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Why be Fearful of Speaking in Public

Why be Fearful of Speaking in Public?

When I’m out socially, whether it be playing golf or with friends over dinner and it comes up in conversation that I coach people to speak in public, I am continually surprised by the number of successful and confident people who still express a fear of speaking in public, be it to an audience of five or five hundred.

Why is this?

Let me tell you what I believe is the cause.

The education system in Ireland and Europe generally puts emphasis on academic qualifications and not enough emphasis on emotional intelligence skills, of which good communications is a critical component.  Whereas in America from an early age students are engaged in ‘show and tell’.

Also, I believe MBA programs in the States put more emphasis on presenting and pitching as part of the program.

I am not going to change the educational system single-handedly, but I am now coaching students and lecturers in all of the leading Universities in Ireland in my style of communication and presenting.

This I believe will lead to more confident and successful leaders in whatever career path they choose.

What I can change for the individuals and organisations who  engage me to work with their people, is how they are coached and prepared for important conversations with audiences.

You will note that I use the word conversation and not presentation!

I believe we should always regard the opportunity to speak to an audience as a conversation, not a presentation or pitch. This immediately reduces the pressure on the speaker as it’s not as intimidating to have a conversation as it is to deliver a presentation.

My way is to ban all of the following words when preparing people for important meetings:

Presentation: usually dull and boring.

(think of the last conference you attended)

Pitch: nobody wants to be sold to.

Sermon: one of the reasons churches are empty.

Lecture: who wants to be lectured to?

When speaking to an audience it should always be a conversation. This is how all the great stand-up comedians engage their audiences. You go home not remembering the words (jokes) but knowing that you feel uplifted and energised.

Is this not the purpose of most business conversations?

My guarantee to all my clients is that I will never criticise them or tell them what they have done wrong, yet every person will be better as a result of our working together.

The degree as to how much they will improve is greatly dependent on the amount of preparation and work they put into implementing the advice and coaching I give them.

When I explain my methodology to clients, they regularly tell me that they need constructive criticism in order to improve.

My response is that constructive criticism is criticism with the word constructive placed in front of it to soften the blow, it’s still CRITICISM.

As one of my clients commented recently you never feel

RECONSTRUCTED AS A RESULT OF CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM.

My coaching philosophy is as follows:

Never: criticise

Always: praise (sincerely)

Leading to an atmosphere where people want to engage and improve.

Note: if you wish to become an effective LEADER the above principles also apply.

To compliment this article I’m linking to a 30 minute humorous video to the Sales Institute of Ireland which expands on and explains my philosophy in more detail.

What is the most common mistake Entrepreneurs make when pitching their business?

I listen to hundreds of pitches every year, so I would like to think I can quickly identify the key messages an entrepreneur would like to get across to a customer, or investor.

Over the last three weeks I have coached FinTech start-ups, Female Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurs in the 50+ age bracket, a broad spectrum, I think you’ll agree.

Let me tell you what I believe is the most common mistake all entrepreneurs make when pitching their business ideas!

The fundamental error that entrepreneurs make when pitching is spending too much time talking about their product. They are so enamoured by the product they have developed, they want to tell their audience about every feature.

They believe the question they must answer is:

What do they do?

But initially, nobody is interested in what you do!

The question that needs answering is:

How does your idea/product make your audience’s business or life better?

My number one challenge when working with business people, be they start-ups or an established business, is getting them to articulate clearly how their business idea benefits their prospective client.

When you answer this question clearly and simply, you are much more likely to succeed with engagement and win new business.

Here’s an analogy to explain my idea:

When you get into your car to drive to an important meeting, you do not need to know how the engine works.  But you must be confident that the car will get you there.

Here is Aristo’s strap line:

“I capture your business story and give you the confidence to tell it or sell it”

(Note – there is no mention of how I do that).

In conversation with my prospective clients I focus on how improved communication/pitching skills will win them the next big contract, or investor funding.

To conclude this article, here’s two questions you need to ask yourself before meeting the prospect.

