Business Travel Tips – 4 Tips for Leading From the Road
It's definitely challenging keeping a team focused when traveling. Here are some business travel tips I found effective when leading from the road.

Business Travel Tips – 4 Tips for Leading From the Road

I used to travel a lot for work when I was in the Air Force. We called it TDY, which was short for temporary duty. At one point I was traveling 3 or 4 days each week, at least 3 weeks out of the month. In this assignment, I was Director of Operations for a squadron. I kept 60 people all moving in the same direction to accomplish our mission. It was amazing to travel to all those places, but it’s definitely challenging keeping a team focused when traveling.  I found these four business travel tips effective when leading from the road.

Last week we talked about some tips for leaders when taking some time off. Those tips were mainly about disconnecting effectively. This week we’ll focus on staying connected, but some tips from last time are still valuable in this case too.

Business Travel Tip #1 – Prepare Your Team

Have a plan before you depart, just like when you’re heading out the door for vacation. Make sure you know who is handling each of your responsibilities before you go and make sure they know! Get that positive handoff we talked about last time. Make sure they know where to find all of the information they might need to make a decision. Delegate authority to make decisions while you’re gone and be clear what they need to contact you about. Provide a way for your team to reach you in an emergency. Just like last week, discuss what constitutes a real emergency so they don’t contact you over every little thing that pops up.

Business Travel Tip #2 – Stay Connected

Tip #2 is to stay connected. This is a lot easier now than it was 10 years ago. Back then even with a cell phone and Blackberry, it was challenging to communicate and get information to make decisions. You couldn’t really read attachments on a blackberry, coverage was spotty and public wi-fi was rare. It’s a lot easier now with cloud storage, smartphones, and video chat. Take advantage of all of the tools you have at your disposal to connect and communicate with your team. If you’re not using these tools and you travel a lot, consider trying them out next time you travel.

Business Travel Tip #3 – Stay Engaged with Your Team

Staying connected is about more than just using the latest tools. There’s some time management that goes along with it. Plan time during your trip to connect with your team members. You may not need to connect each day with everyone, but checking in while traveling is a good practice. You may be uniquely suited to solve a problem for your team because you’re in a location where you can address the issue face-to-face.  I know how tiring travel can be. The last thing you want to do make calls or read email after traveling all day, but the insight you’ll get from your team can make your trip even more productive. It’s okay to be selective with what you discuss with your team. If it’s a conversation that can wait until you get back, it’s okay to say so.

Business Travel Tip #4 – Use Downtime Effectively

Travel is almost always an exercise in hurry up and wait. Flights get delayed, we wait for cabs and ridesharing. There’s always a few minutes here and there to take care of little things. I will usually triage emails and do social media engagement when any time I’m waiting. This downtime is great for taking care of quick little tasks that often fall by the wayside. If you know ahead of time that you have a longer period of downtime, you can plan on doing a larger task. You can even use this downtime to engage with your team to answer their questions or give them some guidance.

There you go, 4 tips to help you lead your team while you’re traveling. Nothing is ever a perfect solution and these aren’t substitutes for being at home face to face with your team, but these 4 tips can help you stay connected and engaged with your team while you’re gone and I know they’ll appreciate it!

People who are really driven often struggle to get rest and relaxation. These tips will help you too if you have a hard time leaving work behind.

Rest and Relaxation – 4 Vacation Tips for Leaders

People who are really driven often struggle to get rest and relaxation. This week I’m on spring break from my MBA program and really looking forward to it. I’ve planned a few fun activities for myself and friends. I also have a few things I’d like to accomplish for my business with the downtime. Like a lot of people with big goals, I sometimes forget that a break is about resting and recharging. Sometimes I have a hard time getting my mind off of work.  I’m using these four tips this week to help me relax instead of falling back into work habits. I want to come back to school next week refreshed instead of more stressed out. These tips will help you too if you have a hard time leaving work behind when you go on vacation.

Rest and Relaxation Tip #1 – Prep your Team

The first tip happens before you even leave for your vacation. Make sure you know who is handling each of your responsibilities before you go and make sure they know! Look them in the eye and get a positive handoff. Give them any background they need to have.  Make sure they know where to find any information they might need to make a decision. Spell out how much authority they have to make decisions while you’re gone and what should wait until you get back. (for more on this see our Delegation video) Also, make sure they know how to reach you in an emergency. It’s probably a good idea to discuss what you think a real emergency is. You don’t want them calling you over every little thing that pops up.

