HOW TO STAND STRONG AND DELIVER A POWERFUL MESSAGE

What will you do with any given opportunity for your business? Obviously you will grab it with both hands and go for it. So what if that opportunity is to take to The Stage and Speak Publicly? Do you have what it takes to get up in front of a crowd and talk out loud?

THE INVITATION

Attending networking events has become a regular activity for any entrepreneur. It’s the perfect platform to meet likeminded people which share the same passion as oneself for business. Needless to say that when the invite came via the first email opened on a Monday morning to speak at an event, it was a no-brainer to reply with an affirmative, Yes! 

“Don’t you find that kind of thing very daunting?” was the response from some close friends. To be honest, perhaps because of a mindset that is slightly different from the norm, it is not a scary thing at all. Actually, their is a huge feeling of satisfaction to share publicly one’s knowledge and the approach to one of the loves of my life: that of being an entrepreneur. 

When I came across a superb article in Forbes under Leadership, Want To Be A Better Public Speaker? Do What The Pros Do written by Susan Tardanico, the immediate need arouse to share my public speaking ethics. She most definitely speaks my kind of language. To get her point of view on Public Speaking follow the reference link at the end of this article. Her process is very similar to mine. So on that note, let’s get to work on the nitty-gritty of a creating a striking presentation. 

THE PREP STRUCTURE 

Establish first off from the organiser what is required, where and when you should be ready for action. Once the practicalities are out of the way the time has come to put on that thinking-cap and get some thoughts together. 

  • Purpose

    - An effective way to start is to have the end of your talk in mind. Basically, the message you want to get across.

Deciding on the topic/s can be tricky depending on if it’s been covered before or if there are so many aspects to cover that there will not be enough time.  

  • Simplicity

    - Don’t complicate your message.

Pinning down some ideas take a bit of time, but in the end the motto keep it short and sweet prevails and then the framework for the talk will be done. All that is needed now is to put some meat on those bones and you’re almost there. 

Next up is to create some captivating imagery to accomplish your talk and most of the hard work is in hand.

  • Visuals

    - Be very aware of the perils of your Keynote/Powerpoint show-and-tells. Keep the amount of slides to a minimum - and, very importantly, Do Not Repeat out loud what is written on your slides. Slides are there to cement your speech not the other way round.

THE REHEARSALS

There is the notion that you should follow the rule rehearse rehearse rehearse and that is good. Even the phrase practise makes perfect, come to mind. However, there is also the notion that to over rehearse can kill some very important aspects of public speaking: the authenticity and energy. Saying that, preparation is vital. 

  • Video yourself

    - Recording yourself whilst rehearsing is an excellent way to watch yourself perform. You can then get a great idea of how you will come across to your audience.

  • Mixture

    - Be careful not to be a boring speaker. Avoid sameness at all costs. The last thing you want is for your listeners to get bored and tune out / disengage - or even worse, get up and leave the room.

Of course it is great to talk to an audience without any notes in hand, but rather have some pointers with you (or use your slides as reminders) to refer to than ramble on and deliver a bunch of words without any enthusiasm. If there are a few days at hand before going live it’s good to have a run-through once a day. Obviously if time is not on your side, more effort is needed as often as possible. 

If you’re familiar with the venue where you will speak at, then even better. If not, make sure to arrive some time earlier than you should to have a good look around the room/auditorium to get the feel of it’s layout and size. Walk about on the stage too so you get use to the acoustics and vision from the stage.

Prior to taking to the stage it is essential to do a complete run-through. Specially to check and double check the available technology. Nothing is more disappointing than a failing monitor or presentation slides jumping all over the screen and even the hand remote behaving badly. It is common for these hiccups, and depending on the formality of the event, an audience will accept and smile as they have seen it all before. From a speaker’s point of view though, it can easily rattle your rhythm and throw you off guard. Best to make 110% sure gremlins are removed from all devices so you can get on with the most important part which is delivering information well.

Words of Wisdom from Ralph Waldo Emerson

THE CURTAIN GOES UP

Before you know it the moment will arrived and you will be introduced to your audience. Some adrenalin usually kicks in and the flutter of butterflies in your stomach is a good omen. After all, you are about to show people what you know and what you’re made of. This is here where those rehearsals will come in very handy. You will portrait confidence and come across knowledgeable giving your audience a treat. Thus having your ducks in a row will only be a great part of your talk. 

