Sunday, December 4, 2011

3 Presentation Tips from Model Communicators

Recently, I attended the TEDX Ranier conference at the University of WA. This is an offshoot program of TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design.) I’ve always recommended my clients to visit to view the excellent, inspiring speakers. Speakers are urged to put forth ideas that will change the world.

This program was no exception. Dr. Leroy Hood discussed human genome mapping and Scott Oki, who has funded 18 non-profits, talked about education reform. Adreen Mahmud described how he uses technology to solve social problems and Chrystie Hill gave examples of how libraries can build community. Daria Musk performed and sang with Google +Hangouts from all over the world - she’s had 200,000 in her web audience.

The delivery styles of these model communicators were all very different. Some were better speakers than others but they were all passionate and committed to their causes and no one was boring. How can you become a model communicator? If you wanted to become a master chef, you would seek out the best culinary school or watch videos to learn techniques or apprentice yourself to the best chef around. Perfect your speaking technique by studying the performance of the best communicators.

In general, they display the following behaviors:

1. They thoroughly plan and prepare their presentations. One client told me that he started being unusually nervous before and during his speeches. SInce he was a good speaker, he had skipped rehearsing or visiting the physical site as he felt he didn’t have to make that effort any more. However, the best communicators will tell you they step up their rehearsals. Once my client got back into a strong preparation routine, the nervousness diminished.

2. They start from where their audience is; not from where they are. Even though they are experts, they start from the same level of knowledge as their audience and find common ground.

3. They take responsibility for the audience’s ability to understand the topic. They have a gift for taking a large amount of material and breaking it down into smaller, cohesive units that can be easily understood, remembered and applied by the audience. You will go far if you can synthesize reams of data and edit it down into useful information.

More tips from model communicators next time. Meanwhile, visit , attend presentations of famous speakers who come to town and be more aware and learn from the best speakers in your organization.

Jan D'Arcy

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Steve Jobs, Presentations' Master

Steve Jobs will be remembered for his amazing ability to inform, persuade, and inspire an audience. He was able to comfortably walk around the stage and have an intimate, although dramatic, conversation with thousands. He came across as confident and competent because of his constant connection with his audience. How can you also gain freedom from a script?

Here’s some memorization techniques:

1.Clearly understand the information. Concentrate on communicating your ideas, rather than memorizing word for word. You can initially write out complete sentences, but edit down to key ideas on your notes' section of your slides. If your mind should go blank, you can pick up on the idea instead of searching for the specific words. Jobs used some notes, but very unobtrusively.

2.Choose a clear Organizational Pattern. For example, if you divide your presentation into Past, Present, and the Future, you can confidently move through the stages and end up in the future. If you state a Problem, you can move on to a Solution, then a Visualization Step and then an Action Step. A formula keeps you and your audience on track. Jobs always had a clear central theme, introduced his agenda of three-four main points and developed one key idea per slide that complemented his theme.

3.Memorize your beginning and ending statements. Write them out by hand. Putting pen to paper stimulates our brains and makes a more permanent connection in our brain.

4.Refer to storyboards. Print out 6-9 Power point slides on a single piece of paper and print as many sheets as you need. Keep these in sight so that you’re aware of the next slide and can compose meaningful transitions.

5.Rehearse. Jobs was a fanatic on rehearsing. Beware of spending so much time on content and visuals that you end up rehearsing in front of your audience. Schedule time to recite the information aloud as you walk up and down slowly and make gestures. This simple exercise will begin to integrate the speech into your body. Even if you stumble or forget, keep going and rehearse from beginning to end each time.

6.It’s useless to “cram.” Review, take a break, review and take another break to relax. The brain cannot absorb and store only so much information at a time. It takes more than six hours for memories to initially stabilize and be saved in long-term memory so that we can recall them later. It’s more beneficial for you to take a nap, a brisk walk, get a massage or listen to music than last minute cramming. Then you'll be in the mood to have fun and entertain, just like Jobs always did!

