Archive for the ‘Communication Skills.’ Category

Put down phones and start talking

Monday, January 14th, 2019
(Stock image for illustration purposes) Entire businesses can be run on a smartphone.

TRAVELLING on the train to and from work every day, I notice that at least nine out of 10 people are glued to their smartphone screens.

Families are not talking to each other but are looking at their phones when dining at home or restaurants.

If you asked, “What would you do if you didn’t have your phone for a day?” a reply would be, “I’ll probably die without my phone.”

Age is no barrier to becoming hooked to the handphone. People want to communicate virtually rather than physically.

Smartphones have many advantages. They are one of the greatest innovations of the 21st century. Almost anything can be done with it. Entire businesses could be run on a smartphone.

If you are stranded in an unknown place, all you need to do is use the Grab app and a driver will pick you up.

You can get food delivered through the handphone, book cinema tickets, make online payments, manage your fitness and health, and learn a new language.

And not forgetting video calls, which are a lifesaver for those living abroad and far from family and loved ones.

This is unlike 10 years ago where a five-minute call from abroad would cost you a bomb.

Apps such as WhatsApp have made communication and the spread of information limitless.

However, with every technological innovation, there is a downside.

People are so hooked to their phones that they become anti-social.

Some families spend their “family time” by looking at their smartphones.

Smartphones have also led to health problems.

Over-exposure, especially in dark places, leads to eyestrain and other ophthalmological problems.

Recent studies published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology have shown a correlation between the time spent on social media and the level of depression, loneliness and anxiety among youth.

This is because social media gives a false impression of people’s lives.

One tends to look at the lives of others and think that theirs is cooler or happier than their own.

Smartphones pose a parenting challenge to those with young children. Most children are exposed to smartphones at an early age.

Parents resort to smartphones to pacify their children and keep them quiet.

Board games, such as Mono-poly, snakes and ladders and chess, have become boring, old-fashioned activities given that virtual games can be played on smartphones.

If not monitored, kids may be exposed to pornography and get used to violence.

There is a fine line between children’s over-exposure and under-exposure to technology.

By not exposing them to technology, kids may run the risk of being left out.

Expose them too much and they may be at risk of health problems, addiction and the influence of the “dark side” of the Internet.

Therefore, parents need to strike a balance between the amount of time they allow their children to spend on technology and the time spent on other activities.

Smartphones should not be used as an easy way out when it comes to distracting children.

Parents should find outdoor activities such as sports to keep their kids occupied instead of cooping them up indoors.

We have to acknowledge the fact that we cannot live without smartphones.

However, we need to be mature in the way we use smartphones and it remains in our own hands not to allow them to take over our lives.

By Rueben Ananthan Santhana Dass.

Read more @

Leadership Skills: The 5 Essential Speaking Techniques

Monday, September 10th, 2018
Do you know how to speak for leadership? Learn these 5 essential speaking techniques for leadership skills that will give you maximum influence and impact!

Winston Churchill had this to say about leaders:

“I see it is said that leaders should keep their ears to the ground. All I can say is that the British nation will find it very hard to look up to the leaders who are detected in that somewhat ungainly posture.”

Ungainly or not, Churchill knew a thing or two about leading. Through his vision, personal example, and fearlessness during his “lost decade” of the 1930s and World War II, he set a high standard for anyone who aspires to lead others. Of course, he remains a great historical figure not only because he knew how to act like a leader, but how to speak as one.

The 5 Techniques of Speaking for Leadership

In this article, I discuss 5 essential techniques of speaking as a leader. You’ll also find examples of great speakers who exemplify these techniques, and links to speeches they gave that show those approaches in action.

Even though each of these speakers is a historical figure who spoke on a national stage, the techniques are the same ones you can use in meetings, speeches, and presentations of all kinds. Read, enjoy, and go change your own world!

1. Know Your Audience’s Needs.

Ordinary speakers deliver information. Leaders match information with the needs and desires of others who share their vision. Persuasion, enlightenment and inspiration require engaging not only the minds but also the hearts of listeners. The desire to lead is the desire to serve others.

Nowhere is this more evident than in Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech—a talk “now recognized as one of the most famous abolitionist and women’s rights speeches in American history.”[1] Speaking in 1851 at the Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, this former slave uses the simplest language imaginable to assert her own human dignity, and to add her voice to a new cry for freedom resonating with increasing power throughout the United States. Read the speech itself here, along with the effect it had on Sojourner Truth’s audience.

