Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Manage Your State

Public speaking acts like a mirror; you see outside of you an amplified version of what is going on inside of you. Great speakers choose their state. A presenter who feels the audience was boring, was most likely bored themselves. A presenter who finds the audience is angry, was probably stirred up or frustrated.

That's not to say that you don't have bad days. Of course you do, we all do. The difference is that if your work that day is to present to a room full of people, you are required to get over it and get on with the presentation.

For me, the lighter side of life allows me to shift my state. In any situation, if I can see the funny side I can almost immediately get out of a funk or an unproductive emotional state and choose a better one. Do not give your power over to other people. I think that's a life lesson and one we learn on the road of speaking all the time.

State is also a case of preparation.
Things almost always go wrong and having done what you can to be in a productive and positive state means that these things don't affect you quite as much.

There are several things you can do to help manage your state more effectively;

Focus on the game plan.
A method and outline for what you are going to say, designed in advance, can often help you out when you feel less than inspired. I am often glad that I have a planned opening, I may not always use it, but its acts like a mood fall back.

Develop pre-speech rituals.
I clean my teeth before I speak no matter when I am speaking. I like to shower before a speech if it's possible. You may listen to a certain song on your Ipod. Michael Jordan wore his North Carolina shorts under his Chicago bulls uniform every time he played. The rituals act as triggers for state. Make your rituals mean something to you.

Eat right.
Protein, not carbohydrate food types will help you remain mentally alert. Watch your caffeine intake as it's a diuretic and makes you need to go to the toilet and get a dry mouth. Plan your day and force food down. When you are on adrenaline your body shuts down the hunger response and the last thing you want to do is eat. Fight this or else you will end up with a sugar crash and lose the mental energy required to stay in state.

Exercise on the day.
Excess nerves and mental run throughs all compound the amount of cortisol in your body. Cortisol is like the adrenal systems back up fuel. Too much cortisol though can make you angry, sad, afraid or guilty. These four emotions are state killers for a speaker. Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day advised the Groundhog ‘don't drive angry' - you don't speak angry either. Some vigorous exercise on the day of the speech helps take the excess stress hormones out of your system.

Be your own Barometer.
When delivering in a dynamic way, you try to read your room and adjust what you do accordingly. The problem with this is you can misread a room and assume things are going better or worse than they are. Don't assume you know what's going on with an audience. Stay a little detached and self-referring with your state. Remember, if you feel good, they will too.

Take care of yourself.
People often ask me if I choose my pre show music to match the demographic of the people in my room. That would be so clever. I don't. I choose music that lifts me and gets me ready.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Think about it!

I usually provide answers, but this week I've decided to pose some questions: I expect your answers may be perfect for you.

Turnaround questions
  • What one thing if you fixed it right now would make the single biggest difference in your life or business?
  • What three specific things can you do to change/or turn that one thing around?
  • How is it serving you to not change this one thing?
Other questions you might find useful:
  • Do you know what business you are in?
  • Do you know what kind of job you want?
  • How do you want to be remembered when you leave your current role?
  • What do you want to be known for in your business?
Take some time to think in advance about who you are and what you want.

Some simple Mantra’s:

If you don’t stand for something then you will fall for anything!

And on the flipside.

If you have no expectations then you are never disappointed.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Conference Presenter Basics

Are you planning to speak at a conference anytime soon? If so, here are a few basic things to remember...

Before you begin speaking...

  • SEND your information. Your photo, presentation title and blurb, AV requirements etc. DON'T wait for them to chase you! Be pro-active and make it easy for the organiser. Include YOUR name in the filename of every document you send.
  • Write an introduction. Email it to the organiser and also print it out and take it with you. Make it fun and focussed more on your message than on you.
  • Take your presentation slides. Take it on a USB, and again, include YOUR name in the filename of your presentation document. Not just the conference name. Make sure it is the ONLY file on the USB to avoid confusion.
  • ARRIVE in the conference room early.
  • FIND OUT what has happened before your presentation and what will be happening afterwards.

Things to remember when on the stage...

  • Don't say, I'll get to that in a few minutes, or I'll speak about that later in my talk.
  • Don't read your slides.
  • Don't use someone else's material without attribution.
  • Do make the organiser look good. If authentic, praise them from the stage.
  • Do acknowledge the time remaining signs held up at the back of the room (or elsewhere). A nod will do.

And finally,

Make sure you know the actual finish time and length of talk, so you finish then, no matter what!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What comes first (now) and what comes next?

As you focus on bringing your great ideas to fruition, you may hit some recurring road blocks like:

  • The minute you get focused and make a clear decision about anything, you are often presented with an alternate opportunity that tests your resolve.
  • When the going gets tough on an idea you quickly get attracted by the next new shiny object rather than sticking at the hard work part.
  • You may develop a habit of focusing on the bigger opportunities than the one you are working on. Sometimes discussing a long term, big pay off goal is a form of procrastination from doing the things you need to do now and next.

So what do you do?

Well, there are no hard or fast prescriptions, but some useful self-talk dialogue and scripts I personally use include;

  • If it’s not a yes it's a no...
  • If you need a quick answer it's no, if I have some time to think about it, it's maybe.
  • What is the single most important thing I can focus on right now?
  • What's my sequence? What comes first (now), and what comes next?
  • I can have everything I want in life, just not always at the same time.
  • What's driving this decision?
  • What's the worst thing that can happen if I say YES/NO?

Good luck becoming a productivity hunter!

P.S. This month I suggest you watch my friend Dr Jason Fox as he explores how you can make clever happen.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Structure your speech to ensure an outcome

When speaking, to influence a room or suggest a specific course of action after your speech, the Drive Speech Structure works best. If you were selling a service, this would be the perfect structure to choose. This is a very linear speech and steps through six key stages:

1. Question
2. Problem
3. Cause
4. Substantiation
5. Implications
6. Invitation

First, you post your main idea (Contextual Mantra) as a question. You may, in a small group, allow for some discussion around this question in the audience. This can work well in a panel situation with each panelist responding to the question in a way that refines the topic. Your tone in this stage should be interesting and enquiring.

Then, spend a fair amount of time unpacking the problem that you will eventually present a solution to. Don’t rush this; many people are uncomfortable sitting in the problem stage for very long, but this is where the audience experiences the tension that precedes your welcome solution. Your tone in this stage should be compassionate and empathetic.

Next, you start to explain the causes of the problem defined in stage two. Here, you might draw diagrams and explain fundamental principles at play. This is a good time to move to a flip chart and turn on a ‘teaching’ style. For each defined problem, it is a good idea to have a few causes combine to create the problem. Your tone should be academic and a little detached.

After the causal stage, you step into a short period of ‘proving’. Substantiate your claims and link evidence to your shared perspectives. Your tone in this stage should be confident and certain.

This is the stage where you unpack the implications of change not occurring (or you not being taken up on the invitation). During this stage, you are making the issue a personal one for the audience. Explain to them how a denial of the problem will cause more damage in the long run. It’s about relevance and personal meaning. Be gentle and approachable when delivering this section.

The final stage of the Drive Structure is to make an invitation of some kind. This can be as overt as walking through the features and benefits of a product, or the details of an offer, through to a gentle suggestion that they get in touch with you. The better you have delivered the first four stages, the less you will need to push at the fifth.

P.S. Come and learn how to piece together this speech structure during my Drive Your Business Through Speaking Workshop on Friday 18 November.