Once you start to deliver your presentation, it is good practice to keep the following in mind: 

  • Stories

    - Tell a personal story or two. Maybe as an icebreaker before you delve into your main presentation.

  • Eye Contact

    - Connect with your audience from the start. You want them in the palm of your hand for the entire duration you’re on stage.

  • Body language

    - Your stance, the shifting your weight, your hand movements, where you head turns… Your Body Language and Body Message are very important. Your audience will definitely pick up on any energy you are giving off.

  • Passionate

    - Let your passion for the topic, for speaking publicly, for having an audience, for just being there, be on show all the time. Keep up the energy levels and stay focussed throughout.

Time usually flies by and in public speaking this can go by even faster. Sooner than you think you will receive a signal from the organiser at the back of the room that it’s time to wrap it up. Fingers crossed at this moment you have covered your main topics and are ready for the Q&A (question and answer session) that usually follows.

THE AFTERMATH

Done and dusted. Fingers crossed fo an applause and perhaps even a shout out/whistle here and there not to mention a possible standing ovation! Possibly some meet and greets with audience members to follow and finally a well deserved coffee (or something stronger if you prefer) to sooth your dry throat. Pat yourself on the back. Well done to you!

It’s worth noting that soon after you’ve walked off the stage, a feeling of what  now can sink your energy to a shockingly low level. This is normal. The mind and body have just gone through a gruelling 40+ minutes of intense excitement and nerves. As the saying goes… what goes up must come down. It will pass in due course. Nothing to worry about, but worth knowing you’re not about to collapse or have an attack of some sorts. 

CONCLUSION

Finally, what is the aim in all of this? Yes, it all sounds very easy, you may say. Maybe you can’t comprehend how someone can take a stance and talk out loud with lots of people watching and listening. “I’ll never be able to do that” is often a common reply. Honestly, you CAN do it. It may take time and even some media training, but it is possible.

The one thing that cannot be stressed enough is NOT TO let the moment and opportunity go by because you feel it is not your kind of thing. At the end of the day it is your Brand up there and it is part and parcel of building and growing your visibility. Please note that not all members of the audience will necessarily be appreciative of what you said since there will always be those that so easily show their dislike. Don’t let it throw you off track. Stand Tall And Deliver. And most of all grow within yourself

To finish off, here is the lesson of the day:  You up there on stage is intended for the people in your audience to remember Your Brand once You’ve Left The Room. 

As always, please feel free to share, comment or send me a message if you have any questions and/or if you felt some affinity towards this topic.

You can reach me here, or on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.

And most of all… Thank You very much for reading. 


Reference:

Article by Susan Tardanico on the Forbes website:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/susantardanico/2012/05/29/want-to-be-a-better-public-speaker-do-what-the-pros-do/#3108529a1e17

HOW YOU CAN ACHIEVE THE BEST OUT OF LIFE

Do you get the feeling (more than often?) that there is more, much more, to your life than your current situation? However, the target always seems to be just about out of reach? No matter how hard you try and stretch to reach it, it stays the proverbial dangling carrot.

WHEN REALITY KICKS IN

From time to time we are being faced with a situation in our lives similar to a door being shut in our faces. This could be anything from a relationship ending to being made redundant from your position at work. Whatever it is exactly, one feels let down and disappointed. These are natural feelings, because we are after all only human. 

This scenario is nothing new within the world we live in nowadays. I am sure quite a few of you will be able to resonate with such a consequence. Perhaps with even more than one.

WHAT TO DO NEXT

That is the big question. The short answer is: Make Some Changes. The long answer, I am about to explain to you in this article.

“But can I do it? Can I make it work?” you ask. So many times these are the kind of replies coming from individuals. Insecurity forces the mind to utter phrases like…. “not sure… don’t really know if I have it in me… I better not try again. I will just fail miserably.” etc..

Stop right there for a second or ten. I personally believe that You Can Do It. It is very possible for you to overcome hurdles and that can change everything in your life.

It is within each and everyone of us to do so and make positive changes for our lives. In order to succeed, the initial activity is to put your mind into starting gear. As the saying goes… Mind Over Matter. 

WHERE TO START YOUR JOURNEY

We all have a multitude of ideas in our heads. Those ideas have a name, they are called dreams. It is one thing to dream the dream and a complete different thing to achieve them. The good news is that your dreams are not only  possible, they are achievable.

Grant yourself the time to make sure your ideas are realistic though. In other words, don’t rush into making outrageous decisions. Seek and select sensible targets for yourself. It is here where you should learn from your short falls or perhaps that what made you end up being in your current situation. 

