Getting Over Yourself

August 10, 2017

Not talking may give you more presence

Filed under: Uncategorized — Barbara Rocha @ 10:30 am

When we’re asked to speak, usually the first thing that comes up is “what will I say?” And then the words seem to remain front and center leading up to “how will I remember everything?”

We’ve talked about how to make it easier to remember your story and there are many things you can do to keep your story line straight as you speak.

But sometimes worrying about getting all the words right leads to tense delivery. And that leads to everything coming out in a hurry.

Do yourself a favor. Stop worrying about whether you’re going to remember; this allows you to get up there and tell those people what you need or want them to know. If they get that, then you’ve been a success. (If you can’t remember how to make your story easier to remember, e-mail me and ask.)

Not talking often has more impact than talking. Meaning, let yourself pause. Participate in your story and you’ll realize that you can’t just blow through these things–even you won’t be able to process the ideas.

Silence is your friend. It’s what we do in conversation. Pause and let the idea sink in (for both the speaker and the listener). Being able to do that gives you a sense of being in charge, and actually allows you to deliver your message conversationally.

When you’re able to naturally intersperse your message with enough silence to allow everyone to absorb the ideas (yes, you too) then you automatically have presence. Which is a good thing.



August 3, 2015

Don’t be afraid of silence when you’re speaking

Filed under: Uncategorized — Barbara Rocha @ 7:48 am

The best talks I’ve ever heard have been full of silence–which we call pauses. Not mechanical, “I’m counting to 5″ pauses, but the kind that make clear the speaker is actually thinking about their ideas. Doing this allows the audience to do the same.

So, ideally, to be one of those great speakers, you’ll stop worrying about how you look and sound and just focus on what you’re saying and why it matters to the audience. Because being in the moment causes those pauses to happen, naturally and effectively. Just as they do in conversation. That kind of focus and those natural pauses make it a lot easier to speak. Plus, your audience will be able to relax, not worry about you, and just listen to your message.

Pausing before you start makes you feel:

  • Taller
  • Smarter
  • In control
  • Able to think more clearly

When you pause before you start, your audience will see you as:

  • Taller
  • Smarter
  • In control
  • Worth listening to

Here are a few ways that being comfortably silent (pausing) works in your favor:

  • Gives you the freedom to start when you’re ready rather than plunging in and getting it wrong
  • Gives you time to process what you’re saying
  • Makes it easier for you to stay in the moment
  • Helps you feel calm and focused
  • Gives you time to get back on track if you’ve lost your way
  • Highlights important ideas by giving them some “white space”

It’s easier to stay in the moment when you’re not trying to think of everything at once.

It’s always important to consider how your speaking affects your audience, so here are a few ways that same silence is also good for the audience:

  • Gives them time to absorb your points
  • Gives them confidence that you know what you’re doing
  • Helps them stay focused on the points that matter
  • Makes it more conversational, therefore easier to listen to
  • Let’s them feel comfortable about listening to you

When you see good speakers who have good pauses, it becomes clear that silence is your friend. However, most people don’t find it all that easy to embrace this friend. Start by acknowledging all those benefits of pausing listed above. It will help you give up the fear that pausing makes you look unprepared.

Think of Olympic divers and how long they stand on the end of the board. It can seem like an eternity and no one interprets that as their being unprepared. It’s considerably more powerful than if they went up the ladder and straight into the dive. They’re getting mentally prepared, and you need to do the same before you start your talk. The diver looks more credible by taking time to focus, and so will you.

Looking at it from another angle: We’ve all heard that we need to put on our oxygen masks (on the airplane) before trying to help others. Essentially, the message is that we can’t help anyone else if we’ve passed out. It’s the same with speaking. If you’ve passed out, you’re not much help to your audience. Gathering yourself before you start talking allows you to get started on the right foot so you can help your audience. Take the time to put on your “oxygen mask.” That is, before you open your mouth, make sure you’re breathing and focused. You’ll start where you want to start, and you’ll feel focused and ready. To the audience, that pause makes you look like you’re in charge of what’s coming.

An added benefit is that it also quiets your anxiety, which causes you to pause naturally as you work through your message. Without that pause–those moments of reflection and focus–you can feel out of control the whole time you’re speaking. When you sit down, you’re not entirely sure what you said or how it came off. Get a grip at the beginning, and you can have a conversation with the audience that is full of pauses in appropriate places and satisfies both you and them.

Silence is your friend. Be kind to yourself and give it a try.

For some great examples of pausing and silence in a speech or presentation, check out these videos:

August 6, 2014

3 Things you never want to do in a presentation

Here are 3 things that consistently top the list of things that annoy the audience. (Avoid them if you don’t want to be annoy your audience.)

