If you want to make a go of this public speaking thing….if you want to deliver memorable presentations and you’ve done your homework – you already know that weaving personal stories into your presentation is key to creating connection with your audience.
When you’re asked to speak on the spot, having relevant and relatable stories fresh in your memory to share, can build a whole new level of respect and interest with your colleagues and clients.
If you’ve been in a relationship for any length of time, chances are you’ve heard your partner tell one particular story at a party over and over again. The first time you heard it, it was hilarious – even the second, third and eighth time were enjoyable…but, you know, there comes a time when all good stories need to be removed from the shelf, to make room for new ones! So make sure that you’ve got a number of stories that fit the above 5 and switch them up!
Life is happening to you, every minute of every day. Every day is another page in your story – but most of us are just skimming through it like a 5 year old magazine in the doctor’s office.
Great stories don’t have to be life-changing, there is magic in ordinary moments. At the end of the week, look back at what’s occurred – did you witness an act of kindness on your morning walk, did your team solve a problem or make an un-makable deadline, did you read a book that changed your view? Is there a message in one of these moments that would make a good anecdote somewhere down the track (maybe even in a job interview!).
Your stories make you unique – looking more closely at your every day experiences gives your own life more meaning, as does sharing them with others.
To paraphrase the mesmerising Will Smith, as well as America’s
#1 Success Coach Jack Canfield – on the other side of fear…lies amazing opportunity.
In my 20’s, I was given the rare (we’re talking rainbow unicorn rare) opportunity to audition for breakfast radio in Melbourne. What an incredible door to have held open for you, even just a crack! Unfortunately, I completely and utterly tanked the audition. I was stilted, I was wooden, I was quite honestly paralysed by fear. Where did the sunny, happy, witty (even if I do say so myself) me go? Why on earth did she disappear on me, when I needed her most!?!
Why did I freeze? My
best guess, without becoming a frequent flyer at my local therapist’s office, is
that it was fear of failure. I got my
mind so caught up in the size of the opportunity and ‘what if I fail’ that I
fulfilled my own prophecy.
…and that is just one of the spectacular opportunities that I’ve missed, while I stood paralysed on the other side of fear.
Fear is like a wall, it’s the barrier between you and what you dare to dream. Like a prisoner seeing their family on the other side of an inch of plexi-glass – what you want is right there in front of you, but painfully out of reach.
To quote Tony Robbins, “Life is a dance between what you desire most and what you fear most.” When the desire for what’s on the other side of the wall outweighs the barrier in front of you, nothing will hold you back.
For so long I have dreamt of helping others conquer their fear of public speaking, but the fear of failure has always loomed large, and time and time again it’s made me slink back into the shadows.
Call it FOMO – but my desire has finally overcome my fear and I’m excited (and scared) to offer my thoughts, tactics and techniques to those who are holding themselves back from their dreams, because of their fear of public speaking.
You could say my FOMO has turned into FOOMO (fear of others missing out).
Now when the fears creep up and threaten to overtake me, I simply say “So What?” If it doesn’t turn out the way I dreamt it, so what? The possibility of failure is now nothing compared to the pain of not even trying.
In my Find Your Voice Workshop, we take a closer look at WHY you run away from the doors that open for you to share your story, your products and services…and give you the tools you need to climb the wall and discover the opportunities that lie on the other side of fear.
…it’s OK, not a single participant has died…yet.
Nothing undermines your authority faster than the ‘s’ word.
Apologising when there’s nothing to apologise for? I’m sorry (not sorry) to say it, but women can be the worst!
Remember a time:
…you approached someone in a corridor and dodged the same way they did.
…the elevator doors opened and others were already in the lift as you got in.
…at the supermarket, someone was standing right in front of the grocery item you wanted.
Instead of whoops, thank you and excuse me – you said ‘Sorry’ didn’t you?
I have, many times! It seems like such a harmless little word and the polite thing to do. But if you look at the definition of the word and you become aware of how many times a day you say it (unnecessarily), it could be having quite an effect on your overall confidence and self-worth…and how others see you.
Looking back now, I realise that for years I had been walking around apologising for my mere presence in the room or my existence on the planet! Like a dog showing its belly in a submissive display (uncomfortable metaphor that one) – I was offering apologies to colleagues, bosses, direct reports, even complete strangers when what I should have been saying was “thanks for holding the lift”, “I appreciate your patience”, “glad I caught you in your office, have you got 5 minutes?”.
In my presentation upskilling workshops, we talk about ways to display confidence and convey authority when speaking. The first way, is to stop apologising. For instance:
I am now very aware when someone says ‘sorry’ to me in those chance social encounters in corridors, lifts and on the street – and it’s rarely a male. I also notice when women choose another word, and think “you go girl!”.
I’m laughing as I write this, because I just caught myself thinking “maybe I should put a disclaimer at the beginning of the blog to let people know that these are my personal observations and I don’t have any hard stats to back up my claims”. An apology in disguise! LOL…I’m a work in progress.
Don’t waste oxygen talking about what you don’t want. Fuel your goals not your fears.
