Getting Over Yourself

March 24, 2016

“Love means never having to say you’re sorry”–Donald? are you there?

Although I’ve never subscribed to that concept (saying you’re sorry to a loved one can make a huge difference), apparently Donald Trump does. Clearly his supporters love him regardless of what he says or does–they may even love him, in part, because he doesn’t apologize. And, it’s obvious that he is committed to standing by what he says and never apologizing. We’ll know after the election if that was a good overall strategy.

However it works out for him, I don’t recommend that you emulate this model.

There are, of course, people who apologize for everything all the time and it’s annoying. Apologizing inappropriately just draws attention and not admiration. Definitely not a leadership quality.

Yet, there is a time when apologizing gets you more credibility–with your family, your co-workers, your boss, your employees. If when you are wrong, you acknowledge it, own it, and move on–with no sense of shame or loss of credibility, you’ll get more credit and more cooperation.

 

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March 2, 2016

Can anyone trump, Trump?

This whole election cycle is so interesting I hardly know where to start. They’re always interesting in terms of learning things about your own speaking–what works and what doesn’t. But this time has certainly bumped up the stakes.

The question seems to be: Can anyone trump, Trump?

One lesson to learn from for your own speaking skills is that you can’t really copy anybody else. Marco Rubio is suddenly sounding like Donald Trump in his choice of words, but his delivery falls short.

I think there are very few people in the world who could successfully carry off what Trump is doing. Listen to his voice and watch his body language–which are a huge part of his message. His voice completely condemns someone either with it’s total conviction as fact, or as completely dismissive of an idea he wants to trash.

Marco Rubio can’t quite commit because it’s not an ingrained part of his persona. So his words are matching Trumps in snideness but his voice comes short of conviction so it tends to sound more whiny or defensive.

I once heard someone say, “Never wrestle with a pig in mud. You just get dirty and the pig likes it.” Perhaps there’s something in that that can be applied here.
Part of the problem with going after Trump and trying to straighten everyone out with the facts about him, is that when his supporters are interviewed some have made it clear it’s not about the facts. They’re “mad as hell, and not going to take it anymore.”

Aristotle said something like, “People make up their minds based on emotion and justify it with the facts.” My mother always joked about people who wouldn’t listen, “My mind is made up, don’t confuse me with the facts.”

Something in one of those applies here. So trying to share facts may just make Trump’s supporters mad at you for suggesting they’re stupid.

At the least, what you may get is that you’re better off to be authentic. And that no matter how much you admire someone else’s style, or no matter how much you want to come out on top, copying probably isn’t the answer.

February 4, 2016

Trump vs. Cruz as speakers

Let’s remove the politics–if you can–and observe some points about speaking that can help you with your speaking.

Everyone seems to agree that

  • it’s Trump’s entertainment value that has caused the debate ratings to be so high
  • it’s general anger at our current “state of the union” that has attracted so much enthusiasm for Trump, Cruz, and Sanders, and that
  • misstatements, incorrect facts, or showy rhetoric haven’t caused their supporters to defect.

So, I’m only going to look at speaking style and attitude as you hone your skills in assessing why you like or don’t like any particular speaker.

Donald Trump is blustery in a childlike (sometimes childish) way. Sometimes he’s kind of like that inappropriate 4-year-old that everyone finds endearing while also recognizing the inappropriateness. Sometimes he’s like a teenager who just keeps getting louder to cover up mistakes, or who attacks by attributing his own behavior to someone else.

He makes those who he considers his audience feel included “it’s you and me.” [I would suggest that you avoid the phrase you uses so often, some version of “let me be honest with you.”]

On the other hand, Ted Cruz manages to feel like the parent to Trumps child. His words say that we’re all in this together, but his demeanor is more disapproving–of most things–even when he’s speaking positively. Where Trump seems to be spontaneous and enjoying the process and himself, Cruz seems rehearsed and careful.

Perhaps he is harking back to his debate training, but his jokes feel planned and barbed. (Ben Carson has had a few planned jokes, but his consistently flat delivery and delight in his point seem to make them actually feel funny.) You have many times heard me hold forth on the importance of pauses. But even here the his voice inflection and attitude make those pauses border on scary rather than encouraging.

One thing they have in common: they both make it sound like “it’s my way or the highway.” I can’t counsel you on how that will turn out for them, only that I don’t recommend that as a strategy in your speaking.

In contrast, Bernie Sanders and Marco Rubio are both more welcoming in their demeanor. They’re more in the mode of inviting others to listen to the voice of reason without so much of the “I’ve got an axe to grind” tone in their voices. There’s more of a feeling that “this is what I believe and you get to make up your own mind.” And there’s no question, they do believe it.

Who knows how it will end? But I encourage to use all these political presentations as part of your speaking education. I would not encourage you to try to emulate anyone. But you can look for the principles that are or aren’t working in terms of speaking and work to incorporate the principles. If you can separate yourself from your own political views in the process.

For more: http://www.GettingOverYourself.com

November 9, 2015

How can an interview not be about you?

Filed under: Tips — Barbara Rocha @ 1:33 pm
Tags: , , ,

You can make anything about you, but when you do you’re not all that happy about the results.

So, in a job interview, have some compassion for the person doing the interviewing–they have more to lose than you do if they hire the wrong person.

Keep in mind that you don’t want the job if it’s not a good fit. That means you need to pay attention to the questions while thinking about your answer in terms of what would be most useful to the interviewer. If you think about impressing them, or using those answers you memorized, you won’t look like someone they’d like to have working with them.

If you were doing the interviewing, what would you most want in someone you hired? I think that answer might include someone with a good attitude, who is curious and interested in making things run effectively. Not someone who had learned a lot of answers designed to make them look good.

