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The Sensitive Speaker

It doesn’t matter whether I do basic presentation skills or advanced executive presence training, one question that constantly pops us is “How do I convert my being sensitive of others into confidence in self?”

My experience and beliefs tell me being highly sensitive of others’ presence, their thoughts, and their opinion isn’t a shortcoming but an advantage.

Think of this, that while conversing, when you mind and monitor what feelings run through their minds is inside information. It is unspoken feedback and you’ve gotten access to it. Isn’t that an advantage?

Decades ago, a stern face or a disengaged audience member would scare and disrupt my chain of thoughts. And, when I’d approach them later, I’d be able to assess that most often than not there were other things on their minds and not just my performance. Soon, I began to challenge my own assumptions about their state of mind. Very soon I began to convert my being disturbed and disrupted into a turnaround in the conversation by creatively engaging the person that scared me by a quick question or by pausing and smiling at them. It was, for me, putting the NLP principle of “the map is not the reality,” principle into practice.

My thoughts and actions gave me an inside view of their state and my state changed for the better.  Not only did the technique change our state but also gave a power boost to whole performance with the larger audience in the loop. My being sensitive of others wasn’t and isn’t a disadvantage anymore but is an ace in my hand.

Being sensitive towards others isn’t a weakness.

To see, hear and feel acutely is the trademark of the alive and compassionate leader-speaker.

Raju Mandhyan

From the HeART series available at Amazon

 

Master of Ceremonies!

More than a decade ago, I was invited to compére a dinner meeting for a lady presidential candidate in the Philippines. My job was to stay within the theme of the evening, introduce others and keep the transitions lively and contextual.

Days before the event, I gathered the material, read resumes and prepared my lines and timing. On the night before the event, I had everything down to a pat. That night in bed, the challenge of the next day, seemed bigger and scarier than usual.

I tossed and turned restlessly late into the night. Finally, when I did sleep, I had a nightmare. In the nightmare, I was up on the stage next to all the speakers and the lights were strong on my face. Awed by the crowd, I went into a state of shock. From nowhere the lady chief guest walked up to me, handed me the microphone and said, “Raju, it is your turn!”

My turn! I tried grappling with the pages in my hands which began to fly and circle around me in slow motion. The microphone turned into a cobra and stared me down. When I looked down at my finely dressed audience…they had changed. In their place were people of all kinds. I saw fishermen, street hawkers, and gaunt-faced ladies with cigarettes dangling from their lips. On the floor there were hundreds of crawling babies screaming at their mothers to stop smoking and pay attention to them. My wife was in the crowd begging everyone to calm down and please listen to me, the speaker!

The back of the hall had somehow transformed into a runaway, railway compartment with dozens of big, burly men playing basketball in it. Bigger, burlier men with beer mugs in their hands were watching the game and screaming and shouting while the train of my life was hurtling away to hell!

In the nightmare, through the chaos, somehow, I heard someone knock at the door of the railway compartment. Covered in cold sweat, holding back a scream in my throat, I jumped out of my bed to answer the door!

The knocking on my bedroom door was real, and when I opened it there stood my little 7-year-old daughter, crying for her mother. I picked her up and held her against my heart. With her against my chest, I recognized the absurdity of the whole situation. The demons of anxiety and fear had been playing games with my mind. I realized my fears were unfounded, my jitters unnecessary. Slowly but steadily confidence and an inner peace seeped into my whole being.

I went to sleep assured that tomorrow, I was going to perform for a crowd and not go to war with the world. My fears were gone and the material that I had been working upon became mine. The next day I dazzled the crowd and the lady presidential candidate.

Today, decades later, I have learned techniques that can help speakers like us quell our nerves on the night before and be our best on stage the next day.

  1. Eat right. Eat light and soak up on liquids the day before and also sleep early and well. Nothing like a rested body to support the mind when it is anxious.

    Master of Ceremonies!

    Master of Ceremonies!

