Archive: August, 2014

public speaking fear

Public Speaking Fear – How to Beat it…

Public speaking fear is also known as Glossophobia, a fear which so many people seem unable to cope with. Sheer terror is what many of us experience when faced with the prospect of any form of public speaking or a formal presentation in the workplace. Red face, red neck, sweaty hands, sweaty brow, trembling knees, tense shoulders, dry mouth, palpitations, short breath… The symptoms are pretty varied.

Fear of Failure

Many of our clients have been sick with worry days before a presentation or speech. The fear of failure – in this case often a fear of what others think – is a very common theme. Attaching this much importance to how others view us can be likened to the definition of ego in traditional Eastern mindsets – holding on to things as opposed to allowing everything to flow. Hold on tightly, let go lightly. It’s the latter part of that maxim we struggle with.

The great news for those who panic is that no planes will crash and nobody will come to harm as result of a mediocre speech or presentation. Nobody, to my knowledge, has ever died as a direct result of a poor quarter end financials presenation.

Also, nobody in your audience, be it a team brief or major keynote speech, wants you to fall flat on your face – everyone is supporting you and wants your speech or presentation to be brilliant – perhaps knowing this can strangely add more pressure to the prospect of a public speech for some people.

Vital to have a Key Message

The absolute, most important thing to have nailed down before opening your mouth is a key message. This equates to a need to communicate, a call to action, what you want your audience to think, feel, do differently as a result of your speech/presentation. It is the single most important component of your performance. In theory, you should be able to deliver an entire presentation with just one slide – your key message.

What is a key message? A short statement or question, using everday language that should be news to those hearing it. Deliver in person with the appropriate verve, passion, wit etc as befits your particular message and you’re well on your way to beating the onset of panic. At any fleeting moments of doubt or fretting about what others think, simply return to your message and all will work itself out.

Haven’t got a key message..? Then you haven’t got a speech or presentation that can ever work properly which makes it easier for nerves, panic and self-doubt to set in before and during the event and you really would be much better off emailing those boring slides…

Sartaj Garewal is the founder of Dynamic Presenting – a creative, leadership development consultancy, adapting theatre training to create leadership programs for business.

Dynamic Presenting – Enabling Powerful Communication

Communication Skills Training

Leadership – 5 Vital Lessons from Actors…

Leadership is tough. Actors by nature, training and practice have to be incredible communicators in rehearsal, on stage and on set. Empathy, perceptiveness and emotional agility are vital skills for any performer – it would be impossible to fathom a Shakespearean monologue otherwise.

Whilst actors could certainly learn a lot from the discipline, organisation and decision making abilities of those in the corporate world, business leaders could also gain valuable insight from the agility of performers.

1. Make Choices & Take Risks

The odds are so stacked against any one actor making a success that by their choice of profession alone, they are extreme risk takers. Also the most magnetic performances require daring, sometimes dangerous choices to be made in terms of character and action. Risk nothing and you will only deliver a mediocre, cliched performance which is easily forgotten. Anyone remember Blockbuster Video..? “The talent is in the choices you make” – Robert De Niro.

2. Improvise

Few can improvise and roll with the punches as well as stage actors. The ability to take on new information quickly (new characters, relationships, scenes, scripts) and roll with the punches has enormous relevance for robotic, process obsessed managers. “Accept and build” is the improviser’s mantra. Accept everything, deny nothing. Since change is inevitable, managers need to understand that everything changes and roll with that fluidly instead of clinging on to old ways of doing things.

3. Understand Behaviour & Empathise

No matter what amazing innovation technology will bring us tomorrow, a true understanding of people’s behaviour, nuances and emotions will always mark out real leaders from middle managers. In fact this should be no hardship or task but borne of a natural curiosity. The skill of feeling a character’s joy and pain are part of the actor’s job description. The leader, if she is to understand an organisation and inspire them must first of all understand them and what moves them.

 4. Build Relationships

Actors regularly have to create close, trusting relationships with their colleagues very quickly – imagine barely knowing somebody yet charged with portraying a loving relationship of say twenty years within a couple of hours of knowing each other. With just four weeks rehearsal before curtain up, there simply isn’t time to take your time. Jump to it, throw yourself in. This of course, takes courage – the courage to surrender ego and trust others.

5. Perform

The presentation, pitch, speech, difficult conversation etc are all moments of theatre and nothing quite expedites a leadership journey like performing with verve in those situations. Foster the storyteller within you and actively seek out every opportunity to showcase these skills.

Sartaj Garewal is the founder of Dynamic Presenting – a creative, leadership development consultancy, adapting theatre training to create leadership programs for business.

Dynamic Presenting – Enabling Powerful Communication

Leadership Development Clients

Emotional Agility… Great Leaders Nurture This…

Emotional agility is a tremendous asset in understanding and influencing others. Great leaders should have the ability to manage their thoughts and feelings. We all have a river of endless thought and emotion flowing through us – there is simply no moment ever, where we find ourselves not having a thought or experiencing an emotion. Managing this flow or nurturing emotional agility is a key attribute of successful leaders.

