Nervous Speakers – 5 Tips for Stage Fright and Presentation Nerves by Matthew Hill

Your nerves are a positive and essential part of presenting well and staying grounded.

presentation confidence matthew hill

“I feel so good speaking in public”

  1. Reframe Your Nerves as EXCITEMENT

When you think about it, our body does weird and amazing things and we can choose to be un-empowered by them or we can use them constructively. Let me tell you a story about pre-show jitters and dramatic stage fright.

There were two men going up on stage as volunteers. The first, as he leaves the security of his theatre seat feels sweat, constricted breathing, rolling stomach, muscle tremors and a terrifying adrenaline rush that almost makes him loose balance and stumble. When he is up on stage he can hardly interact with the show master, mumbles his name and is a useless helper in the game he is being asked to contribute to. At the end, to add to his humiliation, he his handed a cheap tee shirt. As he walks back to his seat he makes a promise to himself, “I will never come to the theatre EVER again!”

After the interval another man is chosen to “volunteer”. He gets up and feels an exciting rush of adrenaline and thinks that this could be one of those defining moments in his life. He speeds up and rushes towards the stage with a glow of excitement, the panting breathe of anticipation and a feeling of butterflies that reminds him of his tenth birthday. Is this really happening? Has he won the lottery? He leaps on stage, smiles at the performer and adds a joke into his first reply. The crowd go wild with laughter and one or two even clap. He is enjoying himself. The trick runs smoothly and generates more applause. He has never felt so alive and connected to so many people. At the end he enjoys the thanks of the performer, the admiration of the crowd, AND is handed a tee shirt to remember this night for the rest of his life. As he returns to his seat there is a big smile on his face and he says to himself, “I am going to quit my job as an auditor and get BACK on that stage.”

BOTH men had the same physical reaction to the situation. They chose to frame their experiences in different ways. How will you label your body’s reactions when next called to the stage?

  1. The Audience Want You to Succeed

It is easy to think of yourself entering the lion’s den when speaking on stage. What you may not know is that gladiators were the TV celebrities of their time. The audience would come back week after week to see their favourite fighters… WIN. Your audience have paid money, given up their time and sacrificed the chance to do other, easier things. They are invested in you and want you to WIN. They would love you to be comfortable, to get your patter out and complete you mission without mishap. They are rooting for you. In there minds is something simple – If you WIN then they get a chance to benefit. If you perform well, they get the chance to use your wise words, your experience and your life learning. That is, in fact, why they are there. So, remember, the audience is, very much, on your side.

Verschiedene Portraits einer blonden Frau

They want me to WIN!

  1. Even the Greatest Speakers Experience Stage Fright

It is true. There are many live performers that vomit backstage, have moments of terror and have those self-challenging-thoughts, “What if they find out I am a sham?”, “What if I don’t know the answer to a question?”, “What if someone in the audience is clever and hostile and they want to humiliate me? My professional life will be over.”

This is referred to as Imposter Syndrome and EVERBODY gets it. The truth is that the public speaker possesses a co-constructed identity that is temporary and happens when you are on the stage, red mic light on, in front of a live audience. It is not ALL that you are and you probably don’t do this every day. It is a part of who you are. For the rest of the time you are a much more ordinary figure. And that is OK. Linked to the last point, no one actually expects you to be a superhero (except maybe yourself.) Having doubt keeps you at your best. Hearing those “What if” questions maintains your hunger for perfection and improvement. Doubt keeps you present and grounded. Do not wish away the fear – that is the path to complacency, drift and autopilot delivery.

  1. Build Your Expert Status From the Inside

The quickest way to get your personal power surging is to write down your “numbers.” By this I mean the figures for what you have achieved so far. Everybody had accomplished more than they are conscious of and this exercise really helps. How many years have you been doing the thing that you are speaking about? How many customers have you helped? Reports have you written? Deals have you negotiated? When you look at your track record and put down the numbers they will always impress…you.

As great coaches say you can achieve less in a day than you wish but more in a month than you expect. Over the years you have achieved an enormous amount in a wide number of areas. Take a moment to write down your life and career highlights and to really, deeply acknowledge just how far you have come, just how much experience you have accumulated and just how much you actually know.

  1. Affirmations Affirm Your Greatness.

A way of countering the self doubt and unhelpful chatter running through your mind is to build some self affirming mantras that help lay some new mental pathways that, with repetition, will magically turn into self-affirming beliefs. They will be your public speaker truths. The easiest is the ANV – Adjective Noun that Verbs. Take a moment to write down 10 to 30 describing words that are positive, bright and give energy (these are the adjectives). Next you may use positive words to describe your multiple life and professional roles (these are the nouns.) Then form sentences that include who you help, what they achieve and how you help them (this is the verb bit.) And put it all together – “ I, Name Name, am an Adjective, Adjective, Adjective Noun, Noun, Noun & Noun that Verbs, Verbs and Verbs! And I am… AAAWWWEEESSSOOOMMMEEE.

Super businessman flying over a city

AAWWEESSSOOMMEE

When you learn this formula, fill in the spaces, make it your mantra, and repeat it, you will release the helpful chemicals in your body that support you, the public and professional presenter, speaker and subject matter expert. This allows you to help many more people to overcome their pain and achieve so much more for themselves.

