Tag Archives: career

Tips on public speaking

Some people would rather have the flu than speak in public. The thought of standing in front of a bunch of people is enough to give them endless sleepless nights and make their stomachs turn. If you fear public speaking, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

There’s a point in everyone’s life where they’ll find themselves in a position where they’ll have to give a speech. It could be giving a toast at a wedding or doing a presentation at work. Your knees may tremble and your palms may sweat and you could wonder how you’ll get through an entire 20 minutes of speaking. But with the right tools, you could give a speech that could get you a standing ovation.

Here are six ways to improve your communication skills.

Eye contact

They say you should imagine your audience is wearing nothing but underwear to ease your nerves and help you look in the eyes of everyone in the room. Whether you choose to use this trick or not, just remember looking people in the eye is a powerful tool you could use to engage with your audience. When your eyes wander around aimlessly or you constantly look at your notes, it shows you’re unconfident and uncomfortable. If you’re nervous about looking at people straight in the eye, focus on other parts of their face. You could look at their lips or their nose.

It’s not about you

Lisa Kirk was an American actress who was quoted as saying, “A bore is one who talks to you about himself and a brilliant conversationalist is one who talks to you about yourself.’ It’s not about you, it’s about your audience. Cater to your audience’s needs and that will create a desire for the product you’re trying to sell. Ask them questions throughout your presentation to keep them engaged.

Preparation

The term for the fear of public speaking is glossophobia. And the best way to overcome your fear is to prepare in advance. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.The more in control you feel, the more you’ll be able to give an outstanding speech. If you’re unprepared you’ll be all over the place and you may forget important points you wanted to make in your speech. Your speech should flow and if you’re not fully prepared, you might find yourself fumbling through notes and adding ums and ahs to fill in the gaps.

Interesting content

During your last presentation, your audience could have started yawning, scrolling through their phones or looked at you with blank stares. This could be because maybe they were tired or your presentation was too long and bland. People have a really low attention span, which is why you should make sure your content is interesting and straight to the point.

AIDA is a term used in marketing that stands for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. You could use AIDA to create a presentation that’ll draw the attention of your audience. Graphs, illustrations and captivating stories will create a desire and interest for the product you’re trying to sell. Short videos are also a powerful tool to send a message across to your audience and they make your presentation stand out. There‘s a reason why YouTube is a success, it’s because people love videos.

Toastmasters

Practice makes perfect. No one has mastered a skill overnight, it takes practice, dedication and perseverance to conquer anything you want in life. Toastmaster is an educational organisation which was established to help people improve their communication skills. It’s a perfect way to meet people and learn to be a strong communicator. And it’s also a safe zone because you’ll meet other people like you in the meeting. Toastmasters will help you to ease into public speaking through your own pace. On the first day, you may be so nervous that all you can utter is, “ Hi, my name is Sam.” But after much-needed guidance, tips and tools you’ll be a pro in no time.

The truth will set you free

Watching yourself on video could be painful. But recording yourself is a good way to analyse all your mistakes and to find ways to improve them. For example, you’ll be able to see if you look down a lot instead of engaging with your audience.

Some people have the gift of the gab and speaking in public comes naturally but for some, it’s a hurdle they struggle to overcome. Learning to speak in public should be a skill learned by all individuals because you never know when the opportunity will present itself. Whether you have studied marketing or an hr management course, you’ll probably need to speak in public at some point. Public speaking can be challenging for you but by following these simple steps you can be good at it and you may even grow to love it.

 

Why you need to improve your writing skills

You might think that you don’t need to be a writer. But the truth is, we’re all writers now. Every email, text message and social media caption shows your friends and colleagues what kind of writer you are. And there are two options. The kind of writer who makes an effort to create copy that’s error free and the kind who’s happy to send out content which is riddled with mistakes.

You might not think that writing is important. There are so many other things you need to think about every day. How can you possibly find the time to worry about whether your writing is up to scratch? The reality is that every piece of communication you send out says something about you. It tells the world how much effort and pride you put into your work. It speaks to your professionalism and how seriously you value your career. Every single email you unquestionably dash off or text message you bash out says something about you. So it’s important that you know what it is you want the subtext of your written communication to be.

