Ask anyone, young or old, about their greatest fear and you’ll likely hear, “Speaking in public!” That’s right…most of us suffer from glossophobia…I know I did. I had two lines in my first school play and promptly spaced on the second. My wedding vows, practiced about 857 times, didn’t go so well either. (Thankfully, it didn’t affect the outcome!)
Thankfully, glossophobia can be overcome through training and experience. As parents and mentors, we can help build confident, skillful communicators at a surprisingly early age.
Every presentation situation is unique and requires good planning in order to succeed. Here are some key skills to teach young people that can help him or her win over an audience:
- Effective planning and preparation—knowing the purpose and goals, audience, venue and layout, time allotment, technology and logistics, and formality.
- Recognizing it’s about them (the audience) and fulfilling their needs and expectations—not about you. Arrogance kills!
- Engaging the audience through questions and stories—and avoiding excessive detail and jargon.
- Being enthusiastic and expressive and paying close attention to their body language to gauge their interest. Be friendly and natural and don’t forget to smile!
- Always saving room for questions and not running over your allotted time.
- Making good eye contact with each audience member (where possible)
- Not including more than half the number of slides as minutes you have to present or more than five bullet points on a slide.
- If possible, knowing the personalities of your key audience members and adapting accordingly. Busy executives like compelling and succinct comments. Analytical people like facts and detail.
Perhaps the best advice we can give young speakers (or take to heart ourselves) is to think “share with” rather than “lecture to.” No one is nervous when sharing with friends, right? That’s the key mindset to have. Make it as conversational as you can, and, by all means, have fun!
Have you developed some good advice or strategies for improving your own speaking skills that you can share with young people? Please post your ideas and questions below; we’d love to hear from you! And pass this blog on to a friend, encouraging them to sign up for our e-mail newsletter. There is always room for more in our online community!
How committed are you to correcting your weaknesses and building your strengths? Do you embrace constructive feedback when it comes your way?
Let’s face it. Most of us love to receive compliments—but criticism? Not so much. Criticism, even if it’s constructive, can sometimes make us feel guilty, ashamed, or inadequate. We often become angry or withdrawn when we receive it. We can be defensive. Or, out of hurt, we turn the tables on the people criticizing us, attacking their credibility and motives.
The common sense reality is that if we’re genuinely interested in improving ourselves, we should be just as interested in hearing about our weaknesses as we are our strengths—even if the method of delivery is indelicate. We are, after all, a work in progress!
It’s a great idea to make it a practice to actively solicit constructive feedback from your superiors, friends, and role models. This means asking them questions such as:
- Am I meeting your performance expectations?
- How can I improve—as a person and as a colleague?
- What do you see are my strengths and weaknesses?
It also means being able to receive the feedback with a grateful heart whether you asked for it or not. It’s natural to react defensively when someone gives critical feedback. But if you do, you’ll miss a golden opportunity to learn and grow. Here is some advice to receive criticism well and use it to your advantage:
- Don’t take it personally. If someone criticizes you for something you’ve done, it doesn’t mean they don’t like YOU.
- Learn to separate yourself from the criticism and take it at face value. Think of it as a gift from someone who cares about you!
- Resist the temptation to interrupt or argue. Thank the person giving you feedback, and assure him or her you’ll take it to heart and consider it.
- Thank the person for the feedback. If it seems appropriate, enlist his or her help for making changes related to the advice given.
- Ask for specific examples of any behaviors needing improvement.
This is especially important for young people to embrace—a challenge when they’re exerting their independence and think they know it all. I adopted this practice early on in life and consider it one of the most valuable life lessons in my career. It made me progress that much faster by seeking the wisdom and feedback of others. It’s a hallmark of excellence!
Make it a point to ask for one piece of constructive feedback from someone in your life and practice responding in the ways we’ve just discussed. Are you a parent or teacher? Share this lesson with the young people in your life. If they apply it, they’ll likely thank you for it some day!
(This is part three in our 3D Dating series.)
Go – ready – set!
What’s wrong with this picture? Well, it certainly wouldn’t work at a track meet or on your tennis serve. And, it most definitely doesn’t work when we date—as we search for that Mr. or Mrs. Right. Nonetheless, it’s one of our most common relationship mistakes.