How does that feel?

I have good news for you – You are now Ready!

I hope that these 5 ideas have helped you to reverse your doubts, calm your jitters, and to reframe stage fright as a necessary and useful part of delivering a high impact presentation and an effective public speech.

About the Author – Matthew Hill is a Presentation Coach and Group Trainer – If you wish to contact and engage Matthew to improve your professional presentation performance, then do call him on 07540 65 9995 or send an E Mail to matthew.hill@hillnetworks.com .

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The Journey to Harmony in a Small French Town – The Story of Mozaiq with Natalie Lutz 

A Film of the Webinar

This unique recording tells the story of turning a small French town experiencing local attitudes of division, hatred and fear into a more harmonious community displaying cooperation and healthy levels of co-existence.

Listen to Natalie’s tale as she experiences push back, frustration and resentment before finally breaking through to something worthy and, possibly repeatable, in YOUR town too.

Natalie Lutz

Interculturalist Natalie Lutz

About the Speaker – Natalie Lutz has been helping executives and international corporations understand cultural differences and work effectively together for over 25 years. Born and raised French-American, she is bilingual, bicultural and has lived in 4 countries. She trains consults and facilitates sessions on:  Working in a Multicultural environment, Leadership, and Expatriations to France and the USA as well as Team-building.

In 2010 she created and co-founded Mozaiq, an association dedicated to celebrating diversity in a small town outside of Paris. Each year she and her team put on 4 events including a Diversity Day which repeatedly draws crowds of more than 700 participant

To access the YouTube film click here; https://youtu.be/F6lUGzWikEg  

10 Presentation Crimes That Your Audience Will Not Forgive – and What YOU can do to stay F-R-R-E-E-E by Matthew Hill

Be Arresting. Don’t Get Arrested!

Having just sat through 20+ presentations and talked to fellow audience members at a Congress in Dublin the other week, I thought I would turn the sometimes tortuous challenge of staying calm sitting in the audience into a What Not To Do List and provide better ways of catering for your audience’s basic Human Rights.

Presentation Skills Course Matthew Hill

Sorry, Urh, hang on a minute…

BTW – More than 65% of the presenters were good and about 10% were excellent – However (always a warning word) however, some seemed to be living in the ‘90’s before TED and all those great YouTube videos that clearly spell out how to get audience engagement and knowledge transfer RIGHT.

10 Crimes – The Charge Sheet

1, The Presenter Panicked and Ran – Whether thrown off balance by technical issues, a late start of not having rehearsed against the clock, many presenters, including Key Note Speakers managed to get into a sweaty nervous panic during their talks. When you speed up at the end of your slot, your audience know something is amiss. When you admit that time has got away from you and then do not adjust, the audience become anxious on your behalf and when you say, “I will stop now!” 4 times without finishing, the audience will condemn you to presenter hell in your presence. The cost to you of presenter panic is having an audience close their minds with a slamming sound as the barriers drop preventing any transfer value. What a pity. What a waste. What a misspending of all that preparation time.

ANSWER

If you rehearse against the clock you can measure your content against the allocated time and therefore regain control. Additionally you may have a section that you can jettison if you experience a time scare. Not right at the end but 50 or 60% of the way through. Also keep your piece simple enough for the time allocated. A 90 minute monologue simply doesn’t work in 2017 and 20 minutes is not enough time to outline splitting the atom or finding a cure for world hunger.

When you feel scarcity – SLOW DOWN – This will give you time to think, look cool in front of your audience and present the appearance of being in control. We will repeat this later – Your Audience wants you to SUCCEED.

2, Voice Crime. There is nothing worse for the speaker or the audience than someone sat at the back shouting, “We can’t here you”, ”Please speak up” or, “We can’t hear you at the back.” Beside thinking that they should have got here earlier and found a better seat, this will distract you from your delivery, dilute your message and divide the audience into those who join in the bullying and those that start to pity you. Both groups are not doing you any favours. Add to the crime sheet the monotone presenter, the mutterer or the huddled script reader and you have a case ready for prosecution.

ANSWER

Singing lessons – Yes, I am serious. If you wish to project your voice, if you wish to raise your volume, if you wish never to loose your voice again during a presentation, join a choir or take individual singing lessons. It will do wonders for your voice quality, your confidence and your connection with the audience.

3, Technical Failure To Appear – In Dublin we were treated to the latest and the best equipment but – the presenters with older computers did not have an HDMI slot, the corporate trainers had not all worked with touch screens before and the new Prezi users did not all have enough practice with the application (presumably because they had spent all of their allocated tech time figuring out how to MAKE their first Prezi presentation and had not left enough to practice their show in realistic conditions.) The results were PREDICTABLE. Embarrassing faffing, asking the tech crew for help, delaying the start of the show and demonstrating the presenter’s flaws to the audience before they had managed to accumulate enough credit to afford to appear vulnerable.

