10 Reasons your Public Speaking is sending the audience to sleep

Public speaking is an art – ask anyone who’s sat through a poor presentation.

It’s a sad fact, but overall the standard of public speaking falls well below where it should be, and that’s a pity, because being an accomplished speaker is an excellent route to raising a business profile.

And with that in mind, here are some pointers from Barbara Moynihan, a Past President of Toastmasters International (Dun Laoghaire club). Barbara believes there are 10 ways a public speaker can sabotage their presentation:

1. Poor rapport. The easiest way to get an audience on your side is to smile, start on time, dress appropriately for the occasion, and ensure you finish on time.

2. Not being authentic. The best speakers are confident, and it’s easier to be confident if you’re comfortable, and it’s easier to be comfortable if you’re being yourself. But sometimes we need to practice being ourselves. Try recording yourself on your phone, or even video yourself. Is the person you see and hear really you, or someone who looks like you pretending to be something you’re not?

3. Not minding the gap. Silence can speak volumes. Emphasise your key points by using pauses to add impact.

4. Being stone-faced. Engage the audience by engaging the 80 muscles in our face. You can produce around 7,000 facial gestures. Use more than one.

5. Avoiding the audience. Don’t be afraid, look them in the eyes. Do not spend your talk turning away from the audience to read from your PowerPoint. Slides should enhance your talk, not act as subtitles.

6. Too much tech-talk. Avoid TLAs. People don’t like it when they don’t understand Three Letter Acronyms. Unnecessary technical detail is another turn-off. Keep your message simple, and in English.

7. Being too serious. Everyone likes to laugh, but that doesn’t mean you have to be Michael McIntyre. If you can tell a joke, great. But if that’s not you, there are other ways to inject humour into your presentation. Try anecdotes, relevant pictures or short movie clips; Google and YouTube are your friends.

8. Poor planning. Your presentation is like a novel or a movie. It needs a beginning, a middle and an end. Keep the structure of your talk simple, with clear signposts and transitions to help your audience follow your narrative.

9. Lacking energy. Don’t be Mister or Ms Monotone. Project your voice, vary your pace and pitch, and be animated, using gestures to emphasise points.

10. Being boring. Adjectives, adverbs, metaphors and similes are what Toastmasters champion Andrew Brammer calls “linguistic sparklers”. Remember to sparkle.

Hopefully those tips will encourage you to polish your presentation skills and reap the benefits of public speaking. And if you really want to be inspired, join us on our Keynote Speaker Course and we will help you sparkle in front of your next audience.

Being Confident in how you Communicate

Communicating and articulating yourself in a confident manner is said to be one of the key strengths of a great leader. Why is this? Well, it could be because self-confident people trust in their own abilities, have a general sense of control in their lives, and believe that within reason, they will be able to do whatever they wish, plan and expect.

Confidence in business

In a business environment, self-confidence is a very necessary attribute. For example, if you’re unsure of your own abilities, how can you convince an employer of your worth at an interview? “One of the biggest myths about self-confidence is that you have to be born with it. Self-confidence is actually a set of skills that can be learned, just like any other skill”, says Mike Smith, at Ripley Training.

Believe that it’s possible

“It’s also important to remember that if you’ve had your confidence destroyed, it is possible to build it up again and become even more resilient” adds Mike. So, if you want to communicate with confidence, you must believe that it is possible to change and you must be motivated to do so. The three core areas of self-belief and communicating with confidence are about:

• Having an underlying confidence in your own abilities, based on past successes;

• Having a positive yet realistic view of yourself and your situation;

• Developing a personal sense of self-worth that is not dependent on performance.

Communicating with confidence – in practice

So, putting this into practice, how can you start communicating with more confidence? You can start by identifying some of your personal and professional goals and then spending time practicing these new behaviours. You can also try our guidance below on how to build self-confidence:

1. Sell yourself (to yourself!)

List all your strengths and skills. Don’t be modest!

2. Use assertive language

Avoid the use of ‘hesitant’ words such as ‘possibly, ‘might’, ‘maybe’, ‘quite’. And when you’re speaking, don’t start sentences by apologising.

3. Challenge yourself

Move out of your comfort zone at every opportunity. Try new things – you will pick up new skills and come to know that you can cope with the unfamiliar.