Rest and Relaxation Tip #2 – Commit to Fun Activities

Commit yourself to fun activities during your time off. This is really important if you’re like me and find your mind wandering back to work. Before your vacation starts, pick a few things that you really want to do and commit to doing them. Put them on the calendar, or pay in advance for them if that helps you follow through. If I don’t make that commitment to myself, I’ll just let each day come and go. I’ll kind of putter around and do regular things and at the end of my vacation, I’ll wonder where the time went. For this week I’m doing some day trips and have some other fun meetups with friends planned. I’m more committed when I involve other people. If you have a hard time committing, Ask a  friend or family member to join you.

Rest and Relaxation Tip #3 – Cut the Cord

Cut the cord from your workplace and leave your laptop and phone behind. And if you can’t do that, make some time during the day that’s electronics free. Checking email and messages will keep you focused on work and won’t let your body and mind recharge. If you use your phone in your personal life, log out of your work email accounts to avoid distraction. There are apps you can try that will block certain apps when you choose. You can have your phone to take great pictures and post on social media while avoiding those work emails.

Rest and Relaxation Tip #4 – It’s Okay to Learn a Little

Your time off doesn’t have to be frivolous. It’s okay to do a little personal development on your vacation, but don’t let it take away from enjoying time with family and friends. Read that new leadership book you’ve been wanting to while you’re sitting on the beach or by the pool. Don’t focus too much on it. Put it down when it’s time to go do those fun activities you’ve committed yourself to.

I know it sounds a little crazy to put so much thought into how to relax. There are a lot of us who will gravitate back to business if there isn’t anyone to remind us to let go. If you’re like me, these 4 tips will help you stay present and engaged with your family and friends as you all enjoy some well-deserved rest and relaxation!

Great teams just don't happen magically, though. Building a team takes hard work and commitment, but there are some things you can do to make it easier.

Building a Team – 4 Tips to Build Your Dream Team

The great thing about being a leader is all the great people on our teams. Great teams just don’t happen magically, though. Building a team takes hard work and commitment, but there are some things you can do to make it easier. In the military, we very rarely had the same people on a team from beginning to end. People were always moving in and out or getting reassigned. We were always in a mode of developing talent on our team and building our leadership capacity on those teams. Hopefully, you have a little bit more stability on your team. The tips in this post tips should help you build your team, whether you’re starting a new team for a brand new project, bringing new members to an existing team, or looking to do a little bit of development and training with your current team members.

Building a Team Tip #1 – Assess Your Needs

First and foremost, assess the needs of your team. Your needs could be skills, experience or knowledge. This is helpful if you’ve already got an existing team and you need to bring in a new member. We don’t always get to choose the members of our team, but if you do, look at the skills you need on your team. Find someone who’s got that skill set or at least some of those skills. If you can’t find someone with exactly the skill set you need, don’t worry about it. Find someone who has most of what you need.  Develop the rest of the skills in them or in another team member.

Building a Team Tip #2 – Find People Who Complement You

When looking for people for your team, find people who complement you and the other members of your team. Look for people who complement you in areas you’re not as strong, as well as areas where you complement them. This relates not just to technical skills, knowledge, and experience as mentioned above, but also personality, attitudes, and behaviors. If you’re not really a people person, you might want someone on your team who is a little warmer and personable to help make people feel more welcome.  Build your team with people who complement each other so that you’re all working as a team and providing all the support that everybody needs

Building a Team Tip #3 – Think About Culture

Think about the culture you want on your team and to bring in people who match that culture. If you’re a startup there will probably be a lot of late nights. Your team might be jumping on a plane at the last-minute, so bring in people who are going to be comfortable with that unpredictability. If you’re in a bigger organization that prides itself on excellence, being thorough and discipline, much like the military, those are going the kind of people you want to bring in. Culture doesn’t have to match perfectly. You should look for people who complement the existing culture as well. People who might be a devil’s advocate or have a different perspective than the rest of the team can drive innovation on your team.

Building a Team Tip #4 – Have a Plan

Make a plan to develop each team member. Consider their leadership skills as well as their technical skills. It’s important to have a plan to ensure everyone on your team gets leadership opportunities to grow and move up into a leadership position when the time is right. Without a plan sometimes we can unwittingly play favorites or overlook people. Work with each member of your team to develop an individual plan for their development and career advancement. Include soft skills like leadership skills, presentation skills, and communication skills that don’t lend themselves easily to technical analysis.