ANSWER

Keep your technical level of presentation one level below your technical level of competence. Have a Plan B and back up your data. And don’t expect your venue to have usable WiFi, don’t expect to run YouTube clips live – record them and load them as MP4’s. That way they will run on just about anything. It is the most inexperienced presenters that tend to be the most technically ambitious. Those that have given a few webinars know to expect the unexpected and are able to manage the disruption in technical service with a cool head, an even voice and a smooth transition to the next section of the show.

presentation skills coach matthew hill

Too many words… take him away.

  1. Murder by Slides. The Geneva Convention states that PowerPoint slides must not have more than 20 words on them. Despite this, we saw endlessly wordy, small font decks with no visuals, no colour and no useful transfer potential to them. The audience could either ignore the slides or ignore the presenter and start reading the slides for themselves. A lose-lose.

ANSWER

Separate out the desire to present and the need to transfer data and make some tough decisions before you get to the venue – What will you project with your voice and what data will you MAKE AVAILABLE AFTERWARDS in the form of a hand-out / appendix or further reference materials? Understand that slides can be pretty placeholders, a mechanism to reinforce your message with visual people and a good place for graphics, a pie charge or a simple model. However…nobody wants to multi-task during the show so STOP torturing them and plan your information flow more considerately.

 

  1. Methodology Overdose – Closely related to the point above, in a non- academic context there is ZERO need to reveal the statistical significance of your raw research. The audience have one question for you; WIIFT? What is in it for THEM? How can they apply your experience for their benefit? END of.

ANSWER

As above – offer an appendix, a data hand out or a lab session demonstrating your methods, approach, analysis and technical findings. AND – in your short presentation tell them the interesting bits. How it worked, what the conclusions are and how it can be applied for gain.

 

  1. The Presenter Got High – Audience Altitude – Finding their Level. There are two crimes here – going too high or staying too low. Both ways will crash your presentation vehicle. If you pitch it too low for too long you will build up an irritation in your audience that will come out in people leaving your talk with a noisy banging of doors or firing sarcastic questions at you that interrupt you and undermine your credibility.

It you pitch it too high the crowd will turn into a Zombie Apocalypse before your very eyes. Take this as natural feedback telling you that you failed to do your homework, identify your audience segment and that you omitted to refine your message enough to hit the target.

ANSWER

Do your homework, speak to some people, interview the organisers and don’t take general answers for the truth. Your job is to engage, inform and entertain. Your job is to tell a story. Your job is to move people intellectually and emotionally. Your job is to prevent suicidal thoughts rippling through the front row.

 

  1. If It Pleases Your Honour – Time Management – We have dealt with the panic of starting late, not checking the length of your presentation and of lying about when it will end. This aspect is more about the cultural differences in the perception of the flow of time and gaining explicit permission to tell your story. At the beginning of your talk you have 30 seconds to win the hearts and minds of your audience! If you fail, then the rest of your talk can only do damage – to the hopes and dreams of your audience and to your REPUTATION. When you win their support quickly, you will be given 5 minutes grace … to win their enthusiasm for the next 15 minutes! Do you see how it works?

ANSWER

Hit them hard at the beginning – fire a big gun – a moral question, a challenging fact or a brutal prediction – engage your audience and ask, “Do you want to hear more?” They will then award you explicit permission to continue. Really. This psychological contract will become stronger the more they engage with you – the great presenter.

 

  1. Straying From The Straight And Narrow – There are two ways to leave the path here – audience drift and speaker drift. The former consists of being caught out or taking a side bar because of an audience intervention – through being nice and respecting the audience or the influence of a strong personality sat in the second row, you drift off and ANNOY everyone else. Pleasing a strong personality is not a winning strategy for the whole audience. OR you get on to your pet subject, leave your own path and start busking (the phrase for making it up as you go along) much to the irritation of the linear focussed listeners in front of you. When you start entertaining yourself you automatically disrespect the sensibilities of your audience.

ANSWER

Learn to assert yourself and police your audience – Putting a hand up and saying, “Let’s get back on track” is normally enough. If you are likely to wander away from your presentation pathway, build in milestones to remind yourself of the key points that you must make. If you find yourself drifting too wide of those marks, apologise and return to the point.

 

presentation crimes matthew hill

Out of Date Material – Arrest that presenter!

  1. Criminal Exhibit A – Old Material – The older your material, the greater the chance that the audience will have encountered it before or, and worse still, they will have encountered you before, saying the same thing. There is a famous Dutch father of culture who basically has one keynote speech. What ever you engage him to speak about, out he will come with his one keynote speech – And it is difficult to get a refund sometimes.

ANSWER

Read, listen and watch. Be present to developments. Watch out for shifts in the direction of your specialist subject and keep your presentation approach fresh, present and alive. It is not a crime to renew your perspective, challenge YOUR OWN beliefs and treat your audience to something EXCITING and challenging.

 

  1. Old Lag – You Are Not Enjoying It. The voice in your head starts to unsettle you, “Are they really listening to you?”, “ Do they believe a word you are saying?”, “Do they think you look pretty / handsome?” We can develop all sorts of complexes or simply become bored with our own style or topic when we have been presenting too long and need an upgrade – even the best can suffer from imposter syndrome, delusions of paranoia or become completely immune to the charm of their own material and certainly doubt its power to impress.

And. If you are not enjoying the show as a presenter, you can GUARANTEE that the audience are suffering too. Is it time to hand yourself in to the authorities?

