Getting Over Yourself

January 26, 2015

What was good about Mario Cuomo’s speaking ability?

Filed under: Tips — Barbara Rocha @ 1:15 pm
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People always ask who I consider to be good speakers. And there are many. Here are 2 YouTube videos that you can watch for examples of good pauses, of being in the moment, of being conversational and connected to the audience. Watch them for the way they present the ideas and pick up a few tips for yourself.

And, if you don’t get caught up with whether or not you agree with the message, you can also see these as examples of the speaker being invisible–keeping you focused on their message rather than on their personal characteristics.

Mario Cuomo’s recent passing recalled his speech at the 1984 Democratic Convention and you’ll easily find that on YouTube. If you watch that one, you should be impressed with how he was able to keep his focus in that huge arena with so many things going on around him.

This interview on 60 Minutes shows how seamlessly he moves from conversation to a speech. He’s pretty much the same either way. The first 7 minutes of this clip shows him in several speaking situations. http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/mario-cuomo-the-60-minutes-interview/

The second is one I just came across recently and it’s a woman speaking on a religious subject. Such subjects can be hard to carry off without sounding personal and also to be engaging. I think you’ll find this accomplishes both. http://christianscience.com/prayer-and-health/inspirational-media/lectures-online-and-near-you/god-is-speaking-to-you-8-mins-eng/%28language%29/eng-US

For more tips: http://www.GettingOverYourself.com

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February 18, 2014

Charlie White stays in the moment and gets the Gold!

If you’ve been following the Olympics, perhaps you’ve seen clips of Charlie White and Meryl Davis from early on in their skating careers. One shows Charlie just outside his hockey game with an reporter asking him which he liked best–ice skating performance or hockey? His answer is classic: whichever one he was doing at the time. I’d imagine that Meryl and Charlie both were totally in the moment on that Gold medal performance.

Someone once asked the pianist Vladimir Horowitz what was the most important thing his father-in-law, the conductor Arturo Toscani, ever did. His answer was, “Whatever he was doing at the moment, whether he was conducting a symphony or peeling an orange.”

These athletes are conditioned, prepared, strong, and it often comes down to their focus. One of the men skaters fluffed a jump that came right before a total change in tempo and attitude in the music. I think it’s quite possible he let himself anticipate what was coming and didn’t stay with the jump he was making.

You have the power to stay in the moment when you’re speaking, and the outcome will be much like it is for the athletes in terms of your accomplishing your goal. You have more chances to fix problems that come up by your losing your focus, and you may go on to win the “gold,” but you’re better off to keep working on not being distracted by who’s in the audience, or what could happen to your job, or whether or not you’re going to remember some piece of information.

You will do your best–and probably shine–if you stay with how your message benefits your listeners. Stay in the moment.

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.

January 16, 2014

How to keep your mind from going on vacation during a speech

Filed under: Tips — Barbara Rocha @ 11:58 am
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Blanking out, forgetting what you want to say, feeling like you’re losing it come from the noise in your head. And that noise is all about being self-conscious. Shut down the noise and you’ve conquered the problem–you’ll be your normal intelligent self.

The solution to being self-conscious is to practice being “other-conscious,” not in the “I wonder what they’re thinking of me” sense, but rather, “What can I do to help them?” while paying attention to whether or not they look like they’re being helped.

Stop the noise and focus on helping your audience and you won’t take those little vacations.

October 24, 2013

Breaking the rules of speaking and getting it right

Filed under: Observations — Barbara Rocha @ 10:16 am
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I love this video. It’s totally inspirational to lift your day and your life. And, he’s an amazing speaker who does things most people can’t get away with.

http://poptech.org/popcasts/benjamin_zander__poptech_2008

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.

June 21, 2013

“That’s a good question” probably won’t connect you with your audience

Filed under: Tips — Barbara Rocha @ 11:35 am
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We often hear speakers say, ‘That’s a good question,’ before they give the answer. And it may be okay sometimes, but you risk looking insincere if you say it to every question, or insulting the only person you didn’t say it to.

More important than saying those words, is that the questioner feels they’ve asked a good question.

If you want the questioner to feel they asked a good question, pay attention to the question and listen to what they’re saying. Paying attention vividly illustrates that you value the question, thereby making the questioner feel important, feel heard, and be more receptive to you and to your answer. (It also helps you answer the question more satisfactorily because you actually heard what they were saying.)

“If you want to be listened to, you should put in time listening.” Marge Piercy

January 24, 2013

What’s with the wimpy close to your presentation?

Filed under: Tips — Barbara Rocha @ 1:15 pm
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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 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.

October 11, 2012

Voices are tricky and affect your response

Filed under: Observations — Barbara Rocha @ 2:13 pm
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The Chase commercial where the lion gets loose is an example of the fine line with voices. You know the one? The mom explains that she takes a picture of the check and it goes straight to the bank. Then the lion gets loose prompting the little girl to not want her mom to take a picture of the lion, “No, Mommy, no!” The girl is convincing. The mother’s voice sounds technically correct as she says, “Don’t worry, honey, it only works on checks.” Technically correct, yes. But she doesn’t sound like a mom trying to calm her frightened child about a lion. Her voice would work for something way less traumatic. But no way a mom who could see her daughter’s point-of-view would sound that matter-of-fact. There’d be a different depth in her tone.

So, when you’re speaking, you need to be sure that you’re seeing the idea, really seeing it, if you want your voice to carry the weight of conviction that’s needed to bring your audience to the same place you are.

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