Be You: Stop Saying Sorry

Be You: Stop Saying Sorry

“I have some silly questions,” I said to the group of people sat in front of me, they are all senior to me and when I think about being here I grin inside that I am worthy to be at this table.

 

I asked the questions – all of them brought important debate, and got us to think about issues we’d not discussed before now.

 

There was silly about those questions. Even so, I finish by saying: “And that’s all the silly questions thank you”…

 

The people around the table replied “nooo they were really good questions”

 

I left that meeting kicking myself – I deserve to be in that room so why did I let my “pinch myself I can’t believe it” feeling get the better of me?

 

Why am I apologising for myself?

 

Self-deprecation is a great tool to win people over, knowing your flaws and exploiting them allows people to feel good about theirs in your presence. There’s a difference between this and apologising for yourself.

 

In presenting apology appears in the way you introduce something “I hope you don’t mind but I wanted to share this with you” or “can I ask some silly questions?” (*facepalm*)

 

Or in the way you move on from something: post-punchline you say “anywaaayyy”

 

Or in the little giggle, you let out when you say something slightly wrong.

 

All of these are ways we end up undermining yourself. And when pitching or presenting you have to own the room, own your content and fulfil your assumed role as someone in authority.

 

 How to stop undermining yourself

       

       1). Be confident in your content

Confidence in your content is vital. Rehearse it more than you need to. Make the stories your own. Do what it takes to make sure you are comfortable with what you are talking about.

 

Remember if you don’t know everything, or the answer to a question from the audience, that’s not something that you need to apologise for, nor is it something that undermines you. Your confidence sings through all of that. To confidently say “I don’t know but I will find out for you” hold more integrity than trying to to answer and bumble your way through it finishing on an “anywayyyyy”.

 

Mr C has a rule that if he is not 100% confident in his content before he goes on air, he scraps it. The audience will never know what they have missed.

       2). Practice getting rid of your vocal tick, eg; um, ah or giggle

When I work with many of my clients an um or a giggle is usually a symptom of a lack of clarity and confidence in their content (see point 1). Often the presenter says “well I wasn’t exactly sure what I was saying”.

 

If it still bothers you, you can use this technique, Click here. Just replace the word erm with whatever it is that you are doing.

 

       3). Let your content breathe – and just don’t apologise

One of the reasons lines like “I hope you don’t mind me doing this…” or “Please indulge me…” are useful is because sometimes it’s hard to know how to go into your content.

 

For example, if you are about to read a poem, it’s easy to say “I hope you don’t mind but I wanted to read this as I felt it summed up the moment…”

 

But if you just drop the “I hope you don’t mind…” and presented it like “I found this poem and thought it summed up the moment…” and then read it, it’s much more powerful.

 

Just delete the apologetic language, and go with it. Same goes if you think your joke hasn’t landed. An ‘anywaaayyy’ draws the wrong kind of attention to it. Either just move on, or make a joke out of the awkward.

       4). Say thank you

This is my latest ruse. I use it in email more than when speaking. I often find myself apologising for myself for being a few minutes late, or not replying to an email quickly. Often with some perspective, it’s not as bad as my apology can make it sound. Plus I often say sorry for it, and then I am late again the next time. I either have to be on time or I have to stop apologising for myself.

 

So I now say “Thank you for bearing with me…” or “Thank you for hanging on I really appreciate it…” My sentiment is the same, but I don’t hear myself saying “sorry” all the time.

 

Of course, when you mess up, apologise. If I have kept my time-starved mate waiting I am apologetic (and say thank you!). Or if you say something wrong then say sorry for it. But you preserve the power of those “sorrys” by stepping up and confidently presenting in the first place. Save your “sorry” for when you really need it.

 

The One Way To Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

The One Way To Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

To stand on stage and perform feels vulnerable, so when you are on a line up with other speakers, that’s when the comparison voice kicks in.

 

I’m sat watching the guy who is speaking before me. He is really funny. Like really funny. I’m not that funny. And he has no notes – how is he doing all this without notes?

