Category Archives: Uncategorized

Self-Awareness: How are you?

We don’t always take the time to check in with ourselves. Even with a mindfulness craze, we don’t take that time to stop, think, and note our emotions. Want to start? Or maybe, NEED to start? Watch this week’s video for your personal development plan in self-awareness!

Get the Conversation Back on Track!

Ever get in a conversation that keeps getting derailed? Wonder how to get things back on track? Start with our video tip this week about getting things back on track.

What to Say Instead of Sorry?

Catch us last week and finally figure out when you apologize? Now what? Check out our part two!

Stop Apologizing!

We’re back with another video tip for your Monday!

This week, we’re thinking about apologies – do you say ‘I’m sorry’ far too often? Tune in below for part one of ‘Stop Apologizing’.

New Video! When to Walk Away

Sometimes conversations just need to be ended – do you know when? Maybe you feel it in your gut, and haven’t been able to just get the confidence to walk away. Or maybe you feel like you’re just a rude and impatient person – guess what? You aren’t. Some conversations just weren’t meant to be.

How to Keep the Conversation Going

We’re thinking about conversations in our video series – when they stall, what do you do? Start here!

What You Should Be Doing Before Meetings That You Aren’t

By Founder Jen Oleniczak Brown

bored-employees-in-presentation-1940x900_29877Meetings often suck. Don’t be confused, I love meeting new people and planning and figuring out action items, but a lot of time we end up rehashing what we did/do and set up plans for things that require more meetings. When I sit in for companies, observing communication styles, I often think the worst part of meetings for other people is that whole speaking part.

Think about it: You sit around and either wait for a chance to speak or you spend a large part of the time working up the nerve to speak. And what happens when you do? You might ramble or trip over words. You’re not completely thinking about everything that’s coming out of your mouth. You finish, and you’re either stressed about what you said or regretting that you didn’t say enough.

If this sounds like you, you probably aren’t doing the one thing that WILL help you speak in a meeting: Warming up.

Think about it — do you run 13.1 miles without warming up? No. Well, why would you speak without warming up the muscles in your mouth? Our mouths contain 10 muscles and it takes up to 100 muscles to speak! *

*I told this to a client I’m working with this afternoon and she literally laughed and said “That’s why I hate it so much.”

So how do you start to fix this? First off, know that no solution is an absolute. This is ONE way to get better at speaking in a meeting, specifically how to trip over words less and pay attention to the words coming out of your mouth. Much like running and getting in shape, it’s a process. Second, admit the amount of time you have before a meeting. In reality, you have minutes.

The quick way to warm up in minutes before a meeting: tongue twisters.

Think about it — people trip over words because they are running their mouths or speaking before they think. You have to concentrate before you say a tongue twister. You have to think about the words to get the correct — you have to PAY ATTENTION to what’s coming out of your mouth. Also, tongue twisters TWIST YOUR TONGUE. They are meant to trip you up, because they flex different areas of your mouth.

These are a few I give clients when they are specifically working on warming up quickly:

Red leather, yellow leather.
Irish wristwatch.
The lips, the teeth, the tip of the tongue, the tip of the tongue, the teeth, the lips.
Betty Botter bought a bit of bitter batter. (Say the t’s as t’s — not d’s)

Prior to a meeting, head into the bathroom, outside or sit at your desk. Say them out loud, three times each, slowly, and over-enunciate. Maybe you spit a little when you say these — that’s ok! You don’t run the same way you warm up — all you are doing is activating these areas.

Then head into your meeting and see what happens. Remember, this isn’t a fix-all (nothing is), but chances are, you’ll be a bit more cognizant of the words coming out of your mouth AND trip over your words less. Good luck, and enjoy that next meeting!

The Balance Between Initiative & Flexibility When Working In Teams

By Engager Lawrese Brown

The Blind Leading The Blind. That is literally what happened when I was facilitating a Blind Trust activity for a group of teens. During the activity, each person guides their partner around the room by their fingertips while their partner’s eyes are closed.

At the end of the activity, I asked the pairs “How did it feel to be led? How did it feel to have your eyes closed?” That’s when one of the pairs said, “We both had our eyes closed as we moved around the room.”

de298b_55847c546b2247039f8ca70e92f4db12mv2I was intrigued. I’d facilitated this activity frequently and never had that happen before. I then had the remaining teens do another round where both people in the pair tried to navigate around the room with their eyes closed. The final round was absolutely comical, but also a critical “aha” moment for us. As one teen said, “You need someone to lead so that you have direction.”

