Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.

Of course you have to know what to improve. If you don't know, ask around - not for vague reassurances, but for specific points that could be better.

Speaking too softly? Speaking too fast? Not enough enthusiasm? Not enough animation? Not enough eye contact?

Let's suppose, for example, that you're told to speak up. Make your voice stronger. More projection.

Got a meeting coming up?

Arrange for silent, real-time feedback from a conspirator in your audience

Go to a trusted colleague. Ask for instant, subtle signals from the back of the room. Agree on the signals. Voice still too soft? ...Palms will move upwards. Too strong? ...Palms move down. Just right? ...Circle thumb and forefinger.

It's a terrific way to overcome the fearful inner voice that usually stops you trying to improve, whispering that you'll look stupid or 'over the top'. (I call that fearful inner voice your GRIM REAPER - if you let it have its way it would keep you in bed all day hiding under the blankets.)

Why real-time feedback from a trusted colleague is so effective

Conspirator feedback has everything going for it. When you get that circled thumb and forefinger, the fear stops and you keep speaking knowing instantly that the new way is working. That consolidates. That lays new tracks in the brain. Real, lasting and confident change.

You might have to get that specific feedback a few times in different meetings, because your grim reaper is likely to resist.

Just one thing you might have to check with your colleague conspirator before you try it out. Your colleague already knows you and has a feeling for who you are. You're about to disturb that. He or she could be too strongly affected by the thought, This isn't the you that I know, when the thought should be Does this change work for you?

Which raises that eternal question, Who am I?

More on that another time.

About Michael Brown

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Michael is a senior trainer with Skillset, based in Christchurch.

He is a leading authority on training in presentation and news media skills in New Zealand. He has special expertise in how to present emotionally charged topics to challenging audiences. Michael has trained thousands of New Zealanders and worked with people who speak on behalf of some of the country's largest organisations.

Michael is a prolific author and his books on speaking and working with the media are in their fourth editions.

Speaking Easy: how to speak to your audiences with confidence and authority

Media Easy: how to handle the news media with confidence and authority

One of Michael's books is about his family's adventures sailing in the Pacific.

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