Building a Team Bonus Tip – Know When to Let Go

Don’t be afraid to let your team members move on when they get a great opportunity take a leadership role somewhere else. A lot of leaders want to keep their team together because they’ve got things working well, but we need to let our team members move on to greater opportunities so they can do great things in the world. There comes a time when every person needs to move on and do something else. As leaders, we should embrace that and help our team members prepare for that day.

Try these tips for building a team whether it’s a pre-existing team or you’re getting to pick your dream team to start a brand new project. Assess your needs and put that team together so that the members complement each other in terms of skills and personality traits. Stay conscious of your team culture and develop your team members you can all move on and grow together to greater opportunities.

We all like to feel safe. Sometimes that desire keeps us where we’re comfortable. Often, we need to get out of our comfort zone to achieve our goals.

Comfort Zone – 4 Tips to Step Out of Yours

We all like to feel safe. Sometimes that desire to feel safe keeps us where we’re comfortable. Often, we need to get out of our comfort zone to achieve our goals. Sometimes I take a long time to get push past what is comfortable for me. Whenever I start a new job or activity I spend much more time watching and listening than participating. It really frustrates me sometimes.

When I was in my early twenties, I read some of the Clive Cussler books and wanted to scuba dive. I wanted to explore shipwrecks, take pictures and see the world in a new way, but was cautious moving forward. I realize now that scuba diving was out of my comfort zone. The good news is, I found ways to get past it. Now I love diving, even though I don’t do it as much as I would like to.

Comfort Zone Tip #1 – Ask Yourself “Why?”

If you find yourself not doing something you know you want to do, ask yourself why? Some of it is just basic human nature, whether it’s part of our natural personality or learned behavior. In ancient times, taking risks could result in injury or death. Even in the modern world, proposing a new idea could subject us to criticism or other social consequences.

So ask yourself, is there real life-and-limb danger and are there ways I can mitigate it? There are many exciting pastimes like skydiving, rock climbing, scuba diving that people do every day successfully. They find ways to manage the risk in those activities. So what are the real risks and how can you reduce them to make it safe and fun?

What about social consequences.? You may not think that there would be social consequences to scuba diving, but what if your family doesn’t approve? Someone you care about might feel it’s too dangerous. Even if you’ve done your homework, you may have to alleviate their fears. Share with them the research you’ve done to mitigate the risk.

If a new idea or activity excites you, but you’re holding back, ask yourself why? Address those reasons rationally and objectively. Not convinced to step out of your comfort zone yet? That’s what our other tips are for.

Comfort Zone Tip #2 – Take Just One Step

Next, take just one step forward, even if it’s a small one. I’ll stick with my scuba diving example. At this time in my life, my family came to California to visit me. One day we went to Catalina Island. For some reason, while they were looking in a shop I stepped into the dive shop next door. I started looking at some of the equipment and got to chat with one of the guys in the shop. He shared a lot of information and told me about the material in scuba certification courses. The internet was still pretty new back in these days so there wasn’t a lot you could search for then. I took a couple more trips to dive shops before I signed up, but that step helped me out of my comfort zone.

Comfort Zone Tip #3 – Build a Team

Don’t try to get out of your comfort zone alone. Find friends interested in the same activities. Build a team to help encourage each other to step out of your comfort zones. You can support each other, learn from each other and talk about what makes you nervous. Working as a team and supporting each other’s goals is one of the best ways to get over that fear that keeps you from getting out of your comfort zone.

Comfort Zone Tip #4 – Try It Someone Else’s Way

The last tip is to just try things someone else’s way, just once, and see how it goes. The people who really care about us are always giving us advice because to help us succeed. We may not want that advice. We may not think it’s the right thing to do, but sometimes it’s best to just give it a try. This is helpful if we’re not making progress on a goal and don’t realize we’re stuck in our comfort zone. I know how hard it is to follow through on this one. I catch myself all the time not taking other people’s advice so don’t feel bad if you experience some resistance to this one. Testing out the advice that other people give us, just once, can help us realize we have been holding back and can open new doors that we didn’t even know were there.

So now you’ve got 4 new tools to use when you feel like you’re not moving forward on something and not sure why. Whether you’re looking into scuba diving, or not making progress on your career like you envisioned, it could be because you’re stuck in your comfort zone and don’t even know it. Give these tips a try this week when you’re making decisions and see if they help you step out of your comfort zone!

