I’ve always been terrified of public speaking. It turns out most people suffer from the same fear.
Then I joined a public speaking group called Toastmasters to try and up my game. The first speech didn’t go well. I stood there with a blank look on my face, trembling from the fear. I was sweating and went bright red like a tomato sauce bottle (I must sound like a real Aussie saying that).
For the next few months, I did two speeches and I got better. Then the momentum stopped altogether.
For the following 6 months, nothing happened in terms of delivering pre-prepared speeches. I did keep doing judging roles and impromptu speaking though. This is where I got some chops. It was the regular habit of ‘doing’ that so many people forget, that helped me.
Then I got dobbed into competing.
Ok, now I was really scared! Signing up for a competition where the environment turns formal – where everyone is looking at you expecting you to be good. I was dobbed into this competition because I was thought to be good at impromptu speaking. I thought I was dreadful.
What helped was that I’ve had a mentor for the last little while. My mentor Bharat recently competed in the international championships for public speaking. To say he’s a son of a gun full of talent is not giving him enough credit.
He told me “Tim you can do it. You have all the content through your blogging. You know how to inspire.”
So stupidly I practiced what I teach all of you and got up there. The hours leading up to the speech involved a very negative situation at work, but somehow I made it on time.
My competition was tough.
“I must be the dumbest bloke on Earth” – at least that’s what I was thinking.
As I waited outside with the other speakers, I realized I was up against a guy who’d made it through every year for the last few years. He’d sold his business, he was a brilliant storyteller, he was very funny, he was better looking: basically, he was everything I thought I wasn’t.
To make it worse, he was talking to me so I couldn’t concentrate on what I was doing.
“I felt the fear and stayed at the battlegrounds of my mind, conquering negative thoughts”
Somehow I remembered to get into a peak state.
Once the guy I was up against went up on stage, I was outside by myself in total silence, waiting for my turn. Somehow I miraculously remembered to get into a peak state.
“I moved my shoulders back, poked my chest out and told myself ‘I am the expert’.”
I told myself “I don’t think, I know. I’ve been doing this for years.”
I repeated in my mind “I inspire people for a living and I’ve been doing that for years” as well.
Showtime with passion.
It was now my turn. I went on stage and was given my topic which was privacy on the Internet. My eyes lit up an immediately I was in flow. I looked at everyone in the audience with a sense of authority. I backed myself!
Then I took a breath and started speaking. I let every ounce of passion show. I spoke loudly and then quietly. I looked at the audience with lots of funny looks.
My speech was about the new iPhone and how people are obsessed with privacy. I made my thoughts clear and challenged everyone to be authentic. I told the audience to stop hiding behind privacy and share their life lessons with people. I acted out what I would look like when I unlock my new phone using my face. I made the audience believe they could be better than they thought they were.
I stood firm on that stage and told myself that it was time to come out of my shell.
“As Joel Brown taught me, you can’t hide behind a bloody computer forever!”
I saw this as my coming out moment.
So I won the entire competition. I beat the other two international level speakers and made it through. I don’t say this to brag; I tell you this because if I can do it then so can you. We all have dreams and when we take action, they come true.
Here are some tips to crush your public speaking fear:
A) Get them in the first 5 seconds with charisma.
How you start your speech will determine the rest of it. I was told by my mentor that what I did well was capture the audience using charisma in the first five seconds of the speech.
B) Be vulnerable and authentic.
When you share personal stories and tell people things about your own struggles, you make them feel safe – you inspire them. The key I learned is to hold nothing back and share all of the story. Even tell them you’re nervous and suck at public speaking if you have to. That will crush the nerves.
C) Focus on the audience and not on how you look.
An obsession with you and how you look will make you nervous. Focus on delivering one key message that will help your audience. I’ve found this to be the ultimate fear crusher when it comes to public speaking. Imagining how you look or sound will guarantee failure.
D) Dress comfortably and don’t be an actor.
On the day, I wore comfortable clothes and made no extra effort for the occasion when it came to my daily routine. The moment you put that special stuff in your hair or wear a suit, you tell your brain that today is different. You also tell yourself that you are going to be an actor instead of who you really are.
Public speaking is not a stage show and you’re not an actor wearing a mask. Be comfortable.
E) Grab every opportunity you can.
My peers also told me that because I grabbed every speaking opportunity I could, I had put in the hours even though I didn’t do any pre-prepared speeches. In fact, doing impromptu speaking is the hardest way to get good but it’s also the fastest.
