And off we go!

Well, I’m writing a blog! I know blogging has been around for years, now. I have enjoyed reading them periodically, but have never given back, until now. 

Do I have enough to say? I’m thinking my brain is pretty full with ideas, yet I will strive to make the posts useful and/or entertaining. Like everyone else, I have had and continue to have a variety of experiences in my life so I’m looking forward to sharing some stories (both fiction and non-fiction) and encouragement with anyone who might be interested.

With a corporate training background, a graduate degree in Adult Education, and having been tasked to lead the charge for personal leadership development for many years, helping others excel is in my blood. Even over the past several years as an independent filmmaker, I have offered many first time film actors and new crew members an opportunity to gain experience and confidence. Being able to encourage someone, either through opportunity or simply via verbal confidence building, is important to me!

Years ago in one of my training positions, I gave a small workshop on public speaking to a handful of employees. I taught about re-directing those “butterflies” that often accompany getting up to speak in front of a group of people, into “energy” and “enthusiasm” for your topic. We worked to stop focusing on ourselves and believing that those in the audience actually are interested in hearing what we are saying. 

And, of course, there was the relentless reminder whenever a filler word was used.  Filler words are those annoying useless words that slip in between all the important words, for example, um, ah, you know, etc.. It’s funny how we cannot hear them, but everyone else notices them. Now I can guarantee that the next time you notice someone using filler words, it will be totally distracting and you’ll hate that I ever even mentioned this! Sorry! 

To help get beyond the use of filler words, capturing yourself on video is a beautiful tool. Once you get over the initial horror of how many um’s and ah’s you use, you may also notice physical, unintentional mannerisms you exhibit. One of the times I videotaped myself, I was shocked at how many times I brushed my fingers over the top of my nose! Ugh!

However, recognizing these habits helps us begin to overcome them. One of the supposed reasons for filler words comes from when we are children and it was so important to “keep the floor”. In other words, when we want to keep the attention focused on us, we don’t want to sound like we are done talking, until we are really done. 

We’ve all experienced it. You stop to think about how or what to say next, and some anxious person jumps in and takes over the conversation! So, as kids we maintained the focus on ourselves by saying, “uhhhhh”. Is this true? I don’t know, but it makes sense. I’ve been around a lot of very talkative people and they claim any opportunity to jump in! Regardless, when you are giving a public speech, or a presentation at work, usually you don’t have people jumping in to interrupt. 

Instead of using a filler word, I told my class to say nothing at all. To take the pause. It takes some practice, but it works. I did it, but you have to keep practicing because you can easily get out of the habit, as I have done time and time again.

One woman in the course, Mary, was deathly afraid of talking in front of people. She had convinced herself that she was terrible at it - honestly, she wasn’t that bad, but that’s what she believed. Mary was very knowledgeable in her position, in a call center, of all things. She talked all day long! After working really hard and giving her final speech in front of the class during the last session, I asked her what job she would love to have in the organization. Her response…to be a trainer! That’s why she took the course to begin with. 

Even though Mary worked in a different department than mine, I continued to encourage her and anytime I could put her in a situation to speak in front of others, I did. I pushed her and she continued to improve. Eventually, when I had a training position open up, Mary applied. I was thrilled and hired her! That moment was one of total satisfaction seeing this woman push herself to accomplish a goal.

No matter what your goals are, you have to change what you believe about yourself in order to expand your ability to do things. Oh, I have lots more to say about this, but, as a first blog, this is probably enough!

Thanks for taking a look at my blog. I’m thinking my next one will be a fictional piece. How fun!

Diane