 

Then the next lady steps on the stage and she is covering really similar stuff to me, so obviously my brain starts up: “they are going to find out that you aren’t as clever as you make out”. And again “oh she is putting this message together much better than you do”…

 

And then your brain hits you with this doozy: “Are you sure you’re good enough?”

 

Brene Brown says that “Comparison is the killer of creativity and joy”.

 

And as I sat there trying to stop myself from going into a flat spin, I started to deploy the methods I use that remind me of the only thing that can stop you from killing your creativity and joy…

 

Remember that You are You.

 

I get all my clients to establish who they are before doing anything else. Understanding what you bring to the table, where your strengths lie, and what you are trying to achieve, eradicates comparison. All that matters is that you are attempting to be the best you can be, in line with your own values. Grasp this, and then suddenly you won’t be worrying about what others do.

 

Presenter Chris Evans said on his first Virgin Radio show in January “If anyone is any good then there is room for everyone”. He was replying to those who were curious about any competition between him and his old Radio 2 show. He’s right.

 

I also used to get really worried that I wasn’t as good as other people doing what I do. That was until I started to realise that there wasn’t one or two people that I was in competition with… there are thousands of people doing it, all over the world. All I can do is do the best I can to help the people I want to help.

 

Of course, competition is useful, It spurs us on and helps us to be better, and competition is fuelled by comparison. So, be clear on who you are, what you want people to remember, and focus on that. You can wave goodbye to comparisonitis.

 

Facing Rejection: You Are A Twix, And They Wanted A Mars Bar.

Facing Rejection: You Are A Twix, And They Wanted A Mars Bar.

Rejection is a yukky thing.

 

This week as Global Radio in the UK consolidated their local breakfast and drive shows. Industry press juggernaut Radio Today estimates that 250 presenters could be affected by the changes in the UK. And it’s all kicking in, in a month’s time. There are households across the country now wondering “what now?”.  

 

As a radio presenter, your career is built on rejection: The number of demos and conversations that lead to nothing. The number of times a new boss comes in and you have to hold tight to find out if you still have a job. The time the station decides to refresh the lineup and you get offered a weekend show from your daily one. The time another radio group buys your station. Or as we have seen this week: The time Ofcom rules change and the “business” end of things get in the way of your dreams.

 

The difficulties are that it all gets played out in public and when your product is “you”, it’s very difficult to not take it personally.

 

I’ve been through redundancy twice, and left my role as Content Controller at Key 103 because of a “restructure”. I’ve also had to let people go: there’s a BBC National presenter who was on the receiving end of me “not renewing their contract” at a local commercial station some years ago, who I am sure (quite rightly) is and will be dining out on it for years to come. Mr C lost his beloved Xfm Manchester Breakfast show, when Radio X (another Global Station) was launched and it was announced that Chris Moyles was going to be networked from London.

 

Long story short the outcomes were – Tim got his gig on Virgin Radio and BT Sport and launched Hive Content. I launched The Presenter Coach which has gone from strength to strength. And the presenter I let go: well you see it say “BBC National Presenter” right?

 

Most stories of losing jobs, end with the protagonist saying “it was probably one of the best things that happened to me”. The thing is, in the moment, no matter how well you are compensated, you can’t help but feel utterly rejected when your boss tells you that you are no longer needed in your current role.

 

Here are a few of things that got me and Mr C through it the last time (and will get us through it next time):

 

  1. Permission to Grieve

When you are in the eye of the storm of rejection – it’s not a calm, reflective experience. It’s clunky, difficult and sad. It’s really sad. So allow yourself space to grieve.

 

The reality is that you are experiencing loss. Rejection in this way isn’t just about feeling unwanted – you will have lost a part of your life you love, and even base your identity on. It’s not easy. I found that once I recognised what I was experiencing was grief, it was a lot easier to cut myself some slack.

 

It’s easy to put pressure on dusting yourself off and picking yourself back up and to “man up”, but the best use of your time is going along with your emotions as they come and allow them to become part of you.

