Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Exercise to WOW a Presentation

If you're like most people, you're expecting to read about an exercise that will help you be more relaxed when you speak in front of a group, or an exercise to structure a talk. Actually, the message is that WOW presenters exercise.

Yes, they get physical exercise on a regular basis, maybe even as often as every day. It doesn't have to be a work-out with a personal trainer, it does have to involve movement for at least 20 minutes, 30 minutes or more is much better.

The relationship between physical exercise and presentation WOW:

1. Regular exercise makes you more energetic. Succeeding at anything takes energy -- so you want to have as much energy as you can.

2. Exercise makes you more creative. Your creativity helps your presentation in all kinds of ways -- making interesting and compelling connections to delight and engage your audience.

3. Exercise keeps you in a better humor. Your good feelings are contagious.

4. Exercise exorcises stress. Stress is just plain bad for you, especially when you're speaking before a group.

5. Your preferred exercise gives you something to talk about and establish connection with new people.

Schedule in your exercise, without being all overbearing about it. Walking at lunch is fine. Skydiving sounds like fun, but awfully complicated. I have information on belly dancing in Greenville, if anyone's game.

How Much Is Really Enough?

One day last week I was updating a close friend about my Presentation Wow Workshop business. After sharing my excitement about this new, non-academic venture, she said, "Well, no matter how much you make, it's never enough."

Let me repeat: no matter how much you make, it's never enough.

That friend had probably said that to me a hundred times over the years, but that was the first time I really heard it. It explained so much about my friend, who can be conservatively called a "high earner," yet she seems to be convinced that she's one small step away from total financial ruin.

And yet there is truth in that affirmation: as soon as you complete one goal, 10 new ones spring up in its place. Part of being human is the permanent desire for creation and growth, only sometimes it looks like insatiable greed.

It's worth reflecting on how to recognize our human tendency to take on new projects one after the other, without accepting the belief that one isn't enough, or never has enough. It takes wisdom to enjoy the status and belongings that one currently possesses, while knowing that it's always possible to work toward making the world a better place.

I doubt that anyone reading this blog is wondering in which dumpster s/he'll find dinner for the family tonight. I don't think any of us are living under a bridge. So, take a look around, see the wealth you already have and enjoy it.

As long as we're on this planet, our lives are unfinished projects. But unfinished doesn't have to mean you're not enough, or you don't have enough.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Are You Ready for the End of Q1?

Hard to believe, winter is behind us and the first quarter almost so. If you pay much attention to the national news, it's been a tough year. But the news only tells part of the story...the part that makes you scared and tuned in, and the part that makes the ratings and thus advertising income go up.

Have you made progress toward your goals for this year?

Have you dreamed up new projects?

Watch out -- the Mixonian Goal Police may be searching for you as your read this. ;-)

The feeling that you're not getting anywhere, that spinning your wheels sensation, is nothing but frustrating, possible depressing. That's why writing things down lends objectivity -- you see that you are making progress, at least on paper, even when it doesn't feel like it.

One of the high points of defending my dissertation was marking it off my goal list. Now I see every day, on my index card and in my journal, a big goal crossed off. That is a postive reminder that despite all evidence to the contrary (in my mind), I really do get stuff done.

Jack Canfield suggests taking 5 action steps every day toward your biggest goal, and then there's no way you can't make it. Well, 5 steps every day seems like a bit much to me. At least for some days. Still he makes a valid point; even if you just take 10 action steps in a week, you'll still make it.

I read in last month's Inc. magazine in an article by Joel Brodsky an interesting point of view from a venture capitalist. He had asked to her prepare a presentation on why new businesses fail. This was her response:

That would be boring. They all fail for the same reason. People just stop working on their business.

Even if your goal is not entreprenuerial exactly, it's the same thing. Keep moving forward, and you'll reach that goal...and set a new one just as quickly.

