Don’t let interviews and speeches cause you to break into a cold sweat




We talk every day. We answer questions. We provide details and information. We share sorrows and joys. So why is it the thought of giving a speech or interview make even seasoned communicators break out into a cold sweat?


If you stop and think about these opportunities as simply conversations, you can begin to put the fear behind you and concentrate on delivering a great message.


Let’s start with a planned speech. Even a scripted speech can have passion and expression. In fact, when giving a scripted speech, you need to really think about your facial expression, making eye contact and the choice of words. Speeches need that personal element to gain the audiences trust and belief. You’ve got to be real.


Interviews are different. You’re never sure what question you might receive. The first thing you need to do is practice active listening. Make sure you wait for the entire question. Think about the tone of the question. When you answer, speak with passion and conviction. Be transparent.


What if you are walking into a setting you know will be hostile? The same rules still apply. Listen closely. Don’t take the question personally. It’s not about you. Don’t belittle their feelings. Empathize if you can. However, make sure your answers are factual and don’t get drug into an argument. The calmer you appear, the more likely you are to diffuse the situation.  Don’t let defensiveness break you.


In every situation, there are a few things to avoid. Jargon rarely means anything to the audience. Make sure you aren’t using acronyms or industry terms people are unfamiliar with. Don’t hedge on a question. If you don’t know, say so. Tell them you’ll get the answer. Then follow through. Don’t give guarantees you can’t deliver.


When you speak, don’t forget it’s not just your words that matter. There are many non-verbal clues that your listeners will be watching. Make sure you maintain eye contact. Make sure your body position appears open and inviting. Don’t cross your arms in front of you and block people out. Lean in slightly if possible when answering a question. Find a comfortable position and relax and if possible, don’t put barriers like a podium between you and the audience.


Speaking doesn’t have to be a traumatic experience.


It’s about time



Everyone wants more time. Yet each of us have a limited number of days, weeks, months, and years on the Earth. If you want an eye opening visual representation of just how much time we have, check this out —  A 90 Year Human Life in Weeks. So what are you doing to make sure each day is as full and meaningful as possible?


Plan your day.


Spend a few minutes each night planning your next day. Make sure you know what appointments or deadlines are on the books. Make your to do list. Then at the end of each day, look back and make sure you know what’s coming up tomorrow.


Make a daily schedule. Use a planner. Assign times to the items on your to do list. Even if it’s an appointment with yourself. If it’s important, give it the appropriate time. You’re less likely to put it off if you schedule for it. It gives value and you treat it like a priority. Don’t just record work activities. Make sure you schedule your gym time, errands, kid’s activities and anything else that eats into the 24 hours you are given each day.


Make sure you schedule in some down time as well. You’ve got to recharge in order to face the next big task energized and ready to go.


Keep distractions at bay.


Know what your greatest distractions are and plan to deal with them. Is email your curse? What about Facebook notifications? If you sit to watch your favorite program on TV, are you still sitting there 3 hours later? Weigh the cost of the distraction against the benefit of completing something that matters to you.


You control your environment. You can limit the access distractions have in your life. Turn off notifications. Turn off devices. Set the DVR. Unplug occasionally from technology, put your phone on do not disturb and get things done.


Take care of you.


Work needs you at focused. Family needs you engaged. Friends want your fellowship. You can’t be what everyone needs unless you are taking time for yourself.


Do something each day that is active. Take a walk. Go for a run. Do a 5 minute YouTube workout. Your health matters.


Give yourself a break. Make sure you build in time to recharge. Reward yourself when you finish big projects (personally and professionally).


Most of all, understand you can’t do it all. Sometimes even the best made plans fall apart. Don’t beat yourself up. Just get up tomorrow and make it a better day.


The Manager of Intangible Assets


If you are looking for a little inspiration, look no farther than ACE Hardware owner, Gina Schaefer.


Her outlook and drive has convinced many people to take a chance on her and her unconventional ideas surrounding the hardware industry. She bills herself as the owner of a “few cool hardware stores.”

For Schaefer, customer service isn’t a department. It’s an attitude. Her success starts in her hiring practices.

“If you hire them, you have to trust them,” she said. “You have to trust them to do what you need. You can’t grow a business if you don’t trust the people you have.”

Why develop policies to manage the 3% that are a problem? What about the 97% that are doing the job and going the extra mile? If you don’t address them, you’ve just unincentivized them to work.

Her business attitude has lead ACE to recognize her in their Center of Excellence program. Other managers and owners are learning from her unique mindset.

“Try why not instead of no the next time someone asks you to try something different,” she said. “You might be surprised how well that works out for you.  I had to convince a lot of people to take a chance on a female hardware store owner. I had to convince them to put these stores in some very different and unique demographics.”