Impact of bad writing on your career

Still aren’t convinced? There’s a study and statistics to back this up! Consider a Grammarly study of 100 LinkedIn profiles. Each of the employees looked at had worked at no more than three employers during the first decade of their careers. Of these, half were promoted to director level within this time. The other half were not. What were the differences between these profiles? Here’s what they found:

Those with few grammar errors in their profiles were promoted to higher positions. Those who didn’t progress to director level in this time had 2.5 times the number of grammar errors in their profiles when compared to their peers who had been promoted.

Fewer grammatical errors correlated to more promotions. Professionals with only one to four promotions in this time period had 45% more grammar errors than their colleagues who were promoted six to nine times.

Fewer grammar errors are associated with more frequent job changes. The reality is that if you’re changing jobs often and looking out for promotion opportunities, you’re going to be looking at your LinkedIn profile more often. This means these professionals were able to look out for errors and make changes more often. People who stayed in the same job for longer periods of time often overlooked their profiles and didn’t catch the errors.

According to Grammarly, writing skills are indicative of a person’s work performance in these ways:

  • People who care about their writing show that they have the skills of credibility, professionalism, and accuracy in their work.
  • Knowing how to structure a grammatically correct sentence is a signal that they can analyse and explain problems a complex nature.

Says Grammarly chief executive Brad Hoover: “People with better grammar may be more ambitious in their search for promising career opportunities.”

It’s clear then that bad writing can have a negative impact on your career and future job prospects.

Tips to improve your writing skills

Some people think they aren’t good at writing. They convince themselves that they aren’t a writer and so don’t need to improve their writing skills. They don’t make any attempt to become better. They’re fine with just being okay at best and shoddy at worst. But the reality is writing is a skill which can be improved over time. It takes practise and work, and it’s worth it. Writing is something which can be taught and learned. There are many courses available online, whether you’re interested in improving your report writing skills or merely your general communication skills, you’re sure to find one which can assist.

If you’re in need of a few quick tips, here they are:

Keep it simple. Never use five words when one will do.

Know what you want to say. And be clear about it.

Put the most important information at the top. Cut the rest.

Keep your sentences short. Alternate between long and short sentences to create rhythm.

Reread and rewrite. Never send anything out without checking it over first.

Writing is something which can be improved over time. And the most simple way to improve your writing is to read. By reading more often, you’ll be exposed to examples of both good and bad writing. It’s important you are able to take these in and tell the difference between the two.

Essential tips for managing your first project

Every business outlines goals with projects. These are merely codified paths toward a goal that benefits a business, taking into account resources and an end date. Projects can, of course, fail or turn out to be a waste of time. But, ideally, all are about doing well by the business. What we need to do is figure out efficient ways to manage these projects.

Examining failure

It might be a good idea to examine how projects fail. TechRepublic describes a few nightmare scenarios. For example, a toy retailer wanted to create a doll able to play pre-recorded music at the touch of a button. The music would be stored on a chip.

As they note:

“The problem was that the computer chips containing the music were sourced from Asia, and at the time there was a longshoremen’s strike on the west coast that held up delivery beyond the holiday season. The consequence? An unsuccessful project and several million dolls that sat in a warehouse unsold.”

How do such things happen? Here it was oversight no one considered: the international situation of foreign suppliers. Other projects fail when they’re entirely reliant on skills only one person has. If this person leaves, the project will fail. Projects go bust because the budget has been miscalculated. They fail because the resources are inappropriate or the interest has dissolved in the product or service being offered.  

Good projects and project managers will never encounter these issues.

What makes good project management?

As most project management training will show, you need to have all your bases covered.

Key to a project’s success is having the right team. As research constantly shows, having a diverse team is key to that. People from different backgrounds – identities, interests, skills, qualifications and so on – all serve to round out overall knowledge. It’s gaps in knowledge which often lead to miscalculation and mistakes.

For example, if the toy company had someone with an interest in international affairs, or the Asian market in particular, there’s a chance they would not have invested in those particular chips for recording sound.

Equally important is having a Plan B. If you have a particularly important project, you can’t predict what might happen in the world. You can have the most diverse team in the industry, but not see, say, a natural disaster negatively impacting a market. By putting all your eggs in one basket, you stand to lose everything – even if you’re certain you stand to gain the world. Spare some resources for alternate plans should your current project fail. Set up an entirely different team. Or, better yet, have multiple projects, all of which benefit but none that will threaten the business.

It’s also essential to regularly check in with where everyone is. This is also where communication comes in. By having a firm grasp on the project’s current state, you prevent potential disasters.

(image source: Flickr)