Unfortunately, when emotions and/or hormones are flying, READY-SET-GO can be difficult to execute when we think we’re “in love.” Patience is an incredible virtue when it comes to dating, but it’s often the hardest thing to exhibit when infatuation is intense. And, it’s an “equal opportunity” condition that happens to both teens and adults!
After making the commitment to be discriminating and discerning in one’s dating choices and practices, the third quality we want to encourage is being deliberate.
- Friends first!
Although they may not actively seek it, young adults sometimes need the measured time-tested wisdom of experienced people that enduring relationships needn’t be rushed. After all, our closest relationships should be marathons rather than sprints. Approaching it as a mad dash is generally an ominous sign of insecurity among either or both parties. The Hollywood, “three months and we’re good to go” approach rarely works.
There’s really no downside to taking it slow—not being desperate, hurried, or pressured. If they want things to move much faster than you, it’s time to have a serious heart to heart talk and get to the root cause. More often than not, it’s either a sign of a poor fit, insecurity, or simply the wrong time.
Here are some qualities of a deliberate dater worth mentioning to the young people (and dating adults) in your life:
- Go out because you are genuinely interested, not because they’re merely the best available
- Avoid any pressure to go faster than is right; take steps to ensure the pace of a relationship works for both of you. Stay confident and in control. You’re worth it!
- Focus on becoming best friends first (the new BFF!) and seeing where it goes rather than emphasizing the physical.
- Don’t allow yourself to be so consumed with a new relationship that you curtail time with friends
- Commit to really getting to know the other person and spend lots of time talking. (A telltale warning sign of a rushed relationship is that more time is being spent “acting” than “talking.” Taking time to develop a friendship indicates they care more about you than they do about it!)
By being a 3D dater, who is Discriminating, Discerning, and Deliberate, you’re much more likely to find the right one with fewer peaks and valleys (and mistakes!) along the way.
Have you read our entire 3D dating series? Which quality(ies) stood out to you as the most important and why? We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas!
This is part two of our “3D Dating” series, a timely topic as we head into Valentine season! We started last week with a look at being DISCRIMINATING. This week we talk about the second quality of a 3D dater -– being DISCERNING…
The teen years are an exciting time of self-discovery and getting to know other people. Teens are developing their own identities and learning about themselves—who they are outside of their parents and family—and are starting to recognize which kinds of friends are their best fit. But, whether they admit it or not, when it comes to relationships (and dating in particular), they still need the input of parents, mentors, and older friends to help them hone a very important quality: discernment.
Will your teen leave home with strong inner radar that will help guide his relationship choices? Have you equipped your young person with the gift of discernment to help her make prudent decisions in her dating life?
It’s worth thinking about, because if parents don’t, others (including our media/entertainment culture) will fill in the gap! Knowing that, here are some helpful topics for you to discuss with your teen to ensure he/she is being a discerning dater:
- Understanding what you each want in a relationship—your goals and expectations and ensuring they’re compatible.
- Recognizing incompatibility of values, interests, and goals as soon as possible and ending it if it’s not a fit. Don’t expect the other will change!
- Ensuring that the timing is right for both of you. There’s no point investing in a new relationship if you don’t want the same thing at the same time.
- Objectively assessing whether you’re feeling “love” or “lust.” Be brutally honest in evaluating your friend in this regard. If it’s lust, it won’t last!
- Avoiding unsafe situations before they happen and never allowing yourself to be coerced into actions that compromise your values, risk getting out of control, or that you’ll later regret.
- Warning them of danger signs—manipulation, put downs, physical or emotional abuse/isolation/control, pressure to drink or have sex, etc.
- Reminding them to stay objective and be willing to opt out if a relationship isn’t working. Sometimes you want to make it work so badly, you overlook serious flaws. Don’t do that.
- Advising them not to trust too soon … don’t put yourself in a vulnerable position with someone you don’t know extremely well and with whom you’ve built a history of confidence. Remember that true love takes time.
Make sure your teens know they can talk to you at any time, without repercussion, especially if they get into a hot spot and need help. Establish a private code they can use to call or text you to let you know they need to be picked up NOW.
Many troubling situations might have been avoided had the parties demonstrated discernment. Help your teen develop it. It’s one of the most important qualities of being a healthy 3D dater!
What ideas and tips do you have for teaching discernment to teens when it comes to dating? Share your suggestions with us; we and our other readers would love to hear from you!