are important to you. Then focus your schedule on the top 20%.

Use planning to gain time. Every minute spent in planning saves ten in execution. End each day with just five minutes spent planning and prioritizing for the next.

Create systems to simplify. Here’s a truth to live by: You can’t devote 80% of your time to your top priorities when you’ve just wasted 40% of your time trying to find your to-do list. I’ve created systems for nearly everything in my life. My best rule is to touch any piece of paper only once – then I either throw it away, act on it, or file it.

Become results-oriented. You already know that activity does not necessarily equal accomplishment. If your busyness is not yielding results, it’s time to adjust. Begin prioritizing, planning, and organizing. And use deadlines. They’ll point you toward results.

Heartsill Wilson said, “God has given me this day to use as I will. I can waste it – or use it for good, but what I do today is important, because I am exchanging a day of my life for it!”

When you open your eyes tomorrow morning, remind yourself that it holds incredible possibilities. You can allow that day to slip away from you, or you can use it to make things happen. The choice is yours.


Appearance Is Important

20. nóvember 2009

Við birtum einstaka sinnum greinar á ensku, þessi er héðan – eftir Stephen Boyd

Certainly what you say is more important than what people see. Your appearance, however, is an important aspect of your presentation skills; you want to encourage the audience to listen to what you have to say.

Remember that your presentation begins the moment someone recognizes you as the speaker. This might be in the elevator, the restroom, or even in the parking garage. As soon as you are in close proximity to your speaking location, act as though you are on stage—because you may be. Finish your preparation before you leave your car. Avoid writing down notes at the table before you speak. People might get the impression that you did not carefully prepare.

Be sociable in the activities that precede your speech. Look pleasant. Meet and greet people and show a genuine interest in the other person. This is not the time to be sitting by yourself pondering your presentation. Show by your expression and actions that you are engaged in the activities which precede your presentation.

Wear clothing suitable for the audience you are speaking to. If you are not sure, ask the program planner when you are learning about your audience. When possible, dress one notch up from the audience. For men that might mean wearing a sport coat with an open collar if you know your audience will be in knit shirts and slacks. For women this might mean wearing nice slacks and sweater when speaking to a casual retreat where women will be in jeans. For most occasions in a hotel or event center, a suit and tie or silk blouse is always appropriate. Do not wear clothing that can be distracting, which might mean avoiding flashy jewelry or flamboyant shirts and scarves. For some people, of course, the flamboyant look is their trademark. Your appearance should blend in well with your content and the audience to which you are speaking.

I was once in a setting where the young man who was teaching was frustrated at what he perceived to be a negative attitude from the participants. Over half the audience was in suits and ties, dresses and high heels, with a few people in jeans, sweatshirts, and sneakers. The speaker was in jeans with his shirttail out and wearing sandals. There was nothing wrong with his dress if he’d been in the audience, but it adversely affected his rapport with some of the people there. Someone privately suggested he tuck in his shirt and wear a sport coat to the next session, and he wisely took the advice. He was amazed at the difference his effort on his appearance made on the attitude of his audience. His content was excellent but was overshadowed by how he presented himself.

Check yourself in the mirror of the restroom before you enter the meeting room to make sure that everything about your appearance is in place. About a year ago I was in a hurry to make a noon banquet speech and I skipped the restroom look. When I got back to the car after the speech, I realized I had unbuttoned the top button of my shirt and pulled my tie loose earlier in the day, and I had looked that way throughout the speech. I’m sure I appeared as though I’d had more than food at lunch that day!

Look confident even though you may feel nervous about your presentation. Avoid the worried, furrowed-brow look. Smile a lot. Walk with a bounce in your step. Emanate that “I am in charge” aura. You will certainly have that confident look when you are speaking and you will want to show it in the minutes before you speak as well. The incongruity of looking too serious and worried and then smiling and acting enthusiastic as you speak may negatively affect your credibility.

Finally, when you are introduced, walk to the lectern with erect posture, quick steps, and a smile on your face. Before you actually speak, look at the audience to make eye contact with several people, and then begin.

Of course you rely first on great content, but these tips can help you to reinforce your expertise with a professional manner and look.


Seven Great Questions to Ask at a Job Interview

6. nóvember 2009

Við birtum einstaka sinnum greinar á ensku, þessi er héðan – eftir Paul Sloane

If you are going for an interview as a prospective employee then you should do some research.  Read the job description and requirements carefully.  Browse the web site to see how the organization presents itself.  Search for news items and comments about the company on news sites and blogs.

For the interview itself you should dress smartly and appropriately.  It is important to have some questions prepared and here are a few that could really help:

1.  What exactly would my day-to-day responsibilities be? It is essential that you clearly understand your role and the tasks that you would be expected to undertake.  It is easy to make assumptions and get the wrong impression of what the work would be so it is vital for both sides that there is clarity in what is expected of you.  If the interviewer cannot give a clear answer then this is a worrying sign, so politely follow up with more questions.  Some people even ask to see exactly where they will sit.

