The Leading Edge - Taking Care of Business
Self-Confidence: The Key to a Great Presentation
Whether you are handling some staff training, speaking briefly at a local chamber of commerce meeting, or making a vital sales presentation, there are several ways you can screw it up. By far the biggest though, is a lack of self-confidence.
Even the most accomplished speakers get nervous or anxious before a major speech or presentation – it comes with the territory. This is sometimes referred to as the fight or flight response. Your adrenal glands pump stress hormones which causes a chain reaction, your heart rate goes up, your blood pressure rises, adrenaline increases, blood recirculates filling the nerve endings in your stomach and that leads to butterflies. Often, it is a positive, adrenalin fueled nervousness that when channeled makes your presentation even better.
Anxiety often stems from a desire to be liked, or a fear of making a fool of oneself. Is this justified? In reality, audiences are usually neutral, if anything they expect to be bored. They are hoping to gain at least one nugget of good information – anything more is a bonus. Basically, their expectations are far lower than you think. One thing to remember is that they want to like you; they want to give you a chance.
The trick with nervousness is to convert it into power. Rename the emotion and fight, don’t take flight. Take control – take the leap and start the presentation. Once you do, those butterflies will become “flutterbyes” – they will disappear because all your attention is on the audience and the information you wish to impart. To do this, however, you need to know your stuff – you need to be prepared.
Here is a short exercise. What is your passion in life? Is it your children, a hobby, theater, food? It doesn’t matter, just think about the thing you are most passionate about and arrange to talk about it to someone for five minutes. Choose a person that you are not too close to, someone who hasn’t heard you talk about it previously. How does that make you feel? Excited, rather than nervous? That’s because you know your passion topic intimately, in fact once you get started it will almost certainly be difficult to limit your talk to just five minutes. Now think about doing exactly the same thing on a random topic that you know little to nothing about. Your heart rate probably went up just thinking about it.
Pre-presentation nerves usually stem from not being sure of what you are going to say and how you are going to present the information. Before making a speech, or making a sales presentation be one hundred percent confident that you know your stuff inside out, back to front. If you do that, your self-confidence will soar.
Here are nine mantras to help you build your self-confidence before facing an audience.
- They are on my side.
- They need to hear what I have to say.
- I care about them.
- I am pleased to be presenting them with this information.
- I am prepared and this is good material – I know my stuff!
- I feel good about myself.
- I can imagine myself doing a good job.
- I am excited, enthusiastic, and passionate about what I have to say.
- I am committed to doing my best.
Historically the Greeks have been great orators. They talk about the importance of ethos, pathos, and logos. They are worth considering before preparing for every speech no matter its length, or importance.
Ethos focuses on your beliefs and your willingness, or enthusiasm to present them with courage. Pathos, refers to the passion you have for your topic and how much of yourself you are willing to give to the audience. Logos is using your brain to formulate your thoughts and words.
If you use ethos, pathos, and logos, and then connect your message with the goals of your audience, your presentation will be powerful and confidently delivered.
A Simple Guide to Getting Your Corporate Finances Back on Track
From time to time every business feels some financial stress. It’s not always due to a market downturn or lack of sales, sometimes it can be that your company is growing too fast and you have a cashflow issue. Whether you are experiencing money worries or not, this article will provide some simple tips to get you back on track or help you prepare for growth.
Assess Your Situation
Financial stress usually originates from a feeling that you are no longer in control and that comes from not having all the information at your fingertips. Regardless of whether or not you are currently in the financial weeds, taking the following actions will help you become grounded.
- Be honest with yourself. Don’t try to fool yourself that it will all be okay in the end. Putting their heads in the sand doesn’t help ostriches, neither will it help you. Of course, the ostrich thing is a myth (they bury their eggs in the sand and the parents take turns to rotate them, thus they just look like they have their head buried). But you get the point.
- Discover what the real issues are and if there are no issues, find out where you can increase profit. There is always a way. Here’s a short list to get you started thinking in the right direction.