This never ending inner monologue is composed of all the fundamental emotions, their various deriviatives and a huge menu of contrary thoughts. It took millions of years to create this sophisticated computer system and all these signals are there to support the will to survive – to anticipate issues in advance, adjust in a nano beat our action to suit changing circumstance and ultimately to avoid danger.

Can We Control Our Thoughts & Feelings?

Yet it is impossible to truly control these thoughts and emotions regardless of what many psychologists, kung fu masters or even method actors would possibly have us believe. If we could control our emotions, well we would have nailed it – we would know happiness or euphoria all day, every day. Depression, anxiety and stress would be things of the past and giant pharma conglomerates would have nothing to sell that anyone would want or need.

We don’t fundamentally change who we are in the workplace – some may alter their external behaviour more than others but this repackaging aside, we largely remain ourselves with the same thoughts, emotions, values, actions, reactions, preferences… and so on. In fact with tough deadlines, ambition, competition, limited resources etc all very evident, the workplace is for many a far more pressurised environment where one’s behaviours, based on thought and emotion, become very obvious.

Self-Awareness & Acknowledging Emotions

Picture a manager in an office who routinely becomes angry and screams and belittles his team when a piece of seemingly inadequate work is submitted. Repeated anger when faced with certain trigger points has embedded this behaviour to the point of reflex. This manager could become far more effective, for himself and others, if he could acknowledge the thoughts and emotions that occur, recognise patterns of embedded behaviour, make a conscious decision to accept those thoughts and emotions and then make a conscious decision to behave differently. A clear case of a manager who utterly lacks emotional agility.

Self awareness needs time and space to develop and our manager desperately needs to make that time and space. Only from quiet can come introspection and awareness of the self – the reason there are so many closed eyes exercises in yoga is to take focus deep within oneself. And to some extent he needs to realise that he is stuck in a pattern of behaviour himself. 360 degree feedbacks are well and good but our manager needs to have that realisation for himself if he is ever to willingly make changes.

Pausing, Re-Labelling, Reframing…

Then he needs to be willing to take a giant pause the next time a trigger point takes him to his routine expression of immediate anger. Pause literally for a minute or two and focus on the thoughts and feelings that he is experiencing. It is vital to acknowledge that these thoughts and feelings are taking place. This acknowledging is the basis of mindfulness or meditation and the start point to consciously develop emotional agility.

Equally vital is that he re-labels the thought “my stupid team have screwed up again..” into “I’m having the thought that my stupid team have screwed up again..” Simple but very necessary in creating a little distance between the thought and emotion on one side and the reaction on the other. This re-labelling will allow him to see that these thoughts and emotions are transient. He then needs to accept that they occurred and that he experienced them without any sense of judgement of himself or the team.

Nurture Emotional Agility…

Have the thought, acknowledge that you had the thought, accept the thought and then let the thought leave as freely as it arrived. In doing so our manager would now be able to make a choice in how he behaves, reacts and expresses himself, a choice which hitherto was not available. That is the stuff of emotional agility and of real leadership.

Sartaj Garewal is the founder of Dynamic Presenting – a creative, leadership development consultancy, adapting theatre training to create leadership programs for business.

Dynamic Presenting – Enabling Powerful Communication

Elevator pitch effectively

Elevator Pitch… How to Pitch Your Idea Effectively…

The elevator pitch strikes many of us as fairly hackneyed and cliched these days. Perhaps we still find it too salesy and pushy as a speculative approach to a potential investor or client who we’ve just bumped into and best left to Americans who generally don’t have the same fear. They, when compared to us Brits at least, can happily steam ahead with their elevator pitch whenever they want. Or so it seems.

There are various approaches to making a favourable impression within just a couple of minutes and that after all is the best you can hope for in a short space of time. So perhaps that should direct your thinking with respect to an elevator pitch.

3 Approaches to the Elevator Pitch

Some choose to give a mini, condensed presentation complete with introduction, middle and ending all within two minutes. A lot for the listener to take on board, can feel stilted and really what are the chances of them remembering all the information that you tried so keenly to cram in.

Others go straight to the heart of the issue knowing that time is pressing in the perfect elevator pitch. This has the advantage of stripping away that which is largely unnecessary given the context but unless very careful in the initial approach, you could come across as overly direct and robust.

Possibly a more effective approach is to establish a two way conversation. After all, dialogue succeeds where monologue fails. This approach favours beginning a natural conversation where you introduce yourself and give just the headline of your idea, project, whatever and then ask an open question and use whatever time there is, regardless of how little, to listen. Remember that it doesn’t need to be over the top flashy or a dramatic performance. Read your audience in the moment – how are they feeling right now? Tired or energised? Adapt your energy to match them and you’ll have a much better chance of being remembered for the right reasons.

Dialogue Succeeds where Monologue Fails…

Do this all in an unhurried manner. In other words aim to have the most effective beginning to a fuller conversation. Far easier for you to do and much better for the recipient. This way, if your idea or pitch was truly of interest, you’ll leave them wanting to know more – which is exactly what you want.

Sartaj Garewal is the founder of Dynamic Presenting – a creative, leadership development consultancy, adapting theatre training to create leadership programs for business.

Dynamic Presenting – Enabling Powerful Communication