Thursday, February 25, 2010

HOW TO MASTER THE ART OF PUBLIC SPEAKING

A majority of the people experience fear when they have to speak in front of a group or audience. What holds them back is the fear of appearing foolish in front of others. Preparation and the right attitude is the key to win over this process.

Some of the fears that top the list are fear of dying, fear of snakes fear of height etc and fear of public speaking is also one of them. Many people experience faster heart beats and dry mouth when they are about to begin their speech. Some even experience nausea or giddiness. These symptoms aggravate once they start speaking. The heart beats frantically and the voice starts trembling. Their body, especially the legs begins to shake. Stuttering or increased rate of speech is also possible. In some case, people experience these symptoms only during the initial moments, later they calm down whereas; others may go through the ordeal for longer.

I remember my high school days, whenever we were asked to speak in front of the whole class, I would develop cold feet and I would start shaking and behaving in an unnatural manner. Then I found a way out. I realized that I could give a good presentation to the class only when I was sitting on a chair. But that didn’t help me because my teacher thought I was trying to act smart.

The primary reason that holds back people is their fear of looking foolish or dumb in front of their peers or others. They dread being laughed at. If they make a mistake or forget something, people may form a not-so-good opinion about them. This in turn affects their ego and confidence. If we follow some steps, we can definitely overcome fear.

  1. Preparation: The value of preparation should not be underestimated. Being prepared well in advance helps to avoid blunders. It is necessary to be aware of what you are going to speak and who will be your audience. Professionalism demands that nothing is left to chance. Work on your strategies, keep the material ready, pay attention to every minute detail, plan well in advance. Preparing in advance makes you feel confident and in control of yourself, thereby reducing the chances of foolish mistakes or failure. As far as the material is concerned knowing about your speech content doesn’t mean you learn it by heart, because that may make you sound scripted. Instead you should know the outline and the structure in which you are going to talk. Also not knowing about the type of audience can leave you embarrassed at the last minute. Therefore you should know your audience and accordingly you can customize your speech. Depending on the importance of the event you can prepare yourself and overcome the anxiety.
  2. Practice: It is said that knowledge is a treasure and practice is the key to it. Practicing the speech takes you nearer to perfection. There are various ways to practice. You can begin by practicing alone. Saying the speech loudly a number of times helps to get the material easily registered in your memory. Next you can do mirror practice. This exercise is very effective. You need to stand in front of a mirror and say the speech loudly, maintaining eye contact with yourself. This helps you to observe your body language as well. Then, you can also practice speaking by standing in a corner. This way you can listen to your sound reflecting back to you. Using a recorder is also a good way to practice. You can learn many things by observing your voice. You can record your voice and listen to it as many times as you want. You can learn many things by observing your voice. Finally you can practice in front of your friends. They can give you a feedback. Practicing before friends gives you a feel of talking in front of the real audience. The number of friends required for this practice is irrelevant. You can even begin with one friend.
  3. Back up plan: It is always advised to have a back up plan ready in case of emergency. The type of emergency I am talking of is, let’s say what if in spite of a lot of practice you can forget what you had to say or you go blank. Your back up plan can work as a safety net in such a scenario. What you can do is, you can note down the outline of your speech on some sheets or on small cards. These important points can be referred to very easily and the audience also would not mind. Only bear in mind that you shouldn’t sound scripted. When you have a back up plan ready you can rest assured that in case you happen to forget something, you have help at hand. This reduces your anxiety to a great extent.
  4. Knowing the audience:  When it comes to the fear of your audience, remember it is all in the mind. The magnitude of your fear can get greater only if you allow it to be. The fact that you focus your thoughts on your audience as being very important can aggravate your fear and anxiety. Your audience can be truly important, for example your bosses, your colleagues, your important clients or even your friends and relatives but that should not inhibit you in any way. What you can do is you can shift your focus. Instead of fearing your audience and feeling intimidated you can look up to them. You need to visualize them as your friends and supporters. Remember, they are there because they want to listen to you and infact they want you to succeed. Visualize that they care for you. If your focus shifts from negative to positive, you will find the same shift in your body language and it will definitely be reciprocated by the audience.
  5. Relaxation: Relaxing yourself before your speech may sound a little difficult but you can follow a simple step and actually feel relaxed. Before starting your speech do remember to take a few deep breaths and then begin by thanking the person who introduced you. Then immediately start counting 1 to 10 in your mind and begin your speech. With each breath and count you feel relaxed. It also gives time to the audience to settle and get ready for you speech. This is also the moment when you are in front of your audience and you may panic. However, being prepared allow you to be confident & in control of the situation. It feels good to be in command and you definitely deserve it. If your work demands that you speak in front of small or large groups of people then you should practice speaking in order to enhance your skills and overcome the fears. Doing a Public speaking course is also a good idea and a proactive measure.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

DEVELOPING THE ART OF COMMUNICATION

Communication can be defined as passing of message from 1 person to another.

