It’s ALL in the Details (Part 1 of 2)

What are the Details Saying About You? (Part 1 of 2)

How You’re Creating the BIGGEST Impression Even with the Smallest of Things

Recently, I was waiting to meet a client at a restaurant. While pecking away on my laptop, I noticed one employee jumping up and down near the wall. It turns out he was trying to see if there was any dust on the top ledge of the wall-mounted coat rack. Later, I saw this same gentleman removing wall decorations for dusting.

The folks at this restaurant must realize something most businesses completely miss – it’s all in the details. As a patron, when you see dust on decorations, ceiling fans, or even in restrooms, what do you “make true” (assume to be true) about that establishment? You see, every detail you notice – both consciously and unconsciously – goes into your mental bag of evidence. No matter how much or how little evidence you’ve collected, your first impression has already been formed about an establishment; an individual; a company.

This becomes your “truth.” It may not be THE truth, but it is your truth … which IS the truth … to you. This begs the question, what are your clients “making true” about you?

Stained Ceiling TileA friend who owns a business recently received some (very valuable) feedback from a client. It was all positive and generous comments and compliments about their overall experience and the products … then this client said, “… but have you noticed that you have a few stained ceiling tiles?”   [Read more…]

Is Speaking Your #1 Fear?

 Nervousness is Selfish Energy

5 Techniques to Presenting … Comfortably and Confidently [originally posted Jan. ’09]

I recently caught a TV interview with Billy Joel’s wife (Katie Lee Joel). Knowing that millions of people would be watching, a friend gave her some of the best advice I’ve ever heard – that friend began by stating, “Nervousness is selfish energy.” – more on this below.

What has your nervousness cost you up till now? Do you regret not having taken an opportunity to speak at any of the following events?

  • Company Meetings
  • Funerals For Loved Ones
  • Parties or Celebrations
  • Seminars or Conferences
  • Networking Functions

Is public speaking your #1 fear? If so, you are certainly not alone. All too often we miss opportunities to speak and share. Your experiences, successes, failures and stories all reflect valuable life lessons … especially when shared with others.

 

1. Nervousness is Selfish Energy

Nervous SpeakerYou see it all the time: pacing, shallow breathing, pocket-change-jingling, lack of eye contact and sweating. Why do people get so nervous? The answer is simple – they’re focused on … themselves. How selfish! When you’re in front of a group, make it about them … not you. Focus on the value you bring to your audience and what you want to communicate, convey and contribute.
The moment you focus on others and give up your need to “look good,” you’ll discover a profound shift in your ability to present and you’ll appear much more human. (Of course, a little nervousness is perfectly normal)

 

2. What’s Your Story?

For thousands of years, we’ve communicated effectively through storytelling. Stories don’t have to be memorized and usually should not be rehearsed, especially if they’re derived from personal experience. Telling stories will put you and your audience at ease. Whatever point(s) you want to make can be illustrated energetically and memorably with a story.

As a trainer, I could spend hours listing the facts, tips, tricks and techniques about delivering great customer service or I could share a couple of powerful stories, drawing from my own personal experiences – one about using frequent flyer points to book international travel on a major airline, and another about a debacle that ensued when I tried to order a guitar for my girlfriend’s birthday gift. Which method do you think would be more memorable, compelling, engaging and natural?

 

3. Press Pause

Pause ButtonRemember, you know the material, but your audience usually doesn’t. That’s why you’re the one on stage. So take it slow and don’t let nerves cause you to hurry through your presentation. One of the biggest mistakes I see, is a presenter rushing through a very important – sometimes profound – point.
Keep in mind that listeners can’t process everything they hear, as quickly as you can speak it. In order for your words to fully sink in, you must allow a little time for processing. Pause briefly after making an important point and watch the faces in your audience. You’ll see the “light bulbs” after a second or two. Had you simply continued speaking, however, they likely would have missed your excellent point. Don’t rob the audience of the value your comments bring. (Pausing also gives you a moment to gather your own thoughts, before moving forward.)

 

4. Death by PowerPoint

Death by PowerPointI’ve seen so many folks hide behind a PowerPoint presentation to lessen nervousness. However, you, as the presenter, are the star of the show – not your slides. When the projector comes on (and the lights go off), a boring slide show may be turning spectators into zombies. But PowerPoint itself isn’t the enemy, non-strategic delivery of PowerPoint is. If you’re using slides, here are a few crucial tips:

  • Use pictures and/or video instead of text, whenever possible (remember, a picture is worth a thousand words)
  • Use bullet points (never paragraphs) and a large, easy-to-read font
  • Don’t read the text that’s on the screen. Bor-ing! (this won’t even be an issue if you’re following the last point)
  • Display bullet points one at a time (otherwise the audience will read ahead)
  • Use a remote control to advance slides, not your laptop or an assistant using your laptop (this will allow you to move about the room – motion creates e-motion – and present seamlessly)
  • When you’re not referring to slides, turn the projector off, (this action is usually a feature of your remote control)
  • Keep the lights on inside the room (slides with large black text on a white background will usually make this possible)
  • Take the time to get comfortable with your material in advance, so you can treat bulleted slides as you would bulleted note cards, using them only to keep you on your intended path

 

5. There’s a Friendly Face

If you’re the scheduled speaker/presenter, show up early and meet as many people as you can. Making connections beforehand will help you feel as though you’re speaking to friends, not strangers.

