Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Archive for June, 2013

Procrastination is no fun.

I’ve been thinking…..procrastination, in my experience, is not so much about putting something off that could be done today. It’s more about how we personally experience the delay.

For example, if you have 5 days to finish an article, and you know that you only need a few hours to accomplish it, you may choose to put it off a couple of days and do something more pressing or more enjoyable in the meantime. If you’re comfortable with your choice, I wouldn’t call this procrastination, I’d call it practicing good planning and/or life balance.

On the other hand, let’s say you have 5 days to finish an article, and although you know you only need a few hours to accomplish it, you decide you really should get started now because you have the time to do it today. But you don’t feel like it. You find yourself taking extended breaks or doing something else to avoid the task. You continue to beat yourself up, so much so, that you’re not enjoying the breaks or accomplishing anything because you’re aware in the back of your mind that you really ought to be finishing the article NOW! Finally, you tell yourself, enough is enough, so you manage to get yourself back to your desk to finish the article. But again, you struggle aimlessly. This is how I describe procrastination. Can you relate? Wow, I actually started feeling uncomfortable just writing about that feeling.

I once read that if you’re having significant trouble sleeping, you should get up and do something to shift the experience for a while and then return to bed, instead of nervously struggling to get yourself asleep. It made a lot of sense to me. I recommend a similar strategy when we find ourselves procrastinating. Instead of struggling with our avoidance, and continuing to be unproductive, find something to do for a period of time that we might enjoy or feel good about accomplishing. We may as well, right?

A few more tips for public speaking.

I recently worked with a client who wanted to polish his presentation skills for a significant public speaking gig he had and he did an awesome job. I thought I’d share a few tidbits and tools that I offered him during our time working together—with the hope that you’ll also find them helpful:

As you prepare . . .
– Shift your thinking from “presenting” or being evaluated, to sharing information in service to your audience.
– When practicing your presentation, make a point to slow down and articulate. You may not want to focus on that during the presentation, as it may impact your natural delivery, but it will be well worth the effort as you practice.
– It’s always good to open a presentation with a brief story or some icebreaking comment(s). If you’re stumped as to what you might offer, reflect on a past experience—or keep your eyes open during the week before the presentation for something that may happen in your personal business circle or life—that relates well to the content of your presentation. It may serve as an engaging opening story and segue to your content.
– Review your presentation and highlight the areas or specific words that you really want to emphasize. Then when you practice, slow down on those phrases or words, and/or offer a brief pause after you state them. A pause can serve as a subtle, yet effective, exclamation point.
– Review your presentation for words such as: “I believe that…” and if appropriate, swap them for “I am confident that…”
– Visualize regularly that your presentation has already gone perfectly and people are approaching you to shake your hand and thank you for a job well done.

As you begin . . .
– As you say good morning or good afternoon, take it slow and offer and enjoy a genuine connection to your audience.
– If you find yourself nervous, breathe! A good healthy breath can do wonders for nerves. And don’t be afraid to acknowledge it (if you feel you need to or it’s getting in the way) in a confident, comfortable and genuine way. (Saying something like…. “Ah, let me take a deep breath and enjoy the opportunity I have with you today” can give you the opportunity to regroup. And as long as you keep it confident and smoothly move on, it can work in your favor.)
– Use your arms and hands naturally. Avoid thinking you have to make any specific movements with them. If you can internalize and get in touch with the passion you have for what you’re talking about and what you believe (you can also focus on this in practice), your body movements and voice intonations will be more natural and your expression will be more engaging. In other words, enjoy the experience and your audience will enjoy you.

As you close . . .
– Be careful to only indicate closure when you’re actually closing. Sometimes people will say “In closing…” but then they’ll add much more information so the “closing” loses their intended impact.
– If you welcome questions at the end of your presentation, open up your arms and body language, look around, make eye contact, and genuinely and warmly state: “Thank you, and I look forward to your questions.”