Category “Nervousness”

12 Most Focused Ways for Introverts to Make Their Mark

I’m rereading the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. If you’re an introvert, make this the book you read this year! The author spent five years researching this topic, and the stories she tells are fascinating. I want to give you a taste of the book, but you MUST read it. It really will change how you think about yourself and others. I know after you read this book you will be able to choose the directions you go with more clarity and ease, plus you’ll create more consciously the life you desire.
Here are some tips Susan Cain offers that I’ve been sharing in my workshops. My introverted clients report more successes. And extroverts, please read this to understand how one-third to one-half of the world operates.

  1. Ask for time to consider the options. Often the person who talks the most and is the most enthusiastic, declaring “Let’s make the decision now,” seems to be forcing everyone to go in a certain direction. BUT you can say, “I suggest we take a day [or a week] to think this over, gather some more data, consider the options and then come back and use our critical thinking to objectively see what makes sense.”
    In your own experience, when can you encourage others not to make a decision right then and there?
  2. Set up guidelines for how much, and when, everyone may speak. City Year has a rule in meetings: no one can speak twice until everyone speaks once. This gives each person a real chance to be heard. It sends the message that no one deserves to monopolize the conversation, giving the introverts their opportunity and forcing the extroverts to be quiet and listen.
    What guidelines do you have in your meetings about how much people may speak?
  3. Embrace your “soft power.” Chances are you are quieter, humbler and more sensitive to others than are your extroverted counterparts. You also like to ask questions and sincerely listen to the responses — mulling over how the answer helps you think about a situation. You have a quiet persistence that keeps going when others have given up. Consider how you are applying these talents to your advantage.
  4. What talents do you have that can be used as assets? Find a coach. Professor Preston Ni teaches a seminar called “Communication Success for Foreign-Born Professionals” at Foothill College near Cupertino, CA. Go to his web site to learn more:
    Do you need a coach? How will you find one?
  5. Engage in a certain level of “pretend-extroversion.” I am always surprised how most people label me an extrovert, but in reality I like my time alone. I can’t imagine having a party with 200 people and, when left to my own devices, I might not call anyone ever. I tell others that I have the social skills of an extrovert and I know how to network — BUT not as long and hard as an extrovert can. I can go to a networking event and do well for about an hour; then I run out of energy.
    Where do you practice “pretend-extroversion”? How is that working?
  6. Find other ways to connect with people. You don’t have to attend big networking events. You can volunteer for a non-profit and meet people with the same focus. I have made many wonderful friends and forged new business relationships doing pro-bono work for several non-profits. This is more satisfying for me as I love helping others.
    What are ways you would enjoy connecting with others?
  7. Create “restorative niches” for yourself. A restorative niche is a place to go when you need time to be your true self. I tell my clients to hide in the restroom if they need a break. Some clients tell me they go outside for a walk, book a conference room and stay there all day, work from home, put on their headset in the airplane and listen to music. Sometimes after a workshop I will walk in a park or, if one is not available, walk around a mall where I know no one.
    What are your restorative niches?
  8. Set your expectations for yourself. I’m an Argentine Tango dancer and used to think I should try to meet and talk to many new people at a dance. I was always exhausted from the process. Now I tell myself that if I meet one new person and have one dance with someone I’ve never danced with before, that is enough. And since I can lead a dance, when I feel tired of socializing, I lead someone around the floor. I’m much happier dancing than socializing.
    What are some expectations of yourself you can change?
  9. Mange your time. Some people can go out every night and feel fantastic. They love all the stimulation. Others need time to be alone, read, exercise and think about life. Monitor yourself so you don’t get so drained that you’re no longer excited about going to the company conference or out to dinner with dear friends. You need more down time than the extroverts you know—don’t book something all the time.
    Do you overbook yourself with extroverted events?
  10. Look like an extrovert. You really do have to stand up straight, smile and look at people when speaking. Use expressions like, “I’m excited about this project,” or “This project is a great success, saving the company millions of dollars.” Use such emotional statements in your presentations.
    Look at your presentations – where can you look like an extrovert?
  11. Identify your “core personal projects.” I love to coach in small, intimate, two-day workshops for ten people. I do give speeches to audiences of 100 – 300, but they aren’t my favorite things to do. I also like special presentation projects and am involved in one right now. This type of activity interests me more than preparing a speech and selling it around the country.
    What are your special projects that you love, and how can you do more of them?
  12. Enjoy your quality relationships. Here’s my confession. I’m about to have an important birthday, and my husband offered to throw me a big party. I have tried to imagine having a bash with 100 people and just feel uneasy inside. I can see a party with maybe 30 people. That feels cozy and fun, so I’m opting for the smaller gathering.
    How can you maximize the quality of your relationships over their quantity?

