Attitude

Public speaking’s a lot like judo . . .

It’s interesting how some things apply to disciplines as different as public speaking and self defense. My friend Ray Litvak , who develops awesome web content at www.writingwebwords.com has joined with a partner to open Budokai Judo Club, a judo club in North York, as a second business. What I find interesting about what Ray does as a judo instructor and what I do as a public speaking trainer is that the same issues apply to public speaking and presentation training as they do to learning judo.

Confirmation again

Ray publishes a blog on Budokai’s website and as I read one of his first posts I found confirmation yet again of what I’ve said for many years: that most people’s fear of public speaking comes from childhood experiences, particularly the experience of being bullied. We hear about extreme bullying cases in the media – the ones in which the victim can no longer stand it and takes his/her own life. But what gets a lot less attention is the long-term effect of being taunted and ridiculed in the school yard, in families and, unfortunately, at work.

So what?

Ray shares his own history of being bullied when he was growing up in Toronto and how judo helped him, then he provides a similar story about Jonathon, one of his students, and how judo brought him self confidence. So what’s all this got to do with public speaking and presentation training? Plenty, based on my experience.

A huge impact

What I’ve learned from clients over the years is that the things we hear about ourselves have a huge impact on our self esteem. We tend to become who people tell us we are – until, like Ray and Jonathon, we stand up for ourselves and redefine ourselves. Now, please note that I’m not saying we have to confront our bullies and overpower them. Sometimes that’s just not possible. Sometimes we have to endure. But what we don’t have to do is believe the negative things those people are saying about us.

My answer is “NO!!”

My favourite line from the book and movie The Help is “Am I gonna believe all them bad things them fools say about me today?” My answer is “NO!!” Bullies can say what they like about me but they can’t make me believe it if it isn’t true. I’ve been bullied and I won’t say that it could never happen again. But I can say that it would be a lot harder now to make me believe the garbage that some people can make up and throw at me than it was 30 years ago, or even 10 years ago.

I know who I am

Why? Because I have a strong, powerful vision of who I am and what I do for others. And my vision is based in reality. I know who I am – warts and all – I love myself just the way I am and I do my best to help other people to come to that same acceptance and self-approval.

Who do you think you are?

I’ve written before about the importance of knowing your topic,  and why value is more important than speaking skills. But, important as these things are, they are hinged to one essential presentation element: Who do you think you are? Because without a strong, positive image of yourself it will be difficult for you to be convincing.

What can you do?

So, what can you do about it? Well, when I work with clients one-on-one, we analyze the origins of their self image. And while it’s much easier for you to do that with another person, you can do some of it yourself. First, consider the source. Who was/is your bully? What were his/her motivations? Were the things he or she said fair and accurate or were they simply stones thrown at your ego in an attempt to bring you down to the bully’s level? How did those comments make you feel? Was the feeling justified at the time? Do you still carry those feelings about yourself? Are they justifiable in your present context?

The issue is self image

Really, this stuff isn’t rocket science; I wouldn’t understand it if it was. But I do understand when a bright, promising, capable person sits down in front of me in Ajax, Toronto or North York and tells me he or she has public speaking anxiety, in spite of their obvious significant abilities and qualifications. The issue is almost always one of self image. And it usually doesn’t take very long to unravel the source – often a bully or insensitive adult – who had significant influence at an early age.

From victim to victor

I applaud the work Ray is doing with kids who need to manage the physical elements of bullying. He’s helping them to raise their self image from victim to victor and he’s teaching them along the way that self respect is based on using power as a tool to protect, not a weapon to destroy. We can do the same for ourselves in dealing with the non-physical elements of bullying that can live long after physical wounds have healed.

Need a guest speaker?

If your group needs a skilled guest speaker or workshop leader, I’d like to help you. I provide a range of communications key note presentations and workshops. Please visit the presentations and workshops pages of this website and contact me to discuss how I can help you.

Need a presentation trainer?

Would you like help dealing with public speaking training and other communications issues? If so, please contact me to discuss my public speaking training programs. I provide one-on-one presentation training and group public speaking training sessions that provide tools to develop your public speaking skills. Contact me today at 416-762-8488 in Toronto or 905-655-0119 in Oshawa/Whitby and Durham.

About Thomas Moss

Thomas Moss is a speaker, writer and coach who provides business communications services, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), including Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Markham, Richmond Hill, Newmarket, Vaughan, Brampton and Mississauga. Service is also available outside of the GTA.

