How to Practice Presentations. 3 Top Tips!

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Developing an outstanding presentation takes time and organization.

It’s a combination of crafting compelling content designed to connect with your audience’s hopes, dreams and alleviate fears and then delivering with the right blend of para-lingual and body language techniques.

Last time, I addressed, WHY it’s good practice to practice.  Today, we’ll focus on HOW practice.

(Next time, I’ll write about content creation, so stay tuned.)

I’m often asked how to help get rid of nervousness for a presentation.  My number one piece of advice is: “Practice!”

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And by practice, I mean three things:

1) Speak aloud.   Don’t quietly memorize your script to yourself.  Do practice aloud and in full volume. Also do not be boring.  Do not be monotone.  Along with volume, pay attention to the emotion that is behind each word or phrase and make sure to add pitch, inflection, tone and/or pacing to help convey each meaning.  Consider emotions like surprise, enthusiasm, frustration, disappointment, imagination, hope and many more.  There are so many great ways to play with the sound of your voice.  Practicing aloud is where you can begin to hear the difference.

 2) Stand and use gestures and expressions.  Along with aloud, I also urge you to stand up.  Standing up allows your lungs to better be filled with air which provides you the breath support you need to project.  Standing is the more commanding and authoritative way to present. If you’re one who wants  to appear folksy and approachable, I would probably still encourage you to consider standing instead.  Command that room. (Oh, and get away from that dang podium. You don’t need it and it’s just a barrier between you and the real humans in the audience.)  Standing also allows you to incorporate important hand gestures.  Make broad gestures – even incorporating the whole body at times. Don’t flail your arms at the elbow like a seal.  And please, please, please – tell your face that you are delivering some emotion too. Engage your eyes. Hold a smile.  Take a pause and really look at the eyes of your audience. Engage!

3) Get in front of a mirror (or while recording video).  All of this practice will be more effective if you see how others see you.   Stand up and deliver in front of a mirror.  Look at yourself. Do you look like you care about your audience?  Are you smiling broadly when you are talking about how proud you are about this quarter’s earnings?  Are you leaning in when you are encouraging your team that you know they can boost the numbers to reach projections?  If you can hit record on your phone or have someone else record you, better still.  There’s nothing like watching yourself played back, to help correct areas where you may be flat.

Okay! Those are my top three tips for practicing.

 I’m also asked, “How many times should I practice?”

The answer:

“As many times as you need to do get extremely comfortable with the material.”

You must be solid on your introduction and closing.  You should also know the middle well enough to not have to look over your shoulder to read your slide deck – Grr!  The more comfortable you are with the presentation, the more comfortable you will be with your audience so you can react and respond in real time with them.

And remember, as with any presentation, it IS all about THEM.

Here’s to great practicing.

Cheers,

Gina

P.S.  Last word on nerves: While you may never be perfectly calm when speaking before a large crowd, if you discipline yourself to regularly apply careful preparation and practice, you can transfer that extra adrenaline into energy that will make the delivery of your rehearsed script a powerful  – and engaging – performance!

Copyright 2016 Gina London.  All Rights Reserved. 

 

 

Gina’s recipe for Pear Scones

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I know I regularly write about how to improve business communications, but since I firmly believe we don’t have a professional life and a personal life – we just have a life – I am taking this moment to share something from my life – that I find pretty tasty!

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Since moving to Ireland, I have discovered scones are an integral part of life.  If it’s morning time and you walk into a café, a coffee shop or a diner, there will be scones.  One of the companies I am consulting with at the moment has a monthly communications meeting from all the department heads.  Before the employees walk into the conference room, they pause to take a scone from the heap of them on the long table out front.  The typical trifecta of flavors are “Brown” with wholewheat flour, “Fruit” – which usually translates as raisins or currants, or “Plain,” uhm, which is plain.

Scones are served with fresh whipped cream, Irish butter or jam to be slathered on.  And they’re not just for breakfast, either.  The first time I met someone for afternoon tea, the waitress asked me, “Would you like a scone with your tea?”

I like the scones here.  They’re not the dried out, flattened biscuits that are passed as scones in other parts of the world.  They’re dense yet still moist.