2. The 3 Cs: Have a Clear, Concise, and Consistent Message.

On November 19, 1863, at a ceremony at once civic, military, and spiritual, famous orator Edward Everett spoke for two hours at the dedication of a Union cemetery during the American Civil War. The next speaker, President Abraham Lincoln, spoke for two minutes. He uttered ten sentences consisting of 271 words. And yet Lincoln’s address is the one we remember: ” . . . that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Clear, concise, consistent—the Gettysburg address might have been invented as an illustration of that description. Here’s more on how to be a clear, concise, and compelling speaker. It’s also interesting that, twelve years after Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech, Lincoln delivered an address that combined a similar brief length with great historical impact. Remind yourself through this link of the beauty of the Gettysburg Address.

3. Develop a Powerful Voice.

Consider a leader’s physical voice. It’s not volume and projection, or even beautiful resonance we respond to most strongly. Far more important are the uniqueness and courage embodied in that voice.

In Martin Luther King, Jr., we heard all those attributes along with one other: the power and cadence of the preaching tradition. By all means develop the physical power of your voice. But pay careful attention as well to the honesty and trust that should emerge from your own unique style. That’s the path to real credibility—an attribute no leader can be without. Watch a video clip of King’s most famous speech, “I Have a Dream.”

4. Use Effective Nonverbal Communication.

Ever ask yourself why a dynamic leader’s speeches burn themselves in our consciousness? The words we hear—and our emotional response—are certainly factors. But so is what we see. Leaders not only sound powerful; they look powerful too. It’s certainly a reason, if you speak as a leader, to learn the 5 key body language techniques of public speaking.

Speaking of body language, you may have noticed that I didn’t write the heading above as “Use Effective Body Language.” Movement and gestures matter; but so do pauses and silence, timing, and an awareness of the nonverbal signals the audience is sending your way.

A master at using nonverbal communication for leadership was Ronald Reagan. Interestingly, Reagan wasn’t much of an actor. But he honed his craft for the role of a lifetime as the American president, a part he played to perfection. Here he is on video, in his “Berlin Wall” speech at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin on June 12, 1987.

5. Be Action-Oriented in Your Speeches as a Leader.

At the height of America’s “space race” with the Soviet Union in May 1961, President John F. Kennedy spoke to a joint session of Congress. In that address, he boldly declared: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”

That declaration was certainly audacious, considering how far behind the Soviets we were in the space race. Yet we achieved that goal on July 20, 1969, the day Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. As a leader, you should follow Kennedy’s example by aiming for action from your listeners. It’s one of the best ways—sometimes the only way—to measure the success of your speeches and presentations. Watch and listen here to an earlier America shooting for the moon

by Gary Genard.

Read more @

Seven Principles of Effective Public Speaking

Monday, September 10th, 2018

When we watch celebrities, politicians, or business leaders speak on television or in public, they seem so at ease that we may wonder: are great speakers made, or are they just born that way? While it is true that some individuals are born with this gift, many effective public speakers have trained themselves to be so. Either they have received formal media training or they have delivered so many presentations that over time they’ve learned what works for them. So, what is the true secret to effective public speaking?

Here are seven principles of public speaking that I’ve developed in my role as a media coach. Keep them in mind the next time you find yourself presenting before a group.

Perception: Stop trying to be a great “public” speaker.

People want to listen to someone who is interesting, relaxed, and comfortable. In the routine conversations we have every day, we have no problem being ourselves. Yet too often, when we stand up to give a speech, something changes. We focus on the “public” at the expense of the “speaking.” To become effective at public speaking, you must do just the opposite: focus on the speaking and let go of the “public.”

Think of it as a conversation between you and the audience. If you can carry on a relaxed conversation with one or two people, you can give a great speech. Whether your audience consists of two people or two thousand and whether you’re talking about the latest medical breakthrough or what you did today at work, be yourself; talk directly to people and make a connection with them.

Perfection: When you make a mistake, no one cares but you.

Even the most accomplished public speaker will make a mistake at some point. Just keep in mind that you’ll notice more than anyone in your audience. The most important thing you can do after making a mistake during a presentation is to keep going. Don’t stop and—unless the mistake was truly earth shattering—never apologize to the audience for a minor slip. Unless they are reading the speech during your delivery, the audience won’t know if you left out a word, said the wrong name, or skipped a page. Because “to err is human,” a mistake can work for you, because it allows you to connect with your audience. People don’t want to hear from someone who is “perfect;” they will relate much more easily to someone who is real.

Visualization: If you see it, you can speak it.

Winners in all aspects of life have this in common: they practice visualization to achieve their goals. Sales people envision themselves closing the deal; executives picture themselves developing new ventures; athletes close their eyes and imagine themselves making that basket, hitting that home run, or breaking that record.