For delegation to be effective though it has to be done properly. These three tips should get you started on the right path to delegating effectively.

Delegating – 3 Tips to Delegate Effectively

We’re always talking about how busy we are. There’s such a thing as being too busy, especially when we have a team around us who can help. When I was in the Air Force, staying late at work had become a badge of honor. The truth is, people’s personal lives, relationships, and health suffered. I don’t mean to say that there aren’t times that being busy is appropriate. When there was something really urgent, I worked a lot of nights and weekends.  That’s what you sign up for when you’re in the military. In a lot of cases, though, delegating could have helped out immensely. For delegation to be effective though it has to be done properly. These three tips should get you started on the right path to delegating effectively.

Delegating Tip #1: Set Clear Expectations

When you choose to delegate, clearly identify the problem you want solved. Also, define when you want it completed and the parameters of a successful solution. Clear and detailed are not the same thing, though. When you place restrictions on the solution, you tie your team’s hands. If you tell them exactly how you want them to solve the problem, you may as well do it yourself. This defeats the purpose of delegating. Figure out what your deal breakers are and communicate those clearly. Then let your team figure out the solution based on that guidance.

Delegating Tip #2: Delegate Authority as well as Responsibility

A lot of new leaders and managers forget to do this. To delegate effectively, you need to give your team authority to act without getting approval on every little thing. Making every decision yourself ties their hands and takes up time that you were trying to get back. One approach is to decide ahead of time what decisions you feel like you absolutely have to keep for yourself and then let the team make any other decisions. If it’s a long-term project over the course of a few weeks or months, you can schedule in some “vector-checks”. This allows you to understand their thought process and offer advice so they don’t head off in the wrong direction over time.

Delegating Tip #3: Let Your Team Make Mistakes

Every time you delegate it’s an opportunity to grow your team and their leadership skills. One of the ways that people learn best is by trying new things, making mistakes and correcting them. While I think we’d all prefer our team didn’t make mistakes, it’s an important part of the learning process. Better that they make mistakes now when the stakes are low and we are there to help them. This also requires a commitment on our part to be patient when things don’t go as planned. When delegating, consider the stakes of the project and how much tolerance you’ll have for mistakes. This will help you choose who to delegate to and how much authority to give them.

If you are doing more supervising than you’d like, try these tips next time an important task comes up. Setting clear expectations, consciously deciding how much authority to give your team, and letting them learn from mistakes will set you up for long-term success as a leader!

When I talk to managers and executives, time management is one of the skills they talk about their teams needing the most.

Time Management – 5 Tips to Get More Time Back

Time is our most valuable resource. Once it’s gone we can never get it back and we all want to make the most of our time. When I talk to managers and executives, time management is one of the skills they say their teams need most. If you feel like you need help in this area, you’re not alone. I think almost everyone wishes they had a little better handle on where their time goes.

When I was in the Air Force I had one assignment where I was traveling at least 3 days a week, 3 weeks a month. It was an amazing job but it took a lot of time management skill.  I’m usually been pretty good at keeping track of where I need to be and when I need to be there. I’m not always good at figuring out how long something will take. These five tips will help you with both of those areas.

Time Management Tip #1 – Get a Calendar

Before you read any further, get a calendar. It can be electronic or paper, it doesn’t matter. I suggest using the one on your phone because it’s easy to make changes and we all pretty much have our phones with us all of the time. Put everything that’s important to you on this calendar. Focus on appointments when you have to be in a certain place at a certain time. Enter all the info that’s important. Use the repeating and recurring features and color codes too. Don’t go crazy with this at first. Start out by putting in appointments for tomorrow or this week. Don’t start trying to put your whole year in right now.

Time Management Tip #2 – Track Appointments

Track how long your appointments actually take and adjust them as necessary. I almost always underestimate the time it takes to complete something. Recording the time an appointment actually takes compared to what I planned helps me estimate time better. You don’t need to do this forever because you’ll start to develop a database in your mind. When you’re setting appointments for the first time keep track of their duration.

Time Management Tip #3 – Don’t Delete Appointments

Don’t delete appointments, especially ones with yourself. One rule that I use is that I’m not allowed to delete anything off the calendar once I’ve put it on there. I’m absolutely allowed to move things around, but I’m not allowed to just remove it. This still lets you take advantage of opportunities that pop up or handle time critical situations when they arise. There will be emergencies or unusual situations where you have to delete something, but it’s pretty rare that you can’t find a new day or time for something, especially if it’s important to you.