  1. Who are you meeting?

You cannot prepare a presentation/conversation for a faceless person.

(To edit an old cliché, “generic presentations are not worth the paper they are written on”).

  1. How can you make this person better?

You may be pitching to a large organisation, but invariably it’s one or two key individuals who will have the final say.

Are you confident that you can clearly and simply demonstrate to these people how their business will be better as a result of engaging with you?

Clients of mine tell me they find my outside perspective on how they could better tell their story incredibly useful. It’s easy to forget that internal stories don’t always translate well outside the company.

If you feel you need help in delivering your message, why not get in touch and explore how I may be of assistance?

Here is some great advice on how to Lead People!

BarackObamaAngelaMerkel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Often people believe that they are not leaders. They think people like Barack Obama and Angela Merkel are, but that they themselves are not!

In reality each time we speak or attend a meeting, we have the opportunity to demonstrate leadership.

On one of my training programmes I asked my colleague to tell a story of where he personally had seen leadership demonstrated?  Initially he had difficulty, because we are always looking for something on a grand scale, looking to the momentous event!

I said to him, think of someone in your life who has influenced you?  Someone who has changed the way you think and act, because that’s leadership.

He then told me a story about when he was a young apprentice in the Air Corps carrying out a repair, when he was observed by his manager, who saw he was doing it incorrectly.

This man did not rush over and tell him how he was doing it wrong, he simply came over and said, Harry “let me show you how we do that here”.

He said for the time he was there serving his apprenticeship, this man often came to him and the other apprentices and said “let me show you how we do this here”.

Clearly, the leadership that man demonstrated was passed on to Harry, as he become a senior manager in the Aviation industry.

Harry’s advice to my group was: if you wish to change and lead people, the secret is not to find fault but to seek willing co-operation.

As a leader, it’s not good enough to talk about the values of your organisation be they Honesty, Integrity, Creativity etc.

YOU MUST DEMONSTRATE AND LIVE THESE VALUES.

If you feel you need help in delivering your message or leading your team, why not get in touch and explore how I may be of assistance?

Failed First Dates & Failed Business Meetings share a lot in Common!

Failed First Dates & Failed Business Meeting share a lot in Common!

Here is a situation …

You have the opportunity to speak to a really important prospect, a person you’ve been trying to arrange a meeting with for ages.  Now, mostly by good networking and a little luck, you are in the same room and anxious to make a good impression.

So how should you do that? 

Start the meeting by asking questions that engage the prospect in a conversation?

However, what I usually hear when I start preparing clients for important meeting with prospects, goes something like this …

“We’re the biggest, the best, the most environmentally friendly, we support equality, we’re the most technologically advanced, we focus on our clients’ needs etc.”

These are all claims about your organisation and nothing about the prospect! (BORING)

Does this sound familiar?

I believe business meetings can often be like bad first dates!

A bad first date is where the person on the other side of the dinner table spends the whole evening telling you how great they are!

When this happens, are you likely to go on another date with this person?  I doubt it.

You should think of your prospect meeting as a date you would like to go well.

How do you plan/prepare in order to enjoy a positive outcome?

Step one:

How much do you know about your prospect(s)?

Do as much research as possible about the organisation and the individuals attending the meeting.

Step two:

Prepare open-ended questions to engage your audience in a conversation about their issues.

This part of the meeting should be allocated a significant amount of the available time. You will find out during this conversation, how you can help address identified problems, allowing you to tailor your offer around a prospect’s needs.

I have no doubt a successful outcome for this type of meeting would involve sending a proposal to your potential customer.

A great proposal says to a prospect –

“I understand your problem better than anybody else and I have a tried and trusted solution”.

If you follow my advice and have a conversation, one that asks engaging questions of the prospect, it’s more likely to lead to a winning proposal.

My challenge to you is prepare four or five questions that will kick start a rewarding conversation with your prospect.

My clients often find this the most challenging and rewarding aspect of our work together.