- Insufficient revenues
- Out of control expenses (almost every business can cut costs)
- Too many staff
- Not enough staff
- Pricing is too high
- Pricing is too low
- Profit margin is insufficient
- Suppliers overcharging (or there is a less expensive alternative).
In short, do an audit of your business’s finances. You will be surprised what you will discover and how much you can do to right the ship if it’s off course.
Get Real and Take Control
If you don’t understand your financial statements, the first thing you need to do is get your accountant to explain them, or simply go online and find a few YouTube videos that explain the ins and outs of an income statement and a balance sheet. It’s not rocket science, you’ll be surprised at the simplicity of these documents. You will be even more astounded at how useful they are in running your business profitably.
Create a Budget
Budgets are worth their weight in gold. The first one you do is based on what you currently spend, later your assumptions will be based on future spending. They will need constant adjustment, but as you add more and more months of figures, and then years, their accuracy will improve and the more useful they will become. Once you have done a thorough audit of your finances, you will be able to see where you need to cut the amount you spend, and where you might perhaps need to add some dollars.
Bringing your finances under control can be tough so don’t try to go it alone. Talk to your accountant. Get a mentor who knows about the financial side of running a business. Perhaps, hire someone to manage your finances. There is a caveat to this last point: you need to understand your finances and know how to read financial statements before hiring anyone.
If necessary, go and see a credit counsellor or debt management specialist. Not everyone is good at handling money. If that describes you, then the best thing you can do is find someone who is to help you.
Bring More Money In
The most common problem when there are financial woes is a lack of cash flow. If you are short of cash, look to your accounts receivable and call every client who owes you money, whose payment is overdue.
Make more sales by reaching out to every old customer to see if they need anything from you. This is often fertile ground for sales. Incentivize your sales team to bring in more orders – sometimes a simple team competition with a prize, such as two nights away at a fancy hotel, can stimulate sales and increase revenues.
Look to Profit
Often when finances are bad it’s because you are not making enough profit. Analyze your net profit. If it’s not high enough to meet your needs, you may need to increase your prices. If that is tough in your market, look to see if you can get a better deal from your suppliers. In today’s fast-changing technology world, you might also look at ways to automate to save money. Above all, be creative, be innovative.
All businesses leave some money on the table; that is money that could be yours if you have an auditor’s mind and know where to look.
Coach's Corner - The Importance of Gratitude
“Make it a habit to tell people, thank you. To express your appreciation sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you’ll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life, and you’ll find that you have more of it.”—Ralph Marston
Gratitude is the quality of being thankful and the readiness to show appreciation and return kindness. By expressing our thanks and showing appreciation we are addressing one of the deepest human needs—that of being appreciated. We all want and need to be recognised and appreciated for our efforts no matter how mourodest they may seem.
Receiving gratitude, helps people experience more positive emotions, enjoy good experiences, see improvement in their mental and physical health, and strengthens relationships. Within a professional work setting, stimulating these four areas will increase staff engagement.
Organizations rely on everyone’s effort and attitude. Although people may do their job, doing it with a positive attitude and sense of ownership is optional. Recognising and appreciating how people are going about their work, reinforces the contributions they are making and solidifies their engagement. Tom Peters, author of many leadership titles including In Search of Excellence, places saying, “Thank You” in first and second place of his 51 pieces of commonplace advice to help create and sustain the foundation for a successful organization.
“Who does not thank for little will not thank for much.”—Estonian Proverb
In their book, Leading with Gratitude, authors Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, present the argument, supported by extensive research, that practising gratitude leads to increased employee morale, efficiency and productivity. All of which lead to engagement. They emphasize “seeing” those things, small and large, that deserve our thanks and making sure we “express” our gratitude often and as close to the event as possible.
When you take the time to notice what people are working on and accomplishing and then thank them for it, you are expressing your gratitude and showing them that their efforts are helping the project or business succeed. This gratitude needs to be clear and authentic, and needs to mention the specific action or outcome to which you are referring.
What are ways in which you can express your gratitude? How can you make gratitude a habit in your business?
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” —William Arthur Ward
Paul Abra, Motivated Coaching