Dissertation Abstract....In Case You're Interested


Given that voters look for signs and symbols to decide which candidate deserves their vote, this dissertation explores three constructs – authorizing figure, authoritarian charisma, and national myth – as tools used gain political power through discourse. These constructs create rhetorical synergy that makes one set of political options appear more viable to a set of others.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez bolsters his credibility through extensive leverage of Simon Bolívar as an authorizing figure. In a similar way, national myths provide structural framework through which Chávez presents the nation’s problems and their solutions, making it easy for the Venezuelan people to accept his leadership.

This works because the framing of the situation and the country’s problems in terms recognizable in the Rich Venezuela, Poor Venezuelans myth and Simón Bolívar the National Liberator myth both resonate with voters. Authoritarian charisma enhances Chávez’ credibility as he effectively links himself to the authorizing figure of Simón Bolívar, while committing random acts of authority.

Two of these constructs, the authorizing figure and national myth, connect a country’s past to its present. The authorizing figure and national myth are then used to routinize a charismatic political leader as elaborated in Michael Toth’s Theory of the Two Charismas.

Chávez uses history to simplify reality for two purposes: to facilitate his access to power, and to legitimize his leadership and the Bolivarian Revolution. It is a question of leveraging the resource of language.

Friday, March 27, 2009

To Really Reach Your Audience

To reach your audience, you must know your audience. Most of all, you want to know how much they know about the concept, project, plan, service, or product you want to talk to them about.

In preparing your presentation, consider these questions in relationship to your audience:

- Do they already have some idea about your topic? Have you met with them before, or have they heard about it from someone else, or other sources?

- Do you suspect they're misinformed about your topic? Are there false assumptions sitting out there in your audience?

- If they are aware of your topic, do they really understand it? Do they get the reasons behind your proposal, or what's different about it, what makes your stuff different from other people's stuff?

- Do they believe what you've told them, or what they've heard from other sources? Are they skeptical? If so, why? Do they believe in the benefits you're suggesting?

- Are they authorized to act? To sign or endorse? To budget for your proposal? Or is this just one step of many?

Knowing your audience allows you to tailor your remarks so that they know you're talking to them, not just spitting out a canned presentation. Much more effective.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Small Changes for Big Presentation Impact

The late actor Cary Grant is to have said something to the effect that it takes 500 details to make a stunning impression. He might have added that one of those details would be selecting tall and good-looking parents. However, even if your parents were not tall, there is no reason why you can't make a WOW presentation. (Even though the research affirms widespread prejudice in favor of tall people!)

You probably think that people are naturally adept public speakers, or they're not. Well, even the most natural public speaker has had to practice 500 details to come across as "natural."

Think about how small things have a big impact:

- Remember the great relief to get a tiny splinter out of your finger.

- How annoying can one mosquito in your bedroom be?

- The discomfort of having on a t-shirt front-side back.

- A tiny movement on the fingerboard makes a note played on a stringed instrument sound beautiful, or not.

- One small operational error at the beginning of a calculus problem has a huge impact on the final result.

The same with making a presentation. There are many details you can so easily master for greater impact on your audience. Just to mention a few:

- Use a highlighter to mark your notes to remember to pause.

- Stand with your feet apart, so they're under your shoulders.

- Make sure you have your objective so clear you can say it in one sentence.

- Make eye contact with one person at a time.

- Remind the audience why you're credible to speak on this topic.

Developing your presentation skills is a life-long journey. It's one your audience travels with you, one segment at a time.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Your Impeccable Speech

Impeccability of the word can lead you to personal freedom, to huge success and abundance; it can take away all fear and transform it into joy and love.
-- Don Miguel Ruiz, Author of The Four Agreements

That's a huge claim Ruiz makes.

The above quote is taken from my favorite chapter of Jack Canfield's book, The Success Principles. It's about how language choices affect our experiences.

Impeccable speech means using words such as affirmations, and any form of encouragement, appreciation, love, acceptance, possibility, and vision.