ANSWER

At the beginning of any performance it is a safe bet to assume that the audience want you to DO WELL. They are actively looking for signs that you are relaxed, comfortable and up for this. They want to you to win. At the beginning you can assume that most of them LOVE you. All you have to do is not let them down (too badly.)

It is time to work on your material, work out who your ideal and appreciative audience will be and to work on your delivery, presence and voice so that YOU enjoy the show and THEY benefit from listening to you? Is this the time to seek professional help – a presentation advocate to defend your actions and get you off the charge of being a criminal presenter so that you can walk into your next speech a Free Person?

presenting

I sentence you…

The Judge’s Summation

With a little planning, anticipation and rehearsal you can avoid cabbages and rotten eggs flying through the air, the tarnishing of your reputation as a speaker or hearing negative mumblings as you leave the building.

Remember presenting represents the single most powerful opportunity to engage with and impress people that you have never met before. Please respect the audience’s patience, attention span, their need for structure, their appreciation of a good story AND their desire for a confident performance from you – THE SPEAKER (defendant.)

I wish you well with you next presentation…

I sentence you to 10 hours Community Presentation Practice – You are free to go…

 

About the Author – Matthew Hill is a Presentation Skills Coach (amongst other things) He works with ambitious professionals who need to impress and desire to be better. Contact Matthew on; 07540 65 9996.

 

Kindness and Laughter – Europe is Bemused, Baffled and Bewildered By the UK’s Zombie Brexit

An Opinion Piece by Matthew Hill

The EU government and press are laughing at the collective miss-step of UK citizens, some of whom believed that the NHS pot would be topped up to the tune of £350 million a week or that UK employment would grow along with the economy after Brexit, or that their farm protest vote against the British Government’s DEFRA ministry was a protest vote against an EU department.

breturn

They are laughing at us

As that laughter calms, European minds are turning to our common issues, mutual interests as well as the need for defence and everybody’s prosperity.

The kindness of strangers

It is at this point we witness the kindness of strangers – Germany’s Federal Minister of Finance, Wolfgang Shaeuble, New French President, Emmanuel Macron, Former Belgian Prime Minister, outspoken and popular EU Politician, Guy Verhofstadt, and President of the European Council, Donald Tusk – all wish to throw us a lifeline and keep us IN and do what is best for the EU and best for Britain – Breturn.

Shocked girl eavesdropping.

Listening?

If only we would listen

We are currently being held hostage to Hard Brexit by a tiny number of Tory Euro sceptic bullies threatening the ever fragile Theresa May with oblivion if she does not condemn Britain to the roughest of roads.

Imagine Theresa May is the Bank Manager being forced to rob her own bank to save her family who are sitting trembling in their living room facing a masked man with a shotgun. Oh dear.

Strange Patriotism

Patriotic?

Only one person seems weaker and wobblier than PMTM at the moment and that is Andrea Leadsom who attempted to bully and shame the BBC’s Emily Maitlis recently by calling for the British media to be more, “Patriotic.”

How patriotic is it for a Prime Minister to be prepared to say and do anything she needs to just to stay in the job? How patriotic is it to pursue Hard Brexit when she was a Remainer knowing that was the better option. How patriotic is it to bribe the DUP with £1,000,000,000 to keep herself in the job and her minority party in power, or to call an election in order to receive a blank cheque from a divided nation to pursue her version of a bank robbery with Tory Euro-sceptics wearing the masks and holding the weapons? How patriotic is it to chase Brexit when 95% of economists agree it will be bad for the country.

Trade

The EU cares more about Britain than do Tory Euro-sceptics. Europe wishes for us to prosper. And for the right reasons – DD – The Brexit Minister, David Davis points out the EU to UK surplus – They bring £290 billion worth of goods and services here and we send £230 billion there.

With a bit of luck DD will continue to bash into a brick wall against EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier just long enough for the confused British public to finally realise that we have little or no power to get a better deal on Brexit?

And, Brexit is completely reversible. That reversal is an opportunity for us to survive and prosper.

If we are clever now, our European friends may forgive us our moment of madness on 23rd June 2016. The powerful influencers, Shaeuble, Macron, Verhofstadt, and Tusk – are offering us a welcome and dignified return to Europe on decent terms. Remember – Europe represents a QUARTER OF THE WORLD’S ECONOMY.

So, What are our Euro options in reverse order from bad to good?

4, No Deal – We collectively fall off a cliff and beg President Macron to please please be kind to us in Calais as our lorries mount up and every pork pie, bottle or brown sauce and Parker pen is inspected by 3 bored French customs officials.

3, Hard Brexit – Bringing an economic recession, a departure of critical EU labour essential to keep the wheels on the British economic bus and the prospect of relying on the kindness of the rest of the world who, obviously, are already supplied with everything they need by OTHER countries. In a decade or two we could recover, though we will have lost at least 6% of our cumulative growth potential as we scramble to catch up.

