Get Over Your Technophobia: 4 Ways to Become Unflappable Around Technology

Get Over Your Technophobia: 4 Ways to Become Unflappable Around Technology

When I start many of my video calls I am met with a face of fear as the mic their end isn’t working and they can’t hear me. Then there is a lot of flapping while I am mouthing the instructions at them. Then sometimes people call for the resident tech person and there is more flapping as I watch them blush their way through explaining what they need. Then they find the one button I had been trying to tell them to use and it all of a sudden works, and we are all very relieved.

 

I see this all the time. Like when I watch people try to present in meeting rooms. You are guaranteed that the console NEVER works when you need it to. You get your laptop out, find the lead you think it is, and you plug it in. “It worked yesterday,” you say to the team. But this time it doesn’t work. So you flap because this is the start of the meeting and you need to get on and you have NO IDEA what to do. You call the resident tech person who sorts it in 2 easy clicks of a button, and everyone is relieved.

 

Whatever situation you are in, when you speak in public there will be technology to deal with. But for a lot of people, this is a real barrier. Panicking when you see a sound desk in a radio studio can stop you from achieving your dream to be a broadcaster. Not knowing what to do with the PowerPoint set up can add to your nerves before your presentation. And not knowing how to set up your camera can mean that YouTube Channel is never going to happen.

 

Here is your 4 step guide to becoming a tech whiz;

 

1. Be Positive and Roll With It

Online Business Guru, Marie Forleo says that when it comes to technology it’s all about “Attitude Not Aptitude”.

 

Often we tell ourselves we are no good at technology because when it goes wrong we don’t know what to do. More often than not it then goes wrong. Let’s get real though: Tech is bound to go wrong, it’s probably not all your fault, but the solution isn’t coming any quicker if you panic! Just roll with it.

 

I remember when I was sat upstairs at BBC Radio 6 Music and a pre-recorded show misfired the news. We ran downstairs and started troubleshooting. The best thing for us to do was let the Emergency CD kick in. We all stood there calmly as the silence played for long enough for the CD to kick in. Those few seconds felt like an age! I remember feeling a surge of calm control as the music kicked in and we were able to then work out what to do next.

Before you knew it we were back on air and all was well again. The listeners barely noticed.

 

It taught me that staying calm and not flapping is the most productive state you can be in, in that situation.

 

2. Have a Plan B

So the slides stop working in your presentation, or the audio won’t play. Use it as an excuse to tell another story while it’s being sorted. Or go and grab a drink. Or have a line ready for you to get back on track. As part of your prep beforehand, have a plan B for what happens if something falters. Remember if you are comfortable, then the audience is comfortable.

Make sure you always have your presentation on a memory stick, audio on your phone, a Bluetooth speaker, spare batteries – whatever it is that means you can cover for the fact that the tech in the location isn’t working.

 

3. Keep Checking

If you are filming or recording a podcast with a guest, never leave without checking the audio has recorded. I have had presenters go and record the interviews of their life,

 

notably with Madonna and with Arctic Monkeys. They return to the station to find they pressed stop instead of record! Keep checking throughout that you are recording and at the end check it’s recorded and sounds OK before you leave the building.

 

4. Learn It

Take some time to get familiar with the equipment around you. We rely so much on the settings being right and hoping that the tech will just work. Get your resident engineer or tech expert to show you how to do it once and for all. Draw pictures, ask questions. Gather an understanding of inputs and outputs and you’ll find you can troubleshoot a lot of situations.

 

Also, know your cables. Last week I got a projector with an Ethernet cable plugged into it as if it was an input. I couldn’t get it out! It was in the wrong hole!

 

And knowing the difference between a phono and a jack will mean you can get the engineer to help you – because you then know some of their language!  

 

Tech is easier than you think, and a bit of training on the fundamentals can really help you in the future.

 

On that note: If you are a podcaster or budding radio producer/presenter who wants to get a really good grounding in sound, AND get your audio to sound high quality then check out Tech Train 2.0 that I am putting on with Broadcast Engineer Ann Charles in December in Manchester.

It’s for women in radio/podcasting who want to feel like they know what they are doing, and it will help you become completely unflappable. Find out more and get your tickets here.

The One Tool You Have That Will Change Your Life

The One Tool You Have That Will Change Your Life

How do you get your audience to do what you ask?  

What if your audience don’t believe your story?

And have you ever wondered why your other half is defending themselves even before you’ve asked them the simplest question?!

 

The answer is in …..Your Voice

Your impact is defined by how you use your voice, in any environment. Getting it right will change your life.

So, here are some tips to “change your life”

 

1. Pause and Emphasise

There is a technique called the Hudson Technique where you learn to end a sentence, pause, and emphasise the beginning of the next sentence. Letting your thoughts and words run into each other is exactly how to lose your listeners. This is especially true when you are moving between topics. So to keep your listener’s attention you have to start with an energetic word or phrase to indicate “this is new”. And you can use the power of the pause to build up the emphasis.

You will well know that the one thing that gets your attention most these days is silence. Think about what it is that makes you actually look at the radio?!

