This is a guest post by Steve Brown and London Speaker Bureau. Steve’s writing on various sites focuses on business related topics. Steve reminds us of a critical component of confident public speaking.
Public speaking remains one of the biggest fears for people around the world; even some of the greatest public speakers admit to stage fright before giving a talk. There is plenty of information available on how to overcome these nerves: to practice, evaluate and fully know your material. However, there is one thing which is frequently overlooked and yet can make a powerful difference to any speech.
“When you own your own breath, nobody can steal your peace.” -Unknown
That thing is breathing. By simply controlling your breathing, you will be better able to project your voice and people will hear you. People respond to confident, positive voices and will often not register someone who is speaking nervously. To become a great speaker, follow these breathing tips:
Posture matters the most when speaking in front of an audience
Standing correctly allows your lungs to fill with air and makes you look taller and more confident. To do this, stand with your feet apart in line with your shoulders, put your shoulders back, your ribcage in and your arms by your side.
Breathe deeply to relax your voice and calm your nerves
Now that your lungs are able to be filled with air, you will need to take a deep breath. You can see the affect of this by placing one hand on your chest and the other on your belly button. Concentrate on your stomach moving, not your chest. Exhale and repeat until you are comfortable doing this all the time.
“Let thy speech be better than silence, or be silent.” -Dionysius
The focus of leadership should not be the leader. The focus should be on what the leader is doing to create opportunities for those he or she is leading. Ultimately, followers reap the rewards of effective leadership.
I call leaders who focus on creating opportunities for those they serve Open-door Leaders.
“Vulnerability is critical to leadership because it mitigates the leader’s ego.” -Bill Treasurer
Explain why you say that a leader’s job is to make people uncomfortable.
People and organizations grow, progress, and evolve by taking on challenges, which are, by definition, uncomfortable things. An Open-door Leader’s job is to nudge people into their discomfort zones.
The trick is nudging people far enough outside their comfort zones that they become motivated to pursue a higher standard of performance, but not so far outside their comfort zones that they get paralyzed with fear.
To be clear, making people uncomfortable does not equate with stoking their fears. There’s nothing more childish than intimidating leadership. Fear is cheap leadership – it takes no effort or thought. Open-door Leaders, conversely, make people feel safe enough that they want to pursue uncomfortable challenges. By creating safety, the leader helps people become comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Virginia “Ginni” Rometty, the CEO of IBM, said it best: “Growth and comfort do not coexist.”
“Growth and comfort do not coexist.” -Ginny Rometty
Sharing stories of his or her own hardships and struggles. When leaders share stories about their own imperfections, failures, or mistakes with us, we judge ourselves less harshly.
Believing in us more than we believe in ourselves. Leaders have to constantly remind us of our potential so we can see momentary missteps in a larger context.
Give people another shot. Consider, for example, when you were learning how to ride a bike. What did your parents make you do whenever you fell? Get back up and try again. They didn’t stop believing in you just because you fell. They viewed the setback as part of the learning process. Likewise, after a career setback or failure, the leader should help us draw out corrective lessons, and then have us re-attempt the thing that set us back.
This is a guest post by Derek Lewis, “America’s #1 Ghostwriter for Business Experts.” Learn more about writing business books at www.dereklewis.com.
The Secret to Performance
That’s the secret to performance: conviction. The right note played tentatively still misses its mark, but play boldly and no one will question you. – Rachel Hartman, Seraphina
Dan never failed to astonish me.
If he had a class project due at 8:00 a.m. but had yet to start it, he would say, “Oh, I’ll just go talk to the professor. He’ll understand.”
There was no hesitation in his voice. He never wavered in his absolute belief that he would be granted an extension. And without exception, he always was.
Sometimes he probably deserved an extension. Mostly, he didn’t. But he could charm, cajole, and coerce every professor he ever needed to.
My coworker Craig had the same talent. He could enter a conversation with people vehemently opposed to his political views, but by the end of the discussion they would usually be nodding their heads as they reconsidered their stance. More than once, I heard, “I don’t know why, but if you ran for office, I’d vote for you.”