7. Study the Masters: Videos of Steve Jobs from 1983 to the present:

Photo by Matthew Yohe, SteveJobsMacbookAir.JPG. from Wikipedia Creative Commons

Book: The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience by Carmine Gallo

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bring Authenticity to Your Presentations

One of the best compliments a speaker can ever receive is, “You are authentic.”

When your audience feels you are real and genuine, they accept you and your message as reliable and trustworthy. If you’re authentic, you’re the author of your life’s script. You have processed information from your culture, from your parents, family and friends and from your work but they are not dictating your actions. You have chosen to be who you are but more importantly your actions need to demonstrate this truth.

A large company asked me to work with a member of their Speaker’s Bureau. The young man spoke at community events endorsing their services but was getting poor audience evaluations. When he gave his usual presentation, his body language and voice were not congruent with his words; he seemed very uncomfortable. I asked him how committed he was to the company goals. He was taken aback but then responded, “Not at all. I don’t believe in what they are doing.” I replied, “All of my coaching won’t make a bit of difference if you’re telling stories you don’t believe in. Your audience senses a lack of authenticity immediately. We need to find a company issue you do support or perhaps the Speaker’s Bureau isn’t a good fit.” He agreed. Later I heard he left the company.

Your voice, body language and words should all say the same thing. Otherwise, the audience gets mixed messages and end up confused. Being authentic starts from the inside. The closer you get to your identity, the more powerful you will be. And you will find that effective body language happens naturally. Are you fortunate enough to be speaking on subjects you are passionate about? Keep it simple. Don't try to imitate others.Guard against an increasing online virtual life because there is a tendency to construct artificial profiles that can overflow into reality.
Have faith in yourself just as you are. Do your homework. Believe what you have to say is important, useful to your audience and represents you. Mother Teresa fought against self-doubt on a daily basis. However, she was an authentic saint because her actions were always saintly.

In Margery Williams' The Velveteen Rabbit, the Skin Horse explains becoming real. "It doesn't happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

Just think, one of the few perks of growing old is that we will become much better speakers because we become more authentic!
Resources; The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Rosamund and Benjamin Zander. Mr. Zander is conductor of the Boston Philharmonic and Mrs. Zander is an executive coach and therapist. Inspiring book that invites us to become passionate communicators, leaders and performers.
Authentic? Get Real., NY Times, Sept 11,2011, Vol CLX, No55 535

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Twin Peaks Festival - Connect. Engage. Entertain.

This weekend I attended the 19th Twin Peaks Festival.I played Sylvia Horne in the series, married to Richard Beymer from West Side Story. You may recognize Ray Wise in the picture, who played Leland in the series and had a leading role in The Reaper. He will return to Mad Men in the fall. Sheryl Lee was Laura, murdered and wrapped in plastic. Sherilyn Fenn who played my daughter, Audrey, was also there. It was great to see everyone.

175 fans from all over the world, including Austria, Canada, Scotland, Australia, etc. I’m always amazed at how long fans have kept the series alive. Besides touring the actual sites where the program was filmed, attendees ate cherry pie and ordered a “damn good cup of coffee,” participated in a character costume contest, and watched Fire Walk With Me at the Seattle Art Museum.

The fan's favorite weekend activity is when they can ask a panel of actors questions about what happened during the filming. The five actors came up with lively, entertaining responses; it was a tribute to their improvisational abilities. It’s hard to remember the obscure details from over twenty years ago when you’ve played many other roles since then. But the enthusiastic audience cheered, laughed or clapped at every utterance. How nice it would be if we got that kind of reception and favorable response for our everyday presentations!

I’ve mentioned before that a speaker needs to adapt and embrace technology. This was certainly the case Saturday night. When I looked out into the audience, I wasn’t able to make much eye contact or even see faces. There had to be 175 iphones, ipads, cameras and video cameras trained on our every movement and recording every word! We all knew our responses would be posted immediately on multiple sites on the internet. It could be daunting for a business speaker but actors seem to relish being in the spotlight.

It was a fun time for all. Another time I will write about being directed by the brilliant David Lynch. He had much to teach his actors about connecting, engaging and entertaining audiences.