The same is true in public speaking. If you’ve read “10 Powerful Body Language Tips” then you know how anxiety can impact presentation skills. The best way to fight anxiety and to become a more comfortable speaker is to practice in the one place where no one else can see you—your mind. If you visualize on a consistent basis, you’ll prepare your mind for the prospect of speaking in public, and pretty soon you’ll conquer any feelings of anxiety.

Discipline: Practice makes perfectly good.

Your goal is not to be a perfect public speaker. There is no such thing. Your goal is to be an effective public speaker. Like anything else in life, it takes practice to improve those public speaking skills. We too often take communication for granted because we speak to people everyday. But when your prosperity is directly linked to how well you perform in front a group, you need to give the task the same attention as if you were a professional athlete. Remember, even world champion athletes practice every day. Try taking a class where you practice giving speeches.

Description: Make it personal.

Whatever the topic, audiences respond best when the presenter can personalize their message. It’s a terrific way to get intimate with large audiences. Take the opportunity to put a face on the facts of your presentation. People like to hear about other people’s experiences—the triumphs, tragedies, and everyday humorous anecdotes that make up their lives. Telling stories will give you credibility, and help your listeners engage more often. Whenever possible, insert a personal-interest element in your public speaking. This technique will make your listeners warm up to you, but it will also do wonders at putting you at ease by helping you overcome any lingering nervousness. After all, on what subject is your expertise greater than on the subject of yourself?

Inspiration: Speak to serve.

For a twist that is sure to take much of the fear out of public speaking, take the focus off yourself and shift it to your audience. After all, the objective is not to benefit the speaker but to benefit the audience, through your speaking skills teaching, motivation, or entertainment. So, in all your preparation and presentations, you should think about your purpose. How can you help your audience members achieve their goals?

Anticipation: Always leave “em wanting more.

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned from my years of communication skills training is that when it comes to public speaking, less is usually more. I don’t think I’ve ever left a gathering and heard someone say, “I wish that speaker had spoken longer.” On the other hand, I can imagine how many speakers probably can’t count the times they’ve thought, “I’m glad that speech is over. It seemed to go on forever!” So, surprise your audience. Always make your presentation just a bit shorter than anticipated.
If you’ve followed the first six principles outlined here you already have their attention and interest, and it’s better to leave your listeners wishing you had spoken for just a few more minutes than squirming in their seats waiting for your speech finally to end.

By: Richard Zeoli.

Read more @

Public Speaking Tips

Monday, September 10th, 2018

Writing and delivering speeches is an important aspect of the MUN simulation. Speeches help delegates convey the positions of their Member States, help build consensus and start formulating resolutions. Usually, the committee sets the speaking time, as the delegates make a motion to set the duration and if the motion has been seconded, the body then votes upon the suggestion.

Although speechmaking is very important to the MUN simulation, many delegates biggest fear is public speaking. It is essential that delegates come to the conference well prepared: meaning that they have completed prior research, know their country’s position, and even have objectives for a resolution.

Delegates should observe ‘decorum’ (i.e., be polite) when speaking. The opening of a speech should begin with : “Thank you- Honorable-Chair, Fellow delegates…”

An opening speech should include:

  • Brief introduction of your country’s history of the topic
  • Past actions taken by the U.N., Member States, NGOs, etc. to combat the problem
  • The current situation of the topic
  • Your country’s overall position on the topic/reason for position
  • Possible ideas or goals for a resolution
  • Whether there is room for negotiation on your position

As there are no set guidelines for how delegates should execute their speeches, delegates should decide how they feel most comfortable delivering their speeches. Some delegates utilize their position papers as their opening speeches, others just write out some key points, and many just speak without any aides. Since public speaking is a skill it is important to practice, practice, practice.

Remember the audience should always be considered when making a speech. Be aware of the audience and their diversity. The beginning of the speech must captivate the audience and motivate them to want to hear more. It must pertain to an audience’s interests.

Public Speaking Tips

Mr. Anthony Hogan, Model U.N. International, suggests the system of six “C’s” to improve your ability:

1. Confidence
Confidence is portrayed by being as knowledgeable as possible on your subject and conveying this knowledge through the power of your voice and eyes. As a Model U.N. delegate, you are the authority and representative of your respective country. Research well and speak as if you know you are undoubtedly right. As the speaker, you must have confidence in yourself; otherwise the audience will have little confidence in you.