Interestingly, I have never had a pear scone here in Ireland – that I didn’t make myself.  I’ve been baking mine for about four years from some recipe I found online when we lived in Italy long before I ever imagined I would be moving to Ireland. I don’t remember the official source, since I hand-copied the recipe and the slip of paper now lives in my recipe box.  So, I don’t claim to have created this recipe, but I am happy to share it with you as “mine.”

Without further ado, here is my recipe for Pear Scones! Slainte!

Gina’s Pear Sconesscones

2 Cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

¼ Cup white sugar

½ teaspoon salt

¾ Cup diced fresh pear

5 tablespoons cold butter

1 Cup cream (or half regular milk and half vanilla yogurt, which I have substituted when out of cream – and it worked great!)

Mix dry ingredients and cut in butter until tiny crumbs.  Stir in diced pear and the liquid. This dough is pretty sticky – but that’s fine. Turn out onto floured service and lightly knead.  I put it then into an 8 inch cake pan and cut into 8 wedges.  Sprinkle top with white sugar –(I prefer caster sugar, which is really fine white sugar you can get here in Ireland/UK easily –  if you have it.)

Bake at 220C/400 F for 12/15 minutes

I cut mine in wedges although all the scones here are round.  I suppose you could easily cut the dough with an overturned and lightly floured glass if you’d prefer the round shape.

Et voila! I hope you like them.

Cheers, and happy life!

Gina

Copyright 2016 Gina London.  All Rights Reserved.  

Practice makes Perfect. Or Does it?!

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For the first time in the twenty years that I have been leading communications training programs, I got push-back that:

 Practice Makes Perfect.”

I was in Singapore just over a week ago working with a group of twenty managers from all over the region (photo above is me obviously after the training). I was recording each participant as he or she delivered a message. An executive questioned my practice recommendation saying:

 I don’t know. I think I lose the true emotion of what I am trying to say. I think the spontaneity is gone.”

I welcome all challenges. Good dialogue helps us learn more about each other’s perspectives. It also compels me to reflect and reconsider my approaches and opinions. So, we put it to the test. I doubled back to the participant who had just completed his first round video recording and had him give it a second go on-camera.

He edited his content from his previous attempt which made his wording tighter, more concise.

The group agreed that his second time was stronger. But what about his “emotional spontaneity”?

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Don’t give up! You can do it! Practice!

Did he give up some of his initial extemporaneous expressions for those of a more contrived nature? My loyal adversary watched the recordings a couple days later (I give all my participants copies of their video clips to keep) and emailed me that to him, there was a natural and emphatic “blink in the eyes” that you couldn’t have repeated on command with the same impact.

Without debating the impact derived from a single blink, let’s broaden the topic to consider overall impact from a lengthy speech. What are the benefits of practice? Here are some of my reasons:

Why Practice?

1. You will KNOW your material. More than anything else, practice will prevent you from losing your train of thought or completely omitting a point. I don’t have to toss a stone too far on this one to hit Sarah Palin’s recent rambling ad-lib-a-thon US presidential endorsement of Donald Trump.

(This, of course, presumes you have actually written a script or an outline or something on which you can practice. We can’t make that same presumption with Palin.)

2. You will get rid of FILLERS. This is connected to Reason Number 1, but I list it separately to remind you that fillers are killers. When we don’t know precisely what we want to say next, many of us unconsciously add “uhh”, “you know”, “uhm”, “eh” or any other number of distracting – and unprofessional – utterances. These interrupt the smooth flow of our messages and can be completely disruptive to a highly expectant audience.  I was told of a performance professional who once counted a whopping 37 of these during a presentation made by someone who had eschewed his urging to practice. Speaking with fillers is a sure-sign that you are a rookie and will undermine whatever it is you’re trying to say.

3. You will be more CONFIDENT. Whenever anyone asks me the best way to reduce nervous butterflies, I encourage them to practice more. When you know what you are going to say, in the order that you are going to say it and have practiced doing so OUTLOUD several times, you WILL gain confidence.

