The time you focus upon your networking efforts will improve on the connections that you would like to turn into stronger relationships. Take the time to reach out to your closest colleagues and see how they are doing. Find out if there is anything you can do to help them. You may not be able to help everyone but you can help someone. Talk to them about how you are doing and ask for help that you think they may be able to provide. It may be moral support or it may be referrals to assist your business.
People have ranked the fear of public speaking higher than the fear of dying. They would rather be in the coffin than giving the eulogy at a funeral. Standing and talking to an audience can be frightening, especially if it is for more than a couple of minutes. As a business owner, you may find yourself giving a sixty-second weekly presentation at a networking meeting, a ten-minute presentation at a chamber function, or a forty-minute educational presentation to a prospect. Take a deep breath, you can do it.
Five Tips to Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking:
1) Prepare, prepare, prepare.
Do not wing it! Prepare an outline of what you want to say and practice it. Print out your remarks in a very large font. It will be easier to read with or without your glasses. Plus, this will help you to not lose your place in your presentation.
2) Be specific and talk about the things you know best.
Do not try to teach everything you do. Instead, focus on sharing with the audience something of significance. Focus on just one or two areas of your business, the topics you feel you understand the best. This will increase your comfort level and reduce stress.
3) Use visuals or PowerPoint slides to support your presentation.
If you are worried about stage fright, these can help you stay focused and add to your presentation. You will be less fearful when the audience is looking at something besides you. Avoid reading from your PowerPoint slides. Create slides with photos and graphics that tell your story without text. PowerPoint should support your presentation, not be your presentation.
4) Remember, you are the expert.
In the eyes of the audience, you are the expert and they want to hear what you have to say. They want to learn something from you. If you focus on what you know best, you will feel more confident and be more credible. Believe in yourself and in your message.
5) Be creative.
Find a way to communicate that makes you comfortable. Don’t be afraid to be different. Surprise your audience. Walk around the stage or up into the seats. People get tired of the same old approach and are invigorated by something unexpected. Have fun with your message; it will help you turn your nervous energy into positive energy. The audience will feel it and before you know it, your fear of public speaking is gone.
You should do a presentation that you feel comfortable with. Think creatively about what you know and what you feel comfortable doing to express that knowledge. You will become better and better at public speaking. You will discover that opportunities will develop to speak publically in larger audiences over time. Take a breath. It is good to be a little nervous. Just convert that into positive energy, and you will have the audience in the palm of your hand.
When times are difficult, we have two choices. We can choose to have hope, make the most of it, and come out better and stronger. Otherwise, we can choose to be overcome by our fear. I choose to be better and stronger. To do that, I choose to focus on solutions.
Rather than get caught up in fear, I try to
- Focus on solutions.
- Maintain a positive and supportive attitude.
- Enlist Charles Swindoll’s quote about attitude
Attitude – by Charles Swindoll
The bottom line here is – almost all of us are stuck at home. We can choose to make the most of it and come out better and stronger
When I was an undergraduate in college, I needed to take one more “lab class” (a course that gives hands-on experience related to the topic). I’d taken lab classes in science and the only lab courses left according to my counselor was a lab class in mathematics. Now, I did fine with basic mathematics but the higher-level courses in Algebra and Geometry were just not my passion. OK, full disclosure, I hated those courses. So, when my counselor said that was the only choice left – I went on a quest, a quest to go through every single page of the course catalog for every single department throughout the University (except the Math department), to find any other class with a lab that I hadn’t already taken. I felt like it was a ‘No-Win’ scenario.
After a painstaking search through the huge catalog, I found one course that fit the bill. It was a course in the Hotel and Restaurant Management School at the University. The course was in Enology (the study of wines). The lab part was – wine tasting! Now, you might think that I was excited at first but the truth is – I hated wine. I really didn’t like it. The only thing is, I hated math more than I hated wine so – Enology it was!
I took this revelation to my department counselor and he said – “No! you can’t take that as your lab!” I said “Why not? It is a lab and it meets all the university requirements for me to complete my degree?” He said, “because it’s unheard of to use that as a lab in this department.” I then said, “But is it prohibited? Where in the department requirements does it say that it can’t be used?” He cocked his head and looked at me over the top of his glasses and said, “alright Misner, give me the paper, I’ll sign it and get out of here.” I smiled and said, “Thank you very much professor,” and walked out with the paperwork to complete my Enology wine lab.
