Public Speaking and the Air Force Pilot
What could the 2 possibly have in common? That was my thoughts as well.
Late last year I was speaking to a young man who is determined to become a pilot in the Australian Air Force. I assumed (very wrongly) that the process would be to firstly enlist then go through due process. The conversation which ensued was very enlightening.
He told me the best way was to in fact apply to become a pilot without actually having joined the Air Force. He went on to explain the various processes and steps he had to go through. Sadly he was not successful and had stumbled at the last hurdle which was an interview with 3 officers and a psychologist. Not to be discouraged and highly motivated to succeed he was currently two thirds the way through with his second attempt.
As we know, one of the most critical things in improving in any aspect of our lives and businesses is feedback. Be it from our customers, work colleagues friends and family, constructive feedback is important. So naturally I asked, whether he was either provided feedback or there was a process to request feedback to clarify or identify areas which needed to be addressed. I was stunned with his response……..the FIRST recommendation was to improve his Public Speaking skills. I was speechless (which for those who know me is a rarity!). He went on to explain that they felt he lacked conviction in his responses and that to be a leader he required better speaking skills to articulate instructions or orders or respond to situations requiring fast responses. Also by his own admissions he was terrified standing in front of just 4 people! I was blown away but then got to thinking.
I am constantly faced with the misconception of what Public Speaking is. The common interpretation is to speak in front of a large group or audience of sorts. While that is partially correct, the reality is that Public Speaking is, at the core being able to better communicate in any size group. Be it one on one with a friend, family member or work colleague, a department meeting or workshop and anything in-between. He is now in the process of learning all the required skills to address his fear and confidently respond. One of those skills is the art of Impromptu Speaking. Thinking on your feet with a response or comment with no opportunity to prepare. This he tells me is without a doubt the most valuable skill.
I am convinced that EVERYONE can benefit from learning Public Speaking skills. Think about the last time you got caught in the lift with your manager or boss and he threw you a curveball to which you were like a deer in the headlights or the time you had an idea at a department meeting and you were so overcome with fear you sat quietly. Understand these are not isolated instances and they have strong ramifications for you both personally and professionally moving forward.
Remember, the quality of your communication will ultimately determine the level of your success.
To Your Success,
My name is Con and I am The Con Versationalist
Funerals and Public Speaking
Last year I attended the funeral of an elderly lady, who, to be honest, I had never actually met. The obvious question is why the heck were you there? I was there as a mark of respect to other family members who I was very close to and also to give me an opportunity to directly pass on my condolences.
The funeral was conducted according to Greek Orthodox tradition in a Greek Orthodox Church with barely standing room available. At a reasonable guess there would have been 250-300 people. Now I know most of you reading this are really wondering where am I going with this, what’s the point and more importantly, what does this in way have to do with public speaking? Trust me, I getting there!
I am a very keen “people watcher” or an observationalist. I observe people’s body language, facial expressions to understand the thoughts between their ears so as such it didn’t take too long to work out there many there were thinking and feeling the same as I was. Now you could say, well it’s a funeral, everyone pretty well has the gist of what’s going on and you would be right, BUT this is where I make my point.
I was up the back and could barely make out what the priests were saying despite the fact they had a microphone, and it wasn’t just me. I overheard many attendees mention they couldn’t hear a thing. As a speaker or presenter you have an obligation to ensure your audience can hear you. One of the fundamental public speaking tips we share is to ensure you have checked the all audio/ visual equipment. If your audience can’t hear you, they’ll be switching of REAL quick whether it’s a funeral, wedding or Bar Mitzvah. It would have taken only a few moments prior to the service to check and rectify any issues. I wanted to know about this ladies life, her experiences and the positive impact she had on her family and the community but I, along with many others, were deprived. Along with not being able to hear them, there was a significant demographic who would not have either understood the meaning of the service or the language. There was a feeble attempt at performing part of the service in English but it fell short of providing any real value.