4. Knowing your structure gives you FREEDOM. The confidence you have in knowing what you are going to say, allows you the freedom to be in the moment with your audience. I don’t advocate strict and unwavering memorization of a text. I encourage you to know it well enough that you can relax and have a genuine conversation with your audience. Think about the actor who explores a well-known role. Presentation delivery should be like a pianist playing a concert.  You know the piece so well, you are in the moment. You know what emotions your words are conveying. Don’t be a robot. Experience what you are saying with them. Watch their faces for verbal cues and give a little more or edit a bit depending.

5. Your Audience will APPRECIATE your professionalism. When you are comfortable and confident, your audience will be more so too. Nobody wants to watch someone ramble. You’re wasting their time.

6. Your MESSAGE will be MORE clearly understood. As with Reason Number 5, it’s frustrating for an audience to have to try and follow someone who doesn’t have a clear path. Audiences have other things on their minds. It’s up to you to make sure you’re easily understood and remembered. Don’t forget to tell them what’s in it for them!

Okay! There are six reasons why it’s beneficial to practice your next presentation. To help round out this topic, next time, I will outline some helpful tips for HOW to PRACTICE.

I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences with practice. When you did it to perfection and when you didn’t. What happened? What could have happened??

One quick follow-up from my loyal opposition: he has since emailed me that he is going to change his approach and try to practice more. I love that we’re engaging deeper on this issue. That’s how progress is made! He added in his last email that he’s “not a good repeater. Even if I do the same presentation several times, I use different words.”

That’s okay. As I mentioned above, you do not have to memorize your entire presentation word for word – to repeat it exactly the same way every time.  I do encourage you to have your introduction and your final closing lines pretty close to memorized. That ensures your message is solidly delivered. But again, the confidence you have from practicing your overall structure, will allow you the freedom to act within that structure.

The more your practice, the more you can really explore!

Cheers! Gina

Copyright 2016 Gina London. All Rights Reserved. 

Networking Master Class.

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Real tips that work. Not theoretical ideas that don’t.

That’s the approach I strive for no matter what I train/coach/consult around.  But especially personally important for me is the concept of “networking.”  After all, I have lived and worked and met new people in such far-flung places as Cairo, Paris, Denver and now Ireland.

Last night the Cork Chamber hosted me before a gathering of some 70 business leaders as I led a “Master Class” on how to meet people at these types of contrived gatherings.

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I break it down this way:  BEFORE, DURING, AFTER.

BEFORE

1. Be Google-worthy!  Make sure when someone Googles you they find something! And the what they find is current, friendly and relevant.

Linked In. If you’re not on Linked In, do it.  This is your virtual office that you can invite people to.  I’m not going to go into details, but at the very least, make sure you have a photo in your profile, your summary is a compelling story of you, not some boring CV listing, and add photos, articles, clippings, etc.  And yes, post, post, post! This is where you can really come alive.

Twitter. This is your online “email” system. People can follow you. You can follow them back and then you can DM. Just like email but faster.  It’s lively and I find more and more professionals are using it as a way to instant meet-up.

All the rest. Facebook is like your online living room. I don’t know. Do you want everyone in there with you? Do you have a professional account and a personal account? Up to you.  Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Periscope, Snapchat (Obama’s doing it now…).  Do any and all of the rest as you have time and inclination. But at the very, very least – do Linked In.

2. Register, Research, Reach-out! Most networking events offer online sign-up and registration lists. Virtual communities to engage with even before you go to the event- or conference – or whatever.   If you research the lists, you can find people you can reach out to beforehand – Remember, you should be able to find them on Linked In or Twitter, right?  I asked around at my meeting and a few hands went up with stories of how positively this had worked for them.  The President of the Chamber was, in fact, going to have a coffee with a new person he reached out to via the registry of an upcoming conference  – before the  actual conference takes place. Good stuff.  However, the large majority of the room admitted they have never done this.  Now is the time!

DURING

1. Go early. Go alone. If you don’t know anyone, you can always find the host if you come a bit early. If you come with a friend, you may be inclined to stick to your safe person. That may limit you.  Stand up tall in a “power posture” and then talk to the registration people, the photographer, the drinks servers. Ask them to introduce you to someone. If you’re early, they probably will have time to help guide you.

2. Don’t work the room. Don’t be a dork. Zipping along from person to person and handing out cards is meaningless. Better to have a nice conversation with the host or one other person who is a veteran in the group than to flutter around aimlessly.