At that moment, I had no idea that the course I was taking would become a life-long passion. Remember, I didn’t really like wine back then. The course was much more difficult than students thought it would be. We had an almost 40% drop out rate for the class because it wasn’t just about “tasting” wines. It was about the wine industry and wine regulations so the tests were pretty tough. The tasting was only a part of the class. Today, it is a passion for me. I built out a cellar at my home in Austin (pictured here) that will hold 1,600 bottles (it’s not full – yet but I’m working on it) and I just started working on a Sommelier Certification just for fun. This path all began because I didn’t believe in the “No-Win scenario” as the only possibility relating to a challenge.
The ‘No-Win’ Scenario
I share this story with you because I truly believe that there are ‘almost’ always options to a no-win situation if you work hard to find alternative solutions (maybe even push the envelope a bit). For the Star Trek nerds out there – I’d like to think I’d pass the Kobayashi Maru simulation (the no-win scenario mentioned several times Star Trek).
What no-win situation have you been confronted with and how did you find a solution? I’d love for you to share it here.
The fear of rejection is a powerful driver in most people’s lives. It dictates what we take risks on, it makes us hold back, and it even hinders us from reaching our potential.
The fear of rejection is an emotion that many of us carry in our personal lives, but it can very easily seep into our professional one as well. We all come to that nexus point in our lives: we can do something, or we can do nothing. The fear of rejection almost held me back from promoting my book, The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret, because I was worried some bookstores wouldn’t want to carry my book. But you know what I realized?
Some will, some won’t–so what?
Watch the video below for more on conquering the fear of rejection.
Don’t let the fear of rejection stop you from doing what you are excited about. If you are excited about your business, don’t let rejection stop you. You have to just know that when it comes to asking somebody to do something; some will, some won’t, so what? It’s not the end of the world. For me, I just had to put myself in the frame of mind that what I was facing was simply not that big a thing. I now do this same thing whenever I’m faced with a situation which opens up the possibility for rejection. I just tell myself that if someone doesn’t want to do what I’m asking, that’s fine. It’s not that big a deal.
In Good to Great, Jim Collins opened up a whole new paradigm for many people. He showed us that “bad” is not the enemy of “great.” “Good” is the enemy of “great.” Everyone can recognize when something is really horrible. It is, in fact, “good” that is the enemy of great performance. We’ve all heard the expressions: “it’s good enough,” “things are ok,” “it’s not bad,” “we’re doing alright,” “hey, it’s good enough for government work, right?” This is metastatic mediocrity at work.
I love what I do, and I am passionate about helping people improve their businesses and their networking efforts to achieve success. While doing this, I sometimes come across people who would like to be more successful, but they aren’t really committed to making a change in their circumstances.
They have what I would call a “success disconnect.” They want to be more successful, but for some incomprehensible reason, they don’t see a connection between their desire for success and the behavior they are embracing. On one hand, they say they’d “like to be making more money,” but then a few moments later they’ll say things which indicate that they are uncomfortable making the necessary changes. Take my absolute favorite success disconnect statement: “You don’t understand, Ivan; this won’t work here because…” then fill in the blank with the excuse de jour. Over the years, I’ve found that “good enough,” eventually leads to “metastatic mediocrity.”
I call this condition the “I HIT HIDWAL Syndrome,” or:
You may be reading this and thinking, “this is a crazy statement” – but give it some time. I promise, you will be out talking to someone in the future, and you will hear them complaining about their circumstances. You will then offer them a referral to someone with ideas that will help them, or you may give them some ideas of your own that could help them, and they will tell you all the reasons those ideas won’t work for them.
At that moment – I want you to STOP and think about this article and envision a great big sticker on that person’s forehead that reads: “I HIT HIDWAL.”
Yes, I’m Happy In This Hole (and) I Don’t Want A Ladder!
Now you and I both know that they may really “need” a ladder – but they just don’t “want” a ladder. My entire professional career has been dedicated to those who want a ladder! I want to work with people who recognize they are in a hole and they want out. I have also learned over time that when it comes to taking advice – some will, some won’t, so what! Not everyone is in the place where they recognize they even “need” the ladder. Before they can “want” it, they need to recognize they “need” it. If they don’t recognize they need it, then offering them help (or a ladder) will be of no use whatsoever.
I’ve also learned that I can’t help the ones that think the “hole” is the natural state of things. These are people who’ve become comfortable with where they are and have become so accustomed to the great big hole they reside in that they think it’s just part of the landscape.
I can, however, help the ones who recognize their condition and know they want out. More importantly, they not only want out of the hole they are currently in, but they will do just about whatever it takes to get themselves out of that hole! We can only help those who are ready and willing to be helped.