When it comes to a work environment, be clear about what you can offer a company when you’re looking at available positions. Maybe you can tackle the next relationship better by being less of one thing and more of another. What you should keep in mind is that it is Your Situation. Unique to You. Neither me nor anyone else really knows your current case. It is in the end, up to you. 

HOW TO WALK THE ROAD TO SUCCESS

The basic steps are: Plan, Action and Execute. Planning what you want is however the easiest part of your future. Taking the next step is when you need to put shoulder to the wheel and start to do the work. As if this last one isn’t hard enough, the toughest is to carry out and accomplish that what you want. 

Now, please don’t let the above paragraph put you off. It sounds intense, but help is at hand. 

Whilst recently reading A Better Lemonade Stand I came across their Manifesto – which inspired me to write this post. In this short, but very powerful synopsis they nailed the issues regarding reaching ones’ ultimate goals in life and work.

I stand completely a 110%+ by the Manifesto so let me share my thoughts with you. The following points can be seen as a roadmap or blueprint for you to get going. 

Let’s take it step by step…

  • Start

- As mentioned, don’t just dream, begin by setting out a plan.

  • Move

- Take a step forward and keep doing it regularly.

  • Work

- Even if it seems tough, remember you’re doing it for yourself.

  • Setbacks

- All of us in life fail over and over. See failure as motivation.

  • Blame

- Do not do it, be responsible for your own decisions.

  • Give up

- Don’t even consider it. Learn how to cross barriers.

  • Decisions

- Go for the tough choices and discover awesomeness.

It’s well worth reading the full explanation here. Not just once, but treat yourself and give it quite a few good reads. 

Let it sink in and then read it again. And then, Challenge Yourself.  

CONCLUSION

As far as I’m concerned the most important moment should be when you take a stand and decide that you want to change your life and chase your dream – in other words, taking the first step forward. This is what is called Taking Action. 

The rest of your road to reach the end will happen. It will quite easily not happen overnight, but do your future self a favour and keep going and stay focussed. Also, remember that the wide and easy road isn’t always the way to reach the top. Most times, if not all the time, it is the narrow, winding, uphill path that will cause the most satisfaction in the end. 

Influencers all over the world will tell you that sitting back and just thinking about plans are not enough. We all have to get up and get going. A Dream without a Plan is just a Wish.

It also is very important to remember: don’t give up at the first hurdle. Setbacks, criticisms, rejections, fear, etc. in my book are seen as motivation - which will give you the drive and determination to keep going and get better at it than what you were yesterday. Ultimately, Don’t Quit – Do It.

As always, please feel free to share, comment or send me a message if you have any questions and/or if you felt some affinity towards this topic.

You can reach me here, or on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.

And most of all… Thank You for reading. 

YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACTIVITY vs YOUR HEALTH

There is that sound again… the indication of another notification from one of your Social Media platforms. Question is: what do you do?

Are you one of the 60+% of people in the world who immediately and impulsively grab your mobile and check that notification? If so, your dependency on automatically looking what the notification is about, may be an indication that you are suffering from what is called Social Media Addiction.

It is always easy to slap a label onto something, so even though it may seems straight forward, let’s dive deep into the what and why of this human matter.

WHAT IS ADDICTION

To kick start this article, let’s see how dictionary.com explains the word, or symptom (as it is often called): “Addiction is the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance or activity”. 

Take note, that the word activity is included in the explanation. After all, attending to your social feeds is an activity - something that are done fairly regular. 

WHAT ARE THE INDICATIONS 

Being spurred on by a post I read on It’s Time To Log Off it is clear that an overwhelming amount of people in the world are suffering from SMA (social media addiction). You may read this and think “oh well, this is not me”, but please take note: if you find it (rather) difficult not to respond to notifications by checking your feeds immediately or constantly recording/typing content for your sites, then it is time to wake up and smell the coffee. It is very possible that you are one of the 60+% in the world.

Let’s look at such a scenario from a different angle: how do you feel when you discover you have no signal to receive incoming alerts on your mobile device? That anxious feeling, together with not being able to post any content, can have a negative effect on your wellbeing. For instance, you may end up feeling down in the dumps, frustrated (to say the least) and/or even get really angry. These emotions, due to the lack of not being able to connect as such, spells danger. 