As you look out into the crowd, know that there’s always going to be someone who appears to be judging you – sitting with arms folded, brow furrowed and wearing a skeptical look. Don’t let this throw you – you have no idea what this person is really thinking (I often sit in an audience with arms folded, simply for back comfort). As you speak, try not to focus your attention on anyone that makes you feel substandard or self-conscious. Remember, there will also be a fan – smiling and nodding, with eyes fixated on you. You’ll never convert the seeming skeptic, so look to your “fans” instead. Let their positive energy be your fuel.

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Much as an irritating grain of sand forms the basis of a pearl, so can discomfort yield personal growth. Step outside of your comfort zone, especially if you’ve never presented. Cross that bridge and watch it get easier each and every time.

“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson – 1803-1882, Poet and Essayist

Are you giving a presentation?

Hire Steve as Your Presentation Coach Today

Call 202.556.3235 or e-mail

Additional Resources:
Steve’s Radio Interview on Storytelling
DefiningStory.com

Founding and Maintaining Goal-Setting Groups

A Support System For Your Goals

5 Easy Steps to Utilizing Your Own Monthly Goal-Setting Group

One of the reasons that I had not been a goal-setter previously was because I thought of it as something you did on your own.
I don’t know that I’d ever even heard of a goal-setting group, so when a friend invited me to join one that she was founding, I jumped right in.

I’d like to share with you, the many benefits of joining or even founding a goal-setting group of your own. I’ll even provide the practical steps for doing so. It’s much easier than you might think…

1. Five heads are better than one
I remember reading in Freakonomics that a child’s peers are more instrumental to the child’s success and personality than parental involvement and guidance. Wow! Maybe this finding shocks you … maybe not … or maybe you will dismiss it as untrue. But think about how most children spend their time, and consider the following quotes:

  • “You are, or will become, the average of the five people you associate with the most.” – Brian Carruthers
  • “Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.” – Oprah Winfrey
  • “…you cannot soar with the eagles as long as you’re pecking around with the chickens.” – Joel Osteen

I invite you to look through your list of contacts and select the ideal goal-setters to join your group. In my experience, five is the magic number for members. These people should be successful, committed, driven, supportive, generous (with themselves and others) and high-achievers. If you aren’t the type of person to get something like this off the ground, that’s OK, just be sure to invite someone into the group who will. Extend an invitation to your first choices and have a backup list of three to five more, to cover folks who may decide not to opt in.

The next four steps will be your “ground rules” for each session – be sure to communicate these rules and gain agreement from the group, especially at the beginning of your first session.
Additionally, you can refer to last month’s eNewsletter (September 2008) for the 5 Proven Steps to Achieving All of Your Goals.”

2. Quiet on the set
It will take members 40 to 60 minutes to write down their goals, using the provided goal-setting sheets (see link below). During this time, make a commitment to one another to maintain silence. If one person breaks that silence, the floodgates are likely to open and off you’ll all go on a tangent.

3. Actions speak louder and “To-Do Lists” don’t work
As each person completes their goal sheets, next they should enter those goals into their calendars, assigning a specific day and time for each. Consider the action steps and outside support necessary to attain your goals and place each of these steps on your calendar, assigning a specific day and time to each. (Remember to also schedule rewards as positive reinforcement for your efforts.)

4. Thanks for your support
Once the forms are complete, each person can examine their goals and share three items with which they’d like some support. (Note: these items may or may not be the same as your “Focus Goals,” as defined by your goal-setting sheets) Support comes in many forms and always amazes me. Without fail, someone in our group possesses some unique knowledge or offers to make the perfect connection for another member. Expect to find much richness inside of your group.

Be sure to designate one member to take notes for the group (preferably typing them directly into the body of an e-mail message). A list of members and their shared goals, along with areas in which they requested support, can be sent to everyone in an e-mail that day. I find myself referring to this e-mail between meetings to see how I can help my colleagues. Sometimes I’ll just send a gentle reminder like, “How many times are you going to hit the gym this week?”

At the beginning of each subsequent session, have everyone share how other members supported them. This is a great way to get things started, focusing on gratitude for others and recognizing the power of a team.

5. “Great session … see ya later.”
Wait right there! Before everyone leaves, confirm next month’s session and have everyone write it on their calendar. Choose a recurring date and time, such as the first Saturday of each month from 9:00 am to 11:00 am. Remember to also agree upon a place – perhaps you can take turns hosting. If you part ways and leave these details to several “reply all” e-mails … well … you know how that goes.

Also, assign a responsibility to each member such as what snacks to bring to the next session, who will be taking notes for the group, who will be hosting next time, etc. Delegating responsibilities allows everyone to play an integral role and members will, therefore, be much less likely to miss a session.

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Final thoughts: We create our world with our words. Your mind begins to organize itself around your intentions. There is a lot of power in speaking aloud your goals and sharing them with others. Often we accomplish more by being accountable to others than we do by being accountable only to ourselves.

Recognize how all areas of your life – as illustrated on the attached document – affect all other areas of your life. Click here to request my monthly goal-setting sheets which outline seven key areas for opportunity and growth.

Visit: Goal-setting quick-tips