2, Soft Brexit – We take the Norway style deal and pay a premium for access to the Single Market and have the freedom to control migration (we already do BTW.) This is marginally worse than option 1. It will not satisfy the racists, the Euro sceptics, or the stressed UK regions (that will still lose their valuable EU regional grants) and will hardly have been worth all the grief, cost and social division. Or, lastly,

  1. Breturn – Business as normal, probably with a few sweeteners and reforms that everyone wants anyway. The naughty British child is allowed to return to the party and we all promise to play nicely again. We do not have to pay the £60,000,000,000 leaving bill (just under a £3,000 per household), we keep the biggest trading block in the world on side and the Stage 3 Cancer that is Hard Brexit is zapped by rays of EU kindness at the last minute in a Brussels Hospital and goes into remission before reaching Stage 4 (There is no Stage 5!)

    Breturn

    Breturn to Health

The Independent newspaper seems to understand Breturn and some significant politicians are now starting to seek cross party engagement to form an effective opposition to PMTM. At the same time the more engaged Brits are warming to the idea of general resistance against the damage of Hard Brexit and its costs to British people.

Maybe we will face a brighter, cancer free, future after all as Brits wake up and face the real prospects of the Zombie Hard Brexit Apocalypse. Watch this space.

 

The Case from BRETURN – We Can Clear Up This Mess And It Won’t Take 2 Years.

Brexit or Breturn?

An Opinion Piece by Interculturalist, Matthew Hill Enough is enough of “Brexit means Brexit” – Red, White or Blue. Stop already. The returning weak and wobbly Conservative and Unionist coalition is in chaos and it is their LOSS of a … Continue reading

SIETAR EUROPA DUBLIN CONGRESS REPORT

What really happened? – An opinion piece by Matthew Hill

As IC trainers, coaches and academics return from the SIETAR Congress in Dublin, we remember some of the highlights?

SIETAR Key Note 400+ People Attended the SIETAR Congress in Dublin, May 2017

With more than 400 attendees it was the biggest event since Granada (when we were joined by the mighty SIETAR USA.) An impressive focus on professionalism and detail delivered a technically advanced event at a top of the range venue – St Pats (Dublin City University) in Ireland has been transformed, enlarged and made relevant, providing an impressive and functional backdrop to the show. With fresh paint, bright colours and a modern social area and the addition of a professional conference organisation crew, this was SIETAR at its slickest, its most efficient and its best.

Special mention must be made of Pari, Barbara and Joe. Their 18 months of hard work, stress, decision-making and perseverance has paid off. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

And the 12 volunteers – A great bunch of dynamic and pro active interculturalists working diligently to produce a memorable audience experience and calm the nerves of the presenters, some of whom had never seen a touchscreen interactive whiteboard before!

Whova logo Keeping us in touch

The Whova app assisted in bringing everybody together, warning us of logistical changes and generally connecting people, before the event, during the busy main days and, now, as we go back to our many countries and various other roles.

Lolo Mayer Lolo Mayer moved us with his story

We were lucky with the weather and there were some extraordinary moments to take away. Those who saw Lolo Mayer when he spoke will never forget the present and direct moment when this articulate 9 year old told us of his journey from South Africa to Germany and the reactions the people around him – “different race – same culture”. His honest narrative moved us to tears. A special experience.

Milton Bennett brought along an expert in Mysticism – A ripple of hesitation flickered through the full room. As the modestly cynical crowd began their hypnotic meditation submerging beach balls under water, a new line was crossed in SIETAR experiential learning and most of us came out of the exercise better and wiser practitioners.

A third highlight was Andra and Abbey in their WorldWork Trust session – The facilitation was excellent and the atmosphere was conducive to movement, exchange and a worthy end result for all.

SIETAR Openning Joe Kearns Opens SIETAR Dublin

I must mention the stars of my own film track – Having coerced two local heroes – Dave Walsh and Joe Kearns into attempting culturally relevant and difficult topics, they both more than rose to the challenge – Dave interpreting the cultural significance of “Father Ted” in the context of real events in the Priesthood in Ireland and Joe, with his deep knowledge of Irish and European Viking history, linking this eloquently to the successes and failures of mergers in business and highlighting the choice between cultural domination and cultural integration.

Seitar Crowd SIETARians Deep in Conversation

And a big thank you to everyone for forming a surprisingly large crowd at my Training films clips session – It was rewarding to see so many people getting fully engaged with the subject and the content.

Shock

It would not be a real congress report without one or two negative points to report on. A moan that was heard frequently around the Congress concerned the quality of some presenters when attempting to get their message across. On occasion we seemed to have regressed to pre-Valencia days. Many witnessed poor wordy PowerPoints, over emphasis on research methods vs practical application and a failure by presenters to project, engage or hold their audience’s attention. There were many many TED style talks that were far far removed from the slick professionalism of the real thing. (I will take up the topic of presentation crimes in a separate post next time.)

MariaJicheva Maria Jicheva

The drama of the Congress ended with a moving tribute to one of the pillars of SIETAR – Maria Jicheva who died two years ago. She had run and expanded SIETAR UK and SIETAR Europa with years of hard hard work and used her subtle style of influence to make it the success that is evident today. We heard stories and experienced strong felt emotion remembering her effect upon those who were fortunate enough to spend time in her presence. Maria – We know you are watching over us – The success of the SIETAR Dublin Congress in 2017 is a tribute to you, your values and the volume of work you put in. Thank you.

Where next?

