Monday, June 9, 2014

How to use Good Teamwork to Achieve Company Goals

The importance of teamwork cannot be underestimated, especially in a business environment where a group of people are working together to achieve set goals. The successful outcome of their teamwork will reflect upon their individual abilities, their performance as a unit and on the company as a whole.

It is not always possible to choose the members of a team who will be working with you on a project. As this might be already done for you, the next best thing you can do is get the group together and work out a plan on how you all hope to achieve your goals. This will give you an idea of the strengths and weaknesses of the individuals in the team and the fields in which they specialise in or feel comfortable working. Having a range of different skills and personalities working together can be a bonus especially if each member of team is straight forward and honest about his abilities and is happy in the role that he will be assigned in the team.

Communication with one another is an important part of good teamwork and a group of people who share information and ideas freely with one another have a definite advantage in achieving what they have set out to do. Ideas should be communicated across all levels of the group so that a supervisor or team manager knows exactly what the others are feeling and their views are at every stage of their work. Coordinating and cooperating with each other are a direct result of good communication and the more easily information is shared the more responsive and proactive is the group.

Having respect for one another is a good foundation for any team as is encouragement, support and appreciation for each other’s efforts. Having favourites and ignoring some members of the team creates divisions and animosity and will bring about negativity; an attribute any good team can do without. 

3 Ways to Improve Your Public Speaking and Presentation Skills

There are three components you must know in order to improve your presentation skills for better public speaking. When someone asks me how he can build effective communication skills and improve his public speaking, I quote to him the words of Elbert Hubbard, who said, “The only way to learn to speak is to speak and speak, and speak and speak, and speak and speak and speak.”

But while it’s true that the only way to become good at anything is by repetition, over and over, until it becomes second nature, there are many things that you can do to be more effective speaking in front of audiences.

The starting point in the art of public speaking is to pick a subject that you really care about. It is to think through the subjects that have had an extraordinary impact on you, the subjects that you would like to share with others because you intensely feel that others could benefit from your knowledge. With this, you have a springboard off which you can leap into your first public talk.

The second part of public speaking is preparation for effective communication. Preparing is more important than anything except caring about your subject. It’s not unusual for a person to spend many hours, days and even weeks preparing for a talk.

Planning for Effective Communication

To prepare for a talk, the first thing to do is to write out an objective statement of what you wish to accomplish as a result of your presentation. Whether it’s a 10-minute presentation or a 10-hour presentation, the statement of your objective is the same. It’s the answer to the question, “Who is my audience, and what effect do I want my talk to have upon them?”

So you need to ask, “What action do I want this audience to take as a result of the things I say to them?” Write out this action statement of your objective very clearly.

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11 Easy Ways to Finally Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking

Knock your next presentation out of the park with these public speaking tips.

How successful we are at selling ourselves, our products and our services depends on our ability to stand up and be heard. What often prevents us from telling our story successfully is not our inability to articulate what we do, or how strongly we believe in the value of what we offer. Instead, it is simply the fear of speaking in front of an audience. Being nervous while presenting can put a dint in your credibility and have an adverse effect on achieving your business goals.

To manage the fear of speaking in public, you need to first understand the root cause of the fear.

Understanding that our brain can't tell the difference between a real threat (a pack of wolves about to attack you) and an imagined threat (a group of your peers watching you present) is the first step to overcoming the fear. This awareness can help you manage the "false alarm" that happens in the absence of real danger. How so? As you feel your heart racing when you first start your presentation, you can consciously and deliberately interrupt the fear response with a quick deep breath and a rational thought, "This is just a false alarm." The more you get into the habit of interrupting the fear response as soon as you feel it happening, the quicker you'll prevent it from being your default response every time you present in front of a group. You must ingrain in your mind the thought that the fear of public speaking is simply a misfiring of the caveman "fight or flight" fear response, and that you can overcome this.