3. Ask. Don’t tell. Yes, be ready to say what you do in about 4 seconds. But it’s much friendlier to take an interest in the other person. Be curious. Ask questions. Ask follow-up questions.

4. Offer to help. Some call this section, “Add value” – but in the spirit of keeping it real and not sounding so businessy, I just say, “”try to find ways to help.”  If you know of a book that might be a good read for someone, recommend it. Likewise if you know a good plumber or some other product or service that me be relevant to the person you may be speaking with.

AFTER

1. Follow-up and follow-through. If you did recommend a book, add the link to where that book can be bought in your follow-up email.  You should follow-up as quickly as possible. The next day if at all possible.  Be friendly, don’t be desperate.  No matter who these people are, you are another human so don’t overly genuflect. Just be nice.

There’s much more that  we covered last night, but these are some good starters.

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As they say, “You really had to be there” to get the full impact of our role-playing, Q&A and other lively interactions.  But,  I hope you pick up a tip or two, but more importantly, put them into action to work for you!

 As a final word of tried and true wisdom, If you want a friend, be a friend. “

Copyright 2016 Gina London. All Rights Reserved.

Motivation Matters.

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I’ve read Tony Robbins’ books and they’re ‘drivel.’

Those are the words a person I know – and respect, actually – wrote to me this week on Facebook after I mentioned I’ll be sharing the stage with the world’s number one life coach.

Robbins and I are both speaking at Dublin’s incredible Pendulum Summit, which is a 3000-person, sold-out conference of several speakers – capped off by a five-hour master class by Robbins – dedicated to motivating and inspiring professionals to push past fears, take risks and improve and empower their lives.

And tonight, at the Speakers and Sponsors dinner before tomorrow’s conference, I met Tony for the first time.  Dublin’s innovative photographer, Conor McCabe, was there shooting pictures loaded online in a stunning simultaneous process that he is leading the way on.  Robbins took his time working the room. He unhurriedly went to every single table greeting and talking with every single person in there.  gina and tony.jpg

Okay, if you’re a naysayer, I know it’s what he may be “expected” to do. But as I met him, he didn’t seem perfunctory or assuming a role. He asked me questions and appeared to really listen to my answers.  His expression seemed kind. His eyes were on me – not looking around or over my head at who was next in line – although at 6’7” he easily could have!

I was impressed. I look forward to hearing what he has to say tomorrow.

As a veteran CNN correspondent and now current communications consultant, I have interviewed and/or worked with thousands of newsmakers, business executives, politicians and thought-leaders.  They all seem to benefit from encouragement and motivation.  Every one of them.

Ninety-nine percent of my Facebook friends wrote that they thought it was exciting that I’d be meeting Robbins. But there’s always someone out there who discounts motivation, isn’t there? I respect that my friend mentioned above felt comfortable enough with me to tell me his views and he certainly has his right to his own opinion.

But, why the negativity I wonder?

I suppose if you’re great at self-motivation or self-empowerment, you don’t need, seek or want encouragement from others.  But for those of us who aren’t lone wolves, who appreciate a wing-man, cheerleader or coach, I’m thrilled and honoured to be a part of this event.

Do you like motivation seminars? If so, why? If not, why not? What motivates you? I’d love to know.

In the meantime, here’s to Ireland’s Pendulum Summit. A motivational way to kick off the new year!

And, for me, I truly hope, many more returns!

Copyright 2016 Gina London. All Rights Reserved.

Renew Your Hope for the New Year

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As I was leaving the cafe here in almost always dampy-misty-drizzly Ireland, I first held open the door for an elderly lady.

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She smiled up at me as she walked into the dreary outside and said, “Here’s hoping the rain stops soon and we get a burst of precious sunshine.”

I smiled back at her and nodded.  But inside my head was surprised. I thought a bit cynically, “Man, that lady must’ve been around for at least seventy years. She should be used to this perpetually grey weather…

…how funny she’s still making comments about hoping for sun.”

The lady at the café is like most of my Irish friends and acquaintances. They who keep, as they will tell you, “getting on with it.”  They who continue to take care of business, their families and their lives. One eye turned upward in hope of a glimpse of precious sun.

