Getting Over Yourself

February 19, 2018

What keeps you from speaking up?

You can take that question in a couple of ways: 1. Why don’t you say something when there’s something to be said? 2. When you do speak, why don’t you speak UP? That is, speak loudly enough to be heard.
The answer to both of those are pretty much the same–we let ourselves get in the way of speaking up.
There is such a thing as perhaps having too much to say and just being annoying. But I’m addressing the reluctance to speak up when it would be to your benefit (or someone else’s) to do so.
Getting in the way of speaking up comes from focusing on what people might think of you. Not wanting to be the center of attention. Not fully committing to the idea you are expressing.
In the case of speaking up about something that needs to be changed, fixed, or considered, it helps to focus on the outcome you’re looking for and the benefits of that outcome. If there are none, then don’t speak up. But if there are, then craft your thoughts to reflect those benefits and keep your eye on the prize. When you value an idea and appreciate what it can do for the current situation, you’ll find it much easier to speak up.
In the case of not speaking loudly enough to be heard, the same process just described will help get you off yourself and start thinking about the value of the message you’re delivering. If it’s important enough to say, then it’s important enough to be heard.
I’ve noticed that when people are introducing themselves, talking about their business or their project, the not speaking up often gets worse. When you don’t speak loudly enough to be heard, it seems apologetic and diminishes your credibility.
Take a moment to value the ideas and you will find it much easier to see the idea as the center of attention rather than mistakenly focusing on yourself as the center of attention. for more tips


“Drop it. And forgive yourself.” Lindsey Jacobellis

When something goes wrong in the Olympics it’s a much bigger stage than most of us will ever have. And no matter how much time you have spent preparing for a talk, an Olympian has you beat. So, I’d say if that’s what this Olympic athlete strives for (drop it and forgive yourself), that it would be a good goal for us — whether we’re giving a speech or have just messed up in some other area of life. There’s no fixing it, no moving, when you keep beating yourself up. There is no upside to that.

When you drop it and forgive yourself, you can move forward. Learn what you need to and do better the next time.

February 16, 2018

Watch the Olympics to improve your speaking

Filed under: Tips — Barbara Rocha @ 3:04 pm
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In almost every event you’ll see total focus on an idea–the idea being whatever their event is. And sometimes you can tell when someone is distracted by the enormity of being in the Olympics.

A commentator the other night said of one of the Russian skaters (who fell down on one of his moves) that he was brilliant in practice, but got into his own head too much during the event anticipating what was coming rather than letting muscle memory take over.

That can happen in speaking. You can let the noise in your head when you’re in front of an audience stop you from going with the flow of your story. Letting the story tell itself rather than forcing it.

And many of the individual sports have actions that let the judges know they’re in control. In snow boarding a commentator talked about how grabbing the board while in the air was one of those actions.

In speaking, one of the main actions that tells the audience you’re in control, is your comfort with silence. Being able to pause before you start and to pause to let the audience think about the ideas is huge.

One snow boarder quietly waited for the wind to subside before starting his run. It’s what he needed to do and often it’s what you need to do–be able to wait until you’re ready.

Shaun White, the Italian and North Korean pair skaters all had a freedom in their bodies that made it fun to watch. When they’re that comfortable in what they’re doing, it’s easier for me to trust the performance.

And the same can be true for you in speaking.

The Olympics is the most concentrated block of total focus that takes place in our lives that gives us a chance to observe and learn. You can pick up some valuable tips by being conscious of those principles that show up in individual Olympic events and in your speaking.

August 30, 2017

What to do when people get snarky when you make your point

Filed under: Tips — Barbara Rocha @ 9:47 am
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My mother used to tell me, “It’s your tone of voice” when I complained about how my brother was treating me. So first it’s important to be aware of your tone of voice, making sure you’re not sounding superior or condescending. You’ll get a lot less push back if you present the idea as something to be considered rather than something fixed in concrete. Even when there is no other possible way to look at the situation, someone will, and they just won’t hear someone who is telling them they are wrong.

It’s true, though, that sometimes the listener is so sensitive to the subject at hand, that they’ll get snarky anyway, regardless of how reasonable you sound. And then you have to continue to not get in the way–to not take anything they say personally. They may feel the need to rant. You need to feel the need to stay focused on ideas, not on personalities, and never let yourself feel like a target. They’re ranting because the issue threatens them in some way and they just lash out.

Listen and nod. But don’t take the bait. And perhaps say something calm about their obviously having thought about this a lot. “And yet, for the moment, I stand by my remarks.”