HOW TO COMBAT YOUR HABIT

There is a possibility one can argue that the existence of social sites are created to get you hooked. Albeit this being a very strong suggestion, take a minute and think clearly about it. One could easily find some truth in that statement. Going back to the explanation of addiction, hooked is exactly how people end up if they can’t leave their devices alone.  

Time, within the technology world, luckily moves at a speed almost as fast as light. Nowadays applications (Apps) are created to help people curb the time they spend on electronic devices. Assisted by those within the medical environments, these helpers are there to do exactly that. The crux lies within ones own decision to turn them on

The mere fact that institutions are making decisions to create electronic help, can be a clear indication that the statement about sites vs deliberate, obsessive behaviour may not be as far fetched as we want to believe. 

Changing the screen time  applications’ settings to on is one way to minimise your activities online. Another very simple, and effective, solution is to take a firm stand and cancel all notification alerts. Of course this can be seen by many as a drastic measure, but let’s keep our eyes on the longterm effects. There are clear indications that your health will improve when one exercise less negative emotions in life. Specially when it comes to the dependency on feedback such as likes from followers. 

Obviously, when one cancels a certain daily ritual, a gap is created and therefore the need to fill it is inevitable. Why not get back to good, ol’ natural remedies such as go outside and breathe in fresh air? Pick up a book, read and turn pages with your fingers (instead of swiping) and better still… talk to someone face to face. Let’s be honest, the possibilities are endless. It is only a matter of looking around and not focussing on a small screen in front of you. 

CONCLUSION

“I am going to take a hiatus from social media” is a line very often used in social media posts. However, are many of those really sticking to their words?

But that is exactly what you want them to do, you may say pointing your finger at me. Yes, that is what I’m on about - however, my questions still remains: Do They Really Do That?

My believe is that many online influencers/activists, etc. are confused by the words taking a break. Time and time again I witness regulars on social sites claiming the proverbial gone fishing scenario only to discover a few minutes/hours later they are in full glory, camera front facing and happily chatting away live to the world. And where do I see this happening? On various social media platforms that offers a stories or live function, where else! 

That  hiatus didn’t last long, right? “No, no, no, Evan, I am taking a break from publishing any work related content. I am away with my family at a beach resort. I am teasing your taste buds with the delicious food we’re eating?” Or the other classic: “I am building my personal brand on social platforms! Presence is what it is all about”.

I am afraid such individuals need to stop kidding themselves. That kind of behaviour is not leaving social media alone for a period of time. Purely because you change your content does not make it less of a habit.  Publishing your absence loud and clear is exactly what it should be. Stick to your guns - most importantly, show your audience you’re a sincere human focussed on many other opportunities than the matter in your hand

Content on platforms are important, don’t get me wrong. However, the content  is not what causes the addiction. The inability to see the wrong doing, is the underlining cause for concern, in my opinion. The bottom line is to first realise the habit and how damaging it is - and only then serious change can take place. 

I will leave you with some honest advice: Take A Well Deserved Break from Social Media and do Your Future Self a favour. Ultimately, enjoy the sunset views… taste the delicious food… have a great, fun time away from normality. It will do you the world of good. 

And finally a cheeky suggestion: share those taking-a-break-memories with us all by creating and publishing a digital album on your return. 

As always, please feel free to share, comment or send me a message if you have any questions and/or can relate to this post. 

You can reach me here, on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Instagram

And most of all… Thank You for reading.

FRIEND OR FOE TO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

Does our obsession with Social Media messaging mean the end of good writing? Such a great question from Emphasis that I used it to kick start this article. 

Communication is key in life. Not only within our personal relationships, but definitely within a business environment. It is safe to say that the way we communicate with each other has changed drastically over the years. Long, very long gone are the sending a pigeon and following short on its footsteps we can even count writing a letter as something that is beginning to disappear. 

Nowadays, we live in an (mostly) electronic world. Apart from our personal lives being organised via an electronic device, a very big part of our work are conducted electronically via a keyboard. It is this last mentioned task that, in my opinion, is becoming a talking point to take notice of.

TALK THE TALK

So many of people around the world go about their every day duties with an electronic device in their hands - or pockets/bags at least. It is therefore much easier to get or keep in touch with others than ages ago. More so, it can be done almost instantly, as you all know by now.  “What is the issue?” you may ask. Well, it is not that we can respond easily, it is how we respond that is my focus point.

Being regularly on social media platforms it has become obvious to me that many individuals tap or type away without taking much care of how they write. What matters to them is the fact that they do communicate and not how they do it. Time and time again one will stumble across social media posts that harbours incorrect spelling or incorrect grammatical usage. 

