How to take the fear out of public speaking

How to take the fear out of public speaking

You may be an incredibly talented employee, consistently delivering work of the highest standard. But when it comes to addressing a crowd, you’re suddenly a nervous wreck. Don’t worry, you’re not alone! For many people, public speaking is a huge fear – whether it’s addressing 12 people in a boardroom, or presenting your company story on a stage in an auditorium.

But good communication and presentation skills are a huge asset in a corporate environment, so it’s worth working on this skill. If you’re in business, being a good public speaker can be a game changer when it comes to persuasion, making sales and gaining new clients. It’s also vital if you’re aiming to become an impactful leader. And even if you’re not planning on addressing big crowds, being able to make your point clearly and confidently in front of your colleagues can really help your career progression.

It’s worth considering why people are so nervous of speaking in public. I think it stems from the fear of failure and criticism. For example, you might think: “Oh my goodness, what if I stutter, I forget my lines in my speech or I just completely bomb it?” Or, “What are people going to think of me? Am I going to offend someone? Am I going to be perceived as being not that smart?”

Be assured, these are very common thoughts when you are new to speaking in front of people. And let me tell you, these fears don’t really disappear – you just get better at ignoring them, and doing your thing despite them! Here are a few tips to help you own the room the next time you have to speak in public:

  1. You need to show up as a speaker to give to people: What I mean by this is that you have to show up as someone who wants to serve others. A lot of speakers want to “take”. The limelight and the attention is more important than what they are saying. If your focus is on genuinely wanting to add value to those you speak to, whatever you have to say will be way more impactful.
  2. Ignore the naysayers: There are always going to be people who are going to discourage you and that’s just the truth. Sometimes I think their negativity is a result of them wishing they had the courage to do what you’re doing. Do your best to “do you”, despite what others say.
  3. The mirror is your friend: Believe it or not, testing out your speech in front of a mirror has worked wonders for a lot of people. I have been studying and rehearsing for plays and speeches for many years, and always practise in front of the mirror. I can assure you that it works wonders.
  4. Authenticity is key: This is so important. Your audience can tell whether you are being real or not. Try not to sound scripted or too rehearsed. Remember the main points of the speech and just speak from your heart. Make the real you come alive through your speech.
  5. Pretend you’re having a conversation: This can make a huge difference. When you pretend that you’re having a conversation with a friend while you’re talking to a room full of people, your speech will flow naturally and you will sound more confident.
  6. Read the room: You need to have situational awareness, and be prepared to adapt what you have to say. For example, you might have planned a serious talk, but you can see your audience is cheerful and wants to have a laugh – which means it might be a good idea to throw in a funny one-liner or two. You need to be agile enough to adjust what you’re saying, depending on the situation and the audience.
  7. Take up space: Your body language also tells a story! Don’t close yourself off by folding your arms and staying in one place. Move with power and assertiveness. Own that space. This has a huge effect on how the audience perceives you and your message.

Yumna Aysen is a Life Coach. For more information, visit: Oh Yes It’s Yumi

Ten skills that make a great leader

Ten skills that make a great leader

A leadership role is something that is generally seen as desirable – a position to aspire to, something to work towards. Being in a leadership position can bring increased accolades, money and status. Acquiring a title in the workplace can be the reward for years of dedication, drive and hard slog, for ‘working oneself up the ladder’.

But simply occupying a position of leadership doesn’t make one a good leader. Effective and meaningful leadership is a verb – an active state of being. It requires the courage to make hard choices, the energy to bring out the best in your team, and a firm moral compass that assists in guiding decisions. Being a good leader is hard work!

There are some people who take to leadership naturally, but it is also a skill that can be learnt and developed by anyone who is dedicated enough. Here are some ways you can unleash your leadership potential:

  1. Have a genuine interest in developing people

    Often a leader’s key job is not to lead forever. Instead it’s to teach other people to lead. The help and guidance you give your staff or team should not be to gain status, and their success isn’t something you should take full credit for. But working on the growth and development of others, and helping them become the best version of themselves, will always be to your and their benefit.

  2. Be a forever learner

    In order to stay relevant and to keep an open mind, it’s important that you learn new things. Gaining knowledge is never a waste of time. Take short online courses or read self-development books on leadership. This will give you the tools to become a better leader.

  3. Be a great communicator

    The key to becoming a good communicator isn’t about improving your talking – it’s about improving your listening. This is a greatly underrated skill, but so important in effective leadership. Pay attention and remain present when your team members talk. This allows you the opportunity to fully understand where they are coming from, and enables you to empower them in ways that are best for them.

  4. Always be willing to improve

    Reach out to your colleagues and the leaders that you are developing and ask them about your strengths and weaknesses. It’s not a sign of weakness to want to improve your shortcomings. Be open to getting constructive criticism, and to creating changes if necessary.

  5. Inspire creativity and innovation

    Effective business leaders are always on the lookout for new and better ways of doing things – and you need your team to buy into this. Encourage them to think out of the box and offer solutions that might not be the “conventional” solution. To encourage this sort of workplace creativity, you need to create an environment where people aren’t afraid to speak up.