I am certain we have all had our share of emotional rain.  This year, in particular, with so many deadly shootings and terrorist attacks across the globe, it’s not overstating it to bemoan that we have endured more than our share.

And yet, there’s still hope.

Just a couple of days ago, as it began to roll out its holiday “year-ender” pieces,The New York Times took a moment to reflect on some of the brighter moments in 2015 in an expression of hope for sanguine things yet to come.  

So no. The lady’s sentiment was not funny at all.  After I considered that encounter a little longer, I realize hers is only way to be. Unceasingly hopeful.

Simple hope is not enough, of course.  We also have to take positive steps toward realizing the benefits that the vision of hope plants within us.

What are you hoping for? Great. Now in 2016, what are you going TO DO about it?  What active steps? Incremental successes toward a defined goal.  Now is the time to begin.  To achieve what you hope for.

No matter how much rain, we must remain hopeful that the sun is around the bend.

You know the saying,

You can’t have a rainbow without first some rain.

It seems especially true to me leaving here in Ireland.  The land of rain.  The land of rainbows.

Here’s to a 2016 full of hope and positive action!

Copyright 2015 Gina London.  All Rights Reserved. 

America’s Brand getting scorched from Donald Trump’s Firebrand

Among the services provided under my title umbrella as a “Communications Consultant,” I work with executives to improve their “Professional Brand.”

I stress the importance of taking ownership for everything you say, present, write, tweet, or whatever and  help my clients focus on making sure every written and spoken word is as thoughtful and deliberative as possible to better engage and motivate their audience.

It made sense then, this weekend, as I sat in Dublin at the microphone across from RTE1 radio Business Show host Richard Curran, that we would be discussing the impact of the words from one of the most spotlighted professional brands in the world at this moment, US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

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The question at hand: how have his ongoing invectives hurt his brand, his business, his organization?

Not much, is the short answer. His business and personal brand remain consistent: Power. Maverick Leadership. Boldness. “I Don’t Care” – a phrase he often says.

You’ll recall after verbally bashing Hispanics during the summer, Trump is now, following recent deadly attacks conducted by a handful of radicalized Muslims, taking aim at the entire global population of Muslims (more than 1.6 billion people).  Among other measures, the Republican front-runner is calling for a total ban on allowing them to enter the United States.

Certainly, Trump is a man who understands what it means to have a powerful brand.  Simply paying for the licensing right to slap his mighty last name (in all-caps and in gold, of course) on hotels all over the world brings his organization millions each year.

And while the media, as well as the political GOP establishment, continue to express alarm, the business repercussions Trump is experiencing are really quite humble when you consider the proportional impact to his multi-billion-dollar empire.

Yes, the Middle East department store chain “Lifestyle” removed Trump products from its shelves, and one notable Dubai-based businessman, Khalaf al-Habtoor, wrote a column telling Muslim countries it’s a “huge mistake” to associate with the firebrand candidate, but most of Trump’s Muslim associates have clearly decided to separate politics from big-money business.

For instance, Damac, a Muslim-owned company that was jointly developing “Akoya” estates around a Trump golf club in Dubai, initially covered the Trump name on the sign in front of the property after Trump’s anti-Muslim remarks.  Thursday, however, the name is once again emblazoned. A spokesperson stated the company would not comment on “the internal American political debate scene.”  That scene, in which Trump is still way out in front of the eight other Republican-hopefuls, making it appear that the business community is hedging their bets.

So, it’s unlikely that his ongoing rants against women and minorities is anything accidental – nor as what some people refer to as “PR disasters.”  It’s all part of Trump’s calculated and consistent professional brand.

A brand powerful enough to prompt the US conservative magazine, “National Review” just last week, to acknowledge Trump as the party’s “Alpha-dog.”

The article compares the communication styles between would-be front-runner Jeb Bush, who is lagging in the polls with “The Donald” writing,

Bush is an accomplished public servant and profoundly decent man whose theory of the race has been that the party needs an adult. But the party wants a leader. While there’s overlap between those two things, they aren’t identical. An adult makes sure everyone is operating within the bounds of established rules; a leader changes the rules.

As a veteran CNN anchor and correspondent, and international campaign strategist, I am a believer in the power of communications to engage and motivate employees, clients, friends, family, you name it.