Here are 11 practical tips to help you manage performanceanxiety so you can focus on your key messages:

How to End a Speech

Should You End a Speech by Asking for Questions?

I cringe every time I hear a speaker end with an unimpressive “Thank you” or “Are there any questions?” I think many speakers say these things because they’ve finished speaking and then suddenly realize that their audience hasn’t realized they’re done! So, in desperation, they blurt out one of these phrases, hopeful that those words will clue them in.

Unfortunately, that’s the worst possible way to end a talk! It just sort of fizzles out, instead of ending with a clear bang!
  • Need to know how to end a persuasive speech?
  • More on effective openings and closings (end of a speech)?

I’ve been doing this long enough to know that some of you are saying, but Lisa, what’s wrong with asking if there are any questions? To be clear, it’s not the phrase that I object to, it’s when and how the phrase is used. If it is used as the ONLY signal that the talk had ended, then that’s a problem.

End a Speech with a Strong Summary

All good presenters use rhetorical signals to indicate that a presentation has come to an end. The first and most obvious signal is the conclusion. When the speaker reviews the main ideas in summary form, of course, this is an indication that the presentation is coming to an end.

However, to be an effective signal, the conclusion needs to be proportional to the entire talk--about 10-15% of the entire talk. So if your talk is 15 minutes, then your conclusion should be about 2 minutes. For a 40-minute talk it should be about 4 minutes.

If the conclusion is missing or is too short, which are very common mistakes, then the conclusion is not effective. Always include enough time to fully summarize your main points.

5 simple public speaking tips for beginners

Unless you work in a cave banging sticks together, odds are, part of your job involves talking to other people. Heck, you might even need to run a meeting or two. Those of us who are really lucky get to do "public speaking", which has been known to produce sweating and weak knees in certain people. To combat this, and to work on other communication and leadership skills, I joined Toastmasters about a year ago. It has been an invaluable experience. Here are the top five public speaking tips that beginners can start applying immediately. They are simple, obvious, easy to remember, and practical.

1. Lose the notes (do I really need to say this?)

It may seem obvious, but your dependence on your speaking notes is dragging you down. Having to refer to notes about what you are going to say decreases your credibility, prevents you from making eye contact with your audience, and limits your charisma and body language. Remember, you are speaking because you are the expert. Know the topic, know what you are going to say, and say it. The only exception to this rule is if you are reporting on specific facts and numbers.

2. Lose the crutch words (“uhm”, "uh", "like", "you know")

“Uhm”, and other crutch words, are verbal garbage. They serve absolutely no purpose other than to make you sound dumb. Prevent these crutch words from exiting your mouth and you’ll start sounding smarter immediately. The smarter you sound, the more people will pay attention to what you have to say. If you're unsure about what to say, be silent, collect your thoughts, breath, and continue. It might take practice but it is well worth it.

3. Speak louder

The more power you give to your voice, the more authority you will have, the clearer your words will be, and the easier you will be to understand – all of which combine to make you more engaging and memorable.

9 Easy Ways to Remember Your Presentation Material

Crush your anxiety with these methods that will help you thoroughly remember all of your slides before you get to them.

One of the most common reasons we experience presentation anxiety is the fear that we will forget what we have to say and risk losing credibility. A method many use to address this fear is to create PowerPoint slides as a memory aid. However, this is short-sighted because nothing erodes your credibility as a speaker faster than signaling to the audience that you are dependent on your slides.
Seasoned presenters are able to announce a slide before showing it. At a minimum, they know their material so well that all they need to do is briefly glance at the slide to know what's coming next. You can achieve this by doing simple memory boosting practices to remember your presentation material and, in turn, reduce your anxiety.

Here are nine tips to help you remember what you have to say.