Well the priest isn’t selling anything, what does he care who can hear or understand I hear you say…..WRONG. As there is competition in every area of life as there is in religion. As a youngster I attended church with my mother, albeit not overly willingly, but as I got older, my attendance was limited to obligatory events such as weddings, christenings and funerals because I could neither hear most of the time not could I understand. All community organisations struggle for members which ultimately drives income necessary for their ongoing survival. The next time you’re presenting anywhere, make sure your audience can not only hear you but can understand the language and the context.
If you are part of any organisation, be it a commercial entity or a not for profit it’s fair to say you have an element of passion. As such you have an obligation to not only yourself but to the organisation and maybe look at taking on a leadership role. One of the pre requisites of leadership is effective public speaking. You need to be able to communicate your message effectively. Your audience, whether its 2 or 200 need to be able to clearly hear, understand and be sold on your message so they ultimately take the required action in your message. Effective public speaking is crucial to you and your organisations success. I always say, “The quality of your communication will ultimately determine the level of your success”. One of the best ways to improve your communication is having efficient public speaking skills.
Effective public speaking skills increases your confidence, which makes you more persuasive and influential. Whilst the priests at the funeral were not there to influence or persuade as the primary objective, they missed an opportunity to influence and persuade potential parishioners of the value and the overall experience they are able to provide at that church. How many times have you attended a service at either a church or with a celebrant and either yourself or others have passed comments on the experience. “That priest performed a lovely service” or “I highly recommend this particular celebrant”.
The funeral reminded me of the finality of our existence on this earth at this time. I’m not here to debate or discuss re incarnation or anyone’s religious beliefs be it Hindu, Muslim or Christian but there is no denying, when your dead in this life, your dead. We all have things we say “were gunna do” or “I must get around to …” We also have relationships which we take for granted. We hold silly grudges and don’t talk to them because we are angry. If you only get one thing from this blog, make it this! Life is limited, longer for some than for others but never the less limited. Don’t keep putting off things which are important to you, challenge you to become a better person or challenge you improve professionally. Don’t regret what you’ve done but regret what you haven’t done. Life is too short to pile up woulda, coulda and shouldas and who do you think would have the greatest clarity on life? The ones nearing the end of theirs. If you want to know about regret, I strongly suggest you read “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying” by Bronnie Ware. Make sure you have ample tissues or hankies because if this book does not draw tears you either need to check your pulse or there is a heart missing! Ware spent many years caring for those facing their own mortality. When she questioned the dying about any regrets they had or anything they would have done differently, she found common themes surface repeatedly. In no particular order the top 5 were I wish:
As always, I look forward to your comments.
My name is Con and I am The Con Versationalist
Until next week, bye for now.
But I’m JUST the MC
Just before COVID-19, I attended a small, but significant event held by a major charity. It was significant because amongst the speakers and attendees was the CEO, The Head of Marketing, a number of senior staff and very importantly the State Government Minister responsible for this area. They had done some things really well. A stage had been arranged along with good quality PA equipment which had been checked and was in working order and they had a clear running sheet for the evening. Nice canapés along with lovely, quality refreshments were on offer in a comfortable area with seating as required. Pretty good so far……. Sadly that’s where it ended! Now, I want to be clear about this, the purpose of this article is not to bag the charity or any of the participants and hence why no names will be mentioned. The purpose is to inform and prepare any of the readers should they be required to fill the role of an MC or arrange any such event.
What went wrong and what should have happened.
I have no political affiliations and politicians in general aren’t on my Christmas card list, that said, if they are invited to attend your event, they should be respected and extended courtesy. So, the minister in question turns up about 15 minutes late, no big deal but then she is left standing there with no allocated seat, in fact no seat at all! There she was, leaning on the wall, looking somewhat awkward. It was only after 10 minutes or so that someone actually offered her a seat. There should have been a designated seat for her which should have been identified.
