Getting Over Yourself

December 9, 2013

Speak like you mean it

Filed under: Tips — Barbara Rocha @ 11:04 am
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I’m not good with those “Eat like you mean it” commercials. We tend to be all too willing to do that with not such great results.

On the other hand, “Speak like you mean it” would be far more effective and productive. (And I’ve even seen a number of people for whom “Walk like you mean it” would be an appropriate motto.)

All too often the noise in your head (the audience, the content, the slides) is so distracting that the actual speaking gets lost.

My son-in-law’s motto is “It’s better to be decisive than right.” And while I can think of a few instances where that’s not true, it can make a huge difference when you’re speaking.

Decisive doesn’t mean argumentative and not necessarily assertive.  Speak like you mean it still gives room for other perspectives but you’ll get listened to more, get fewer questions, and get your way more often.


June 24, 2013

Representative Mike Kelly makes it hard to listen to him

On “This Week” on ABC yesterday, Representative Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania was a good example of how to stop the conversation. It’s good to speak with conviction (which he does) but it’s also good to look as though you are open to other views (which he didn’t).

The others on the panel were able to state their views in a way that you knew they believed what they were saying, but they didn’t give the sense that if you didn’t agree with them that you were wrong. Representative Kelly gives the impression that there are no other views. It’s the end of the subject.

When you’re giving a speech, talking to your coworkers, teaching someone how to do something, your best bet is to believe in and be focused on what you have to say. And, as you do that, if you’re also respecting the other person’s right to a point-of-view and respecting them, you’re a lot more likely to get them to cooperate with you. We all need to feel that we’re respected and being heard.

May 20, 2013

One reason they listened to Churchill

The odds were impossible for this little island nation (England) with limited planes and preparation to defend itself against Nazi Germany in World War II. Winston Churchill’s words were the glue that held the nation together and gave people hope that they might survive.

One of the hallmarks of every speech he gave the nation was that he didn’t dance around the problem. He spelled it out so it was clear that he understood what was happening. If he had tried to gloss it over, no one would have believed anything else he had to say or would have been willing to follow him.

Every time, he described the current problem in a straightforward manner, and then he shored up his audience with what could be done, with who they were as a nation, and why they would win. It was this combination that was so effective in knitting the nation together.

Business and government leaders would do well to study his approach and look at the outcome, the uptick in public approval after every speech. Dancing around the problem and pretending it doesn’t exist is reminiscent of  the children’s story of “The Emperor Wore No Clothes.” No credibility, and no good outcome.

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.

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

Is likeability the key to getting elected? Really?

Everything seems to point in the direction of the most likeable candidate winning pretty much every time. Sometimes something happens in a debate that switches that factor to the other candidate, but for your purposes as a speaker, you’d best not ignore history.

Does your audience feel connected to you? Can they relate to you? Do you relate to them? If you continue to believe that the validity of your message is all that matters and don’t make that effort to connect, you’re not going to win your “election.”

Don’t make it hard for yourself and your audience. If you’ll get out of the way and concentrate on being the matchmaker between your subject and your audience, your chances of winning the election, making the sale, getting the action you had in mind increase substantially.

So, how likeable can you be?

August 29, 2012

Try this to improve your speaking while watching the political conventions

You can get a whole different perspective on the speaking if you’ll mute the sound for a bit and just watch. You may get a different message that way. And you may find you didn’t need the words to get the message.
Then look away from the TV and just listen for a bit.
I’d like to hear from you on how that worked for you.

August 28, 2012

Even if the conventions are political theater you can learn something

This morning I heard a reporter announce that she wasn’t going to cover the conventions because there’s really no news taking place. That it’s all political theater. I won’t argue with that, but if you’re serious about your speaking you probably still ought to watch. It might give you insights as to the candidate’s positions, but even if it doesn’t, it can be educational.

Do you like Mitt Romney? His wife Ann? Chris Christie?  All have different speaking styles and it’s interesting to see if you’re being swayed by that instead of by the message. Both conventions may offer ideas that are worth thinking about. Are you able to listen to the ideas regardless of whether the speaker is good at speaking or not?

Make that your mission. Because if you can figure out why you enjoy listening to some speakers and not others, you’ll make progress with your own speaking. Separate yourself from your political biases and just observe–facial expressions, pauses, length of eye contact, freedom of movement, tone of voice, appropriate inflection. Is their congruity between the message and how it’s being presented?

It’s a great couple of weeks for honing your speaking skills with such a huge number of speakers in such a short time. I hope you use this opportunity as you work to hone your skills.

January 11, 2012

Mike Huckabee has a way with analogies

In an interview commenting on the New Hampshire primary race, Mike Huckabee likened it to a NASCAR race and carried on the analogy throughout the interview to make his points. He’s just automatically a folksy guy and maybe these analogies come to him naturally. but it’s one of the things that made him such an attractive candidate 4 years ago. And I suspect he’s worked on that part of his speaking as a way of connecting with his audience and of making his message clear and easy to follow.

This ability to use analogies can be developed. You can do it. Just begin to see how something could be described in other terms related to a parallel subject. Keep practicing and it will become second nature.

And let me know if it inspires you to run for office.

May 24, 2011

Watch for those political one-liners

Filed under: Observations — Barbara Rocha @ 12:08 pm
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You may need thick skin to run for office but you also need a supply of one-liners to effectively turn away potential attacks or someone trying to lead you down the negativity path.

It’s the perfect season to keep your ears open and be ready to jot down the many examples of what seems to be quick wit (and sometimes is). Those one-liners may also be evidence of a good strategy of identifying possible points of attack and being ready with those one-liners that turn a possible negative into a positive.

Jack Kennedy probably wouldn’t have gotten to The White House without some of the gems he used to turn the conversation. Ronald Reagan mastered the art as have others. And currently, former Governor Tim Pawlenty when questioned about whether he had enough charisma to beat Barack Obama responded, “I’m not running for Entertainer-in-Chief. These are serious times . . . .”

If you know you’re going to face opposition to an idea or position, work on some one-liners of your own. Listen to candidates; learn from their triumphs and mistakes. It’s helpful to be prepared with a short, friendly, non-threatening come back. And most of all, don’t ever take it personally, because if you do, no matter how good the one-liner, you’ll lose the audience.

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