For me, the opportunity to speak to a group is a tremendous privilege. Everybody’s time is precious, so for people to give me their undivided attention to share my thoughts, opinions or ideas should be treated with the greatest respect, and used wisely.
Mother Teresa is quoted as saying “I will never attend an anti–war rally; if you have a peace rally, invite me.” Hmmm…Anti-war / Pro-peace…isn’t it to-may-to / to-mar-to?? I think you’ll agree there is a subtle yet powerful difference between the two. To be anti-war is to use your energy pushing against the unwanted and focus on the unwanted – it’s exhausting, and even if the war ends you are no further forward than the day before the war began. On the other hand, to be pro-peace is to focus on what you DO want, it’s effects go way beyond the day the war ends to a brighter, more harmonious and prosperous future.
From a speaking perspective, when you speak in the positive it offers energy, excitement and opportunity, you are lifting the energy of the room and focussing your audience on solutions. When you speak in the negative without providing an alternative, you are lowering the mood and leaving people feeling worse than when they walked in (politicians take note – give people something to vote FOR not against).
It is something that you will hear me harp on in my presentation upskilling workshops – it can be the difference between getting the job and not, the difference between being thought of as a leader or…not.
So when you’re gathering your notes and your thoughts to share in a meeting or deliver to a group – consider the opportunity before you, remember the Mother Teresa Rule and give the bulk of your presentation to the solution, not the problem.
On the weekend, we said goodbye to our magnificent raintree – the tree that all other trees in our neighbourhood used to look up to.
It was a tree you could see from streets away and made our property immediately identifiable on Google Earth. It was home to bird life and native wildlife, it would take 3 and half people’s arms fully outstretched to give it a proper hug. When the breeze blew through the leaves, you would be showered in flecks of gold as they fell to the ground. An overly romanticized memory perhaps, but it was one of the reasons that we fell in love with our home.
Unfortunately, in 2011, Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi dealt it a blow from which it never recovered. We should have bitten the bullet there and then, and had it removed – but we didn’t. There it sat for over 8 years, this once noble tree, becoming weaker and more dangerous every day.
So why didn’t we deal with it? Fear.
It seemed insurmountable. And the lopping companies appeared to agree.
Every lopper who came, would stand at its base, look up at it, walk around it, kick it….look up again, rubbing their chin and saying “that’s a big tree”. They would then look at the narrow access, the shed beside it (which meant very little room to drop the limbs), look over the fence at the neighbour’s yard (zero access), look back at the tree and say again “that’s a big tree”. Whilst they all promised to come back to us with a price, they never did. It was insurmountable.
Except for one. These were the guys, who after looking at the big picture, then broke it down into smaller steps. It was both methodical and masterful, making a massive job doable. So 7 hours, one cherry-picker, two cranes and some serious climbing and chainsaw skills later, it was done. A sizeable chunk of real estate behind the shed has now opened up for us to consider some new and exciting possibilities.
When you have a fear (like public speaking) or any project that feels insurmountable, it really does help to break it down into smaller steps. Then work on those steps individually (without having to look at the whooooole tree). Before you know it, what appeared insurmountable is done and a whole new world of possibility has opened up.
Some would say the moral of this story is ‘don’t plant big trees’ (or buy a property with them) – I’d say life’s too short to think small.
Welcome to the Townsville Chamber 2019 Federal Election Debate.
I went to this morning’s event for a couple of reasons – it was my only chance to see all* the candidates side by side and get a sense of the person behind their election poster….and as a Presentation Coach, I wanted to see them put through their speaking paces and observe the impact it had on their message.
Here’s what I saw:
My recommendations (from a presentation perspective) to anyone standing for public office:
1. If you’re invited to a debate and you can’t attend, send your apologies. No one likes being stood up.
2. Rehearse your introduction – it is best not to umm and aah while speaking on the subject you should know best (yourself!). Your audience may not consciously notice your umms and aahs, but they will get a sense of uncertainty from you right from the start.
3. Be aware of your microphone ‘popping’. Those “P” sounds that force a large amount of air into the mic and jar your listener’s ears. If you notice it happening, turn your mouth slightly away from the microphone to avoid the air hitting it directly.
4. Watch your ‘crutches’. The first time you preface your sentence with “Let me be very clear!” it’s powerful…the second time a little less so….and the third time you say it, your audience is starting to think you’ve just got your Party pants on (Political party that is) and you’re parroting political clichés!
5. Answer the question – we know that politicians need to try to weave their party policy into the conversation, and ‘toe the party line’ when responding on certain issues…but if it doesn’t sound like you’re building to a clear answer in the first 15 seconds you will lose the crowd. (And it won’t be easy to get them back.)
Congratulations to all the candidates, not just for showing up this morning, but for being willing to put yourself in the firing line and step up for your community. It’s easy to sit on the sidelines and tell others what they ‘should’ do (like I just have!) – thank you for adding your voice to this country’s conversation about our future.
*We won’t mention the candidates that chose not to show (without sending apologies for their non-attendance). You’ve already done enough damage to your own reputation amongst the Townsville business community.