Getting Over Yourself

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.

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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.

May 6, 2014

Never worry about your speech

Filed under: Tips — Barbara Rocha @ 12:28 pm
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If you’re worrying, you’re not doing anything productive–you’re not working on your speech and you’re not working on your job. You’re giving yourself ulcers and you’re not getting any Brownie points. Either work on it or don’t. But thinking, “I need to do something about that speech,” is useless.

It takes some discipline to do this, but you’ll feel better and your speech will be better. When you agree with yourself to focus and work on it, you’ll get it done. Really you will. And without the suffering.

Worrying about your speech (to repeat myself) is counterproductive. And it fries some of your brain cells. Either work on it or don’t. Don’t worry about it.

April 11, 2014

3 Tips for feeling good when you start speaking

Nobody wants to have to recover from a bad start. So, here are 3
things that will help you get off to a good start in your
presentation. Which makes it likely you’ll do a better job all the
way through.

Whistle a happy tune

Have something happy going on in your head. An upbeat song
can affect your posture and your face. There’s a woman I see
when I’m walking in the morning and I can tell from her body
language what kind of song is playing on her iPod. Make sure
yours is a happy one.

Don’t start until your brain is in gear

If you start because you think the audience expects it, they’re in
control . Not you. That’s scary for both you and the audience.
Who knows what will come out of your mouth? And it probably
won’t make you look good.

Take a breath. Focus. Make sure you know who you are and
where you are. And then start.

Start with something easy

It’ll be easy to remember and you’re on a roll. There’s an
example or story or fact that connects to your point that resonates
with you. Use it and all you have to do is visualize it and tell it.

Forcing it to be what you think you”should” say, means you’ll
probably use words and phrases that have no “pictures” attached
to them. “Businesslike” rather than conversational. Hard to
remember. Hard to say. So, you’re stiff and uncomfortable.

Start with something easy. It’ll make it easy to engage with your
subject and your audience.

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.

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.

February 26, 2013

What’s more powerful a visual than PowerPoint?

Filed under: Tips — Barbara Rocha @ 12:19 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

If you’ve never snoozed through someone’s bullet-pointed PowerPoint presentation, then maybe you’ve never been to a PowerPoint presentation. Few people seem to have the hang of the concept of “visuals”– mistakenly thinking that having something on the screen constitutes visual aids. And I love to get on my soapbox about that subject. But this time I’m going to concentrate on a vibrant alternative.

Some of the strongest “visuals” I’ve ever “seen” in a presentation have been the words coming from the speaker. Your life (and the happiness and satisfaction of your audience) will be much easier when you look at your topic from the standpoint of using stories and examples as much as possible to make your points. Those make for visual words that the audience will focus on and remember. It doesn’t matter who your audience is or what your topic, drawing verbal pictures for your audience will make your presentation more successful. And it will be way easier for you to deliver.

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