2.  What are the opportunities for training and career advancement? This question serves two purposes.  It helps you to understand where the job might lead and what skills you might acquire.  It also signals that you are ambitious and thinking ahead.

3.  What is the biggest challenge facing the organization today? This sort of question takes the interview away from the detail and towards strategic issues.  It allows to you see and discuss the bigger picture.  It proves that you are interested in more than just the 9 to 5 aspects of the job.  It can lead to interesting discussions that can show you in a good light – especially if you have done some intelligent preparation.  If appropriate you can follow up this question with some questions about the objectives of the department and the manager who is interviewing you.

4.  When did you join? After the interviewer has asked a number of questions about you it can make a good change to ask a gentle question about them.  People often like talking about themselves and if you can get them talking about their progress in the company you can learn useful and interesting things.

5.  What are the criteria that you are looking for in the successful candidate for this position? The job advertisement may have listed what was wanted in a candidate but it is very useful to hear the criteria directly from the interviewer.  The more that you can discover about what they want and how they will make the decision the better placed you are to influence that decision.

6.  How do you feel that I measure up to your requirements for this position? This follows on naturally from the previous questions.  It may seem a little pushy but it is a perfectly fair thing to ask.  In sales parlance this is a ‘trial close’.  If they say that you are a good fit then you can ask whether there is any reason you might not be offered the job.  If they say that you are lacking in some key skill or attribute then you can move into objection handling mode and point out some relevant experience or a countervailing strength.

7.  Would you like to hear what I could do to really help your department? If you want the job then this is a great question to ask at the end of the interview.  Most interviewers will reply, ‘Yes.’  Drawing on what you have learnt in the conversation, you can give a short sales pitch on why you fit the criteria and why your strengths and ideas will siginficantly assist the boss to meet their objectives.  Make it short, direct and clear with the emphasis on the benefits for them of having you in the team.  At the end ask something like, ‘how does that sound?’

Many candidates take a passive role at the interview.  They competently answer the questions that are put to them but they never take the initiative by asking intelligent questions that steer the interview in a helpful direction.  If you are a proactive candidate who asks the sorts of questions given above then you will be seen as more dynamic and you will significantly increase your chances of being offered the job.


Crisis call for critical choices

30. október 2009

Við birtum einstaka sinnum greinar á ensku, þessi er héðan – eftir John C. Maxwell

With the economy in its current state, it seems like every time we turn around, a new crisis appears. Bank failures, home foreclosures, business ventures reluctantly abandoned. In times like these, good leadership is especially critical.

I recently addressed this in a session for the Maximum Impact program, which will be available in October. One of the things I talked about was decision-making during a crisis. Here are the top five types of tough choices good leaders make during tough times:

1.  Courageous decisions. What must be done?

Crises usually prompt an organization to narrow its focus. Leaders have to make those calls. That requires courage when others have a lot invested in what will be eliminated. A leader has to be willing to stand up to all competing agendas and do what must be done.

2.  Priority decisions. What must be done first?

The Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto once said, “If you’re Noah, and your ark is about to sink, look for the elephants first, because you can throw over a bunch of cats and dogs and squirrels and everything else that is just a small animal – and your ark will keep sinking. But if you can find one elephant to get overboard, you’re in much better shape.”

If you’re a leader, identify your elephants.

3.  Change decisions. What must be done differently?

Even ideas that would have worked well a month earlier may be useless in an emergency. Leaders know when it’s time to make a change. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: When the horse is dead, DISMOUNT.

4.  Creative decisions. What are my options?

You probably know how this saying ends:

“If I always do what I’ve always done….” That’s right: “. . . I always get what I’ve always gotten.”

When the old methods aren’t working to solve the crisis, they need to be questioned. Think outside of the box. Get every option out on the table. A good leader will be open-minded and explore all options on the spectrum between “change nothing” and “change everything.” The right choice usually lies somewhere in the middle.

5.  Support decisions. Who can help me?

Leaders are responsible for having the right people on the team and making sure they are in the right places. In their book, The Wisdom of Teams, Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith write,

Team leaders genuinely believe that they do not have all the answers-so they do not insist on providing them. They believe they do not need to make all key decisions-so they do not do so. They believe they cannot succeed without the combined contributions of all the other members of the team to a common end-so they avoid any action that might constrain inputs or intimidate anyone on the team. Ego is not their predominant concern.

Leaders are not MADE in a crisis. Leaders are REVEALED in a crisis. It’s easy to steer a ship in calm waters. Only the turbulence of a storm shows a captain’s true skill.

If your organization is facing a storm, take the wheel and make the decisions that only a leader can make.