Clearly, Donald Trump is effectively leveraging his brand and resonating with a significant group in the Republican party – the “ethno-nationalists” as some pundits are calling the “Trump-ists.”

But his gold-plated, all-capital-letter, loud-mouthed, “I Don’t Care” brand is also spilling over onto the nation as a whole, casting an intolerant, knee-jerk, racist shadow over the United States upon the world stage.

We’re not all billionaires, but especially at this precious holiday time of light, peace and love, the Donald’s “Brand” is something we can afford to do without.

Copyright Gina London 2015.  All Rights Reserved. 

How to help a “Butterfly Child” this Christmas

During this holiday season when businesses and individuals often dedicate a portion of their earnings to charity, I just learned about a great cause and would like to share with you.

It’s like the ongoing charity blockbuster “Band Aid”  –

….on a bit smaller, but no less poignant, scale.

Using music to help others less fortunate, a terrific group of Irish school kids is supporting children from the remote Kenyan Samburu tribe, whose members are known as the “Butterfly People,” due to their vibrant attire.

Through the Thorn Tree Project, which supports the initiative, the Clonakilty, Ireland school has been using technology to exchange conversations about culture and traditions with their African friends.

Earlier this month, famed award-winning film producer, (Chariots of Fire, The Killing Fields, The Mission among many others) Lord David Puttman visited the Irish school and spoke of his enthusiasm for the giving project as both sides raised the collaborative ante to come together virtually to compose and sing a wonderful song dedicated to the dreams of all children, called, appropriately, “Butterfly Child.”  [Click here to read the article written by my friend Ailin Quinlin from the Irish Examiner who brought this to my attention. Thanks, Ailin]

That song is now available on iTunes.  A portion of each purchase goes toward the teaching and training of the Samburu children.

Listen and watch the song right here!

A proper education makes the difference for us all. And with your help, it can enrich the lives of the Samburu Butterfly Children too.

A terrific song for a terrific cause during this, the giving season.  Thanks for listening, and for sharing.

in gratitude, Gina

Copyright 2015 Gina London. All Rights Reserved. 

 

This Season of Giving, Consider Giving the Gift of You!

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What’s the Power of your Personal Brand?

Who knows? And you’ll never know if you don’t start sharing the story of YOU.

Because, quite simply, that’s what Brand is. It’s the story. Of a Product. Of a Service. Of You.

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Tomorrow I’ve been invited to speak before a group of executives from a wide-range of multi-national companies. Each year they come together to share stories of what has worked  – and what hasn’t – to add value for everyone.

This idea of collaboration or “open source” of best practices, is the same thing you can accomplish when you get serious about cultivating your personal brand.  

Of course, “BRAND” is an over-used word that has come a long way from when it was simply a metal tool used to mark cattle.

Now it’s about leaving your own mark – telling others what you have learned during your own professional journey.

A businessman I met on the train today up to Dublin told me that he loves hearing how others have dealt with disappointment or failures.  Stories of overcoming adversity inspire him to keep going when times are tough on the job.

Are you telling your own stories?  That’s actively taking charge of your brand.

No matter where you are in your career, you likely have a story to tell.

You don’t have to be an expert. But maybe you already are.  Think about it.  The difference often between yourselves and someone who markets themselves as an expert – is probably only that they have self-proclaimed the title.  You can give yourself that too.

If not now, when?  And if not you, then who?

There are a myriad of ways to do this.   And make no mistake whether or not you’re taking ownership of these ways, people are still forming opinions about you.   You are already cultivating your brand. Just perhaps not purposefully.

I focus on three main ways.

They’re all linked and they all overlap. The important thing is to start thinking about it. And then turn those thoughts into action. Okay, so here are your ABC’s.

A – Appearance. Like it or not, this is your first impression.  Are your shoes polished? Hair groomed? Appropriately dressed for the event, dinner, meeting occasion? You’d be surprised how many people phone this one in.

B – Behaviour. – You don’t have to open your mouth. What you do, how you look, how you listen, how you move, all say it for you. Remember,

 You are never not communicating.”