We will see you all in Vienna (Just a GUESS at the next venue…)

Traditional mountain farm in the Alps

Presentation Disasters and 5 tips to help YOU not make them by Matthew Hill

 

Plug into the audience and let the electricity flow

The gap between a person’s brain, intellect and expertise and their ability to communicate even a small part of this wisdom to an audience can be wider than the Grand Canyon. I remember meeting one of the deepest thinkers on educating people that the UK has ever produced. He was also one of the worst public speakers an audience has ever had to endure. This irony continues to buzz around my mind.

Below are 5 ideas that you can apply to make sure no one says about YOU, “They seem to really know their stuff. It’s a pity their attempt to convey it to the audience is a total failure!”

Smiling newscaster during broadcasting. And here is the news…

  1. It’s not about you – whilst you are the star, standing under the light, mic in hand and dressed to kill, the point of the presentation is to align your information and message to the desired outcomes of the majority of your audience.

Useful questions before you present might be, “What is their level of knowledge?” “What do they expect today?” “What do they want from this session?” And, finally, “What do they really need?”

Before you write a word of your presentation, ask these questions and be mindful of the answers. Also implied in their response is bonus information – What they absolutely DON’T want you to speak about.

Verschiedene Portraits einer blonden Frau

  1. First impressions last – I once tripped over on a stage in Milan in the style of Charlie Chaplin and raised an embarrassingly large laugh from the audience. Unfortunately that was not my intention and things did not flow smoothly from that point on.

An audience will have read your profile and possibly check you out on LinkedIn. They are making an active and tough judgment of you based on your physical appearance. If you are scruffy, ill-prepared to deal with technology, hesitant and showing non-verbal signs of stress, anxiety and fear it is no wonder that the audience will disengage from your private greatness and let their minds wonder to other topics (probably sex and shopping.)

What does it take to make a fantastic first impression?

Dressing one level smarter than your audience, dry cleaning your dark suit, investing in a decent haircut, considering replacing your glasses with contact lenses, practicing Amy Cuddy’s power poses and firing your BIG GUNS first. All of these represent a good start.

Seat on fire

  1. Pleasure or pain? Related to 2. The audience will amalgamate all of the information you are consciously and unconsciously broadcasting and rank you on two exclusive scales.

Power and dominance – your tone, stern look, square shoulders, booming voice and content of doom laden scenarios and facts may give you an impressively high dominance score. Is that what you want?

Likable and trustworthy – A high score on the opposite scale is achieved by displaying charisma, charm, humour, self-deprecation, honesty, integrity and demonstrating your ethical values to the audiences.

Only you can decide which scale is more appropriate your next presentation – Is it time to practice non-verbal charm in the mirror or to rev up your sergeant major impression?

bubble of communication

  1. Words Words Words With everything you say you are either engaging more with the audience or distancing them. You may think that filling your presentation with intellectual complexity, esoteric jargon and obfuscating argot will do the job. Wrong – The simpler you are the more you will connect with the audience and the more they will buy what you are selling.

Speed trumps caution

Many presentation coaches warn that excessive speed of presentation will be perceived negatively. This is not the case (with the caveat that you need an audience speaking the same language as you.) As long as you are clear and loud enough your audience will be taken away by the speed at which you deliver your wisdom. Unlike complexity, speed is perceived as a sign of intelligence.

Fluent slick and smooth

Unsurprisingly, a smooth radio delivery will impress an audience. On occasions it will increase your ratings even when you are having an off day, your brain is addled with tiredness or your mind can only manage to operate at half power.

Listening. “Tell me more”

  1. Everyone loves a story – Every presentation coach is asked what is the best structure for delivering a presentation. It can be a best man speech, a professor’s keynote address at a conference or thanking people at your retirement do. The best way to package information is to give it a familiar dramatic structure – beginning, middle and end, a “V” structure – unleashing tragic chapters that shock your audience followed by an inspiring twist and uplifting ending, or a WW structure like a Dr. Martin Luther King speech that repeatedly takes the audience from the difficult present to a better envisioned future.

Men don’t like emotion.

Whilst there are some coal mining villages where men can only cry if they are one kilometer underground, most humans, irrespective of gender, enjoy having their feelings taken for a spin. It is diverting and stimulating and always will be.

Human Rights

Please respect the human right of your audience not to be bored within an inch of their life. Practice practice practice until you are fluent and can lose yourself in a story that entertains even you, the speaker.

And if you are not a natural comedian, a presentation is not the place to begin your new stand-up career.

Good luck with the next presentation. I hope you WOW the audience and they give you a standing ovation.

Senior Sales and Culture Trainer Matthew Hill

Matthew Hill

Matthew Hill is an Intercultural Trainer, Author, Speaker and Coach working with international audiences to help them uncover their deeper potential and shine in public.

What can YOU do at the SIETAR Congress to change your life?

A Guide to the European Intercultural Event of the Year by Matthew Hill     1, Meeting people With up to 360 people attending the SIETAR Congress in Dublin later in May, There is no better opportunity this year to … Continue reading

May’s Brexit Election – A Cultural View – by Matthew Hill

Words from a divided nation

This week Prime Minister May called a snap election to, “unify the country” and allow her to negotiate with the EU on behalf of all of the UK so that she may go out there and get all the good things and have none of the bad.

