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25 May 2018 (HOW TO NOT TO UNDERMINE YOURSELF WHEN SPEAKING IMPROMPTU.) Let’s assume you’re in a meeting and you’re called upon to give your input. Whether or not you’ve been taken by surprise, your reaction in this instant has a massive effect on how your words are received. When I lead interactive workshops, whether in Constructive Conversations or our latest module, Spontaneous Speaking, I’m struck by the way people behave when they feel the pressure to deliver on the spot. Often, it’s the moment they have both dreamt about, and dreaded. Their time to shine. So why do some people crash and burn while others go on to glory? There’s a major reason in that first momentary reaction. I’ve watched people who are asked to speak off the cuff, sink in their seat, grimace at their colleagues, mutter darkly and struggle to their feet or to the podium like condemned prisoners. They seem oblivious of the impression they are creating for the other people in the room. They wear their stress and discomfort on their sleeve for all to see, undermining their own credibility every step of the way… And then, once they have gone through this almost painful process of gathering themselves, they want their colleagues to believe them and trust their opinion! How to avoid this disastrous beginning? Just breathe. Breathe, because it feeds your brain and energises your body. Breathe, because it gives you time to think. It brings a smile to your face or, at least an expression that’s not screaming panic. It roots your voice so you sound warm and confident. It calms you and puts you in control. I’m not talking about taking minutes to respond, because the effects of deep, belly-breathing are almost instantaneous. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system that lowers your heart rate and helps you move out of fight-or-flight, crisis mode. But considering how and why it works is less important than the fact that it does. One or two deep breaths and you’re good to go. And it doesn’t stop there. The rule is “one breath per thought”. That means that your breath is the fuel for transmitting your thoughts to your listeners. You need to take a new breath for every thought so that your words have the energy to reach every part of the room. Your skill, qualifications, experience and intuition are the tools you will use to address the issues in a meeting. The techniques of Constructive Conversations will enable you to communicate this knowledge effectively. (For a brief refresher on these concepts, look at the short posts “Why should I say “Yes” to someone if I don’t agree with them”? and “Use this one technqiue to master difficult conversations” and “4 Ways to get what you really want out of a business meeting.”) But the basis of everything is breath. It’s that easy. As natural as breathing. Al
Take a deep breath
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It’s your moment… Take a deep breath.

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25 May 2018 (HOW TO NOT TO UNDERMINE YOURSELF WHEN SPEAKING IMPROMPTU.) Let’s assume you’re in a meeting and you’re called upon to give your input. Whether or not you’ve been taken by surprise, your reaction in this instant has a massive effect on how your words are received. When I lead interactive workshops, whether in Constructive Conversations or our latest module, Spontaneous Speaking, I’m struck by the way people behave when they feel the pressure to deliver on the spot. Often, it’s the moment they have both dreamt about, and dreaded. Their time to shine. So why do some people crash and burn while others go on to glory? There’s a major reason in that first momentary reaction. I’ve watched people who are asked to speak off the cuff, sink in their seat, grimace at their colleagues, mutter darkly and struggle to their feet or to the podium like condemned prisoners. They seem oblivious of the impression they are creating for the other people in the room. They wear their stress and discomfort on their sleeve for all to see, undermining their own credibility every step of the way… And then, once they have gone through this almost painful process of gathering themselves, they want their colleagues to believe them and trust their opinion! How to avoid this disastrous beginning? Just breathe. Breathe, because it feeds your brain and energises your body. Breathe, because it gives you time to think. It brings a smile to your face or, at least an expression that’s not screaming panic. It roots your voice so you sound warm and confident. It calms you and puts you in control. I’m not talking about taking minutes to respond, because the effects of deep, belly-breathing are almost instantaneous. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system that lowers your heart rate and helps you move out of fight-or-flight, crisis mode. But considering how and why it works is less important than the fact that it does. One or two deep breaths and you’re good to go. And it doesn’t stop there. The rule is “one breath per thought”. That means that your breath is the fuel for transmitting your thoughts to your listeners. You need to take a new breath for every thought so that your words have the energy to reach every part of the room. Your skill, qualifications, experience and intuition are the tools you will use to address the issues in a meeting. The techniques of Constructive Conversations will enable you to communicate this knowledge effectively. (For a brief refresher on these concepts, look at the short posts “Why should I say “Yes” to someone if I don’t agree with them”? and “Use this one technqiue to master difficult conversations” and “4 Ways to get what you really want out of a business meeting.”) But the basis of everything is breath. It’s that easy. As natural as breathing. Al
“A perfect balance of insight, engagement, introspection & fun. The outcome is a deeper understanding of how to be a more effective communicator and a more respectful listener.”  Vivienne Bezuidenhout, Executive Creative Director, Wildfire WORK WITH AL TODAY
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It’s your moment… Take a deep breath.

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