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Archive for the ‘Personal Development’ Category

To Speak or Not to Speak

This week I heard a radio commentator refer to the time-honoured, greatest dread of people (supposedly): the fear of public speaking.  The host noted how importantly the skill of being able to deliver presentations could impact one’s professional opportunities.

He then alluded to a just released story of a teenager who has confronted his own trepidation, by sending out an entreaty to educational authorities that he be spared from having to make presentations to other students in class.  There has been reaction to this quickly in social media.  No doubt, ‘experts’ on both sides of such a debate are aplenty.

I’m a long-time Toastmaster, who five years ago departed a career in financial services, and thus frequently has had to make versions of presentations, to various sized groups of people, over many years.  Naturally, on some of these occasions I was more in ‘the zone’ than others, but always managed to get through.

So, I have a couple of concerns about these perspectives.

I used the word supposedly with respect to the perception of public speaking being greater for many people than, for example, fear of death or other tragedy.  In our club over the years, I’ve seen many join because of their stated fear of talking in front of a group.  Yet, when the opportunity is presented to them to speak in front of the supportive group of club members, they are often loathe to follow through on the main reason they joined, wind up making few speeches, and in many cases drift away without making a serious effort to address this supposedly important goal.  If this has been such a concern, which caused them to seek out an organization like Toastmasters to begin with, what happens to their motivation, and commitment, to personal growth and career advancement?

Concerning the student’s effort to eliminate classroom presentations if disliked, clearly more education of the implications is required.  The education system should both develop the mind and prepare the individual to find their place in society.  Effective communication is pivotal, and can’t be found exclusively in mobile devices.  With all the tools for self-improvement readily available these days, it’s too bad some still have to learn the hard way.

So, what are some practical ways to confront the fear of speaking in public…

  • Practice doing ‘soapbox’ speeches: their tiny size should remove any feelings of intimidation
  • Have a two drink minimum for your audience, so that whatever makes up your talk later comes across as impressive
  • Hire a special effects artist to provide production values backing up your presentation
  • Tape clues to prizes under the seats to bring a distracted audience back to alertness
  • Deliver the talk in different voices so as to maximize appealing to a diverse audience
  • Purposefully fumble with your performance early on, to make it easier to rise to audience expectations
  • Bring back the laugh track
  • Plant a couple of supporters in the audience, ready to demonstrate for you on cue
  • Imagine the audience not only in their underwear, but also trying to maintain yoga positions
  • Have a comfort pet visible with you, to elicit the benefit of the doubt from animal lovers

See, there are many ways to improve one’s chances with an audience.


If the average person was asked what trace mineral in the body…

  • Is found in muscles, eyes, the brain, and other major parts of the body
  • Plus, helps regulate our body’s immune response, and is essential to brain development
  • Plus, helps promote sleep
  • And, is the second most common trace element in the human body

…probably not many would confidently answer, zinc. (more…)

Insightful(?) Dichotomies

A brief article in the August issue of Psychology Today looks at the current state of affairs of personality tests.

The inconsistency of some of their standards has given rise to doubting the value of results.  Indeed, popular ‘Temperament Sorter’ and ‘Type Indicator’ programs include undesirable features such as “ambiguous language and false dichotomies”. (more…)

Life Lessons Learned After Class

So-called advances in education (as in, children not learning multiplication tables?!) notwithstanding, there’s plenty to be said for enhancing self-awareness the personal way, via introspection blended with own experiences, stories of the streets, etc.

The June edition of Psychology Today includes a list of skills which are likely to be only truly clarified, then absorbed, outside the classroom.  The key rewards for doing so lie in linking one’s vision with achieving life goals. (more…)

What’s in Their Mindset We Can Mine?

It’s worthwhile periodically to consider what it is that makes some of us so much more successful than others, in certain occupations or other pursuits.

This doesn’t mean we should look to copy what they do.  It doesn’t mean we should be envious.  It does mean we should emulate the positive and practical of their drive, their manner, and their goal-setting.  What is it, in manifestations of their mindsets, we could use to better ourselves and the value of our actions? (more…)

Lucky Charms

Some of us will recall a TV commercial for a heavily sugared breakfast cereal named Lucky Charms, declared to be ‘indescribably delicious’.  Well, their consumption, no doubt, has been beneficial over time to the dentists whose clients have overindulged in such candied cereals when younger.

The more general concept of lucky charms, also known as talismans, has been widespread for ages.  (more…)

When Sales Skills are Life Skills

Many are the skills we can develop which help us to grow, making a positive ripple effect of our efforts on others, gradually wider and fuller.

Some aptitudes have wider applications than others – consider cooking versus negotiating skills.  The significance, the impact, of some talents may expand beyond the borders of their logical environments. (more…)