 

2. Sing Song

Your voice has a natural melody. Except when we are under pressure (like in a talk) we can lose the melody or over use the melody entirely. In his TEDx Talk Vocal Coach Roger Love talks about the fact that staying monotonous means your audience just knows what is coming. He talks about embracing the melody in “going up the stairs” and “coming down the stairs”. How one implies happy, and one implies sad.

You can watch it here: 

 

3. Use Your Face to be Believable

When you are doing a serious pieces: frown and it will make you sound serious. When you are doing a happy piece, or you need energy: smile – you won’t believe the difference in a smile! And then there is just plain believing in what you are saying. The reality is that you will have to talk about something you either don’t really fully understand, or don’t care about. At this point you must deploy self reflection. Engaging with either what you know to be true about what you are talking about, or engaging some empathy around what you are talking about, can help you to believe in what you are saying.

 

4. Self Care

Your voice is a muscle, that is part of your body, and it needs to be cared for. Some people when they get overworked and overtired – it shows in their voice. The vocal cords take a hammering. I’m not suggesting that you start getting all diva honey and lemon over your voice. I am suggesting that you can remember to rest, to stand tall, to allow your lungs the space to breathe, to breathe properly, to stay hydrated and one final tip to keep your vocal cords in check: hum. Hum around the house, and wherever you can. The vibrations are supposed to help keep the muscles strong and lubricated!

 

Use your voice to create impact and engage your audience, and you can sweep them off their feet.

One Persuasive Word

One Persuasive Word

 

I used to be the boss of a freelancer who was a master persuader, they regularly got what they wanted from others.

 

I was often on the receiving end of personal requests that usually went like this:

“Please could I leave a bit early today because I have to get home to receive a delivery of some drawers”

“Yeh sure” I would reply.


“Please could I skip the post show meeting tomorrow because I have to get over to another meeting at 1030.”

“Yeh sure” I would reply.


I would let the rest of the team know and they would roll their eyes that I had said yes yet again, and I would find myself trying to convince them that going home for a delivery was important. (I can feel you rolling your eyes too).

You won’t believe the trick this freelancer was using…

I’m currently training to become an NLP Practitioner, and I’ve reached the module on the language of persuasion. One of the key ways to persuade is to communicate the cause and effect of what it is you are trying to achieve.

The most powerful word you can use then is: BECAUSE.

Read it again:

“Please could I leave a bit early today because I have to get home to receive a delivery of some drawers”

“Yeh sure”
I would reply.

A study looked at people trying to push in a queue for the photocopier. If you just asked to go before someone they would say no. If you asked to go ahead of someone “because, and then gave your reason” you would inevitably end up further up the queue.

It’s worth noting that the reason often is irrelevant… hence of course I was saying “yeh sure”.

When talking to an audience, your boss, new clients, any one you are trying to persuade, using “Cause and Effect” can help you then get what you want from them.


Communicating the benefit to your audience will always help them along. So, if you are trying to get your audience to enter a competition:

“Text me now because I have a <prize> you could win…”
“Text me now so that you are in to win…”
When you text in, then you could win….”

Side note: When my kids were little they were taught to sell “because” as their first “tricky word” with this mnemonic: Big Elephants Always Understand Small Elephants. It always makes me smile.

What to listen to, to inspire your Vocal Tone

What to listen to, to inspire your Vocal Tone

Are you finding that you aren’t having the impact you want with your audience?

 

It could be that you are not using your voice with impact. You will have noticed how hard it is to listen to someone who talks in one monotonous tone; loud, high or low. In fact sometimes with no intonation it sounds like the speaker does not care about their subject. This is a sure fire turn OFF for the audience.

I am sure you’ve heard that low vocal tone has more gravitas than high vocal tone. I am sure someone has said to you that you need to slow down your speech to gather impact. These are things we hear about all the time, but actioning it is difficult.

There are more factors though: I also include projection, pausing, the sing song in your voice and emphasis in your presentation to create impact.

There is one podcast I always recommend to my clients as a fine example of how to use your voice.

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History 

Dan Carlin is one of the podcasting stalwarts, one of the greats. His podcast episodes can stretch up to 5 or 6 hours, of just him speaking. He tells stories from history, using artefacts and evidence so that the voices of the past come alive. He does a great job of putting the stories of the past into your world, so they feel relevant.

But my favourite thing about his presentation style is his use of his voice.

Have a listen, and note how he pauses, his energy, his pace (he speeds up and slows down), the way he puts emphasis on certain elements. His work is a masterclass.

Listen here 

Other podcasts:

Serial Season 1: All through this season you are listening to see if someone is lying. It’s all in the vocal tone 

Here’s The Thing: Ira Glass – this specific podcast has Alec Baldwin talking to This American Life overlord Ira Glass talking about how long it took him to find his voice, and how to be authentic rather than to take on that “NPR” style. Listen to that episode here.

How Authentic Should I Be?

How Authentic Should I Be?

“Just be yourself” is the ultimate in advice when it comes to presenting.

 

But

 

What happens when you know you need your message to be heard, but your authentic self is to be introverted and softly spoken?