Check out the 2011 Twin Peaks panel at:

Friday, July 22, 2011

Make Yourself Indispensable!

Is anyone indispensable? Could your customers or company or someone in your personal life be unable to function without you? Probably not - but perception is reality and if someone else perceives that they can’t do without you, you are indispensable.

The explorer Admiral Robert Peary made his final assault to reach the North Pole in 1909. Four Inuit natives were to accompany him and carry the supplies. He could only take one other man with him. He chose Matthew Hensen, his black colleague, for this historical event. Why? Because Mr. Hensen had learned how to build igloos, he had learned how to repair dog sleds and most importantly, he had learned how to speak the Inuit language so he could communicate with the Inuits. Even more critically, he could communicate with the dogs, who only understood Inuit commands. He was truly indispensable.

You may be interviewing for a job or trying to hang onto a job, start a business or accelerate your career. Ask yourself:
1.What are your real strengths that can make you indispensable?
2.What are your customer’s goals? Your company’s goals?
3.What obstacles stand in their way of obtaining those goals?
4.How can your uniqueness minimize or eliminate those obstacles? How can you end up being a hero?
5.What innovative ideas, services or products will your customers or company need that they aren’t even aware of?

I believe the combination of a unique talent plus superior communication skills can make you indispensable in the coming years. You'll need to be comfortable with rapid change and march to a different drummer. You'll need to develop a special built-in radar and keep looking for and asking, what is next? Learn to absorb a great deal of information, synthesize this data and then extract only that which is relevant and of value. Then succinctly and effectively communicate this to others so you can bring your amazing ideas to life.

You can’t sell peanuts if you’re at the end of the parade. Step forward,create your own unique trend and lead the way!

“What another would have done as well as you, do not do it. What another would have said as well as you, do not say it. Be faithful to that which exists nowhere but in yourself- and thus make yourself indispensable.
...Andre Gide,1897

Monday, June 27, 2011

Increasing Confidence for Your Next Presentation

Marketing gurus will tell you to analyze your toughest competitors in order to get ahead. Who is your toughest competitor? Could it be yourself when you doubt your ideas, refuse to get out of your comfort zone or back away from risks that could be rewarding? Could you be running around fixing everything but the central core of the problem? The biggest obstacle is usually ourselves.

Yesterday I went to a luncheon held by a local Irish group. We sang Happy Birthday to a spirited 90 year-old woman. Her poise and self-assurance was evident as she stood and asked to say a few words. Her voice was surprisingly strong and articulate and carried well to the over hundred attendees in the restaurant. “I got to this stage in life,” she began, “by following two truths my parents passed on to me. The first thing they told me was ‘Be loyal to the royal within you.’ We forget that all of us are very special. But that belief can carry you through many challenges.

The second rule was to ‘Subtract your wants from your needs.’ I was in the convent for 35 years but left because my two brothers came back from Viet Nam and needed to be taken care of. I’ve paid my way every step of my life because I know the difference between my wants and needs. I still do not need anyone to take care of me. You can also accomplish significant things if you follow my parent’s advice.”

Terrence Howard was studying chemical engineering at Pratt Institute when he was discovered on the street and began acting on television. Those roles led to film roles and he has become a well-respected actor by movie audiences and critics. Oprah interviewed him on her show after his Oscar nominated role in Crash. She asked him what made the difference in escalating his career. Howard replied, “I got out of my own way. This is my life,” he continued, “I’m going to pick up the crown and wear it.”

You can cultivate the same attitude. When you acknowledge your value, your voice and body language project that confidence. When you appreciate your experience and expertise, fears are minimized and you can make those risky but advantageous choices. Before your next interview or presentation, say to yourself, “I’m a King (or Queen) and I own this room!” Your presence is enough. Be loyal to the royal within you!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Lesson in Persuasion from the Norfolk Prison Debate Team

Last year I received a call from Adam Bright who asked me if I’d tell him about the time I spent at Norfolk prison outside of Boston. Norfolk Prison started a debate team in the 1930’s and at first debated among themselves. Then they became more selective and competitive and began to invite formidable college debate teams every few weeks to the prison. Princeton, Yale, West Point, MIT, and Harvard were worthy opponents but by 1966, Norfolk had won 144 times and only lost 8 times.

