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Always Do Your Best & Watch Your Best Get Better

Always Do Your Best & Watch Your Best Get Better

We have all heard, “Always do your best.”  Whether it came from our parents, a teacher or sports coach, doing our best has always been a cliche-motto echoed throughout our lives.  But what does doing your best really mean?  And is it even possible to always do your best?

Emphatically I say yes, yes it is.

For years I believed that I was failing at everything I tried to do in life. I found that I allowed small let downs to snowball, steering my self esteem into nonexistence. Eventually I fully believed that I was worthless and had no potential.

One realization that I learned from depression was that I always put so much stress on myself which led to an intense shadow of dissatisfaction following me wherever I went. I would always second guess myself and no matter how hard I tried, felt like I was never doing well enough.

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What does doing your best really mean?

Doing your best is synonymous with living out each and every moment to its fullest potential.  And this potential exists in every situation you encounter in your life.  All that is required of you is not to fight whatever life throws your way.

Doing your best is not about meeting expectations or achievements. It isn’t about success or failure (or whatever that label even implies). It is about putting all your energy into whatever life situation you are currently experiencing.

Rethink the definition of failure.

Every moment you think you failed was suppose to happen exactly as it happened and no other way.  If you feel like you didn’t succeed then I suggest rethinking your definition of success.  It is often those moments that we label as failures that teach us the most about ourselves.

When you start to take each moment that you label a failure as a building block towards success your perspective drastically changes. Realize that failure cannot exist without a thought behind it labeling it as failure.
This is a choice, even if its an unconscious one.

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Every opportunity you fail just breeds more room for growth. Instead of taking each setback as a sign of weakness, test your resiliency. Challenge yourself, and embrace every chance at bouncing back from an unwanted outcome as a fun, exciting new window to explore.

Instead of allowing failure to be a dark moment in your history, let it be a measure of progress. Learn from it and don’t allow it to fog your self-esteem going forward.

Thinking about doing your best cannot coexist with actually doing your best.

For instance, if you are a baseball player and you constantly are thinking about doing your best, it is going to distract your attention away from hitting a fastball moving at ninety miles an hour.  Similarly, if you’re a scientist or philosopher, then thinking about doing your best will interfere with thinking about the task you’re trying to solve at hand.

The point is, that you just have to live each and every moment with the intention of giving your all to the present, whatever that entails.  You can’t do your best if you are worried that you that you could be doing better.  Otherwise you are no different than a dog chasing its tail!

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Simple methods to transform your perspective

Take any opportunity in life as a new adventure. Even if it is something that you have done a thousand times, experience it to its fullest from an open-minded perspective. For example, take your time spent waiting in line as an opportunity to talk to a stranger or appreciate the environment you’re in rather than anxiously thinking about how miserable you are because everyone else is moving slowly.

Do things to do them, not get them done. There are a lot of situations in life that we dread. For example, if you have to clean something, the mind often immediately races to, “I can’t wait until this is done.” Instead of dreading something until its done, take it as an opportunity to fully invest yourself in. This might sound silly, but it is such a simple way to re-frame your mind that will make everything you do more enjoyable.

Turn intention into action. Intentions are great, but they only get you so far. Have you ever heard of the phrase “fake it ‘till you make it?” I believe that this phrase fundamentally means acting even if the motivation isn’t there. Just because you think you can’t do something doesn’t mean you can’t.

Your best will get better

Investing all your energy into the moment and away from thinking about how the moment could be better is a practice that will improve all areas of your life.

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If you always invest all your energy you have into conscious life and away from the unconscious mind then you will always be doing your best.  Don’t fear that you won’t do as well as you want or you will succumb to those fears.

By staying in the moment and becoming fully present your mind begins to fear the future and harp on the past less and less. You become less dependent on external validation. You spend less time setting expectations and more time actually doing the things that will lead you towards achieving your goals.

When you always do your best you will be amazed by the results. It is a program for living that progresses the more you work it.

Featured photo credit: Tucker Tyrrell via tuckertyrrell.com

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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