Practice makes Perfect. Or Does it?!

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”?

boy-on-piano
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.

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.

chamber event edit 2.jpg

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.

barry and me edit

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.

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

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

rainbows_and_temples.jpg

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. 


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

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.

o-ALL-I-WANT-FOR-CHRISTMAS-facebook

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. 


How (and why) you can start establishing your professional brand NOW!

“Are you actively working on establishing your professional brand?”

Are you standing out from your pack?
Are you standing out from your pack?

This is a question I put to the business professionals I train and coach.  “How?” is typically the first response.

My are my quick top three:

1. Take ownership of your Social Media footprint. You need to be “Google-able.” Google yourself and what do you find?

  • Get on Linked In and get on it with power.  Google “LinkedIN experts” for tips on how to create super profiles.
  • Fire up Twitter. Even if it’s a slow-build, it shows you’re relevant and you’ll get the hang of it soon.
  • Consider what other Social Media Platforms might work for you.  Business page on Facebook? SnapChat? Periscope? Pinterest? YouTube Channel? Some may work while others may be not.  Don't kill yourself. But be aware.

2.  Establish a blog and post regularly. Multi-purpose your blog as articles on Linked In or submit to other influential blogs in your field.  Try submitting your article to Business Insider or a trade pub.

3. Establish yourself as an expert with the press. Write a great bio (see my previous article on how to write a powerful bio) and submit it to local news producers and business editors.  Tweak your introduction email to each individual. This may take a bit time and esearch, but that's what "Google" is for and it's worth it for you to become a "go-to" source!

BONUS:  At the very least, Sign on to HARO – “Help a Reporter.com”  -  a free service where reporters from all over seek out interview subjects.  It's easy!  I have placed clients and been featured myself more than a dozen times.

Why do this now?  If you're with a company, it's good for them, while it's good for you. And you never know....

Just last week, I was talking to a friend from college.

She had been with her company for 18 years – most recently as an executive in charge of a large department within her organization.

Over the past year, there was a revolving door of senior management types. Changes were announced and never implemented before a new person arrived with a new announcement.  When the spinning finally stopped, one of the newest announcements was that my friend's position was eliminated.

Without warning, and sequestered from her own direct staff, my friend was given 15 minutes to pack up her office and leave the company she had worked for for nearly two decades.

That’s it.  Job over.

We were talking because she is now positioning herself as a consultant.  Certainly she has plenty of experience and knowledge to offer.

The question is how to establish an identify that is all her own.  One that isn’t merely supported and enhanced by the name of the company that she is no longer connected with.

In short, she must quickly establish her own brand.

For you, like her, it’s not too late.

And it’s not too soon.

I know you may be busy with your “real” job, but remember,  while you’re employed with someone else, establishing your point of distinction makes you more valuable for them – and for you.

Copyright 2015 Gina London. All Rights Reserved. 


How BODY language can influence others - and YOU!

There was only one Mae West, but she makes a good point!
There was only one Mae West, but she makes a good point!

Not only do we need to focus on what we say, we need to focus on how we say it.

As a communications consultant, I work with executives and organizations on improving all facets of communications. Body language is a key component of that equation!

Most of us don’t have the first clue how to get our message across. And the reason for that is that we usually don’t even bother to try.

People all take communication too much for granted.”

We generally only turn our ‘communication-conscious brains’ on for what we consider to be the big communication events.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming you naturally communicate well in casual situations. If you don’t believe this have someone record you speaking at your next meeting.  Then watch it — with and without sound. You’ll learn a lot about yourself because we generally don’t acknowledge how much of our communication is done through eyes, gesture and posture.

So what are we doing wrong?

  1. WE ROCK

Many people in pressure situations will rock on one foot or shift their weight from side to side. One strategy is to simply consciously plant your feet solidly and be comfortable standing.

This is challenging for many people, as many people will either stand like a statue and then uncomfortably begin to rock or they will go from side to side — so stand solidly, putting weight on both feet evenly. Be aware of your posture.

  1. WE CROSS OUR ARMS

Don’t. People will think you’re feeling nervous or defensive and if you’re speaking to someone in authority you’re sending out a negative message. You might simply find this position comfortable — but don’t do it if you’re in a situation that calls for you to appear supportive, interested or positive.

Instead, lean in slightly to indicate interest, and nod or gesture in agreement with what the person is saying.

  1. WE DON’T MAKE ENOUGH EYE CONTACT

In an initial meeting situation, make eye contact, but don’t stare. Look at the person, shake their hand and remember their name.

All too often, peoples’ eyes are darting around the room looking either for someone they know or for someone more interesting. Be conscious of this and don’t do it. We smile — but forget to engage our eyes. Don’t forget!

People notice.

It all takes practise, but it can be learned.

“Remember, your body is not just a vehicle to move your head from room to room!”

Communication is a three-legged stool — you must be conscious, firstly, of the words you use; secondly, of the para-language (pacing, pitch, volume and tone) in which you deliver them and thirdly, of the body language which accompanies them (gestures, posture and facial expression).

