It’s Not Me, It’s YOU

Get The Right You Me Speaking Ratio

Have you ever wondered why some people have the power to galvanise you into action? What these people get right is their use of the You Me Speaking Ratio when they communicate.

Excessive use of “I” and “me” turns listeners off quick-smart.  I love the joke about the actress who says: “Enough about me! Let’s talk about you! What do you think of my latest movie?”!!!

One of the fastest ways to lose an audience (or the attention of your friends and colleagues) is to talk mostly about yourself and from your perspective.

Get The Ratio Right
According to my research, a language ratio of 10:1 of You:Me is about the right ratio to generate a balanced and inclusive speech. It leads to greater engagement and even ownership of your ideas because the speaker shows how their idea will work for you.

  • Examples of me-centred language: “I”, “me”, “my”, “mine”.
  • Examples of you-centred language: “you”, “us”, them”, “they”, “we”, “our”… “together”, “community”.

Examine the difference for yourself in the next 2 short examples by noticing how you feel when you read them or even better, say them out loud:

Me-Centred
“I consider it imperative to make my health my number one priority. All the money in the world will not make me happy if I’m sick. My workshop today will show you how I did it, so you can too. I believe that health equals happiness.”

You-Centred
“All the money in the world will not make you happy if you are sick. We all have so many competing priorities and other people to attend to. This workshop will show you how to clear the clutter of your busy life and how to make your health and you, your number one imperative. Your health equals your happiness.”

A Famous Example Of A “You-Centred” Speech
In 1961, American President John Kennedy’s inaugural speech “…ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,” uses “me-centred” words only 4 times and uses ‘you-centred” words 50 times. (Now that’s an interesting contrast with the “me-me-centred” speeches given by one of Australia’s most recent Prime Ministers.) So do not let the 10:1 ratio trip you up. It’s not a rule, just a guideline to be aware of if you want to inspire, engage and build trust and an affirmative response from your listeners.

How To Connect And Inspire When You Speak

  1. Take a look at anything you’ve recently written, especially if it’s a “speech” type nature or a self-intro. Identify the proportion of “you” versus “me” centred words.
  2. Emphasise “we” and “us” to keep the spotlight on your listeners or audience. Remember, it’s not about you, it is about them. A speaker or leader is just a temporary conduit of information to help others understand.
  3. Rewrite your speech or report and make it “you-centred” with a language ratio of at least 10:1 “you’s” and “we’s” to “I’s” and “me’s.” Notice and enjoy the difference in reaction.

Whenever anyone speaks, it is to benefit others, right? If not, you are just talking to yourself. And we all know the special terms for that!

If you’ve ever felt you’ve missed the mark when you speak and your friends, colleagues or an audience seem to switch off and aren’t interested in your ideas, examine your You Me Speaking Ratio. Once adjusted to “you-centred” language, you may now become the communicator you’ve always longed to be.

© 2013, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

December 2013 Talk Tip

Goddess of Public SpeakingQuestion And Answer

Question and Answer sessions or “Q & A”, is a great way for subject experts to speak in public without preparing a ginormous presentation. Speakers who are better at impromptu speaking, relish the freedom of the unprepared moment. Plus they get to interact with listeners and be with them, rather than just talk at them. Q & A is also delightful for audiences as they get the exact answers they want, rather than having to sift through a long presentation. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

November 2013 Talk Tip

Goddess of Public SpeakingProps Make Public Speaking Easier

A “prop” is any physical item that accompanies your talk such as powerpoint slides, a funny hat or music. Props make public speaking easier. They free you from the tyranny of notes because they act as your memory and inspiration. And audiences love to see, touch, hear, feel and do. Next time you give a talk, take a prop with you and let it add the “ah ha” factor. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

October 2013 Talk Tip

Goddess of Public SpeakingFirm Compassion

Always communicate from a place of firm compassion. Remember you have a fragile, flawed human in front of you, no matter how tough an exterior they paste on for the day. Every moment we are different. Sometimes we stomp around in pit boots and sometimes we are as fragile as gossamer… who can tell… people are delightfully unpredictable and real. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

September 2013 Talk Tip

Goddess of Public SpeakingLet Your Body Relax

When you relax, your audience relaxes too. Imagine your eyes  are lazing in hammocks, heavy and supported. Swinging back and forth without a care in the world. Miraculously, when your eyes are relaxed, your brain sends a message to your whole body. It says: “You are safe and can relax.” Let your body do its natural thing and let yourself relax into your presentation. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

But What If I Cry When It’s My Turn to Speak?