        2. Do Not Get Confused Between MERIT and TASTE*  

You were and are good enough to be there in the first place (this is merit), but the new boss wants their station product to sound like a Twix and you are a glorious Mars Bar (this is taste). Or the new boss wants to run a more streamlined business (I’m going to call this taste too!).

 

“You” are the presenting product, and that means that sometimes your product isn’t right for the station product. It feels personal, but the decision is very rarely personal. (It’s worth remembering this when you are the one delivering the news too.)

Trust you will find your new product “fit”.

     

       3. Put Your Audience First

When your audience finds out you are leaving, be gracious. Remember without them you are just a person talking in a box on your own. A beloved mentor of mine said to me, at the time I was leaving: “if you are comfortable with it, others will be comfortable too”. The minute you become snarky or awkward, your audience will begin to doubt your intentions and feel discomfort. Remember you need them with you, in whatever you do next.

    4. “Don’t Make Any Decisions For 10 Weeks”

I have to credit the same mentor with this one and it was excellent advice.

 

Tim and I held off making any decisions and allowed ourselves time to think (we lost our gigs at the same time). I explored options, tried things out and allowed the thing I wanted the most to rise to the top. Before setting up The Presenter Coach, I thought I was ready to go down a different path. But by holding off for the 10 weeks it allowed me to set my mind and get what I really wanted.

 

It also meant that Tim and I had time to redecorate the kitchen! Ha!

     

  5. The Rejectee Becomes The Rejector…

Post-rejection is the perfect time for reflection, but you are likely to be vulnerable to making decisions out of financial or spiritual necessity, rather than personal choice.

 

Sort out your finances and make it so that they will last you as long as possible without work. Establish what time you have* – how many hours a day are spent on sleeping, eating, exercising, netflix. Set some goals and commitments. Think about your habits. Read, learn, eat well, exercise, sleep, find joy.

 

Do whatever you need to do to be in a position to choose when an opportunity comes your way. Feeling like you can say “nope” to the ideas and jobs that aren’t quite right is important in choosing the “right” thing for you next.

 

Of course, when 250 presenters lose their seat at the ever-shrinking radio presenter table it starts to look bleak. My observation is that now more than ever, the presenters that will be secure are the ones with the “portfolio” career: write the book, make the podcast, own the production company, do the voiceovers, set up a kids club, run an events company – all the while presenting too. And when it comes to changing careers and sectors all together; Lisa Kerr did a talk at Next Radio a few years ago about the invaluable transferable skills you get from radio.

 

In the same week the radio industry felt a sack full of rejection, I went to PechaKucha Manchester – a spoken word night with 10 speakers, each talk is 20 slides and they have 20 seconds per slide. This week’s theme: “Rejection”. (Anywhere you see an * in this blog is credit to this night). From those 10 talks I was reminded:

 

Rejection is a yukky thing but…

  • it helps you focus on you
  • it sets you on the right path
  • it helps you reassess and rebuild
  • it should be felt in everything you do, because then you know you’re doing it right.
The 3-Step Process To Deal With Your Nerves

The 3-Step Process To Deal With Your Nerves

I am on the train on the way to do my first big industry talk. I have memorised it. But all I can think is “what if I forget the words?”.  I mutter my words as I recite it in my head over and over. I am consumed with nerves.

 

I get to the conference in time for lunch. A friend speaks to me and I am incapable of holding a conversation. I am consumed with nerves.

 

Next, I am pacing backstage reciting the talk over and over. I am on in 10 minutes. I am consumed with nerves.

 

I hit the stage – the nerves? They’ve turned in to adrenaline. I am flying. I am loving it. And I remember the words.

 

Many people come to me worried about nerves. They tell me they’ve tried the breathing, they’ve tried the NLP techniques, they’ve tried imagining the audience naked (I’ve never really understood this one!), they say they’ve tried everything – and they are still riddled with butterflies, shaky knees and that overwhelming feeling that everyone can see they are rubbish.