It’s been a long time since my sophomore year at Emerson College when Professor Haig der Maderosian asked me to debate a murderer and an accused rapist on the morality of rock ‘n roll. I thought the professor was out of his mind! But eventually he convinced me and another 18 yr-old coed, Cindy Whalen, that it would sharpen our skills for upcoming college tournaments.

We began weeks of research and visited the prison a couple of times before the actual debate to size up the situation. At the entry-way, it was very unnerving to have the huge gate clang shut behind us and look up to see two guards with rifles. We ate dinner with the prisoners and chatted as if this were a regular Saturday night out. I never saw any women prisoners and Cindy and I dressed as modestly as possible.

Obviously, the prisoners had a lot of time to spend in their well-stocked library which provided them with national newspapers, government publications and up-to-date cultural, political and scientific books and magazines. (Human rights activist Malcolm X spent 2 yrs at Norfolk. He studied and joined the debate team which laid the groundwork on his path to becoming an eloquent speaker. )
Over the years, the three-person panel of judges for the debates included lawyers, judges, priests, professors and respected citizens. Both teams would be judged on delivery skills, evidence, and the ability to persuade. The night of the debate, I thought Cindy and I did rather well showing evidence of the bad influence rock and roll music and lyrics had on young people. Unfortunately, as Cindy and I smashed records on stage, hundreds of prisoners started singing all the dirty lyrics and drowned us out. The prison debaters were smart and ridiculed our statistics. They had done their homework and cited references I had never heard of and couldn’t refute. We lost and it was obvious the clapping, stomping hall of prisoners approved the decision.

This unforgettable experience was widely publicized and it was the only time I made Time magazine and the front page of Hollywood’s Variety and the Moscow’s Daily Worker. It definitely influenced my preparation and ability to deal with shrewd competitors in future debates.

Today I received an invitation to attend the public premiere of Stories from the Norfolk Prison Debate Team on May 26th at the Norfolk town library. There will eventually be an archived oral history for libraries, a radio documentary and a book about the debating teams that continued into the 1970's. Adam has put enormous effort into interviewing and finding the living prison and college debaters, judges and townspeople. I’m sorry I won’t be able to attend the celebration. I might have run into the murderer who was my silver-tongued opponent.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Presentations into Conversations

I recently went to Seattle’s Town Hall to hear Paul Allen being interviewed by Todd Bishop from Geekwire. Mr. Allen, who is usually a very private person, has been traversing the country, appearing on Sixty Minutes, etc. to promote his memoir, Idea Man.

In the ladies restroom before the program, a young woman commented, “I don’t know what I’m doing here. Allen is always so awkward and uncomfortable.” I expect a lot of people who paid their $5.00 were thinking the same thing.

Bishop and a healthy-looking Allen walked on stage and seated themselves in comfortable living room chairs. Bishop began by saying, “I want to start by asking the question that is on everyone’s minds. I know you’ve had your ups and downs with this individual. Will Matt Hasselback sign on with the Seahawks?” The crowd erupted in laughter and it set the tone for the entire entertaining evening. Allen was charming and answered every question and those from the audience with candor, humor, and thoughtfulness.

When Allen was questioned about why he was putting Gates and Balmer in a bad light, he said it was necessary to do justice to his own story and neither has said the events mentioned in the book didn’t happen. (I read the reason these two were discussing limiting Allen’s ownership of Microsoft was not because they wanted to cheat him but as a legitimate concern they might lose control of the company to relatives, should Allen die from his cancer.) In any case, Allen, who implies in his book that he was under-appreciated, says everyone remains friends.

Bishop asked him about his yachts and his submarine. Allen spoke about descending 1000 feet down to the ocean floor. He said it was dark and there were really strange animals but when you put on some Pink Floyd, it was fantastic.