Go buy the book Quiet. Just reading it will give you hundreds of ways to think about your childhood, your present life and your future. I do believe you will never be the same again. If you’re introverted, you will empower yourself in new ways. If you’re an extrovert, you will reconsider how much you speak in meetings, how you listen and most importantly, how to appreciate the introverts who solve complex problems, persevering long after you have quit.
I want to close with a quote from the book: “If there is one insight you take away from this book, though, I hope it’s a newfound sense of entitlement to be yourself. I can vouch personally for the life-transforming effects of this outlook.” Thank you, Susan Cain!

12 Most Tongue-in-Cheek Reasons Not to Worry About Your Audience

When my clients are nervous about speaking in front of an audience, they tend to exaggerate their own importance to their listeners. Here is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek list to help you realize that, while you are in front of your audience, they each have their own world going on while listening to you.

  1. They need sleep: At least one-quarter of your audience members are sleep deprived. All they hope is that you’ll keep them awake.
    They are saying: Please be interesting enough so I don’t fall asleep and embarrass myself.
  2. They walked into the room already overwhelmed with data: As long as you don’t add to their confusion trying to assimilate and sort too much information, they will be content.
    They are thinking: Please don’t confuse my brain with more data that doesn’t really make sense to me.
  3. They’ve got to use your information: Some people have to do something with your information and they’re hoping you’ll make it easy for them to figure it out.
    They are begging you: Please – just clearly tell me the next steps.
  4. They are relieved they’re not the ones presenting: Many listeners are just glad they’re not up there having to talk. You can do almost anything as long as you don’t call on them.
    They are pleading: Please just leave me alone. Don’t embarrass me in front of these people.
  5. They want you to do well: Some people feel responsible for what goes on around them and are hoping you don’t act so nervous because that will make them very uncomfortable.
    They are anxiously wishing: Please behave so I don’t have to figure out how to rescue you.

  6. They are hungry: Some people are plotting how to get to the other side of the room for a chocolate-chip cookie. This also might keep them awake.
    They are distracted: Please just give us a two-minute stretch so I can bolt to those cookies.
  7. They need to go to the restroom: They are praying for some type of pause in your topic or someone asking a question so they can sneak out.
    They are hoping: Please take questions so I can unobtrusively get out of here.
  8. They want to show off, not listen to you: A couple of people want to impress someone in the room. They are waiting to interrupt you and show how smart they are.
    They are impatiently judging: Is this the right time to make my point?
  9. They’ve got to report on your presentation: Several are seriously listening as they have to report back on your talk’s content. They’re trying to figure out what to say back in the team meeting.
    They are wishing: Please make it easy for me to report in my staff meeting next week.
  10. They are daydreaming: Some are thinking about their new car, the baby at home, the great dinner they had last weekend, or their upcoming vacation.
    They are enjoying themselves: It’s great to have some time to daydream.
  11. They are generating new ideas: Some people’s brains are going overtime with new ideas you have given them.
    They are eagerly waiting to stand up and say: I’ve got a better idea about this situation. Here it is.
  12. Your boss is hoping you are successful: Your boss wants you to come across as smart, on top of the topic and confident.
    The boss is anxiously thinking: Yes, that’s it! Keep making the team look good. Just don’t goof up too badly.

