Monthly Archives: August 2016

Stage-Fright—our best Motivator

It’s time to hold a speech. Or it’s customers expecting a presentation. And then? The heart beats faster, we sweat and feel panic. The hands are wet and shaky. So what’s to do?

First of all, anxiety is not an illness such as depression, but a natural reaction of our body with our Savannah brain. That brain has not changed significantly since that time some 50,000 years ago when the first modern humans emerged and lived in a perilous wilderness full of deathly beasts. Still when we’re in situations that we perceive as threatening, the body releases stress hormones and adrenaline and leads us to fight or flight readiness. Fortunately, because this helped Homo Sapiens to survive!

We have no fear for our lives in today’s situations. But what we do feel is fear of failure and rejection. However, that stage fright has characteristics that we can easily transform to the opposite effect—to motivation! Stage fright can even inspire us to peaks performance. But how?

The adrenaline can give us a kick and help us to sharpen the senses. We become more attentive and are therefore able to focus on the speech or presentation. Excitement can turn into joy. And to relieve the tension, we use the walk-off instinct and actually do sport exercises. Even a walk outside or up and down the corridors can help. Many experienced speakers successfully practice the repeated tightening and loosening of muscles.

In addition to the “reversal” of stage fright, there are other tricks to gain confidence and hold a speech successfully. Some scientist had found out that the first seven seconds are decisive for the impression that the listener gets of a speaker. Therefore, the entry to the speech is the most critical moment. A joke, an anecdote, a pictorial scene—and the audience is won.

It is utterly important to prepare well for the speech and to act it out again and again in our head. How may the audience react? What critical issues might arise? Anyone dealing with that is not easily confused at critical points during the actual speech. This method is used professionally in telemarketing. Each call center agent has a list of so-called single-wall arguments or objection points before him.

In every audience there are potential “boo shouters” and “hooray cheerers”. Good speakers are always trying to make eye contact with those people who agree with them and look over the pessimistic ones. Thus, speaker and audience encourage each others. This creates a momentum that makes the whole scene move.

Speakers almost always have a glass of water in front of them, for good reasons. In stressful situations less saliva is produced and the mouth gets dry. Therefore: Prior to and during the speech always have a drink! The nervous movements of the hands can be turned into gestures that accompany the presentation. Avoid clothing that is manufactured from synthetic materials, because we sweat easily therein. Better is cotton or—if possible—breathable clothing. And of course a shirt in bright colors on which welding is barely visible.

Last but not least: Whoever repeats speech situations instead of avoiding them becomes a well skilled and qualified presenter.

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How Leadership Women Communicate Properly with Men

Why are women still underrepresented in leadership positions? Clearly: it’s up to them! They don’t find the right words to tell male counterparts what to do! That’s at least what a US satirist believes. So she gives hints how to communicate.

 By Jens Kügler

In one of its latest newsletters, the German advertising magazine w&v this week published a link to the page of the American blogger and comedian Sarah Cooper. I just want to reflect briefly the main content of the blog posting “9 Non-Threatening Leadership Strategies for Women”. They are of course not really meant seriously. Rather, they show: This lady is humorous and holds up a mirror to women and men.

So, shall men accept strong women and not feel challenged by them? Yes, as Cooper writes. Provided that the ladies do not provoke them. Rule one: When setting a deadline, the power woman does not say to the male colleague “This has to be done by Monday.” Smarter, of course, is the question: “What do you think about getting this done by Monday?”. What do you think—that question is most important to men who want to feel to be important!

Rule number two is about sharing ideas or who is creative director. Instead of “I have an idea”, the sensitive female executive takes herself not so important and by using the words: “I’m just thinking out loud here.” The third rule concerns the e-mail traffic. Of course, instead of writing “Send me the presentation when it is ready”, she softens her email with emojis and nice words: “Hey Jake. :-) Can I take a peek at your presentation when it’s ready :-) Thanks !! :-) :-) “.

Strategy number four deals again with the question of ideas. This time it’s about what she has to say when the idea has been stolen from her. Incorrect is a disappointed face which expresses “Yes, but that’s exactly what I just said.” Correct: a smiling “Thank you for articulating that so clearly.” Rule five concerns sexist comments. Instead of saying something like “That’s not appropriate and I don’t appreciate it”, she simply smiles embarrassed over it with an awkward laugh.

And what if her male colleague wants to tell her something that she has already known for long? This is subject to rule number six. She does not say it like “I’m the one that taught YOU this six months ago”, but “I’d love to hear you explain it to me again”, so he feels useful! Rule seven is about her discovering his mistakes. Threatening would be: “These numbers are wrong!”. Non-threatening is: “I’m sorry, are these numbers right? I’m not 100% sure , I hate numbers”.