 

They say to me: “How do I get rid of my nerves?”

 

Here is your magic bullet:

 

You don’t.

 

Trying to ‘get rid’ of your nerves is a waste of time and a losing battle. What you do is manage your nerves, and here are 3 techniques to try.

 

1) Accept The Nerves

I recently interviewed comedian Hayley Ellis and she talked about how when she started she used to wear a scarf to hide the anxiety rash she would get from the nerves of performing.

 

This is not uncommon with many actors and comedians talking of having nerves when performing.

 

The reality is that everyone gets nerves in one form or another. Some people talk about using their nerves, or seeing them as positive – may be telling yourself that they are excitement rather than anxiety.

 

The trick is to accept them. Fighting the nerves and thinking you are not supposed to feel nervous is a sure fire way to fuel your anxiety. Accepting fear as part of the process is the only way to help reduce and manage it.

 

I saw comedian David Nihill, writer of “Do You Talk Funny?”, speak at TEDx Manchester, and after speaking to comedians and working through his own nerves his summary was “the nerves will always be there – you have to learn how to manage them”.

 

2) Do It Again, And Again, And Again

Once you’ve accepted that you are going to get nervous and that the nerves are all part of the process – do it more than once.

 

Take all opportunities to speak. And make sure you use rehearsal in the process.

 

I run my speaker courses over 6 weeks. By doing this, people focus on their rehearsal rather than on their performance. From week 1 the participants speak in front of their fellow students and they repeat it every week.

 

On more than one occasion the repeated rehearsal in front of their peers has led students to acknowledge the reduction of their nerves.  

 

The best way I can describe this is that this is not about getting out of your comfort zone, and staying uncomfortable. It’s about GROWING your comfort zone so the uncomfortable becomes comfortable.

 

3) Make It About The Audience

 

It is so easy to think that you are on show and that everyone can see all your vulnerabilities as you stand there on stage and that everyone will notice every slip up and that everyone is staring at you and they know that the stuff you’re saying isn’t as good as you want it to be etc etc etc.

 

This is all of course nonsense. If people could really read your mind, no one would ever need to speak in public.

 

Take the pressure off yourself.

 

The best speakers make it about the audience. In her book “Out Front” speaker Deborah Shames recounts that one of her best-received talks was when she just spent the whole time answering the audience’s questions. Take the light that you feel is shining on you, and shine it on your audience. Make it about them, give them something useful and entertaining and you will get the best feedback.

 

The magic bullet to get rid of your nerves is that there isn’t one. Once you accept that nerves are part of the process you can work out your way to manage them, rehearse with them and then make it about everyone else but you. Stepping out of your comfort zone should never really be a one-off experience, it should be about getting uncomfortable and then making it comfortable.

 

Know Your Tribe

Know Your Tribe

I have a confession to make. It wasn’t until I started presenting my own daily podcast that I realised how powerful the connection with your audience can be.

 

I mean I knew the power of connection.

 

Of course, I’ve loved all the audiences I have ever broadcast or spoken to. As a producer at BBC Radio 6 Music the connection with the audience was particularly strong: so strong that people would do almost anything for us – they’d tell us personal stories, they’d recommend tracks to us and they weren’t afraid to let us know when we got it wrong too.

 

We got them. They got us.

 

But. That wasn’t me speaking to an audience, that was me powering a presenter to speak to their audience.

 

Everyday Positivity has taught me what it is to feel close to a tribe. These are my people. Not only do I believe that they listen to what I am saying – I would do anything for them too. And that is really special.

 

That unique connection is gold for any content creator. It’s what powers word of mouth growth. And it’s what the great broadcasters hold above all others.

 

When it comes to engaging an audience & hitting that sweet spot of being “in sync” with them, most people will tell you to be relevant to them, but how do you do that? How do you create that special something that leads to growth?

