Presentation Tips for Anxious People Who Hate Public Speaking
By Dan Rose
One of the perks of working at SkillPath is getting to know the men and women who present our seminars. They can all speak off the top of their heads about their topic area specialties, but there are some that are truly magical when it comes to public speaking. Best of all, they all have terrific communication and presentation survival tips for those of us who get the flop sweats when asked to speak to more than one or two people. You can be the most introverted and shy wallflower in the world but still make a presentation with confidence if you utilize these tips.
I know you’ve probably heard that old nugget about research showing that people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of dying. If this describes you, then take heart. You can get better. And while we all don’t have the personality make-up to be a politician or a rock-star, by following these simple steps you can make sure your presentations are interesting and memorable.
Here are five tips on getting through a public speaking event with less stress:
1. Get your audience to do something! Just reciting information without substance to your audience isn’t very likely to make an impression. In fact, it will most likely put them asleep. Remember– you are giving your presentation for a reason. Always keep in mind the reaction you want these people to take after your speech, and give them direct actionable steps to accomplish it. If your presentation is on creating small businesses, then give your audience the specific steps they need to create their own.
2. Be provocative Karl Popper wrote in his autobiography, “My custom, whenever I am invited to speak in some place, of trying to develop some consequences of my views which I expect to be unacceptable to the particular audience. For I believe that there is only one excuse for a lecture: to challenge. It is the only way in which speech can be better than print.” You must challenge your audience. You must challenge their ideas, their methods, and most importantly their expectations for your presentation.
3. Imagine the friendliest audience In order to feel more comfortable on stage, people used to imagine their audience in nothing but their underwear. If this works for you, fine. But another better method is to imagine that your audience is already on your side. How differently would you prepare and act if you knew your audience was made up of the most friendly and supportive people on Earth? Now write your speech with that in mind. It works.
4. Get to the point In Hollywood, films are broken down into one sentence ‘loglines’ that perfectly and succinctly tell you what the movie is about. You need to do the same with your presentation. Boil everything down to one overarching sentence that captures exactly what your point is. This sense of purpose and direction will help you and your audience focus on the message.
5. Cut out the soft meaningless words “I’d just like to,” “sort of,” or “kind of” These kind of words and phrases are speech killers. They may be fine in everyday conversation but they will rob your speech of all power and timing. Try recording yourself and seeing if you are peppering your speech with useless phrases and limp words.
Giving a presentation does not have to be a fate worse than death. With these simple steps, even the most nervous and tongue-tied among us can get through any talk with our dignity and reputations not only intact, but strengthened.
The Walking Tired
By Christie Aschwanden
Think you’re getting enough sleep? You may be fooling yourself – experts say most of us are. Here’s what you need to know to sleep better, and how using a sleep tracker can help – or hurt.
Sleep – we know we need it, but too often it’s the first thing to go when we’re crunched for time. Our blasé attitude toward sleep has created a society of zombies walking around at half-power. And the worst part is that we might be too tired to even notice!
Most of the time when someone says they only need 5 or 6 hours of sleep, that means their ability to tolerate sleep deprivation is better than most. They’re actually walking around with sleep debt and have forgotten what it feels like to be awake and alert.
For older people, there are other repercussions. A recent summary of sleep data gleaned from 10 million Fitbit users over nearly 6 billion nights corroborated previous research showing that the amount of deep sleep we get decreases with age. You start slowly losing the robustness of “slow wave” sleep, the dreamless, non-REM sleep that is among the most restorative. In other words: Do nothing to change your sleep habits over the years and it’s a slippery slope to zombieland. Luckily, with a boost from the self-tracking movement, science is uncovering more keys to help improve our sleep.
Why we’re all in denial. If skipping sleep causes so much damage, why do we think we can shake it off? People who regularly skimp on sleep are like chronic alcoholics. This state of impairment has become their baseline, so it’s hard for them to recognize that anything is wrong. When people who’ve had one night of impaired sleep take cognitive tests, they’ll say they did terrible. But after that first day, they stop noticing their impairment. Their performance goes down almost linearly with time, but they seem to lack perception that this is happening. Meanwhile, people around them see that they’ve developed a short temper, seem depressed or are uninterested in normal activities.
Your brain on the night shift. What really happens when you sleep? You may be taking a break from consciousness when you snooze, but not all of your neurons are resting. While you rest, your brain solidifies the synapses involved in the important memories you want to keep (like the name of your new dentist) while pruning the synapses involved in less important memories (such as where you put your keys 2 nights ago). Sleep also give your brain a chance to clear out debris that accumulated during the day. A 2014 sudy suggests that the brain rids itself of metabolic waste through a kind of plumbing system that works mainly while we sleep. Just as the lymphatic system clears unwanted waste from the rest of the body, what’s called the glymphatic system eliminates debris and toxins from the brain and the central nervous system. Skimp on sleep and this janitorial service can’t keep up, so the rubbish starts to accumulate in your noggin.
