The power of positive speaking

  The more we know how to deal with ourselves at an emotional level, the more we know how to handle an audience. Audiences are full of feelings and emotions, so let's take them into account!

 About the question of how to deal with ourselves when it comes to our emotional and irrational side, the first thing I wish to say is that I am very wary of "positive thinking" 

 All too often those who recommend that we "turn away from negativity and think positively" make me think of parents sending their child off to their room with the instruction to not come back before they have calmed down and managed to get a smile on their face. They are doing this to their "inner child" - to the sensitive and vulnerable part within. 

 When my "inner child" starts moaning, complaining or crying, I think I should listen and understand what's going on. All too often, the raw and awkward expression of so called "negative" thoughts masks a real distress. Only after acknowledging and welcoming do I point out that there are also reasons to be happy, people and events worth smiling at, and I add that the very act of smiling actually creates a good mood and helps muster courage. 
 So positive thinking is not wrong at all... as long as it doesn't blame and dismiss anything negative! (Blaming and dismissing are negative attitudes anyway....) 

 Let's come back to how to deal with audiences, in a similar way.  I'll give you a simple example: I'll always remember this networking event. I was the last speaker before the break. There were no chairs in the big room. Standing up without walking for a long time is difficult, everybody felt pain in their legs! 

When it was my turn to speak, the first thing I said was: "I know everyone feels tired, your legs are painful, I promise I will be short!" 

 I've rarely seen so many smiles lightup at the same time! Taking it from there, I suggested doing some movements, shift the weight from one foot to the other to help bear the fatigue, thanked them for their presence and

attention and complimented them on  their skills (they were all much more knowledgeable than me in matter of business and technology).  I added a good dollop of entertaining energy... and managed to get them to forget the pain and listen to my pitch... 

   The more we treat ourselves and others well, acknowledging what may be difficult and pointing out anything positive we might spot, the more we get audiences on our side! 

 
The next Organic Speaking sessions will happen soon: 
 Sunday the 23rd and Sunday the 30th, from 7pm to 9.15pm (please arrive slightly in advance so that we can start on time) 
in Willesden Green. More details here. 

Thank you for your attention. 
 
Have a good week and a good week end! 

Jean-Marc

 

Two opposite/complementary attitudes

Hello everybody! 

When we communicate there are two opposite/complementary attitudes we can adopt:

We can focus on the message, or on the people. Ideally we should be able to focus on both at the same time, which is blatant multitasking, and requires a bit of training, even for women. 

When we focus on the message exclusively, we want the receiving end to get it right. We give as many details, explanations and precision as necessary to dispel any possible ambiguity. We want them to know just what we mean. 

If we are a project manager, a teacher, a passionate activist or someone telling their lawyer how badly the person we are now divorcing has been, we are likely to adopt spontaneously this attitude. We may forget that human beings can get tired, distracted or bored.
 

The opposite (and complementary) attitude is to focus on the people. We ask ourselves questions such as:
- What will work with them? 
- What will trigger their interest, spark their enthusiasm? What will get them excited? 
- What do they like, what do they love, what do they need? 
- What do they expect?

...and we adjust our message accordingly...
 

If we are entertainers, marketers or one of those ethically flexible politicians, we might well go that way... If we want to be accepted in a group or create new connections, it is the right thing to do.

Efficient communication is a balanced attitude. It is important to know how to reach to people, and to be faithful to ourselves and our message at the same time.


In Organic Speaking sessions, I encourage you to get detached from the message and experiment with the relationship side of speaking to an audience, because that's what most of us need to improve. 
However, the message is not to be binned altogether! 
We just need to remember that even if we were able to say all there is to say about a particular topic, people wouldn't remember everything. 
We, people, need motivation more than information. 
We should remember this when we speak!
 

I would love to give you a bit of non compulsory homework, for the future sessions (see updates below) 
Prepare a one or two minutes speech (that is between 100 and 250 words) on a topic such as: 
- Health and lifestyle
- How to speak to children
- Be the change you want to see in the world
- Life is diversity
..... or whatever you may think of. Make a simple and clear point (Be as specific as possible) and perform your speech with the intention of keeping your audience engaged, interested and excited... 
This homework is just a suggestion for those who want to progress quicker and enjoy more!