The MC got things underway and apart from being nervous and the common splattering’s of Um’s and Ah’s, she did ok. Ill only mention this once as an aside, she wasn’t alone in the Um stakes! I would expect a CEO of any major organisation, corporate or NFP to not add um’s and ah’s after every sentence. Back to the main point. There was some good humour to entertain and I though she was going well. She introduced the minister as the next speaker and invited her to the stage and that’s when the wheels fell off!! As the minister approached, the MC walked off the stage. She should have waited for the minister to arrive at the lectern, shake hands whilst smiling and maintaining eye contact THEN walk off the stage. Why is this important? For the guest, it makes them feel welcome and comfortable and extends them the courtesy and respect they deserve. For goodness sake, we are talking about a member of parliament in this example. For you as the MC, it indicates YOU are in control of the proceedings and builds connection and report with your audience. Very import
When the minister finished, as the MC was not close by and given she wasn’t greeted at the beginning, the minister just walked of the stage…..awkward. As the MC, you need to be close by and again shake hands, quietly thank her and as she is walking off the stage, publicly acknowledge her. This, unfortunately was standard fare for the entire evening.
There were a number of awards to be handed out but as names were called out come recipients were not present. So you have the MC, CEO and MP on stage waiting for the named recipient to come on stage but it doesn’t happen. A bit uncomfortable to say the least. The fact this happened multiple times and the reasons the recipients were not present is not important for this conversation but as MC, you need to check and make sure. If they aren’t present, after announcing them as the winner you can seamlessly go on to “unfortunately Mary can’t be here this evening”. Again, this indicates confidence and authority. You know exactly what’s going on and everything is under control.
The role of MC obviously varies with the different type of events ranging from presentation ceremonies to weddings etc., but in all you need to demonstrate you have authority and control.
So let me summarise some of the key items for your next role as an organiser or MC at an event.
The role of MC is important so attending to above mentioned items will make for a more professional, organised event. Of course to really excel, get yourself some coaching or do a course. If it’s a special occasion like a wedding, there is no second chance. If its work, make an outstanding impression to you bosses and work colleagues. Work on your eye contact, body language, stage craft and your tonality to make a real impression and take your presenting to a whole new level. You just don’t know what opportunities will open up.
As always we look forward to your comments and feedback.
My name is Con and I am The Con Versationalist.
Until next time, Bye for now.
Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You…
If you were born prior to the early 60’s and had any interest in music, you most likely remember the great Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons song “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You”. For those of you too young to know or too old to remember, the first 2 lines are
“You're just too good to be true
I can't take my eyes off you”
We are also familiar with the saying “The eyes are the window to the soul”. The eyes reveal so much about what we’re thinking and depending on the eye contact or lack thereof, will produce wide and varied results in the social interactions.
For a television show, Body Language experts, Allan and Barbara Pease conducted an experiment using a dating agency. A selected number of men were told that their next date was well matched to them and that they should expect a successful date. However each man was told that his date had suffered an injury to one eye as a child and that she was very sensitive about it because the eye didn’t track properly. They were told we weren’t sure which eye it was but if they looked closely enough they would be able to pick it. Each woman was told the same story about her date and that if she too looked closely she would be able to spot the slow eye. On their dates the couples spent the evening gazing into each other’s eyes searching in vain for the “problem eye”
The outcome was that each couple reported high levels of intimacy and romance on their dates and the likelihood of the couple meeting again for a second date was 200% higher than the agency average!
As a speaker, it’s important to maintain good eye contact with your audience. This builds credibility and trust with our audience. The inability to make and maintain good eye contact with an audience indicates nerves, lack of confidence, lack of knowledge of the particular subject, withholding information or downright lying. In small groups it’s easy to make eye contact will all individuals. A different technique is required in larger groups. Standing back further and selecting points or individuals to look at gives the appearance your making eye contact with a larger group in that area.
We have all heard “Don’t trust them if they can’t look you in the eye” be wary, skilled, regular liars will have good eye contact. You’ll need to look for other signs to confirm your belief they are lying such as voice change and pupil dilation. Extended blinking can also be an indication of lying as well.