If you would like some help in this area, please make contact and we can explore what questions would work best for you and your organisation?

Please CLICK here to see over 100 Client testimonials

If you enjoyed reading this Blog, please share, like, comment, tweet etc.

What do great Sports Writers and successful Business people have in common?

… the ability to ask good questions in a conversational way.

A bad first date is where the person on the other side of the dinner table spends the whole evening telling you how great they are!

Here is a situation …

You have the opportunity to speak to a really important prospect, a person you’ve been trying to arrange a meeting with for ages.  Now, mostly by good networking and a little luck, you are in the same room and anxious to make a good impression.

So how do you do that?

Start the meeting by asking questions that engage the prospect in a conversation?

This was done brilliantly recently (09/02/17) in an interview Michael Bamberger (Golf.com) had with Rory McIlroy who is currently injured and not competing.

Here are some of the great questions Michael asked Rory …

  • Are you watching golf on TV?
  • What did you make of the Super Bowl?
  • What did you think of Lady Gaga?
  • Do you believe that golf undresses a man?
  • How have your feelings for the game changed as you’ve gone from boy to man, and from amateur to professional?
  • What new person in your life has made biggest impact on your on-course life?  And your off-course life?
  • When and where have you been happiest on the golf course when you were not playing in a professional tournament?
  • What was it that made that occasion so special?

(Note how the questions become more informative about Rory’s values as the interview progresses.)

What I usually hear when I start working with a client, goes something like this …

”We’re the biggest, the best, the most environmentally friendly, we support equality, we’re the most technologically advanced, we focus on our clients’ needs etc.”

These are all claims about your organisation and nothing about the prospect!  (BORING)

Does this sound familiar?

I believe business meetings can often be like bad first dates!

A bad first date is where the person on the other side of the dinner table spends the whole evening telling you how great they are!

When this happens, are you likely to go on another date with this person?  I doubt it.

You should think of your prospect meeting as a date you would like to go well.

How do you plan/prepare in order to enjoy a positive outcome?

Step one:

How much do you know about your prospect(s)?

Do as much research as possible about the organisation and the individuals attending the meeting.

Step two:

Prepare open-ended questions to engage your audience in a conversation about their issues.

This part of the meeting should be allocated the majority of the available time. You will find out during this conversation, how you can help address identified problems, allowing you to tailor your offer around a prospect’s needs.

I have no doubt a successful outcome for this type of meeting would involve sending a proposal to your potential customer.

A great proposal says to a prospect –

“I understand your problem better than anybody else and I have a tried and trusted solution”.

If you follow my advice and have a conversation, one that asks engaging questions of the prospect, it’s more likely to lead to a winning proposal.

My challenge to you is prepare four or five questions that will kick start a rewarding conversation with your prospect.

My clients often find this the most challenging and rewarding aspect of our work together.

If you would like some help in this area, please make contact and we can explore what questions would work best for you and your organisation?

Please CLICK here to see over 100 Client testimonials

If you enjoyed reading this Blog, please share, like, comment, tweet etc.

7 Steps to a More Focused and Intentional Life

Andrew Keogh with Joe Schmidt

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Steps to a More Focused and Intentional Life

(Create Pictures in your Head)

What have …

Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Richard Branson, Sheryl Sandberg, Padraig Harrington, Gabriel Byrne, Joe Schmidt

and little old me got in common?

We all have the ability to dream, visualize and create pictures in our heads.

Why is this ability important?
When we read about or meet successful people we realise it is their ability to dream dreams and create pictures in their head that is an important key to their success.

In my discussions with people in workshops and on a daily basis in one to one  coaching sessions, I realize that few people have the ability to create pictures in their head.

This was something done in childhood, but now forgotten or dismissed like Santa Claus and the tooth fairy.

By developing this skill again, you can enjoy more success in your life or simply enjoy life more.

Try the following 7 simple and enjoyable steps …

Step 1: Start by reminding yourself of how you used to dream

Start by reminding yourself of how you used to dream and create pictures in your head, as a child.