As an entrepreneur in your profession, you will meet people that need your help all the time. My advice to you is: figure out if they’re ready for the ladder. If not, let them know you’re ready for them when they’re ready for you, and then move on to someone who desperately wants that ladder you’re going to send down to them.
Good is the enemy of great. Look around. Are you in a hole? Do you know people in a hole? There’s a way out. I promise. Find someone who can be a mentor and a coach — even a “virtual mentor” in books and videos. Find someone with the ladder that is needed to get out of that hole and start climbing out to success.
Why accept mediocrity when excellence is an option? Excellence is an option.
When it comes to making big choices in business and in life, decision making can often be a torturous process filled with stress, worry, confusion, and fear. When we’re trying to figure out what to do about something that’s going to greatly impact ourselves or others, it can be a really, really exhausting and difficult process.
In this video, I talk to my good friend, acclaimed entrepreneurial and business authority Sandi Stuart, about how to cut through grueling decision-making confusion and figure out the undisputed right decision every time. I cannot tell you how much I LOVE this idea! It’s one of those rare things that come along in life that are just so simple but SO surprisingly powerful!
Interestingly enough, it wasn’t in the world of big business where Sandi learned the secret to stellar decision-making. She learned this invaluable key when she and her husband were faced with a very difficult personal decision, and it turned out that executing one extremely simple process allowed them to rid themselves of the fear of regret and make the right decision in an instant.
Watch the video now to learn this simple secret to decision making that will help put an end to all the worrying and allow you to make powerfully positive decisions that will position you for success.
What are your thoughts about this decision making tactic? Were you as surprised as I was to learn how simple it is? Please share your feedback in the comment forum below. Thanks!
We all deal with the fear of failure from time to time. I know I certainly do. It’s a part of life and it can sometimes cripple us to the point where we’re so afraid of failing at something that we’d rather not even try. So, what can we do about it? How can we move past it in order to achieve our greatest goals, dreams, and desires?
Well, the answer is simple. We stop worrying about whether or not we are going to fail because–guess what?–we very well may and that’s okay! It’s inevitable; we are all going to be successful at some things and we’re going to fail at other things. The key is to refuse to define ourselves by our failures and commit instead to both learning from our failures and defining ourselves by our successes.
In this video, I tell a personal story about a time when I was virtually frozen in fear because I was so preoccupied with the prospect of failure, and I explain how it helped me to realize the key to combatting the fear of failure. The fact is, if we always try, we can eventually win. But if we let fear keep us from even trying, we will fail without a doubt.
Is there something that you currently want to accomplish, big or small, but haven’t attempted to start because you’re afraid of failing? If so, make a list of one action you can take each day (no matter how small) for the next week which will help get the ball rolling and move you toward accomplishing what you want to do. Then, when the week is over, repeat the process of mapping out and completing small daily actions every coming week–before you know it, you will have made real progress!
If you have a story about a time fear of failure stopped you from doing something, or a time you overcame your fear of failure and accomplished something important to you, please share it in the comment forum below–I’d love to hear from you!
If the thought of giving a brief introduction of yourself and your business at networking meetings makes your palms sweat, read on . . .
When participating, even as a guest, in various networking meetings or functions, the fact is that you will be required to introduce yourself sooner or later. Preparing a script for introducing yourself will improve your results. One of your scripts should be an overview of what you do. Other presentations can address various aspects of your product or service. Here’s the script sequence I recommend:
- Your name
- Your business or profession
- Brief description of your business or profession
- Benefit statement of one of your products or services
- Your name again
Your name and your business profession are easy enough. A brief description and a benefit statement can be separate items, but more often they are intertwined in your message. It’s fairly easy to combine your business with the benefits of your product or service. I suggest telling people what you do, as well as what you are:
“I’m a financial planner and I help people plan for their future” or “I’m an advertising and marketing consultant; I help companies get the most out of their advertising dollar.” These explanations are more effective than saying, “I do financial planning,” or “I plan advertising campaigns.”
In many situations, you’ll be introducing yourself to only one or two people at a time. Some networking organizations have all the members stand at each meeting, and in round-robin fashion, give a one-minute overview to the entire group. If you’re a member of a group like this, it is vitally important to vary your presentations.
Many people who are in networking groups that meet every week have a tendency to say the same old thing, time after time. From what I’ve seen, many weekly presentations are done weakly. If you don’t vary your presentations, many people will tune you out when you speak because they’ve already heard your message several times. Your best bet is to give a brief overview, then concentrate on just one element of your business for the rest of your presentation.
