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The Remarkable Benefits Of Using These 6 Words To Be More Persuasive

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The Remarkable Benefits Of Using These 6 Words To Be More Persuasive

Most persuasion advice is riddled with all of the things you ‘should’ do to get people to do what you want. It ranges from the ‘you catch more bees with honey’ philosophy of being nice and diplomatic, to a more forceful approach of making people do what you want now… ‘or else’.

You’ve probably found that being ‘too nice’ makes people take you less seriously, or that what you’re asking doesn’t matter. On the other side of the coin, being a dictator plants seeds for resentment and rebellion–a lethal combination if you want people to cooperate willingly.

While many persuasion principles hold true–like having a deadline or using authority to inspire action–there’s one 6-word phrase that seems to have been forgotten: Why haven’t you done this yet?

If all we’re doing is coaxing and cajoling people by making the prize of obeying sweeter and sweeter, we actually miss out on a precious learning opportunity. Asking the question “Why haven’t you done this yet?” gives you deep insight into what is holding people back from doing what you want, and the intelligence to create a course of action from there.

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What exactly will that phrase (or a variant of it) reveal to you, and how can you use it effectively? Here are three case-studies that show how you can apply this phrase.

1. How Greg McKeown, the author of Essentialism, helps his clients be more productive.

Greg’s book, Essentialism, discusses the idea of pursuing what really matters in life, and ruthlessly eliminating what doesn’t. In his work with corporate clients and executives, he recounts stories of how productivity suffers when people don’t know what they’re trying to accomplish, or why. The question that he asks is “What’s preventing you from completing this?” and he uses that to find out exactly what’s in the way and systematically remove the obstacles that prevent people from getting tasks done. This means employees are not only happier, but they’re accomplishing more than they ever could before.

This story illustrates that the way to move people in the direction of a goal is not won through means of manipulation or threatening to keep them past midnight. This 6-word question helps you see exactly why your other tactics might not have been working, saving you both time and energy from trying the next persuasion technique and simply finding out what matters to who you’re talking to.

2. How Million Dollar Consulting author, Alan Weiss, regularly closes 6-figure+ proposals.

The ‘Million Dollar Consultant’, Alan Weiss, generously shares his knowledge of how to get started and succeeding in consulting in many of his books, one of which tells of the exact questions he asks clients before he ever draws up a proposal.

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And what’s the ‘million dollar’ question?

“What would prevent us from getting started on this work tomorrow?”

It’s an 11-word question that reveals the same answer as our 6-word question does. He’s trying to find out what might prevent his potential client from signing with him, perhaps an objection or fear they hadn’t yet discussed.

What’s potent about this is the consequences of not asking this question. If you don’t have the full picture, it’s easy for you to make assumptions — to assume that the client is ‘dumb’ for not wanting to work with you (when the reality is maybe they have a personal problem that would prevent them from signing the contract) — and it means that you don’t truly understand who you’re talking to. Why someone “should” do something is not enough, because it doesn’t address the mental barriers that they have about your product or service. We may think there must be something wrong with them, but the reality is there often are deeper reasons why it’s not working that range from the psychological, to their environment, to available resources.

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3. How I avoid 99% of petty arguments with my partner.

The best part about this 6-word question is that it not only applies to productivity and business, but to your personal relationships.

We’ve all heard about partners who nag on each other for not taking out the trash or making the bed, but that nagging assumes that your partner doesn’t want to do it because of either a character trait (like laziness) or because of you. It’s when you take it personally, that not emptying the dishwasher turns into a heated battle.

After being a relationship for 10 years like I have, you learn which of those battles to fight and which ones to drop because they’re just not worth it. And the last thing I want to do is argue about taking out the trash. So instead of nagging on your partner for why he or she hasn’t done what you’ve asked, despite you ‘being nice’, you want to understand what is preventing him or her from doing in the first place! Maybe in your partner’s mind, the task is less important than the joy of planning a date with you. Or maybe he or she is waiting to take out the trash until the day before the garbage guy comes. Your responsibility is to put your assumptions and side and find out what’s at the heart of the matter.

What to Do Today

If you’ve been spinning your wheels with trying to figure out how to get that one person to do that ‘thing’ for you, now’s the time to practice using this question and reap the rewards.

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One word of caution: This question is not meant to be asked in an angry tone like “Well, why haven’t you done it yet?” as you tap your foot with the impatience of someone who never gets their way. The question is meant to be asked in a softer tone, frustrations aside, and out of curiosity — because you actually don’t know the answer. It’ll not only make you more persuasive with half the effort, but it will improve your ability to empathize and communicate with anyone and get what you want the easy way.

Featured photo credit: Woman Standing On Red Rocks Celebrating Success via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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