That’s the secret to performance: conviction. -Rachel Hartman
I have stood on the sidelines and watched these maestros conduct their magic. Occasionally, they would have to poke me to make me hide my astonishment, lest I let the cat out of the bag. You could say they were masters of manipulation, and that would be true in some instances. But most of the time, my two charismatic friends simply persuaded and influenced their listeners.
It helped if they knew what they were talking about, but I’ve seen them plunge into situations for which they had no preparation and come out with the upper hand. The strength of their magic did not come from their competence of the subject matter—it came from their conviction that, whatever the issue, they were right.
Confidence Trumps Competence
I am fascinated with people like Dan and Craig because their approach is so alien to me.
By my nature, I focus on facts and reason. My instinctive approach to selling, communication, and influencing used to be to present the facts in logical order, and then allow the other person to draw their own conclusions. From one point of view, I sold competence.
While that may seem an ethical and transparent approach to business, it made for a lousy living.
Competence matters. Sincerity and honesty matter. Ethics are a cornerstone of long-term success. These things are important. But when it comes to working, selling, and communicating—that is, compelling other people to act—competence and such have never been enough to bring real success.
My mistake was in leaving out the key ingredient that came so naturally to my cohorts: confidence.
Competence without confidence just doesn’t cut it. –Derek Lewis
Sadly, I remember the time I cost Craig (and our company) a major client. If we had landed them, the client would have been our biggest by far. The recurring revenue from the contract would lift our company from being a marginal player to an “up and coming” enterprise.
Craig’s discussions with the client had gone well. By the end of the big meeting, the client showed all the signs of having made their choice. Things seemed sure.
The next week, I was sent in to do a follow-up meeting—really, a meet-and-greet with the head honchos. I was nervous about taking on the client, though. It would mean hiring more people, learning some new tools, and significantly changing how we operated.
This is a guest post by Erin Schwartz. Erin is responsible for marketing and social media programs at www.123Print.com, a destination site for office supplies like business cards, labels, and other supplies.
In a tough market, job applicants must take every available opportunity to stand out to employers. In addition, in the business world, first impressions can be crucial in forming relationships.
Research suggests that as much as 93% of our opinion about other people is established within the first five minutes of meeting them
Unfortunately, a person’s body language can make him stand out in an unintended negative way. The statistics vary, but some research suggests that as much as 93 percent of our opinion about other people is established within the first five minutes of meeting them. And body language can play a huge part in creating those initial perceptions. Are you a confident and capable leader? Or are you conveying the image of a lazy person who will always require prompting (and could easily be walked upon if put in a management position)?
Think about how others may interpret these aspects of your body language:
Making an Entrance
Interviewing experts caution that the assessment of job candidates often begins before they enter the interview room. Convey confidence by entering situations with your back straight and your shoulders back. Offer a firm handshake with a smile that conveys self-confidence and trust.
In business dealings, body language that reveals nervous energy can help give the other side the upper hand. Therefore, make sure any materials you have with you are carefully organized so you don’t fumble around during a meeting.
Sitting with an upright, straight posture will convey more internal strength than leaning back in your chair, unless the situation is a relaxed or informal meeting with coworkers you’re comfortable with. In contrast, leaning forward too much can make one seem overly eager and can make others feel uncomfortable in a one-on-one situation.
In his keynote speeches, Tim Sanders often says, “Confidence is the rocket fuel of success.” Tim’s ability to ignite your thoughts and propel you to a new destination will have you calling him your personal rocket fuel.
Meet Tim and you immediately sense his energy. And it’s a good thing he has that energy. He’s a sought-after international speaker and Fortune 1000 consultant. He’s also the author of Love Is the Killer App, The Likeability Factor, Saving the World at Work, and his latest, Today We Are Rich. He was the chief solutions officer at Yahoo! Currently, he is the CEO of Los Angeles tech start-up Net Minds.
Confidence is the rocket fuel of success. -Tim Sanders