According to this concept of speaking with impeccability, truly successful people always speak with integrity and choose to express themselves with words that:

- affirm the innate value of oneself and others

- build self confidence

- build positive relationships

- build inspiring dreams

The most fascinating aspect of choosing words is the realization that your words have such a multiplier effect in the world. When you speak to someone, what you express certainly produces an effect in that person, and also in you.

Here is how Canfield suggests that we speak with impeccability:

- Make a commitment to be impeccable in your speech when talking to others.

- Make an effort to appreciate something about every person you interact with.

- Make a commitement to tell the truth, as best you can, in all your interactions and dealings with others. Make a commitment to do it for 1 days, then 2 days in a row, then a whole week. If you falter, start over. Keep building that muscle.

- Make it the intention of every interaction with others that you uplift them in some small way. Notice how you feel when you do that (145).

Keeping these ideals (or "norms" in PhD-speak) is having a positive effect on my teaching. Review these suggestions frequently and see how your interactions get better.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Have a Great Day, Everyday

One good way to start the day is reading Mixonian. But, there's more for you to do to get your day off to a fabulous start.

You want to start by getting a clear idea of how you'd like to experience this day. You can even do this before you drop off to sleep the night before -- just ponder how you'd like the next day to go.

Keep in mind that you are constantly making decisions, both consciously and subconsciously. You decide to act in certain situations and in other situations you decide to react.

Of course you want to have a good day, but what does that really mean? What do you really want to accomplish, and how do you want to react to the unexpected things that crop up - both desirable and not so.

Once you know so clearly the priorities of the day -- and there should be only a very few things that absolutely must be accomplished -- you tend to get them done.

And there are those knee-jerk bad habits of reacting we want to root out.

Consider these ways of reacting when unwanted X happens:

"See, I knew things would never work out; they never do."

"Obviously that person is still trying to sabotage me!!"

"I knew they wouldn't want to buy my product, why am I even trying?"

To start changing these reactions, consider how you'd like to react and make an affirmation of it that you repeat to yourself whenever you have the chance. Here are some examples of ways to program your brain so that you react in a more positive fashion to the inevitable icky stuff:

"No matter what happens, things will work out for the very best."

"I am authentic and at peace with everyone in my life."

"Everything I do moves me closer to my goals."

"All my relationships are joyful and profitable."

You may want to write your own. The idea is the train yourself (dare I say "discipline") to react pro-actively and not waste as much time feeling angry, sad, or sorry for oneself.

Like everyone, you have so many ways of responding to life on autopilot; some ways are helpful and some less so. Certain people, remarks, and events can trigger automatic responses that we think are inevitable. But that is not the case, you can teach yourself to be more open-minded and find more good, more easily.

Decide in advance how you want your day to unfold, and see how the reality grows to meet your expectations.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Short Story About Achieving a Goal

There once was this mom who loved her life of spending loads of time with her kids and teaching a couple of courses at the local university. The university kept telling her that she didn't have the appropriate letters after her name, and if she didn't get them, she would lose that fun and easy job. So she started on this journey to get the three magical letters: p, h, and d.

She learned a lot more than she thought she would. The process of finding the letters was also a lot longer and more expensive than she had anticipated. The journey often felt lonely and too difficult to possibly be worth it. Fortunately her friends and family always rallied to her side, encouraged her, and after six years of slogging away on this, she's made it to the last stretch.

Having the three letters within her grasp now feels good -- a goal set and achieved always does. Marking off each step along the way also feels rewarding. Crossing out "successfully defend dissertation" felt fabulous.

There are many lessons from this experience, and one of them is to live life every day, not just after you cross off the goal. For while completing it is great, it does not make up for a life not lived. Fortunately, the heroine of this short story feels confident that she did indeed, live her life throughout the whole process.

And while she is happy to have this part behind her, the happiness comes from the daily decision to be happy now. And while daily euphoria may be out of reach, a daily dose of happiness is surely fuel for achieving all your goals.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Preparing Yourself to Wow a Presentation

As you recall from your college public speaking course, not so long ago, I'm sure, your presentation consists of yourself, your message (complete with verbal and verbal support), and your audience. If you want to really reach out to your audience and establish a fine sense of connection, that process really starts in your head.