I’m sure we all have been at an event and met someone for the first time and you’re hoping you never meet them again and can’t wait to get away! Darting eyes from side to side, to the uninformed can look as if a person is scoping the activity of the room. However, it is in fact the brain searching for escape routes revealing a person’s insecurity about the situation. Most people are aware that looking away indicates a lack of interest in the other person and identifies our desire to run, we engage in more eye contact with the boring individual and to feign interest use a tight lipped smile. This is the same behaviour engaged by liars to appear convincing.
Where do you look? Building rapport.
Michael Argyle, a pioneer of social psychology and non-verbal communication found that when person A like person B, he will look at him a lot. This causes B to think A likes him so B will like A in return. In other words, in most cultures, to build a good rapport with another person, your gaze should meet theirs 60 to 70% of the time. This will also cause them to begin to like you. It’s not surprising, then that the nervous timid person who meets our gaze less than 30% of the time is rarely trusted. This is also why wearing dark tinted glasses in negotiations should be avoided as they make others feel your either staring at them or avoiding eye contact.
As I mentioned in last week’s blog, body language can be culturally determined, so please, don’t assume that a particular gestures meaning in the western culture is the same in others!
Until next time…keep your eyes open!
My name is Con and I am The Con Versationalist
Bye for now.
TALK TO ANYONE, ANYTIME.
Do you ever feel awkward during conversations with work colleagues, clients or even acquaintances and family? Do you get a little anxious when you’re thinking about a party or a networking event that you really should be attending? Do you have a lack of confidence in these situations?
Well, don’t panic. Firstly, you are no orphan, many people feel uncomfortable while trying to form a connection but importantly there are some simple strategies to help you talk to anyone at any time.
Ask Meaningful Questions.
Sometimes the other person may be feeling exactly the same way. See if you can draw out conversation by asking questions that are open ended i.e. they require more than a yes or no answer. Instead of asking “Did you enjoy your recent trip?” try “Tell me about the best parts of your trip you recently took”. Also, ask them what they think about a topic or recent event.
Be Sincere in Your Interest in the Other Person.
Dale Carnegie said it well. “It’s much easier to become interested in others than it is to convince them to be interested in you.” When you’re engaged in conversation, be present, don’t be thinking about what chores you have to do or where else you need to be. Show a genuine interest in the other person and invariably, they’ll reciprocate.
If you’re about meet someone in particular, whether it’s a potential new client or an important networking connection, doing some research on that person will be extremely beneficial. Finding out their interests, likes and dislikes gives you plenty to talk about and at the same time topics to avoid! Research is so easy nowadays with social media. Linked In is a great tool as is Facebook. By the way, I’m not advocating on line stalking!!!
The saying goes, “It’s nice to be nice.” There is always a reason to say something nice, and no better way to attract the undivided attention of someone than to issue a genuine, flattering remark. It’s not hard to find something to compliment. Try appearance, clothes, hair or home just as a few suggestions.
This is one of my favourites. I read once, “You were given two ears and one mouth, use them in those proportions.” Listening is a real skill and a big part of successful communication is responding appropriately so how can you do that if you didn’t hear the previous comment? Another benefit to listening more than talking is you’ll probably learn something. After all, you already know what you know. “Whatever your grade or position, if you know how and when to speak, and when to remain silent, your chances of real success are proportionally increased”. Great words from Ralph C.Smedley.
Keep Up to Date With Current Events and Issues.
When it comes to one on one communication, it is better to know a little about a lot of things rather than a lot about one or two things. In fact, it’s often that people who have just one area of expertise and interest are the dullest conversationalists.
It’s ok to have some friendly banter and discussions but you need to avoid these turning nasty. Everyone is entitled to their view, you don’t have to agree with them. It’s generally a good rule to stay away from historically volatile subjects typically religion and politics. “I don’t agree with you but I’ll defend till death, your right to say it”. Evelyn Beatrice Hall. Also a great tool in avoiding debates is eliminate using but. But is one of the most powerful words in the English language. It completely negates everything the user said previously. “He is a good golfer but...” What you’re really saying he isn’t a good golfer at all! Use the more gentle and instead. “He is a good golfer and if he spent more time on the practice green he could be a great golfer”.
