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How To Ace Your Presentations

How To Ace Your Presentations

In the age of the Internet, delivering killer presentations seems to be more important than ever. Those who can do it well get ahead. However, for many, it can be totally daunting. It’s not that the ideas aren’t there. It is the ability to produce crystal-clear content that is interesting and the anxiety around communicating it that is the blocker. If you want to improve your level of skill in this area, check out my eight points below.

1. Engage About Expectations

Whether online or face-to-face, it is important to devote some time to discussing expectations before getting started. Be upfront with your audience so that they known what to expect from your presentation.

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2. Keep It Compact And Be Clear

Neuroscientists say that the human mind can only absorb three to seven points in short-term memory. The inspirational visionary Steve Jobs knew this. His product descriptions were all short, to the point, and described the product in one sentence. He also sometimes used the rule of three: “Thinner, faster, lighter” and “The world’s thinnest notebook” are some of the most memorable definitions. Think concise and clear when writing your content. You will feel more positive in your approach, more comfortable about the delivery, and you will also have more impact.

3. Get Creative

Who doesn’t love a good story? The best advertisers are fully aware of this and use narratives all the time to connect us emotionally to the brands they represent. Top brand Nike doesn’t even mention its products in its ads. Instead, we, the consumer, are the star of the story, as they help us to achieve our dreams of doing better.

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Stories have power! Get creative in your communication and spin a good tale. Concretely, this means finding real-life experiences that you can use to illustrate your points. If you feel you lack creativity, why not try meditation? Research shows that mindfulness promotes divergent thinking.

4. Be A Facilitator

Understand the level of knowledge of the group and don’t underestimate their insights. Ask some open questions and note the individual responses on a whiteboard. Reinforce good responses and link them to the main points you are making. Sometimes there will be “outlier” responses that are of little interest to the rest of the audience. Demonstrate sensitivity and respect here. Inform the individual that their issue is outside of the contents of the presentation, but there will be 15 minutes at the end of the presentation for one-on-one questions.

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5. Wrap Up Well

Make sure to spend time wrapping up your presentation. Address whether people felt their expectations were met. This is the mark of a true client-focused professional.

6. Be Confident

Beforehand, find a quiet and peaceful place to relax and visualize being adequate. Don’t imagine suddenly being your favourite star on stage — this is more like wishful thinking. Focus on being calm, with a steady voice, relaxed body, and the confidence that you are prepared. Also, take some time to visualise something you already love to do with ease. This could be cooking your favourite dish, serving it up to family or friends, and explaining how you created such a delight. Now, transfer the feelings you are experiencing and see yourself presenting. Believe the tools are within you! You are already confident in other areas of your life and you can have confidence when presenting too.

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7. Be Calm

Practise “ratio breathing.” If you don’t know this powerful tool, make sure to Google it. Basically, watch your breath and let it travel all the way down to the base of your spine, relaxing the belly and letting the diaphragm move into it. On the out breath, breathe all the way out of the top of the head, constantly maintaining your focus on it. Think of it like a barometer. Breathe in for 2 seconds and out for 4 seconds. You can change the ratio to whatever works for you. When we feel anxious, this is a guaranteed tool to calm the body because it switches the parasympathetic nervous system on and switches the “fight or flight” reaction off. So practise it and use it as needed on the day.

8. Take Control

Notice the area around you — this is yours, so own it and fill it. Research by Harvard Professor Amy Cuddy has shown that when we adopt “power poses” – that is, manipulating our own body language so that we feel more poised and confident — testosterone increases and cortisol decreases, so our bodies really can trick our minds into believing we are confident. Practise this at home in front of the mirror so you can get comfortable with your new style. Also, notice any thoughts and keep the feel-good messages, such as “I can do this,” flowing.

Finally, remember you are giving it your best shot and bear in mind that your realistic aim is to give a “good enough” presentation, not to “raise the house” — although, with practise, you very well may!

Featured photo credit: Imagine Cup via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

Why you can’t sleep through the night

The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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Stress

If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

Exposure to blue light before sleep time

We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

Eating close to bedtime

Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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Medical conditions

In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

The vicious sleep cycle

The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

You get a bad night’s sleep
–> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
–> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
–> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

    You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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    How to sleep better (throughout the night)

    To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

    1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

    What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
    • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
    • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
    • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
    • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

    2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

    What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

    • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
    • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
    • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
    • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

    3. Adjust your sleep temperature

    Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

    Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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    Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

    Sleep better form now on

    Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

    I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

    As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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