The Vulnerability Of Public Speaking

Uh, oh… your chest feels like it may explode, your throat is constricted and your face is hot. Strong emotions are rising and about to overwhelm your carefully constructed boundaries. Oh no, not now! Now you need to look good. You need to convey strength, confidence and above all, professionalism. Too late. A tear escapes and more are following. The vulnerability of public speaking.

The fear of breaking down or crying in public is a powerful and common fear. These are the 3 main ways people choose to react:

•    1. Strive harder for polished perfection.
•    2. Become invisible with no voice.
•    3. Completely relax into all your flawed glory.

Which appeals most to you? Let me introduce you to two of my clients, Sandra and Ms M who both came to me with a fear of the vulnerability of public speaking.

Real Life Cases
1.  Sandra*, HR Manager
“If I break down, I’ll look unprofessional.” Sandra was great 1 on 1 and decisive, empathic and warm in day to day communication. However, in formal speaking situations she felt overwhelmed, teary and spoke in a forced, staccato manner. This made Sandra hard to listen to, stiff and ineffective as a trainer as she struggled to “control herself.” She received feedback that she was perceived as angry and distant.

2.  Ms M*, Bondage Mistress
“If I cry, I’ll look weak.” Ms M was a strong, articulate and insightful woman, extremely adept at keeping her clients safe. She was brilliant at maintaining strong boundaries for others but was terrified of crying and losing control when she was due to speak at a conference about the power of trust.

To Cry Or Not To Cry
Both Sandra and Ms M learned to handle their fears of falling apart in public and to overcome stage fright.

Sandra learned to shift the focus off herself and instead shift her attention to the individuals in front of her. She also learned to soften her jaw and voice and to telegraph her message visually as well as verbally. Sandra stopped being angry with herself and learned to respond differently. The biggest surprise for Sandra was when a few months later staff began asking her advice about public speaking skills.

Ms M’s experience took another route. When it came to the big moment in front of 500 people, she did cry. But instead of shrinking, she expanded and held her ground. She paused, gathered herself and looked up to find the whole audience was crying with her. Her genuine emotion, beautifully handled and not hidden, moved everyone and deepened her credibility and professionalism.

What You Can Do Now
One of the quickest ways to learn how to handle the vulnerability of public speaking or something you find challenging, is to observe how others do it.  I highly recommend a terrific 6 minute speech by Candy Chang about the impact of identifying what’s really important to you and to do it, before you die. The subject is a very personal one for Candy and she handles her tears graciously. Do not fear that you will be watching 6 pain-filled minutes of wallowing. Candy’s speech is innovative and clever and like most TED speeches, “an idea worth spreading.”

http://www.ted.com/talks/candy_chang_before_i_die_i_want_to.html

Next time strong emotion arises in you when you speak in public, just notice it and don’t get caught up in the story. Instead, pause and connect through your eyes with another person to help keep you grounded. Pause and continue with your speech.

I’ve cried a number of times when speaking in public. It feels like a storm has passed through leaving behind peace and acceptance. Certainly the words seem to flow much better once emotion is released. “Better out than in” as someone infamous once said, and through my tears, I couldn’t agree more.