Not knowing what you are going to speak about is where all the growth comes from. It takes your focus away from the audience and onto the words coming out of your mouth.
F) Believe in big things.
The whole time I was on stage I believed that I could go all the way to the finals. I told myself that today was only the beginning and tomorrow I will climb the biggest mountain that has scared the pants of me for as long as I can remember.
Focusing on how big your dream can get gives you an added energy boost. You can be world champion if you believe you can.
G) Share your public speaking stories.
As soon as I had won the entire competition, I shared the story on social media. Again, not to brag but to inspire others to do the same. The other reason I shared my story was because it reinforces in my brain that I am enough. Sharing your story gives you momentum to do it all again.
Now I’m ready for the next round of the competition because people sent me inspiring messages after I shared this success. It’s those messages that tell me I am enough.
During the packing up stage of the competition, my public speaking peers told me that they believed I was going to win from the start. The only person that didn’t believe was me. That’s what can be so stupid about having a fear of public speaking. Often, you’re better than you think.
It’s your negative self-talk that’s holding you back. Stop it!
Okay, what I didn’t expect.
Two people that I admire a lot saw the story of my public speaking fear on social media and sent me amazing messages. These are two people that I never believed would look up to silly old me and my crazy looking haircut.
They both speak in front of thousands and have made more money than I could ever dream of. That’s what can happen from public speaking.
Crushing your fears is fun and when you have people you admire telling you to keep going, you can become unstoppable. That’s how I feel right now writing these words.
Finally, some ingredients of a good speech.
Okay so if you want to be good at this whole public speaking game then there are a few really simple ingredients that will help you win:
Teach people something with simple steps to follow.
The same also works for blogging. Surprise, surprise!
Now stop being afraid and go and do that thing that you’ve always feared.
Practice being phenomenal. Take action.
If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net
The Power of Personal Reviews: How It Can Skyrocket Your Success in Life
Do you want to elevate your personal success? If so, do you know what the number one thing that’s keeping you away from that success? You could be doing everything right in terms of setting goals and going after them, and still not make progress if you’re not doing this.
The secret is personal reviews. As goal-getters, we’re conditioned to take action and work hard to make our goals happen. But if you’re not measuring the effectiveness of your actions, then the outcome may be no better than if you were running around in circles. In order to not be stuck in the same place, you have to be continuously adjusting your strategy.
The key is knowing exactly what to do differently in order to achieve your goals and accelerate your success. This is where personal reviews come in, because they answer the most important questions such as: What parts should you keep on doing? What parts should you do differently? What exactly happened last time that prevented you from reaching your goals? How can you get to your goals even faster the next time?. The victory path often isn’t linear, and reflecting on it will improve the process, which is the most important part for speeding up success.
According to Harvard Business Review, people were shown to be more productive and less burnout after thinking about and planning their day than those who didn’t. Studies cited in the same Harvard Business Review have also shown that employees in call centers who spent 15 minutes at the end of the day reflecting on the lessons learned performed 23% better after 10 days than those who did not reflect. If you work in an even more complex role, imagine the benefits you would gain from consistent reflections. Ready to take on your own review?
Here are the three parts of a personal review and how each part will help you achieve personal and professional success:
1. Get Clear On Where You Are to Make Better Decisions
It’s hard to get to your destination if you don’t know where you are right now. Luckily, personal reviews are similar to a GPS, where it can accurately pinpoint your place in life. By getting clear on your current situation, there are three main benefits that’ll contribute to your success.
One, it reaffirms your goals. As I often find working with clients doing their own personal sprints to success projects, goals can be easily forgotten without regular check-ins. Each personal review helps bring these goals to top of mind, and align all your actions so that each one will move the needle.
Two, it keeps you on track. Once you are clear on your goals, it’ll become much more obvious whether you are on your way to hit your target or if you have strayed off the path. This will help you focus more clearly, and save time from unnecessary distractions and course-corrections.
Three, it builds momentum. By regularly reviewing how things are going, you can celebrate the wins, and improve on areas that didn’t go well. After all, success comes from consistent action and making progress towards your goals.
“What you can measure, you can improve.” – Peter Drucker
2. Discover the Roadblocks That Are Holding You Back
Now that you have a solid understanding of where you are at, it’s time to get down to the why. Why are you where you are currently, and how can you go even faster? The second part of personal reviews is where you’ll discover the golden nuggets of insights that you can use as your secret weapon.