Coopetition can be profitable

One of the things you may want to consider to help get through tough times or any times is co-operating with others in your market niche more than you compete with them.  Sometimes, contrary to what we may think, if we join forces with people who provide similar services to our own, we can increase market reach and broaden service offerings to everyone’s benefit.  And that can be better than trying to go it alone.

Common sense rules

Now, I’m not suggesting that you get in bed with someone who keeps knives under the pillow, nor that you share your client lists and trade secrets.  Obviously, common sense has to rule.  But there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that, properly executed, particularly in times like these, co-operation can be as healthy – or even healthier – to a business than competition.  This is a time-honoured practice in many large corporations, where it’s referred to as co-opetition, and it’s a concept I like very much.

How this can work

Let me give you an example of how this can work.  I’ve known Helen and Keith, a marketing duo, for about six years now and while we’ve talked about working together in the past we’ve never actually pursued the idea.  That is, until we had a very propitious conversation last November.  That’s when I suggested that if they ever had clients who required presentation or media training I’d be happy to help them out.  In return, if I had clients whose needs exceeded my resources, I’d contact them. Keith smiled.  “As a matter of fact, I have a client who could use some media training.  We don’t really get into that, so I’ll have him contact you.”

Everyone’s a winner

A few days later I was hired for a half-day media training session and that session has led to more training and writing assignments.  And I expect my work with this client to continue for some time.  I’m happy, the client’s happy and Keith and Helen are happy because it reflects well on them.  Everyone’s a winner and Keith, Helen and I are keeping our eyes open for other areas where we can increase value to clients by working together.  It makes sense – and it’s profitable.

A few ground rules

I should point out here that we established a few ground rules before we began.  First, we agreed on a finder’s fee that ensures that whoever brings in the business is adequately rewarded.  Then we agreed we would continue to operate as independent consultants on this and future projects unless it made more sense for one of us to report to the other.  We also agreed not to encroach on service offerings that were already being provided by the other party.  I think we have a pretty good understanding of who does what and under what circumstances.  And of course, we’re both open to discussing modifications to suit new situations that may present themselves.

Don’t struggle

I know partnering, particularly with competitors, can be fraught with pitfalls.  Been there; done that.  But let’s face it, we all have areas where we excel and others where we have to struggle to meet client needs.  And one thing I’ve learned over the years is don’t struggle if you don’t have to.  It consumes valuable time and energy – and can cost you a client.

Open yourself to possibilities

It makes more sense to contact someone who does similar work to what you do and share the contract with that person rather than trying to do it all yourself. And it makes even more sense to align yourself in advance with several of your colleagues to invite them to join you in some healthy co-opetition on an ongoing basis.  You don’t have to give up your independence.  You don’t have to invest any cash.  You don’t have to share any secrets.  You just need to open yourself to some possibilities.

It makes sense

It’s not a cure-all but it makes sense to me, particularly in tough times, to look for alliances that promote both parties.  It’s been profitable for me and I recommend that you consider it as well.

Need a guest speaker?

If your group needs a skilled guest speaker or workshop leader, I’d like to help you. I provide a range of communications key note presentations and workshops. Please visit the presentations and workshops pages of this website and contact me to discuss how I can help you.

Need a presentation trainer?

Would you like help dealing with public speaking training and other communications issues? If so, please contact me to discuss my public speaking training programs. I provide one-on-one presentation training and group public speaking training sessions that provide tools to develop your public speaking skills. Contact me today!

About Thomas Moss

Thomas Moss is a speaker, writer and coach who provides business communications services, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area, including Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Markham, Richmond Hill, Newmarket, Vaughan, Brampton and Mississauga. Service is also available outside of the GTA.

Attitude is everything!

Like most business people, I’ve had good times and not-so-good times. I try to maintain a positive attitude all the time, and particularly in not-so-good times.

One of the first things I do every morning is smile at myself in the mirror. Not because my visage is delightful to look at but because that one simple action changes my whole demeanour. It’s like magic. I may be ready to pull the most miserable face imaginable as I start to think about the issues of the day before me. But before I can indulge my negative thoughts any further I stop myself and smile. And as soon as I do that, everything changes. Of course the issues I have to deal with don’t change, but my attitude and my ability to face them become positive and I start to think about what a lucky guy I really am, issues and all.

I do something similar every time I prepare for one of my workshops. I visualize the program and see the participants (and me) having a good time. I think about the value I bring and that kick starts my motivation, no matter what else may be on my mind. We can’t control everything but we can maintain a positive attitude about the tasks at hand. And it pays, particularly where clients are involved.

