Getting Over Yourself

September 23, 2016

If I were Hillary, I’d practice with the Saturday Night Live cast

Filed under: Observations — Barbara Rocha @ 11:59 am
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With the debates coming up in a couple of days, there’s a lot of speculation on how the candidates are preparing. The reports are that Trump is just going to let it fly as that’s how he’s most comfortable.

Have you given any thought to what it would be like to debate Donald Trump? My conclusion was that I’d hire someone from Saturday Night Live to practice with. They’re good at changing things up, being off the wall, being bigger than life. Because his method of communicating is to stir things up as much as possible and to throw people off balance. So, I don’t believe I’d take the usual road to preparing. Because Trump isn’t a usual candidate.


October 18, 2013

Start by not boring yourself

Filed under: Tips — Barbara Rocha @ 9:53 am
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I hate to be bored. And what could be sadder than boring myself when I’m speaking? At least I have control over that one and most presentations would be considerably better if the presenter refused to be bored.

One place to start is to see how you can avoid doing it “the way it’s always been done” – and still be appropriate.

Here are a few ways to do this:

  • Identify an aspect of the subject that you find interesting.
  • Look for a link to a current hot topic.
  • Don’t think of it as a report you have to give. Instead see it in context of the big picture and the connections it has to the interests of your audience–how they can use it to save them time, money, or aggravation.

Whether you’re in the audience, or in front of the audience, you’re the one who decides whether or not you’re bored. You have the power to make the right choice by thinking about the subject in a different way.

October 4, 2013

Really! You’re going to open your presentation with that?

Filed under: Tips — Barbara Rocha @ 9:36 am
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It’s so tempting to start with what you’re going to cover. Yet, it’s almost impossible to say that in a way that will stop them from texting.

Regardless of the audience, there’s something you can say that will let people know they need to listen up. Someone in a class this last week started with, “We have a problem.” He said it with authority and stopped to let it sink in. And everyone paid close attention.

Awhile ago someone started with, “First I’m going to give you a headache and then I’m going to give you an aspirin.”

So, for those of you who think your audience would be turned off if you did an opening, rather than start with what you’re going to cover, you can see those two examples didn’t take enough time for the audience to object.

For other audiences, you might start with a story or an example that illustrates your point, or some statistics that highlight the problem, or a current news story that’s relevant.

It’s hard to break the habit of announcing “this is what I’m going to talk about” as the first thing you say. But more people will listen if you do. Give them a reason to listen first, and then tell them what you’re talking about.

It’s more interesting and it should be easier for you, too.

February 7, 2013

3 Things you can do to sharpen your presentations

First, are you spending enough time really getting to know what your audience cares about – in life and in your subject. It’s pointless to tell them what you want them to know if you don’t arrange it around what they’re interested in and how your topic relates to them.

Second, seamlessly weave in something everyone’s thinking about or familiar with. This month offers several possibilities. It’s not too late to find something about the Super Bowl that helps your point. Or Valentine’s Day, or the Academy Awards. If you do a good job of connecting the dots between these and your subject your audience will stay awake and get your point. It’ll also be easier for you to give.

Third, don’t blow off the closing. Ever. Give it your full attention while you’re planning what to say so that it sounds and feels like closure to you. And then do the same when you’re delivering it. Bring your whole self to the party as you say it rather than letting yourself think about sitting down.

These 3 things give you sharper content, give you a happier audience, and make you feel good about what you’ve accomplished after it’s over. Give it a try.

December 19, 2012

Three ways to give more exciting presentations

Three key things to look out for in your presentations are 1. Be interested, 2. Creatively organize your message, and 3. Be in the moment as you deliver it.

So, first, are you excited about this information and about sharing it with the audience? Every opportunity to speak isn’t equally weighted, but if you can find a reason why the audience needs it, how it will shorten their day, lighten their work load, help their lives, it’s a lot easier to be interested as you organize it and as you deliver it. You’re in charge of whether or not you’re interested.

Second, have you made it audience-centered? Do you care whether or not they get it?

Have you identified what they need to know? What they want to know? How your subject affects them?
Sprinkle those connections throughout your talk. Ask questions, use examples, illustrations, and analogies that relate to them.

Experiment with approaches that have appealed to you as an audience member — but make them your own. Be willing to break the pattern of a typical business presentation, the kind you’ve been bored by. You can dare to be different without being inappropriate.