    Given the nature of the fairly typical audience mix I just described, you really don’t have to worry about how much attention they are truly giving you – except, of course, for the people who have to report back or use your information. You may be standing in front of them, but the chances that are you are center stage inside their minds are maybe 50/50. So the next time you start getting anxious about a presentation, remember that your listeners have their own agendas going on. You will be able to relax, which of course will give you more confidence – and then you will capture the attention of more of your audience!

Prepare for Your Presentation Like a Tango Dancer

Prepare for Your Presentation Like a Tango Dancer

Presenting is like dancing tango: prepare so you’ll be asked to perform again!

Whether leading or following, the dancer should not depend on the partner for balance. The same is true for presenters. We should not depend on our audience to motivate us, spark our enthusiasm and keep us energized.

How does an Argentine tango dancer prepare? Well, surprisingly, after going through the basic steps, many famous dancers have told me that the most important exercise is to practice without a partner! In other words, the dancer needs to be able to do the moves by him or herself without relying on another person. Read the rest of this entry »

Preparation: Do What’s Needed

My colleague and I recently prepared a forty minute presentation to become selected as one of the vendors of choice for a large Fortune 100 company. How much did the two of us prepare? Read the rest of this entry »

Nervousness: An Impulse to Action

I interviewed Daena on how she looks at nervousness. Daena Giardella is an actor, director, coach and consultant. She has been called one of the “trailblazers” of training and one-woman improvisational theater performances.

What do you tell clients who say, “I am so nervous. I can’t do this talk”?

Your nervousness can be your best friend. Nervousness is energy that may contain a message from your innermost self. Your job is to understand what it’s trying to tell you. And then you can harness and transform it into passion and smart choices. Read the rest of this entry »

Staying Present Keeps Me Calm

Wendy Capland is the founder and CEO of Vision Quest Consulting which provides the ultimate in programs for executive leadership development for top executives and their management teams. She is also the founder of The Magic Parties, a community of women who gather to birth themselves in new ways.

How do you calm yourself before a presentation?
I am not nervous anymore. After all, I’ve been doing this for 25 years. I do certain practices before I talk. I take deep breaths and ground myself. If I can, I close my eyes and do a spiritual practice of settling into my body, running energy from my feet to the heavens and then from the heavens through my feet. I then focus on being with my audience and deep into myself at the same time. Read the rest of this entry »

Fast, Fast Talking Does Not Engage the Audience

“I want to engage the audience.”

Jim came to a workshop and said he wanted to be able to connect to the audience and have them make comments and ask questions. Then he gave his work presentation.

He talked very fast, never pausing between sentences. He was hard to understand as he did not say the end of many words. If someone in the class wanted to ask a question, the person would have had to interrupt Jim.

What’s wrong with this scenario? Read the rest of this entry »

Filter Words Through Your Heart

Plan Your Opening & Closing

Charlie Rose is Senior Vice President and Dean at City Year. Charlie has helped build the organization into a national model for youth community service organizations. He speaks several times each month to City Year’s Core Members as well as to community organizations around the United States.
1. What are the ways you prepare yourself before speaking?
First I think very carefully about my audience and what I want to accomplish. Then once I have decided my purpose, I plan certain events I do every time I talk. I always do my stand-up/sit-down exercise. I ask the audience questions like stand up if you are an only child. Stand up if your name is consistently mispronounced. Read the rest of this entry »

Losing Your Place When Talking

You seem to lose your place when talking and do not know why. You look at your slides and your mind goes blank. You are considering putting many more words on the slides to remind you what you need to cover.

More words on the slide: a smart or not so smart decision? Read the rest of this entry »

Presenting Globally (Refocus Nerves)

Suzanne Enright, president of Kensu Leadership Group, Inc. tells how she channels her nervousness. Her consulting company designs and delivers programs to accelerate the development of global leaders, with a focus on high-potential leaders and their teams in Asia and the U.S.

Suzanne, what are your two best ways to prepare yourself before speaking?

Number 1: I mentally practice. Read the rest of this entry »