Getting back to baseline. It’s true that some people need more rest than others and the best way to determine how many zzz’s you need to function normally is with a sleep vacation in which you take a week to allow your body to sleep as long as it wants. Most of us don’t have that kind of luxury, but maybe you can find a day or two to set aside extra bed time. Then pay attention to how much you sleep when you don’t set an alarm. And listen up, weekend warriors: You can’t undo the Monday-through-Friday damage simply by sleeping in on Saturdays and Sundays. You certainly feel better after catching up on sleep, but people who go 5 days of short sleep (defined as less than 7 hours per night) aren’t back to baseline for attention skills for at least 4 nights. To fully recuperate, you need to get your body back on its natural schedule. Exactly how long this takes is unclear, because most studies have not lasted long enough. What’s known is that your feelings of well-being rebound before your cognitive performance. So pay closer attention to your focus and performance that whether you feel rested.
Proven sleep solutions. Ready to get out of zombieland? Here are 3 realistic strategies.
- Pick a bedtime and stick to it – every night. There’s a very clear linear relationship between a consistent bedtime and the amount of sleep you get. People whose bedtimes are consistent within 30 minutes per night get an average of 35 minutes more sleep per week than those whose bedtimes vary by 2 hours per week.
- Shift your body clock with strategically timed light. If your body clock is mismatched to your work or life schedule, the best way to shift it is with light, which influences how your body secretes sleep hormones like melatonin. Someone who wants to become more of an early bird can dim overhead lights and shut off electronic devices at least an hours before bed and then seek bright light in the morning. To train yourself to stay up later, seek out sunshine or bright lights late in the day. The same principles can help you adjust to a new time zone.
- Embrace the nap. Falling asleep on the job was once considered a firing offence, but that attitude may be changing as businesses and sports teams adopt napping as a performance strategy. Consider skier Mikaela Shiffrin, who took a nap between ski runs on her way to an Olympic gold medal.
How to Tap into Your Existing Talent Pool When Resources are Scarce
By Cameron Bishop
Predictors continue to speculate an increase in hiring, but a decrease in talented resources to access. In some industries, this poses a problem for many leaders and hiring managers who face a conundrum. They have to accomplish organizational goals with a limited number of qualified applicants. So where can they turn? To their existing talent pool inside their organization, of course.
First, reinforce the importance of talent management as a core business process with a significant impact on overall results. Make sure your entire senior leadership team does the same. This is vital to survive rough periods when a job opening may get just a tiny handful of candidates … or the flush times when you get 300. The benefit is that you have a grasp on the talent available at a moment’s notice.
In addition, existing talent pools have potentially shorter learning curved as they already know your business, your goals, and your corporate culture. Also, don’t ignore—or make assumptions about—any segment of your employee base. For instance, keep Baby Boomers in mind for leadership roles and don’t assume that they don’t want to accept the challenge. Tapping into their experience can be rewarding in several ways.
Forward-thinking leaders will benefit from implementing the following recommendations to keep the talent pool deep:
- Identify technical expertise, skills and talent needs for the future. Look at one-year, five-year and ten-year objectives and expectations.
- Tap into leaders. Emphasize the need for their clarity and focus. Encourage them to see themselves as part of the problem, but also part of the solution.
- Equip all staff members with the skills they need now and groom them for future organizational skill needs
- Know the full scope of an individual’s skills and work to fully utilize and develop his or her potential one-on-one
- Seek out the group of “high potentials” and groom them for more responsibilities and future needs
- Seek out those who are engaged and motivate the existing human capital
- Re-motivate those current employees who function from a point of disengagement
- When interviewing to hire for one open position in the company, establish ongoing relationships with the top five to ten candidates in order to utilize their skill sets when and if needed in the future
When there is a need for additional resources but no money, time or approval to hire, consider some of the following ideas to encourage teamwork and get the job done:
- Ask for volunteers. There is always someone who is eager to do more and find new ways to be involved. Don’t decide how much is too much for others.
- Solicit feedback and input on what employees want to work on. Learn about their interests, initiatives, and future objectives with the company. Give them the opportunity to educate you on how to fully and best utilize them.
- Cross-train all team members in order to maximize efficiencies and resources
- Job share with other departments
- Rotate responsibilities
- Get rid of nonproductive and nonperforming employees. They are not an effective use of a resource-spot in the organization; they send the wrong message about management; and they de-motivate the rest of the team.
- Jump in and help get the work done. Role model the behavior you’re looking for from the rest of the team.
- Recognize the existing talent and pre-call with individuals your interest in utilizing them for future efforts where their skills and talents would be most beneficial
- Consider performance-management, mentoring, and coaching as top priorities and responsibilities to your team
- Reward. Praise. Give employees a reason for working hard.
Rarely does an organization fully tap its internal resources. Typically, a business thinks it has no place to turn to for help within the company and believes the solution is to bring in more resources from outside. The key to company profitability and effectiveness is in the full utilization of employee development and productivity.