One can’t help be impressed with Allen’s consistent curiosity and creativity from the Experience Music Project to rocket ships and sport teams, despite his many failures. He said, “Maybe readers will learn from all the mistakes I’ve made.” Allen spoke about how his two bouts with cancer had changed his outlook and his actions. He got applause when he spoke about how his Brain Institute makes all their research available to anyone in the world for free and how important it was for him to leave a worthwhile legacy. And he introduced the first love of his life, Rita, who was sitting in the front row with her husband.

It's becoming commonplace to have these “keynote conversations” with authors and celebrities. These are done in a relaxed manner and the expert doesn’t have to stress over preparing a formal presentation. You might suggest this approach instead of just a monologue for your next speech.

This doesn’t mean you don’t prepare for these “conversations.” The speaker still needs to thoroughly analyze and engage his audience. Allen called for a show of hands of programmers in the audience and then waxed poetic about solving code problems at 3 a.m. and asking them, “Isn’t that a great feeling?”

It’s critical to have a knowledgeable interviewer and to go over what issues need to be brought forth. At Town Hall, questions from the audience were solicited beforehand on cards. Bishop quickly chose ones that provided a lively discussion with Allen. It was a thoroughly enjoyable “conversation.” And thank heavens, not one Power Point slide!

Resourses: Nerve: Poise Under Pressure, Serenity Under Stress, and the Brave New Science of Fear and Cool by Taylor Clark. Anxiety is now ahead of depression as the most prevalent mental health issue in U.S. This book gives any examples of why and how some people thrive under pressure and some falter. Clark gives ideas on how to work through fears, whether for public speaking or just about anything else in life.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Maintaining a Professional Image Under Fire

"Momma says when you stumble, make it part of the dance." These words of advice were embroidered onto an old red velvet pillow I saw propped on a shelf in a run-down thrift shop. I recalled the saying when Kirstie Alley’s partner collapsed with a muscle spasm and she fell on him during her rumba on Dancing with the Stars. Alley picked herself up and finished the routine displaying remarkable gamesmanship. I tell my clients when they make some mistake during a presentation to keep going and incorporate the faux pas as if it were your own original, intended action. One of the most important human characteristics to keep us on the path is resilience, that ability to bounce back when faced with personal and professional disappointments.

A Japanese young man, who spent a summer with our family several years ago, has posting disturbing messages about the horrific earthquake and tsunami. Kazoo lives in Tokyo and has sent us emails about the rolling electrical blackouts, fears of radioactivity in water and food, and the dreadful numbers of dead, missing and the 160,000 homeless. The impressive resilience of the Japanese nation is evident but the continuing high stress levels are taking a heavy toll on the physical and mental health of this courageous population.

In this country, many friends and acquaintances are going through stressful economic losses or have suffered personal and professional setbacks. While these pale in comparison to the unimaginable disasters in Japan, they still can wreck havoc on our health and mental state and adversely affect our communications. We may have experienced an illness, an injury, a death of a parent or someone close to us, a job loss, the breakup of a relationship or a marriage or other traumatic event. We can respond in various ways to difficult circumstances. Some individuals will fold and give up while others thrive on turmoil and pursue their goals, no matter what landmines they have to walk through.

A lady friend survived a long bout with cancer and was resolute in her desire to go back to work as a professional speaker. I was in the audience the first time she made the enormous effort to pull herself together, be cheerful, energetic and deliver a thoughtful message. She struggled but kept going. She has gone on to have her own radio and TV show.

A current client lost everything in the destructive Liberian War in West Africa but was eventually able to bring his family to a new life in the United States. Despite harrowing experiences, Ezechiel Bambolo has written a book, The Firstborn Son, and is speaking to audiences about how this concept relates to the stability of the family and society.

Countless studies show that it is the interpretation or meaning that people give to stressful events, their belief in their ability they are never helpless and having a strong commitment to their objectives that help them through difficult times. I might add that many clients tell me their spiritual beliefs are their bedrock.