What if you are presenting on a music station, and you are a massive sports fan?

What if you are presenting to the board? Do they really want to know that you struggled to find a clean pair of pants this morning?

 

Being advised to be authentic can open a can of worms, but the desire from audiences for “real people” is not going away. The popularity of TV shows like Love Island and Big Brother show this. The rise of the internet broadcaster (You Tubers / Influencers) is rooted in the sort of authenticity that is lost in the linear broadcasting of Radio or TV.

There are things I regularly talk to my clients about with how to deal this…

 

1) Be clear on “you”
During your show/presentation prep, write down the 5-10 things you know to be true about you. These are things you love, things you hate, things you are passionate about. These are the things that make you you, and make you human, and they can inform and appear in your content. You can also ask yourself “what are the things I know to be true about the topic I am presenting about?”

Example: I am a massive learner, and I love stories, so my presentations always include something I have learned from an experience, or from someone else.

 

2) Be clear on who you are speaking to
Engaging an audience is as much about understanding them as it is about understanding you. I know it’s not easy to read people’s minds but you can make a few assumptions. They are of course human (refer to point one). But if it is the board you are speaking to the board, you will have to work out what it is they will be expecting and align yourself with that.

 

3) Don’t Shoe Horn
Being authentic means being authentic. If you are trying to be authentic for authentic’s sake you won’t get the response that you desire from the audience. Make sure your content, and your stories, fit with what you are talking about. If you are doing a formal presentation, like reading the news, or presenting to the board, there will be opportunities for some personality to come out.

 

4) Imperfections
There is a growing trend to admit your imperfections at the moment, it’s a really effective way to engage the audience, and “be authentic”. See the popularity of online sites like The Midult. Self-deprecation, and admissions of your flaws is a guaranteed way to connect with your audience.

But this can be confused with what it is to be authentic, and sometimes too much self deprecation sounds insincere and needy. If you are on stage, screen or on air, you still need to hold your authority.

Positive reflection, observation and aspiration are all still engaging factors. For example, if I am in my true authentic space, there are parts of me that are obsessed with podcasts, self development, CrossFit and I am a bit of a show off. If I was worried about imperfections only, I wouldn’t share some of the more positive, enthusiastic elements of myself. And nothing is more engaging than enthusiasm.

 

5) Don’t get Stuck In Detail
The thing about authenticity in presentations is that you often don’t have enough time to tell the full story as it happened, with the nuances that went with it. Also getting lost in detail, can lose your audience.

I would love to tell you in detail about the time that I lost a friend’s kid (I did) but I only have a few minutes to do so. So when I tell the story I pull out what I call “the story beats”. These are the most important parts of the story. The bits I remember most: the hideous call to her parents to tell them she’d vanished, the moment we found her, the moment I turned around and she wasn’t there, the fact we were in a huge park, and that the minutes felt like hours. When those beats are put in the right order, I have definitely turned a long story short, and I can add the detail where I need to.

 

Authentic presenting is about taking all the parts of you and working out which ones will work with the audience you are talking to and the environment you are working in. It is not about baring your soul to everyone, in depth.

Creating Engaging Content: Using Topicality

Creating Engaging Content: Using Topicality

Engaging your audience is the primary challenge for any presenter, on stage, on screen, and on air. (Keep reading to find out about a new tool I have created that will help you)

 

The good news is that we humans are hardwired to connect with each other so as long as your audience is captive, they are pretty much ready to connect with you from the start. Your job as presenter is to keep their attention.

 

Choosing content that is relevant to your audience is important. 

 

Making your content relevant to your audience is essential. 

 

You are always trying to create moments of connection. One way to do that is to get topical. Get in your audience’s “zeitgeist”. If you can, understand where their head is at, from what is going on for them culturally. When you reference it in your content, it will go a long way to keep them engaged.

 

Ever noticed how when someone starts talking about Christmas in May, it jars doesn’t it?

 

But when the first Christmas cups appear in Starbucks in November time, you know Christmas is on the way and you can get excited about it!

 

This is how being topical can help you be relevant.

 

Basic topicality is acknowledging the day, is it a Monday vibe or a Friday vibe? Then you can think about whether you are in the midst of their holidays like Easter, Valentines Day or Christmas. Then there are specifics in the news or entertainment world.

 

I recently did a workshop for some lawyers right at the deadline of the new GDPR proceedures. I used the opportunity to make jokes around the amount of emails we were all getting, and the amount of work they were having to do for their clients. It was an easy win, and the response from the participants was unprecedented.

 

If you are presenting regularly on air, on social media or on stage, then you start to get good at knowing what your audiences will like. You get good at finding your “go to” websites (BBC News / TMZ / BuzzFeed etc.) to inspire your content ideas.

 

As a content creator I often like to get ahead with my web content, so it’s good to be able to plan ahead the topicality.

 

To help you with this I have pulled together a Content Calendar for reference. I will share this information with you in my weekly newsletter (sign up here).

It includes:

  • events
  • anniversaries
  • celebrity birthdays
  • national “days”
  • holidays
  • school terms
  • and more…

 

Use the information as you wish, as long as your audience recognises it.