Editor's Note: This just in from the UX participant recruiter at Prezi.
I work for a start-up called Prezi that makes presentation software, and we need your expertise. If creating presentations is part of your current role I'd like to invite you to test a version of our product, and provide feedback on how you think we could make it better.Who we are looking for to test our new presentation tool:
- People who have never used Prezi before. This is really important to us, so please don't research the product before you come see us.
- Professionals who present at least once a month (either internally or to potential clients).
- We need you to bring an old PowerPoint presentation to perform the test.What we offer to people who help us make Prezi better:
- You can chose between a $150 Amazon gift card, or a year long full Prezi license.
- The opportunity to learn about a new tool to help your presentations stand out from the crowd.
How it works:
- Come visit our office! We are located at 642 Harrison Street, #200 in San Francisco (between 2nd and 3rd in SOMA)
- If you agree to be a tester we will need 30 to 45 minutes of your time.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're open to helping us out and we'll set up some time the week of March 10th to 14th in the afternoon.
Our work has to be experienced to truly understand its value. We use these workshops as a way to introduce our work experientially to new prospective clients. With that in mind, we set aside a couple of seats for the right candidates.
Art of Presentation: April 3-4, 2014 in San Francisco
Complete Communicator: May 15-16, 2014 in San Francisco
Super Storytelling: June 12, 2014 in San Francisco
How you represent yourself determines your income, sales, and revenue. Your skills, your experience, and your expertise cannot help you any more then they already have. If you want to increase income, sales or revenue for yourself, your team or your division, then it's this one difference that makes all the difference. If you are serious about changing this area, then we can help. And we're willing to give you some of our time for free. 415-292-7587
Editor's Note: This is a guest post by Denise Green of Brilliance Inc.
How do You Handle the Dark Truth?
When you have something private and emotionally powerful weighing on you, who do you go to? Hopefully you have someone in your life you can tell almost anything to.
One way to assess how good a leader, friend, partner, or coach you are is to gauge how much truth people share with you.
I’m lucky to have such friends, colleagues, and coaches in my life.
My colleague Hana and I have renamed our meeting ‘check-ins’ to ‘dump-outs’. We each share what’s real for us without any fear that the other will try to fix us. Then, feeling lighter and more connected, we have incredibly productive work conversations.
My friend Jennifer was there with a bottle of wine and music when my dear friend Christy was tragically killed. Instead of trying to fix me, or dwell on the meaninglessness of the tragedy, she just let me tell stories, cry, and even laugh.
Perhaps one of the greatest non-fixers in my network is my mom.
I’m not the only one who feels comfortable unloading their secrets and burdens on my mom. Every time she gets off the plane, she has a business card and a new friend who says, “I can’t believe I just shared all that with you.”
Three Key Behaviors
Here are the skills my mom possesses and that you can develop as well:
1) Kindness & Approachability. My mom is welcoming, complimentary, and kind. No one is a stranger to her. She smiles and chats with people in lines. She sees all people as equal. Every week she bakes cookies for the garbage collectors who’ve named her “Miss Sugar.” (Note, kindness does not preclude toughness. I wouldn’t want to be a Kansas politician on the the other side of one of my mom’s phone calls or letters)
2) Listening without judgment. While people talk, she just listens with curiosity and focus. She doesn’t pile on, gasp in shock, or retort with her own war stories, unless it’s to share a personal vulnerability that will help someone trust her. She just gives them air-time. She asks open-ended, rather than leading, questions.
3) Seeing people’s strength. This last one is a rare superpower. She doesn’t try to fix you; she doesn’t even worry. It’s one thing to do this for a stranger. But how does one do this for a, friend, loved one, or even a direct report whose career you care about? When I was thinking about this idea of “not fixing” people, I called my mom and asked her,
“How is it that you can listen to me vent about my life without offering advice and without seeming to worry. Are you just a good actress?
Or do you really not worry?
“I don’t worry.”
Then she went on, “It’s not that I don’t care, but you are so strong, supported, and gifted, I think that everything will work out in the end. And if it isn’t working out, it’s not the end.“
She doesn’t sympathize: she empathizes.
Sympathy is like seeing someone as incomplete–with a hole inside them. Empathy is like seeing a complete person who has fallen temporarily in to a hole.
Having someone see you as whole and strong, even when the shit hits the fan—whether it be your health, finances, relationship, career—is a true gift.
For coaches, and for leaders, it’s very tempting to offer advice when someone starts complaining about a project or colleague. But when you do, you shut down their truth-telling. I’m always honored when clients feel safe sharing things with me that they’ve been bottling up.