If you prepare your brief introduction using these techniques, you will begin to get much more confident at introducing yourself and, what’s better, you’ll begin to get better networking results. If you try introducing yourself in this way at your next networking meeting or function,
I’d love to hear how it turns out for you–please come back and share your experience in the comment forum below. Or, if you’ve already done some things to help you with this issue – please share your tactics with us. Thanks!
Business conferences, as a rule, aren’t extraordinarily exciting. They don’t really take your breath away. The one I attended in Hot Springs, Virginia, in 2006 was no exception. Mind you, it was interesting – but not much really exciting happened except for one particular evening. A friend of mine witnessed someone desperately choking at a restaurant. She calmly and professionally, walked up to the person and swiftly did the Heimlich Maneuver to dislodge the food. I heard all about the experience from several witnesses who watched in awe, as our mutual friend saved the day.
I vividly remember stopping to think about what I would do if I were alone, had something stuck in my throat and there was no one around to do the Heimlich on me. At the time, I didn’t know anything about the chair Heimlich which would have made my experience and this story much less dramatic. But I didn’t know it at the time, and so I sat with my thoughts considering what I might do.
I finally came to the conclusion that I would simply jump as high into the air as I could and slam my body onto the floor to force the air (and the food) out! There, great. Another problem solved. Now, next thing to contemplate. Seriously, that was about as much time as I thought about the “possible dilemma” which I would probably never face.
Fast forward exactly one month later to May 8th 2006. I was sitting in my office working from home one afternoon. It was well after lunch time and I was getting hungry. I decided to heat up some left-overs from last night’s dinner. I checked with my son who was way over on the other side of the house to see if he was hungry. He said, “No,” so I proceeded to microwave the piece of tri-tip beef and some vegetables.
When it was good and hot, I took it into my office and sat at my computer working on whatever project I was working on while I absentmindedly ate my lunch. The steak was really good, but it had some gristle that made parts of the meal a little difficult to chew. I took a pretty big bite of meat, chewed it up, and swallowed. What I didn’t realize, however, was that a tough piece of gristle was attached to the other half of the piece in my mouth I had not yet chewed. So, when I swallowed the one piece, it pulled the other piece down in on top of the first. As I’m sure you guessed by now, the steak was well and truly lodged deeply in my throat.
Yikes! “What do I do,” I thought? I reached for the phone to dial 911, however, I quickly discovered that when you have something completely stuck in your throat – you CANNOT make a sound. Nothing, nada, zip, zilch. You are completely silent!!! “But wait,” I thought to myself, “I have this all figured out – I thought about this a month ago. I’ll simply jump as high as I possibly can and slam my body on the floor. Yea, that’s the ticket – I’ll do that – NOW!”
With that, I stood up, took a big step, launched myself into the air and slammed onto the floor. Unfortunately, other than a couple of badly bruised ribs, absolutely nothing happened. At this point, I was getting pretty desperate and feeling a little light-headed, so I quickly stood up, took two or three really big steps and LAUNCHED myself as high as I could into the air. It was so high it would have made any professional wrestler proud. It was in fact, a world-class Wrestlemania body slam – right on the floor of my office.
With that, the stuck piece of steak popped out of my throat, but it remained in my mouth. I then opened my mouth and frantically gasped for a big deep breath. Luckily, I was able to get a big gulp of air. Unluckily, the steak was still connected to the rest of the bite by the stringy piece of gristle – it immediately got sucked right back into my windpipe!!! The thought flashed through my mind that this might just have been my very last breath.
I thought I was desperate before – now, however, I was incredibly desperate. I wasn’t thinking very clearly, and I thought I would run upstairs to get help from my son. Unfortunately, I managed to get only part of the way there before I could feel myself starting to get light headed and on the verge of passing out. I saw the stairs and called an audible. Instead of slamming into the flat surface of the floor, I would slam my body into the stairs while aiming my solar plexus for one of the stair steps. I took a running start for the stairs and did what had to look like a Three-Stooges-like physical stunt, launching myself into a stair step that I was aiming for. This time, the piece of steak AND its evil twin both ejected from my mouth in a manner that was reminiscent of the Exorcist.
I sat down on the stair that saved my life and coughed, coughed, and coughed – but more importantly, took long deep breaths of air. My throat hurt, my head hurt, and I can’t tell you how badly my ribs hurt. I sat there for no more than a minute when the phone rang. To this day, I do not know what possessed me to stand up and answer the phone – but I did. I answered it with the most grizzled, gravely, frog-like voice you could possibly imagine. “H-e-e-ello,” I rasped. It was my mother. She said, “Hi honey, is everything ok?”