SPEAK THE LANGUAGE

Digging deep into some research, it has become clear that there are many educating institutions that have already talked of late about the writing element while we are speaking to each other. Teachers and Educators seem to address this issue which means they are questioning the way we are moving forward on an educational level. Amen to that!

At this point, let’s look at some of the outcomes from a study of 800+ teachers released by Dictionary.com:

  • 32% notices students struggle with grammar

  • 64% focusses more on skills like meaning and comprehension 

  • 73% find that social media and texting negatively affects students' grammar and spelling skills

  • 75% are troubled by students using popular slang or text speak in their schoolwork

  • 88% are concerned of students’ improper use of basic words and phrases 

As a strong believer in dotting my i’s and crossing my t’s, it has been more than frustrating on many occasions to see online posts not adhering to the correct usage of words - whether that is in sentences or on-word responses. Along with this kind of behaviour, one also has to put up with grammatical errors. There is an age-old saying: read between the lines, however, struggling to figure out what someone is telling you via the lines is (personally) a waste of time - in particular within the world of social media. After all, social media communication is suppose to be in the KISS form (Keep It Short & Simple), right? 

TOO MUCH TO ASK

Not only is it easy to draw a different conclusion to what the writer intended, it also can easily give the reader the wrong impression of the personality on the other end of the phone. This observation can quickly be pushed aside by saying that we are friends so he/she knows what I mean. Rightly so, but what about those who do read your work and is not at all a friend in real life? 

Furthermore, when it comes to those who are shouting from the rooftops about their milestones, their achievements and mostly (even if it’s indirectly) about what great influencers they are, is it really such an enormous task to make sure your content is grammatically correct when published?

Take for instance an Educator (i.e. a person who provides instruction or education; a teacher - via dictionary.com)... surely this person has a responsibility (at least) towards his/her students. Around 50% of teachers admit they reach out to social media to have a better understanding of their students’ culture.  Has it ever occurred to you as a tutor, that the reverse can happen? If your students take on board your irked grammar behaviour, are you really succeeding as an upstanding pilar of society?

At the end of the day, my question is: as a Leader, how much do you respect the language you are using to communicate with others?

THE FUTURE IS OUT THERE

We all know that once it is published, it’s basically out there forever. We can delete here, there and anywhere we can find, but somehow somewhere someone will find our original post. 

We all have a native tongue. Personally, this language I communicate in 100% of my everyday is not the one I was born with. And there are millions of us around the world in a similar situation. However, living in a society that is becoming more and more global it has become the norm to talk to each other in a universal language. Nothing wrong with that at all, but do we honestly have to walk around showing little respect for the language that is bringing us all together? 

What if the English language is the glue that keeps the world go round? The manner in which the English language is being used over the last few decades, is a true indication of how long it is been here and most probably how long it is going to be around for. 

Far is it for me to be such a stern critic, but if us humans, and in particular those who count themselves as upstanding citizens, cannot adhere to a simple task of delivering their words in mint condition, then where is this all going to end.

CONCLUSION

None of us are perfect. That is a common fact. We are all human and we make mistakes. That said, I personally don’t believe we can use that as an excuse to set a bad example. My point is that it is so easy nowadays to distribute content electronically. All we need to do is take good care of how we put it out there for all to see and read.

The main issue with not taking care of how we communicate with words is about to whom we aim our knowledge / points of view / insights etc. towards. It is quite possible for a big majority of your readers to be of a younger age than yourself. This is great, because we would like to advise and help others by sharing our wisdom with them - especially if one is in an environment of mentoring or coaching and teaching. Not much give more satisfaction than assisting others with reaching their potential

If we feel so strongly about how much value we want to bring to others’ lives, then why not feel strongly about the manner in which way we will give value to them. For those who will end up in a professional working environment one day, it is definitely a sure thing that they will not get away with using inappropriate language when engaging with fellow colleagues and/or clients. No company will put up with the use of slang or abbreviations in emails, incorrect usage of grammar in presentations and definitely not if you have a bad telephone manner. 

Those of us out here that wants to share with the world what we’ve learned so far in life, has a responsibility to do it correctly. After all, a Leader should be someone who Knows the Way, Goes the Way and Shows the Way. 

As always, please feel free to share, comment or send me a message if you have any questions and/or can relate to this post. 

You can reach me here, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Instagram

And most of all… Thank You for reading.