Getting Over Yourself

February 11, 2014

Jamie Anderson says she stays in the “now” and it got her a Gold Medal

Yes, watching the Olympics can help your speaking. There are always examples during the games of those who are completely focused and “in the now,” and those who aren’t.  Being in the now means to me being able to see and know what’s going on and respond to it in real time with whatever is appropriate.

While watching the women’s biathlon, it was pretty easy to see when they were shooting at the target whether they stayed with it the whole time or whether they lost their focus. The announcer made it clear, several times, that the shots they were most likely to miss were the first and the last. It’s the same with speaking. Sometimes you don’t let go of what you were just doing in order to focus on the first words of your speech, or in this case on your first shot. And, when speaking, it’s easy at the end to think something like, “I’m almost finished” instead of focusing on your closing message. On one of the shooters, it was obvious that she hadn’t stayed focused on her last shot because the rifle barrel lifted just as she pulled the trigger.

You may not win a Olympic medal for your speech, but you’ll feel pretty darn good if you’ll stay focused on connecting your message to your audience rather than what just happened or what’s about to happen. And your audience will get your point.

August 22, 2013

What’s wrong with this Walmart commercial?

Filed under: Observations — Barbara Rocha @ 10:35 am
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Watch the Walmart commercial touting their great fresh produce and see if you can find the flaw. It takes place in a produce stand; everyone is marveling at the amazing produce. Then announcer starts to ask a customer, “What would you say if . . . .?”The question, in its entirety is “What would you say if I told you all this produce was from Walmart?” However, the actor’s face lights up in total disbelief before the punch line of the question. Which kind of kills the idea of spontaneous question and response. And makes it feel likes he’s an actor, not an actual customer.

When you’re speaking, you have to stay in the moment if you want really good results. Thinking ahead will interfere with your point and your connection with the audience. Once again it makes the point: Timing is everything.

May 9, 2013

Maybe “stupid” is just a lack of focus

Filed under: Observations — Barbara Rocha @ 11:43 am
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So, I’ve been in that, “boy was that a stupid thing to do” mode. I used to beat myself up regularly for doing or saying something stupid. One day, when I reached for a suit in my closet and then saw that the one I laid on the bed was not the one I was after, instead of getting all out of whack at myself, I realized I had quit focusing. I thought about the suit I wanted and then started thinking about some other thing. Like when you phone somebody and by the time the answer you forget who you called.

It is so much easier for me to deal with “I should have stayed focused” rather than “What an idiot I am.” Huge difference and it’s helped me a lot. In everything. Which certainly includes when I’m speaking to a group.

And as you continue to work on staying focused–being in the moment– you keep getting better at it. You’ll find your speaking–and a lot of other parts of your life–getting a lot better.

May 6, 2013

Feeling like the stupidest person in the world won’t help

It’s interesting how we can know we’re smart and still feel stupid. Maybe it’s because we know we’re smart that anything that doesn’t measure up to our standards triggers that latent fear of doing or saying something stupid. Nobody likes to be laughed at (when they didn’t mean to be funny) and it can be convenient to make fun of our stupidity before someone else can. (A little aside here: you’re not unique in this. A lot of people in your audience suffer from the same fear.)

It’s a recipe for disaster. Since I tend to focus on speaking as my topic, think of what that does to you as a speaker. You’re never seeing the situation clearly because you’re filtering what’s going on rather than focusing on getting the job done. Anticipating how your stupid side might kick in and ruin everything tarnishes your brilliance and is a stumbling block to reaching your goal in that presentation.

Logically you know you’re not stupid (unless you keep repeating the same mistakes without learning anything), yet you may be allowing this fiction to color situations you could be acing. Get out of the way. Get out of the way. Get out of the way. When you do, you’ll reach your audience successfully.

January 24, 2013

What’s with the wimpy close to your presentation?

Filed under: Tips — Barbara Rocha @ 1:15 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

It’s the last thing they hear so you better give it a lot of thought and then focus on it when you’re saying it.

If they didn’t hear the rest of your speech, this is your last chance to make your point. So make it microcosm of the whole thing:

Summarize briefly, reminding them of your main points. Bring the topic back to what’s in it for them. Tell them what you want them to do and the benefit to them of doing it. Add a sound bite, say it with conviction and “stick the landing.”

As a part of that, you could repeat your opening statement which gives it symmetry.
In giving an informative talk you might say, “So if the emergency light ever flashes in your section remember to do these 3 things: 1. Stop what you’re doing and turn off the machine. 2. Walk calmly to the nearest exit. And 3. Pull the alarm next to the exit. Your quick calm response can avoid an accident. Follow these rules and save a life.”

It’s not that different in persuasion—it’s always about your audience and what this means to them: “So I’ve shown you how we can sell more widgets by doing these 3 things: Hiring 2 new people, investing in new software, and adding 200 square feet of floor space. I recommend we accept these proposals immediately so we can include the higher sales figures in the next quarterly report. It’s an investment in the company’s future.”