Two sessions are scheduled: 
This Sunday the 25th of September at 7pm: High Energy Levels (Willesden Green, NW2)
Next Sunday the 2nd of October at 7pm: Happy go Lucky. (Willesden Green, NW2)

There are always a few free for first timer tickets to grab. Here are the links: 
 High Energy Levels         Happy go Lucky

And a last thing: My YouTube Channel. I record stories and there is a playlist with public speaking tips. 
I would be happy if you subscribed to it!  

That's all for today. Thanks for being here! 

Speak soon

Jean-Marc

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Prepare for the worse, prepare for the best

My grandfather once told me a joke which is the perfect illustration of how crucial our mindset can be:  

 

A man was driving in the countryside when one of the tyres of his car went flat. As he set out to change it, he realized he had no jack. He decided to walk to the next village to ask  the local garage to lend him one. But on his way, he started to worry:  

“Maybe the garage owner won’t want to lend me a jack” thought the man “I am just a stranger in this area. Maybe he won’t trust me. Or maybe he will take advantage of the situation and refuse to lend me a jack so that I have no choice but to pay him a fortune for him to come with the tow truck…..” And on and on, so much so that when he arrived at the garage, he opened the door, shouted at the puzzled owner : “You can keep your  (censored).... jack, I will manage without it!” and slammed the door behind him as he went away....

When we are nervous at the prospect of public speaking, we are this guy with his flat tyre. How can we prepare ourselves?  

The stoic philosophers advised their followers to brace themselves for the worse. They thought the worse doesn’t hit as hard if we expect it. This seems to contradict the point I have been making up till now, but think about it: if the guy with his flat tyre problem had been really prepared to face being turned down, he would have kept calm. He would have asked without expecting much, and if the garage owner had lent him a jack, he would have been agreeably surprised! So there is a difference between bracing ourselves for the worst case scenario and getting caught in a spiral of worry… 

 

When we are going to speak, let’s remember that whatever happens, we will survive. Maybe we are going to be misunderstood or even judged in a negative way… and then? Trust me, trust yourself. We are so much stronger than we think. 

   Let's face our fear of what may happen. Remember: the scary monsters we dread often exist in our imagination only and can be deflated by a sharp conscious look!   

Now, it is very important to be prepared for the best as well. The best has a tendency to happen more frequently when we are prepared for it. Let's dare imagine success... 

 What if they love us so much that they give a standing ovation? What if we get loads and loads of compliments after the speech? This might be quite unsettling as well! We need a bit of mental preparation: 

 When we receive compliments, declarations of love, admiration or such things, the best way to react is simplicity. Let’s not answer that no, we weren’t that great ... No no no! When people give compliments they don’t want to be contradicted! They want us to be happy to hear that we were so great. The best answer is a simple thank you.  

 It would also be very awkward to take advantage of the moment to boast and keep talking about ourselves. After saying that we are touched by the compliment and that we really appreciate it, good manners are to show interest in the complimenter, if only for a short while.  

In any case, preparation is key… Are you ready to enjoy a big round of applause?   

 

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A few updates  

 

I am going to talk at Google Campus in the city, on the 15th of June. The headline is “Start up Stage Fright Public Speaking Top Tips” It’s a free event with networking times, you can book your ticket here 

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Leave them wanting more!

Hello human beings!  

 

When we were at school and the teacher interrogated us, we were expected to prove we knew our lesson by saying everything we were supposed to know without forgetting any detail. Most of us had never enough to say to satisfy the teacher and we often ended up struggling to scrape some extra bits of information from our deficient memories... sometimes we managed to save our grades thanks to some last minute recall... 

 

 When we speak in public  we have a tendency to follow the same pattern without realising it. However this not the best practice.  

 

 I have seen many trainee speakers embarrassed because they didn't know what to say next.... after having said enough to get their point across!  