Use Humour and Smile
There is nothing more inviting than a warm, genuine smile. Smile when you meet and greet a person and it gets the interaction of to a great start. A natural, friendly smile will lighten up a conversation and make the other person feel comfortable, relaxed and so more likely to converse in an open and authentic way. Humour goes a long way, tasteful humour that is! Funny brief stories are a great way to build rapport. Potentially offensive and distasteful jokes you heard at a bucks party should be avoided as this could kill the conversation on the spot.
It’s been said your network equals your net worth. In context of this article, net worth is more than money. It represents experiences and human connection. In my younger years, I avoided uncomfortable situations like the plague! I refused to go events and parties either on my or where I didn’t know someone that would be there. I made a choice to challenge myself and step out of my comfort zone and using these really simple hints changed my life.
I hope they have a positive impact on yours.
We look forward to your comments, feedback and any questions you may have to help you become not only a better conversationalist but a better speaker and communicator.
Until next week, my name is Con and I am The Con Versationalist.
PEEK A BOO…..I CAN SEE YOU!
For those who are actively looking for work as a result of recently losing their jobs, looking for a career change or looking for a job which offers promotion within their chosen field, one thing is common……all interviews are currently conducted via an online medium such as Zoom and unless you turn off your camera, surprise, surprise, they can see you! Just like in a face to face interview, you are being judged and assessed for your suitability for a role based on a number of professional and personal criteria and like it or not, humans are wired for bias.
So why then do people attend like they and the background are invisible? I hear stories of people attending in their active wear or looking like they have just woken up, the house looking like a pigsty and worse. The labour market is more competitive than ever before and as such, you need to make sure you control ALL the things you can control in your environment. You need to create the mentality that the interview is being conducted on YOUR home ground.
I’m not going to go into interview prepping, I’ll be speaking to a professional on my “A Cuppa with The Con Versationalist” program in the coming days but here are a few tips to make sure you make a good impression and improve your success rate.
Find a Quiet Spot
You want to be able to focus on the interview and the questions being asked so having a quiet spot is important. You don’t want the TV or stereo blaring in the background. Bad enough if you don’t hear the question but worse if you miss hear and answer the wrong question!
Present for your Zoom interview the same way you would attend a face to face interview. Make sure your hair is brushed, combed or however you wear it and ladies, if you would normally wear make up to an interview, wear if for this.
It amazes me how many people dismiss the value and importance of body language in an online interview. The fact is, it’s vital you use appropriate eye contact to create trust and build rapport. Here is a pro tip. Stand up. If possible, set up your device so you can stand up. The object is not so they can see you in body length, in fact you still only want to be seen as sitting but standing in your power pose increases your confidence by up to 25%. The body produces endorphins, serotonin and more.
Check the Lighting
The interviewer wants to get to know you on many levels. They are looking to see who the real you is. Make sure the lighting provides an accurate reflection. You don’t want to look like you’re in a dudgeon and you also don’t want the glare to blind them.
What’s In the Room?
So you have gone to the trouble to dress up, good lighting, remember the interviewer can see what’s behind you! Make sure the lounge room hasn’t got the empty pizza boxes and wine bottles strewn all over the room from last night’s party. If the quiet spot is your bedroom, tidy up your room. Make the bed and hang up the last 10 outfits that are scattered on the bed and floor. Here is another pro tip. Check your wall art. In a world of political correctness gone mad, what you find funny or artistic, someone may find down right offensive.
Make Sure the Other Members of the House Know.
You don’t want you house mate or the kids barging in during your interview. If you have little ones, get them looked after. Take the necessary steps to make sure you are not interrupted.
Do a Test Run
Your prospective employer will advise you of the particular platform they will be using to conduct the interview. Make sure you are familiar with that platform. It would be catastrophic if you could not connect and missed your opportunity. Practice with a friend or family member to make sure the lighting is right and you have the view that best suits you. Be professional. Preparation is key.
All the best with you interview and as always, I look forward to your feedback and comments.
Until next week, my name is Con and I am The Con Versationalist.
