Getting Over Yourself

October 11, 2016

What does Trump’s hair matter? There’s something to be learned.

In a class last week I was making the point that no one really cares what you look like (if they think your hair is weird they may notice but they won’t care), a woman said she thought Trump’s hair was so odd that she couldn’t hear anything he said.

And that just makes another important point. The most important part about speaking is connecting with your audience. Trump has connected with millions of people and they don’t care about his hair or about what he says. A woman interviewed on the news this morning about the Trump video that was released this week, said, “We don’t care about any of that.”
He apparently knows who his audience is and has solidly connected with them. So, the woman in my class who can’t listen to him because of his hair doesn’t feel connected.

It’s really not about your hair, or so many of the things we worry about when we’re presenting. It’s all about the connection.

Connecting happens with your attitude: I want to be here, I’m glad you’re here, and I want to share this with you. And connecting happens with your content: Choose facts, data, examples, stories that will make your point and resonate with this audience.

Be clear on who your audience is and what your approach will be to connecting and they won’t be distracted by those side issues. That makes it more likely that they’ll respond well to your point.

http://www.GettingOverYourself.com

September 26, 2016

If I were you, I’d record the debates

Filed under: Tips — Barbara Rocha @ 10:28 am
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I’m thinking we’ll be watching for substance and every useful thing we can get out of the debates tonight. And I don’t think we should be distracted by observing speaking strengths and quirks as we do that. BUT. If we record them, it will give us the chance to do some serious observing to see what works as a speaker and what gets in the way.

The more objectively this an be done (as in not being swayed by your personal view of the candidate) the more you learn. So, when you watch the recording, select a few minutes that seem interesting (or confusing) and do 3 things. First, watch it one time without any sound. Second, listen to it once without watching. And third, watch it once in fast forward. By separating the “channels” of your intake, you’ll pick up quite different messages that can help you see what kinds of things affect how your audience listens to you.

And if you have a video of a presentation of yours, try the same thing. It helps you be clear which things are working and which you could tweak a bit.

http://www.GettingOverYourself.com

June 16, 2015

HOW DO YOU DELIVER BAD NEWS ?

Filed under: Tips — Barbara Rocha @ 10:47 am
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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
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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.

July 2, 2013

Don’t let them see you sweat!

Actually, it’s okay, and better than putting all your energy into trying to cover up your mistakes. We don’t want to look bad–to ourselves or to others. So, when things don’t feel like they’re going well, it’s tempting to pretend there’s no problem and just plow ahead.

It’s easy to feel like we’ll lose credibility if we acknowledge some blip in the presentation (or most of the rest of the time, as well).

Pretending can separate you from your audience because it takes so much effort that you’re no longer connecting with them.

On the other hand, I’ve heard people throw themselves on the mercy of the audience (“I’m really nervous.”) which may or may not work. You may win them to your side but you better have something to say. That alone isn’t enough. They’ll give you the benefit of the doubt as long as you deliver the goods.

Be human, (it’s okay to let them see it), and stay on point. Wandering off mentally to try to fool the audience will do more harm than accepting the problem and getting back on track.

RESOURCES

February 26, 2013

Watch out for those wrists when you’re speaking

Filed under: Observations — Barbara Rocha @ 12:09 pm
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Body language is pretty thoroughly covered in many sources. But there are some things I see people do fairly often that aren’t sending the right message and yet don’t show up much in body language discussions. And they happen both in conversation and in presentations.

One major thing that I see a lot is bent wrists. You see people flapping their wrists back and forth rather than gesturing with the whole arm or forearm. And sometimes when they come to the end of a thought, then bend those wrists to fold one hand over the other. It looks quite stilted and distracts from the message. My goal always is for the speaker to be invisible, that is, to not distract from the message by doing things that aren’t natural and draw attention to themselves.

Another distraction is tension your upper arm that essentially glues it to your body and results in tight motions from elbow to hand. In general gestures should be fluid and not involve serious bending of individual joints–wrists, elbows, fingers.

