Practice Your Delivery of a Speech or Presentation

Practicing a speech or presentation is the key. Here four tips for improving your delivery.

  • Practice a full-length speech using a video recorder at least ten to twenty times. How many times should you practice? The answer is simple: As many times as it takes to master your content.
  • Ask someone to count the “ums,” “ahs,” and “likes” you use. These are filler words and they can kill a good speech. Be comfortable with the sound of silence. Or, use a video/voice recorder and count the filler words. You may be surprised.
  • Visualize your audience and the room in which you will de- liver your speech.
  • Prepare for possible interruptions and distractions such as a ringing cell phone, a microphone or PowerPoint failure, or people who arrive after you’ve started.

This is Part 2 of a post about public speaking and presentation skills. Read Part 1 here.

This is an excerpt from Chapter 5: Public Speaking and Presentation Skills from Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career

Why Public Speaking and Presentation Skills Matter to Your Career Success

You may be the smartest person in the room, but if you can’t speak effectively, no one will know it. Your managers, peers, colleagues, customers, clients, and investors will judge your skills and abilities by the way you speak.

If you are one of those people who are deathly afraid of public speaking, you are not alone. Many studies say that people rank the fear of public speaking higher than the fear of death. Jerry Seinfeld said it best: “At a funeral, the average person would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy.” You may say that it isn’t fair or accurate to judge a person’s professional abilities by the way they speak in public, but that’s the way it is. Many things in the working world aren’t fair. Like it or not, you will be judged by the way you speak.

You might hope to avoid public speaking as part of your job. If you chose to be an accountant, software programmer, or in- vestment banker because you believe that as long as your debits and credits balance, your software functions, or your deal closes, you won’t have to speak in public. That could not be farther from the truth.

Job function doesn’t matter. Your role in an organization doesn’t matter. Your ability to express your ideas, thoughts, and opinions verbally will have a great impact on your career. You will still need to sell a product or service to a customer, rally your team to take action, persuade a business partner to adopt your viewpoint, convince an investor to invest, or argue your case before a jury.

Next week, read Part 2 of this post, “How to Practice and Improve Your Delivery”

This is an excerpt from Chapter 5: Public Speaking and Presentation Skills from Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career

Reading List – The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition by Strunk & White

Why read this book? Truth be told, you probably won’t read this book cover-to-cover, but it is an invaluable reference tool. This is the standard reference tool for all English-language writers. Consider keeping a copy in your desk. There is a related online resource at Bartleby.com that allows you to search for rules by key word or browse the full contents of the original 1918 ver- sion of this book—all for free.

Adapted from my book, Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, Chapter 4: Business Writing. Click here to download 2 chapters of the book for free. Available on Amazon today.

Handwritten Notes in a Digital Age

Handwritten notes are simple, inexpensive tools that ca help you establish and strengthen business relationships. This tool is effective because it is so rarely used. Your hand-written note will get noticed because it’s likely to be the only one a person received that day (or month)! A handwritten note is memorable. And after all, isn’t that the point?

Following are some key points, especially for handwritten notes:

  • Use good quality stationery. A monogram is fine, as long as it’s professional.
  • Use your best handwriting.
  • Make the note personal, within a business context.

When is a handwritten note appropriate?

  • To thank a co-worker or peer for extra effort on a project.
  • To congratulate a customer or a client on a personal milestone such as the birth of a baby, a child’s graduation, or a promotion.
  • As a follow-up to an email thank you. It’s nice to also send an additional, handwritten message that arrives one to two weeks later.
  • After meeting someone at a networking event, industry program, conference or trade show.

In our highly digitized world, using hand written notes will help you be noticed.

How many millions are in a trillion?

Do you know how many millions are in a trillion? According to Econ4u.org (Employment Policies Institute), only 21% of the people in a national poll answered the question correctly. That’s not good. You definitely want to know the answer to this question and here’s why. . .

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/4428480]

Read more

Teamwork – There is no “I”

In November of 2012, I wrote a blog post about the culture associated with Tough Mudder– the obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie (see A Muddy Corporate Culture). I also discussed the need to understand the culture of your organization.

This past November, I participated in my first GORUCK Light. Fellow Georgetown alumnus, Jason McCarthy is a Special Forces veteran and launched GORUCK events to prove the quality and durability of the rucksacks he was selling. The story of how Jason built this company is very interesting, especially for entrepreneurs (or entrepreneur-in-training). Read more

15 Things Successful Professionals Do: Part 3 of 3

And here’s the final installment of the 15 point list. . .

11) Persevere – You will encounter many challenges in your career.  Your response to those challenges will say more about you than your successes.