Maybe you realized that you usually only get one or two important things done each day. Why is that? Is it because there are too many distractions? Or is it because your energy levels are low? And is there a filter you can set up to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not?
These are all incredible insights into the decision-making process and the factors that contribute to your success. If you stumbled, think about what parts you wouldn’t do again next time. If you achieved your goals, think about which parts you can repeat to succeed again. And as you collect more data points, the easier it’ll be to pinpoint how to 10x your productivity and results. And the more frequent you do reviews, the faster you’ll be able to progress. For example, if you conduct weekly reviews, you’ll be able to move four times as fast as someone who does monthly ones. Now, you can work smarter, instead of harder.
3. Fast Track Your Success Through Feedback Planning
Once you have the clear understanding of exactly where you are and what you need to do differently, you can use this feedback to make powerful changes to your plan. This is the last part of personal reviews – setting and prioritizing goals to accomplish by the next review.
These new goals will not be something that you’ve haphazardly put together, but rather it will be a combination of your insights and your vision of success. These reviews can be massively effective productivity tools and accountability structures that you can use to review the past and set in place the steps to take for the future.
For high potential professionals who do not conduct weekly reviews, one of the top reasons is that they either don’t understand the process, or can’t see the benefits. Now that you know how it works and the huge impact it can have, I invite you to take charge of your life, and face your goals and fears head-on.
“Every minute you spend in planning saves 10 minutes in execution; this gives you a 1,000 percent return on energy.” – Brian Tracy
After all, in order to stay a high performer and relevant, you must grow. And whether you want to become more focused, motivated or productive, personal reviews will carve out the path for you to get there and skyrocket your success.
How do you envision yourself accelerating through personal reviews? Leave a comment below!
5 Surprising Ways Your Posture Impacts Your Success
What makes some people successful while others flop, even with the same education, background, and job position? There is no one size fits all formula, but one thing that always stands out is a person’s posture and body language. The way in which you sit, stand, and even walk, tells people so much about you, and you don’t have to utter a word.
I’m a big movie buff, so if I reference a few scenes, you will understand why. Your posture not only tells people about you, but it can make you feel more powerful and confident in your own abilities. Wouldn’t you like to know what your posture is saying to others and how you can change it?
Here are 5 ways your posture impacts your success:
1. Posture is a Nonverbal Sign of Who You Are
Remember in Titanic, when Jack is waiting to have dinner with Rose. When he’s leaning against the staircase, what does his posture say to you? Gangster? Thief? Then Jack sees the distinguished (banker?) walk by. He’s impressed with his posture and manner of walking, which he tries to emulate.
This is a perfect example of the image you are projecting to others. What do you want your image to say to others? When you are in a business setting, you should always be aware of your posture, so you don’t end up leaning on the staircase like Jack.
2. Good Posture Empowers You
Your posture and other body language makes you feel more powerful and boosts confidence. A study from Ohio State University found that those who sat up straight had more confidence in their own abilities and believed more strongly in positive statements they had written about themselves.
“A strong confident person can rule the room with knowledge, personal style, attitude and great posture.” – Cindy Ann Peterson
3. Your Posture is Vital to Your Health
Anyone who has spent time sitting in front of a computer screen will tell you that it can wreak havoc on your neck, back and shoulders. It’s true that our bodies were not designed to sit for the majority of the day, but when you add poor posture to the mix, you are asking for some serious pain.
You can only imagine what people will think if you take time off work because of back pain or neck pain. Of course, the alternative is to spend your time rubbing your neck, which won’t do much for your image or authority presence. Avoid these issues by practicing good posture!
4. Good Posture Helps You Perform Better
When your body is out of balance, that is to say, when you are hunched over that keyboard or your head is pushed forward when you are standing or walking, you can’t perform to your true potential. This is especially true if you end up with neck or back aches later on in your day because you are slouching. When you feel good, you look good, and you can perform like a champion!
5. Your Posture Affects How People See You
This should be fairly obvious to everyone. Have you ever seen a CEO slumped over their computer? Think of the movie Shawshank Redemption, when escaped prisoner Andy Dufresne sits in front of the bank executive to cash out his account. His posture screams confidence and authority in that scene. Imagine if he had been a quiet mouse, staring at his feet, with slumped over posture. Your posture can make a huge difference in how you are perceived.