Various aspects of Communication
  1. Verbal Communication 
  2. Non Verbal Communication
    • Body Language
      • Eye Contact
      • Voice
      • Gestures & Postures
      • Facial Expressions
    • Dress Code
TIPS ON HOW TO DEVELOP EFFECTIVE BUSINESS COMMUNICATION SKILLS

The English word communication is derived from Latin term ‘Communis’ which means ‘to make common, to transmit, to impart’. When something is made common, it means sharing and interaction and both of these are very important for communication, general and business communication in particular. When a message is sent out it becomes communication only when it is understood, acknowledges, reacted to or replied to by the receiving party.

The objectives of Communication: Why do we need communicate?
  1. Sharing of Information 
  2. Motivation 
  3. Inspiration   
  4. Delegation 
  5. Education & training
  6. Suggestion  Persuasion 
  7. Influencing a potential customer.
It is a general observation that professionals devote a lot of time, money and energy in learning technical skills (Software Engineer learns programming, does certification, A CA does learns accountancy, learns international accounting). One may be excellent software engineer, accountant, back office executive, Architect, Graphics Designer but of he/she has not learnt the art and science of Business Communication it becomes very challenging to develop a career in Corporate world. Due to lack of Business Communication skills one may experience difficulties while preparing resumes, clearing interviews, expressing confidently in Business Meetings, getting the desired promotions, delivering presentations, managing and leading teams.

A professional who wants to constantly excel in his career in this vast competitive corporate world he/she has to commit to invest a lot of time and effort in developing interpersonal or communication skills. After years of research and training thousands of professionals here’s a list of tips to enhance these skills.

  1. Develop listening Skills: It is a wrong notion that an excellent communicator is one who speaks very well. Actually it is the other way round. An excellent communicator is 1 who listens very well. Tips on how to develop listening skills:
    • Watch an English movie with English subtitle.
    • Listen to audio tips and practice writing down what was there sentence by sentence.
  2. Learn the art of Observation Skills: It is very important to understand the situation, the people, and the background before communicating. How to develop observation skills:
    • Before communicating on important occasions study the situation in detail.
    • Read the body language of the person or group of people.
    • Look at the Dress Code and take some hints.
  3. Learn correct Body Language: Our body speaks a lot even when we are silent. So it is very important that we understand what are different body postures communicate and we also learn the right body language. How to develop correct Body language:
    • Stand in front of Mirror and observe yourself.
    • Practice impromptu speech in front of mirror and see for your self if your gestures & postures are consistent with what you’re trying to communicate. Make appropriate changes in that.
    • Video shoot yourself delivering a speech and watch it repeatedly.
  4. Develop a Quality Voice: A less energetic, low and unclear voice fails to arouse interest in a listener. A loud, clear & deep voice creates a powerful impact. One can say, the quality of voice defines the personality. A lot of practice is needed to develop quality voice. Tips to develop Voice quality are:
    • Pitch of Voice: If you have a low voice, practice reading loudly as much as you can and if your voice is too loud practice speaking as low as possible.
    • Pace of Voice: Of you speak very fast practice slow reading. Read each word followed by a 5 sec pause. If your words per min is too low practice reading fast.
    • Pause in your Voice: Practice to take a 1 sec pause after every fullstop and comma.
    • Voice Modulation: If you speak in plain vanilla voice, the listener will lose interest very soon. To develop voice modulation practice reading each sentence by stressing on any one particular word.
    • Global English: If English is not your mother toungue, you may have mother tongue influence which may affect your English. How to develop Global English.
      • Identify the wrong sounds in your spoken English.
      • Learn to speak the correct sounds.
      • Practice tongue twisters.
  5. Chose the correct mode of Communication: Now-a-days 1 can communicate through various mediums like mobile, SMS, fax, email, chat, voice mail and 1 to 1 meetings. It takes experience and proper judgment to choose the right mode of communication. How to choose right mode of Communication. (Ex: When instant response is required phone is the right mode of communication & when you require to have information or idea on records email is the best form)
    • Before you communicate any important point or an idea stop and think and ask yourself.
    • What are the modes through which I can communicate this idea.
    • What will be the best mode of communication at this point of time.
  6. Develop proper dress code: Before one start speaking body language & dressing already create an impression and the listener starts relating to what one communicates keeping that perception in mind. Ex: If you go to a party in a formal dress there are very high chances that the 1st question you might face would be are you coming directly from office? How to develop proper dress code.
    • Identify one of your friends or family member who has excellent dressing sense.
    • Budget a certain amount for changing your dressing style.
    • Choose the clothing’s with the help of your chosen friend or relative.
  7. Inculcate Corporate Vocabulary: Day to day communication may involve use of simple English. At the same time it is very important to use corporate vocabulary in importance situations such as presentations, interviews, emails & sales calls. How to develop corporate vocabulary. Ex: “Instead of saying we are thinking, if we can find a solution to this problem” You can use Business English & reframe it “We are developing a strategy in order to get a desired results.” 
    • Observe Senior Managers, Clients using corporate vocabulary and note them down.
    • Read news paper, magazines, articles from net related to your field and make a note of Business Vocabulary. Keep these notes handy and use it at every opportunity till it becomes a habit.
    • Habituate yourself to collect & use Business vocabulary.
  8. Learn Public Speaking Skills: Speaking to groups of people is an important aspect which helps to effectively participate in Business Meetings & presentations. In order to develop Public Speaking skills:
    • Take a topic of your choice and prepare yourself.
    • Practice speaking in groups of people.
    • Ask the listeners to evaluate your public speaking skills on parameters like body language, voice quality and clarity of speech.