January 23, 2017

Don’t try to be a perfect speaker

Filed under: Observations — Barbara Rocha @ 1:07 pm
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We tend to focus on getting everything right when we speak because we don’t want to look stupid. So we focus on trying not to make any mistakes rather than focusing on helping the audience get the message.

It’s the wrong focus. You’ll end up being stiff and mechanical making it almost impossible to connect with your audience.

Speaking is about connecting, not about perfection.

Rather than be perfect, be human.

You get more trust and credibility by being genuine than you do by being perfect. Better to make a mistake and be real, than to be perfect and unreachable.

So, comb your hair, organize a great message, and then get the heck out of the way and let ‘‘er rip.

Fie on perfection! It’s highly overrated.

December 16, 2016

How to be comfortable with strangers

It doesn’t matter if it’s a speech, networking, or meeting new people at a party, the solution starts in the same place.

I’ve talked about changing your thinking when you’re speaking from “what if I mess up?” to “how can I help these people?” And it’s the same in any group situation where you feel uncomfortable.

There’s someone else in a networking or party situation that feels just the way you do. And probably several “someones.” But when we’re focused on trying not to look stupid we don’t notice the others who are in the same boat.

When you attend an event where you don’t know anybody (and maybe you don’t even want to know anybody) you’ll make the whole thing a lot more fun for you and for others if you look for someone who looks uncomfortable and start a conversation. Ask a question that has some relevance to the occasion. “Are you a new friend or an old friend of the host?” “I thought I might miss the whole party because of the traffic. Was there much traffic for you?” “Have you tried the cookies? Which of them would you recommend?”

You’ll have something relevant to ask as soon as you start looking outside yourself and think about how to make them comfortable.

It’s very much like giving a speech where you’re considering the interests of your audience and ways to incorporate those interests into the message.

August 11, 2016

“Good listeners make better leaders

Filed under: Observations — Barbara Rocha @ 10:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

Tim Grierson

has written a thoughtful article exploring two approaches to speaking: “take no prisoners” vs. the ability to listen and incorporate what you hear. He and I spent some time talking about my views on the subject which are also part of the article.

I’ve printed the first couple of paragraphs and included the link where you can read the whole thing. You might find it helpful as you examine your own style and how it’s being perceived.

By Tim Grierson

In a culture that considers speaking a sign of status and leadership, don’t underestimate the power of being a good listener

Last week, Hillary Clinton became the first woman to accept a presidential nomination from a major American political party. She’s done a lot to make it to this point, but commentators spent their time talking about the way she speaks.

“She’s not really at ease speaking in public, and it shows,” Andrew Sullivan wrote for New York magazine about her speech at Thursday’s Democratic National Convention. “I get that this is actually her appeal to some: that she’s a detail-oriented pol who works best off the public stage. But a president does need to connect, to inspire and to rally.” Vox’s Emily Crockett compiled a series of tweets from male pundits who dissected Clinton’s voice, pointing out an inherent double standard: “[Female leaders] have to walk a difficult line of being assertive but not too aggressive, likable but not too much of a pushover.”

And for more info on speaking you can go to my website at


August 10, 2016

Does Donald Trump WANT to be President?

Donald Trump reminds me of my son when he was 14: he’d get caught for stuff that was so ridiculous that I could only conclude that someone as smart as he wanted to get caught.

This feels a lot like that in that Trump says things that seem designed to keep him from getting elected. And, since he’s apparently a smart guy, it looks as though it’s his way of being sure he isn’t elected.

Perhaps this is his way of avoiding the actual tedious nature of BEING President. And just have the fun of being the HUGE center of attention for a year or so.

Perhaps once his numbers were terrific and it looked like being President was a real possibility for him, he just removed any boundaries..

Who knows how the election will turn out. He’s broken all the rules and has had great numbers. But please, don’t use him as a role model for your speaking–except for the part where you hone in on being perfectly clear who your audience is and tailoring your message to them.

June 14, 2016

Muhammad Ali vs. Donald Trump

In listening to recent video clips played after Muhammad Ali’s passing, it struck me that while he and Donald Trump both speak with total conviction, there’s a difference in attitude.

Ali always had a touch of playfulness as he said, “I’m the Greatest!” It always felt to me like we were enjoying it with him. Trump is obviously having a good time, but it feels much more heavy-handed and more about him.

What does that mean for our speaking? We can see how important it is to speak with conviction and not let doubts about our value enter into our speaking. And also that you can be passionate with sounding personal or angry.

There are speaking lessons all around us if we’ll take a moment to look at speakers objectively to see just what about their speaking works or doesn’t work.

Saves a lot of trial and error and moves us forward faster.

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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