4. Body Language

As 55% of what you say is conveyed by your body, think about how you sit and stand and use eye contact and gestures. To create a positive impression at work with colleagues or clients, walk into the room with a good posture and smile, make eye contact, and shake hands firmly. Remind and reassure yourself about what you do well and why you’re an expert in your field.

5. Prepare

If you’re giving a presentation for example, then make sure you’ve done lots of preparation; but most of all, preparation in knowing yourself and understanding the subject that you’ll be presenting, as this way, your confidence levels will increase.

6. Visualisation

Visualisation can be a really powerful tool. Try visualising a real life experience where you were successful and felt incredibly good about yourself. Bring to mind what it felt like, where you were, what you could see, smell and touch on that occasion. Fix this in your mind by visualising it every morning and evening for several weeks. You will then be able to recall easily that confident feeling in situations where you need a boost.

7. Observe and learn from others who are confident

If you have a friend who is self-confident, observe how they behave in situations that you would feel uncertain about. Then, try and act as they would. Use them as a role model.

Improve Communication Skills with Ripley Training

If you would like to find out more about how to communicate with confidence then our Communicating with Confidence and Personal Impact course is right for you. The course includes the importance of self-worth and how that is communicated, the benefits of taking control of your attitude and directing it, how to create a good first impression and behave in a more confident manner, and how to communicate in the right way in all situations. If you’re not sure which course is right for you, we provide a range of high quality and accessible training to suit your business’ needs. Get in touch today for more information.

How to Communicate with Confidence

Even the most experienced people can feel a lack of confidence in certain situations at work. Stressful circumstances, difficult colleagues and criticism can all have an impact on self-confidence. However, when you feel low in self-esteem how can you make sure that you can still communicate with confidence?

Confidence is an Act

One thing you must remember is that even if you don’t feel confident, you can still behave confidently. This may be easier said than done, but it’s true. Don’t let inhibitions hold you back from doing something; just do it!

Changing the way you think about confidence can really help with how you feel. Understand that confidence is not something you are born with, or without, it is simply a state of mind. By following these simple tips anyone can become more confident and self-assured.

Body Language and Speech

Communication is all about body language and speech. Research suggests that body language accounts for up to 70% of all communication. This can be your greatest tool for communication success. Simply by being aware of your body language you can completely change the way in which you are perceived in the workplace. Slouching and fidgeting do not portray confidence whereas eye contact and a firm handshake signifies certainty.

Listen to Others

There is a fine line between confidence in the workplace and arrogance. Being overconfident for your work environment can be unattractive to others. You need to ensure you’re firm but friendly and not smug or arrogant. Listening to what others have to say is a vital aspect of how you come across.

Listening will make you more likable to colleagues and approachable. This will only positively improve communication. Listening to other points of view is also a learning tool. Learning is a great way to increase self-confidence. You will become more aware of yourself, your role and the company.

Dealing with Conflict

Communication may occasionally result in conflict within the working environment. Dealing with conflicts effectively and efficiently takes a lot of confidence. While some people will avoid any sign of a disagreement, others will fight back aggressively. Confidence is not about dealing with it in either way.

A confident person will tackle these situations by being firm, assertive and consistent whilst remaining calm and composed.

Positive Thought

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement” – Helen Keller

Perhaps the most important component of confidence is positive thinking. Thinking positively has a huge effect on what you can achieve. If you’re thinking positively then you are already half way there. Positive thinking will subconsciously result in positive body language. As well as this it will contribute greatly to how others perceive you. If your colleagues enjoy your company, you will naturally feel more self-confident and self-assured.

We’d love to hear how you communicate with confidence. Leave a comment with your top tips!

Ripley Training

If you would like to find out more about how you can be more confident in the workplace then our Communicating with Confidence and Personal Impact course is right for you. Alternatively, if you would like to improve other Personal Skills then take a look through our range of courses.

At Ripley Training we offer a wide range of 121, in-house and open courses. All can be tailored to suit your requirements. Contact us if you would like to enquire about our training.

5 Ways NLP increases productivity in the workplace

Neuro-Linguistic Programming describes the process of how we perceive the outside world or external influences and how we communicate this perception through the language we use. In the workplace NLP can be used as a tool to completely change individuals and hugely increase productivity.

