Archive for September, 2012

Getting out of the comfort zone

September 22, 2012 Leave a comment

I just finished competing in the Humorous Speech contest for my Area in Toastmasters.  It’s an annual event that takes place each fall.

Many people know I love speaking contests.  I like the competition.  I like the skill and creativity of the speakers.  And, yes, I like to win when I can.

I’m a serious speaker.  I compete annually in the International Speech Competition.  My speeches have ranged from stories about jewel thieves to the power of belief.  In my work I’ve done customer service seminars and given presentations on the value of public speaking.  None of this would be considered humorous because I’m not a humorous speaker.

It’s not that I’m not funny from time to time.  It’s just I have trouble being funny or humorous on purpose.  I have a history of trying to be funny on purpose, but most of the time my humor fell flat.  Old joke:  Man goes to the doctor and says, raising his arm over his head, “Doc, it hurts when I do this.”  Doctor:  “Don’t do that.”

I stopped trying to be funny in speeches.

My club needed contestants for the humorous speech contest and I reluctantly agreed, thinking it would end at the club level.  After all, I was under no illusions about my comedic abilities.  My past had come to equal my future.  An hour prior to the contest I finally came up with an idea that I thought would at least keep me from being embarrassed.  To my surprise, I won and advanced to the Area.

I kept at it.  I tried portions of my material out on family and people I work with and associate.  I looked for new ways to look at things and different ways to say things.  I tried new twists on old jokes.  I recorded and listened to the speech many times to see what areas could be improved.  In short, I put the same work into this that I put into my other, more serious, presentations.

I won again.

Lesson:  You have to get out of your comfort zone and face new challenges to learn new things, stay sharp and grow.  It really is very much like working out.  When you first start lifting weights your muscles hurt.  Over time, as you force yourself to work out regularly, the muscles get stronger and the weight routine becomes just that – a routine; part of your comfort zone.

Even if I don’t win the next round, I learned that I can be funny on purpose.  That little discovery destroyed 5-years of wrong thinking and will make me a better and more entertaining speaker.

What are you putting off because you’re not comfortable?  What kind of job have you not applied for because you don’t feel qualified?  What kind of customer have you not called on?  What have you not attempted?

Now imagine the difference in your life, career or business if you began “working out” on that challenge…..

Definitely, something to think about.

Categories: Uncategorized

Getting noticed

September 18, 2012 Leave a comment

When you’re looking for a job it’s hard to get noticed.  And being noticed is the very first thing that must happen.

When everyone’s resume looks the same, and a lot of “experts” tell you to stay safely in the box – take heart.   Check out these excellent examples of people who broke all the rules.

Creative, gutsy and artistic are just some of the adjectives that sum up these beauties.

Most of these are from the graphics field, but you can use the ideas to create a new and visually stunning resume that will get you noticed.

The link is from Communicate (your) Skills by Anna Rydne, fellow blogger here at WordPress.


WOW resumes.

Categories: Self-promotion

Closing the loop

September 13, 2012 Leave a comment

I am just finishing my trip to Branson, MO and Pittsburg, KS for some R&R and to see my mother.  Before we got here we booked the trip online, paid for the trip online and got a verification email with some coupons we could use while we were here.  So imagine my surprise when I got here and found we had no wi-fi anywhere but the registration area…

Time to close the loop Vacation Village.  We can’t just unplug anymore when you update Facebook, Twitter, upload photos, etc.  In fact, “unplugging” is more of an inconvenience now that it used to be.  We depend on our computers and phones more than ever – and so does your business.  Having available internet service is no longer an option.  Close the loop!

Categories: Uncategorized

Impromptu speaking for fun and profit

September 1, 2012 Leave a comment

Do you fear interviews and always seem to come off as tongue-tied? It can be painful.

Your palms go wet.  There’s butterflies.  You find yourself grasping at how to answer a question – not just answer it, but give the right answer.

If this sounds like you then I have an exercise that will help you overcome the nervousness.  Try this:

Have someone feed you a subject or question.  You have to answer the question or talk about the subject for 1 minute – the whole minute.  And it has to be in the form of an introduction, a body and close (just like we learned in the fourth grade).

It doesn’t matter if you know anything about the subject (many times you won’t).  The objective here is to respond.  Take a few seconds to get your thoughts in order, then tell a story, give a history lesson or just talk about what you don’t know about the subject.

Pay attention to your answers.  Try to eliminate speech fillers like ‘um,’ ‘like’ and ‘you know’ from your answer.  We use these fillers to fill the gaps in our speech and buy time for our brains to give us the next thing to say.  Used occasionally, it might be overlooked.  Used more than once or twice and your listeners will begin to notice. (Want to have some fun? Take one day and count all the ‘ums’ you hear, no matter who uses it. You’ll be appalled.)

When you are able to answer a given subject you know nothing about with a coherent and cogent response, you’ll be able to answer any question you do know about with confidence.

Questions like “Tell me about yourself,” and “What do you consider to be your greatest weakness” will no longer present issues for you.  You’ll even be ready for odd-ball questions like, “If you were a tree (animal, appliance, etc) what would you be and why?”  You will be unflappable.

However, all of this is for naught unless you correctly practice.  I specifically used a one-minute time for a reason.  Most questions and follow-ups in an interview can be answered in one minute.  That time limit forces you to consider the main points you want to make and it also forces you to leave out the rest.

Make a game of it.  See who can come up with the most unusual subject.  Have someone ask you to defend a position you solidly oppose.  Have someone feed you a difficult interview question with maybe a follow-up.

Have fun.  The exercise will help build your confidence and your mental acuity.

The results?  You will indicate to the interviewer that you are deliberate, well versed and well-spoken.  Rare traits these days.

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