Friday, February 19, 2010

HOW TO MAKE YOUR PRESENTATION EFFECTIVE

A lot of knowledge is available on how to make your speech effective. Correct gestures, fluency, voice level, hand movements, avoiding fillers are all important for public speaking. But if one had to pick out one most important factor, then it would undoubtedly be “Enthusiasm”. The power of enthusiasm is magical and you can easily win over your audience with it.

When you convey enthusiasm, your other shortcomings are usually overlooked and what stands out is your energy, your passion and your zeal. Remember, ‘Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm’.

When you are enthusiastic, it is reflected in your talk and in each and every step. There seems to be a bounce in your step. It leaves people with no choice but to pay attention to your talk. They can easily see spark in you.

Professional speakers must remember two important rules. The first rule is that you must not speak on any subject which you yourself don’t feel excited about and the second rule says that if you cannot follow the first rule then fake enthusiasm and keep on doing so till you feel it. IT WORKS!

While taking in front of large group, our nervousness is often reflected through our high rate of speech, our unnecessary gestures, we get right to the point, we don’t seem to stand in one place and the good news is that when people are excited, they behave in exactly the same manner.

Many a times it has been observed that new salespersons are able to close sale after sale in spite of lack of product knowledge or experience where as the experienced people have to struggle. The reason is simple. Being new in the field makes the sales people nervous so they usually talk faster, fearing that they may forget something. They get straight to the point; they also find it difficult to sit still because of their anxiety, therefore they move around and many times this behavior works in favor of these new and nervous sales people. The potential customers find these people very enthusiastic about what they are selling. This generates interest in the product.

Negative emotions of nervousness and fear can be changed into positive ones. We can transform them into positive energy and enthusiasm. Our enthusiasm spreads to the audience, leaving them equally energized.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

THE MAGIC OF PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

Everyone is not lucky enough to be born with type of facilities needed to become successful. Yet they have turned luck in their favor. Some people like Dhirubhai Ambani proved that to be successful you needn’t have ideal conditions at the start of your life. You can become very successful even in adverse conditions. Whereas, there are people who have all the ideal conditions from the start, yet they haven’t been successful.

When we look around us we find that there is abundant money in the banks. Knowledge is available in plenty in the form of books.  Schools also provide knowledge through good teachers. There are plenty of opportunities provided in this free world. There is no dearth of support systems and facilities in this world.

Power and sophistication are easily attainable. The prime reason that keeps us from taking full advantage of opportunities is laxity and neglect. They are contagious. We should examine our self and prevent this inflection from spreading in our system. Neglect, if not checked early can cause a complete failure over a period of time.

When we do not do the things we know, we should, it makes us guilty. The guilt eats up on our confidence. As a result it affects our activity. That causes a blow to the results. When that happens we become negative in our outlook. This again diminishes our self-confidence. Thus it is a vicious cycle.

A person should constantly work on self. This will help him to evolve as a human being. Abilities can be turned to capabilities. Working on self ensures not only success but also happiness.
We have a shining example of Dr. Abdul Kalam who is the son of a fisherman. He went on to become the most successful President of India. We have one more example of Mr. Dhirubhai Ambani. He started by working at petrol pump and later built an empire.

What this people never did was complain about obstacles. They never wasted their energy on complaining. They focused their energy on their vision. There are people persistently complain in spite of having plenty of facilities. They should consider the above two examples.

Dr. Abdul Kalam had the option of working with NASA, instead he stood to stay back in India & contribute to the nation.

Most people generally concentrate and work on improving that what is outside them. They fail to understand that real work has to be done on things inside of them. Self awareness is the key. Ask yourself what you want.

It is possible to be powerful and all that you would ever want is very much within your reach. You need to work in the right direction. Do not neglect yourself.  Whatever is outside of you gets immediate attention when there is a breakdown, be it your car, T.V, computer etc. However when our confidence and motivation need a boost, we become lax. Therefore it leads to a breakdown and you do not experience joy.

