As you watched the London Olympics, you may have wondered, "Why does one athlete reach her golden goal while another with equal talent falters?" Sports psychologists tell us the athlete who hauls in the hardware has learned to manage her anxiety. Same with influential leaders and presenters. After a decade of coaching executives, I've learned the key is to manage your anxiety, not try to control it. Managing and controlling are two different mindsets. If you manage your anxiety, you'll stay focused, which radically reduces your stress and improves the outcome. If you try to control it, you give the anxiety too much power. Trying to control your nerves while delivering a presentation makes you vulnerable because...
In a week that's featured the return of Adele's powerfully emotional voice, the silencing of Whitney Houston's soaring vocals, and the imminent finale of Glen Campbell's crooning to Alzheimer's disease, I feel compelled to share this this truth: Use your voice. It's the center of your influence. Ever lost your voice? I've been silenced by a case of full blown laryngitis this week and am under doctor's orders to stay completely silent for 48 hours. No talking. No whispering. Not so much as a gentle throat clearing. You'd be surprised at how much you learn about your ability to influence when you're suddenly silent – and what others imply by your stillness.
Increasingly, leaders like you are facing language barriers, both within your global organizations and in front of audiences in presentations. With that in mind, I'd like to share three quick lessons that I have learned.
Ever received an e-mail response that struck you as the communication equivalent of Whac-A-Mole? Maybe you got a curt "see below" when you sent a question to a peer in an e-mail chain. You felt clobbered by your peer's abrupt, dismissive tone.
Consider the fire hydrant's purpose. Your neighborhood fire plug lets firefighters tap into the municipal water system to extinguish a fire. They attach a hose to the cast iron hydrant, screw open a valve and whoosh, out comes a powerful flow of water. Simple enough.
Being a confident communicator who influences others is a choice you make each and every day.
The world's most famous athlete and a two-time presidential contender both torpedoed their careers with their self-destructive narcissism. Tiger Woods referred to his ego- maniacal state as a "sense of entitlement" in his televised mea culpa. John Edwards outed himself as a narcissist in an ABC interview after he was caught cheating on his cancer-stricken wife.
How you communicate a message has a direct impact on your ability to influence opinions.
You heard about the married politician caught trysting with his girlfriend in Argentina. On the day he was caught returning from his fun in the sun, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford held a hasty, free association press conference at the statehouse to drop the bomb.
Game over. Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner moved swiftly to fire his front office following the final, crushing loss of the season. He cut general manager Phil Savage loose by phone after Sunday's defeat, and then sacked coach Romeo Crennel the next morning.
I can read your mind. Not another story about Joe the Plumber, you're thinking. Good news. This isn't about Joe, the nation's newest household name invoked again and again during the final presidential debate. It's about you and your ability to make a point that people actually remember, repeat and respond to.