October 16, 2015

3 ways to get yourself out of the way when you’re speaking

As far as I can tell, whenever you’re nervous you’re thinking about yourself. It stands to reason, then, that if you can stop thinking about yourself–get out of your own way–that you and the audience are going to be happier. So, here are some tips on how to do that.

1. Don’t wait until you’re in front of an audience to practice noticing where other people are focused. It’s not on you, because they’re way too busy thinking about themselves. Where they’re going; what they need to know; how far behind they are in their schedules. When you’re not in front of a group it’s easier to observe that they’re not focusing on you. And you’ll find it fairly easy to begin putting it into practice when you’re up in front.

2. When you organize your talk, build everything around outcomes and information that is relevant to those specific people you’re talking to. Why they would care, how they can incorporate it into their work or lives. It’s much easier to get out of the way when you realize everything you’re saying matters to them. So, take the time to be sure it does.

3. When you’re delivering your message, look at individuals–one by one–as you have a conversation with them. Stay focused on how this is helping them and watch their faces to see that they’re tracking with you. Most people like helping others. That’s what you’re doing. Keep that uppermost in your mind and there won’t be room for you to fuss about yourself.

Happy you. Happy audience.

September 2, 2015

Is it okay to look at foreheads when you speak?

If you look at their foreheads, you will look like you’re looking them in the eye. However, you won’t be able to read what their faces are telling you, and you won’t experience the energy you can get from the conversation you might otherwise be having with them.

Every talk you give should feel like a conversation. And for that, you need to be engaging with the audience. Plus, looking at them (and seeing them) will make you more comfortable. You can see that they’re not nearly as scary as you imagined they might be.

Move your eyes around the room so you’re having conversations with various people and everyone feels included. And stay with each person long enough that you and they both know the connection has taken place. Then you can move on.

You’ll get much better results.

For more info: gettingoveryourself.com

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:

July 3, 2015

A jazzier alternate to PowerPoint

Filed under: Tips — Barbara Rocha @ 7:02 am
Tags: ,

You’ve seen enough presentations to know that PowerPoint interferes with the speaker’s credibility more often than it helps. PowerPoint has its place, but few people know what that is and how to use it to good advantage.

What’s on the screen works better if it’s actually visual. Here’s another approach you might want to consider: Prezi. It has an interactive feel and tends to encourage more visual visuals.

If you’re not familiar with Prezi, you can go to this link to see examples of how others have used it. https://prezi.com/explore/staff-picks/

And, if you want a free 1-hour online training you can sign up here: https://prezi.com/support/training/ . They’re doing a training today, July 3 and on July 17.

You can join Prezi free to try it out. I did and had fun designing a presentation on this large space that allows you to move around the screen, zoom in and out, and use more creativity. It’s a lot like the moving around the screen on your smart phone.

It’s worth a look to get some ideas on how to jazz up your visuals.

June 16, 2015

HOW DO YOU DELIVER BAD NEWS ?

Filed under: Tips — Barbara Rocha @ 10:47 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Nobody wants to deliver bad news. But, once again, it’s not about you–it’s about what’s going to happen to these people as a result of the bad news. Don’t try to protect yourself because you’ll surely make a mess of it, if you do. You have to focus on them, how they feel, and what can be done to help them move forward.
Once you get the focus off yourself, you’ll find it much easier to look at it from your audience’s point of view.

Perhaps they know it’s coming and are braced for it–which is often the case–even as they hope it’s not true. So, I’d surely get to it as quickly as possible. Sort of like yanking off the band-aid rather than dragging it out with irrelevancies. You may use a story that helps illustrate the situation, but don’t tap dance. “I know you’ve all heard the rumors, and I’m sorry to tell you they’re true.” And if you’re actually sorry, and they can sense that, you can pull off the rest of it as you explore solutions.

Usually people need to know the bad news in order to get on with their lives, to figure out what to do next as a result of the bad news. Keeping it from them would surely result in some inappropriate decisions.

If they don’t know it’s coming, you still can’t focus on yourself, and you can’t pretend everything is okay. In this case, you will probably need to give a brief review of the situation in such a way that they begin to see where things are headed.

In every case, it’s vital to think about the effect on the audience of the news and possible ways to deal with it, rather than worrying that they’ll shoot the messenger. Because if you worry about that, your blinders will make it more likely that they will take it out on you.

June 12, 2015

3 things to do for better gestures

Filed under: Tips — Barbara Rocha @ 8:53 am
Tags: , , , ,

Gestures are often more helpful to your audience than PowerPoint slides because they are visual and help the audience see your point. Slides should do that, but usually aren’t designed for that purpose–more’s the pity.

You’re missing the boat when you don’t use any, or when they’re self-conscious, or when they don’t match what you’re saying. Sometimes what feels odd to you, or overdone, is the very thing that keeps the audience focused and helps them get your point.

So here are 3 things you can do to help make your gestures relevant and to make them happen more naturally:

1. Become more aware of what your hands are doing when you’re involved in a conversation. Some people who tell me they never use their hands are surprised to find that when engrossed in a conversation, they do tend to illustrate points with gestures. So, what you’re doing unconsciously you need to become conscious of. Not all of them may be useful, but you can be aware of that, too.

2. Actively include stories, examples, and analogies that resonate with you, as you put together your talk. Those things will automatically bring focused, appropriate expressions to your face, and make it more likely that you’ll use your hands to describe them.
3. Practice your speech silently at least one time. Usually, the ideas run pretty smoothly in our heads. It’s when we try to say them aloud that we may get tangled up. So, practice silently while focusing on how you might use your hands to illustrate the points in a conversational way. It’s okay to exaggerate them for the purpose of helping your body remember. So, that when you’re actually in front of the audience, you won’t try to copy them, they’ll just happen naturally. You’re kind of giving your body permission, plus a little support.

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