And please. Stay focused on what you’re saying in the close. If you’re thinking, “Oh boy, I made it.” Or, “yippee, I’m almost finished” you’re bound to mess it up and leave them focused on your inappropriate exit rather than on your point.

“Your closing should be strong, cut sharply in midair like a musical masterpiece.”
Joseph J. Kelley, Jr.

December 21, 2012

What do you do when you screw up in your presentation?

It’s not a given, but sometimes you do. And, if you’re dreading the possibility of making a mistake, you’re not likely to handle it well.

My first point in my 3-day seminars is “It’s not about you.” Really nobody cares about you (in the way we think they do when we’re presenting) and it’s equally true when you make a mistake. It’s not about whether you make a mistake, it’s about what you do when it happens.

Everything is about helping the audience. And when you make a mistake, it’s still not about you, it’s about how you can help the audience be comfortable. You’re the host or hostess. It’s you’re job to avoid discomfort in your audience. To do that, you need to not feel like a loser if you make a mistake and shift your thinking to how you can let them know everything’s okay. That you’re okay. Because all they want is for you to fix it and move on.

And, if you do that and then let go of it, people will forget it happened–because you did and brought them back to what you were there for.

So, pause, breathe, refocus on how you can let them know you’re okay and get back to helping them with your subject.

It’s your choice. You have the power to make the right one.

October 25, 2012

Speaking lessons from Trader Joe’s

Okay. Not literally from Trader Joe’s (or Trader Joe). But from former Trader Joe’s President Doug Rauch.

I recently heard him speak and what makes me love Trader Joe’s is pretty much why I liked his speaking. It’s not that he did everything “right,” it’s that he was genuine and connected.

The “not right” part was the pacing, which he announced right off that he did. It was stronger when he’d stay still a few moments, but he was effective in spite of it. I’m not telling you to pace, I’m telling you if you’ll get the rest of it right, people will overlook things that could be distracting and feel connected. And they’ll listen.

He used a phrase in regard to what is expected of employees that applies to your speaking (as well as other things in your life): “Mess up. Fess up.” Except, apparently, for political campaigns, it’s a great piece of advice. When you “fess up,” you’re not trying to pretend you’re perfect and willing to move forward and get it right. There’s a humanity about that that is attractive.

Mr. Rauch also spoke about the importance of trust and said the 3 components of trust are: reliability, credibility, and empathy. While many are quick to claim or to work on those first two, it’s important to recognize that third one. So, in speaking, understanding your audience, their point-of-view, and their needs, and responding to those is equally important for gaining their trust. And without trust it’s pretty hard to get anyone to buy into anything.

He was friendly, approachable, funny, and delivered valuable information about building a brand as Trader Joe’s did. And his slides were simple pictures that underscored his point.

Humor is good. One of his slides which was used to support the point about the culture of the business was a bowl of yogurt–attractively photographed. It made his point and won’t be forgotten by his audience.

Once again, being genuine, interested, focused and open will make you a hit with your audience.

September 27, 2012

Speaking tips on YouTube

If you’re not comfortable speaking, you’ll get some good ideas about how to deal with that in this 4 minute video. They are excerpts from some of my classes. There’s none of the usual humor that goes on in a class, but some good solid things to think about.

August 31, 2012

And what was Clint Eastwood thinking?

From all accounts, Clint Eastwood is an amazing director–even able to direct himself. I’m sure he had a grand plan in mind last night at the Republican Convention, but it lacked something in execution. I think he wanted to sound conversational and yet he sounded uncertain.

We know he can memorize lines, so at the beginning I wasn’t worried that he didn’t have the teleprompter.

Apparently some people liked it and others found it confusing.

The same thing can happen to you if you’re not clear on your purpose and the outcome you’re looking for. You don’t necessarily have to have a script, but you do need to have a specific plan. Winging it works for some people. But, if you want to “wing it” your best bet is to know the point you want to make and the path you’re planning to take to get there. When you’re giving a speech, memorizing isn’t your friend, but clarity and focus are your friends.

August 8, 2012

What happened to Gabby’s focus?

Gabby knows she has to work on her focus. She knows, and we know, that she is an outstanding gymnast. You have to work on your focus consistently until it becomes a natural habit for you.Once she won the Gold, think of the distractions — her family, well-wishers, celebrations,  which haven’t been a part of her daily experience. It would be easy to lose focus.

And what about the rest of us? We may not be in medal races, but there are plenty of distractions that can keep us from being all we can be. Whether it’s a speech, managing your people, or golfing, for best results you need to be in the moment.

Here are a couple of things you can do to sharpen your focus and ability to “be there.”

See if you can listen to a one-minute news story on the radio from beginning to end without wandering off to think about other things.

Similarly, see if you can recite something you know by heart (in your head) that’s about a minute long: The Gettysburg Address, the 23rd Psalm, the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. Again, the goal is to see if you can get all the way through it without losing focus.

Keep at it until you are good at it. Focus is really exercising your discipline muscle. And just like any other muscle it will get stronger as you work it.

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