  2. Work away at the content, the script and your spiel a day or two before and then let it go. Let it go, as in, let it seep into your subconscious by not thinking too much about it. Letting the stress go, for a while, puts the task on the back burner and still stews them well.
  3. Engage in light, happy and refreshing activities like swimming, badminton etc., to de-obsess your mind with details about tomorrow. Maybe, sketch out like an info-graphic or a mind-map key ideas and points you want to remember about your spiel tomorrow. This is to keep a frantic mind, an element of the pre-frontal cortex, at peace.
  4. Remind yourself that your big, hairy goal is to serve, please, entertain, support and add value to the work-life of your audience. Yes, focus on this the most.
  5. Lastly, trust in the fact that things do eventually come together well when our core intentions are good, ethical and selfless. It is then that we become mighty in our spirit and in our performances.

 

Taken from the book, “The HeART of Public Speaking” found at

http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&page=1&rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_27%3ARaju%20Mandhyan

 

 

Power of the Pause

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A work of art, way before it becomes a masterpiece, must start with a plain white canvass. Hidden, and yet unborn, inside it lie the ponderings, the passions and the promise of hope and beauty. The artist’s creativity would be severely crippled, every time he picked up his brush, if the solitude of white on the canvass did not lure him to conceive and co-create a brand new reality. Just like masterpieces require the emptiness of a canvass to creatively explode upon; our conversations also need momentary silences, pauses, to express and highlight the magic and motivation which lie hidden in our hearts and minds.

Job applicants, job interviewees, salespeople, managers and even senior executives across industries fall into this trap of speaking up without thinking in. We forget to recognize and give way to the feelings within. This constant shooting-from-the-hip-ness adds nothing but more noise to the din and the mindlessness that engulfs our world. This aimless and excessive thoughtless verbosity is a waste of ammunition and a massive waste of human energy.

Power of the Pause

Power of the Pause

A pause, before, during and even after conversations adds color, rhythm and a panoramic elegance to conversations. A pause, properly orchestrated, is one of the most powerful dynamics of speech. It allows the speaker and the listener to assess thoughts, structure ideas and tap into the deeper recesses of our wisdom and instinct. In the language of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a pause allows us to align our internal resources of intellect, emotion and authentic self with our external resources of the body, speech and action.

In conversations, before interactions, we can chose to stop, to slow down and be still for a few seconds. This will allow us to put a leash on the chain-reaction of reactive behaviour. This can lessen our spinning off in the usual way of defend, offend, talk up, talk down and constantly justify our past performances. A pause is power and a pause induces empowerment and trust, as it makes the other person feel listened to. This little pause then becomes a source of powerful human energy.

The way to increase the amount of pausing before, during and after all our interactions is to keep a mindful awareness on our breathing. Every now then the din and the clamour of the world that surrounds us tends to take over and engulf us in its toxicity but an awareness on our breath acts as an anchor and helps us manage emotions. A visible sign, and constant life-saver of emotional intelligence is a smooth, deep and a rhythmic flow of breath.

In many of my workshops, I profess the 3P method of powerful connection, engagement and influence. In any interaction plant yourself in a position where you are physically stable, at ease and have good visibility and exposure. After planting, pause deeply to gather your thoughts and visualize empowerment of the listeners and a successful outcome of the conversation. Finally, project yourself with power and confidence keeping the goals of the interaction authentic, integral and driven by purpose. This will align your internal and external resources and also evoke excellence from others. That, in essence, is leadership and coaching for excellence in action.

Pausing consciously is a momentary respite between being completely self-absorbed to being awake and present for others and for life. Our conversations need these momentary silences and pauses, to express and high-light the magic and motivation which lie hidden in our hearts and minds.  Watch Video

Tango Together, Slowly.

Tango Together, Slowly.

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Twelve years ago, on the way back from Malaysia, after a pre-certification session for Celemi I picked up a book called, ‘The Power of Mindful Learning’ by Professor Ellen J. Langer of Harvard University. Though that was twelve years ago I must confess, in a way, I haven’t put the book down yet. I keep revisiting it to align my work to the subtle and sublime insights, from the book, to learn and how to help others learn better.