1. Create bad slides. When you design the slides for your notes, and use them to deliver content, they’ll probably be boring and unreadable. Slides should help the audience get an “aha.”

Make your slides as simple as possible (avoid full sentences); and ask yourself these 3 questions:

·    Would I want to look at this slide? If they don’t want to look at it, you’re swimming upstream.

·    What’s the point of this slide? State the point in 5 or 6 words and you’ll find things you don’t need. Take them out. See how you can visually (without words) make that point. This helps you and the audience.
·    Do I even need this slide? Make every slide justify how using it will help you get the outcome you want. Check out this site for tips from the book Slide:ology.

2. Deliver boring content. Audiences hate to be stuck in a chair listening to things they consider irrelevant.

No subject is boring when the speaker digs into why it’s important. So, be clear on why they need this information and how it relates to them. Structure your talk around this. Let them know throughout the talk why it matters to them, as well as telling them before you get to the meat of your talk. Do it right after you’ve opened with something that gets them to start listening and stop texting.

Use stories, examples, real life applications to help you make your message compelling. People are visual. Visuals on your slides and visual words will help you make your case. For ideas on how to use visual words to create a picture and tell a story, check out the site for Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins by Annette Simmons.

3. Fail to connect. The most important part of any presentation is you connecting with the audience. You connect by talking their language. You connect by sharing information rather than being afraid to be wrong. You connect by paying attention to them and their needs, as well as the next 4 points.

·    Be clear on who they are and what they want and gear you talk to those.

·    Respect them regardless of whether you agree with them or not.

·    Stay conversational and never take anything personally.

·    And don’t make fun of any groups of people.

For more ideas on connecting see my book: Getting Over Yourself: A Guide to Painless Public Speaking and More on my website and on Amazon.
As a general rule, there’s one thing you can do to make a huge change in all three of those: If you care more about helping the audience than you do about impressing them, you’ll automatically be less annoying overall. And you’ll be less nervous.

June 24, 2013

Representative Mike Kelly makes it hard to listen to him

On “This Week” on ABC yesterday, Representative Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania was a good example of how to stop the conversation. It’s good to speak with conviction (which he does) but it’s also good to look as though you are open to other views (which he didn’t).

The others on the panel were able to state their views in a way that you knew they believed what they were saying, but they didn’t give the sense that if you didn’t agree with them that you were wrong. Representative Kelly gives the impression that there are no other views. It’s the end of the subject.

When you’re giving a speech, talking to your coworkers, teaching someone how to do something, your best bet is to believe in and be focused on what you have to say. And, as you do that, if you’re also respecting the other person’s right to a point-of-view and respecting them, you’re a lot more likely to get them to cooperate with you. We all need to feel that we’re respected and being heard.

November 15, 2011

Pausing with Rick Perry and Herman Cain

Filed under: Uncategorized — Barbara Rocha @ 9:43 am

I keep telling you: pausing is your friend. Here are two Presidential candidates that make my point–if you really look at it. (Let me acknowledge that the kind of spotlight Presidential candidates are under is brutal. But there are lessons we can learn for our lesser spotlighted speaking.)

Governor Perry was on autopilot in the debate when he plunged right into the three departments he would cut and couldn’t remember the third department. Knowing there were three and feeling the pressure of answering immediately, that’s where his focus was–not on the point he was making. You have to be present, in-the-moment. You have to be processing the ideas rather than worrying about the outcome. I don’t know how well he knows his points, but he said it with such energy that apparently it was something he’d all ready prepared. He just didn’t focus before opening his mouth. It would have looked focused if he had and he’d have come up with all three.

Herman Cain, on the other hand, paused a long time when he was asked about Libya. And when you watch it, he didn’t look thoughtful in the pause, he looked like he was scrambling. It wasn’t the fact that he paused that was the problem, it was that he let the question throw him and that was where he was focused.

If you have something to say, and  you’re focused on helping your audience, whatever pause comes as a result will be fine.

June 3, 2010

Who wouldn’t be outraged?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Barbara Rocha @ 9:38 am

At least that’s what I thought when I heard a radio political ad proclaiming that the scoundrel (my words) had spent $2300 redecorating his office! I could hear the outrage the speaker’s voice but I wasn’t actually listening and thought he must have said $23,000. The next time it came on I paid a little more attention and, indeed, this low-life had spent $2300 redecorating his office!

It’s true, that how you say something affects the listener’s perception of the importance of your words. But I’d think the people in that voting district might just find this so ludicrous that it has the opposite of the intended effect.

Have passion about your message, yes. But first, have a credible message.

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