Improving Public Speaking Skills!

My biggest challenge in life was to overcome the fear of public speaking. All through my school and college life, I avoided participating in elocution and debates only because of this fear. Recently, I had to give a demo to my seniors on a CBT I created. The thought of standing before ace speakers and delivering a talk was daunting. But I decided to tackle my fear with this chance. I searched online for tips on doing away the fear of public speaking and here are some useful tips I found:

  • Connect with listeners: Focus on topics that your audience can relate to. The opening message should make the difference because if you talk about any other subjects, your audience’s interest can wane.
  • Understand your audience: Choose relevant topics to hook your audience. Understand your audience and their tastes to arrive at interesting topics. They will look forward to your presentation and enjoy it.
  • Be optimistic: Creating an optimistic environment and hinting on the kind of presentation that the audience really wants to hear are appealing factors. A pessimistic approach makes the speaker look helpless before an expectant audience.
  • Be concise: Keep your speech or presentation short and snappy. If possible, end it a few minutes earlier than the scheduled time. Put in a dash of fun by adding relevant metaphors to hold your audience’s interest till the end.
  • Use an engaging title: If you have crafted an engaging presentation, why neglect the title? An appealing title will evoke your audience’s interest. It should be the red carpet to your presentation as it offers a gist of your subject in a unique way.
  • Keep your closing statement short: While ending your presentation, avoid recapping each and every thing. Keep your closing statement short and to the point and convey your message succinctly.
  • Practice: Practice quite a few times to gain confidence. Stand in front the mirror and run through your presentation. Or better still, videotape it. Ask your colleague or friend to observe you and offer helpful feedback. If you need any props such as charts or photos, have them with you during rehearsals. Videotaping can point out any faux pas which you can correct. Learn how to operate the projector or any multimedia equipment and make sure that function well. Continuous practice will make you confident.
  • Know your subject well: Keep index cards with important points or phrases handy during your presentation. Interact with the audience, don’t be rigid or sound monotonous and boring.

And yes, my presentation went very well.

Do share your thoughts on the same.

Tags: Communication Skills, Effective Public Speaking, Engaging Presentation, Improve Public Speaking Skills, Presentations Skills

Barriers to Effective Communication in an Organization and Overcoming It

Communication is the key factor in the success of any organization. When it comes to effective communication, there are certain barriers that every organization faces. People often feel that communication is as easy and simple as it sounds. No doubt, but what makes it complex, difficult and frustrating are the barriers that come in its way.

Here are a few of the most commonly-found barriers in communication in an organization:

  1. Perceptual Barriers: The most common problem faced these days is that of the difference in opinion between two people. The varied perceptions of every individual give rise to a need for effective communication.
  2. Emotional Barriers: Another main barrier is the fear and mistrust that form the roots of our emotional barrier which stop us from communicating effectively with our co-workers.
  3. Language Barriers: Language that describes what we would want to express and communicate to others, may at times, serve as a barrier to them. In today’s global scenario, the greatest compliment we can pay to another person is by speaking and effectively communicating to them in their local language. We need to understand that the native language of employees can be different from anyone else’s.
  4. Cultural Barriers: The world is made up of diverse cultures. A cultural barrier arises when two individuals in an organization belong to different religions, states or countries.
  5. Physical Barriers: Research shows that one of the key factors in building strong and integrated teams is proximity. Most offices have closed doors and cabins for those at higher levels of the organizational ladder while the large working areas are physically placed far apart. This kind of barrier forbids team members from effective interaction with each another.

The only way one can improve effective organizational communication is by changing one’s thoughts and feelings with one’s colleague. In this way, we don’t just break down communication barriers, but also build relationships that work successfully for long.

If every individual in an organization takes personal responsibility to make sure he works in complete effectiveness with his or her co-worker, no matter how many barriers come in the way, a responsible employee will always know how to overcome them.

Do share your thoughts on the same.

Tags: barriers to effective communication, communication barriers, Communication Skills, cultural barriers, Effective Communication

Fair Evaluation of Employees

In my capacity as a manager, I once had to evaluate my team members during an annual appraisal. I was bit anxious as I had just been assigned to head their project a month ago. Nevertheless, it was an experience. The next time around, I was in a better position to evaluate my team members.

The very first question that hit me when I was asked to evaluate them was: How does one do a fair evaluation of one’s team members? After the first evaluation, the HR department gave me a checklist of measurable performance criteria that applied to members of my team. And I kept these criteria handy during my own appraisal with my boss.

Below is a fairly common set of measurable performance criteria that help me with annual evaluation of my subordinates.

  • Initiative or Ambition: Are your team members ambitious in the sense of taking initiative to perform or improve the process, product or work environment?
  • Cooperation/Attitude: Is your teammate a pleasure or bore to work with? What is his or her opinion towards you, peers and overall work? Is he or she cooperative and flexible with his or her peers by performing job functions outside his or her normal duties?
  • Attendance: Is your team mate’s regular absence having a negative impact on the morale of other members or on the department’s productivity? Regular attendance of any one employee can set an example for peers to be punctual towards work.
  • Communication Skills: Is your team member capable of communicating with his peers, managers and clients? Has he or she ever been involved in any issues due to communication skills?
  • Focus: Is your team member able to maintain focus on the task assigned? Does he or she prefer to finish personal work while still at work?
  • Loyalty: Does your subordinate understand his or her job responsibilities? Does he or she feel proud while talking about the project or Company?
  • Improvement: Has your team member shown a marked improvement in his performance from the previous appraisal?
  • Integrity: Does your subordinate display morally upright behavior at work? Does he or she respect the privacy of his or her peers and clients?
  • Knowledge: Is your subordinate technically sound enough to perform his or her job responsibilities?
  • Productivity: Is your subordinate responsible enough to meet productivity requirements and project deadlines?
  • Quality of Work: Do you receive more positive or negative feedback from the client regarding your team members’ quality of work? What are your observations on the quality of work your department produces?
  • Reliability: How reliable is your subordinate? Does he or she demonstrate dependability? Is he or she the one you rely on when someone makes a mistake?
  • Stress Management: Is your subordinate open to changes in the work environment? How does he or she interact with other members when the project is nearing its deadline?
  • Team Work: If one of your team members is on leave, does his or her peer willingly pitch in to finish the tasks assigned of the absentee?

Alongside the above mentioned criteria, employees’ performance levels need to be measured in these ways:

  • Has your employee mastered the requirements of his or her job and able to perform in a way that reflects an understanding of his job duties?
  • Does your employee meet minimally acceptable standards in terms of technical know-how of the job requirements?
  • Does your employee exceed your expectations in some aspects of the job while being an average performer in other matter?

Do share your thoughts with me on the same.

Tags: Communication Skills, Fair Evaluation of Employees, Performance Criteria, Performance Evaluation
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