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The Work-Life War that Needs to End and How Managers Can End It (Part II)

 

Last week I discussed the tension that exists in the workplace between employees with children vs those without.  You can read last week’s blog before continuing here if you wish to get a deeper understanding.  If not, then what is important to note is that in the discussion of work-life issues the animosity between the two groups mentioned is often a byproduct of poor communication and a workplace culture that gives advantages to one group over the other.  Managers are at the center of this battle and in some cases are fueling the fight.

Here are 6 simple suggestions to help managers ease the tension.   They are not all encompassing but they will help.

Continue reading “The Work-Life War that Needs to End and How Managers Can End It (Part II)”

The Work-Life War that Needs to End and How Managers Can End It (Part I)

Work-life balance is a pain point for a lot of people. It seems that no matter what the industry, no matter who the person, there is always a reaction of ‘oh yea, I need help with that” every time I mention my speaking and research interests in the area.

There is a second, almost as common and often more uncomfortable reaction I get and it goes something like this:

“Work-life balance? Yea it’s important but I don’t matter because I don’t have kids or a spouse.” Continue reading “The Work-Life War that Needs to End and How Managers Can End It (Part I)”

4 Ways to Truly Appreciate Graduate Students All Year Round

This week marks the end Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week (GPSAW) across the country.  Although I am biased, graduate and professional students are a significant part of the campus ecosystem. Graduate students serve as instructors, administrators (a 20 hr. a week Grad Assistant is just a ½ employee in my book), innovate thought, and add a more mature dynamic on our campuses.

Taking time to celebrate, thank, acknowledge, and pamper grad students is something all campuses should have done this week. But what happens after this week? Do we go back to forgetting them and focusing on undergraduates again? I hope not. Here are 4 suggestions you can implement on your campus to make sure graduate students are appreciated and heard beyond the free donuts, massages, and swag that comes with GPSAW.

Continue reading “4 Ways to Truly Appreciate Graduate Students All Year Round”

3 Reasons You Need to Have the Work-Life Conversation With Your Boss

If you want to improve your work-life balance then there is one action step you must take. It’s a very logical action step but sadly, it is a step most employees unhappy with their work-life situation either fail to do it or avoid altogether.

That action is step is: to have the work-life conversation with your supervisor.

There are 3 very simple reason for you to do this. Continue reading “3 Reasons You Need to Have the Work-Life Conversation With Your Boss”

3 False Assumptions About Graduate Student Leaders

There is an underlying assumption that graduate student leaders do not need much support because they are more mature and experienced than undergraduate leaders. Although this may be true in some cases, this notion is based on 3 faulty assumptions. It should be noted that these assumptions are often subtly embedded in our structures and activities vs overt attempts to limit the graduate student leader experience.  In other words, campuses don’t mean to limit this experience but sometimes do so without realizing it mainly because they buy into one or all of these false assumptions. The assumptions are: Continue reading “3 False Assumptions About Graduate Student Leaders”

5 LESSONS I LEARNED FROM COMPETING IN THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP OF PUBLIC SPEAKING

*I should note if you want a more detailed description of my lessons from the WCPS please watch this video:

benefitsofspeech

It’s been 4 years since I made the semi-finals and had the honor to compete in the World Championships of Public Speaking (WCPS).  It is one of my more significant accomplishments as a speaker and definitely the greatest accomplishment I have achieved as member of Toastmasters International.   After the contest I decided to focus more on keynoting and seminars but there are 5 key lessons I took away from the process that I think all speakers should know.

1) Commit to the Process. 

Give the speech à Get Feedback à Analyze Feedback à Make adjustments à Give the improved speech (and repeat the process).

That’s the process I used as I geared up for the semi-finals.  For six months I committed to it, testing my material in front of not just Toastmaster clubs but community organizations, work colleagues, and pretty much anybody I could sway into listening to me including a very apathetic cat.  The end result was not only a very polished speech I could use on stage but I learned the value of this process.    I love to write and test out my speeches but there is a big difference between performing in front of a mirror and performing in front of a live crowd who gives you all sorts of feedback.  These days, when I have an idea for a keynote I don’t wait to get a paid speaking engagement to test it out.  I find test audiences to give me the feedback I need to make it better.

2)  Feel the crowd.  The Toastmasters International Speech Contest is a prepared speech contest. Most competitors work tirelessly to get their speech tight and within time limits.  In many ways it reminds me of rehearsal back when I was involved in theatre.  That’s why I surprised myself when with 1 minute of time left I started improving a few lines based on audience reaction.  This included inserting a stronger call to action on the spot.   They were the best parts of the speech and since then I have taken on a more conversational and audience participatory style to many of my talks.  The audience will give you beautiful moments and I was confident enough to take what was in front of me instead of sticking to the script.

3) Be vulnerable.  Telling a story is one thing, opening yourself up to the audience is another.  When you are telling a story on stage you are often reliving it.  Reliving poignant and sometimes emotional moments can be tough.  You never know how an audience is going to react to your struggles or even your triumph.  Being vulnerable on stage is scary but it is necessary.  You have to vulnerable to be authentic and you have to be authentic to connect with the audience.