2. Clear
A speaker can do many things before-hand to assist them in speaking clearly. Write an outline of the topics that are going to be said, and follow it when speaking. Always speak slowly. This will allow the audience to hear everything that is said. Know your terminology well beforehand to avoid fumbling with words. Try to enunciate words properly.

3. Concise
A good public speaker presents his/her points in a clean and clear-cut fashion. Unnecessary words and information should not be used to fill in the speech. The speech should be brief and to the point—say what you have to say. Do not ramble on about the topic in order to appear knowledgeable.

4. Constructive
An effective public speech needs to be constructed properly. Start with a solid foundation that brings together all of your ideas, present your points, and then connect them by reviewing what was said. There should be an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. It is a known fact that three is a magic number. Say it once, say it and review it, then say it again. This method will help the audience to remember what was said.

5. “Con Passion”
It is always important to speak from the heart—with passion—hence the Spanish term “con passion”. Always maintain eye contact with the audience. In doing so the audience will feel connected to you and your speech. This is what you want. You want to grab and to hold the audience’s attention.

6. Critique
It is better to critique than to criticize. Critiquing is constructive and allows for people to grow and improve. Criticizing brings peoples’ motivation and confidence down. A critique should be accepted positively, since it is a tool that is used to strengthen one’s public speaking.

Some additional tips for effective public speaking

  • ELIMINATE UNNECESSARY SPEECH FILLERS from your communication. Fillers are words and phrases such as “umm,” “well,” “it is sort-a like,” “it’s kind-a like.” These take away from the message you want to convey. Some of the words and phrases to eliminate include: “you know,” “I think,” “I’m sorry,” “just,” “but,” “should,” “like,” “um,” and, “a,” etc.
  • USE THE POWERFUL PAUSE. Do not be afraid to have a moment of silence between sentences. A pause, after a thought and prefacing a response to a question holds the attention of the listener.
  • BREATHE from the diaphragm. Breathe deeply and often.
  • PACE YOURSELF. Do not talk too fast or too slow.
  • PHYSICALLY POSITION YOURSELF POWERFULLY. Be aware of your posture when you speak. Slouching, tilting your head and crossing your arms or legs diminishes the message. Stand up straight, shoulders down, feet firmly planted and knees unlocked.
  • PROJECT YOUR PRESENCE. Your voice is the herald that carries your message. Speak from your diaphragm not your throat. Keep the sound in the low- to- medium range. This projects authority. Speak loudly enough to be easily heard. Focus on speaking with enthusiasm, and energy and create color with your voice.
  • GESTURES. Do not be a statue. Consider occasionally exaggerating a gesture. Speaking from a platform is different than holding a one on one conversation. Use your whole body when you speak.
  • CONNECT WITH YOUR AUDIENCE. Use a lot of eye contact. Speak directly to individual members of the audience. Do not take your eyes off your audience or focus on a point over their heads.

Read more @

The Importance of Public Speaking

Monday, September 10th, 2018

One of the great human fears is public speaking. We believe this is rooted in our schooling, where we essentially trained to be listeners to, not “professors” of, knowledge. But view us on the playground, and you see us with a very different persona and voice, one alive in heart, body and soul.

This transformation is at the heart of the Hyde Public Speaking Course, taught to all seniors by Hyde School Founder Joe Gauld—getting students to have the courage to be their playground selves and become more of this persona both in life and in school, including the classroom. While they will need to learn some important new skills to assist them in this public transformation, they already have the potentials required to make them effective, even outstanding speakers.

The benefits are enormous. For once we become comfortable and effective talking to larger groups, we find ourselves really being able to connect to smaller groups and in our personal relationships. The process helps bring out a deeper part of ourselves that makes us more real, interesting, sensitive and attractive to others. We then begin to connect to others in creating the powerful synergy that enables us and them to realize higher personal bests beyond our own efforts: 1+1=3.

Speaking in front of others is inevitable

Whether you’re a student, a chef in a kitchen, a coach, or a CEO, there will always be situations where you have to speak publicly. Students give class presentations, chefs give directions and announce the specials, coaches instruct their team, and CEOs head meetings. Some positions are more communication-heavy than others, but regardless, every American will face a time when they need to put their thoughts into words to make a point, take a stand, or get a job done. When that time comes, it’s best to be prepared and feel comfortable with who you are as a speaker so you can communicate what you need to say as effectively as possible.

Being a good speaker is part of being a good leader

Here at Hyde School, we put a lot of value into the development of character. We view leadership as one of the fundamentals to becoming the best possible you that you can be. The greatest leaders of our time are also some of the best speakers of our time – in fact, their ability to speak clearly, compellingly, and charismatically are a big part of how they became leaders in the first place. One’s ability to lead is closely entwined with their ability to connect with and motivate their audience. For example, think of how differently Martin Luther King Jr. would be remembered today if he didn’t deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech with so much conviction that hundreds of thousands of others joined in on his dream.

