Communication with Confidence

Helpful Hints

Coping With Pre-Speech Nerves

By on Sep 30, 2014 in Helpful Hints

I recently read a back copy of the magazine MiNDFOOD that got me thinking. It was entitled “Performing Under Pressure” by psychologist Dr Mary Grogan. The reason it caught my attention was that it talked about ‘pre-event nerves’. One of the things that has always struck me is that suggestions made for coping with nerves before public speaking invariably did not work for me. The suggestions were normally centered on relaxing techniques. Given their wide dissemination they must have worked for some people but they never seemed to for me. I conditioned myself to think, “Hey, there’s those nerves again. It’s my body getting prepared to speak and pumping out the adrenalin so I can perform well. Fantastic!” And I’d look forward with anticipation to sharing what I had with my audience. From the article it appears I may have been on the right track. “In a December 2013 study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, author Alison Wood Brooks of Harvard Business School, says we might have been using the wrong strategy to get over our nerves. Although we try to remain cool and composed, it is hard to calm down the automatic feelings of anxiety that are generated before a major event. There is now research showing that suppressing feelings is usually ineffective. Instead, Brooks suggests people are better served by telling themselves they are excited rather than anxious (this is known as reappraisal).” Brook’s research included people being asked to perform anxiety provoking activity. Those who were asked beforehand to say to themselves ‘I’m excited’ performed better than those told to say I’m anxious’. In one of Brook’s experiments “…. 140 participants were told to prepare a speech and were given a two minute time frame to do so. They had to perform in front of a camera and had been told it would be judged by peers (these conditions were designed to get people highly anxious). Before delivering the speech, half the participants were told to say to themselves, ‘I am excited’ and the other half, ‘I am calm.’ The speeches were analyzed by independent evaluators, who found that those who had said, ‘I am excited’ consistently performed better than those who’d told themselves...

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Feedback Improves Communication

By on Aug 8, 2012 in Helpful Hints, News Flash

If we are speaking in public one of the things that can be really daunting is to not only hear ourselves speak but to also see ourselves as others see us. It is always helpful to get feedback on our performance after we have presented a speech, a pitch, workshop, seminar or facilitation. It enables us to monitor our performance and improve it in the future. That is why it’s essential to at least have some form of feedback sheet or someone who can provide unbiased feedback on our performance afterwards. Effective feedback confirms what is working well for us and identifies those areas where we can improve. That feedback can be enhanced by having some coaching based around our presentation. The coaching shows where improvements can be made and how to achieve them. The ability to then practice those suggestions not only reinforces them in our mind but gives us confidence to put the suggestions into practice in the future. We can feel ourselves improve; that is a real incentive to learn and apply the suggestions. One of the most powerful aides to improving performance is the use of video recording. The real power of video is that it shows us as we are. By casting a critical eye over our presentation we can see the areas that require our attention. Seeing is believing. By adding a coach or mentor to help us we then have a powerful mix. The coach can suggest the improvements and monitor our revised performance to ensure that the improvement is actually achieved. And we can see the results for ourselves. There can be an added benefit to having a permanent copy of the video recording on a computer file or DVD. After a course to a firm of chartered accountants one of them said that she had to do a presentation quite some time later. She went back to the coaching video and it reinforced the things she needed to address when making her presentation. It was a part of her preparation that materially assisted her to give a fine presentation that really hit the mark. So if we are to make increasingly more effective presentations we need to get good feedback...

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Tools to help fight the Recession

By on Aug 8, 2012 in Helpful Hints

The recession is starting to bite. It’s more important than ever to ensure that businesses and their staff are good communicators. Effective communication materially contributes to the survival chances of businesses. Consumers are watching ever more carefully how and where they spend their dollars discretionary and otherwise. A business’s ability to effectively communicate the benefits and ‘the fit’ of their products and services becomes more critical than ever as the competition increases for the available dollars. One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is that business people often overlook how well their staff communicate both inside, and more importantly, outside the business. Trained sales staff and marketers aside, it’s just as important that other staff members can promote the business fluently and correctly. Think back to the last time you met somebody new for the first time. The second or third question you’re likely to be asked is, “What do you do and/or where do you work?” The well organised amongst us will normally have a small ‘sound bite’ of a reply that answers both questions. To have an effective reply ready is admirable but that’s not the point. Once we say who we work for, in the mind of the questioner, we then become that firm or organisation. We are it and how we react, how we handle any questions about it, does effect how the questioner will think about our firm. Obviously if we make a good impression that view will be positive. Equally, being hesitant, disconcerted or lacking in confidence can create the opposite effect. When times are tough can we afford to take the risk that one of our staff, on or off the job, may inadvertently turn off a potential sale? Foster an understanding within your firm of the qualities and positive aspects of it, its successes and the quality of its products. This is the key. It ensures that, when asked, staff will have something positive to say about your firm This knowledge is easily provided through staff magazines, team briefs, blogs, bulletin boards and the like. The question is not how we do it, the question is do we make the time and resources available to do it? But...

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How to put more “Ooomph!” into your presentations:

By on Aug 8, 2012 in Helpful Hints

The Dozen ‘P’s of Public Speaking   Preparation – research, write, and rehearse – rehearse, rehearse, rehearse Pace – this should vary – if we speak at one pace we become boring Pitch – this is the key to vocal variety; low, middle, and high – in both tone and volume Pause – one of the best ways to avoid those “uuumhs” and “aarhs” (and to take a breath) Presentation (personal) – always remember that “You are your best visual aid” Period (time) – to go beyond you allotted time is to steal what you have no right to Pan – the audience with your eyes, engaging its members for 2-3 seconds each Project – your voice using your diaphragm Pronounce – your words clearly – good articulation aids understanding Passion – give your speech everything you have – be enthusiastic, it’s contagious Personality – be yourself, bring your own uniqueness to your speech Participate – focus all your attention on your audience and stay ‘tuned in’ to...

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Overcoming Nervousness

By on Aug 8, 2012 in Helpful Hints

Just recently I did a training presentation for one of the large Harcourts real estate franchises. At the end of the hour and a half session their training manager asked me if there were any tips or suggestions on how to overcome nervousness. I mentioned a couple of things but, as you do, I thought about them afterwards and realized I’d ‘undercooked’ my reply. So I thought I’d share with you my view on the five things we should know about overcoming nervousness. The first is that when we are talking or presenting our focus should always be on the other person or our audience. As I’m fond of saying, “It’s not about us, it’s about them”. We concentrate on how we can best assist them, on the best solutions or ideas we have for them and how we intend to deliver our message – for them. What that does is to take our attention away from ourselves. We stop thinking about us and about how we feel and think about our audience instead. That takes the pressure off us. It reduces our anxiety about our own performance as we focus on our message. The second key is practice. I believe in the five ‘P’s. “Plenty of practice prevents pathetic performance.” The more we practice, in our minds, in front of the mirror or our family and friends the better. We can also use video, CD or tape (audio) to hear and see how we are doing. The feedback can really assist improve our presentation. All these increase our familiarity with our material. The more familiar it is the less daunting presenting it becomes. Practice is a powerful tool to reduce fear. The third is an understanding that nervousness is normal. In fact it’s not only normal, it’s essential. Nervousness is a form of fear. It’s the release mechanism for the adrenalin that gives us that edge which contributes to producing our best. Just as in our primordial past when we were faced with danger, that menacing sabre-tooth tiger, the adrenalin kicked in to assist us fight or flee. In our case it’s less dramatic but equally effective. It assists rather than hinders us. So we acknowledge the nervousness...

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