We know that you need leaders and followers, but we don’t often talk about the skill it takes to lead (initiative) and the skill involved in following (flexibility). As an instructor, it was the perfect demonstration of improvisations reliance on both. The final round showed us the importance of being both enterprising and easygoing when focused on achieving a result.

There is a tendency on teams to think in extremes – either you are easy going and go with it or you are being assertive and taking charge. But what would happen if we celebrated teammates that demonstrated both qualities equally?

If you’re too easygoing, you’ll never take action. And if you’re too assertive, you’ll leave no room to adapt. As the activity fundamentally showed us, progress (movement) and success (not bumping into anyone or anything) relies on a balance of both.
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Imagine how we would shift our behavior on teams if we knew that every time there was a department project, the team’s ability to reach the desired result was the only metric we were judged on. There wasn’t an opportunity for you to say, “Well I did my part…” or conversely, “Well I did what everyone else was doing…”

de298b_3037f3252cdf40639a372277971b37c4mv2Accepting that teamwork requires a balance of initiative and flexibility (or leading and following from all members of the team) is the best way to hold everyone accountable for the times final result. Both improv and teamwork are like having a great conversation, it’s not just what you say that’s great, but it’s also what others said to you. That balance is where the magic happens.

November #YesAndTube Recap!

What a month November was… We are looking forward to a chill December and a rocking New Year! If you missed our November videos, here’s a recap. And don’t forget, you can subscribe to our Youtube channel and watch them as they roll out every Monday!

November 7:

November 14:

November 21:

November 28:

How to Avoid the Most Common Pitfalls of Public Speaking

by Engager Olive Persimmon

I’ve been doing public speaking for ten years and coaching public speaking for four. Throughout this time I’ve given some amazing, rev-up the audience, not-a-dry-eye-in-house speeches.
I’ve also totally bombed. Red-faced, voice-shaking, forget-your-freaking-words bombed.
Luckily that happens far less frequently now because I’ve learned the common mistakes for why speeches don’t go well. Looking back, there are three basic reasons why I failed: 1. I didn’t 1915974_1021261141282455_1190844854930300062_nprepare enough 2. I was overly worried about the audience’s opinion of me, and as a result 3. I got in my head.

So let’s talk about what you can do to avoid these common pitfalls:

1. Prepare and then practice:

Too often I see clients who want to “wing it” so they “sound natural.” This is one of the main reasons why speeches fail. The speaker didn’t prepare enough. It’s probably the single, most important thing you can do to deliver a great speech. Figure out exactly what you want to say and how you want to say it. Write it down and then practice it. Practice your presentation or speech alone. Then practice it again in front of people. If you have a fear of public speaking, it’s critical that you practice in front of other people, and often. The more frequently you do it, the more likely you are to decrease your fear.

2. Practice some more:

When we’re feeling nervous, our body goes into something called fight-or-flight mode. This causes our heart rate to elevate along with spikes in cortisol and adrenaline. This can lead to sweatiness, shaking, redness, and even blackouts. The last thing you want to be dealing with is figuring out what the heck you’re gonna say. I’ve seen this end two ways, the speaker blacks out and stops or the speaker starts to ramble. You want the words to be so engrained in your brain that you can keep going even if you’re having an out-of-body experience. Practice until you sound fake. Then keep practicing until you sound real again. That doesn’t mean you can’t deviate from your prepared talk, it just means that your brain won’t be scrambling for words at the wrong times.

3. Remind yourself that the audience WANTS you to succeed.

Olive with her book "Unintentionally Celibate!"

Olive with her book “Unintentionally Celibate!”

There’s a good chance that someone asked you to speak. That someone could be your boss. It could be a group of people interested in a topic. Those people BELIEVE that you will be successful. No one in their right mind would ask you to speak if they thought you were going to fail. The audience is on your side. Truly they are. Yet, for so many of us, we are obsessively worrying about what the audience will think of us. Before you start speaking, take a second to assess your audience. Find a friendly face. Smile at that person (it will release wonderful chemicals into your brain). Remind yourself that someone believes you deserve to be speaking. Take a deep breath and then begin.

4. Get out of your head

It’s impossible to connect with the audience when you’re in the middle of a conversation with yourself in your head. One of the easiest ways to get out of your head, is to make authentic eye contact with people in the audience. A lot of coaches recommend looking above the audience or looking at a lot of people in a short amount of time. Don’t do this. Instead, really look at the people you’re talking to. Not only will this help you connect with them, it will help ground your body and get you out of fight-or-flight mode.

Avoiding these common pitfalls is the first place to start if you’re trying to become an excellent speaker. Hopefully your next speech will be a home run. Follow our blog for more tips on speaking and other communication skills.