1. Use the Palace Method

Research into brain science has proven that there is a very deep connection between the way we remember an event and the space in which it occurred. The brain system that is important for memory is also important for space; in other words, we remember things on the basis of spatial locations or "spatial scaffolds." This is an ancient memory technique, commonly referred to as The Palace Method or Mind Palace. To learn how to use the method, watch Joshua Foer's video, “To Remember Better, Build a Mansion in Your Mind", or read his book, Moonlighting with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything.

2. Use mind maps

Mind maps are diagrams that allow you to lay out all of your presentation material in a visual shape rather than in list form. 

6 Things Happy People Never Do

Happy people do a lot of things.  They spend time expressing gratitude, cultivating optimism, practicing kindness, nurturing loving relationships, committing to meaningful goals, savoring life’s little 
pleasures, and so on and so forth.  

But they NEVER…

1.  Mind other people’s business.

Forget about what others are doing.  Stop looking at where they are and what they have.  Nobody is doing better than you because nobody can do better than you.  YOU are walking your own path.  Sometimes the reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes circumstances with everyone else’s public highlight reel.  We listen to the noise of the world, instead of ourselves.  So stop the comparisons!  Ignore the distractions.  Listen to your own inner voice.  Mind your own business.

Keep your best wishes and your biggest goals close to your heart and dedicate time to them every day.  Don’t be scared to walk alone, and don’t be scared to enjoy it.  Don’t let anyone’s ignorance, drama, or negativity stop you from being the best you can be.  Keep doing what you know in your heart is right, for YOU.  Because when you are focused on meaningful work and at peace within yourself, almost nothing can shake you.  (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Passion and Growth” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

2.  Seek validation of self-worth from others.

When you are content to simply be yourself, without comparing and competing to impress others, everyone worthwhile will respect you.  And even more importantly, you will respect yourself.

How are you letting others define you?  What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?

Truth be told, no one has the right to judge you.  People may have heard your stories, and they may think they know you, but they can’t feel what you are going through; they aren’t living YOUR life.

When Self-Improvement Gets Boring, Try These 6 Motivational Strategies

As human beings, we're always striving to be better. The most common self-improvement goals people set, particularly this time of year, are things like losing weight, improving our cholesterol numbers or blood pressure, or getting in shape for a marathon. These are body goals. They are concrete and easy to understand. Because we have metrics to measure things like weight loss, for example, it's easy to track our progress and stay motivated.

Making "soul resolutions" is more challenging. These are the deeper aspects of self-growth. These would be things like trying to be less critical, more loving, more patient, or more optimistic. Soul resolutions are not so easy to measure.

And that can be a problem. Too often, when it comes to changing profound aspects of our attitudes, behavior, and character, we can get bored, uninspired, and discouraged after a while. We can't really tell sometimes if our efforts are "paying off."

To avoid the boredom of spirit that sometimes accompanies profound changes you're trying to make on yourself, here are some simple strategies for staying motivated.

Check in with your priorities. 
What's really important in your life? This is a question that will get you back on track quickly. Make changes in how your spend your time so that you can keep strengthening the behaviors that will reinforce your resolutions.

Learn from the discomfort. 
Trying to be a better person is challenging, difficult, and uncomfortable. It can even be painful and cause you to suffer -- particularly if you have to do things like apologize, change your friend group, or do a lot of self-examining. When things get hard to take, embrace the discomfort and ask yourself what it's teaching you.

Laugh and play more. 
It can be boring and tedious to be always working on self-improvement. Add pleasurable, fun activities to your life. 

12 Ways to Attack Any Challenge

Stuck in a rut? Need to accomplish the impossible? Step right up. Here's how to get started.

Whenever I'm discussing a challenge—okay, fine, whenever I'm whining about a problem—my wife eventually interrupts and says, "Yeah, yeah. I get it. So what are you going to do differently?"

Her response would be fairly frustrating if she wasn't right. Discussing—okay, fine, whining—never helps. The only way to overcome a problem is to do something differently.

But there's no reason to wait until you're forced to make a bad situation better. There's a better approach. Why not be proactive and turn average into awesome?

