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Let me begin by saying ladies we have some massive strengths when it comes to our communication style. We are excellent listeners ( You know it ), we are capable of great empathy ( Yes we are ), and we are excellent at picking up on body language and voice cues ( Go us !)
However, there are few things we do when we communicate that is sabotaging our ability to speak with impact.
- Being indirect
Let me be direct. When we speak we can sometimes take a while to get to the point right?
What this means in real life is when we speak we build up to our strongest point instead of leading with it. We;
- Begin with background
- Go into detail covering all possible areas
- Finally, at the end, we get to the point !
The main reason we do this is we want to establish ourselves and our credibility before we give conclusions. Unfortunately it is perceived by others are waffling, rambling and dithering.
If you are using this style I do understand why but you must ask yourself if your listener is going to wait until the end to get what they need. Would you wait that long?
To communicate with Impact you must be confident in yourself and your communication and lead with your strongest point for the listener
You then spend the rest of the time building your story and credibility around that opening point.
- Using weak language and filler words
This is probably the biggest weakness I see in women when they communicate.
‘We feel, we just need to, maybe, kind of, you know, make sure, we, em , ah, I guess, you know, you understand where we are coming from’
Filler words represent a verbal hesitation that has to be filtered out by your listener. Repeated and excessive use of filler words weakens your credibility. It may be perceived as indicating lack of preparation, lack of knowledge, or lack of passion.
So why do we fill our communication with words that add no value and in fact detract from both our message and our overall impact?
There are three main reasons for the use of filler words:
- We are thinking as we are talking. We are thinking about what comes next because we haven’t quite figured it out yet. The reason is a lack of proper preparation and rehearsal.
- We are afraid of silence. A three-second pause can feel like three hours and rather than feel the discomfort we fill every second with a sound.
- We really are not sure what we are talking about so our filler words reflect the real amount of understanding we have about our topic – i.e. not enough
So how do you overcome these challenges?
- The first step is awareness. You must become aware of what filler words you are using and then identify from the list above why you think you are using them.
- The most simple and effective way to reduce and even eliminate filler words is to practice out loud a minimum of three times before you speak for real. This way you will have done your thinking and found your flow.
- Replace the filler word with a pause. You must plan to pause at key points either before or after you deliver an important message. A pause is when you stop, breathe in and breathe out. It lasts between two to three seconds. It will take time to get used to the silence but persevere.
- You must understand and get to grips with your own topic before you can communicate it to someone else. If you are not sure of your message no one else in the room is going to get clarity.
- Letting a lack of confidence define you
This is also a big one. When I run courses with women, anywhere in the world, at any level, they always tell me very honestly how they don’t feel confident enough. They tell me how they struggle with imposter syndrome and worry about having enough gravitas and presence.
Here’s the interesting part. Men feel the exact same way. They really do. They just don’t talk about it.
The good news is. Doubting ourselves is a human condition. Everyone feels it……….. Especially the ones who say they don’t.
The bad news is. I don’t have a magic solution to this I am afraid.
To have confidence you must have experience of doing something a lot and belief you can do it without making a fool of yourself (this comes from the experience).
We feel confident about the things in our life we are skilled at. We are skilled at them because we work hard at them and have earned the right to feel confident and competent. Just think for a second about something you feel confident about – I bet you worked very hard to earn that feeling.
Confidence is not acquired easily and you don’t get it for free. There is no shortcut to real confidence. The reasons you don’t feel confident as a communicator is:
- You lack the experience (the skill);
- You are not preparing properly or enough (you have not earned the right to feel confident).
Do your best to gain more experience to build the skill or do as much preparation as possible and you will feel more confident.
Most importantly though stop sabotaging yourself by telling yourself you are not confident enough.
You are brilliant, amazing, incredible and fabulous. Don’t you forget it.
Happy International Women’s Day 2017
In what was the most dramatic moment in the history of the Academy Awards, La La Land was announced as the best picture winner at the 2017 Oscars on Sunday night – but then had to hand the award over to the actual best picture winner Moonlight after a mistake was made.
The question is what can we learn from this extraordinary presentation blunder.
- Mistakes happen
If the Oscar mix up can teach us anything it’s that mistakes happen. Even to the best of us. Even at an event produced and presented by a team of media professionals in front of and behind the camera.
The Oscars ceremony, running for 88 years now, has back up plans for their back up plan.
A supposed fail safe system of having duplicate envelopes for each award in the wings for presenters ironically appears to be at the heart of this fiasco.
When you stand in front of a room full of people to present, like the Oscars, you are live ! No editing, no cutting to commercial, no double takes and like live TV, no guarantees.
So what do you do when the worst case scenario happens ?
- Choose integrity and credibility
Imagine if, upon realising their mistake on Sunday, the people in charge said nothing. What if they saved themselves the embarrassment and just let La La Land win ? Would that be ok ?
Of course not.
When you’re in front of an audience and you or someone on your presentation team realizes there is a mistake you must admit the mistake.
“There’s a mistake. Moonlight, you won best picture,” announced Jordan Horowitz, La La Land producer .He then held up the card clearly showing the winner was Moonlight.
There was nothing elegant about his announcement. Just an abrupt interruption of cold hard fact which left the audience and the world shocked and confused.
The truth is no matter how well a mistake is handled and communicated the surprise and embarrassment will be fever pitch for all involved.
It’s in this moment of mortification however a presenter, you, must make the right choice.
You must choose to communicate with integrity. You must choose to maintain your credibility.
You must tell the audience there has been a mistake and most importantly you must explain why the mistake happened. The second part is vital to helping an audience process what has just happened
An audience is not out to get you. They will understand human error if you explain it to them.
Which brings us to lesson 3 –Your reaction matters.
- Your reaction matters
The reactions on the stage on Sunday were mixed
Warren Beatty was bewildered, Emma Stone was suitably shocked and Ryan, well Gosling giggled.
And it is Ryan Gosling’s reaction that is gaining the most attention in the aftermath.
It wasn’t a funny situation per say but what Ryan’s response did was remind us it was not the end of the world. Nobody died. Ryan’s giggle allowed some relief to the audience amidst the tension of the situation.
Humour is not always appropriate but what is appropriate when mistakes happen is to relieve the audience of the burden of situation. You must get over your own feelings and ensure the audience is absolved of what is happening.
Even with preparation and planning mistakes happen. All I can tell you is when your moment comes take some solace in the fact it will not be watched by 32.9 million people globally and like Ryan, try and have a giggle if you can.
For more insider media tips and tricks check out The presentation Book here
Don’t let yourself down when you stand up #thepresentationbook
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Interview with RTE’s Morning Edition for The Presentation Book
So happy to share with you my article for The Guardian giving you top tips on how to do just that. Enjoy and Happy Monday !
Discover a better way to present #thepresentationbook
Here is my article on the 10 Commandments All Ted Talk Presenters must follow