C – Communications. – Although A and B also communicate to your audience, this is where you can really get results:  I subdivide this into another three:

1. Written – this is all CONTENT –  from emails, to weekly meetings,  to presentations.  What strategy do you apply before you create your message? The methodology I apply is AIM: Consider your  Audience, Intent and Message.

2. Spoken –  this is your delivery mode –  the WAY you speak. Your volume, your tone, your pacing, your inflections. All of these add up to a reflection of you. And not just in a big presentation, either.  How do you talk to your colleagues? Your direct reports? Your managers?

3. SOCIAL MEDIA – And finally: a great thing for some – and a dreaded thing for others. The Social Media piece. Yes, social media.

So – who’s on Twitter? Instagram?  Vine??

Okay..Here’s the basics. And if you’re reading this on Linked In, the answer is obvious, but anyway, let’s dig deeper:  Who’s on Linked in?

With a photo that looks friendly and not like you’re wanted for a crime?

With a profile that’s not just a rundown of your CV – but that tells a story of your experiences, accomplishments and value?

That’s in first person?

And for the real bonus – who regularly posts essays on Linked in?  This is a great way to share your stories to a broader audience.

You’ll be on your way to becoming a thought leader – but really, during this season of giving, if you can share a story of overcoming adversity or disappointment that impacts even one person in a positive way, that’s worth it, isn’t it?

Happy holidays and happy sharing and giving.

Gina

Copyright 2015 Gina London. All Rights Reserved. 

When We Were Wonderful.

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No answers. No suggestions. No advice.

With the ongoing deadly attacks from ISIS, (the horror in Mali is unfolding as I type), today I offer only a few heart breaking observations and questions.

When did the men who are steering this barbarity become so filled with hate?  So cruel? As my seven-year-old daughter, Lulu, asked me, “Why do they like being mean?”

Over the weekend, she and I took the train to Dublin.  An early celebration for her birthday later this month.

We arrived at our hotel Friday evening and squeezed in a mommy-daughter swim before they closed the pool.  We were warm and dry in our fleece jammies when room service arrived – plus a special ice cream with a candle in it for the almost-birthday girl.  And then the news of the Paris attacks also arrived via the TV.

“Turn it off, Mammy,” Lulu said, using the sweet Irish version of my title. “I don’t want to spoil our dinner.”

She wasn’t being insensitive. She’s too young. Too in the moment of her own happiness.  Obviously, turning it off doesn’t make it go away.  Those precious innocent lives that were cut down have been gone a week now.  And they’re never coming back.  And neither are those from Beirut, from the Russian plane crash, from Syria, from the many other bombings, the beheadings. The grisly list goes on and on…

The next morning, when I came out from the shower, Lulu had drawn me a picture in pencil on the hotel stationery.  Along with the clouds and the lead grey rainbow were the following words of promise:

I love you Mammy, and I’ll try my best to be wonderful.”

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Her endearing note and the dreadful attacks have nothing in common, really. And yet it made me pause.  When do young children whose hearts are naturally filled with joy and play and dreams – children who want to be wonderful – turn into angry, resentful, and terrible adults?

It may be younger than you think.  Some psychologists point to nine as the pivotal year for the onset of typical adolescent rebellion. Other studies show children may experience so-called “conduct disorders” exhibiting a severe lack of empathy or caring for others much younger.

And, according to reports, ISIS is capitalizing on this.  The Guardian, this week, excerpted from the ISIS manifesto or playbook stating,

Capture the rebelliousness of youth, their energy and idealism, and their readiness for self-sacrifice, while fools preach ‘moderation’ (wasatiyyah), security and avoidance of risk.”

National Public Radio, just yesterday, ran a story from Afghanistan which told of a school run by the Islamic State. There they were, teaching students words like Jihad, Kalashnikov and Infidel.  Doing show and tell with a machine gun. Watching videos of the atrocities they’ve committed. Indoctrinating children (only the little boys, actually) as young as three. Three?!?

I am saddened by the horrors ISIS is inflicting through its wanton attacks.

I am also saddened by the horror they are teaching and spreading. ISIS: Stealing children’s wonder. Their desire to be wonderful.   And replacing it with fervent hate for people they have never met.

Somebody cue Louis Armstrong please!

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Copyright 2015 Gina London. All Rights Reserved. 

 

 

 

 

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