And third, many people are exciting on the inside, but hesitant or unable to let that show in front of a group. Look for ways to allow you to be yourself — to show your natural energy and humor. See yourself as one of the group having a conversation with them. Just talk to them. Stay focused on your purpose–to help them in some way.

Allow yourself to be captivated. Be interested yourself and you’ll be interesting in content and delivery.

Don’t try to be interesting. Be interested.

November 28, 2012

Ice cream trucks playing Christmas carols?

Filed under: Observations — Barbara Rocha @ 10:24 am
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While visiting my daughter in the desert, I heard an ice cream truck playing, “Silent Night.” When I mentioned it to my daughter, at first she didn’t get my point–because there’s nothing odd about having an ice cream truck making its rounds in November if the temperature is in the 80s. I noticed it because to me it was an anomaly.

Even so when you’re speaking: If you say what they expect to hear they’re less likely to listen. So, your opening needs to surprise them–and that depends on who your audience is as to what will seem unusual enough for them to stop texting or stop thinking about the next meeting. It doesn’t have to be wild, it just needs to be different (as well as appropriate.)

July 5, 2012

Bore your audience and forget about passing “Go”

If you’ve ever tried to sneak out of a boring presentation, that should motivate you to make sure you’re not boring your audience. And it starts with you. If you think your subject is boring, there’s no way you can inspire your audience or energize them.

For instance, if you’re giving a report that you consider routine, unnecessary, redundant, you’ve set the tone: it will be boring. Bored presenter = bored audience. No way around it.

Start by seeing how you can avoid doing it “the way it’s always been done” — and still be appropriate.

For instance: Identify something about the subject that you find interesting; look for a link to a current hot topic; instead of thinking it’s a report you have to give, consider how it affects your audience.

You’re the one who decides whether or not you’re bored. Make the right choice and you’ll not only pass GO — you’ll collect your $200. Or more.

February 27, 2012

Shawn Achor is worth watching as a way to help your speaking skills

Here’s a good role model for your speaking. He’s natural, conversational, funny and to the point. Watching others do a good job can help improve your speaking. TED offers many opportunities to watch speakers with something to say. Of course, some a better than others, but in addition to content, you can learn a lot from their delivery.

July 11, 2011

Metaphors and analogies are good until . . . .

Filed under: Observations — Barbara Rocha @ 1:19 pm
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They can be a quick way to get a point across allowing you to use fewer words and paint better pictures. But “kick the can down the road” is a current example of overkill. Many politicians are using it regarding pending legislation. In an interview on a news show yesterday, a White House spokesman used it twice while explaining why the decision on cutting spending for the country needs to be made now. The third time it began to get old. And after that, it was counterproductive. Use it a couple of times maybe and then perhaps use “put it off” or some other way of saying it. That many times begins to sound like a mantra, a memorized way of making your point. Really. You should be looking to connect with your audience, not just go on autopilot.

In this morning’s press conference on the same subject, President Obama used a couple of good word pictures. When talking about not making the changes piecemeal he used the phrase, “rip off the band-aid,” which by itself worked well, something everyone was familiar with, and immediately followed it with “eat your peas” which was even more homey and drew a chuckle from listeners.

Use them when you’re wanting to explain something quickly and vividly, and if you find yourself using one more than once in the same conversation, be sure you’re focused enough to not sound phony.

January 10, 2011

TurboTax does it in less than 15 seconds

Filed under: Observations,Tips — Barbara Rocha @ 8:46 am
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Commercials are a great teaching tool for designing your speeches. They can transition anything in a matter of seconds and take us all with them.

TurboTax starts with a man delivering 200 pound ice sculptures needing a GPS to get him there before the ice melts to how TurboTax does the same thing for him with his taxes–a reliable guidance system.

United Health starts with a man winning an award for his barbecuing recipe and transitions to United Health being a recipe for his good health.

Lipitor has a man reminiscing about his having skated on thin ice as a youngster (“what was I thinking?”) and transitions to the thin ice he’s been on with his health.

If advertisers can transition subjects that smoothly in a 30-second commercial, you ought to be able to transition effectively in a business speech and not worry about losing your audience.  More than that, if you can capture their attention and do a good transition, you should be able to hold their attention better.

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