Try not.  Do, or do not.  There is no try. ~YODA, Jedi Grand Master

12) Communicate with confidence – Communication via the spoken and written word are one way to demonstrate your professional abilities.  Practice public speaking and perfect your writing skills, until you far surpass your peers—the bar is usually not that high.

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug. ~Mark Twain

13) Display humility – Demonstrate humility and personal accountability in your career and you’ll never go wrong.

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self. ~Ernest Hemingway, Author

14) Be flexible – As a recent graduate or new professional, be flexible in your career path.  Build career skills that transcend your current function, role and industry make you invaluable in the marketplace and provide more opportunities.

Change is the only constant. ~Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher

15) Make connections – Networking is a key professional skill.  If you focus on what you can do for others, networking won’t feel like a chore.  Your efforts will be rewarded in what you’ve given and what you will receive.

Dig the well before you are thirsty. ~Chinese Proverb

15 Things Successful Professionals Do: Part 2 of 3

Continuing with our list. . .

6) Connect the dots – Consider the big picture and where your career fits in your company, industry and the worldwide economy at this moment in time, in addition to, the past and the future.

We often need to lose sight of our priorities in order to see them. ~ John Irving, Author

7) Display realistic optimism  – There will be plenty of opportunities in your career to be optimistic (or pessimistic) depending on which you choose.  Choose wisely.

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. ~Winston Churchill, Politician

8) Continued improvement – Throughout your career, there is one constant which is YOU.  Be the best professional you can be.

Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune. ~Jim Rohn, Entrepreneur

9) Commit – Your commitment to a task, the project, your job and your organization is being measured everyday by your subordinates, peers, colleagues, managers, share holders, customers and clients.  If it is not 100%, others will know it.

The man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar, instead of how little he can give for a dollar, is bound to succeed.  ~Henry Ford

10) Be alert – Opportunities in your career won’t always find you.  Be on the look out and willing to create opportunities for yourself.

If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door. ~Milton Berle, Comedian & Actor

Stay tuned for “15 Things Successful Professionals Do: Part 3 of 3” next week.

15 Things Successful Professionals Do: Part 1 of 3

Ilya Pozin wrote a great post on LinkedIn titled, “15 Things Successful People Do.”  Here is the Career-ology version of Pozin’s list with a focus on your career and professional success.

1) Fail – At some point in your career, you will encounter failure—your position is downsized, you get overlooked for a promotion or bonus, you choose a job that isn’t the right fit.  You cannot have success without failure. Stop.  Assess. Adjust. Keep moving forward.

When I was young, I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures.  So I did ten times more work.  ~George Bernard Shaw, Playwright

2) Set Goals – You must identify and develop the critical career skills with the same discipline of your formal college curriculum.  As a professional, you are responsible for establishing and working towards your goals.

People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine. ~Brian Tracy, Author

3) Don’t rely on luck – Luck is only one small part of the professional success equation.  Without mastering the right skills, you cannot rely on luck alone.

I am a great believer in luck.  The harder I work, the more of it I seem to have. ~Coleman Cox, Author (interesting note: Thomas Jefferson is often incorrectly cited as the source of this quote)

4) Track progress – Like setting specific goals, tracking your progress against your career goals is important.  Make adjustments when required, but stay focused on your progress.

Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning. ~Benjamin Franklin

5) Act – This is your career.  Take responsibility and take action.

If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it. ~Michael Jordan, Professional Athlete

Stay tuned for “15 Things Successful Professionals Do: Part 2 of 3” next week.

 

The Problem With Your Elevator Pitch–And How To Fix It

To be fully prepared for a networking event, you need to have your elevator pitch.  Much has been written about crafting this short 20-30 second introduction about yourself and your business, company or services.  Much of what has been written is not good advice.

My advice to craft your elevator pitch (also referred to as your “30-second pitch”) is to provide at least one interesting hook which prompts the listener to ask another question about what you do.  Alternatively, it should provide enough color that it is memorable while also easily conveying what it is that you actually do.

Deborah Greyson Riegel offers some very sound, practical advice in her Fast Company article.  Here are the highlights:

  • Don’t speak the way you write.
  • Utilize common vernacular (aka, use the simplest language possible).
  • Turn your pitch into a question.
  • Practice saying your pitch out loud, with feedback.
  • Be willing to forgo your pitch entirely.

Read the full article.

Deborah Grayson Riegel is a communication and behavior expert, and is the president of Elevated Training Inc. and MyJewishCoach.com. She is the author of “Oy Vey! Isn’t a Strategy: 25 Solutions for Personal and Professional Success.”