It will not play out like that.

Big Ben and House of Parliament at River Thames International La

The scene of the crime – Prime Suspect – David Cameron – Do not approach

Before we look at the cultural aspects of BREXIT, let us remind ourselves how we got into this mess in the first place.

Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne had suffered from criticism and power plays from various factions within their OWN party. This was a Conservative party spat, a “Blue on Blue” bun fight. Chancer Cameron had bluffed his way through the Scottish independence vote and won. He had made another reckless referendum offer before the 2015 election and had never, in his wildest dreams, considered that the UK would be so stupid as to vote the wrong way. And then, in an historically irresponsible and arrogant move, proposed that a simple majority, either way, would dictate the UK’s future relationship with our closest neighbours and largest trading and defence partners. When, the old, the poor and the anti London / anti-elitists (and racists) voted to leave in June 2016, the UK was plunged into uncertainty and became the laughing stock of Europe, all over again.

And now CULTURE

In the war of words BREXIT supporters tended to focus on “immigrants taking our jobs in the UK” and, ”taking back control from Brussels”. Subjects on which both sides were quiet or silent were the cultural and historical perspectives that will come into play now we are leaving Europe and how these will affect us all.

The cultural benefits of immigrants

Between 2004 and 2014, 2.5 million EU citizens chose to come to the UK to live and work. This has made a net positive contribution to UK GDP, productivity measures per worker and tax revenues for the Treasury. In addition, the cultural benefit has been palpable. [Most British people struggle to speak even one language properly (innit)] The vast majority of newly arrived workers speak their native language and passable English as well. Many speak two or more languages and add to the country’s human capital, fuelling the most important parts of the British economy – the export of goods and services to other countries. Having freshly arrived people from our target export markets helps us with both local language and market wisdom as we send our crated goods on their way in lorries headed for the Continent.

Tropical caribbean island in open ocean

A Small Island Near Europe

Immigrants work harder

This sometimes unpalatable truth is most threatening to the unskilled sector where jobs are performed by employees that are exchangeable and expendable. This is not the fault of the newly arrived workers or the indigenous population. It is the way jobs are designed today with most school education being instantly forgotten and individuals adapting to the job market, ending up as minimum wage and sub-living wage employees. Our history as a rich and formerly powerful empire has created a subtle level of expectation for many British workers below which they will not consider working. The average Brit is not rushing to get up at 5 AM and wait for a van on a street corner to head off and pick vegetables on a chilly spring morning. Other EU nationals are.

Fight or trade?

From an historical perspective, when a couple of tribes live in close proximity they have two strategic directions in which to go. They can either battle or exchange goods and services. The main rationale for the signing of the Treaty of Rome in 1957 thus establishing the European Economic Community, the EEC, was to facilitate trade and exchange as the best way of preventing the repetition of the double tragedies of the 20th century.

Nostalgia can be a dangerous thing.

Whilst we are on the subject of not learning from history, let us remember that what unified Germany and the Axis powers in their support for Hitler’s strategies and ideas in the 1930s were austerity measures set out in the Versailles Treaty of 1919. Imposed by the victors upon the losers, it created an attractive option for Axis powers – support the German war effort in return for the restoration of lost power and lands – Hitler promised to turn back time.

Teamwork

The EU agreement was the equivalent of a peace treaty. When a peace treaty is signed all parties agree to forgive, to back down from aggression and to cooperate. A lot of European history and baggage has been locked away in the cupboard, for the sake of trading cooperation, EU subsidies and grants and peace. Culturally speaking, Brexit is the key that opens this cupboard and opens many wounds from the past. [Do we really want to re-examine the roles perpetrated by Hitler and Napoleon at a time when we will be negotiating trade tariffs?]

Do we really want videos of the Euro-skeptic rhetoric played before we enter the room with our Continental cousins?

The subjects discussed around European dinner table may turn to reparation, retribution and rebuke.

New bilateral treaties

Instead of the centralised and overly controlling Brussels technocrats telling each of the EU member states what they can and cannot do, we are now in the unique position of sending out negotiation teams to each EU country and negotiating separate bilateral terms regarding defence, trade and the mobility of citizens (country nationals).

To some this represents the essence of opportunity and control. We will finally have a say on our terms of business in Europe. They are perhaps forgetting that it won’t be all smiles and handshakes. We have 950 years of history that will be raked over, brought up, and may well be used against us. This will not be a quick squiggle of a Mont Blanc pen on parchment in some grand hall. Troubled President, Francois Hollande of France immediately hinted at damaging changes France may make to border controls. If British lorry drivers feel frustrated by striking farmers and burning lorries full of lambs now (within the protection of the EU), what will they face if this civilising treaty is ripped up for the Brits? The bottleneck of the channel is our weakest point. Something the wise business people of Britain are well aware of. Add to that the predictable Air Traffic Controllers strikes in summer (we have just suffered from our 47th Strike in the last 8 years) and we begin to form a clear picture of our rather isolated future.

Can we afford the divorce?