How do you react to stress in your life or unexpected circumstances when you arrive at a speech site (or job interview, meeting, networking group, etc.?) Murphy’s Law is operating at full throttle these days and you will need to expect and welcome change or be left in the dust. The ability to communicate effectively under stress is a skill that you can learn. We’ll talk more in our next blog about developing a productive attitude and techniques to be compelling even when you take a spill.

Resources: Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath. Think you have a dull subject? Read this excellent book to help you make your ideas unforgettable.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Tip for Your Next Presentation

My first job was washing chicken deposits off of eggs and packing them in cardboard containers for 50 cents an hour. I descended down rickety stairs into an old, drafty basement with a lone electric light bulb hanging from the ceiling. Within five minutes of my first afternoon at work, an egg rolled off the table and crashed on the cement floor. Then I dropped one egg on another, breaking them both. When the top of a carton failed to close, I hit it with the heel of my hand and cracked three more eggs. 5 eggs were trashed and my largesse 3 hours later was $1.50. When my employer dropped me off at my home, I reluctantly, but with integrity, handed her back 25 precious cents to pay for the losses. She growled, “Keep the money, you’ll get better.” I did. I was 12 years old. I also cleaned houses and toilets for 50 cents an hour. It was a tough job market - like today.

Then I was offered a job as substitute organist for St. Therese church and made $1 each weekday morning for playing and singing the mass in Latin. Soon I was in demand for other ceremonies. I loved opening up all the stops on the organ to play Lohengrin’s wedding march and received $5 for each joyous occasion. I dutifully practiced putting emotion into the hymns I played for funerals. I checked the obituaries for local Catholics as grateful mourners usually paid me the generous amount of $10.00. Of course there were families who hurried out the door after the corpse in their feigned sorrow and ignored a frantic little girl waving and running after the hearse. I also earned money winning talent contests where I sang love ballads, played a jazzy piano or did double baton-twirling and gymnastics. Being an artist was so much more rewarding than cleaning dirty chicken eggs.

This was how I learned people would pay handsomely for your services if you entertained or inspired them. Later in life as a professional speaker and a coach, I realized it was paramount to give my audiences useful information but my presentations were really successful if I touched my audience emotionally or they had fun. I hope you’ve found a purposeful job you enjoy. Be mindful of the basic human desire for connection in your daily communications.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

5 Ways to Minimize the Impostor Complex

Have you ever felt you were an impostor in your position? Join the club. Many talented people in all walks of life are victims of the impostor complex. King George (in The King’s Speech) felt he didn't deserve to be King of England. It's estimated that 70% of high achievers feel like impostors, certain their present level of achievement does not result from true ability and others will soon discover the frauds they really are.

Deep inside most of us is the belief we are not good enough. And when we get promoted or elected or given more prestige, money, titles or power, the impostor complex rears its ugly head. It is particularly prevalent when we have to stand up and speak in front of a large group as there are more audience members to challenge our expertise.

Even though we have received objective, verifiable evidence that we are capable and confident, we are haunted by fears. Senator Ted Kennedy recalled, “The first time Jack and Bobby and I walked into the White House’s Oval office after Jack’s inaugural, we were sure someone would come round the corner and say, ‘You boys get out of here!’”

Many people are looking for jobs, switching jobs or switching careers more so than at any other time in history. It's common for them to successfully or unsuccessfully assume a persona, bluff their way until they pick up skills and gradually settle into a job until a couple of years later they are promoted or switch to another profession and are faced with another set of impostor fears.

Here are some suggestions:
1. Keep tabs on when impostor feelings are likely to occur. Have you been getting a lot of good or bad attention lately? How does that make you feel? Do these feelings occur when you take on a new assignment or have additional demands in your job? Are you uncomfortable because you imagine you're out of your "social class?" Have you been coping with a personal emergency and feel overwhelmed? It's helpful to keep a journal and jot down when negative feelings start to emerge.

2. Thorough preparation will give you security. If you need to present a proposal or critical information during a meeting, rehearse mentally and on-site, if possible. Develop a routine to use before every presentation.
3. Avoid people who undercut you or deliberately add to your insecurity. A man was working on a project with me and said things such as, "I'd be overwhelmed with all the things you have to do to make this a success." Or, "How much experience do you have pulling a project like this together?" I began to wonder if I could pull it together until I realized his game. The next time I smiled and replied, "No problem. It will all get done. I'm sure everyone including yourself will make a big contribution."