I'm getting ready to leave for Virginia to defend my dissertation so these reminders are fresh on my mind -- and I'll be brief!

- Decide how you want to come across. Act as if you already are that impressive "wow" speaker.

- Be rested and hydrated.

- Stretch beforehand and breathe deeply - so that you pooch out your abdomen when you inhale. Exhale as much air as you can.

- Relax. If you can't relax, pretend to relax.

- Remember that your audience, deep inside, wants you to succeed.

- Enjoy.

Have a wonderful Friday!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Some Scoop on Dealing with Men

You'll enjoy this brief except from Robert Cialdini's (PhD) book, Influence. It confirms what you already know, but this reminder might be useful to you today.

An experiment done with men in North Carolina shows how helpless we can be in the face of praise. The men in the study received comments about themselves from another person who needed a favor from them. Some of the men got only positive comments, some got only negative comments, and some got a mixture of good and bad.

There were three interesting findings: First, the evaluator who provided only praise was liked best by the men. Second, this was the case even though the men fully realized that the flatterer stood to gain from their liking him. Finally, unlike the other types of comments, pure praise did not have to be accurate to work. Positive comments produced just as much liking for the flatterer when they were untrue as when they were true (172).

If you look hard enough, you can always find things to say that are both positive and true, and you'll remain true to your authentic self. Sometimes you don't realize how much power you really have in your life.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Free and Effective Anti-Depressant Treatment

If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.
-- Thomas A. Edison.

You're going to love this.

It's free and it works! I can personally testify to the power of this cure -- it lies in your communicating with high-energy words, not low-energy words.

To begin with, do not ever ever ever say you are "depressed." If you can't muster the energy to say that you feel fine, choose a word that's less negative than "depressed." You could express that you're on your way to feeling fine, you're OK, you're feeling "quiet."

Not to put down anti-depressant drugs and therapies, however, you really do have more power to cure yourself, or at least raise your energy level, than you realize.

Psychologists call depression "anger turned inward." We succumb when certain people or situations disappoint us, or let us down. Don't let disappointment take over any more space in your life than it already has.

In fact, scientific research shows that we have emotional habits, and that we can get so used to feeling a certain way, that we look for evidence to support that emotion. Feeling down is often simply a habit that can be broken. You are the one with the power to decide that you're not going to continue living in a way that feels sad. Life is simply too short for that.

If you feel less that quite happy, look for something that you can do to raise that level of feeling, even if it's only an incremental improvement. Take a walk, call a friend, write in a journal, look at a magazine....whatever you know can lift your mood, even if it's just a bit.

For a list of high-energy words and a cool way to incorporate them into your life, click here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What You Don't Know, Can Limit You

As you are aware, people everywhere share the same goals at one level or another. We all want a comfortable home, friends, meaningful work, and to contribute.

This desire to help others plays out in many ways, one of which is social work. One communication-driven form of social work is an industry called "education-entertainment." One example of an E-E product is Sesame Street; it's entertainment that teaches.

You may be wondering what social work has to do with you. Well, there's a social psychological concept that help you see that you're probably capable of achieving more, with less effort in your life, by making an inner paradigm shift.

The concept is called "self-efficacy" and it was developed by social psychologist Dr. Antonio Banduras (no, dear readers, not Antonio Banderas!) Self-efficacy consists of one's beliefs in one's own ability to carry out a certain action, and is the driving force for behavioral change. According to Banduras, "Efficacy expectations are a major determinant of people's choice of activities, how much effort they will expend, and how long they will sustain effort in dealing with stressful situations."

In other words...your self-efficacy reflects your faith in your own ability to live the life you desire. At the other extreme is the victim mentality, of placing blame on one's parents, the government, society, etc., for undesired results.