Practicing your public speaking skills will make you an overall better communicator

Just as reading a lot can make you a better writer, practicing public speaking will hone your skills as an overall communicator. Marshall McLuhan, the public intellectual and famous media theorist, once argued that “the medium is the message” in his book Understanding Media. Simply put, this means that the ways you choose to communicate (the medium, which in this case would be public speaking) can and will influence the kinds of messages you are capable of communicating.

Reading a lot can make you a better writer. Writing a funny tweet in 140 characters will translate into being able to write clever captions on Instagram. Watching television frequently can train you to better understand the visual spaces of a video game better. Practicing your public speaking skills, then, will help your general oral communication, whether you have an audience of 200 or an audience of one. As you learn to devise and deliver speeches, you’re practicing the fundamentals of all oral communication – clarity, coherence, and confidence.

Being comfortable public speaking will help you in an interview setting

Whether you’re delivering a speech or the subject of an interview, one of the most nerve-wracking parts of the experience is being the center of attention. Because public speaking and an interview setting can often be so similar, becoming a self-assured speaker will only enhance your comfortability while in the spotlight in other settings. If you’re used to delivering speeches and presentations to dozens or even hundreds of people, you’re going to be primed for some serious one-on-one or two-on-one interview time.

Not only will public speaking experience give you confidence in your qualifications, but you can also feel confident in your actual communication skills. Interviewers, whether they be for employment opportunities, scholarship applications, or volunteer positions, are always looking for someone who can speak well and do it with assertiveness.

Establishing yourself as a public speaker can create new opportunities

One of the most exciting things about creating a reputation as an engaging speaker is the doors that can be opened. Being in front of a crowd makes you identifiable and approachable which works wonders in a world that’s based on networking and creating relationships. If you establish yourself as an adept communicator, others may identify that and want to create relationships with you in the personal, academic, or employment world. The very act of holding an audience’s attention with your words is one that helps you build a credible reputation and can showcase your character. Public speaking can just be the beginning of something that will carry you along your journey to becoming the best you.

Some quick tips and tools for becoming a better public speaker:

  • Mind your voice:
    Remember that no matter how compelling your message is, it will be lost if your audience cannot hear it. Be sure to speak up. Not all public speaking platforms have a microphone, so be sure to practice.
  • Be aware of your body language:
    We all have our nervous tics and unconscious habits. A good way of finding out yours is to record yourself practicing your speech and watch your body – do you talk with your hands? Do you shift your body weight from side to side? Is your hair in your face? It takes hard work to manage some of these idiosyncrasies, but practicing a poised posture will be well worth the time.
  • Be prepared:
    The more comfortable you are with your content, the more comfortable you will be delivering it in front of a group of people. Depending on the situation, notes may be encouraged or may be prohibited. Either way, it’s good to be familiar enough with your content that you can recover if you get a little lost on the way. Be sure to practice your content in a way that helps you remain familiar with your content but doesn’t give the impression that you’ve completely memorized it.
  • Be confident:
    Remember that your audience wants you to succeed. Every audience would love to be entertained and enraptured, and you’d be surprised with how generous a crowd may be. Let this fact, as well as your well-practiced delivery, be the backbone of your self-assurance.

Read more @

How to Recognize & Improve Your Default Public Speaking Settings

Monday, September 10th, 2018

Every time you deliver a speech, you are, in fact, leading. Whether you are a student, an executive, a politician, or a professor, you must lead your audience toward a particular objective. Your job isn’t simply to communicate ideas to your audience members—it is to show them you are a leader.

As part of this process, you must think about how your audience members perceive you when you are standing in front of the room. You must examine what you do well and how you can improve. But how do you achieve this perspective?

In Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Leading, Ronald A. Heifetz and Martin Linsky talk about the importance of “getting off the dance floor and going to the balcony.” It’s a metaphor that emphasizes the need for leaders to step back in the middle of a situation and ask themselves, “What’s really going on here?” The “balcony” is a place where you can see yourself clearly and observe how your audience members respond to you.


You can reach the balcony in many different ways. For example, you might pause for a moment after sharing an important idea and mentally observe your audience members’ reactions. Or, you might ask a couple of colleagues to watch you deliver a speech and share their observations with you. You can even videotape yourself and review your speech at a later time. Whatever strategy you choose, you’ll gain insight into how to improve your performance.

