Let Mom Help Overcome Anxiety

Finding the right person in the audience can help you relax

So, you have a big presentation. It might be a sales call with a group of buyers, a meeting with executives or board members or speech on the stage in front of 20 or 200. No matter the venue or audience, how do you calm the nerves? You’ve probably already heard some of the worst advice ever: “Just imagine your audience naked.” Noooooo!! Not a good idea.

Here’s a better idea: imagine mom in the audience. If not your mom, imagine your most adored friend or relative. What would s/he be doing if sitting in the audience while you present? Smiles, interest, head nodding, leaning toward you… all non-verbal signs that s/he wants to see you win.

Find the audience member who is behaving like your dear friend or relative would act if in the audience. Make eye contact a few times during the presentation and feed off that positive energy. Let it grow your confidence. The smiles will quiet anxiety. Just don’t spend too much time making eye contact. That would be creepy.

Don’t see that person in the audience? Create it! How? Smile. Smile more than you think you need to smile. Amp up your energy. Just be you. Human beings reflect the behavior of those around them. If I meet you and you smile at me, I’ll smile back. It’s almost impossible not to mimic the smile.

What’s on your book list?

A quick recap of the books I'm reading now and what's in cue

Reading books is one of the best ways to improve verbal communication skills.
Reading helps eliminate crutch words. Reading broadens vocabulary. Reading helps express thoughts in a concise, coherent way (because you have access to the right words). Give it a shot. Read intentionally for 15-30 minutes per day for two weeks. Pay close attention to your verbal presentation skills along the way. I bet you get better.
I chose to listen to Thinking Fast and Slow while driving (good, but heavy).
The pile I’m reading is worthy (except for the Josh Linkner, Hacking Innovation), but nothing is grabbing me like Never Split the Difference and The One Thing (best books from my 2017 list).

Right side: currently reading. Left side: in cue.

If one grabs your attention, go for it (all linked).
In Cue:
Whoever Fights Monsters (recommended by a homicide detective friend)
Recommended listen:
Tim Ferriss and Terry Crews (I had never payed much attention to Crews. I have a whole new level of respect for him after this).

Be better on your next video call

Three steps to get your message across clearly on your next Skype, Zoom or WebEx video call

Video rules the day. We watch video on our phones, share video on social media and use video to communicate with family, friends and coworkers. Your presence on the screen makes a big difference  in how well your message is received and understood.

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Get those word pictures flowing like a rushing river

“Can you give me an example of a word picture?” The question almost always comes with that scrunched up confused look on one’s face. You know the look. The eyes squint, the mouth purses as the jaw sets. Lines appear on each side of the nose.

“Word picture? What’s that?!” A formal definition is not much help. Here it is: “A vivid description in writing.”

The back of a box for electric razor replacement heads.

The back of a box for electric razor replacement heads. Spot the word picture?

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The Conference Call

Busy workers turn to the telephone and the ability to bring several people on the same line at the same time to conduct efficient meetings. How efficient is the conference call when you factor in poor communication ? I’ll argue 90-95% of meetings held via conference call are plagued by numerous problems that are easily solved.

Set out to communicate clearly

I have yet to hear a speakerphone that provides good, clear sound and transmits high sound quality to the other callers, unless the person is sitting close. Many speakerphones have mute functions that silence the microphone and/or speaker based on noise levels. I was participating on a call and it was easy to tell one of the participants was sitting far away from the phone. Her voice echoed and was distant. In addition, the phone sensed low noise levels and muted every third word. After telling her three times she needed to move closer to phone, I finally hung up because I was wasting my time listening to 2/3 of her broken communication.

Rule #1 – use the receiver/handset when participating in a conference call. You say, “But I can’t work on my computer – sending and responding to email!” Exactly! You are on the conference call. Would you be sitting at a computer working on email if everyone was sitting around the same conference table – having a face-to-face meeting? No. Your behavior on a conference call should be the same on a conference call as it is when conducting an in-person meeting.

If you have more than one person in a room participating on the conference call, you will need to use the speakerphone. Strategically place the phone within three-to-four feet of everyone in the room.

If you are running the meeting, remind people to speak loud and clearly – articulating each word.

Rule #2

Be aware of your surroundings.

Don’t take a conference call in a noisy area of the office. Silence nearby phones. And…my biggest pet-peeve: Don’t breathe into the handset. I have a monthly conference call where people from throughout the U.S. Participate. It never fails, someone is a mouth-breather – right into the receiver. Bad communication!

If you can’t avoid being in a noisy location, use the mute button on your phone – always remembering to click off mute BEFORE you begin speaking.

Rule #3

See rule #1 – treat the conference call just like an in-person meeting. If you wouldn’t do it sitting around the conference table – don’t do it on the call. And, the reverse is true. Be sure to distribute an agenda via email or fax. Check when the call begins that everyone has the agenda. If they don’t, give a bullet-point list of what you will accomplish during the call. STICK TO THE AGENDA!

Also, don’t assume people have the conference dial-in information in a meeting notice or saved from the last regularly scheduled call. Include the call in number and passcode on the agenda. We’re all busy and having all information in the same place – on the same sheet of paper makes everyone’s life easier.

Learn more about communication strategy and how to make your organization an efficient communication machine with DaleDixonMedia.com or send your ideas or question to me

Powerful Presentations

A check list to be your best on stage

Make your next presentation better with this quick tip sheet.

  • The audience is my top priority!
  • My slides are aesthetically pleasing and easy to read for EVERYONE in the room
  • I have a limited number of words, graphs and images on each slide
  • The slides are acronym free and use little technical language so I have maximum understanding
  • I use engaging, interesting and supporting images, video and sound
  • My transitions and special effects are minimal and will not detract from my presentation
  • I am prepared. I am not scared of the technology. I have practiced the operation of the equipment and slide show several times so I know it is close to ‘bullet-proof’
  • I have the remote control
  • There is a screen, table, power cord and power-strip in the room
  • The projector is available and syncs with my computer
  • Handouts are not simply a printout of the slides, but I’ve added information for the benefit of the audience

Want to learn more about creating a Powerful Presentation? Check out Dale’s DVD and workbook. Click here.


Email Checklist

Before you hit SEND, use this check list to be sure your communication hits the mark

Dale’s email check list:

  • Assume nothing!

    Before hitting send, use this check list.

  • Are the appropriate recipients in your To…, Cc…., Bc…. lines?
  • Is the Subject line clear and concise?
  • Is your email message clear, concise and tailored to the reader?
  • Is your signature line helpful?
  • Now, DOUBLE-CHECK & PROOF-READ! If this is a critical email, read it slowly out loud and ask a trusted person to read it, too.
  • Is spelling correct?
  • Are you missing words?
  • Are attachments attached?
  • Are you delivering bad news with this email? Yes? STOP! Deliver bad news in person, face-to-face. Never use email to fire, stop, admonish, discipline or deliver negative information.
  • The key question: Would you print and tape this email to your office door for all to read?