Archive for the 'Presence' Category

Jun 05 2017

How to, like, stop using “like” kind of all the time

Published by under Presence,Vocal Image

People use speech patterns of popular culture because they are, like, popular.  Part of the fun of life is to copy what we hear said in films and TV because it is a way to share common experience. Common experience is a great way to engage others. However, as my mom used to say, “Everything in moderation.” Today’s speech has become cluttered with “like,” “kind of,” and “sort of,” just as our highways have become cluttered with trash.  Although many argue that these are just words and that they are a normal part of speaking, I argue that too much of this diminishes a person’s impact.

We all know that “kind of” doesn’t mean “absolutely.” Does it matter? To find the answer, ask yourself, “How much influence do I want?”  On the dictionary.com blog post  that addresses the use of “like,” Jim commented that “There probably would not be a marble statue of him if Abraham Lincoln had said: Like four score and seven like years ago our fathers like brought forth on like this continent a new like nation, conceived in like liberty, and like dedicated to the like proposition that all men are created like equal.”

I agree, though he would have been a trendsetter! Instead, the first recorded use of “like” as a filler word appeared 20 years later, in Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novel Kidnapped: “’What’s like wrong with him?’ said she at last.” And thus began our increasing reluctance to take a stand.

Again, the real challenge with “like” is not that it is used, but how it is used. Its overuse seems to apologize for any conviction or strong opinions we have. In the example of Lincoln’s speech, Jim is really saying that when speakers want to inspire change but pepper their speech with words that are not strong, especially when they use a rising terminal (up-speak,) they are less likely to be taken seriously.  Your impact as a speaker depends on the alignment of the purpose/intention of your speech, the words you use and your delivery.  As slam poet Taylor Mali suggests in his wonderful poem “Totally, like whatever, you know,” when you overuse words such as “like,”

(It’s) As if I’m saying,
don’t think I’m a nerd just because I’ve, like, noticed this; ok
I have nothing personally invested in my own opinions,
I’m just, like, inviting you to join me on the band wagon of my own uncertainty

If you notice words such as “like,” “sort of,” and “kind of”, like, creeping into your speech, or that of your children, here are some ideas for sort of kicking the habit (see what I mean? Will this help you kick the habit or not?):

1.     Pick a time for this exercise, and find a partner. Choose who will start talking and an easy topic, such as what you had for lunch or what you plan to do over the weekend.  Set the timer for 1 minute. Take turns making a sound like a buzzer every time you hear the other person say “like,” “kind of” or “sort of.” This will help you become aware of how much you use such words. You may also notice how quickly you make different choices when you are caught in the act.

2.     When you hear yourself use such a word or phrase, stop and correct yourself. Here’s an example: “Wait, I’m not “kind of happy,” I AM happy.” Self-awareness moves you closer to breaking the habit; changing the delivery to one of strength will remind you of how to align your content and delivery with your intention to express a clear thought.

3.     There’s an app for this.  The overuse of most of my favorite junk words can be minimized by purchasing the app, LikeSo, and, like, using it.

It takes anywhere from three weeks to 8 months to break a habit, depending on the complexity of it.  Make a commitment to change the way you speak and keep after it by exercising the new skill for at least a month.  It will kind of make a difference in how others, like, perceive of you, which, in turn, will increase the impact of your communication.

For more on this, please see my post, This is why your communication doesn’t have impact

 

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Feb 09 2017

You Are Not Your Slide Deck

Published by under Executive Presence

dreamstime_m_143850When I was first introduced to presentations in the business world I was appalled. I realized that people thought that their slide deck was their presentation. As a musician, that would be like assuming the piece of music you’re playing is the only thing that matters, when in reality, how you stand, your body language and of course, your talent and the way you play your instrument are hugely important. That’s why we pay big money to go see performers on stage. Even why you walk on the stage is important, as Stanislovski pointed out.

I apply the same approach to executive coaching. You want to be seen as a leader? You have to act and talk like a leader, and be clear about why you are there. Through my work, I’ve developed a simple formula to use to make sure you show up that way…simple, but requiring a shift from “content is king.” It is so powerful that 80% of my clients get promoted or move on to a preferred position.

The powerful secret sauce: For greatest vocal impact (my term for finding your voice in a noisy world), align your intention, content, and delivery.

Slide1

That’s it.

Here is how it works. Intention is the why, content is the what, and delivery is the how. You have to get them all to agree with each other; the result is authenticity, trustworthiness, and executive presence.

Here’s an example of how it works: Let’s say you need to introduce a new project to your team and you want them to believe it’s a great opportunity. In fact you are excited about it. You can tell them that but if you say that you’re excited with a flat, lifeless delivery, they won’t believe you! You must authentically feel excited and sound excited. And I will remind you that intention can be heard and felt even without words– If your intention isn’t clear or you have ulterior motives, people can sense it.

Most business people think more about getting their content right than anything else. On the other hand, the effect of the alignment of intention, content, and delivery can be seen in the successful performing artists that we admire, such as Lady Gaga, YoYo Ma, Beyonce or (insert your favorite here.) What’s more, they take it straight to the bank.
© Andres Rodriguez | Dreamstime.com – business man appearing on laptop

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