Getting Over Yourself

September 26, 2016

If I were you, I’d record the debates

Filed under: Tips — Barbara Rocha @ 10:28 am
Tags: , , , , ,

I’m thinking we’ll be watching for substance and every useful thing we can get out of the debates tonight. And I don’t think we should be distracted by observing speaking strengths and quirks as we do that. BUT. If we record them, it will give us the chance to do some serious observing to see what works as a speaker and what gets in the way.

The more objectively this an be done (as in not being swayed by your personal view of the candidate) the more you learn. So, when you watch the recording, select a few minutes that seem interesting (or confusing) and do 3 things. First, watch it one time without any sound. Second, listen to it once without watching. And third, watch it once in fast forward. By separating the “channels” of your intake, you’ll pick up quite different messages that can help you see what kinds of things affect how your audience listens to you.

And if you have a video of a presentation of yours, try the same thing. It helps you be clear which things are working and which you could tweak a bit.

http://www.GettingOverYourself.com

February 12, 2015

“Good morning, you guys” isn’t an opening

Filed under: Observations,Tips — Barbara Rocha @ 12:51 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Your opening is almost the most important part of your talk. It’s where they decide whether it’s worth the effort to listen. Recently I heard someone who was speaking to the World Affairs Council in Washington, D.C. start with “Hello you guys. Hopefully I won’t bore you too much.”

It’s hard to justify that as your opening unless she was really nervous and hadn’t quite gotten focused yet. Her speech was fine and it was clear she knew what she was talking about. But with an opening like that it’s harder to seem credible.

For your learning pleasure, I believe you can see that you wouldn’t want to address your audience as “you guys” and certainly it wasn’t appropriate in that audience. Nor do you want to draw everyone’s attention to yourself and apologize that you might be boring.

In your opening you want to immediately embrace your audience in your thought, and be focused on why they’re there and how your talk will be useful to them.

Perhaps that wasn’t how she meant to open and she just started before she was ready. Or, perhaps she hadn’t given any thought to how she was going to open.

So you can avoid both those problems by a. thinking about an opening that engage your audience’s thinking (see my YouTube video for hints on avoiding problems with questions if that’s the direction you’re thinking of going), and b. Take a moment to get centered and focused before you start speaking – so you can start strongly.

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

January 26, 2015

What was good about Mario Cuomo’s speaking ability?

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

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

January 14, 2015

Your audience isn’t actually staring at you

I hear it from participants all the time: “They’re all staring at me.”

It does seem that way — that they’re all staring at you. After all, their eyes are pointed in your direction and you’re standing up there all by yourself.

The truth is, their eyes are pointed in your direction because they’re facing the stage. But they’re actually focused on themselves. They’ve got way too much on their minds to give you the kind of attention you’re imagining. It’s a great moment for remembering that “it’s not about you.” You’re in their sights only insofar as you connect your material to them. And then they’re really focused on themselves–applying the info to their own situations.

Knowing that their focus is on what you can do for them, rather than how you look and sound, keeps your focus where it belongs — on helping them better understand a problem they may or may not know they have.

September 3, 2014

Don’t wreck your speech by trying to be smooth

Being a smooth speaker can do you in. Here are 3 reasons not to be smooth when you’re speaking:
1. Most people see smooth as untrustworthy, manipulative, insincere, or some other undesirable quality. And they see it as something they need to protect themselves from.

2. When you’re smooth, you’re probably focusing more on maintaining your image than on helping the audience. They can tell and it doesn’t work in your favor.

3. People striving for smooth tend to blow right through the pauses and miss great opportunities for highlighting big points.

It’s far better to be genuine, conversational, believable. If you have to stop and think, the audience sees that as a plus: “Look! The speaker is thinking!”

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.

February 26, 2013

Watch out for those wrists when you’re speaking

Filed under: Observations — Barbara Rocha @ 12:09 pm
Tags: , , ,

Body language is pretty thoroughly covered in many sources. But there are some things I see people do fairly often that aren’t sending the right message and yet don’t show up much in body language discussions. And they happen both in conversation and in presentations.

One major thing that I see a lot is bent wrists. You see people flapping their wrists back and forth rather than gesturing with the whole arm or forearm. And sometimes when they come to the end of a thought, then bend those wrists to fold one hand over the other. It looks quite stilted and distracts from the message. My goal always is for the speaker to be invisible, that is, to not distract from the message by doing things that aren’t natural and draw attention to themselves.

Another distraction is tension your upper arm that essentially glues it to your body and results in tight motions from elbow to hand. In general gestures should be fluid and not involve serious bending of individual joints–wrists, elbows, fingers.

You can look in the mirror to see how tight it looks when you limit your motion in this way.

October 4, 2012

Office politics can undermine your presentation

To make sure those politics don’t ruin your golden opportunity to shine, keep your eye on the prize – a successful presentation.

The politics and the danger may be very real. But focusing on them will create the very problems you’re trying to avoid.
Be aware of what happened to previous presenters if the political machine got them and recognize how their fear of what might happen contributed to the outcome.
(Were they tense? flippant? subdued? agitated? torpid?)

Acknowledge the politics to yourself up front; then make yourself invisible – focus on your commitment to reaching the audience with your message.

Self-preservation will keep you from saying something damaging. Focusing on your interest will make you effective.

October 3, 2012

What to look for in the debates that will help your speaking

The presidential debates can offer you free speaking training so I suggest you watch them and look for some specific things. If you record it, you can watch once for content and once for improving your speaking. (You really have to put your personal prejudices aside for you to get the most out of this exercise.)

Things to look for:

The biggest one is did they take something personally? If so, it can be a big lesson to you on why not to do it. My mother always told me it was my tone of voice that caused the problems with my brother. Well, if you take things personally it will affect your tone of voice (and your body language). And, in this case, it may affect how listeners vote.

If they interrupt does it seem pushy or passionate?

How many times do they sidestep the question and give a pre-programmed answer? And do you care?

What are they doing while the other person speaks? Are they listening? Frowning? Looking interested? Frustrated? Angry?

How well do they stay within the allotted time?

Do they shift their weight back and forth? Grip the lectern?

How steady are their eyes?

And note as well how any anomalies strike you. For instance, during the debates, President Clinton didn’t stand behind a lectern and it worked for him. Al Gore came out from behind as well and it didn’t work for him. It isn’t always what they do or say, but whether or not it seems comfortable or forced.

Studies show that the visual and the tone of voice trump the words, so try to separate those “channels”so you can tell what’s influencing you (and everyone else).

There are subtleties in speaking that affect how your audience perceives your message. These debates are an incredibly naked and brutal forum for a speaker. And, has been said many times, running for office and governing take two entirely different skill sets.

But watching them can be a great help in your own efforts to be a better speaker. Watch and learn.

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.

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.