  

 On my website, among other testimonials, there is a letter of thanks, starting with the words: "I wanted to tell you that I got the job..." - I really loved receiving these words! I remember this young man very well, as we rehearsed together the questions he was likely be asked at the  job interview : 

 

 Usually, he gave good , relevant  answers in a few minutes, and then he slowed down, became hesitant and confusing as he was painfully trying to complete his first brilliant answers with more and more explanation.  I pointed out he had better not try to say more than what he was able to say in a few minutes...  

 

  It worked; the overall impression he made was transformed!  

 

 When we speak, we should also take great care to end our talk before people feel they have had enough. We want them to want more! That's how we can make an impact. We must stop and leave before people wish we do. Thus, they will wish to know more!  

 

By the way, this tip is also a tip that is given by dating coaches. It's completely relevant to audiences as well: Leave on a high and be remembered in that light! Or as theatre people say: "Leave them wanting more..."  

 

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 You can check out details of future events on http://www.jeanmarcpierson.com/new-events/ or on Meetup. (Organic Speaking)  

 

 

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.......As usual, those who attend an Organic Speaking session for the first time don't pay. Those who come regularly pay £15 or £65 for five sessions or £120 for ten sessions, and each time they bring two guests, they win a free session ( the two guests don't have to come along on the same day! )  

 

Let me tell you a secret now: on Meetup.com, Organic Speaking has the reputation of being great quality...but expensive. The reason for this is that Meetup.com is to events what the pound shop is to the High Street. When I meet people in networking events, they find I'm quite cheap... and maybe they don't take me seriously because the price is low, and as you may know, many people value things according to their price.  

 

That's why I will double the price within a few months.  However, this will not affect you: existing customers will keep enjoying the same rates for....ever! So I suggest you become an existing customer now if it's not the case yet.... 

 

 Looking forward to sharing more speaking and telling adventures with you! 

Emotional Intelligence: We are working on it!


Before, we believed that we needed to be clever to succeed and that clever people had high IQs. (Intelligence Quotient, as measured by the IQ test) In reality, many people with average IQs outperform people with high IQs in many areas of life, such as career, relationships and anything involving dealing with other people.

 

The missing link is called “Emotional intelligence”... and this is something we are working on in Organic Speaking sessions.

Standing up in front of a group and speaking is mostly a question of overcoming the emotions that get in the way. Once we feel confident, we realize that speaking and being expressive are skills we have had since we learned them during the first years of our lives! 

In the following story. the scientific experiment with the dog and the hen is something I've read about when I studied psychology. I've added an imaginary character: Elsa, the little daughter of the scientist.  

 

 

I leave to you to sort out why and how this story is relevant to us when we train our public speaking skills, build our confidence and improve our communication skills…

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Scientists doing research about intelligence conducted the following experiment:

They put a dog behind a wire mesh barrier and a juicy attractive piece of meat on the other side. This barrier was straight and not very long. The scientists noticed that it did not take long for the dog to get around the barrier and take hold of the meat.

 

Elsa, five years old, daughter of the leader of the scientific team, thinks that her father should play with her rather than with a dog.

 

Then, the scientists renew the protocol with a chicken and juicy attractive grain of corn. They notice with great interest that the chicken, instead of running around the mesh barrier, collides with it again and again in a vain attempt to reach the object of its desire. The poor bird nearly strangles itself by pushing its head through a hole in the mesh but it’s not going to eat. The scientific team concludes that the dog is more intelligent that the chicken.

 

Elsa is not far from hitting her head against a wall. That her father prefers a dog to her was difficult to accept but somehow understandable. Dogs are cheerful and friendly creatures. But being set aside for a chicken is absolutely humiliating.

 

The scientists now proceed once more with the same experiment, with a starving dog and meat. There is always a cruel moment in scientific experiments involving dogs. They notice, with excitement, that the starving dog has become so to speak, as stupid as a chicken. It collides with the mesh again and again, obviously unable to move away from the object of its longing.