4. Approval from everyone isn't necessary. You don't have to please your older brother, your mother, your 3rd grade teacher, or a relative you haven't seen in years. Sometimes when we come from a high-achieving family, we feel we have to live up to expectations even when we are an adult.
5. Find a mentor. They have probably been through many of the demands of your job and can discuss realistically what you're going through. Or find a trusted coach, like the King did. Just talking with them about your fears can change your perception and give you new confidence.

Cut yourself some slack. Say to yourself, "I deserve to be here because of my intelligence and abilities. I will do the best job that I can possibly do."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

King George & The Impostor Complex

I highly recommend you see “The King’s Speech.” Colin Firth, as King George, battles a painful upbringing overshadowed by a charismatic brother, an inhibiting stammer and his belief that he wasn’t fit to be King. He dreaded public speaking. Geoffrey Rush plays Lionel Logue, an uncredentialed speech therapist/coach with unorthodox methods who is able to help “Bertie” manage his fears and speak to his nation on the eve of war. Firth’s sister is a speech therapist and supplied the exercises used in the film.

The 73 yr old author of the screenplay, David Seidler, was a stutterer himself and was inspired by the King’s determination to overcome his affliction. The royal family was embarrassed and hid any mention of a therapist but Seidler was able to locate Logue’s son. He was given access to notes Logue had recorded of his sessions with the King. However, Seidler promised Elizabeth, the Queen Mum (Helena Bonham Carter) that he wouldn’t publish the story until her death and she didn’t pass until 2002 at 102 years.

“Stutterers,” Seidler explains, “grow up feeling they have no voice, that they can’t be heard: they see in the eyes of their pained listeners that they have no right to speak. I was overwhelmed,” he said, “when the audience applauded at the end of the movie. Because for the first time ever, the penny dropped and I felt I had a voice and had been heard.”

It might surprise you or be reassuring to learn that even Colin Firth admits, “I’ve never stuttered, but I’ve had the same drowning feeling from stage fright. When I forget my lines, I forget who I am, where I am. It feels like an eternity until I come back.” This amazing actor has not let his fears destroy his performance but says he has found he can turn his tension into a positive thing.

We’ll blog more next month about fears and ways to challenge the feeling of being a fraud. Have you ever felt you were an impostor?
After you’ve seen “The King’s Speech”, check out the site below to hear King George making the actual speech from the film on the radio.

Jan D'Arcy

Monday, January 3, 2011

Communication Skills for Job Interviews

According to a recent survey by job-placement firm Manpower, 84% of employees plan on looking for a new position in 2011. Do you feel you’re growing in your current job? Do you feel challenged or like you’re wasting your time? Are you preparing to “maintain and campaign” for a move this year?
The job market is slowing improving but you’ll face plenty of competition. Superior communication skills can give you an edge in a face-to-face interview for that promotion or new position.

1. Dress appropriately, have a confident posture, a strong handshake with direct eye contact and a pleasant smile. The interviewer forms an opinion from your non-verbal communication the minute you walk into the room.
2. Select five adjectives ( i.e. confident, calm, decisive, trustworthy and enthusiastic) that best fit the job-description to describe how you want to come across. If you review these as you introduce yourself, your body and voice will respond appropriately.
3. Use your space well. A video-tape showed women make several more adjustments with their purse, portfolio, clothing, jewelry, hair, etc. than a man does. Be lean and clean.
4. Be attentive and listen carefully. Keep your answers concise. Talk about what you can contribute, not what you expect. Show you are easy to get along with.
5. Rehearse possible questions so there are no long hesitations.There are no right or wrong answers. The interviewer is simply trying to understand how you behaved when you faced adverse circumstances or had a tight budget. Do your homework so you can give an example of how your problem-solving transfers to his/her organization.

Good luck!

"Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly."… St. Francis de Sales