Archive | September, 2018

Accepting this One Thing Will Make You a Better Speaker

September 13, 2018


Whether you’re giving a big speech in front of a crowd or simply presenting at a meeting with your closest coworkers, upping your speech game can only help you. Not only will you get your point across more effectively, you could also gain more respect and trust from your coworkers–and your boss. (And that’s always a good thing!)

What is one of the most common problems people have when speaking? You guess it… the dreaded “um,” “ah,” “like,” “so,” or “you know.” It’s a filler word or phrase that you use while you’re thinking. It can make you sound nervous or distracted or–even worse–unprepared. These words are crutches, and you need to stop using them. But how?

Instead of using the filler word or phrase, say nothing. That’s right. Say nothing! Accept the silence and be comfortable with a pause. We often feel the need to fill the silence with more words, but it’s perfectly okay to sit quietly and gather your thoughts. In fact, a pause can make us seem cool, calm, and collected–and it may even build some suspense and keep your audience glued to your words.

Still feel uncomfortable with the pause? During your next speech, any pause you take is likely much shorter than you think it is. This recent Harvard Business Review article points out that we think faster than we speak–a lot faster. That means we speak at 150 words per minute but we think at 400 words per minute, which can distort our perception of time. And if you let one crutch word slip, it’s ok. The occasional use can make you seem relatable. But the next time you feel one rolling off your tongue, bite it and stay quiet until you can gather your thoughts.

Via Institute for Web Science/Flickr.

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3 Creativity Hacks to Help You Come Up With Great Ideas

September 11, 2018


It may seem that some are born with a more creative mind than others, but that may not be the case. If you can create the perfect storm, it may be easier for great ideas to rain down on you. Follow these tips and you may find that you do have at least one creative bone in your body.

  1. Talk it through with someone else.
    Whether you’re in a brainstorm meeting with multiple people or you’re sitting by yourself waiting for an idea to strike, back-and-forth conversation is crucial to creativity. Hearing your own thoughts spoken out loud, regurgitating the thoughts of others, and the questions that arise from this process will lead you down new paths and open new doors. Don’t sit silently in a corner!
  2. When lightning strikes, write it down.
    The reality is that an idea will pop into your head when you least expect it and possibly at the most inconvenient time. Even if you’re 100 percent positive that you’ll remember that great idea, write it down! Pull out your phone and put it in your notes or jot it on a napkin. Not only will the act of writing it down will help you remember it, but you’ll also now have a running list of great ideas.
  3. Surround yourself with creativity.
    We get inspired by the things we consume. If you’re feeling that your creativity well is dry, fill it up! Consume high-quality books, movies, TV shows, music, musicals, dance, food, conversation, and more. We’ve never been more connected to culture and people than in this moment. Take advantage of it!

Image via Image Catalog/Flickr.

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How Small Talk Can Make You More Likable at Work

September 6, 2018


Think about how you act in these situations: at the beginning of the meeting, when you pass someone in the hall, when you see your coworkers for the first time in the morning. Are you more likely to be starting down at your phone? Do you give a quick nod? Or do you honestly stop and interact with them?

Small talk is an easy way to show that you care, to show that you’re friendly, and to show that you’re approachable. And it really only takes 30 seconds to a minute. Here are some situations you might find yourself in, and how to change your behavior:

  • Instead of typing away at a laptop before a meeting starts, strike up a conversation with others who’ve arrived a few minutes early.
  • Instead of standing quietly in the cafeteria line, get chatty with whoever is behind you.
  • Instead of diving right into a meeting that you are leading, ask everyone how their day is going.
  • Instead of heading straight to your desk in the morning, greet your coworkers.

Here are some easy small talk questions that work in multiple work settings:

  • “Nice to see you. How are you doing?”
  • “What are you working on right now?”
  • “How was your weekend?” or “Do you have any plans for the weekend?”
  • “How is your day/week going?”
  • “What do you think about… [insert relevant topic here]?”
  • “Do you need any help with… [insert relevant topic here]?”

How do you stay approachable at work? Share your talking points below.

Image via Marc Wathieu/Flickr.

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A Little Email Trick That Can Make a Big Difference

September 4, 2018


Have you ever thought about how many emails you send in one day? It’s probably too many to count. You interact with your boss, your coworkers, clients, acquaintances, and more. When you’re in a rush and blasting through an overloaded inbox, it’s no wonder your inquiries and responses are terse.

But here’s a little trick you can use that can make a big difference: open your communication with something conversational. A little check-in. A quick question. Something to add some humanity back into your inbox. Even if you haven’t met this person in real life–especially if you haven’t met this person!–a little “small talk” can make working together more pleasurable.

We’re talking about just one to three sentences. A friendly greeting that acknowledges the person instead of just demanding what you need. And something a little bit more than “Hope you’re well!” It may take a few more moments to compose your thoughts, but it’s worth it.

Here’s an example of how this can work:

“Hi, Chris.

Hope you enjoyed the weather this weekend! We had a nice time out on the lake. I can’t wait to get out there and jet ski again next weekend.

I wanted to check in on…”

And here’s a few other “story starters” you can use. Be sure to add a little bit more. These are just jumping off points:

  • I hope your new year/summer/week/etc is off to a great start.
  • Happy Friday! Got any fun plans for the weekend?
  • This year is flying by. Can you believe it?
  • I’ll keep this short because I imagine you guys are just as busy as we are!
  • This article made me think of you and I wanted to pass it along.

What are your favorite email openers? Comment below!

Image via Greg Jordan/Flickr.


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