 

  1. Make It About Them

The analogy I use is that when you are worrying about what to say (this is the same in sales too) then the light is shining on you. Actually, when you are speaking to an audience you need to make sure you are shining the light on them.

 

What are you giving them? What are they getting from you that’s of use? What do they need from you? How are you serving them? How are you putting them in the middle of your content?

 

When I am doing the Everyday Positivity recordings I really believe I am speaking to that person in front of me like they are there. My thoughts are with the people I speak to on the facebook group. Equally, when I get on stage, I believe that the audience are mates that I want to excite.

 

You can hear this in the tone and the language of great presenters. They surprise and delight you, and it’s almost like they are in your head when they speak to you like you are with them.

       

       2. Be Vulnerable

While performance is really important when communicating with a mass of people, having the courage to be vulnerable is vital to allowing your human to be seen.

 

Let me talk to you about vulnerability for a second though. There is a difference between vulnerability and oversharing. I am guilty of being an oversharer. Oversharing can be useful: it’s funny, it’s shocking and it creates a reaction. But oversharing is also a tactic to deflect people from seeing the real me. I suspect you will know what I mean when you think about your own oversharing tactics! Or indeed you will know when you have spotted it.

 

Oversharing needs to be used wisely.

 

Real vulnerability feels different. It doesn’t happen all the time, and I know when I am being vulnerable because it feels really uncomfortable! I worry that I will offend someone or that someone will laugh at me. I question it, over and over. In some cases I am terrified.

 

But, without fail, those are the times I get the best and biggest responses from the Everyday Positivity audience.

 

The more you expose the vulnerable parts of yourself, the more you attract “your people”, the more you build their trust, and that will grow your audience.

       3. Live Their Life  

There is no doubt that if you are living the life of your audience you can speak to them in a way that is connected. That’s why some of the best broadcasters and presenters will just tell you that they are just being themselves and that they aren’t really thinking about the audience, and it works!  

 

But there will be times that you are speaking to an audience that isn’t “just like you”.

 

This means you need to put in the work.

 

One thing that comes up in radio a lot, is there are presenters on local radio stations, that don’t actually live in the area. It works to get those presenters to visit somewhere in the broadcast area every week at least (if not more). Sitting in different places for an hour a week and purely observing life can transform the presenter’s perspective of the area.

 

Do you “know the audience’s patch”? Do you go to the places they go? Do you read what they read? Do you watch what they watch? Do you understand their challenges? Do you care about what they care about?

 

Get into their world as much and as often as you can.

       

       4. Be Useful To Them

This is an extension of making it about the audience. If you can help them with their life, then you have created a true impact.

 

Teach them something, inform them of something, share something useful with them.

 

In radio, I like the phrase we use: “social ammunition” – meaning the job of a presenter is to give the audience useful nuggets to talk about with their friends and colleagues during the day. News, entertainment, music, sport. All of these elements can give something to talk about that day.

 

In all engaging content creation, useful content is incredibly powerful. Depending on your tribe, it might be that you give tips on how to deal with imposter syndrome? Or how to lay a floor? Or just unboxing a new toy?! All of these things to the respective audiences are useful, it helps them in their day to day life, it gives them their social status, and that means you have created a real lasting impact with them.

        5. Use Them

It’s definitely a 2-way street. Your aim is to build your “Know, Like, Trust” factor with your audience. You can’t expect them to trust you if you don’t trust them.

 

These days you have the ability to speak to the audience “off air”. The Everyday Positivity facebook group is a place where the listeners share stories and advice that I ask them for. To progress this I will be asking what they like, what they want to hear, and what they would like to be involved in.

 

Equally, if they feedback through the reviews that they don’t like something I use it. It guides me to be self-aware, and vulnerable. I have used it to improve my work. I have used it to understand my tribe more. I have used it as pure content.

 

Do not be afraid to ask your audience about what they do and what they want. You will be surprised what grows from it.

 

Ultimately your aim should be to impact one person, to change one person’s life. Because if you impact them then they will tell their friends, who will tell their friends, who will tell their friends…