Time Management Tip #4 – Make White Space

Remember how I said put everything that’s important to you on your calendar? The emphasis is on the word important. Meetings, phone calls, time critical tasks are all good for the calendar. I even include my workouts and when I schedule appointments to meet up with friends so I don’t accidentally schedule something at the same time. Putting in all of your regular activities like “work” at your workplace will fill up your calendar and it will be hard to differentiate the most important events. White space also provides places that you can move appointments to when you have to reschedule something.

Time Management Tip #5 – Set Priorities

This is really the most important of the 5 tips, but I think it’s important to have a handle on the first 4 before addressing this. Know what’s important to you and what needs to be on the calendar. Understand which things are more important to you than others so that once you start moving things around on the calendar you have an idea of when to move them to. Also, understand what the priorities of others are and factor that into your decision-making process. Your boss may not agree with you that your workout is more important than the big client presentation and he probably expects you to show up to that.

There are your five tips to help you get a handle on your time and use it effectively. You won’t actually be getting any more time, but you’ll feel like you are. Your calendar is really just a tool in all of this. To really manage your time well it’s important to make commitments to yourself and your priorities. If you live up to those commitments, it will be easy to find the time to get them all done!

Most of us dread going to meetings. Today I’ve got 4 tips for you that will help you lead effective meetings that stand out above everyone else’s.

Effective Meetings – 4 Tips for Great Meetings

Most of us dread going to meetings because we feel like they’re going to be a waste of our time. Today I’ve got 4 tips for you that will help you lead effective meetings that stand out above everyone else’s.

When I was a young Lieutenant in the Air Force I was talking to one of the other Lieutenants. He said, “I try to keep all of my meetings to an hour or less. I feel like any meeting that runs over an hour isn’t productive”. Looking at my experiences at the time, I found that I agreed with that philosophy. This became one of the main guidelines I used for meetings throughout my career. It’s not always possible to keep a meeting to an hour or less. Here are 4 tips to have an effective meeting, no matter how long it is.

Effective Meetings Tip #1 – Have a Clear Purpose

The most important tip for effective meetings is to have a clear purpose. Make sure everyone coming to the meeting knows that purpose. Meetings sometimes drag on because attendees bring up topics that aren’t related to the purpose. People often see an opportunity to handle an issue while others are together in the room. As the meeting leader, it’s our job to keep the meeting on purpose and avoid extraneous conversations.

We need to make sure we’re calling a meeting for the right reasons. Meetings are for making decisions or bringing together work that individuals can’t complete on their own. All too often we end up doing work at the meeting that should have been prepared ahead of time. This can prevent us achieving the purpose of the meeting and often is a waste of time for the attendees. Sometimes it’s necessary to get a group together to complete the work that will support a decision. In this case, we must be clear that the team will present this work to support a decision in another meeting.

Effective Meetings Tip #2 – Have an Agenda

Creating an agenda for a meeting is more work up front, but it pays off during the meeting. Add each decision required to the agenda. Also, include any presentations or information that support those decisions. It’s important to set not just a time limit for the meeting overall, but also a time limit for each item on the agenda. There are times that should extend a topic because it is critical to making a decision. As the leader of the meeting, it’s our job to make sure that we stick to the agenda and keep things moving in line with the meeting purpose.

Effective Meetings Tip #3 – Manage the Guest List

To successfully achieve the purpose of our meeting, we need to make sure that we have invited all of the people who have a stake in the outcome of the meeting. The meeting organizer should invite the decision maker, presenters, and people impacted by the decision. It’s also important to keep people out of the meeting who don’t have a contribution to make. In large organizations, people will often show up to a meeting because they heard it was happening. These individuals sometimes cloud the information being presented by the meeting and often derail the agenda because they aren’t up to speed on the topic. The meeting organizer’s job must bring all the right people to the meeting and keep the wrong people out.

Effective Meetings Tip #4 – Don’t Speculate!

Speculating about facts or information can impact the decision-making process and often result in bad decisions that are costly or time-intensive to fix.  When leading a meeting we must avoid speculating about facts and discourage others from speculating. If information critical to making the decision has not presented, we need to go get it. We may be able to do this in real-time. If not, adjourn the meeting and reconvene later when the facts are available. Speculation often turns into circular arguments and people trying to prove each other wrong. Taking the time to get and verify the information we need will result in better decision-making.

