Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

Public Speaking training can reduce pessimism

A client mentioned recently during our public speaking training session in Toronto that she tends to be a pessimist and that she thought her tendency was affecting her public speaking ability. She asked me what she should do to turn that around.

Begin with awareness

I believe that change begins with awareness and acceptance of your current status, accompanied by deep-seated desire to change and a long-term commitment to move toward the status you want to reach. In my experience, permanent change is a gradual process. It takes time, it takes awareness and it takes patience. I think many of us are aware of our current status but we’re not aware of the limitations that our view of the world can place on us. That’s totally normal, by the way. We all develop perspectives on our lives. Those perspectives often limit us. And because they’ve been with us for so long, they just become part of our “reality”, even if our perception of “reality” is holding us back.

Work with strengths

Our early life experiences tend to define who we think we are. I know this because I have lived it, particularly when I was a young man from a small town who came to Toronto. But we can rise far beyond what anyone would have ever expected, based on our early-life trajectory to excel and do much more than we might ever have imagined. We simply have to recognize our strengths and work with them to move forward toward greater life potential and satisfaction, including the ability to speak confidently in public.

Perceptions persuade

Your perceptions can persuade you to withdraw from experiences in an attempt to protect someone you may have been at one time long ago. The problem is letting those old values and identifications get in the way of current reality. And the current reality may be that you are a mature, intelligent, sophisticated, powerful person whose old perceptions are no longer working for you and instead are working against you.

The hard part

So what can be done? Well, like I said, it begins with awareness and acceptance. Once you become aware and accept, you have to decide if you want to change. And that’s where the hard part begins. It’s hard because so many of us grew up in environments where people tried to hide who they were, expected others to take responsibility and leadership. Most of us grew up among followers, not leaders. That can make us afraid to take responsibility. In a community where those around us were directed by others, we never learn leadership. And that makes the concept of leadership a little intimidating and frightening, particularly in a large, highly competitive area like Toronto and the GTA.

People want leadership

Too often, capable people are concerned that if they excel and stand out from the crowd they will be considered “uppity” and “too big for your britches” by those around them. But here’s the dichotomy: Most people WANT leadership! They want someone strong up front to show them the way and to deal with the issues. They may carp, complain and criticize but they don’t want to be leaders themselves. Why? Because they’re terrified of taking responsibility.

Risk can be valuable

It took me a long to time to realize that. Sure, everyone wants to be on top but the problem is that most – almost all – of those people don’t want to take any risk. But life – real life, not just existence – is about risk. I’m not talking about foolish risk. I’m talking about researched, measured, responsible risk. If we never step up, we get left behind. Responsible risk can be a very valuable thing.

Create affirmations

So how do we get from pessimism to optimism and the confidence to speak in public? One good route is to create a list of positive affirmations and repeat them as often as circumstances allow. You can learn about positive affirmations here: http://www.vitalaffirmations.com/affirmations.htm. The article will suggest some affirmations but you can make up your own and they will probably be more powerful for you because they will relate directly to you.

Appreciate the good stuff

Please understand that affirmations are just meaningless mumbo jumbo if you just mouth them without feeling them. You need to look at yourself and your life, pick positive things and really appreciate them. Most of us take all the good stuff in life for granted and complain about what we don’t like. It should be the other way around. We should treasure the good stuff and take the bad stuff for granted because “stuff” is going to happen but, for the most part, we’re very well off. Positive affirmations are about really appreciating the good stuff.

It takes time

It takes time, it takes patience, it takes self-forgiveness when we slide back a bit. But if we’re really committed to making change in our lives it really is possible. Whether it’s public speaking in Toronto, skiing on the slopes, sky diving or just looking in the mirror and liking what you see no matter what’s happening around you, positive thoughts about the little things can take you a long way.

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, including Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Markham, Richmond Hill, Newmarket, Vaughan, Brampton and Mississauga. Service is also available outside of the GTA.

This one’s for Ray

If it weren’t for website copywriter Ray Litvak I might be out of business by now.