Entertainment-education programs are designed to help people feel empowered to choose healthier alternatives in their lives. While these are often directed toward the marginal people in a society, the concept has important repercussions for high-achieving Mixonian readers.

Here's the deal, anything you do that expands your sense of self-efficacy, results in taking more responsibility for the results in your life. There are two obvious ways to raise the level of self-efficacy: taking calculated risks, in other words, taking action, or expanding your awareness through education.

Assuming more responsibility for the outcomes you experience is the path to greater control over those outcomes.

Monday, March 16, 2009

More On Getting Valuable Feedback

Mixonian is into feedback again for 2 reasons. One is that I'm returning midterm exams and will face a barrage of complaints how unfair I am, or variations about how the test was "too" hard.

The other reason is now that I've read about how valuable it is to get objective (and compassionate) feedback, I'm now noticing how most of us go so far out of our ways to avoid getting any sort of direct feedback.

Here's something Jack Canfield wrote about feedback in his opus, The Success Principles:

Slow down and pay attention. Life will always give you feedback about the effects of your behavior if you will just pay attention. If your golf ball is always slicing to the right, if you're not making sales, if you're getting C's in your college courses, if your children are mad at you, if your body is tired and weak, if your house is a mess, or if you're not happy --that is all feedback. It is telling you that something is wrong. This is the time to start paying attention to what is happening (17).

Here are some questions Canfield suggests that you ask yourself. They can help you get out of the blame habit, too:

- How am I creating or allowing this to happen?

- What am I doing that's working that I need to be doing more of?

- What am I doing that's not working?

- What do I need to be doing less of?

He also recommends asking friends, family, colleagues for feedback in this way. Ask someone you trust, "How do you see ways I am holding myself back?"

If you think about it, you'll see ways to get more, rather than less feedback into your life.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Why Pets Make You Happy

By Laura Christina. Again.

Pets make you happy because they always seem to understand what you are saying.

When you are feeling sad or disappointed you know you can always tell your pet. They can't go gossip about it, they can't answer back, and they can't be mad.

If you don't have a pet or don't want one you are missing out on a lot of happiness. I know all this because I have experienced this happiness. I have a poodle named Prince. He always makes me laugh. In my previous blog post I said that I was sick. I still am and Prince is here in bed with me keeping me company(apart from my mom who is writing stuff down in her journal).

Also, you can learn a lot from your pet. You learn responsibility, loyalty, trust, and to show love for somebody without even saying anything. Just being there for them. Many people interpret pets differently. Some interpret pets as just being cute and fun to play with(which they are) but they forget that those cute little creatures need training, feeding, walks, love and many other things. Others think that they are life-long companions. Which is what I think.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Things To Do When You Are Sick

By Laura Christina, age 11.

I know how much it stinks to be sick, because I am sick right now. Being sick is a sign your body is giving you for many possible reasons. Some are:

1. You are stressing too much.

2. You are not sleeping enough.

3. You are not eating very much, or not eating healthy.

Sometimes when you are ill you are bored out of your mind, like I am right now.

Here are some things that you can do:

1. Read a good book.

2. Watch movies.

3. Draw.

4. Listen to music.

5. Search the web.

6. Pet your kitty-cat.

7. Sleep.

8. If it is nice out, go outside and sit in a lounge chair.

9. Sew or (k)nit.

10. Write a letter to a remote family member.

I hope these things help entertain you. Anyway, thank you for reading this blog post that Christina wrote. If you are sick... Get well soon!!

Friday, March 13, 2009

New Definition for "Recession"

I just saw this on some sales copy from Lisa Sasevich and had to post it. It's from a top-ranked business coach.

A recession is simply a redistribution of wealth from the timid to the brave. Paul Lemberg

WOW...Now that's something to think about. It reminds me of my friend, Roger Johnson, who opened a new bicycle shop in rural eastern NC last July. His bravery is being rewarded with a healthy business.

Paradigm change, anyone?

Big Mistake Presenters Make: TMI

TMI (or “too much information”) is everywhere and is a major reason presentations fail.