By understanding the ways in which an individual or team interprets the world around them, you can change the way they think, speak and behave towards it. NLP aims to reverse negative attitudes and habits in the workplace to give individuals control over how they react and feel towards future events. So, how can you use NLP to increase the productivity of your team?

1. Set Objectives

The simplest way of implementing a form of NLP in your work environment is to make sure everyone is working towards goals. By setting objectives you are giving your team a direction and something to work for. If employees feel they are expected to achieve these firm objectives they will naturally work harder to make sure they do. They will also automatically be taking more responsibility over their role and the work they do.

This increases productivity on an individual level. Incentives for successfully achieving objectives can also be specified in order to motivate staff to succeed and thrive in the work environment.

2. Boost Staff Morale

NLP is a great way to make employees more engaged and content in the workplace and NLP training is a valuable investment. Committed and engaged employees will perform better than other employees in the business – what are you doing to maintain commitment and engagement in your business? Learning NLP techniques through tailored training courses and coaching will enable team members to reach high levels of performance by over coming barriers in the workplace.

Staff morale is an ongoing factor that a team leader or manager considers. Treating employees with respect, listening to their ideas and making them feel included on a daily basis will keep their self-esteem and confidence high.

3. Better Communication

Internal communications and client relationships are vital for a productive and efficient working environment. Making people aware of how they come across when interacting with others is a key aspect of using NLP to improve communication. NLP will help to identify adverse behaviours such as body language. Body language such as avoiding eye contact or slouching shoulders is generally a subconscious behaviour.

Once the negative behaviour has been recognised, the individual can work to change and improve. As the individual becomes more self-aware, they also become more aware of other people. Effective communication requires an understanding to others’ thought processes as well as an awareness of yourself. See yourself in the way that you would like others to see you.

4. Learning and Development

NLP is all about bringing together an individual’s innermost skills and highlighting their hidden, concealed ability. NLP unlocks the potential for a wealth of knowledge. Employees will be eager to learn and advance in their own professional development. This enables employees to take control of their own career and requires them to be proactive about doing so. A proactive, engaged and progressing team will be highly motivated and productive.

NLP helps the individual to improve in their job role by taking a highly performing team member and using their behaviour and work ethic as a model for others to adopt. You could have a team that is as strong as your strongest employee. This would have a huge impact on productivity as well as give your business a competitive edge.

5. Changing Behaviour

The main objective of NLP is to reverse negative behaviours and habits. How an individual interprets their workplace has little to do with the actual working environment and more to do with the individual. Employees have completely different experiences at work, even though the work environment is the same for everyone. NLP makes employees aware that the problems they face at work are usually internal, not external. Making employees self-aware of their attitudes and behaviours is the first step towards a positive change.

Ripley Training

If you would like to find out more about how NLP can increase and improve your business then our Introduction to NLP course is right for you. Alternatively, if you would like to study NLP in more depth then you should take a look at our INLPTA Diploma in NLP course.

We provide a range of high quality and accessible training to suit your business’ needs. Get in touch today.

5 Ways to Deal with Difficult Clients

“The day you sign a client is the day you start losing them”

Everyone has come across difficult clients at some point in their career. Knowing how to deal with this person can be tough. Whether you aren’t delivering to their expectations or they’re anxious about what you are doing, by following these five ideas you can be sure to have a smooth relationship. The day you sign a client could actually become the start of a wonderful and prosperous relationship!

1. Trust

It is up to you to convey to the client that you know exactly what you are doing. It’s your job to complete the task or job agreed and let the client know they are in good hands whilst doing so. A client will become very uncomfortable and anxious if they don’t understand exactly what you are doing and why. This could make them seem overbearing and picky when they are actually just passionate about the project and take their work seriously.

If you have a client like this, try taking a couple of hours to educate and inform them of the work you are doing for them. It could make all the difference.

2. Only Solutions, Not Problems

If you feel that a client is being difficult, take a step back and think. Maybe the client is not being difficult, maybe they are just raising a genuine problem with the work you are doing with them. Even if you don’t see the problem, you have to find a solution to put their mind at ease. It is your job to do so.