4) Find a balance. One week before the Semi-finals I gave a talk on membership recruitment to a local Rotary Club.  It had nothing to do with my competition speech.  There were no timers and no fear of making a big mistake.  It was just me and some people talking about membership recruitment.   After that talk I went and grabbed an ice cream and watched the river at a local park.  It was amazing.   Not only was I more relaxed but I found that break from my competition speech actually reignited some of my creativity too.

There comes a time when you have to step away from work and re-center yourself.  As a speaker there are moments where it is beneficial to step away from one project and focus on something else.

artaleelephant

5) Live your message.  My speech was about the importance of the time we spend with family.  For much of the speech I talk about how my professional aspirations robbed me of great moments with my family and friends.  I vowed not to make that mistake again.  I did not make the finals but had the opportunity to watch the top 10 in the world duke it out for title the next day.  I also had the chance to take my wife and 3 month old son to the Cincinnati Zoo.  I could not do both at once.   I went to the zoo and don’t regret it at all.   The memories were priceless and I I discovered the importance of consistently living my message.The World Championships of Public Speaking is one of the best vehicles for improving your speaking craft.  I did not win the grand prize but what I learned in the process was 10x more valuable than any trophy.  It made me a better speaker and more importantly, a better person.

*Paul Artale is a keynote speaker, presentation coach and leadership trainer.  For more information on Paul please visit:

www.paulartale.com

www.unleashyourmessage.net

@PaulArtale

5 Essential Habits for Public Speakers

I often get asked for advice on becoming a motivational speaker.  I am always more than willing to offer my two cents on the matter.   After all, I have had so many wonderful speaker do the same for me as I was starting out.  Having given people my advice numerous time now, I think there are 5 habits every speaker (motivational or not) needs to adopt if they are a) serious and b) care about crafting stories and talks that have impact.   These tips have nothing to do with the business of speaking (although these habits can help with that) and focus on the art of speaking itself.  These are the habits that work for me and the speakers I admire the most.

  1. Speak all the time. It is wonderful that you may have delivered that dynamite speech once to a group or that people tell you that you are a great speaker.  It really is something you should be proud of BUT a few isolated successes aren’t enough.  As a speaker you need to well…..speak.   Book yourself as much as possible to as many groups that are appropriate for your message.  Don’t have a live audience?  No problem.  You should be practicing on your own too.  How you practice is up to you but you need to be working on new material, refining old material, and at some point rehearsing (just like I did in high school theatre class) to better refine your talks.   In a nutshell what I am saying is that speaking needs to be a daily habit.
  2. Record Yourself. Let me guess: you hate the sound of your voice and how you look on camera.   I get it because I am one of those people too.  It is a painful but necessary step in improving as a speaker.  Playing back your speeches will give you a different perspective on your progress.   From body language to vocal inflections to audience reaction…the proverbial tape doesn’t lie.
  3. Crave Feedback.  To get better you have analyze feedback from the audience and meeting planners.  Self-analysis is great but what the audience thinks of your message is key.  You have to find out if you connected.  You can get feedback in a variety of ways ranging from creating your own feedback form to post meeting follow ups talks with meeting planners.  I personally like to use this feedback form which is one simple question: 

    “What was my message in 10 words or less”

    I often add this to my client testimonial form and it offers a simple temperature check of how the audience perceived my talk.  Have I used more complex forms?  Yes but when in doubt, that one question is all I need.

     

  4. Adjust and Experiment. Full disclosure: I generally don’t like canned speeches.    Memorizing a story or a speech word for word and not shifting the content or the context doesn’t really work for me.  Growing as speaker involves taking risks on new and old material alike.  Speaking daily, film/audio analysis, and getting feedback are useless if you don’t actually apply some of the observations and thoughts.   A speech should be a growing, evolving organism.    My keynote Hit! Hard! Is very different from when I first started even though the shell of the speech looks similar.  Jokes, stories, and audience exercises have been added, deleted, readded and even improvised on stage over the years.   The worst thing that can happen is your change didn’t pan out the way you thought it would…so what!  That’s part of the process too!  Embrace this step and speaking will become 117% more fun.

     

  5. Get a Coach. At some point you will need to get a coach to take you to the next level. Look at this as the speaking equivalent of having a personal trainer.  A good coach will help you see your blindspots as a speaker, show you some new tips and drills, and generally help you become a better presenter.  I am lucky to have worked with some excellent coaches over the years and continue to make this part of my own development plan.  For me it has also led to a love of coaching others (so if you’re interested go on over to https://paulartale.com/program/public-speaker-training/).  Once you feel developed enough in your own abilities you can coach too or as often happens, people approach you for the one-on-one training.

These 5 habits have proved to be crucial in my success as a speaker.  If you are truly interested in being a speaker then you need to speak and incorporate these 5 steps as they lay the foundation for good speaking practice, help keep your creative juices flowing, and most importantly make speaking even more fun than it already is.