  6. Do more than expected

    I think this quote sums it up perfectly: “Promise only what you can deliver. Then deliver more than you promise.” Always go the extra mile. This is what will make you stand out.

  7. Tell the truth

    Honesty is one of the key foundations of being a good leader as it creates trust and buy-in. Of course it’s often difficult to tell the truth, especially when it comes to hurting others. That’s where the art of diplomacy comes in – having a soft and empathetic touch goes hand in hand with effective honesty.

  8. Have empathy for others

    How do you create a team that has each other’s back no matter what? By creating an environment of empathy and vulnerability, which allows people to feel safe and able to express how they feel without the fear of being shut down. Ask yourself: How can I help my team members be the best versions of themselves? If you are able to do that, everybody wins.

  9. Demand accountability, but start with accountability for yourself

    You can’t expect people to be accountable if you can’t do the same. It’s important to take ownership of your goals and decisions and the consequences that might come with that. Once you develop accountability for yourself, you will be more successful in persuading those you lead to take accountability for themselves.

  10. When the going gets tough…

    The unprecedented Covid19 experience has brought many lessons with it. One of the clearest has been that when times are tough, people need open and responsive leaders who are available and accessible. Whether you’re a president, CEO or team leader, you can’t run and hide when things get difficult. Stressful times give strong leaders a time to shine, by showing up and taking the tough questions – even if you don’t know what the answers are.

  11. Yumna Aysen is a life coach. For more from Yumna, visit: Oh Yes It’s Yumi

The secrets to unstoppable success

The secrets to unstoppable success

“I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have,” said former US president Thomas Jefferson. His words are eternally relevant as the path to success has never been a passive one and despite the commitment and dedication required, success is a goal that is worth striving for – whether it relates to building a business, or working on yourself. As a life and business coach, part of my role is supporting my clients on their journey to success. Here are some of my key pointers for those eager to secure success, in whatever shape or form that may be.

  1. Create your own definition of success

    Success means something different to everyone, and no one definition is more superior than the other. It all depends on your circumstances – what your goals are and what makes you happy. For me, writer Maya Angelou’s definition of success rings true: “Success is liking who you are, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”

  2. Find your “why”

    Your “why” is the foundation of everything that you do. It is where your passion lies; the thing that ignites the spark within and drives you to keep going when the going gets tough. If your “why” is strong, you will have the grit to keep pushing until you achieve your goal.

  3. Your mindset is key

    Psychology students learn about the importance of having an “internal locus of control” – a concept developed by Julian B Rotter in 1954 that focuses on the degree to which people believe that they, as opposed to external forces, have control over the outcome of events in their lives. There are always going to be external circumstances that you can’t control. But I would like to encourage you to ask yourself, “What’s in my control?” and focus on that.

  4. There is no such thing as an overnight success

    It’s important to remember that life is not a sprint, but a marathon. And building a strong foundation over many years is the key to building lasting success and happiness. Anything that’s worth it takes a lot of time to build. So be patient with yourself!

  5. Writing down your goals consistently

    It’s important to be specific about your goals and schedule how, when and where you’re going to make them happen. And then create daily tasks in your calendar to get them done. Believe it or not, most people don’t take this simple step and then wonder why they struggle to achieve their goals.

  6. Be held accountable for your goals

    You have a 65% chance of completing a goal if you commit to someone, according to the American Society of Training and Development. And furthermore, “If you have a specific accountability appointment with another person, it can increase your chance of success by up to 95%.”I would recommend creating or joining a Whatsapp group so that you can send updates to your friends or mentors on a regular basis about your progress.

  7. Let go of what people think of you

    No matter what you do, somebody is always going to have something to say about you. Don’t be a people pleaser, because you will never be able to please everyone.

  8. Let go of perfection and lean into progress

    Everything doesn’t have to be perfect before you start. Starting is the most important step.

  9. Mental health is wealth

    Take time out for yourself to reflect. Write down all the things that you have accomplished, what you are grateful for, things that might be worrying you and at least three action steps you can take to stop those worries. This will help clarify your thoughts and empower you. Taking time out is truly a game changer and has a positive ripple effect on the rest of your life.

Yumna Aysen is a life coach. For more information, visit: Oh Yes It’s Yumi

The myth of the perfect moment

The myth of the perfect moment

You may have been thinking about starting a business for a while, patiently waiting until you’ve got your ducks in a row; for the perfect moment to get started. But is there such a thing as the perfect moment? If you wait for that, there’s a chance that you’ll be waiting forever. In the words of the famous Nike catchphrase, it’s often best to “Just Do It”.

Every day you don’t start, is a day lost – so here are some suggestions to help you get your show on the road.

Action is the antidote to fear

Have you noticed that before taking action on something significant, it’s not unusual to feel fearful, which more often than not leads to procrastination? But when you finally “just do it”, you feel accomplished and confident. Now that right there is the antidote to fear.

