Are Your Poor Presentation Skills Costing You Money?

Imagine two people applying for a promotion. Both are equally qualified. But, the first person is a great public speaker. They have taken courses on public speaking. They have given presentations at staff meetings. They learned how to think quickly on their feet. The second person is an average presenter, at best.

Which person will get the promotion?

More importantly, would you rather be the great speaker who gets the promotion and more money? Or, the one who misses out due to their poor speaking skills?

So, how do you improve your public speaking skills?

The first step is to attend a presentations skills workshop. But, going to a presentation skills course is like going to the gym ONCE. In other words, a one-time workout will not make a long-term change. To make a permanent difference, you need to practice your new skills after the workshop.

Here is how to practice your speaking skills:

1) Find opportunities to use your presentation skills:

Join Toastmasters if you need an environment to practice. I was a member of Toastmasters for several years. It helped me develop my skills. I also enjoyed interacting with other business people in a fun environment.

You can also practice by volunteering for community groups or to speak at public schools. They are always looking for people to talk about career and life issues. You can contact your local school board for more information.

2) Ask for feedback:

Get a friend or co-worker to observe your speech. Ask them, “What did you like about my speech?” and “What would you suggest I do differently during my NEXT presentation?”

Notice you are asking for suggestions for your NEXT presentation. If you ask, “What is wrong with this presentation?” you are likely to get demoralizing feedback. By asking what to do differently for the next one, you will get constructive feedback about how to improve.

3) Videotape yourself giving a speech:

I know watching yourself on tape is not the easiest thing in the world. (After all, I swear I look taller and younger in real life!) But, watching yourself on video is the best way to observe your voice, gestures, and interaction with the audience.

4) Get a professional coach:

Everyone needs a mentor. They can spot details you would otherwise miss. For example, an executive hired me as a their speech coach. During his speech, I noticed he was only making eye contact with the right side of the room. People sitting on the left side of the room felt ignored. So, I taught him how to make eye contact with all parts of the room.

5) Reward yourself for good behavior:

There is an old adage: “What gets rewarded, gets repeated.” We are too tough on ourselves – especially with public speaking. Public speaking is the number one fear for most people. So, you deserve a pat on the back just for attempting a presentation! Treat yourself to your favorite dessert or go for a nice walk as a reward for practicing your new speaking skills.

It takes weeks to ingrain a new habit. During that time, slip-ups and growing pains can occur. Be patient. Silence that nagging inner voice that expects you to be perfect. Motivational speaker Les Brown has a great saying, “Anything worth doing well, is worth doing poorly at first.”

So, rehearse your new presentation skills. Practice your skills so next time, YOU are the great speaker who gets the promotion and the raise!

© 2008 Reflective Keynotes Inc., Toronto, Canada

How To Develop Great Presentation Skills – Visualization – Part 1

To become a great presenter, one must learn the technique of visualization. The thought process which is concerned with seeing yourself in your mind’s eye performing at your optimum level is known as visualization. The most important aspect of this is “mental practice”. Mental practice involves going over and over in your head some important event and combining it with as many senses as you can, especially mental imagery. Professional sports people of all types use it to keep their minds focused on critical competitions, tournaments, and potential record breaking opportunities, and away from inner tension, rivalries, possible failure, and accidents. It works well in any area of your life when you want to raise yourself up to your maximum potential.

Professional mental practice techniques can be internally or externally focused. When you focus externally you imagine being in an audience watching yourself perform. When you focus internally, as described previously, you place yourself in the imagined event and become the performer rather than the audience. When you start practicing this technique you can chose to either focus method.

Professional mental practice can build a total feeling of invincibility, change your attitude and boost your confidence.

External Mental Practice

The best and probably the most effective mental practice technique is called “top performance mental practice”. To start with, sports people compile a list of attributes they associate with top performance in their own particular field. Top performance for a professional golfer, for instance, would probably include perfect swing, accurate putting, terrific concentration as well as mental focus, self confident attitude and a feeling of being totally ready to play.

For you, the upcoming great presenter, it would no doubt include upright and confident body language, a sincere authoritative and powerful voice, terrific mastery of your subject, a self confident attitude and feeling of totally “rehearsed” and ready to go.

Now you need to compose a very detailed imaginary picture in your head, Thin back to a moment in your own history when you actually, despite all your prior misgivings, did well at a presentation or meeting. If you really can’t recall such an occasion, make it up! Invent how you think such a presentation would have been! Remember, your subconscious mind does not know the difference between real and imagined events. So go ahead and imagine something terrific! The visualization process requires reflecting on this real or imagined top performance, particularly the characteristics and behaviours which make it your best performance.

I will give you detailed instructions on how to embark on external mental practice in the next article. I would also discuss Internal Mental Techniques in subsequent articles.

Some Chinese Negotiation Tactics That Could Help Your Business

Well you have done some research and have decided that the Chinese market is one you want to enter with your business concept. There are some things you should do in order to prepare for your first meeting with your Chinese clients. Knowing certain Chinese negotiation tactics can really help you in your dealings with people from China. There are different forms of business meeting etiquette that you will want to make sure you have knowledge of before entering into any formal negotiation. Why is this? There are certain China business practices that if you do not know, you can come off like you are insulting potential business partners which is never a good thing. If you take the time to learn these Chinese negotiation tactics it can really give you a higher chance of success in doing business.

First and foremost, in order to achieve maximum business meeting etiquette you will want to enlist the services of some form of interpreter. It is assumed that you do not know the Chinese language which could definitely lead to things being misinterpreted or misunderstood. You want to meet with your interpreter before to not only get on the same page with them, but to go over any kind of relevant China business practices that you should be made aware of before the meeting. He will also be able to let you know of any particular industry jargon or work terms that are commonly used in the Chinese market.

Remember that it might be so that you feel there is not much progress made in your first meeting with a Chinese business professional. Do not worry because this is not abnormal in any way. Some common China business practices include group decision-making that will involve the people you are negotiating with running things by their superiors. In other words they will not rush to give you a concrete answer for anything until that had the time to run it by their bosses. Add to that that is a very important staple to the Chinese business world to develop relationships over time, this is why your business meeting etiquette and all the little things you do can have a severe impact on the success or failure of your potential partnership.

If you are expecting to visit your Chinese counterpart only wants to secure a deal you will probably be disappointed. The one very important things remember throughout the process is to not rush your potential partners. This is simply not how they do business in China and it will not be an effective Chinese negotiation tactic that you want to resort to. You’re bargaining power will be resorted to nothing if you fail to comply with a very specific China business practices that are laid out for you.

Just like if someone from another country came to negotiating yours there are certain things they would need to know about your culture to get up to speed. This is all we need to practice good Chinese negotiation tactics. Your business partners will appreciate that not only do you have an interpreter, but you have trying to learn their culture to achieve the best deal possible for both sides. Remember to rely heavily on that interpreter as they can really help you avoid some huge pitfalls in your negotiations. Good luck in entering your new market and you will soon find that if navigated correctly the Chinese market is a wonderful one.