A lot of presenters shoot out their information like paint balls in a massive onslaught of battle. The audience reacts by ducking for cover. Don’t bombard your audience, you want to engage them. Your listeners are people, too. And, just like you, they have a lot on their minds.

Your first priority is the relationship you establish with your audience. But you don’t establish trust by repeating some list of your accomplishments; that makes you seem arrogant. Don’t even tell them how great your company is. Tell them stories about yourself, your company, and your products, that make your points for you.

There is abundant research supporting how people actually learn best through stories (except in the scholarly research they're called "narratives.")

But, your story needs to connect you to your audience, through your message. The story has to be relevant, make sense to your audience, and build your credibility. By weaving your message into a compelling narrative, you really get your audience on your side.

You want a story that resonates with your audience, and gets across the benefits of your message. And you know what? It’s a lot more fun to tell engaging stories that simply spouting off a bunch of facts. Easier to remember, too.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

When You Don't Like the Feedback

The reason we don't seek out feedback at times, is our fear of hearing what we don't want to face. However, life has a way of bringing these unpleasant lessons into our lives, over and over, until we get them.

No way around it, negative feedback stings. Even if you know it's for the best, it can hurt. But, the more feedback you receive, the faster you can achieve your goals.

Here are two valuable questions to ask yourself when on the receiving end of negative feedback:

Q 1. What is the best interpretation of this?

The answer is some variation of accepting that it is the best outcome, even if you don't see how or why.

Q 2. What is the lesson from this?

This question is a bit more difficult to answer, but there's value for you in seeking the wisdom you need in this life lesson.

Remember times in the past when you have learned or experienced wonderful things from seemingly negative outcomes. It's happened before and will happen again. The sooner you look for the fruit, the sooner you'll find it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Making Friends with Feedback

Feedback is the breakfast of champions.-- Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, coauthors of The One Minute Manager

Don't you just love it when people thank you, tell you how much you've helped them, give you a raise, bring you business, or warm fuzzies?

Receiving positive feedback feels absolutely wonderful and it's a valuable tool to let us know that we're on the right track. Negative feedback is equally useful, but usually people shun giving it or receiving it.

At lunch yesterday while Sally and I were solving the world's most pressing problems, she remarked about how much supervisors hate giving performance reviews. I've heard that often. It reminded me of student reactions to their grades; they're happy with good grades but often angry, defensive, or depressed when they don't get the grade they believe they deserve.

We need both kinds of feedback -- positive and negative. If you're not getting any, that's because you're not out there in the game of life. If you're a player, you get feedback in the form of advice, help, suggestions, directions, criticisms, awards, or even bank overdrafts.

Feedback is so valuable; Jack Canfield in his book, The Success Principles, suggests viewing any feedback, particularly the negative sort, as "improvement opportunities." He goes so far as to recommend that people actively and consistently seek feedback, by asking others how they can improve on their jobs, or asking, "How do you see me limiting myself?" (156)

Keep in mind that most people fear giving feedback -- because of the old "attack the messenger" habit. Nobody wants to hurt others' feelings, make them angry, or suffer their disapproval. So, to get honest feedback, you need to ask for it and thank the responding person.

Don't take the usual route to negative feedback, the quitting, the getting angry, or denying helpful information. See it as feedback to get you back on track to where you want to go.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Leaving the Comfort Zone Behind

You're well aware that it's one thing to fantasize about being in a different situation, a different job, or owner of a business; it's quite another to change your reality.

To be sure, the visualization of something different comes first. Those images normally lurk just below the surface of our conscious thoughts. Think about all the criticizing that goes on inside your head. Why does that happen? Because at some level, you know something better is possible. If you don't think something is at all possible, then clearly it's not.

Change involves leaving the comfort zone; and it's called a comfort zone for a reason -- it's quite comfortable.

Quitting smoking, I'm told, is not comfortable for most smokers. But the health benefits of not smoking are certainly inviting.