 

Elsa is in love with her father. She firmly believes that they will get married as soon as...  next week. They will sleep together (which in her mind, means sleep) and they will have plenty of children. But he will have to stop these crazy games with animals.

 

How can one stop starving in order to be able to eat? Elsa sets the dog free. It catches the chicken and runs away. Elsa is sent to bed without any supper.

 

 Her father is a great scientist. He understands nothing.

 

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 A few comments (I said I would leave you to it, but I can't help it!)  

 

-When we are in a state of nervousness, we become like the starved dog, unable to see the obvious solution to our problems...  We need to become stronger, and to cultivate detachment to overcome this issue. 

-Because even the most apparently adult people are still a little bit childlike inside, those who are able to make people's "inner children" happy are the emotionally intelligent people. They will get the jobs, the promotions or the relationships they wish for…

 

- A last but not least  thing: emotional intelligence is not only about “understanding”. It is also a question of strength, of self knowledge and experience. No amount of reading will never ever be enough. We need to pracise, practise, practise….

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 Thank you! Don't hesitate to leave comments, share and subscribe to the newsletter to get more to read directly in your inbox! Cheers.

 

Starting a Fire is the Purpose

Sometimes we speak as if we believed we had to explain everything. We give as many details or explanations as possible.

This is a mistake. The result is just overloading.

Whether from a stage or across the table, let's keep in mind that starting a fire is the purpose of communication.

 

Confidence Building Tips

Confidence building: tips and thoughts

 

 

You may know the story of this man and his son going to the market on donkey's back to sell their goods. As they are passing through a village, people say:

 

“Look at how these heartless people treat their donkey! The poor animal has to carry all the merchandise, plus the merchant and his son!...”

Ashamed, father and son get off the donkey’s back and walk. In the next village, people laugh at them:

“Look at these two idiots! They have a donkey and they walk next to it! What’s the point of having a donkey then!”

The father thinks they are right and put in son on the donkey’s back. In the next village, people say:

“Look! This vigorous young guy is riding the donkey when his old man has to walk! Isn’t it a disgrace?...”

The son quickly gets off the donkey’s back and let his father takes his places. But soon, other people say:

“What a disgraceful thing to see! The man rides the donkey and let his young son walk! Why having children if you don’t care for them?”

 

Eventually, father and son decide to do just what they think is right and they stop taking people’s opinion into account. From then on, they will feel much better!

 

 

Nowadays, fathers and sons don’t ride donkeys in London’s street, but apart from this detail, not much has changed. Whatever you do, there will always be people to find that something is wrong with you. Building up confidence, whether for public speaking or other social settings, is necessary to maintain our balance and not be overwhelmed by critics and disapprovals.

 

 

  Let me point out just a few things for today:

 

 

1 The story does not emphasize that whatever they do,  there will always be people to be happy with them as well! Wisdom recommends to renounce to be universally approved. However, if we believe in any kind of higher power, we can always ask for blessings, and then look for allies. Who can be around and repeat as much as we need that they believe in us? Let’s focus and listen to these ones rather than the others!

 

2 When on stage, there are almost always one or two friendly, supportive and smiling faces in the audience. We can spot where they are and speak more especially for them. 

3 Let’s not forget that some people listen intently without smiling. Not smiling does not equate with disapproving. I have often been surprised by positive feedback from people who looked stern when listening.

4 Let’s “unplug” our inner critic. We are only sensitive to other people’s disapproval when a part of us agrees with the disapproval. Before getting on stage, or when we meet our reflection in the mirror of a bathroom, let’s have a look at ourselves and say something like:

“I have prepared myself the best I could, I am not perfect however I have something valuable to give! It will be what it will be, let’s go!” Focusing on what we have to give helps taking the focus away from our imperfections.

We can also turn the inner critic against itself. Let’s get our inner critic to ask this question to itself: “Do I criticize beyond what’s efficient to make progress?”

5 Believe in yourself! Do you realize that being just who you are, the way you are is just what other people in your social environment need to meet? Keep this in mind, You are necessary.