I’M MOVING ON
There is a saying which goes “It is what it is”. Some people use it as kind of a mantra to accept the situation, understanding they can’t change the situation but they can change their response and actions. Others loath it!
I’m pleased to report that I am part of the first group, mind you, it took me some time to get there. When I was younger, I would get consumed by the moment and overwhelmed with self-pity….. I felt so trapped. Having become involved with personal development for nearly 10 years, I learnt that the situation was not happening to me but indeed happening for me. There was a lesson in there somewhere, enter COVID-19.
We are barely a month into a level of enforced isolation never before seen in my lifetime. Businesses closed, mass unemployment and emotional stress off the charts. Much has been written and said about the virus, its origins and the endless amount of conspiracy theories but it doesn’t matter what your view is, it is what it is. As individuals, we can’t change the situation. We can certainly do our part to reduce the spread and hopefully get back to normal (whatever that will look like) sooner rather than later, but what we can do and what we have control over are our actions and thoughts in light of the circumstances.
To that end, I’m moving on! The last few weeks, my content has been about and revolved around the COVID-19 crisis we are all facing. It’s all been positive content regularly emphasising that this crisis WILL end, we don’t know when, but it will end. So for me now, my content will get back to my purpose and core message, and that is that improved communication skills will improve every area of your life. That’s not to say I’ll be like the ostrich with my head in the sand but I want and need to get back to delivering content that provides value for my readers and viewers for now and for later.
For now? I hear you say. Yes, for now!
And so, my valued reader, I’m moving on but all for the better. I hope you enjoy my content, tips and hints to help you become a better speaker, presenter and communicator for you, your loved ones, your friends and your future employer or business venture you undertake
As always, I value your comments and feedback,
My name is Con and I am The Con Versationalist.
DON’T EVER CHALLENGE “WORSE”
Many years ago, a now infamous comedian recorded a live performance at a Las Vegas Casino and without a doubt, it was one of the funniest things I have ever heard. His use of self-deprecating humour combined with his fantastic story telling skills made for entertainment on a grand scale. In one routine, he recites his experience at the roulette wheel and after yet another losing spin, in absolute frustration he cries “things can’t get any worse!” to which “Worse” replies, “don’t ever challenge worse!” and indeed things DID get worse for him.
We are currently experiencing, what is being termed, a once in a generational crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the global economy to its knees and here in Australia, we have not been spared the effects. We are seeing business closures and unemployment on a mass scale likened to the great depression. Add to the financial and economic cost is the emotional strain. We were asked, now ordered to stay home to control and eliminate the spread. People feel isolation and depression not being able to socialise with friends and loved ones and whilst we are encouraged to seek the “safety” of our homes, the spectre of domestic violence raises its ugly head and for some, home is not safe.
We are pummelled with details, statistics and images of this global horror from every angle and from every medium and it’s fair to say, things will get worse before they get better. Ultimately, it is our responsibility to filter the information, limit the intake and create some perspective with what is going on in the world. The reality is, no matter how “bad” we see things, there is ALWAYS a worse version. I’m an optimist by nature and so my hope for the readers of this post is to instil some positivity and create some perspective.
There Is Help
We really need to go polar opposite and consider and be grateful for what we do have, which for the majority, prior to this, we took for granted. A roof over our heads, food only the table and our health just to mention the obvious. Between the government, ATO and financial institutions, there is help on an unprecedented scale. Now I know some readers will be very cynical about that but each to their own. In my “A Cuppa with The Con Versationalist” interviews, I have learnt that many of the rules and means testing for obtaining assistance have either changed or been relaxed so more people can qualify. I urge you, don’t just assume you don’t qualify….ASK THE QUESTION. Put pride and ego aside. It would be awful finding out down the track that you could have qualified for assistance.
Being Self Isolated Doesn’t Mean You Can’t be Connected.
We understand why we have to self-isolate but we don’t have to disconnect. Technology gives us infinite ways to stay in touch and connect with our friends and loved ones even if it’s just a good old fashioned phone call. Humans crave contact, it’s in our biology. Why do you think solitary confinement in prisons is considered such a harsh penalty? You don’t have to be alone.