Our future will be in the hands of a dubious, and tarnished group of British ministers along with overstretched lawyers shuttling from EU country to EU country trying to preserve as many of our assets as we can like a skewed game of giant Monopoly. And, who will get custody of the golden child? The City of London generates more than 30% of UKPLC’s GDP. Outside the protection of the EU, Germany, France are already having a pop at attracting the golden goose and shrinking the number of eggs it produces. If we don’t retain custody of the country’s best cash generating asset, we will again become an “embittered single parent” after the divorce, contemplating putting on a superhero costume and climbing up the walls of Brussels in a futile and crass protest shouting, “Former EU Fathers for Justice”

Facing a coalition of the weak.

The goodwill and support shown to Britain by the majority of the 10 enlargement states that joined the EU in 2004 that we have enjoyed and required for the past 12 years is beginning to evaporate. Especially as, in their own living memory, the promises of infrastructure grants and bountiful economic progress have begun to disappear, disappoint the local population and put their politicians under pressure. Poland, the striking example of post 2004 success, is now the 7th ranked economy within the EU. As alone most Central European countries are virtually insignificant, they still relish being part of one of the largest trading blocks in the world. As slighted states, sitting across the table from us surrounded by “divorce” lawyers, the energy and relationship will shift. They have got what they want. Why should they now continue to support us so generously? We are on the outside of the tent “looking” in.

Flags and racism

In your culture trainings you teach that culture is less about countries and flags and more about a range of values, beliefs and drivers that subtly influence behaviours and choices. This subtlety will be lost when Brexit becomes a hard reality. We are seeing a return to table thumping Popularism, less sophisticated and more hostile country stereotypes and an increase in racial slurs, prejudice and, inevitably, violence perpetrated upon immigrant populations. And, these include British populations abroad. The Brits in Spain are already treated with disrespect due to their lack of language skills and integration into local society.

Warning Yellow Tape Strips You are about to cross the line

Conclusion

The EU is a mechanism designed to control the behaviour of member countries. Brexit is currently pushing against that reason and control. The Pandora’s box of cultural difference, historical resentment and Britain’s lack of future power will make for a volatile negotiating environment to send our ministers and lawyers into. The British election voter should be fully aware of what cultural consequences they face after the inevitable June Tory election victory aimed at repairing an avoidable Tory mistake.

Part if this blog post was written for Farnham Castle Intercultural Training last year.

 

Independant Trainer Webinar – Getting Growth in 2017

What will you achieve in 2017?

We have 3 Questions for you – What are the Biggest barriers STOPPING you growing your trainer / coaching business this year? Where does it continue to go wrong? AND How can you get it right?

Group Of Young Business PeopleWill you grow in 2017?

These barriers block critical activity, necessary organisation and positive dynamism (we fall into the trap of doing stuff that PREVENTS rather than produces growth.)

  1. ACTIVITY– What did you do in 2016? Send your profile / CV out to known training providers, put up a basic (non optimized) LinkedIn profile and attended local chamber events with other service providers where you failed to engage with business decision makers? And what results did you get? – A new sub contract relationship that provided 7 training days? A two day training or 3 new coaching customers? AND – Was that enough growth for you?

With your energy invested in more proactive and interactive methods you will generate interest, passion and action – the phone will ring, live opportunities will land in your inbox and your business will grow – You will experience meaningful cash-flow, more hour’s and day’s work, a boost in your charge out rates and the choice to take or decline work, along with the self-confidence and business freedom that comes with knowing how to market and sell yourself effectively and comfortably.

  1. ORGANISATION – How was 2016? You added 74 connections on LinkedIn, collected 47 business cards and put them in your desk draw and found the physical address of 9 companies. – Did this provide the momentum you needed for your dynamic business growth in 2017?

When you know what to do and execute clever marketing and social media moves, you will gain presence, currency and relevance with actual decision makers (and- they will LIKE and RESPECT you). They will ask your advice, do as you advise and pay what you ask because they value your input and take you seriously as a coaching / training professional. AND it will have been your marketing activity that has made the difference and lead them to a positive conclusion about you and your services.

  1. DYNAMISM – How was 2016? Sitting by the phone waiting for incoming calls, checking every e mail ping and generally living on Hopium (the expensive drug that favours hope over action.)

How will 2017 be different? Will you hone your identity statement to perfection? Will you be super CLEAR about what you offer? Will you build your BRAND promise to a level where you are taken seriously? Will you know your Marketing AVATAR? Will you learn to write SUPER-COPY? Will you SEQUENCE your marketing communication to be maximally effective? Will you be ready to launch your informational attention grabbers on Social Media? Will you build a quality DATABASE with high value business contacts? Will you be networking like a HUSTLING pro? Will you master NEW SALES? Will you create a CORE MODEL that describes your offering? Will you generate enough REFERRALS to make a significant difference to your income and business growth?

AND

Will you look back on 2017 and say, “I learnt, laughed and lead my company to profitable GROWTH. What a great year?”

Join us for this 55 minute energy boosting webinar (with 10 – 15 minutes Q&A and get your business growing in 2017)

To Register click on; https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/9072445755469609986 

The webinar is on Tuesday, 21st March 2017 at 7PM Paris time, 6PM London time.

Thanks and see you there

Group of diverse designers in their modern officeWe are growing!