Ask yourself: what is the one step that you can take right now to start the process, even if you’re not ready to drop everything else? All our circumstances are different and so the action we take will vary widely. It might be something really small, like picking a company name, or something bolder, like resigning from your full-time job. But taking conscious action – whatever that may be — creates more confidence, which in turn inspires more action, and so a virtuous circle is created.

Remember that it all begins with a simple decision to start, even if that start is just a baby step

Get rid of the negative voice in your head

Imposter syndrome is a huge limiting factor when it comes to starting a business. That’s the voice inside your head telling you that you’re not good enough, that you aren’t skilled enough to start something of your own, that you won’t be as good as everyone else. With that kind of internal dialogue, it’s easy not to believe in yourself.

In the face of self-doubt, nurture good friendships and mentor relationships – these people can be your cheerleaders when you’re not feeling confident. Use these relationships for inspiration, upliftment and motivation.

And when you’re building a business, focus on the value that you’re bringing to your customer and the ways you can help them. Remember that no matter what you think about yourself, you can offer something that the world needs.

Stop being a perfectionist

Perfectionism is the enemy of action because it can lead to procrastination. Yes, I know you want your product or service to be the best there is, but remember that any business is always a work in progress. In order to become successful at something, it’s inevitable that you’ll make mistakes along the way. But those mistakes are important, because this is how we learn. Don’t let the desire to control all the outcomes stop you from starting.

Fail forward

Remember that all experts were once beginners. Use failure and making mistakes as stepping stones towards success. It’s an indication that you are making progress — and making mistakes along the way(and learning from them) is what makes the journey towards success even more worth it.

Look at it like this: Failures are learning opportunities in disguise. When you do make mistakes, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, take some time out to learn from them and take action again with those new valuable lessons in mind.

Use your fear as fuel

Fear is something huge that can hold us back, but it’s also possible to use the feeling as positive fuel to push you forward. Fear and rejection are part of the process of growing. No matter how many times I get up to speak in front of an audience or coach someone, I’m always nervous, but I use that nervous energy as positive fuel to drive me. Imagine fear being a powerful v8 motor engine in an amazing car like a Lamborghini or Ferrari, which can take you to amazing places in your life!

Yumna Aysen is a Life Coach. For more information, visit: Oh Yes It’s Yumi

Let disruption spark innovation

Let disruption spark innovation

When all is ‘normal’ around us, life continues in a steady, predictable hum. Getting up every morning, getting children ready for school, heading off to work – for most of us, life follows a similar pattern, day in and day out, with only the freedom of weekend to mix things up a bit.

But what happens when our everyday existence is upended by an unexpected life event like a change of job or a move to a new city – or a global crisis such as Covid-19? Of course a huge change is often accompanied by anxiety, when so much is outside of our control. But if you’re in search of a silver lining, it’s that being forced to live and work in a different way can push us out of our comfort zone, compelling us to find new (and often better) ways of doing things. In essence, a crisis can spark innovation by forcing us to think creatively.

If you have been working a 9-5 job and have always wanted to start your own project or business, then now is the perfect time to do some planning because you probably have some extra time on your hands. And if you already have your own business, the changing circumstances might mean that you have to reimagine what you do.

Here are some tips to help you on your way:

Get the creative juices flowing

Visualisation is an incredibly powerful tool for inspiration. I know this might sound corny, but give it a try: take five minutes to sit quietly. Imagine that you’re putting yourself into a state of abundance, and visualise that your brain is opening up to allow ideas into your head. Picture your brain being a magnet for an abundance of ideas. You can get even more creative with this – for example, put on your sunglasses and imagine they are opening your eyes to the endless ideas streaming into your head.

Give an existing idea your unique twist

It’s true that every story in the universe has been told already, but not by you. It’s important not to get immobilised by the thought that every business idea is taken. Instead, use the hundreds of businesses that already exist for inspiration or to spark some ideas of your own. Work out how you can add your own unique flavour to what already works.

Take note of your ideas

The most innovative ideas can come to you at the weirdest times and places. Don’t let them slip away. That’s why I recommend that you always have a notebook or your notepad on your phone available. When an “aha moment” strikes you, make sure to note it down. Simple ideas have the power to become ground-breaking businesses.

Have productive conversations

Many ideas are the product of thoughtful conversations held with family, friends and colleagues. Your personal connections can be your greatest resource. Tap into the wealth of knowledge that surrounds you by talking though your ideas, asking for advice, and floating business ideas. Best of all? Technology means that physical distancing doesn’t have to be a barrier to meaningful communication.

Get reading

If ever there was a good opportunity to do some motivational and educational reading, it’s now. And the choice is astounding – no matter what area you want to work on, you’ll find help. Self-development books are an incredibly accessible way to access tools and tips to help you think differently, from a personal and business perspective. For the price of a good meal, you’ll gain access to a priceless amount of knowledge.

Yumna Aysen is a Life Coach. For more information, visit her Website

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