As an example here is the postscript to the introduction to Gabriel Byrnes book entitled ‘Pictures in my Head’.

“I’m sitting by the Rio Grande. The Desert stretches away endlessly. I am making a cowboy picture with two old friends from the Apollo cinema in Walkinstown, Robert Mitchum and Jack Palance. I am still playing cowboys! And the sky seems as blue and innocent as it  always did back then. And for just a few moments I can believe that nothing has changed. And that’s the magic”.

Step 2: Use your imagination again

When did you stop?

Why did you stop?

Was it suggested to you perhaps that daydreaming was for children only and not for tough people in the business world. Yet all the successful people you meet or read about will talk and get excited about their future visions and goals.

Take the advice of Jack Black, Rory McIlroy, Joe Schmidt and Gabriel Byrne, start dreaming and visualising yourself enjoying the benefits of living the newly created pictures in your head.

Step 3: Create New Pictures in your head

How?  Find a quiet place free from interruption and start.

We have just completed the Christmas festivities and a new year stretches out ahead of us like a blank canvas.  What do you want to paint on this canvas?

Learn to think in pictures, flesh out your thoughts and experience the adrenalin rush this will provide.

Have fun developing this skill again; involve a partner or mentor in the process.  This will emphasise your commitment to success and also provide you with support and encouragement ensuring that your picture becomes a reality.

Step 4: Commit your Pictures to paper

Write or draw your picture, have yourself in the picture, enjoying whatever it is you want to do.

This picture must excite you each time you read it.  How often should you read or look at your picture?  Every day. (First thing in the morning and last thing at night)

Start now, using clear powerful, present tense language. Have lots of detail in your picture, colours, smells, textures, movement, sounds, images, joy and excitement.

Think like a child, an artist, and a poet; be at your most creative.

Take a blank page now and fill it!

 

It is …………………………  (a future date)

 

I am…………………………

 

e.g.      Sitting in my new office……

            Enjoying working in my own business………..

            Driving my new car……………………………

            Decorating my new home………………………

 

Step 5: Enthusiastically act out your dreams

What do I mean?

Take steps that lead you towards your picture!

For example …

  • If you picture yourself skiing in the Alps.
  • Book a skiing lesson as a first step.
  • If you picture yourself in a new house in 12 months time.
  • Visit some show houses or buy a small accessory for the house that you can keep to hand.
  • If you picture yourself in a better job.
  • Dress to suit the new position and not your current position.

This has the added advantage of testing out the water to ensure the picture you have created for yourself is practical.

As an example, I have always driven Alfa Romeo cars and had the ambition some years ago to own an Alfa Spider soft top.  I am 6’4” tall and when I took a test drive in a Spider my head was above the windscreen.   I would have had to wear goggles to keep flies out of my eyes.

The test drive demonstrated that my picture was not practical, so I needed to re-focus.

Step 6: Succeed = Practice living your dreams

This is what successful sports people and business people do.

  • Start with the shorter putts
  • The smaller orders

Create successful outcomes, which will motivate you to move on to bigger successes.

  •  Sink the medium putts
  • The medium contracts

Having sunk the 12ft putts and closed the medium deals you have now created a cushion of success giving you the confidence to face the big challenges.

Work on sinking the 20ft putts, the bigger deals, all the time reminding yourself of your past successes.

Step 7:  See BIGGER Pictures

Once you are in the habit of implementing the six previous steps you will realize how simple and enjoyable it is to plan for your future.

One of our biggest failings in planning for our future is that we plan based on our past achievements not on our true potential.

Our pictures are often too small, we need to make them BIGGER

7 Steps to SUCCESS:

S – Start by reminding yourself of how you used to dream

U – Use your imagination again

C – Create new pictures in your head

C – Commit your pictures to paper

E – Enthusiastically act out your dreams

S – Succeed = Practice living your dreams

S – See bigger pictures

If you need help and encouragement to take the first step or would like support throughout the process click here to contact me

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