These 4 tips have been mostly focused on someone who is a meeting organizer. If you find yourself in a meeting that is going off the rails, try to use some of these tips to help the leader get things back on track. Following these tips will help your next meeting be productive and efficient. Your teammates will thank you for being considerate of their time and making it a valuable experience.

introspection is the ability that we as humans have that allows us to think about ourselves as beings. It is how we question and learn more about our nature, our purpose and our place in the universe. This ability is one of the things that sets us apart from animals. It also allows us to question ourselves, desire something greater, set goals and take action to achieve them. Self-reflection allows us to look back at an experience and learn from it instead of repeating it.

Introspection

Over the last year or so we’ve asked you to do some introspection or we recommend it as a tool to help with another problem or challenge. Looking back on it, I don’t think we’ve ever really talked about what introspection is and what it is not.

To put it simply, introspection, or self-reflection is the ability that we as humans have that allows us to think about ourselves as beings. It is how we question and learn more about our nature, our purpose and our place in the universe. This ability is one of the things that sets us apart from animals. It also allows us to question ourselves, desire something greater, set goals and take action to achieve them. Self-reflection allows us to look back at an experience and learn from it instead of repeating it.

Introspection Tips

We all engage in self-reflection all of the time, but sometimes it’s hard to know if we should trust ourselves. Here are some tips to give you confidence in your own ability to reflect and learn.

The environment we place ourselves in is really critical to self-reflection. Everyone is different, but most of us are served pretty well by finding somewhere quiet away from the noise of life. A place where we can be alone with our thoughts. I find it very hard to be reflective if I’m surrounded by other people, although that isn’t true for everyone.

Another key to effective self-reflection is carving out time in our schedules to do it. As much as we all try to multi-task, most human beings really aren’t all that good at it. Focusing on our thoughts and insights serves us better than trying to capture them while we are also doing a bunch of other tasks. Taking even five minutes to disconnect from everything else can pay big dividends in learning about ourselves.

Let’s recognize that we’re talking about self-reflection. Our process needs to be our own and not what someone else expects from us. While we may face similar challenges to others, what works for them may not work for us. It’s great to take advice from others how we should go about doing it. To be successful though, we have to develop our own practice that uses elements that work for us.

Introspection – Going Forward

Finally, let’s all keep in mind that self-reflection isn’t all about getting to the answers. Sometimes it’s more important to just ask the questions and not try to answer them ourselves. It can be as simple as setting aside our time and place and asking what is on our mind. Instead of trying to answer the question right away, just let ourselves see what answers come to us. The ideas and insights that don’t come from trying to find the answers quickly are often the most valuable!

One thing that absolutely terrifies most people is getting up in front of a group and speaking. I’ve heard that many people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of death. If that’s the case for you, we have some tips today to help you out.

Public Speaking: Overcoming Our Fears

It’s almost Halloween and all this month we’re talking about things that scare us. One thing that absolutely terrifies most people is getting up in front of a group and speaking. I’ve heard that many people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of death. If that’s the case for you, we have some tips today to help you out.

There are a lot of reasons we get nervous about speaking in front of a group. First, It’s hard for us as human beings to single ourselves out and face a group alone. It can feel really lonely when you’re up on that stage without anyone else next to you. It often feels like we don’t belong on stage, or we don’t have enough expertise in what we’re speaking about. We think no one wants to hear what we have to say or that they’ll make fun of us. Many of us have had bad experiences and are afraid we might forget everything, say the wrong thing or just mess up really bad.

All of these feelings are perfectly natural. Even people who have a lot of experience with public speaking feel this way sometimes. If you are terrified of getting up on stage to talk, we can work with these feelings. We can use them to prepare ourselves to get our message across to our audience. Keep in mind that public speaking is about communicating and that your message is important to others.

Public Speaking Fear #1: I don’t belong on this stage

Let’s start with the idea that we don’t belong up on stage or telling other people what to do. When we feel this way, we need to ask ourselves, why am I giving this speech? Did someone ask me to do it and why did they ask me to do it? If your boss asked you to speak, it’s because they believe you have insight to share. They believe in you and you’re not on stage with no support. If you decided to give this speech, consider your original motivations and intentions about why you wanted to do it. Is there information you feel like you need to share? Do you have unique expertise that can help the group solve a problem? Keep that reason in mind through all of your preparation right up to the moment you start talking.