“I listen better with earplugs in, so I can see what your body is really saying.” – Jarod Kintz
The Good Posture Problem
Whenever I counsel new employees, I always stress good posture and how important it is to every area of their lives. I see them sit up straight, pull back their shoulders, and sit back in their chair, only to find them slouched over their keyboard or phone a few minutes later.
Let’s face it, keeping good posture after years of neglect can seem like a lot of work and you’re right, it is. However, it only seems that way because we are unaccustomed to how it feels. We are also creatures of habit and slouching at your desk is probably a bad habit you learned many years ago. Habits were meant to be broken, friends, and it’s not as hard as you might think.
Tips for Practicing Good Posture
If you want to come across as Meryl Streep does in every scene where she is walking in The Devil Wears Prada (minus the arrogant attitude, of course), you should think about your posture every day.
You can try setting an alarm on a daily basis to check your posture at work or at home. Try to be mindful of the way you’re sitting, standing and sleeping, and avoid any unnatural positions. Ask friends and family to remind you to stop slouching, too!
Also, check your workstation and make sure nothing is triggering bad posture there. Is your computer screen at eye level? Is your chair comfortable? Make sure your office equipment isn’t negatively affecting your posture.
Finally, some people have great success with a yoga or Tai Chi class, which focus on building strength and flexibility in your postural muscles. If you’re interested, you might sign up to maximize your posture. Otherwise, you can also try a home morning posture routine with different stretches.
In the end, you have the power to change your posture! As your mother might say: sit up straight!
How do you practice having proper posture throughout your day? Share your thoughts below!
If You Must Work, Work For A Leader You Love
Let me lay this out nice and simple for you all: it’s not companies, or products, or services that make us go to work.
It’s people. To be more specific, it’s the leader you work for.
I came to this realization when I looked back on my own career. I looked at why I stayed in certain jobs for too long. I looked at why I gave a damn about finance when in my head I hated it.
The answer came to me late one night as I was trying to think about how to get myself out of this crappy career situation I’d found myself in where I literally didn’t give a stuff about business anymore.
Then it hit me: I’m following a leader I love.
It’s not the company.
The company doesn’t make you love your work, sorry.
No video on company culture or fancy office with stand up desks and indoor plants is going to change that. A company is a legal entity which revolves around a group of people who all work together towards a common goal that makes money.
None of us will be inspired by this incredibly dry thing called ‘a company’
A company is a figment of our imagination. Some people in the company rock. Some people in the company suck.
And that applies to all companies including Google, DropBox and any other company you think is sexy because of its uber cool culture and work from home days.
Working for a leader you love.
Why the hell would you bother?
It’s because it’s in our human nature to be led by someone who touches the deepest, darkest places that we don’t want to go to but must in order to survive.
Those dark places look like:
- Leading a team of people
- Doing public speaking
- Admitting you’re wrong in a major argument
- Quitting your career because it’s wrong
- And even breaking up with a lover
These are the things a leader made me do. I didn’t want to do any of it although I had to.
This made me want to come to work every day and work for this leader because in the work I was doing, I was discovering myself and finding a way to grow into the person I’d avoided becoming for so long.
No one wants to face the darkness, but when a leader guides you, you’ll find a way and be forever grateful that you did.
From one company to the next.
You see many people go from one company to the next. They’re not chasing the idea of a company or trying to find a better company.
“We go from one company to the next because in most cases we’re chasing a leader”
Finding that leader you love working for is not easy. You’ll have to work for many useless leaders before you find a couple that are worth dedicating your entire career to.
The process of finding a leader you love working for is so difficult that once your search ends and you find those rare individuals, your standards will be forever raised and anything less will piss you off.
In my own career, I’ve met 1–2 amazing leaders and every other leader that is not them ends up making me want to move on.
Not finding a leader I love.
I end up moving on because the leaders I don’t love working for focus on the following: numbers, email signatures, the share price, managing people into the ground in favor of ‘productivity’ and overcomplicating business.
That last one is the most important. Business revolves around understanding how people think, what motivates them and how to get them to take ownership.
“To put the people part to one side is to completely Mess up the most simplest idea that has ever existed in the business world”
The process goes like this:
- Hire one good leader
- Support that leader
- Allow them to hire incredible human beings
- Stay the heck out of their way
Hiring the right leader and then letting them hire people who love working for them is the number one consistent approach I’ve seen from looking at many of the unicorn tech companies that have gone on to define the future of the human race.
It’s this counter-intuitive, somewhat magical approach that makes us stay working for a leader we love. Until, of course, we may not need to work or decide to go off and start our own thing.