Stepping onto the balcony allows you to focus on what is actually happening rather than on what you are saying. From the balcony, you can feel the emotion and capture the energy in the room. Once you more firmly understand what your audience members experience while you are speaking, you will know exactly what actions to take.

That’s the key: taking action. The hard part is changing your behavior the next time you speak. Powerful public speaking, much like leadership, requires that you constantly assess and improve your performance.

When I was in college, I remember hearing all sorts of filler words pop out of my mouth. It wasn’t until I attended my first Toastmasters meeting that I realized I had a problem. When the Ah-Counter announced the total number of filler words I had used, I asked myself, “Did I really say ‘um’ that many times?”

Armed with this knowledge, I knew exactly what to do: pause more frequently to reduce my use of filler words.


Each of us has default settings—automatic, pre-programmed behaviors that are comfortable and familiar. For example, when someone sneezes, we typically say “Bless you.” Similarly, we each have default public speaking settings, which are ingrained ways of communicating and interacting with our audience members.

To become a powerful public speaker, you must identify your ingrained speaking patterns and determine the impact that they are having on your capacity to lead. Do you nervously adjust your glasses or run your hands through your hair? Do you say “um” or “uh” every few words? Once you identify these habits, you can challenge yourself to adjust them.

It is important to remember that making significant adjustments isn’t an easy process. It may take time and the changes may feel uncomfortable for a while, but the results are typically well worth the effort.

I often push my students to adjust their default settings in real time. At the beginning of every semester, I ask the students to stand in the center of the speaking area and introduce themselves to the class. Some students really struggle with this exercise and default to sharing impersonal, bland introductions.

It’s not that students don’t have anything interesting to say; they just don’t know what to say. I help them get on the balcony by suggesting that they ask their peers for feedback. I encourage them to share their passions with their listeners. When the students begin again, they instantly become more animated.

To succeed as a speaker, you must push yourself to adjust. But you can’t expect to become a powerful public speaker after one try. It will take time to change the habits that are holding you back.


In his book, Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell discusses the fundamental importance of practice. What “distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works,” writes Gladwell. “That’s it. And what’s more, the people at the very top don’t [just] work harder … than everyone else. They work much, much harder.”

The only way to “reprogram” your speaking patterns is to embrace the art of practice. Make public speaking a hobby by seeking opportunities to speak. Ask to introduce a keynote speaker. Volunteer to speak at a company function. It doesn’t matter where you speak.


Read more @

How to Communicate More Effectively in the Workplace

Monday, September 10th, 2018

Anyone who has collaborated with colleagues on a group project knows just how hard it can be to share and receive ideas. To move the project along, it is essential for everyone to communicate. The same holds true even when you’re sending an e-mail to one coworker: Say the wrong thing, and you may damage or even jeopardize a key professional relationship.

In part one of this series, Mastering the Basics of Communication, I shared strategies to improve how you communicate. Here, I examine how to apply these techniques as you interact with colleagues and supervisors in the workplace.


When it comes to figuring out how you communicate with others, you may want to indulge in some self-reflection. For example, are you an introvert who needs time to process and reflect, or an extrovert who wants to think out loud and get immediate feedback?

Personality tests like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) may be useful in evaluating your style and in understanding the styles of those around you. For instance, you will need to apply different approaches with decision makers who are  described as “thinkers” or “feelers” in the MBTI.

Thinkers are guided by cause-and-effect reasoning. When communicating with thinkers, you will want to focus on the facts and logic. Feelers, on the other hand, are guided more by personal values. When engaging with feelers, you will want to appeal to those values and stress their impact on others.


Even when you understand your communication style and those of your colleagues, you will occasionally experience conflicts and misunderstandings, particularly among groups. When problems emerge within a group, you may need to turn to the team for help in finding a solution.

Try organizing a group discussion. This requires good communication, of course! Send out an early agenda, express the purpose of the meeting up front, frame the decision making with key questions, and clarify the leadership. During the meeting, follow these four steps:

  1. Identify the problem. After all, you can’t solve a problem if people don’t think there is one.
  2. Ventilate feelings. We all need to be heard. Be sure that everyone has a chance to share how they feel about the particular issue at hand.
  3. Describe the problem. Does everyone understand all the complexities involved?
  4. Develop solutions. You might want to propose several possible solutions. Discuss all the options and then narrow them down to the best one.

The most desirable result of the group discussion is consensus, where everyone agrees on the solution. But this may not always be feasible. Other situations may necessitate a majority vote, third-party mediation or arbitration, or even a temporary suspension of the discussion.