So how can you do that on an ongoing basis? Well, because nothing succeeds like success, I suggest you focus most on the areas where you’re most successful and reflect the positive energy of your successes to everyone you deal with. And you can start doing that by focusing on what matters most and excluding just about everything else. If you do that, you’ll be dealing with issues you feel passionate about to create positive outcomes that help keep you upbeat. Here are a few suggestions for turning intent into reality.

Focus

If you focus primarily on the 20% of your activities that produce the most profit and reduce or eliminate the 80% that consumes most of your time and creates most of your headaches, you’ll increase your potential margin of success significantly.

Find a niche

Chances are, your clients can choose from dozens or even hundreds of people who do what you do. But there’s probably something unique about you and the service or product you provide that can make you a go-to person. If you can find that niche – preferably something for which you have significant passion – you’ll probably find that clients will seek you out for your special skill or service.

Partner with others

No one has all the answers. But it can be very valuable to your clients, your colleagues and your reputation to align yourself with other specialists who provide significant value. Their success can become your success too.

Have a back-up

Although you’ll probably want to remain focused on your primary niche, it’s always a good idea to have a back-up revenue stream to fill in during quiet times and to have a place to go when there are surprises in your primary market.

Aim for repeat revenue

Nothing puts a smile on your face more than a steady stream of revenue coming from a small number of customers who like, trust and respect you. Armed with their confidence – and revenue – you can approach new prospects with a self-confidence that’s based on a solid foundation of service.
Stuff happens, but professionals put their best face forward no matter what else is going on in their lives. A carefully nurtured positive attitude is often all that separates, a “No, thank you . . .” to a “Yes! Thank you very much!!”

Need a guest speaker?

If your group needs a skilled guest speaker or workshop leader, I’d like to help you. I provide a range of communications key note presentations and workshops. Please visit the presentations and workshops pages of this website and contact me to discuss how I can help you.

Need a presentation trainer?

Would you like help dealing with public speaking training and other communications issues? If so, please contact me to discuss my public speaking training programs. I provide one-on-one presentation training and group public speaking training sessions that provide tools to develop your public speaking skills. Contact me today!

About Thomas Moss

Thomas Moss is a speaker, writer and coach who provides business communications services, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area, including Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Markham, Richmond Hill, Newmarket, Vaughan, Brampton and Mississauga. Service is also available outside of the GTA.

Prepare for a presentation with positive thoughts

When I was a little kid and I knew I was going to my Grandma Hickey’s farm, I’d have a big smile on my face because I knew I was going to have a great time.   My cousins lived with my grandmother and when we would arrive I knew it would be party time for us kids.

Get excited

Although the venue is very different, I bring that same kind of energy with me when I prepare for a presentation or workshop. I get excited when I prepare for a presentation or workshop because I know I’m going to have a good time and I see myself having a good time.  And guess what happens. I have a great time and the audience does as well.

Think about the value

It’s really important that we get rid of negative thoughts about what could possibly go wrong or what people will think when we’re preparing for a presentation.  Instead, we need to think about the value we’re going to provide and how much people will appreciate it. If we’re really providing something of value we’ll be helping people on an ongoing basis. What could be more positive than that?

Have a good time

People like Anthony Robbins and Zig Ziglar know that joy of sharing.  And that’s what allows them to put such passion in their presentations. They know they’re going to have a good time and they know they’re going to help people.  If you think about your audience and what’s good for them and how you can best help them, you’ll have just as much fun helping people as Robbins and Ziglar – albeit on a slightly smaller scale.

Focus on the positive

Every time I prepare for a presentation I see myself and the audience having a good time. And I know that’s going to happen because I’m going to deliver the best I have to offer to that audience and they’re going to appreciate it. Admittedly, some presentations go better than others. Some audiences are more appreciative than others. But a positive attitude and a genuine love of what I’m doing improves every presentation I do.  you can do the same thing if you prepare for a presentation with positive thoughts.

Need a guest speaker?

If your group needs a skilled guest speaker or workshop leader, I’d like to help you. I provide a range of communications key note presentations and workshops. Please visit the presentations and workshops pages of this website and contact me to discuss how I can help you.

Need a presentation trainer?

Would you like help dealing with public speaking training and other communications issues? If so, please contact me to discuss my public speaking training programs. I provide one-on-one presentation training and group public speaking training sessions that provide tools to develop your public speaking skills. Contact me today!

About Thomas Moss

Thomas Moss is a speaker, writer and coach who provides business communications services, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area, including Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Markham, Richmond Hill, Newmarket, Vaughan, Brampton and Mississauga. Service is also available outside of the GTA.