He phoned me

I first met Ray when he phoned me about a year-and-a-half ago and asked for some presentation training for a public speaking gig he was preparing. I’d been in business then for several years and, like so many other people, after all that time I was still barely keeping the lights on. I loved helping people to develop their public speaking skills but I was spending most – almost all – of my time and energy finding clients.

The grind was wearing

I’d done most of the usual things: networking, advertising, printing brochures, joining professional associations, developing and writing a website and blog, etc. but I was having difficulty justifying the time I was investing for the return it was bringing. And the grind of constant promotion was wearing me down. I wanted to help people with public speaking training, not search for them.

“Nobody knows you’re there”

As a website copywriter, Ray told me he was very impressed with my blogsite. In his words: “Google really likes you. You have a Ferrari blogsite but nobody knows you’re there because the site hasn’t been optimized for search engines. The content is great but the site is invisible.”

He worked on my site

He wanted to work on my site and I wanted to help him with his presentation skills and promote him as a website copywriter and search engine optimization (SEO) expert, so he went to work on my site last summer. Within a few weeks I received my first query and after that they began to arrive once or twice a week.

I’d tried to optimize

To put this in perspective, I’ve had a website for many years and up until Ray started working on it I think I’d had a total of about three inquiries, one of which turned into a paying client. It was literally costing me more to pay annual registration and hosting fees than I was making from my site. And I had tried, in my own amateurish way, to optimize my blog postings but it wasn’t helping.

Top five listings

So why the sudden change? Simple. Ray’s website copywriting skills took my ranking from somewhere deep in the bowels of Google to the top of Page One – usually to the top five listings for my key words. And the e-mails started arriving. And the phone started ringing. And the customers started engaging me.

Committed prospects

Ray was very specific about warning me that, as a website copywriter, he could drive traffic but once the call or e-mail arrived it would be up to me to close the sale. And I had no problem with that. Usually, by the time potential clients contacted me they were already committed prospects and all I had to do was assure them that I could deliver what I promised.

A new workshop

Because I’ve received so many inquiries from people who want public speaking training but can’t afford or cost justify one-on-one sessions, I’m developing a new half-day public speaking workshop. I already have contact information for more than 20 people who want this kind of training, so I’ve got a nucleus of interested people to start with.

Optimizing each page

I recently overhauled my blogsite because I could finally afford to do it and, as time allows, Ray and I are optimizing each page and blog post to increase my range of key words and my find-ability on Google and other search engines.

My business has a future

I’ve heard some of the horror stories about business people who invested in search engine optimization and were appalled with the results. I’ve had the exact opposite experience. My business now has a future because of my search engine rankings.

Long-term benefits

The other thing I hear about SEO is that it’s expensive. But if you hire a good online copywriter and you can justify the cost in any way, based on my experience, I’d say you will have an excellent chance of reaping significant long-term benefits.

Lots of books

For those who simply can’t justify the cost in any way, there are lots of books out there that will get you started and, if you’re diligent, you can reach the top of the search engines for your area of expertise. The downside is that it takes a ton of time and commitment. But if you can’t afford to hire a website copywriter who’s as skilled and honest as Ray, you’re probably better off relying on a book than a self-appointed expert who may take you half the distance.

Thanks, Ray

I didn’t mean to write this much. When I started I simply wanted to express my appreciation to someone that I respect a great deal and to say “Thanks, Ray” for what he’s doing for me and my business.

p.s. If you want to check out Ray’s services for yourself you can start with a visit to his website at www.writingwebwords.com.

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?  I provide one-on-one presentation training and group public speaking training sessions that best provide tools to develop your public speaking skills. Contact me today. You’ll be glad you did!

About Thomas Moss

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

Boring speaker introductions – and what to do about them

I’ve seen two speaker introductions in the past week, one in Toronto, the other in Durham Region, and neither of them did what speaker introductions should do. They were flat, unimaginative and uninspiring. But they don’t have to – and they shouldn’t – be that way.