Next time someone trusts you to listen to his or her problems try this:
Instead of saying “I know how you feel (because technically, you don’t) just listen. Instead of asking leading questions that try to get them to an outcome, drop your agenda and adopt curiosity. If you do speak, say, “What do you think you should do?” or “How can I best support you?” or “Who do you have supporting you?” You can even just say, “That sucks. I’m so sorry.”
Hearing our own spoken words releases pressure and creates insights that we wouldn’t otherwise have if we were just looping thoughts. I know because some of my most transformational conversations with clients are the ones where I speak the least
When my mom learned that my husband and I were getting a divorce after 19 years together, she offered us equal kindness (vs. taking sides or creating drama), then extended her trip, picked up a paintbrush, and got to work prepping the house for sale in record time.
You can’t worry someone out of a hole. But you can hang out in the hole with them and try to see the landscape from there. And you can bring a paintbrush…or bottle of wine. Or both.
Questions to Ponder:
- How vulnerable are people with you? When someone approaches you with a heavy problem or feeling, how do you listen? Do you listen to fix? Do you worry?
- When you see a homeless person, or someone with a clear physical disability or illness, do you feel uncomfortable…or connected and compassionate? Can you see their strength and how similar they are to you?
Take less than 3 minutes to watch this insightful, hilarious talk and learn why you never want to begin your response with “At least…”Brené Brown’s distinction on empathy vs. sympathy.
Related Post: Why Brains Hate Advice
photo credit: kodomut
Quick Shots The 30 minute TeleSummit Series where you get Quick Shots of Strategy, Wisdom, and Motivation to move Forward in your Business.
Friday March 7 between 12 – 12:30 PM PST!
Terry will be speaking on:
The Importance of Inquiry and Empathic Listening in the Sales Process.
If it piques your interest, please register and check out the Guest Experts you can look forward to: QuickShots.net
Over 95% of the workforce must interact with others in order to do their jobs, and communication skills are the number one factor affecting employee relationships with customers, leaders and colleagues. In this post, Lindsay Bell outlines a few important listening skills and strategies to improve communications.
In all relationships, business or pleasure, communicating is not so much about what you are saying, but what those listening to you are hearing.
And since social media use and digital marketing in general is a never ending circle of talking and listening, it helps if you know what listening really is.
Let’s look at it this way: Hearing is the practical, and listening is the strategy. And as with most things strategic – there’s not one set in stone way to listen. But, as a communicator, you should know which of the different types of listening to use in each situation, and how to use those skills to your advantage. Here are four (of many) types of listening:
Appreciative listening is exactly what it says it is. Listening done to enjoy the story, music or information being passed on. The American Society for Training & Development recommends that, in order to truly embark in appreciative listening, you should avoid engaging in other communications and focus solely on the sounds (or words) that you’re hearing for full impact. So, when someone is speaking to you, for heaven’s sake, put your phone down!
Critical listening involves hearing what’s being said, identifying key points and/or arguments, and solidifying your opinion on a matter. Think a debate, or how you feel when listening to a politician speak. When engaging in critical listening, your goal is to analyze what the speaker is saying, and determine their actual agenda (if there is one).
Relationship listening is one of the most important skills you can have when dealing with people and communication. Also known as therapeutic or empathetic listening, you use your relationship listening skills to help a friend through a problem, solve conflict between co-workers and prompt people to open up through support and being open and honest.
For more on listening: Active Listening and The Meandering Mind
For more on empathic paraphrase: Understanding Empathic Paraphrase
photo credit: keela84
Editor's Note: This is a guest post by Jean Hamilton of Speaking Results
Many years ago, as I stood in front of an audience hearing my voice quiver, feeling my hands shake, and thinking at any moment my mind would go blank, I fully understood why fear of public speaking is often ranked as people’s #1 fear. It was impossible for me to tap into my true power as a speaker, when I had to internally contend with a body that was in terror.
I tried lots of things. Practice and preparation smoothed things over slightly. Toastmasters helped sort of. But the main thing that helped me overcome my fears are some key concepts from Neuro-Linguistic Programming:
Become Friends With The Part Of You That Is Scared
Often when I work with clients to overcome their fear of public speaking, they dislike the part of them that is scared and just want to get rid of it. The problem is, whatever you resist, persists. You will be much more successful in overcoming your fear of public speaking if you accept your scared part, and recognize what it gives you in a positive way.