6 Building confidence can be compared to stretching muscles. Stretching is good, but forcing ourselves beyond a certain point is not. It is possible and desirable to be kind with ourselves! Let's not go too far out of our comfort zone. A bit a regular and gentle stretching will work wonders. 

7 As the saying goes: “You can eat an elephant one bite at a time” Let’s not forget to congratulate ourselves warmly for every small victory - and no victory is small enough to be “nothing” This will work as powerful positive affirmation.

Also, every now and then, let's look at our past and marvel at all the progress we have already made!

 

 

 Before I leave you, let me tell you a last little story by the psychotherapist and philosopher Paul Watzlawick: he was helping a very very shy student to overcome his shyness. He had to do a presentation for his PhD at the end of the year. The psychotherapist made him start with very small challenges, such as asking “What time is it please?” to strangers… and very small challenge after very small challenge, the student build up his confidence and passed his PhD... You can eat an elephant one bite at a time...

 

 

 

And now, on to updates: as usual, Speed Public Speaking sessions are scheduled every Monday in Clerkenwell from 6.45pm to 9pm in the Apple Tree - 45 Mount Pleasant WC1X 0AE - Closest station Farringdon and every other Thursday (there is one this Thursday) in Willesden Green in the premises of RSL Collective  Unit 1 Queen’s Parade Walm Lane NW2 5HT.

 

 

 

Thanks a lot for your support, your presence and your fantastic testimonies. It’s a wonderful adventure and it wouldn’t happen without you!

Warm wishes

Jean-Marc



Create a virtuous circle of energy

Today’s public speaking/communication tip is about energy. In the video  I am telling you why taking great care of the quality of our personal energy is so important when we speak to an audience.

 If we project enthusiasm, feel good energy, cheerfulness, or calmness, or strength, or love… listeners will feel it and send it back to us amplified ( the more people there are in the room, the more amplified our energy will come back) The more we receive from them, the more we have to give. Thus we have the power to create a “virtuous circle” (to borrow a term to economics) of positive exchanges.

 As usual with human beings, our content will be valued in the light of how we make people feel…

 

The rewards will be great!

Dear known and unknown friends

  I am a sensitive perfectionist. I have a tendency to believe that a good Speed Public Speaking training session can only be a session where the magic operates full time, going crescendo from the beginning to the end. I am a bit deluded. I want peaks without troughs! I don’t like to feel the energy slowing down when it happens. I dread these moments. I feel it’s my fault, I feel I have done a bad job. I have a tendency to be too harsh on myself.

As leader of Speed Public Speaking sessions, I could play safe. I know how to get an audience or a training group on a high and keep it there. Of course, it’s never granted in advance, but there are ways. Let me tell you the recipe: as I keep repeating at the beginning of almost every session, it’s all in the way we deliver our speeches, and the formula is:

  Delivery= Energy + Engagement + Structure.

 Energy comes first. When we jump on stage like a jack out of the box, when we amplify our body language and project our voice powerfully, when we dare taking as much room as we can, we feed the audience with good healthy dynamic energy and everyone enjoys it. Smiles, laughter and excitement quickly happen. It’s a bit challenging for you trainees, but the rewards are immediate. When you feed your audience with good energy, they love you. They send energy back. You dare more…a virtuous circle of energy is on... It’s great fun!

 Second round:  After "Energy"comes "Engagement" It’s all about taking care of the relationship side of the communication process. We make eye contact, greet, thank, compliment the people gathered here in front of us. We are human beings, we love being loved, we need acknowledgement, validation and warm welcomes. Again we give,  they give back the same quality of energy-engagement, multiplied by as many pairs of eyes as they are. This part of the training touches our hearts, and the rewards are immediate as well. We feel warmth, we feel connected…  

 You know what? If I wanted to play safe, we would work on energy and engagement from the beginning to the end of every session. We would spend the whole time freeing ourselves from the emotional straightjackets we have become used to wear in our everyday lives. This feels so good, it’s fun, it’s regenerating!