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Pause like Pacino

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A week ago, I posted a version of “When Cicero speaks, the world marvels. When Demosthenes speaks, the world marches!” and a lot of people liked it and shared it to their groups. The source and origins of this quote is unknown to me. It could be Plutarch or it could have been former Prime Minister Gordon Brown of United Kingdom. What I know is that I relate to it powerfully, and I like to make everything I put out into the world about communications, about leadership and about unleashing inherent excellence resonate with the essence and the power that lies hidden in this quote. For me, it contracts and consolidates what throbs inside my HeART when i speak. When I speak, thus, I endeavour to stir up thought and churn out massive, constructive and positive action.

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Large Crowd Energizing Techniques

The sight of any large audience can give the heebie-jeebies to the best of public and professional speakers. To get nervous is normal. To be in awe of the energy pulsating from crowds is also normal. There are however, across the world, a handful of speakers who know how to manage and motivate large group energy by using the energy that emanates out of these crowds. These brilliant speakers are conversant with the science and psychology of large groups and have mastered a few techniques to tame and entertain the beast. Here are a three of my ideas and the science behind them.

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I hate brocolli!

I hate brocolli! I hate the sight of it. I hate it’s name. “Brocolli?” What is that? It sounds like some tropical disease. Like, “He’s got brocolli between his toes. She’s got brocolli in her armpits.  But then again, we do know its good for us. Its green and healthy for our insides and for our cancer fighting cells. And, some claim, it adds and multiplies brain cells.

Similarly, in my work-life there are things that I know that there are things we must do which will be good for us. Like learning to and keeping proper accounts. Learning to and keeping proper records and files of projects and programs. And, for professionals and small business owners like me, learning to build an active website and sustaining, nurturing it over time.

I hate brocolli!

I hate brocolli!

I knew this. I was told this, many a times, years ago by colleagues and friends in the industry and yet I kept thinking _assigning this to a professional or a professional team would be the smart thing to do. And, boy was I ever wrong! Nearly every other year, I’d look for to outsource this work and they’d come back and pick my brain, have me do the thinking, the brainstorming and making the website work for me and my business. ” At first I was doling out money in spades and getting aesthetically impressive returns. Then I tightened my fist and began to get function but no charm and no ease. All through, in the back of my head, I kept thinking…”I wish I was computer savvy. I wish I understood the internet as well as they do. I wish I were Generation X or Y or Z. I wish I weren’t a late-bloomimg baby boomer baby! Grrr!

Website building, maintenance and the world of internet marketing loomed over me like a huge clump of rotting brocolli.

Yet, a small voice kept telling me, “Go ahead, take a bite and start chewing. Go ahead, roll up and your sleeves, tie a nappy around your neck and dig in!

So, two week ago, I rolled up my sleeves, put a nappy around my neck, put on my reading glasses, plugged in the earphones and hauled my lap top closer to me and began clicking, punching, rewinding, undoing, doing, highlighting, reading, taking a power nap in between, and clicking, punching, rewinding, undoing, doing, highlighting, reading, listening until it began to make sense, until it began to take shape.

What you are browsing through right now is a still a rough draft, a skeleton of what is yet to come and grow. In essence, not only am I learning to eat my brocolli but I am also learning to plant, grow and make it flourish organically. That’s the way to go when it comes to learning and succeeding at something you consider hard and something that you figure you can set aside and a let divine intervention resolve it for you. No sirree! It doesn’t happen that way.

Can this same principle be applied for accounting, book-keeping and or maintaining records. Yes!
Nothing is more empowering and liberating than tackling any and all kinds of huge, ugly brocolli clouds that loom over you and slow you down. Hate that brocolli? Eat it first! It’s good for your soul;)

Inner Sun

An Unbalanced Life.

Most everyone is focused on living a balanced life. What exactly is a balanced life? Twenty fours divided equally between work, play, family, personal needs and service to the world? Or, is it stress at work, peace at home?