Often times a scared part is a perfectionist and really wants to do a good job. It has a lot of energy; and it can also be vulnerable. Commitment to doing a good job, high energy, and vulnerability can be valuable assets to a presenter. Rather than having in internal struggle, when you realize the value of your scared part, you can begin to relax with yourself.
Focus On What You Want
There is a tremendous power of the unconscious mind that can be utilized to transform feelings of fear. Your unconscious mind believes what is repeated the most often. Repeat what you would like to achieve, and eventually your unconscious mind will believe that.
When the natural feelings of fear arise, imagine what it is that you want to feel. Imagine your body feeling relaxed and grounded, your voice sounding strong and resonant, and see yourself looking directly into the eyes of the audience. It is important to know specifically what you will see, hear and feel. It will make the whole experience more vivid.
There is a part of the brain that cannot tell the difference between a real event and an imagined event. Rather than thinking about shaky hands or a trembling voice, imagine yourself looking, feeling, and speaking, as you would while giving a dynamite presentation. By rehearsing the positive, you are creating the neural pathways to allow it to happen. Professional athletes often use this positive imagery.
Awareness Of Your Mission As A Speaker
When you become aware of your mission and become immersed in your message, fear no longer has a hold on you. The life of your message becomes more important than what the audience thinks of you. The paradox is, the less you focus on the audience’s judgments, the more favorable their opinions.
It is vitally important when you speak before a group that you are interested and invested in your material. If you aren’t interested, your audience won’t be. There are far too many boring, lifeless speeches out there. Don’t add to the pack. Believe in your mission as a communicator of your message, and your fear will take a back seat.
photo credit: epSos.de
This is sound advice for anyone creating a presentation using visual media.
What makes a great presentation? Is it the content, or the way it's packaged? For most, it's getting the right combination. The medium you choose should be tailored to the intended level of interaction and desired response from the audience. Sharing a story with entrepreneurs at a conference versus presenting data to a small team of engineers are two scenarios that require different types of presentations. The first would benefit from using spatial relationships to tell his story, and the latter might prefer something that's more of a simple information display. Choosing the right method to share ideas starts with knowing the audience.
Knowing Your Audience: Ask Yourself Key Questions
The best presenters adopt a story arc that’s relatable for the audience by using unique and interesting perspectives; this way, the audience can understand the point without feeling beaten over the head with it. Steve Jobs, one of the best known communicators of our time, used to have his product manager tweaking a 5-minute intro for many weeks, exploring upwards of 50 ideas with his team before coming up with the story for their product.
If I need to come up with presentation content, I could sit on my beanbag chair and wait for inspiration to come through my fingertips. Or I can help the creative thinking process along by asking strategic questions. For presentations, thinking about the audience is a great place to start. I ask myself questions like: Why is this audience going to be here and why do they care? and What will create a memorable and engaging experience? Then, once I have an initial idea, I ask: Would there be a completely different way to achieve my communication goal? This approach allows more creative thinking than questions, like: How can I get my point across? Iterating between the big picture and the details is important before settling on your final story.
photo credit: plugg conference
Editor's Note: This is a guest post by Denise Green of Brilliance Inc.
Here’s a fact about our brain that really pisses me off: we have five times as many neural systems for negative thoughts than positive thoughts. Think about it: when was the last time you ruminated about a positive thought, mulling it over again and again until you were full of joy? As author Rick Hanson puts it: our brains are like Teflon for positive thoughts (they bounce right off) and Velcro for negative thoughts.
So, even though I’m a fairly confident, love-filled, optimistic person, I have this crazy delusional voice in my head that tells me scary things and makes doomsday predictions. This worst-case story-telling menace is an evolutionary holdover that, at one point helped keep us alive by saber-tooth tigers. Now it just stresses us out and has us forget all the wonderful things going on in our lives.
One of my clients has named hers “Hagatha.” I just call mine the crazy voice. And even when we notice it, it’s hard to shut it up.
This morning my crazy voice got really busy soon after I got a text from my ex-husband (and friend) inviting me to visit his new house. Being a curious person, I googled the address and up popped photos of the house. Not only is the house big and beautiful, it looked like something I would dream of living in, complete with the coveted sunset-over-the-bay views. So, do you think my brain went to: “Oh, I’m so happy for him and so delighted that my daughter will have such a lovely house to spend half her time in?” It did not. Instead my crazy voice got going.
Author David Rock created the Acronym SCARF to explain the crazy voice. SCARF stands for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, and Fairness. When we feel that any of these five things are threatened, our emotional brain takes over and, if we’re not careful and don’t reframe our thinking, we will not only suffer the physical symptoms that accompany stress, but we will act in ways we may later regret. And the really bad news is that we get triggered constantly. For example, ‘status’ is triggered any time we compare ourselves or our possessions to someone else.