Another type of conflict that often arises in the workplace is giving—and receiving—criticism. Even though criticism is normal, it is often uncomfortable for all parties involved. Instead of avoiding it, why not learn to better offer and receive criticism?

If you are a leader or manager, you may find yourself in the position to offer criticism to an employee. To make this more comfortable, choose a setting that is private and nonthreatening. Present your viewpoint with specific details, and provide objective data where possible. Finally, work out a plan for change so both parties have realistic expectations.

If you find yourself on the receiving end of criticism, request examples of the behavior and avoid becoming defensive, as this will only heighten negative emotions. Try to paraphrase your response so both of you agree on the issue. Admit when you are wrong or have room to grow, and ask how you can improve.

Mastering the Basics of Communication

Monday, September 10th, 2018

Every good leader has something to say. Yet, many of us don’t take the time to polish and shapehow we communicate those ideas to others or ponder how others may receive our message.

Communication can be summed up to be the exchange of information. Given the complex ways that we receive and perceive messages, however, this exchange is far from simple and straightforward. To become a good communicator, you first must master the basics of having a two-way conversation.


Most of us only remember about half of what we hear—no matter how carefully we think we’re listening. But effective leadership requires good listening. Clearly, this is a critical skill to learn. Since it isn’t usually taught in schools, we need to train ourselves to listen.

Improve your active listening by practicing three simple techniques:

  • Suspend any biases you might have about the speaker’s appearance or prior actions.
  • Quiet your mind by focusing on what is being said instead of thinking about your response.
  • Encourage the speaker to continue sharing information by asking open-ended questions and nodding your head.

Effective listening doesn’t come naturally to most people. But when you consider that listening is one-half of the communication dynamic, the importance of practicing this undervalued skill becomes apparent.


Before you begin to craft your message, learn as much as you can about your listeners. This will help you not only to determine your choice of words and level of information, but also to structure your delivery and motivate your audience.

Figure out the level of knowledge and interest your listeners have in your topic. Do they have any preconceptions? Are they hostile or friendly? Will they feel pressured to react in a specific way? It’s important to consider these questions whether you plan to speak to one or many. Watch for nonverbal cues from your audience, listen to their feedback, and adjust your message accordingly.


Words are powerful—they carry a literal as well as a connotative meaning. Because those connotations differ in various parts of the world, it’s crucial to know your audience.

For example, dog is a neutral word. But mongrel carries a negative connotation, while man’s best friend carries a positive one. Take time to choose the right word or expression and be sure to pronounce it correctly.

A few other tips to consider when formulating your message:

Clarity. Choose concrete, familiar words that refer to tangible objects. These words are more likely to maintain your audience’s interest and less likely to be misinterpreted. Avoid using more words than necessary to express an idea—be concise.

Vivid language. Imagery is memorable. So be sure to use descriptive language—such as color, size, and shape—to create mental images of objects, actions, or ideas. Select lively verbs and speak in an active voice.

Rhythm. Your choice and arrangement of words create a pattern of sound. There are many tools to consider when it comes to establishing rhythm—repetition, alliteration, even onomatopoeia.

For maximum effect, use these language tools sparingly—overuse may sound pretentious. You don’t want to compromise your credibility or the audience’s interest.


Many people don’t realize that nonverbal cues can convey an unintended message to their audience. You may think you’re being open, but if your arms are crossed or your back is turned, you’re creating a barrier.

Research shows that when given the choice of believing visual and vocal cues or spoken words, listeners typically trust the nonverbal message. If you shuffle your feet or gaze out the window, you won’t get your message across effectively. The same holds true for your delivery—avoid mumbling and monotones.

Effective nonverbal communication includes:

  • Proper attire
  • Good posture
  • Natural gestures
  • Purposeful movement
  • Appropriate eye contact
  • Energy and enthusiasm


Most audiences prefer a delivery that combines a certain degree of formality with the best attributes of good conversation. Be direct, spontaneous, and animated. Use vocal and facial expressions to liven things up.

And remember: Communication is fluid. Putting in the work beforehand to organize your ideas and understand your audience will make you a better speaker, but you must listen to your audience and adapt to their feedback as well. If your listener is bored or confused, modify your verbal and nonverbal message—inject some humor, explain the confusion, or even change course.

10 Tips for Improving Your Public Speaking Skills

Sunday, September 9th, 2018

Snakes? Fine. Flying? No problem. Public speaking? Yikes! Just thinking about public speaking—routinely described as one of the greatest (and most common) fears—can make your palms sweat. But there are many ways to tackle this anxiety and learn to deliver a memorable speech.