 But but but… Here we are. Third round. Let’s work on "Structure" now! 
To be clear and memorable, just being ourselves, friendly and full of good energy is not enough. We need a clear structure, for instance an introduction, a development with three distinct parts and obvious transitions between them; A conclusion at the end to recap and call to action… a bit of intellectual focus is required now...

 After freeing ourselves, working on structuring our content might feel as if we had to put on a straightjacket again. This is work. The rewards will be great, but they are not immediate. Just like artists, musicians, sport men or any craftsmen , we need to discipline our efforts with perseverance before being able to get on stage looking as if it was easy… 

 Public speaking is an art. You may not aim at becoming great masters, but even to acquire basic skills, there are efforts to be made. It’s not my fault. It’s life. Sometimes we reach summits, sometimes we open our wings and fly, and sometimes we are confronted with the necessity of making efforts and persevere. These times are not as enjoyable as others, however, they are the moments when we build our strength and strengthen our skills. I would be dishonest if I spared you these moments. 
 
  I love you. Yes, I really enjoy your company. I love listening to your speeches. I wish to see you progress and progress. So let me tell you a last thing: when the energy levels are going down in the middle of a session because of some difficulties to confront, I wish to see you giving more of your own energy, whether as active listeners or as speakers.

You know, those who provide more of their own energy instead of getting disengaged when the dynamism of the group slows down  have learnt one of the most fundamental lesson we need to learn to face an audience and take them with us wherever we want… It’s what leading is about.

 When we reap the fruits of our efforts, we know it was worth it…
 
 Good luck on your journey! Don't forget to sign up to the next sessions in Willesden Green or Clerkenwell. For details visit the What's on sections on http://jeanmarcpierson.com

 See you soon!  

 

Relationship maintenance for speakers

Dear mail list readers, I am happy you exist. What would I be without you? 

 Today’s public speaking tip will be about an essential subject: relationship maintenance. It has been said that training public speaking makes us acquire skills that are also useful to maintain long term relationships. (or to initiate any kind of relationship....) Why is that?

 Any human communication happens at least at two levels. The more obvious is the level of content (what we say) and a less obvious level is the level of the relationship between speaker and listener. This is true whether we speak from a stage to an audience, or to our partners, friends, children, family members, colleagues, shopkeeper etc...

 Let me give an example:  if I say: “I want a black americano with two croissants” in a very neutral tone, I will not induce the same quality of relationship with the waitress as if I said warmly: “Could you give me a black americano with two croissants, please?” In the first case, I take the service for granted, I make her feel that she is there to serve me (and that’s true, it’s her job)   In the second case, I express that I consider the waitress a human being, my equal, and I treat her accordingly: my equals deserve to be asked politely.

 There is not a single communication in which this relationship level doesn't play a role. Most of the time, it is more subtle than in my example, and we aren't really aware of what is going on just under the surface. However it’s always there. Who is dominant, who is welcome and how much, who is valued and how much, who is taken for granted, who is worth paying attention to, who gives orders....are the kinds of relationship subtexts we exchange and sometimes fight for.
 
 If someone does not get our message, it might well be that they actually don’t want to accept the subtext. The other way round, if people welcome and value what we say, it might well be because they are happy to acknowledge the relationship subtext.
 
 Therefore, let’s focus, but not too much. Our content might be clear and important by itself, however, what matters instinctively, for us, human beings, is the relational subtext. Let’s be aware enough of it and smile, make eye contact, compliment, thank, express that we value the attention of our listeners, reassure at times (it won’t be too long, I’m almost finished) so as to maintain the best relationship with our audiences, partners, colleagues, shopkeepers...

 Whatever we have to say will have the best possible reception. I rarely wait long for my Americano and croissants. And when it happens, I understand they have their reasons...

                  London, the 10th of December 2015



 
 The last Speed Public Speaking session for this year will take place tomorrow Friday the 11th, from 7pm to 9pm, at RSL in Willesden Green. Details are here: http://www.meetup.com/Speed-Public-Speaking-in-Willesden-Green/