Getting Over Yourself

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.

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 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

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

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.

April 27, 2015

How to make speaking part of your DNA

It’s a waste of time to wish you’d just shown up in the world ready to speak to anyone any time. It’s much easier to learn how to get yourself out of the way so you can be the speaker you want to be than it is fret over what you weren’t born with.

Rather than needing a different persona or worrying about lacking a particular skill, what you really need is just a difference in perspective. As humans, we naturally tend to think the audience is judging us. So you’re not alone. But it’s not only not true, it’s counterproductive. (And for those of you who aren’t convinced, even if you’re judging the speaker you don’t care about the speaker–you’re more concerned about yourself.)

The audience doesn’t’ want to think about the speaker, they want to be informed, entertained, enlightened, but not uncomfortable. And when you worry about what the audience is thinking about you, you make them uncomfortable. They’re far less uncomfortable when you make a mistake and it doesn’t worry you, than they are when you stay focused on not making a mistake.

There’s a logic to this. Accept it and you can make great strides in your life as a successful speaker. You’re in charge of your speaking DNA.

January 20, 2015

Don’t despair if your audience looks blank

Speaking is just a series of problems to be solved: what to say, how to connect it to your audience, how to make it interesting–and more. So, if your audience is looking at you blankly, looking confused, annoyed, or any other reaction you weren’t hoping for, it‘s another problem to be solved, not a personal failure.

If you weren’t the speaker, you’d probably feel right on top of a solution. So, back away and look at it from the audience’s perspective. Audience’s will forgive you almost anything if you are genuine and treat them with respect.

You might say, “You’re not looking at me like I hoped. Help me out, here.” Or, “Hmmm. I was hoping for a different response. What do you need to hear from me?” Don’t be afraid of getting it wrong. Focus on how to work together for an effective outcome.

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