Counter any problems, and even those that you may think of as non-problems, with solutions. However simple or complex, the way you deal with it should be the same; efficiently and politely. Most importantly never let them think it was any trouble.

3. Pre-empt any issues

In a similar vein to the above, when dealing with any client you should always be aware. You should be able to recognize when and what a client may have an issue with. For example, if you are sending a monthly report and it isn’t as good as expected, offer an explanation of why this could be. Don’t wait for them to ask. You will seem on the ball and confident and they will be satisfied with the work. Everyone’s a winner.

Trust your instincts with this one. If you can see a potential problem they could raise then they probably will. Find a solution to this problem before it becomes one.

4. Keep in Contact

It’s important that you are in regular contact with your client. Regular updates about the work you’re doing and keeping them in the loop will go a long way into how comfortable the client feels. A client who is not informed about a key change or update in your company or work will become dissatisfied. As well as the usual contact regarding work, make extra time for face to face meetings if necessary. The first way to improve client relationships is to nurture them.

Remember, when dealing with any client it is vital to remain professional and polite at all times. They are paying for your service and you therefore have a duty to keep them satisfied.

5. Personality Clash

Sometimes the source of a bad client relationship could be as simple as a personality clash. It happens. There are too many people in the world for everyone to get on great. In the short term when dealing with this client, it is best to be polite, civil and professional. The longer term resolution would be to assign another member of staff to the client. This needn’t be obvious and awkward. You can simply say the change was due to internal adjustments.

Ripley Training

At Ripley Training we offer a wide variety of courses to help you improve your customer service and personal skills. Learn more about dealing with difficult clients on our Communicating with Confidence and Personal Impact Course. If you need help dealing with unsatisfied customers our Handling Difficult Callers and People on Reception Desks Course will help you gain confidence and offer a better service.

We also offer bespoke training to suit any training needs you may have.

Why You Should Invest In Business Networking

Most of us have had to engage in business networking at some point in our careers and will probably need to do so again. Perhaps you attend an early morning breakfast networking, are a delegate at an industry conference or you simply network with your colleagues and co-workers. Whatever type of networking you do, it’s an essential professional and personal skill for your career and business development.

While a few people enjoy networking, you’re not alone if the thought of it makes you feel really uncomfortable. It’s not easy to walk into a room full of strangers, strike up a conversation and turn that conversation into a long-term relationship. Even the guy who bounds in full of confidence is likely feeling a little hot under the collar.

Fortunately we have some really practical business networking courses which are designed to help you prepare properly and perfect your networking skills in a safe environment. We also have some great content on our blog about effective communication skills, all of which will make you a better networker.

Why should you invest in networking?

So, we have you covered when you’re in a networking situation, but the question we hear lots is ‘why should I invest in networking?’ Networking does cost money and time, so it’s easy to see why you may question the usefulness of networking and whether or not it’s a worthy business investment. There are so many great reasons to invest in networking and we’ve listed three below:

1 – Make Connections

Richard Branson said that, ‘Succeeding in business is about making connections’. Branson is talking here about connections between people, but also connections between ideas and inspiration. There’s no better way to connect with great like-minded people and generate new ideas than networking. You’re able to meet regularly with the shared goal of building relationships and helping each other grow, which pays huge dividends in the long term.

2 – Become a Better Listener

Of course it’s not just about making connections, it’s also what you do with those connections that matters. As an effective networker you should know how to ask great questions and listen actively so that you really hear what the person is saying and where they’re coming from. In doing so, you can spot opportunities and get really valuable feedback on your business. Effective questioning and listening is an incredibly valuable sales skill and something we also cover in our Principles of effective selling course.

3 – Perfect Your Pitch

Effective networking also requires you to present yourself and your brand really well. The simple act of introducing yourself over and over at different networking events is a brilliant way to get your elevator pitch just right. Practice makes perfect when it comes to crafting a great introduction, and networking is a brilliant practice ground. Use every new encounter to test different introductions, see how people respond and make a note of the questions they ask. Before long you’ll be pitch perfect!

ROI of Networking

When considering the actual Return on Investment (ROI) of networking, you simply need to keep in mind the old saying that ‘People Buy People’. The very fact that you have widened your network provides greater opportunities for new leads. Go into a networking situation with the intention of meeting great people and building lasting relationships (rather than just selling). In doing this you will find that it brings the reward of referrals long after the initial meeting takes place.

