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Hi there,

Far be it from me to start with a cliché but…where on earth has this year gone?

I’m looking out at a very autumnal garden and have just messaged a friend who has a small business to order some Christmas presents.

But – and I think this is important – we have still got 2 whole months of 2022 to go. We can still smash goals, improve communication and set ourselves up for an excellent 2023. It is not yet time to hibernate, not least because hibernation will be super-expensive this year.

So in this month’s blog, I talk about some of the facilitation work I love to do (in the transparent hope that I might be able to do more of it in 2023) and share some learning from that.

Plus, my most popular LinkedIn post recently was my top 3 tips on public speaking so I’m copying those below and adding a couple more for my lovely newsletter subscribers.

Enjoy your Autumn.

Having Better Conversations

One of the biggest joys of the work I do now is that if you get teams in a room together and create the right environment, you will see:

  • Top quality discussions
  • Solutions emerging
  • Relationships strengthening

Of course, there are some challenges too – resolving differences of opinion and encouraging participation being just two obvious ones.

But part of my job (when I have my facilitator hat on) is to plan and run the day so that the results are maximised and the challenges minimised.

I’ve written a little bit more about how this type of work can be used to prevent or address failures in communication in my most recent blog, and a big part of that work is focused on ensuring that people find their own solutions (rather than having me impose solutions on them).

So, in a departure from the norm, instead of using this section of the newsletter to provide tips to the TLDR crowd, here are some of the common problems that emerge when I facilitate discussions on improving communication.

  • Too much focus on communication at the top of any hierarchy and not enough on getting the message to those who really need it
  • Little being done to assess what types of communication work (and which don’t) which leads to the continued use of ineffective strategies
  • Consciously or sub-consciously perpetrating a blame culture within investigations which stops real learning taking place
  • The same people speaking up or making decisions which limits creative thinking (see also: a lack of diversity in those participating in the conversation)
  • Insufficient emphasis/complete absence of emphasis on the importance of listening
  • If any of those resonate with you, you may find that your own solutions start to present themselves (and, possibly, that you have some work to do).

Public Speaking – My top tips

Quite a lot of people would rather do almost anything than speak in public.

And there was a time when I found it a lot easier to speak up for others in court, than to deliver training or read at a wedding.

But, I’ve worked on it and here are a few things that have worked for me that you might be able to apply the next time you are asked to speak in public.

  1. Work out why you’re doing it – this particular speech or presentation. What do you want to get out of it? What does your audience want? Aim for more than “filling 20 minutes”, or “getting their CPD credits”. It’s much easier to engage if there’s a common purpose. And the hard work, or the nerves will feel more worthwhile.
  2. Prepare, prepare, and prepare some more. But remember that (in the vast majority of cases) the audience will be on your side. They won’t mind the odd stumble, or a pause while you group. They want to see the real human person behind the presentation. Perfection is unnecessary and generally unhelpful.
  3. Aim to enjoy it, to have fun, to connect. You’re not on trial and nobody’s there to watch you punish yourself. An audience will pick up on your enthusiasm, or lack of it. Both are infectious.
  4. After the event: It’s tempting just to forget about the public speaking you have just done, especially if you don’t think it went well but you will definitely do better next time if you allocate some time after the event for some focused reflection. Ask yourself what went well, what went badly and how you could improve next time. And if, like so many of us, your first instinct is to beat yourself up, enlist the help of a friend who was present – they will probably have a fairer perspective.
  5. Practice really helps. Challenge yourself to take another public speaking opportunity so that you can put into practice everything that you have learned this time. The more you speak in public, the easier it will become.

Take care, Cath x

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