Especially since it's easy: Just employ one of the Five As of Awesome. (Wait—did I just channel my inner Tony Robbins?)

All you have to do is pick one of the following things to do differently:


Be who you are. I would like to ride a motorcycle like this guy. Or climb like this guy. Or run a company like her. Or change the world like him.

I won't.

And, for the most part, I'm okay with that, since I can always be a better me. I can ride faster or climb better than I do now, and I can make a bigger difference in the lives of my family and friends.

Think about the people you admire and pick a few of their qualities to emulate, not their accomplishments.

You can't be them.

The cool thing is, they can't be you.

Let others be who they are. Your customers, your vendors, your suppliers... they aren't going to change. Don't expect them to.

Pick one source of frustration and decide what you will do differently, including, possibly, walking away.

When you stop focusing on negatives you may start to notice the positive qualities you missed.

10 Most Common Rookie Mistakes in Public Speaking

1. Using small scale movements and gestures.

Most rookie presenters are afraid to take up too much space. This hesitance comes across like an apology to the audience.

2. Speaking with low energy.
Actually, this problem is not restricted solely to rookie presenters. 80 – 90% of the presenters that I observe do not expend enough energy. Hence, they come across as uninvolved, uninteresting, and unenthusiastic. Crank up the energy level! You will command more attention and project more confidence and charisma. I cannot stress this strongly enough.
3. Not preparing enough
Granted, many rookie presenters don’t know how to prepare effectively other than preparing their media. Experienced speakers do plenty of research so that they feel confident in their material and their ability to respond to any question the audience might throw at them. They daydream about their topic even during ‘down time’ and often find the most creative ideas when doing other activities. I often come up with great ideas while driving, shopping, or running. It’s important to go through multiple drafts or iterations of your material, revising and editing, to arrive at the most finished form of your talk.

4. Not practicing enough
Not practicing your talks and presentations on your feet is one of the single biggest mistakes you can make. Experienced speakers will often do a dry run of their material with a trusted audience of friends, family, or colleagues. They will simulate the environment of their presentation using a projector and slide remote. They’ll choreograph their movements and gestures which will dramatically increase your ability to remember your material. They recognize areas of challenge (weak segues, awkward media transitions, etc.) and come up with tricks and tactics to help them flow seamlessly through their material.

5. Data centric presentations.
If your talk is focused on data rather than the vivid human story the data tells, you are in trouble.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

5 Signs Self-Help Is Ruining Your Life

People seek self-help for a reason, to help themselves. But like all good things, self improvement has it’s disadvantages. Some people take it too far. Instead of improving their lives, they become delusional.

1. Tony the Tiger… err Robbins

Before I got into personal development, I always thought of people like Tony the Tiger.. I mean Tony Robbins and Richard Simmons as the epitome of self improvement. I guess like many people, I confused self improvement with motivational speakers.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Tony Robbins, I think he’s a great guy and I’m sure he’s helped a lot of people out. But it’s just not my style.

The whole chest pounding, firewalking thing always threw me off. I understand the idea is to get pumped up, but can’t you do that without burning your feet to a crisp? Also, is that really sustainable? If I have to walk on hot coals everyday just to find motivation, something is probably wrong with my life.

These are also the people that remain positive under any circumstances.

Volcano eruption? The heat will help you sweat and detoxify.
Hurricane? Now I don’t have to wash my car.
Earthquake caused a gaping hole in the middle of your house? We could make a swimming pool!
Denial Anyone?

2. Productivity is the opiate of the masses.

There are certain things you must do. This includes things you need to do to not die and stay out of prison.
Some people just have a problem with these things and turn to productivity gurus for help. But it can often be taken overboard. When you can’t enjoy yourself without doing something productive, you have a problem.

3. Self Improvement is your drug of choice

There’s nothing wrong with ferociously pursuing personal development and new contexts.