Public Speaking Fear #2: I’m Not an Expert

It’s easy to feel like we’re not enough of an expert to speak publicly, but we don’t have to be. When we’re getting ready to speak it’s helpful to remember that we are sharing not just what we know. We share our perspective, opinion and recommendation on a topic. It’s very similar to sharing what we think with our friends or coworkers on the subject. If we’re worried we will get asked a tough question, we can always do more research and preparation. In fact, we should be doing research, even if we have extensive knowledge on the topic. Understanding the views of others, confirming facts and how they support our position is great preparation.

Public Speaking Fear #3: I’ve Had Bad Experiences

Bad experiences can make us more reluctant to speak in public. We remember when we forgot what we were going to say, dropped our notes all over the floor and people laughed, or that time we completely got off track. These things happen to even the most polished speakers. but we can learn from these experiences to improve. Practicing our speech keeps us from getting off track or forgetting what we wanted to say. If we practice enough, we probably won’t need notes, so we won’t drop them. Use your phone to video your practice and you’ll get a good idea of how you look while speaking. It will probably be uncomfortable to watch. I hated watching myself when I first started making videos, but you’ll get more comfortable with it over time. You can also enlist coworkers or friends to watch you practice and get helpful feedback that will improve your speech.

Public Speaking: Next Steps

We really just scratched the surface today and you may be saying “I’m still not ready to speak in front of a group!” and that’s okay. These are very natural feelings, it’s important that we don’t ignore them or try to push through them, but that we understand and embrace them to help us improve. Remembering that we have an important message to share as well as the expertise to convey that message will help us feel like we belong on that stage. Doing research and preparing ourselves for tough questions from others will give us confidence in that message. There’s no substitute for practice to help us build good habits that will help our audience stay focused on our message. Try these three tips before you give your next speech in front of a group and let us know how it goes for you!

Doing our homework is indispensable to becoming great leaders. There’s no substitute for taking the time to learn as much as we can about the situation and the people involved before we make a decision.

Homework – 3 Assignments All Great Leaders Do!

All of our lives we were told how important it is to do our homework. Sometimes it was unpleasant, sometimes there was too much of it and almost always we wanted to be doing something else. What we didn’t realize at the time is that all of those teachers, parents and other people were trying to help us develop a valuable skill in life. Nothing shows you care more than helping people you care about become successful!

Doing our homework is indispensable to becoming great leaders. There’s no substitute for taking the time to learn as much as we can about the situation and the people involved before we make a decision. Often though, we face urgent situations where we don’t have the time to do all of the research we would like to. That’s why it pays to do our homework ahead of time. Today we’ll talk about 3 ways you can prepare ahead of time so that you don’t get caught without the knowledge you need.

Homework Assignment #1 – Get to Know People

First, get to know the people you work with and those who work for you. Also, get to know your boss and the other people you work for. Who are they are as people? What do they enjoy? What stresses them out? How do they communicate with others? What’s the best way to reach them if you have to communicate with them? Also learn what are they responsible for and how it contributes to the mission of the team. How does it fit in with what you do? What are the challenges they face in the workplace? Are there ways you can help them overcome those challenges?

Homework Assignment #2 – Build a Reading List

The second thing you can do is start a reading list. A lot of research has been performed on leadership, management and relationships in the workplace. Find a few topics you’re interested in and make a list of books on those subjects. Try to branch out away from books that are specific about your industry, business, or leadership methods. Take the opportunity to learn about some of the great leaders throughout history. The specific challenges these leaders faced may not be directly applicable today, but many of their leadership lessons are timeless. Also, make some time for books you enjoy. Reading a great novel may not give us solutions to the problems we face in the workplace, but we can relax our brains and foster some creative thought.

Homework Assignment #3 – Stay Current

Finally, we should keep up with the trends in our industries. Understanding ideas that others in our business are pursuing shows where our industry is headed.  This leads to innovative ideas that make our company or team more competitive. Reading trade publications, attending conferences and trade shows or even just networking with others can give us insight into what the future holds. It takes a long time to develop the experience and judgment that help us decipher trends, so the sooner we start paying attention to them, the more useful that information will be to us.

Homework isn’t just for school. To be the kind of truly great leaders we want to be, we need to do our homework every day. Study and preparation helps us understand the people around us. We also benefit from the timeless lessons that great leaders from the past have taught us and understand the direction the world is headed in. Doing these “homework assignments” regularly helps us make informed, educated decisions that provide great outcomes for our teams and our businesses!

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