Rule number eight concerns collaborating. Of course, she does not write faster than him by rapid touch typing on the keyboard with all ten fingers. She works slow using only one finger. The last rule, number nine, advises women for correct behavior in case of disagreement. And that is really quite simple. If she says: “That strategy will not solve our problem”, she should wear a mustache. Then, as the blogger believes, the male colleague will agree. So easy goes female leadership!

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Immigrants—Germany’s Jobmakers

Entrepreneurs with foreign roots are a stimulus-movers in Germany. A recent study reveals this impressively.

“Foreigners out”—people calling inflammatory slogans like these are usually not only afraid of foreign cultural influences (a still permitted party of the radical spectrum uses the term “alienation”). Another one of their motives is often the fear of loss of jobs taken by immigrants. But that’s utterly nonsense. Foreigners do not take jobs away. They create them!

One of the good news of this week has been making the rounds since yesterday: It is the result of a study by the Bertelsmann Foundation, carried out by Prognos AG. Thereafter, the number of sites that have been created by entrepreneurs with foreign roots, increased by 36 percent from 947,000 in 2005 to 1.3 millions in 2014. In the same period, the number of entrepreneurs with an immigrant background rose by around 25 percent from 567,000 to 709,000.

Kebab shops? Chinese restaurants? Kiosks? Greek vegetable shops? So—all just micro or family businesses? No, these are old clichés. Nearly half of all non-German origin entrepreneurs work in the services sector, one in five in the manufacturing industry. Only 28 percent are engaged in trade and catering.

But the workplaces that foreign-born entrepreneurs create spread very unevenly across the 16 states of Germany. In other words: They are mainly located in the west. In North Rhine-Westphalia alone there are 300,000 such jobs. In the five former East German states they are altogether just 31,000. However, these states still have the highest unemployment rates, but also the biggest and loudest manifestations of xenophobia. It’s an irony for a society that the jobs don’t come where they are most needed because of people afraid to lose something.

Previous studies have already shown that in Germany the founders rate among people with a migration background is about twice as high as among people with indigenous roots. One of the reasons for this is actually a form of discrimination: people with foreign names—especially those sounding Mediterranean or Oriental—find it difficult to rise to leadership positions in German companies. They lack the confidence, but also the networks in the management level. They start businesses because they have to be self-employed if they have ambition, entrepreneurial spirit and want to earn good money.

By the way: More Bertelsmann studies arrive at results as “National welfare benefits from immigration—22 billion euros relief” or “Germany needs more immigration from non-EU countries to close gaps in the labor market”. Nice if some more news like these would be published and discussed. Instead of crude simple slogans.

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The Brand Men

Most brands promise the greatest product and performance advantages. However, the most successful brands are those that are not best known for a logo, proposal or claim. But for a face.

Steve Jobs, Dale Carnegie, the Game blogger Pewdiepie or—for Germans—Claus Hipp, J.J Darboven, Adolph Freiherr von Knigge, Mr. Grupp of the Trigema shirts: there is one thing that all these people have in common. Although they live or have lived at very different times and work or have worked in very different environments. They have made themselves and their personality a unique brand that not only won a kind of unique sales proposal through it. Their brands have become synonymous with an entire product category, service purpose or mindset. These people seem to be what they offer. Their product is perceived by them and really got a face.

Why are “people-brands” more successful than others? It’s easy. We humans prefer to buy from a man with a personality instead of an anonymous company. We trust his personally expressed promise. Why? Because this man obviously stands so confident behind it. He seems to put all his strength and energy in the product and the customer service.

But how does a face become a trademark? It is not only the convincing appearance or permanent presence. Rather, these brand-men have stories to tell. They provide content, as we call it today, they do storytelling. They do not only build up an expert status. They are opinion leaders, opinion makers.

The modern media, the social networks make it easier than ever to become a person-brand. But they also make it harder. More and more people try to position themselves. And the perception of an audience does not allow an infinite number of such familiar popular faces. To be successful, a business-man must first reflect and find out for himself: Who am I? What do I stand for? What is my USP?

Well, of course this has become a business meanwhile. Personal branding agencies offer help in finding the core competence and the positioning. They help build a reputation in the electronic media. For a “human brand testimonial”, it is important to spread his messages permanently through channels such as Facebook or Twitter. On their blogs these brand people offer their fans much added value by entertaining information and discussions. They substantiate their competence. And they offer their “fans” a platform to communicate and take them seriously. Finally, they appear honest and sympathetic in all that they communicate. Who is willing and able to do this, too, or allows professional help, has a chance to become the most successful people-brand of tomorrow.

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