You could say that status threats drive the economy (and drive us away from meaning and contentment).
In my case this morning, my crazy voice was saying things like: This isn’t fair: how come he gets to live in my dream house and I live in an old rental with a linoleum floor (I had loved renting, and barely noticed the linoleum up until that point). Uncertainty was also triggered: Will I be able to sustain and grow my business so I can one day have a house of my own or even afford the one I’m in?
The good news is that I noticed that my crazy voice had taken over and I took steps to shut it up. (those steps are included at end of post).
For black belt training in taming the crazy voice, try dating (unless you’re married, then I welcome other ideas!). A few months ago I began dating for the first time in two decades. I started with blind dating and moved to online dating. Holy cow! You want to talk about daring greatly? I haven’t found a more vulnerability inducing activity.
Awareness is key, but knowing how your brain gets triggered won’t keep you from falling into the trap. If you read Daniel Kahneman’s book, Thinking Fast and Slow, you may have been depressed, as I was, by his admission at the end that even he, a Nobel Award-winning researcher and expert in crazy voice, can’t keep from falling into the trap. The best you can do is notice you’re in the hole and then take action to climb out, over and over again.
So, Here You Go: My Proven Steps (in order) for Taming the Crazy Voice:
Notice you are looping a negative thought.
Come back to the present moment: Notice your body, your surroundings, and your breath. Music helps me get present and grounded.
Practice immense gratitude: For anything and everything. For the sidewalks you walk on, the bees pollinating the trees, contact lenses, coffee…
- When you compare, compare yourself to those who have less, which is probably about 99.999999% of the human race.
Talk to people who will help you reframe negative thoughts
- This means not talking to people who love to pile on and vent with you. And not people who want to fix it. But people who can listen and offer a different way of seeing things. I have 4 friends that I can call anytime and say “My crazy voice is saying this…” And they listen, talk me off the cliff, make me laugh, and remind me who I am.
- You can also get reframed by reading books, articles, blogs. One of my favorite thought-provoking books of the year is Brené Brown’s research on vulnerability and shame: Daring Greatly,
- My favorite book and blog are by the same author, James Altucher. Brilliant, funny, raw, human, vulnerable, and insanely useful. Order Choose Yourself and subscribe to his blog today. He writes phrases like: “You are the average of the five people around you.”
Connect with people who see you.
- At the school this morning, while dropping off my daughter, I ran into 3 friends who I love, and who see me as I am, and I them. I gave them big hugs and let myself feel so grateful for having such authentic friendships in my life.
Create rituals that strengthen your positive neural networks
- Every morning, I wake to a reminder on my phone that says: “Remember who you are. decide what you will think.”
- When triggered recently, I got moving, walking, listening to music, and practicing my daily ritual of gratitude affirmations. 5 minutes in I had not only shut up the voice, but I was full of love and joy. My daily ritual is a hybrid of Tony Robbins’ 45 minute to fulfillment and “Hour to Power”
- You can find Jason Altucher’s Daily Rituals in this post.
Create: When your brain is engaged in creating, the crazy voice shuts up. If you use your strengths and passion to create, you can enter a state of flow, where time flies by and you feel completely engaged and fulfilled in the moment. Pam Slim wrote a great post about this and shared an inspiring CNN video interview with creator LL Cool J. You can’t ruminate or play victim when you’re creating.
When the Voice Tells the Truth
Maybe some of you are thinking, “But the voice is right sometimes, so how can you call it crazy?” Yes, sometimes those footsteps in the alley really are menacing. And sometimes he’s just not that into you. But if you let those negative thoughts loop, they will drive you crazy.
Zebras don’t resent the lion for chasing them. They don’t fear the tundra because lions might eat them. They don’t spend all day complaining about lions. Zebras, as the book title goes, don’t get ulcers. So notice the voice, decide what’s true for you, then take right action and let it go. If you let the negative thoughts fill your consciousness, they will mask beauty, inhibit joy and connection, and prevent you from turning the divine spark inside you into a beautiful flame that lights a path of brilliance for others.
And that would suck.
I will close with a one-word truth:
Namaste (the divine light in me salutes the divine light in you),
p.s. – Stay tuned: I’m working on getting my voice a real name. Maybe Elvira…or Morticia?
What do you call the voice in your head?
photo credit: Thomas van de Vosse