All too often we forget about numbers two and three.

You cannot single out one factor when you are reading someone’s body language. Look at the whole bundle of information,

If a person is nodding but giving terse answers and has their arms crossed, then you look at two and three and understand that this person is blowing you off a bit. How do you deal with this? You ask them if they have something on their mind, or whether they are in agreement with you, or understand what you are saying.  Put the issue in a gentle way, into the open. Then be “nimble enough” to correct your course mid-stream.

It’s all about gauging the feelings of another person. The only indicator we have of what is going on inside a person is what they are doing on the outside.”

Some of the things we should be doing include nodding and smiling — we tend to mirror each other, and if you have a pleasant expression while you are speaking, your audience will tend to mirror you.

Finally, one thing you definitely should do:

Broaden your smile— your endorphins kick in so smiling relaxes you and makes you feel more at ease.

Start practising now and in inconsequential situations — and then you’ll be geared up for the next big communications crunch.

Remember, “Every skill we learn starts out in a deliberate part of our brain and with practise moves into the intuitive part of our brain.”

(Next week, Wednesday, October 7, Network Cork is hosting me as I present a workshop at FOTA Island Resort at 7pm in Cork Harbour, Ireland. This is excerpted from my profile in this week’s IRISH EXAMINER.  Please contact Network Cork at www.networkcork.com if you would like to attend!)


What sets you off? And! What can you do about it?!

seeing-red

Are you actively aware of the environmental happenings around you that prompt you to become internally frustrated or worse, to outwardly act out?  “Triggers” is how author Marshall Goldsmith describes them in his recent book of the same name.

Whatever you call them, they are those moments that bring out the worst in you.  The more you understand what causes them, the more you can begin to self-talk your way into preparing a better reaction to help you calm down and not over react.

One of my triggers is when I encounter a “no-can-do person.”  You know them.  Those people that robotically cite a nonsensical policy or refuse to exert a tad bit more energy finding a solution to a small problem. Yes, it’s the small things that sometimes get us the most, isn’t it?

Take the true time I was at a small café in Romania, (I am not blaming the whole country for this incident, of course, merely setting the scene).  The café’s window advertised a “soup and sandwich” special.

“I’ll take the special, please,” I said.

“No, it’s not possible,” the waiter flatly replied. “We’re out of the soup.”

Hungry and eager to get anything, I suggested, “Okay, then I’ll just take a sandwich.”

“As I said, that is not possible. We’re out of soup,” was the incredible retort.

“But can’t you just make me a sandwich on its own?” I prompted (starting to feel that trigger blood pressure rise).

“No. We cannot make sandwiches until we first make more soup to go with it,” was the honest-to-trigger-happy final response I received.  I say final, because immediately after that I turned on my heels and left.

The café chose to let a potential customer leave, rather than make a sale.

Here in Nigeria, where I am spending the week touring the country leading training sessions on Leadership and Communications, I encountered a similar “no-can-do” person at the Port Harcourt airport.

Last year in Port Harcourt - looked a lot like this year - except for one thing!
Last year in Port Harcourt - looked a lot like this year - except for one thing!

We had just snapped a photo of our team upon arrival when a non-smiling young man approached us.

“You cannot take photos here. Delete that,” he said.

“Why not?” I asked, trying to engage him.  “We took them right here last year.”

“But can you please tell me the reason?” I pressed. “Is there a manager I could speak to?”

A nearby older man came over and completely agreed with the younger man.

“Delete that and I need to watch you.”

I was about to persist, when from my right came a voice of reason.

Gina, let it go. It’s not worth it. Remember our mission.”

My co-trainer, colleague, and friend  - better known as the acclaimed Nigerian executive, leadership coach and keynote speaker that he is, Richmond Dayo Johnson – reminded me of what was important.

Don’t try to reason with the unreasonable.  Get on with the important things in your life. For me, having that photo was not one.

So, now, I am happily posting our team photo from Port Harcourt from last year! And I am also thanking, RDJ, and Marshall Goldsmith and others who remind us to remember to stay focused on the important things and not get distracted by the chaos around us.

Just another day in Naija
Just another day in Naija

Life can be chaotic.  As I look outside my window on the Nigerian street scene passing by, I see Hawkers squeezing between the jammed traffic, trying to sell figs or biscuit or bottles of water. I see crowded market stalls teeming with people.  It’s a bit chaotic, but believe it or not, it is largely calm.

People are going about their day.

In the past year, our team coordinators, Omon and Ibukun, have each been robbed in their cars; Omon was robbed by gunpoint.  And yet, they go on.  They are here. Committed to helping us bring leadership and communications training to hundreds of college leaders around their country.

How dare I get deterred by an unjustly deleted photo?

But you know it happens to you too, doesn’t it? The car that cuts you off when you’ve politely signalled your intention to change lanes.  The clerk at the DMV who turns you away for whatever miniscule reason without any emotion at all.  The work associate who has still not read your email.

We all have our triggers.  But, honestly, unless you’re a Syrian refugee, battling a life-threatening illness, or grappling with a small handful of extreme life-impacting events, you’re probably doing okay.