Look At All The Spare Time!
One of the most common excuses is “I don’t have time”. Guess what? Can’t use that excuse now! For some, they have more time than they know with to do with. While we have no idea when this situation will end, one thing is for sure….It WILL end. The question then is, how are you using this precious commodity which currently seems to be in such abundance? Are you learning a new skill or undertaking some online course? It’s fair to say the labour market will be more competitive than ever. How will you stand out? Are you building stronger connections and enhancing your relationships at home i.e. your parents, spouse, partner or significant other and your children.
The choice is ours on how we see things and the label we attach to them be it good or bad. As much as some hate the saying, it is what it is. Don’t be like the comedian, don’t ever challenge “worse” because things can always be worse….much, much worse.
As always, I look forward to your comments and feedback.
Until next week, stay safe, stay positive and stay connected.
My name is Con and I am The Con Versationalist
Chaos In Review
There is no doubt the current pandemic is creating havoc in every aspect of our lives. Hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs literally overnight, thousands of small businesses closing, some sadly forever and an enormous strain on the health system. There is fear, pain and suffering everywhere we look.
No one has any idea how long this will go on for. Depending on what you hear or read, it could be anywhere from 3 months to maybe a year or more but the important thing is IT WILL END! This is not the end of humanity and civilization. There will no doubt be some major changes at the other end but the human race will survive. Will all this be in vain or can we all learn something from this experience, be it about business or indeed ourselves. I’d like to share my thoughts with you.
The Majority of People Are Good
The ridiculous and unnecessary hoarding has been widely reported. It has put unprecedented pressure on the supply chain and the most vulnerable of our community have been unable to buy essential items. This is created by a minority in the community. The majority of people are good and care. The amount of support I have seen on line is phenomenal. From other business owners providing support and information on line, people setting up support groups and grocery stands where you can take what you need or exchange items with no questions asked. I’ve not seen anything like this ever.
There is Always Something You Can Do or Learn
It took a few days for me to process what was going on and how life and business as I knew it was changing and fast. All face to face contact and workshops cancelled. In the back of my mind I always knew I needed to have digital product and more on line events. I have now been forced into doing what I always knew I needed to do. How can you diversify? I read about a chain of hotels in Sydney that started selling essential goods. Think outside the square and discount NOTHING. It’s forced me to learn a new skills like Zoom. The great Les Brown said “It is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to get an opportunity and not be prepared” What can you do to prepare for the opportunities on the other side.
If you are not part of a Mastermind group or some kind of network support group, you should be! What I also found concerning is that some are abandoning these as a cost cutting measure. This is the time we need support and guidance. I urge you to reconsider. As a collective, we will get through this.
Be More Visible, Not Less
We all have value and useful information to share and we need to share more of it and more often. We will come out the other side and when that does happen the people and businesses that continued to be top of consumers mind will reap the rewards. Don’t slow down, ramp it up. Social media costs nothing but your time.
Don’t Be Embarrassed to Ask For Help
We are usually quick to “bank and government bash” and I have sure been guilty of that in the past but right now the level of assistance is unprecedented. With loan repayments able to be put on hold and business grants and loans just to mention a couple, help is available. Quick disclaimer: This is not financial advice. Don’t assume you don’t qualify. Speak to your financial institution, accountant or financial advisor or go on line.
Don’t Go Out Unless You Have To
The sooner we get the flattening of the line the sooner our lives will get back to normal. We need to practice social distancing and washing our hands regularly. This virus is super contagious and whilst for the majority of the population it is not fatal it can be for the elderly and people with pre-existing health conditions.
We are definitely in unchartered waters and there will be new challenges every day but I am a firm believer that this situation will create enormous opportunities.
Good luck and stay safe.
Until next week, my name is Con and I am “The Con Versationalist”
How Lucky Are You?