The leader makes it all worth it.
So from this day forth, I’m committed to only working for a leader I love. If you mess that part up, you’ll probably find me saying goodbye.
I’d encourage you to think the same way.
The leader you work for makes it all worth it. It’s knowing someone has your back, someone cares and someone is simultaneously going to push you to the next level whether you like it or not that will not only define your career but your life.
Don’t. Settle. Ever.
Find a leader you love working for.
5 Unexpected Ways to Unlock Your Creativity
You know those times when you can’t think of a good idea? When you’re ready to bang your head against the desk because you can’t even think of a bad idea? It happens to the best of us. No one is immune to Creativity Lockdown Syndrome. But before you throw your project out the window or decide the only way to get through the idea desert is to dive head first into a Netflix and Cheeto binge, there is another way.
After pouring over thousands of projects with thousands of creatives over the years, I’ve picked up a few tricks to get your wheels turning again.
Here are 5 unexpected ways to unlock your creativity, even when your usual inspirational soundtrack and motivational movie clips aren’t producing results:
1. Stand up and turn around
Seriously. Physically stand up out of your chair, then turn and face the other way. You might actually *hear* the sound of a good idea dropping into your brain. As the saying goes, humans are creatures of habit, making it easy to create routines that put our brains on autopilot. By changing up where or how you’re sitting, it shakes up the status quo and gets your brain thinking in new ways, which opens you up to new ideas.
Still stuck? Ask yourself this open-ended question: “What is the truth about this problem or situation?” and let the answer tumble out. Your mind will start creating answers for any question you ask it. Take a pen and paper, and write out whatever comes to mind.
“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” – Albert Einstein
2. Drink a teaspoon of booze
You know how some great writers and artists are legendary drunks? One reason is because alcohol lowers inhibitions, muffles the inner critic and gives your inner wild-and-crazy guy a chance to run the show. Sadly, the era of the three-martini lunch has passed, and it is generally ill-advised to get hammered on the job.
But I’ve found that just a teaspoon of liquor can get you loosened up without jeopardizing your reputation. Maybe it’s the stimulation of sense-memory from the smell and the taste in your mouth, or maybe it’s your body responding to the tincture itself, but it works – if you let it.
If it’s not possible for you to take the world’s tiniest shot (not all people can have even a teaspoon of alcohol), try just “acting drunk” by letting your body go loose and allowing yourself to ramble like a wicked old sot. You might just surprise yourself.
3. Make some 5-minute art
Especially if the reason you’re stuck is emotional (low self-esteem, jealousy, fear of failure, perfectionism…any of those monsters from under the bed) making some 5-Minute Art can be revelatory. Just grab a piece of typing paper and a pen, and draw out the FEELING you are having.
Use stick figures or big scrawls – don’t worry, no one is ever going to see this – and just allow yourself to express on paper what it feels like to be so jealous, afraid or stuck. Getting a visual image of your feelings often gives you a new perspective on them, and can free up the blocked energy that’s holding your good ideas hostage.
4. Copy someone
Of course I’m not recommending plagiarism, in the illegal, unethical kind of way. Here’s the thing, the next time you’re stuck, try straight-up imitating the work of someone you admire. Just for a few minutes, pretend you are that person.
Allow their genius to inhabit you for a minute, and let yourself borrow their phrasing, style or flair. Be a copycat. You will probably want to revise and polish later, but your homage will at least give you something fun and unusual to start with.
If for some reason you can’t think of someone you admire to copy, try creating a character or alter ego you can put on for a little while. This technique was made famous by Beyonce Knowles when she announced her alter ego, Sasha Fierce, to the world. When you assume a character, you shift your attitude and focus instantly because you see the world through a different lens.
This opens your creative thinking and problem solving processes in new ways, opening you up to new ideas you would not have been able to consider before.
“Through others we become ourselves.” – Lev S. Vygotsky
5. Take a tiny step toward a big goal
Overwhelm is so real. You get paralyzed when your projects are too big so start smaller. Set your timer for 15 minutes and do as much as you can in that time. Maybe you’ll just make a list of people you could reach out to for help or advice, or you’ll open a new notebook in Evernote.
If you spend just 15 minutes a day, every single day, working on the projects that matter most to you, you will achieve astonishing results. Baby steps often lead to quantum leaps, so keep going, no matter what.
How do you become creative when you’re unmotivated? Share your thoughts below!
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