© 2013, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

August 2013 Talk Tip

Goddess of Public SpeakingDon’t Work The Room

Public speaking is not a multi-tasking competition. Don’t work the room like it’s a job. You hereby have permission to stop “scanning” and trying so hard. Relax. Just genuinely be with 1 person at a time. Aim for 3 seconds, long enough to finish your sentence. See your words land on their face and comprehension in their eyes. Contact has been made. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

June 2013 Talk Tip

Goddess of Public SpeakingCreate Delicious Presentations

Think of delivering your presentation as a delicious taste lingering on the tongue. If your speech was a flavour,  what would it be? The lingering velvet of chocolate or a sharp tangy citrus? Feed your audience tasty morsels that engage, inform and inspire throughout your presentation. Give them something yummy!  www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

How To Handle Drama Queens In The Audience

Drama Queen 2.5 x 1.5

Difficult Is In The Eye Of the Beholder

I tend to give “difficult” people like “Know It Alls, Power Players and Drama Queens” in the audience a long rope unless the integrity or safety of the group is threatened. Handle each challenging situation from the start with strong boundaries and agreements and model your expectations of the group with your own behaviour. The group will be watching you closely to see how you handle things. There is no neat solution and “difficult” is in the eye of the beholder. Here’s how I handled 3 different situations:

Example 1: Drama Queens In The Audience
During a workshop on selling from the platform, one participant came in late, took a mobile phone call when she sat down, started explaining why she was late, asked if anyone wanted a throat lozenge and even knocked over her water bottle. Throughout the workshop she kept shaking her head and sighing melodramatically with numerous toilet breaks and requests for information to be repeated. Which she then proceeded not to listen to but tried to change. I considered she was not genuinely distressed but had mistaken the workshop for her lounge room. In both breaks I asked her privately if she was ok. Her mysterious response was to nod without speaking, would not look me in the eye, turned her back and walked away.  She appeared to want attention publicly, and then rejected it when it was offered privately. As Facilitator, I chose compassionate damage control primarily by redirecting audience attention with my body language and authoritive directions. I also gave her a couple of public opportunities for attention which she then spurned. This minimised distraction for other participants as they then saw she did not pose a threat to learning and kept the workshop flowing smoothly. Our Drama Queen added a learning opportunity for us all as well as a giggle.

Example 2: Know It All Attempting A Take-Over
In a small group of 20 business owners who had come to learn about communicating with presence, one man had an answer to every question, even rhetorical ones! Soon I started saying: “Now this is just something I want you to think about silently… to yourself…” but he still felt his thoughts were worthy of sharing. Other participants were starting to sigh, eyes began to roll and bodies shifted away from him. I hadn’t shut him down immediately because his contributions were interesting and I wanted to encourage interaction… but too much from one person becomes dominating and the group can become confused as to who is the actual leader. It was me or him. When he next tried to butt in and talk over me, I gently put my hand up in a soft “stop” position, said abruptly: “One moment please” and turned my body away from him and faced the rest of the group. I then finished my words and directly engaged other participants to tip the balance of energy and power… by saying something like… “Mary… what are your thoughts about…?” After that I continued to respectfully acknowledge him in the same way I did everyone else… and we both settled down with egos intact and the group stayed on track.

Example 3: Power Player Dominating Her Group
Within a small group brainstorming session, one woman ignored my directions and took command of a group of inexperienced young people she had chosen to join. She loudly took centre stage, reassigned roles and changed the focus of the exercise. Five other groups were working cohesively around the room with a flurry of conversation and the smell of texta pens in the air.  Her group however was quiet, bodies drooped, participants sat far apart and all texta pens and paper were exclusively under her control. Rather than embarrass or confront her by redirecting her in front of the others, I apologised privately for making a mistake. I explained that each group needed diversity in age and experience and so I had asked 2 confident and more senior participants to switch to Ms Power Play’s group and invited 2 younger ones to leave. This totally changed the dynamic, destroyed her budding power base and restored momentum to the exercise. And I’m happy to report, everyone then got a fair go with the textas and “power” was restored to all.

 

Keep in mind that challenging people like drama queens in the audience, are a great learning opportunity and in the minority; perhaps 5% of any group or audience. I’ve often found the other 95% valued the presentation more because of what they learned from observing the interplay of power, drama and watching how you handled it as Facilitator.

 © 2013, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au