Many years ago, the great golfer, Gary Player, was being interviewed by a journalist after an outstanding round. “Great round Gary, certainly had your fair share of luck out there today”. After a brief moment of thought and contemplation, Gary replied “Yeah… I did, but you know it seems the more I practice and the harder I work, the luckier I get”. Clearly a tongue in cheek, subtle back hander to the journalist for the mere implication that luck had anything to do with his score and without a brief mention or acknowledgement of the enormous amount of work and the countless hours of practice Gary had put into his craft. Typically, “luck” is thrown around cheaply in describing someone’s outstanding achievement or success in all forms of endeavour with little or no mention of the countless hours on the practice court or years of study to attain that success. The general public only see the tip of the iceberg, the game winning shot or the billion dollar company float.
Communication and Public Speaking is no different to sport or other professional endeavours. We all must continue to practice and improve our craft. Through my courses and coaching I see some wonderful transformations, but here’s the kicker, if you don’t continue to work and build on the skills you have learnt, they’ll quickly leave you. We’ve all heard the phrase “Use it or lose it”. This applies to all areas.
I strongly encourage our students to join an amazing, global organisation called Toastmasters International. Founded in the 1940’s in the USA, Toastmasters has grown and spread into most countries and cities in the world. With regular meetings, it provides an educational and leadership program for members to develop and build on existing skills. I joined Toastmasters International years ago to improve my technical skills. I had no issue with fear or speaking to groups, but I recognised my skills needed work to help me progress to the level I needed to be at in order to deliver programmes and workshops within the corporate sector at the level which was expected.
I see such a diverse demographic at toastmasters. All age groups, from PHD students who have to deliver a thesis, managers and executives from all levels to new international residents with English as their second language and the really cool thing is, I ALWAYS learn something from the other participants, all of them. The American motivational / inspirational speaker, T Harv Ecker said you’re never too old to learn and never too young to teach. This certainly applies!
Let’s get back to Gary and “luck”. Luck has been describe as where preparation meets opportunity. My view is winning a lottery is luck however kicking the winning goal, making the buzzer beating basket or building a successful business is so far removed from luck it’s not funny. In most cases it years of practice, hard work and MANY disappointments along the way. The great Les Brown said “It is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than have an opportunity and not be prepared”. Are you prepared or preparing? Why do I need to be able to speak in public you ask? Well, firstly let’s clarify the term “public speaking”.
There is a misconception in the broader community that speaking in public is standing on a stage with a microphone and speaking to hundreds of people. Whilst that is indeed an aspect of it, Public Speaking at its core is Communication. It’s all about your ability to adequately and clearly convey your message. Ask a girl out on a date, ask your boss for a pay rise, suggest an idea at a managers meeting, tell people about your business and so on……get the point? What’s the likely hood you’ll get your pay rise if you can’t articulate and justify why you deserve it or you show nerves and can’t manage eye contact? None and nought!
So, while you may not be looking to ask for a pay rise or even currently attend managers meetings, it’s inevitable that one day you will. Will you be prepared or will you be unprepared and blind, metaphorically speaking? Imagine this, your manger happens to be sick when an extra ordinary meeting is called with particular relevance to a project your department is working on and as his number 2, you’re called in to brief the other mangers………AHHHH!!!! Oh, if only I had been prepared! why didn’t they give me more notice, I can’t do this etc. etc. Effective public speaking and having adequate public speaking skills is the difference between success and failure and it looks like your “lucky” break has just been flushed and sadly for you, these “lucky “breaks seem to be few and far between.
I’ve attended many personal development and educational seminars over the years and in most cases, the speaker or facilitator would always remind us that the real seminar started when we got home. In other words, we had learnt all the skills from listening and via some of the practical sessions but the real stuff was putting it all into practise in our business and lives and the importance of practice! I can show you how to putt but if you don’t practice you’ll never improve and your putting ability will be somewhere between mine and zero!
Courses are designed to give you the framework and foundation but constant and continual improvement starts and ends with you.
Until next week, good luck and bye for now.
My name is Con and I am “The Con Versationalist”
Con is an accomplished and articulate speaker and presenter with over 25 years of high level sales experience.