In part one of this series, Mastering the Basics of Communication, I shared strategies to improve how you communicate. In part two, I examined how to apply these techniques as you interact with colleagues and supervisors in the workplace. For the third and final part of this series, I’m providing you with public speaking tips that will help reduce your anxiety, dispel myths, and improve your performance.


1. Nervousness Is Normal. Practice and Prepare!

All people feel some physiological reactions like pounding hearts and trembling hands. Do not associate these feelings with the sense that you will perform poorly or make a fool of yourself. Some nerves are good. The adrenaline rush that makes you sweat also makes you more alert and ready to give your best performance.

The best way to overcome anxiety is to prepare, prepare, and prepare some more. Take the time to go over your notes several times. Once you have become comfortable with the material, practice—a lot. Videotape yourself, or get a friend to critique your performance.

2. Know Your Audience. Your Speech Is About Them, Not You.

Before you begin to craft your message, consider who the message is intended for. Learn as much about your listeners as you can. This will help you determine your choice of words, level of information, organization pattern, and motivational statement.

3. Organize Your Material in the Most Effective Manner to Attain Your Purpose.

Create the framework for your speech. Write down the topic, general purpose, specific purpose, central idea, and main points. Make sure to grab the audience’s attention in the first 30 seconds.

4. Watch for Feedback and Adapt to It.

Keep the focus on the audience. Gauge their reactions, adjust your message, and stay flexible. Delivering a canned speech will guarantee that you lose the attention of or confuse even the most devoted listeners.

5. Let Your Personality Come Through.

Be yourself, don’t become a talking head—in any type of communication. You will establish better credibility if your personality shines through, and your audience will trust what you have to say if they can see you as a real person.

6. Use Humor, Tell Stories, and Use Effective Language.

Inject a funny anecdote in your presentation, and you will certainly grab your audience’s attention. Audiences generally like a personal touch in a speech. A story can provide that.

7. Don’t Read Unless You Have to. Work from an Outline.

Reading from a script or slide fractures the interpersonal connection. By maintaining eye contact with the audience, you keep the focus on yourself and your message. A brief outline can serve to jog your memory and keep you on task.

8. Use Your Voice and Hands Effectively. Omit Nervous Gestures.

Nonverbal communication carries most of the message. Good delivery does not call attention to itself, but instead conveys the speaker’s ideas clearly and without distraction.

9. Grab Attention at the Beginning, and Close with a Dynamic End.

Do you enjoy hearing a speech start with “Today I’m going to talk to you about X”? Most people don’t. Instead, use a startling statistic, an interesting anecdote, or concise quotation. Conclude your speech with a summary and a strong statement that your audience is sure to remember.

10. Use Audiovisual Aids Wisely.

Too many can break the direct connection to the audience, so use them sparingly. They should enhance or clarify your content, or capture and maintain your audience’s attention.

A simple question could save someone’s life

Monday, October 16th, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: Genuinely asking “Are you OK?” to a distraught individual – is the first step out of four – in reaching out to a possible suicide victim.

The other three stops are active listening without cynicism or prejudice, encouragement to share their problems and weekly check-ups on their situation.

“This will greatly reduce suicidal thoughts in the depressed,” said Johan Amilan, the Deputy Chairperson of Befrienders Kota Kinabalu, during a talk “Changing the way we talk about suicide” at Bentarakata, an event space here in Damai, on Saturday afternoon.

According to him, one out of four people suffered a form of mental disorder related to depression, body image issues or anxiety, while in a single suicide recorded, 20 suicide attempts happened.

Based on a World Health Organization (WHO) statistic, suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29 year olds, globally.

In Malaysia, when categorized by ethnicity, the Chinese top the numbers of suicide cases followed by Indians, Malays, and others. Men outnumbered women three to one on the list according to Ministry of Health statistics.

Suicide is a crime and punishable by a years’ imprisonment and a fine under Section 309 of the Penal Code. Johan said that the Ministry of Health suicide statistics are highly understated and the punishment of a suicide survivor as counteractive.

“In Malaysia, the average age of suicide victims is 22 to 44. They might be that student who has just gotten into university, or a person you know who had just started a family.

“Sabah has seen an improvement from one to three government psychiatrist in recent years. WHO recommends a proportion of one psychiatrist to 100,000 people, but with 3.5 million individuals in the State, we are looking at a quietening 1.1 million per psychiatrist,” Johan said.

He added that suicide victims go through a meticulous process of planning their death, disproving belief that all suicide victims are mentally unsound. He gave an example of a suicide case involving a 12-year-old boy from Ranau who hanged himself by stringing shoelaces together back in 2012.


Read more @