  1. Catalog your triggers.  
  2. Take note and consider alternative ways to react. 
  3. And count your blessings it’s not worse.

Always learning and growing! Here’s to making it a great week.

Greetings from Nigeria,

At Saturday's Port Harcourt Training session - where cameras WERE allowed.
At Saturday's Port Harcourt Training session - where cameras WERE allowed.

Kindly,

Gina

Copyright 2015 Gina London. All Rights Reserved. 


How to Power UP your bio!

If you don’t have a powerful bio, it’s time you do.

Power up!
Power up!

Yesterday, one of my executive clients was a bit overwhelmed upon reading the new “powered-up” bio I had drafted for him.

“It’s the first time someone has written about me like that,” he said.  “I don’t know if I’m ready to view myself that way.”

But after serving nearly 20-years as a professional educator, my client had acquired more than simple experience.

He had demonstrated real strategic success – by launching new curriculum programs which other institutions modelled, by being appointed to top leadership on school boards, by guiding national conferences which expand impact with each year.

So, among other the descriptors I deployed in his new bio, is the word “expert.”  It’s a word not to be taken lightly, but it is a powerful word that you may consider using too.

Take a quick read of your current bio.  How does it read? Is it a boring list of places you worked? Or is there a real story of your accomplishments using active and colourful verbs and descriptions.  Have a friend read your bio and get their opinions, too.

If you have a Linked In or Twitter profile you already have a micro-bio.   How do they reflect upon your professional brand?  Now, aim for two more:  one at about 100 words and then another that’s a one-pager.  Ready?

Here are my quick tips:

  1. Grab the audience right away. Think of this as the “lede” in a news story.  What is your professional point of distinction?  Make this sentence sing and your reader will be inclined to read further. Make this sentence the boring same-old-same old, and your reader will drift off mentally if not physically.
  2. Use Superlatives.  What are you great at? Then tell us. Words like “premier” “best” “recognized” or “number 1” may seem over the top to you at first, but they do get attention.  Yes, I know we’re taught not to brag, but if you’re not lying, your bio is the time to show pride!
  3. Tell a short story to illustrate an achievement. If you’re listing that you’re on the board of an organization, try to add a quick sentence or two in your longer bio that describes something innovative or extra cool that you did while in that role.
  4. Add some fun. Did you once win a national spelling bee? Place second in a science fair? Were you a blue ribbon flower arranger at the county fair?  (that one is me) Do you play a mean harmonica?  Adding something unusually interesting or fun helps bring you to life as a person and that helps people remember you.

Remember, like a good novel, a good bio should be a compelling, rich story: of you.

Creating a dynamic professional bio is an exercise in developing self confidence.  And self confidence  is a skill that can be learned.  One of the first steps, is learning to be comfortable talking (and writing) about yourself in a powerful way.

Just as it's time for my client to become comfortable writing and thinking of himself as an "expert," it's time for you to consider owning your achievements too.

Be accurate. But don’t shy from tooting your own horn. If you don’t, who will?

 Copyright 2015 Gina London. All Rights Reserved. 


The Human Touch

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Covering the latest trends in Mobility, Cloud, Security and Open Source, I just wrapped three Tech Conferences in three weeks.

There were rows and rows of vendor booths, days filled with sessions and workshops – I led a session on “Negotiations,” for example – from which participants could learn and get information.

Learning doesn’t have to be boring.  Any topic can be made interesting and engaging.  As someone confided in me after my particularly boisterous and lively – by design – session ended,

"People come to conferences hoping to have fun!"

And that’s what stood out to me the most.  In spite of all the high-tech talk, the real value sprang from gathering people together with other like-minded people.

One evening, I attended a dinner with a variety of interesting people including some top IT educators from CompTIA, Skillsoft and Netcom.  The dinner organizer, Teresa, put together lists of fun and funny questions to move our conversations away from strictly business, to the more human side of life.  It was a blast.

At one of the other conferences, the organizers rented out Wrigley Field, the historic home of the Chicago Cubs as well as the long-clinging hopes since 1908 for another World Series win.

We met Hall of Famer Billy Williams, had our picture taken with Cubs mascot, Clark, walked around on the actual outfield, and even could have a turn at bat.  I took advantage of each of these opportunities, laughing and joking with my fellow conference goers as we stood in line.  When it was my turn, I promise I really connected with the ball.  Okay, it was a foul fly, but for me that counted!

My ball-bat connection wasn’t the only one that counted.  I connected with some very terrific people doing some great work.  Great conversations forge friendships that can lead to business opportunities.  Look for me to begin to roll-out some communications training courses on-line soon through a partnership with a tech-educator I met.

As I always say,

"Great communications equals great relationships."

People connecting with other people.  As my three conferences demonstrated, face to face still trumps Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope, you name your social media tool of choice.  They may start virtually, but at some point, most communications, like relationships, will need to be solidified in person.

Be it at a meeting or a conference or whatever.  We still like the human touch.  Thank goodness!

Copyright 2015 Gina London.  All Rights Reserved.