Archive | August, 2012


27 Aug

Well it has been over a week since my last post.  I’ve been procrastinating BIG TIME with a lot of things going on, including this blog.  I have a salary review coming up which I’ve *kind of* been preparing for…which is really unacceptable.  For those with traditional full-time jobs, your salary has and will play a MAJOR impact on your financial well-being, as well as your ability to attain social mobility.  A $5k raise now has a multiplier effect on your salary for the rest of your life (most of the time).  As your salary grows it increases your odds of retaining or boosting that salary even as you move from job to job.

I want to post a little more in depth about this later in the week.

To no surprise to me, my (Rest of) August Goals have suffered along with my procrastination.

I intend to be honest with this blog, so admissions like this will come from time to time.  Unlike a lot of personal development bloggers, I don’t plan on perpetuating some ridiculous facade that I’m superhuman and have no faults but ALL the answers.

(Rest of) August Goals

19 Aug

I think that it is incredibly important to explicitly list goals you are working toward.  Why?  Because it gives you a clear reason and motivation to do the things you need to do.  It also keeps you accountable.

Here are my goals for the rest of August:

– Contact 2 successful people about consulting or business and specifically ask them how they go to the position they’re in.

– Finish two personal development courses I purchased

– Call [Business Name Omitted] again to follow up on offering free business development consulting

– ID 3 businesses whose copy I could improve…and study them! (take notes)

Start the Escape Your Social Class Blog

How to Become a Great Presenter

19 Aug

A confession: I used to have terrible presentation skills.

In fact, this was true up until very recently.  Whenever I would have to read out loud in high school, people would practically fall asleep as my droning, emotionless voice hurried over the words on the page.  My presentations were flat and uninspired.

That is until this past week when I gave a presentation to our practice manager (I’m a consultant, and there are different “practices” we service), and the first comment they made after I finished was “Wow…first thing is, you have incredible presentation skills…we need to recruit you to give our [Educational] presentations for the whole company.”

Afterwards I was thinking about this compliment and couldn’t put a finger on when I went from point A (sucking at giving presentations) to point B (apparently an incredible presenter).  I did eventually realize what allowed me to improve, which I’ll share with you today.

First though- why should you care about becoming a great presenter?  Being a great presenter does two things right away for you:

1- You’re adding more value to your company or the business you own compared to the average employee.  Adding value to your business or employer is ALWAYS a good thing.  There’ll be more in-depth posts about this in the future.

2- It immediately legitimizes your competence to your customers or management. If you can deliver a successful presentation, you become an authority on that subject, which affords you more respect.  This will do great things for your career development.

What Makes a Great Presenter

How do you become a great presenter?  One word: observation.

It’s as simple as that.  Study 1-3 people that you think give great presentations.  You will start to notice things that they do that make them 1000% better than everyone else.  These mostly boil down to:

1- Rhythm: Most master presenters figure out a cadence that works well for them, and they stick to this.  The way in which you deliver each sentence begins to repeat and become anticipated by the audience- which means they’re paying attention.

2- Emphasis: This creates “emotion” to the presentation,..i.e. that you give a shit.  You have to emphasize the words that are key to making your point in each sentence.  Most presentations are making some sort of case or presenting a thesis, and with this comes points that add up to the conclusion you’ve reached.  Emphasize the words or phrases that make your point!

3- Memorization: You have to practice your presentations, and more or less memorize the layout and structure at the very least.  You never want to appear “surprised” by a slide or note card (if you’re using those).  By rehearsing and semi-memorizing the presentation you’ll get a good feel for the whole thing and be able to deliver it more dynamically (so you’re not just reading all of your points that the audience can also see).  This will increase the amount of attention people are paying to you.  If you can memorize the whole thing, then all the better.  You just don’t want to end in a “I’m…Ron Burgundy?” situation.

4- Engagement: The first 3 things all lead up to and help you achieve this, but it must be mentioned.  The key to a successful presentation is engaging the audience.  You want them paying attention to, understanding, and agreeing with the points that lead to your thesis/conclusion/proposal.  By having rhythm, emphasizing to make your points, and being dynamic through memorization, you will engage your audience.  Engagement also comprises involving the audience in the presentation by gesturing to people (if in person) or even referencing them with personal anecdotes (which can be done even if it is not in person).  A fully engaged audience means you’re giving a good presentation.

So, to teach yourself these 4 keys to giving a great presentation, observe people who already do each of these things.  Everyone has their own style and nuances, and you’ll figure out what works best for you.

After you pick some presentation “mentors” to study- you must take action and practice.  (Side Note: you’re going to read those two words “take action” a lot in the blog.  From everything I’ve learned, too many people consume information but never take action to implement what they’ve learned and better their lives)

A good exercise is to get a transcript of a presentation that you watch by somebody you admire and then give the exact same presentation.  You can even mimic their tone, rhythm, cadence, emphasis, and engagement techniques.  Just keep practicing it this way, giving a presentation over and over.  You’ll pick up their presentation skills by osmosis.

Next just start making presentations of your own to practice on.  Make the presentation about a topic you’re interested in, and try to find an audience.  You’ll notice that as long as you memorize, plan out emphasis points, and practice to attain a rhythm, you’ll start to sound exactly like your “mentors”.  This is a good thing!  As you become more confident and practice more and more, you’ll start to develop your own quirks and style that will suit you.

And then you’ll look up one day and say “Wow, I kick ass at presentations” and people will start complimenting you and ask “How did you become a great presenter?”

And you’ll sit there and say “One word- observe.”

It’s Alive!

19 Aug

This blog is dedicated to the pursuit of success in life.  The inspiration for the blog is the theme of escaping your social class.  I have a theory that the reason many people don’t pursue enhancing their social positioning is that they view their parents as the goal, and that if they can attain the lifestyle that their parents had, then they have succeeded.

I reject this assumption that success is achieved once you’ve reached the lifestyle of your parents.  In fact, most people say that the goal of a child should be to become more successful than their parents…but they don’t do anything to achieve that.  I came from the middle class, and from my experience in it I’ve found a pervasive disposition of complacency and settling.  People are OK with what they have, and they’re not interested in acting to achieve more.  I think to a certain degree this is fine (in order to be happy with your current situation).  However, I think this attitude can fester and become rotten, and that is how people end up in the same job or in the same pay range for their entire lives.

I don’t want this to happen to me, and I don’t want it to happen to you.  This blog will track my journey from class to class as I “move up the ladder.”  As I write this I am 23 years old, and will turn 24 this month.

The two driving motivations behind this blog are:

1- To give myself accountability so that I always have the goal of self improvement in mind

2- To add value to the lives of the people who read this blog (if there are ever any people who read this 🙂 )

So, onward into the unknown of personal, financial, and career development involved in escaping your social class.

So it goes…