You can look in the mirror to see how tight it looks when you limit your motion in this way.

November 16, 2012

Was it advertising or body language that lost Romney the election?

It’s interesting to hear pundits hang the loss on the lost opportunity early on to answer the negative ads with ads of his own.

Here’s just one more research result that shows how powerful an influence appearance is on our election choices.

http://www.caltech.edu/content/caltech-led-researchers-find-negative-cues-appearance-alone-matter-real-elections
We really don’t like to think we’re that shallow, but apparently we are. While there are many positive aspects to Romney’s physical appearance, he has several mannerisms that just don’t jibe with our inner expectation of what a President should look like. I mentioned before the coy way he tucks his head and looks up (something that worked well for Princess Di, but not for a presidential candidate). He stopped it during the debates, but there it was front and center when he conceded the election, as well as his habit of taking steps that are just a bit too small for his size.
These may be a mark of a really nice guy, but they’re not indications of strength (I’m talking about how we emotionally respond, not about whether or not he actually is strong), and not what we expect a President to look like.
And my point is? My point is that you may be the greatest person in the world at what you do, but sadly, people won’t find you credible if you distract them with your body language.

October 11, 2012

Watch how the candidates walk

There’s a certain amount of walking involved when candidates give speeches or are in debates. And it’s just interesting to see if you get any kind of message from how they walk and shake hands with each other. We (as a general thing) give more weight to these visual cues than to the content. So see if you’re being swayed by these seemingly irrelevant things.
So, tonight it’s Biden and Ryan. Next week Romney and Obama. An adequate amount of time to observe.

October 3, 2012

What to look for in the debates that will help your speaking

The presidential debates can offer you free speaking training so I suggest you watch them and look for some specific things. If you record it, you can watch once for content and once for improving your speaking. (You really have to put your personal prejudices aside for you to get the most out of this exercise.)

Things to look for:

The biggest one is did they take something personally? If so, it can be a big lesson to you on why not to do it. My mother always told me it was my tone of voice that caused the problems with my brother. Well, if you take things personally it will affect your tone of voice (and your body language). And, in this case, it may affect how listeners vote.

If they interrupt does it seem pushy or passionate?

How many times do they sidestep the question and give a pre-programmed answer? And do you care?

What are they doing while the other person speaks? Are they listening? Frowning? Looking interested? Frustrated? Angry?

How well do they stay within the allotted time?

Do they shift their weight back and forth? Grip the lectern?

How steady are their eyes?

And note as well how any anomalies strike you. For instance, during the debates, President Clinton didn’t stand behind a lectern and it worked for him. Al Gore came out from behind as well and it didn’t work for him. It isn’t always what they do or say, but whether or not it seems comfortable or forced.

Studies show that the visual and the tone of voice trump the words, so try to separate those “channels”so you can tell what’s influencing you (and everyone else).

There are subtleties in speaking that affect how your audience perceives your message. These debates are an incredibly naked and brutal forum for a speaker. And, has been said many times, running for office and governing take two entirely different skill sets.

But watching them can be a great help in your own efforts to be a better speaker. Watch and learn.

September 24, 2012

Watch these techies emote as Curiousity lands on Mars

How to Get to Mars. Very Cool! 

http://www.youtube.com/embed/XRCIzZHpFtY?rel=0

This really is cool. And if you watch it all the way through observe how much emotion those techies exhibit as they wait to see if the landing is successful and after it lands. It isn’t that people don’t have it in them, it’s that it shows up when they’re completely in the moment on something they care about–and when they don’t feel like the focus is on them.

 
So, anyone of them (and of you) can bring that level of interest and commitment to your speaking when you stay focused on the meaning of the moment rather than on yourself. It takes practice and you can do it. Practice on small things like thinking people are looking at you when you make some minor mistake in your life–and then work up to the bigger things.

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