I know a youngish man who smoked for 22 years and tried EVERYTHING out there to quit. Patches, pills, gums, you name it, he tried it.

He even tried hypnosis. And that worked for awhile, but it was too expensive for him to continue. However, he realized something vitally important, that he could go for a time without smoking. He realized that it was indeed possible to leave the comfort zone.

Soon after that experience, he totally quit smoking -- cold turkey. He was able to be uncomfortable by not smoking when he usually did, because he had a vision of something better, and finally realized that it truly was attainable.

What does leaving the comfort zone look like?

- Making a certain phone call.

- Seeing a doctor about a chronic weight problem.

- Getting a professional photograph taken, when no one is asking you for one.

- Disagreeing with someone without being disagreeable.

- Getting exercise when you don't feel like it.

- Preparing a presentation without bullet points.

- Clearing out the clutter in your bureau.

Take a chance and step out of your comfort zone today. Let your vision for something better be your guide.

37 Exceptional Values in Today's Economy

1. Sunshine

2. Friends, especially those who cook well and make you laugh.

3. Kids

4. Young musicians

5. Pets

6. Sleeping in on Sundays

7. Sparkling wine (esp. pomegranate sparkling wine!)

8. Bicycles

9. Cotton sheets

10. Natural peanut butter (Thank you, G. W. Carver!)

11. Humming birds

12. Blogs

13. Freedom to express yourself

14. Paper and pencils

15. Internet

16. Libraries

17. Musical instrument rentals

18. Indoor plumbing

19. Spring brides

20. Magazines

21. Bananas

22. Evergreen trees

23. Paper plates

24. Volunteers, organized or not

25. National History Day

26. E-learning

27. Netflix

28. Siblings, and other fun relatives

29. Deodorant

30. Dental floss

31. (Dark) chocolate

32. E-cards

33. Birds' chirping

34. Thrift stores

35. Homemade anything

36. Telephones

37. Any form of education

No matter what the gloom and doom you're hearing on the "news," we still have it pretty good. Happy Monday!

Friday, March 6, 2009

To Really Improve Your Presentation

If you're serious about making your presentations more persuasive, without getting stressed out, there are many things you can do.

But to begin with, you want to know the truth about how you're doing the presentation right now. And the tough part of improving your presentation is getting honest and informed feedback. You can have a general idea that you'd like to be more relaxed when you present, or that you'd like to experience a higher closing rate, but without seeing yourself, it's confusing to know where to start.

The best tool you can start with is a recording of yourself. Flip cameras are great for this. That's what we use at ECU.

I didn't say watching yourself on video would be fun, but it is the best way to understand how you're coming across right now. You probably already have realized that in communication there can often be a GIGANTIC gap between what you meant to say, and what the other person interpreted. Communication is a process, and to become more effective, it helps to know where you are in that journey.

While you can't control the variables inside the other person's head, you can take more control of the invisible elements in the presentation situation, than you probably realize.

That means an authentic connection with your audience.

The recording does not have to be professional, it just needs to get done, and watched....by you.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Presentation Bandwagon

Well, it seems like Seth Godin is reading mixonian these days: today his blog is about winning presentations.

He says there are two essential ingredients to a great presentation: love and respect. The speaker loves his audience. The audience respects the speaker.

I can certainly see this in Chavez. Not that all Venezuelans respect him, but a large enough group does respect him. They find in his almost-daily random acts of authority the premise that he is a man of action and they sincerely believe he will take care of them.

Seth is also right about the speaker loving her audience. That's another way of presenting one of mixonian's rants: the presentation is NOT about you, it's about your audience.

What is meant by "loving your audience?" Caring enough to share some important information with them....caring enough to teach them....caring enough to risk rejection to give them the opportunity to buy something you believe will benefit them.

Love and Respect: the foundation for all solid relationships. It's no different for a professional presentation.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Meaning of Birthday Gifts

Yesterday, Christina, who's celebrating a birthday today, asked me why people get gifts on their birthdays. As she gets older, she'll learn not to ask a communication scholar something like that.