According to Robert Davis form the University of San Francisco, ‘people who participated in networking groups appeared to be above-average networkers, which resulted in more referrals and more clients’. Ivan Misner who is the Chairman of the much renowned networking organisation BNI, talks about this and more in his post on Forbes.com about the ROI of Networking.

Never Stop Networking

Although most networking events take place at a specific location and point in time, the addition of social media tools such as LinkedIn and Twitter ensure that you stay top of mind with your new found connections. Support them by commenting on their blog posts or retweeting them on Twitter. Make sure you drop an email to catch up once in a while. Many networking experts will tell you that the one-to-one follow up is crucial in converting those connections into customers. Social media, email and even the good old phone are brilliant ways of bridging the gap between exchanging business cards and ‘shaking hands’ on a deal.

Become a Better Networker with Ripley Training

As mentioned in the post we have two networking courses aimed at both internal and external networking. These courses will help you to master the art of networking now that you’ve decided it’s a great business investment. We also have a great range of sales courses which can help you question and listen effectively, pitch to perfection and negotiate a great deal when the time comes.

Handling Difficult Conversations at Work

Most people try to avoid the dreaded ‘difficult’ conversation; putting it off until it’s no longer a problem. But avoiding a conflict or issue does not make it go away. Whether the conversation is about poor performance, a personal issue, or redundancy – remember it will be difficult for both parties involved.

“Every challenge is made easier
with preparation and training” Continue reading

How to Create Inspiring Internal Communications

Internal communications as a function and discipline within organisations is moving further and further up the agenda for senior managers. Today’s execs know that internal communications are important, and understand that engaging their people is more crucial than ever – yet more difficult to achieve in the current economic climate. Continue reading

Communicating with Confidence and Personal Impact

• Apply high levels of self-control and you feel confident inside in managing different situations
• During times of pressure or crisis you rarely need support to take control and resolve any issues
• You are able to accept responsibility when an error is made, move on and demonstrate a high level of self-awareness so you can reflect on any mistakes
• Be self-confident in being a problem solver with no/minimal supervisory/management input
• Be able to implement changes to minimise the risk of repetition of mistakes
• You challenge yourself and others when a blame approach is adopted showing respect in the process
• You support others to learn from their mistakes and not hold mistakes against them – recognising strengths and weaknesses in others
• Applying active listening skills allowing others to express their views and opinions before agreeing actions
• Responding to individual needs and managing expectations
• Taking risks and recognising when you need to discuss changes you’re your manager and those affected by change
• Positively develop strong working relationships
• Maintain a high degree of continuous professional development by always looking for ways to learn more and be more effective in your role
• Others look to you for strength in dealing with challenging situations

6 Steps to being an Effective Listener

One of the key skills of an effective communicator is to be a good listener. You can learn to be a good listener with a little practice and attention to the following practical tips:

1. Listen with purpose. Ask yourself what it is you want to find out and what it is you expect or want to hear. What might the speaker say that will affect your preconceived ideas or plans?

2. Listen for meaning. There are several levels on which people communicate. There are the words themselves and the implications behind the words—nuance and tone of voice. There are also nonverbal cues – posture, facial expression, gestures, and so forth. It is important to listen with your eyes as well as your ears, to listen for what is not said but felt.

3. Eliminate distractions. Whenever possible you should give your undivided attention to the speaker. You want the speaker to have the opportunity to express him or herself without distractions.

4. Don’t jump in. Try not to reply too quickly. Instead, briefly restate what you heard to make sure you understood it. Then, formulate your reply and respond. Even though you think quickly and may already have a response in mind, it pays to listen until the other person has finished so that you don’t miss anything.

5. Don’t listen with pre-conceived ideas. It is very easy to have a stereotypical perception of someone, especially if you do not work with them regularly, the good communicator always let the fact speak first and the opinions later.

6. Be an active listener. Involve yourself in the listening process. Be aware of your own listening barriers and guard against them. Take the time to become aware of your thoughts and reactions.

Did you know? People speak @ 100 to 175 words per minute but can listen intelligently @ 300 words per minute. No excuse there then for not being a good listener!

More information on our Communicating with Confidence and Personal Impact Courses