When preparing a presentation, TED talk, webinar, investor pitch, wedding toast, or anything in between, there can be a struggle with how much to prepare in advance. (more…)
If you’re like me, you’ve experienced heavy Zoom fatigue in the last 16 months. During this ongoing pandemic, it’s earned its slang term, right alongside “Quarantine” (the drink you make with whatever you can find in your fridge or freezer), “Blursday” (an unspecified day because of lockdown’s disorientating effect on time), “zoom bombing” (hijacking a Zoom video call). “WFH” (working from home) and “quaranteams” (online teams created during lockdown). (more…)
Last week, I worked with a client who shared with me that her nervousness associated with public speaking was not as much of a problem since the world went virtual. I was curious about what changed for her or what had helped her. When working with clients on controlling their nervousness, there are many things to be considered. A major focus of the help we bring is with thoughts. The thoughts are what people say to themselves before, during, and after the presentation. We all talk to ourselves. It’s what we say that has a tremendous impact on how well we can control nervousness. She said, “Kristen, we are all equal now. Everyone is in the same size box. No one takes up more space than anyone else on the screen.” Hearing this brought a smile to my face. This client has successfully changed her thoughts to be more positive and productive. So whether or not you believe that virtual presenting levels the speaking field, the more important takeaway is that changing the way you think about something and internalize it helps create a more positive outcome.
During these last 467 days, we’ve had to make significant adjustments to the way we convey our presence and confidence. As we moved into a virtual world, executive presence was created, focusing on how we look and sound on camera. So, the question is, how do we build a relationship with somebody that you’re only meeting from the waist up? How do you establish that executive presence in a way that can build trust and rapport? In this medium, accepting its limitations and advantages, one aspect of projecting executive presence is the ability to inspire confidence. This means inspiring confidence in our peers as capable and reliable colleagues. In our junior folks, it’s inspiring confidence as a leader that they want to follow. And, importantly among senior leaders, inspiring confidence instills that you have the potential for great achievements. (more…)
15 Jun Are some organizations shirking their responsibilities regarding public speaking coaching and professional development opportunities?
As a speech coach, I readily admit that it is hard for me to remain unbiased about the question above. ALL of us, speech coaches included, should be on a never-ending quest to improve our public speaking, presentation skills, and ability to connect with listeners virtually and in person.
That is a utopian view, I know. Based in our Kerala, India office, I do see a disturbing trend about the support and development of speakers and presenters. Simply put, some companies seem to be pushing employees to accept conference speaking opportunities but don’t seem to be willing to foot the bill for their coaching and professional development. (more…)
I want to share some advice based on my experience coaching over 200 conference speakers, moderators, and panelists to prepare for their upcoming presentations. Some of the conference speakers I’ve helped just took an initial, free consultation, which is great, others wanted additional, in-depth help for a particularly important event. Some have become valued clients and friends. Regardless of seniority (C-level executives, managers, or individual contributors) or industry such as financial services, fintech, healthcare, biotech, manufacturing, and retail, a few common truths have emerged:
Value – Delivering a message that truly provides value sounds obvious but is difficult without the right focus. Most clients I work with believe they are providing value. Often, that’s not the case. You should explicitly state what the value is to your listeners at the beginning of your presentation. In fact, it should be one clear sentence that says, “this is important to you because…” Also, remember value is not what you think is worthwhile, it’s putting yourself in your listeners’ shoes and deciding what would be valuable to them.
Connection – Connecting with the listeners is easier than you think. Most of my clients believe it’s an innate skill – either they are compelling or not. Not true! Being compelling begins with making sure you are talking to your listeners. If they want you to get to the point, be concise. If they want you to be detailed, start at the beginning and be sure to connect the dots. I often teach a bit about the basics of human reasoning and how communication needs to be inductive or deductive. In either case, I stress that when you speak, it’s not about you! You have important information to present, but if you don’t present it with their perspective in mind, you can forget about being compelling. In fact, it’s possible you won’t be heard at all.
Being Effective – Thinking on your feet and handling challenging questions or unwelcome surprises is an important skill. The good news is, it is easy when you’re well-prepared. You can be ready for the unexpected, whether it’s a last-minute change in the schedule, technical glitches, or dealing with a difficult person. Three steps to good preparate are: 1) have a method to think through upcoming interactions; 2) categorize and catalogue examples and experiences for use; and 3) make this a part of your daily life. When you anticipate and prepare for questions and concerns before you go onto a stage, turn on your camera, or walk into a meeting, you’ll know the right answers and you can focus on the context for your response. If you prepare properly, you will have a critical skill that all effective, persuasive speakers have mastered.
These are only three of the common topics I typically cover, even if it’s a single 30-minute session. Most conference speakers also benefit from tips on dealing with nervousness and practice strategies because like any skill, consistent practice is what gets you to the next level.
I want to help those in need and have learned that in just 30 minutes, we can together take significant steps to make you the best speaker you can be.
Until the community of police and the communities of color are willing and able to get to the bottom of the biases and attitudes that control behavior, any change will be prolonged and painful. Each person in these communities and others must understand that their behaviors, whether verbal or physical, come from a place in each of us, filled with the attitudes and beliefs that we carry everywhere we go. There are no human exceptions to this fact. It’s as simple as A B C. Attitudes Become Communication. We all have them. We all talk and act the way we do because of them. Sometimes we are readily aware that what we are doing or saying comes from something we believe in. Sometimes we are not overtly aware of why we say or do the things we do. Until each of us can understand what attitudes we carry with us and where they come from, there will be no peace or understanding. A detente will exist and will only erupt again and again. (more…)
‘Gravitas’ was one of the ancient Roman virtues that denoted “seriousness.” Also translated as weight, dignity, and importance, it conveys a sense of responsibility and commitment to the task. In our modern society, gravitas indicates polish, grace in manner, and dignity in outward appearance. I’m guessing that speaking while on mute would not be considered speaking with grace and dignity!
In executive communication coaching, gravitas is often mentioned. Executives with gravitas are considered to have ‘weight,’ ‘authority,’ and ‘executive presence.’ They’re taken seriously and thought to have leadership qualities. As an Executive Communication Coach, I often observe people speaking with sentences that fade away or using a flat inflection. They do this purposefully with the mistaken idea that you must always be serious or low energy to have gravitas. We’ve come a long way from Roman times, where seriousness was the primary way to demonstrate gravitas. These inaccurate stereotypes can diminish your ability to demonstrate leadership and authority in your current role. (more…)
At first, I thought this is great! I will work from home! I will be able to cook dinner and spend some quality time with my family. Well, it’s been two weeks, and I have learned a great deal. Working from home is hard, especially when your spouse or significant other is also attempting to do it as well. My bedroom has become my office since my husband took over our entire kitchen /dining room. What I didn’t anticipate was having to establish perimeters for each of us. If I had thoroughly thought this thru, then I would have suggested the following: (more…)
Learn how to control nervousness associated with public speaking with this free, 30-minute webinar hosted by The Speech Improvement Company.
Whether you call it ’nervousness” or “anxiety’ or “fear of speaking,” it is a widespread experience for many people worldwide; you are not alone. The good news is that it can be controlled. This complimentary webinar will discuss the ‘real causes’ of this experience and some tools and techniques to control the nervousness.
Wed, April 14, 2021
2:00 PM – 2:30 PM EDT