To help justify our spending enormous amounts of time and money in pursuing a PhD in Communication, we love to look for multiple levels of meaning in every human encounter....even "Do you want fries with that?" may have nuances of oppression that you never thought about before.

So, why do we give people gifts on their birthdays?

1. It's a way to celebrate life in general, and specifically, the life of a beloved.

2. It's a sign of our wealthy society. Remember reading Little House on the Prairie, and how little Laura was SO excited to get an orange for Christmas? Hmmmm....I dare you to try that with your kids next Christmas.

3. It gives meaning and structure to our lives. We know that when it's someone's birthday, we need to buy a gift, send a card, e-card, something, or feel bad because we didn't. It's just something we do.

4. It's fun. Really.

5. Birthday gifts are one way to express love.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Myth of "Just Be Yourself" Presentation Advice

Like all myths, this one has an element of truth in it. I mean, if you’re Carrie Cooper, you don’t want to try to be Lindsay Lohan, or anyone else. But….you want to shine as yourself.

In a presentation, your audience gets to see you as if through a rolled up sheet of paper -- they see a tiny part of the whole you.

Think about this analogy. If you’ve ever been in a wedding, you know how important the pictures are. I mean, they are e-x-t-r-e-m-e-l-y important. And does the photographer just trail everyone, who’s enjoying the wedding “being themselves?” Absolutely not. The photography of a wedding is a major event within the wedding itself. It takes place apart from the ceremony and the reception. And you try to smile brightly, look your best, and stand up straight. And still, the camera may catch you in a weird moment; tons of pictures get deleted. The point is, while the final pictures are of you and they’re excellent photographs, they’re not of you just kicking back and “being yourself.”

It takes practice, and savvy know-how to be spontaneous (read “natural”) when making a presentation. I got a sharp reminder of this the other day when I went to a photographer to get some professional pictures made. He was telling me to hold my head a certain way, smile a certain way….it felt totally awkward. I even felt a new level of respect for professional models But as I relaxed and got used to it, it began to feel more normal. And the pictures turned out great. Even my teenage son said I looked “sophisticated.”

So, when preparing for a presentation, you want to be yourself, your star-of-the-show self.

Monday, March 2, 2009

How to Rock Your Next Interview

You could be preparing for a job interview, and maybe it's been a while. Maybe you're getting in touch with former clients to see if you can win them back to your business. Or, perhaps, you're just putting yourself out there to build your business.

What I'm about to share with you works best when you're already known at some level. Someone has already recommended you, or the HR people have greenlighted your resume and you've made the first or second cut. So, you don't want to bore people with information that's on your resume or product brochure.

You're about to speak in the most powerful of all contexts, a face-to-face meeting. It's an incredible opportunity to connect with someone with whom you probably have a lot in common.

To project your own aura of leadership, high credibility, and class, talk about your vision for the future. Tell this person what you believe in, your philosophy of business, your marketing paradigm. Express what you think the future is for your industry, your company, or organization.

Do NOT talk about your credentials. The other person already knows about them, or you wouldn't be there. That is not the way to effectively promote yourself, sharing your vision is.

Which brings up the question, what is your business philosophy? Do you have a vision for your industry?

It may be time to get something down in writing....the reality you're committed to co-create.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The First Rule About Phone Calls

You probably already know this, but as your communication coach, I remind you that there is one fundamental rule to calling people. Following this rule does not guarantee you'll get what you want from the other person, but not following this rule guarantees you're chances of connecting with the other person are a lot lower.

Ask for permission to talk.

The first thing out of your mouth once you introduce yourself and briefly explain what you want to talk about, is ask, "Do you have time to talk right now?"

The recipient will be pleased that you asked, even if s/he really can't talk right now, probably there's something else going on anyway. (Isn't there always something going on?)

So, you set up another time to call. But you ask the next time too, just to make sure.

Your mother taught you good manners for a reason, so you could lot's of friends and colleagues.