Now I have no idea why my mother called. We spoke often but not every day. She had no reason whatsoever to call me that afternoon. But she did call me. Furthermore, she sounded worried. She said, “I just had this bad feeling and I had to call you to make sure you were ok.” “I’m f-i-i-i-ine” I rasped out. “You don’t sound fine,” she said. “No, I’m good – just something stuck in my throat is all. I’m good now.” I never told my mother what happened that afternoon.
But I sometimes think back to several moments surrounding this whole episode. Why did that story about my friend doing the Heimlich give me pause? What in the world possessed me to think about what I’d do if no one were around and I had something stuck in my throat. And, how was it that my mother called moments after the episode and wanted to know if I was ok?
All of these are mysteries to my linear thinking, left-brained self. But I think of them nonetheless. Needless to say, I have a new appreciation for each of the breaths I have left and that’s why I felt compelled to share this story with you today.
Have you had an experience that has caused you to personally never take another breath for granted? If so, I’d really like to hear it so, if you don’t mind sharing it, please tell us your story in the comment forum below–thanks!
In many surveys over the years, people have ranked the fear of public speaking as worse than the fear of dying! Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try to avoid it, networking for your business is going to involve public speaking. You may find yourself giving a sixty-second elevator pitch at a networking meeting, a ten-minute presentation at a chamber function, or a forty-minute educational presentation to a prospect.
The following 5 strategies are my top tips to help you lose your fear of public speaking and start winning over your audiences with confidence.
1) Prepare, prepare, prepare! Don’t wing it! Prepare an outline of what you want to say and practice it. Use note cards, or type your remarks out on a piece of paper. (Print with large handwriting or type in a large font–make it ridiculously easy to read so you don’t lose your place in the paragraph.) Don’t over-prepare though; this can just lead to more anxiety.
2) Be specific and talk about the things you know best. At networking meetings, don’t try to teach people everything you do in one short pitch. Think in terms of teaching the audience something of significance. Focus on just one or two areas of your business–the topics you feel you understand best. This will increase your comfort level and reduce stress.
3) Use handouts, visuals, or PowerPoint slides to support your presentation. If you’re worried about stage fright, props such as books, slides, handouts, or gadgets will help you keep your mind on your topic, add a special element of interest to your presentation, and give the audience something to concentrate on besides you. PowerPoint can be a great tool, but it becomes a noticeable crutch if you fall into the trap of reading from the slides. PowerPoint should support your presentation, not be your presentation. Read a few of the many books and articles available about how to effectively use PowerPoint.
4) Remember, you’re the expert. It’s true. In the eyes of the audience, you are the expert and they want to hear what you have to say. They’re eager to learn something from you. If you focus on what you know best, you will feel more confident and be more credible. Believe in yourself and in your message.
5) Be creative. Find a way to communicate that makes you comfortable. Instead of talking to a group, engage them in conversation; or start with Q & A, and then answer at length. Don’t be afraid to be different. Surprise your audience. Walk around the stage or up into the seats. People get tired of the same old approach and are invigorated by something unexpected. Have fun with your message; it will help you turn your nervous energy into positive energy. The audience will feel it and radiate it back to you, and before you know it, your anxiety is gone.
Here’s the deal . . . you can’t get better at something if you never practice it and the best time to start practicing is now. So, start this coming week off by looking for opportunities to practice the above tips. If you’re nervous, start small with your one-minute elevator pitch. Make it a point to fill the entire minute exactly. Work up to five-minute and ten-minute talks as you gain confidence. When you feel ready, look for an opportunity to make a lunchtime educational presentation. The program chairs of many associations and membership organizations are always on the lookout for speakers. Position yourself as the expert; enjoy the satisfaction of educating other people. When you remember to apply the tips in this strategy, we feel confident that it will alleviate much of your speaking anxiety. One final thought: It’s good to be a little nervous. Just convert that into positive energy, and you’ll have the audience in the palm of your hand.
I’m really interested in getting some feedback from all of you reading this blog, so please respond in the comment forum below to any or all of the following questions–and/or offer any thoughts related to overcoming the fear of public speaking. Thanks so much!
- On a scale of 1 — 10, 1 being “not really afraid” and 10 being “more afraid than death,” how afraid would you say you are of public speaking?
- What mental and physical manifestations of fear and anxiety do you experience when faced with having to speak in public?
- What tools/strategies/tactics have you personally found to be helpful and effective in managing your fear of public speaking. Alternately, what tools/strategies/tactics have you found to be useless or ineffective?