Organizers provide a speaker introduction
It’s standard practice for conference organizers to provide a speaker introduction and a thank you message.  But they’re often written by people who have no particular feeling for the topic or the speaker and they usually provide pretty basic information. And too often, that basic introduction gets read word for word in a tone that says, “I have to read this to you. It’s kind of boring but I have to do it”.

Throw it away
Here’s a hint: It’s not necessary to use the prepared introduction at all. You can throw it away. And in some cases the speaker would be better served if you did that. Instead of using the canned introduction, you can do a little advance research on the internet to dig out some interesting facts about the speaker and use them to do the kind of speaker introduction that benefits everyone.

Talk to the speaker you’re introducing
A Google search is a good place to start, followed by Linked In, Facebook and other social media sites. And hey, here’s a novel approach: how about talking to the speaker before the presentation and jotting down a few significant notes? You just might uncover some hidden gems.

Most speakers are flattered
And if you feel a little shy about approaching the speaker before the presentation I suggest that you just relax and do it anyway. Most speakers are flattered and happy to share some personal tidbits. An informal chat will probably be good for both of you. I’ve seen a number of introducers, who were clearly in awe of the speaker, add their personal discomfort to the formal (read: b-o-r-i-n-g) introduction. You don’t want to do that and a quick chat with the speaker will help you avoid it.

You’re introducing people
Think about it. What are you doing? You’re introducing people who’ve never met: the speaker and each member of the audience. Now, admittedly the introduction is one-sided, with the speaker being introduced in detail and everyone in the audience not being introduced individually at all. But really, the purpose is the same: you’re trying to build a bridge between the speaker and the audience. You’re telling each member of the audience why they should be interested in this person. And by doing that, you’re telling the speaker that the audience has been prepared to open their minds to the presentation.

Warm up the audience
What most people don’t know is that an audience needs to be warmed up. The speaker needs to develop a bit of a relationship with members of the audience before they are ready to accept and trust what’s to follow. It’s like any other introduction: You have two strangers coming together for the first time. Neither knows the other and there’s this cool breeze in the room until they break the ice. Your job as the person who’s introducing the speaker is to shorten that getting-to-know-you phase by telling the audience who it is who’s about to address them and why the presenter and/or the presentation will have value for them. You’re the front person, the warm up guy/gal.

Generate excitement
If that process is reduced to an obligation and a formality I think it should be dispensed with entirely because the silent message is: “I’m bored, this introduction is boring and the speaker may be boring too.”  But the implied message should be: “I’m excited to be here. I’m delighted to be introducing this dynamic speaker. You’re really going to like this . . .”

Get the process started
The speaker needs you; the audience needs you. You are a very important person if you’ve been selected to introduce someone. You set the tone and the mood. You get the process started.

Get a little animated
I like to get a little animated when I introduce a speaker, to share a few significant things in their background and to wind it up with something like “Would you please join me in giving a warm welcome to . . . Jane Doe!” It’s my tamed down version of Ed McMann’s famous nightly introduction on The Johnny Carson Show: “And now . . . h-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-re’s Johnny!!”

Ad lib
Obviously, you don’t have to go as far as Ed McMann. In fact, you may be able to do a very adequate job with the material conference organizers provide. All you have to do is rewrite the main points into bullets set in large type that you can easily read.  And ad lib from there. Keep your bullets short enough that you can scoop them up with a glance (without losing eye contact with your audience), show your smile in your voice as well as  your face and generate a little excitement.

Keep it short
One final word: I like short introductions that take about a minute or less. There are occasions where a longer introduction is appropriate but, for most presentations, a one-minute introduction is perfectly adequate. We don’t want to hear an entire biography; we just want to know why we should listen to this person and what he or she is likely to provide for us. We want to be warmed up, to get a little excited and anticipate what’s to follow.

You can do this
You can do this. It’s easy. Just create some good material, get a little excited and share your excitement with the audience.

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? I provide one-on-one presentation training and group public speaking training sessions that provide tools to best develop your public speaking skills. Contact me today.  You’ll be glad you did!

About Thomas Moss

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