Do not fall in the vicious cycle of guilt. When people neglect work, which should be done, they feel guilty. The guilt takes away the confidence to act and without action they don’t get results. Because of this entire guilt trap we begin to feel low and weak but there is a way out. Start working on yourself and develop your personality!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tips on GROUP DISCUSSIONS:

Basically, group discussion is as important stage of selection process, whether you are seeking admission in premier management institutes or jobs with top-notch corporate houses.

There are many misconceptions regarding group discussion. Due to some myths, many deserving candidates are not able to perform well at this stage. It is no use blaming the environment or doubting the validity of this tool, because the fact is everyone has to face group discussions at some stage, climbing the corporate ladder. You need to be good at them to achieve your desired goals.

A group discussion is a normal conversation among a group of individuals, since the conversation is related to a particular topic, hence the word “discussion”. A group usually comprises eight to twelve participants who engage in a discussion far approximately 15-20 minutes. The moderator or judge for GDs assesses participants based on their contribution both as an individual as well as a team player. Talking about your performance as an individual, remember that what you speak is more important than how much you speak. "Quality counts, not quantity". You need to excel in content as well as presentation.

Moving on to performance as a team player you should exhibit leadership skills. Project yourself as an extrovert and co-operative. Connect with and build a rapport with the other members of the group. The essential requirements for success in a group discussion are knowledge, listening skills, presentation, calm composure, assertiveness, co-operation, analytical thinking accomodative and encouraging.

With these guidelines you can start preparing yourself for a Group Discussion.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

BE A MAGNET

A piece of iron when lying on the road is often kicked by walkers passing by. To a rag picker it is a source of income therefore he picks it as scrap. A physics student uses it in his experiment. Where as to an explorer it appears to be a treasure. He is passionate about creating something; therefore the same piece of iron creates wonders. He works on it by aligning the ions through the iron bit. He uses some wires and electricity. As a result, what is created is a powerful magnet!

We can compare ourselves to the bit of iron. We all have many dreams. We need to align ourselves and focus all our actions and thoughts in one direction. We all can become a magnet and start attracting all that we want in order to achieve our goals.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

SECRET OF SUCCESS

15 well-known motivational leaders were interviewed some years ago. After talking to them, 8 secrets to success came to light. I am going to share them with you.

•    RESPONSIBILITY:
As human beings we have a tendency to blame something or someone for our failures. The ones who don’t fall in this trap are the ones who succeed. Therefore, taking complete responsibility for your life is the first principle of success. By doing so, we are in complete control of out life. Our energies also do not get drained in playing the blame game. By taking responsibility we shift from being a victim to being the master and creator of our own lives.

•    PURPOSE: What is your purpose in life? We are all on this planet for a purpose. The sooner we realize that the better. Find a cause you believe in and do your job right. Be self-motivated. Knowing your purpose helps you to focus your attention on it. It helps you to understand when to take a stand and take right decisions. Living life without a purpose is like just wasting another day of our life. An entrepreneur, who lives life on purpose, brings passion to his work.

•    What is the price you are willing to pay for your dreams?
Dare to dream and if you have a dream then be ready to pay the price. Wishful thinking cannot guarantee success. If you really want to change your dreams into reality then be courageous and do not back out when faced with challenges.

•    FOCUS ON YOUR GOAL:
Everyone is hard-pressed for time these days. Everyday people are loaded with hundred of tasks, phone calls, meetings etc. It is important to remain focused among all these activities. One should have the wisdom to give up something today and invest that time in something that you will yield greater results in the long run.

•    STRIVE FOR EXCELLENCE:
Always be ready to improve at what you do. Successful people take their work seriously and always aim for the best. Never compromise on your work. Keep track of what the ‘BEST’ in your profession are doing and implement that in your life. Your work should make you proud rather than embarrassed.

•    SUCCESSFUL & UNSUCCESSFUL:
The difference between successful and unsuccessful is that successful people always write down their goals on paper. What separates a wish or a fantasy from a goal is that, the letter is written down on paper. Reaching out for goals without an action plan is like traveling in unknown area without a map and worse still, not knowing the destination!

•    PERSEVERANCE:
The power of perseverance is immense. Be determined to reach your goal. Never ever doubt yourself. The thought of giving up should not be entertained even for a fraction of a second. Remain committed to your mission and keep marching ahead and very soon you’re there. Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

•    DON’T PROCRASTINATE:
Time is precious. Don’t wait for the right moment because the right moment is NOW. No one knows how long they are going to be here. Even Gandhiji has said that ‘Live as if you were to die tomorrow’. You must live each day with the same energy and passion. People who believe life is too short, do not delay and make full use of the time they have NOW.
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