Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Presentation with Impact

Image result for presentation with impact
Our one and two day Presentation courses have been our most popular from the very beginning of Impact Factory, and the reason is very clear:  if you can’t present well, it’s unlikely you’ll progress to your full potential.

We’ve seen this time and time again – delegates come to our courses because their career advancement has stalled and they find themselves overlooked and shunted to the side-lines.  This inability to move forward is often caused by a fear of presenting which in turn means they miss out on opportunities to express themselves, demonstrate their skills and talents and make the impact they want.

One or two days with Impact Factory has proven immensely helpful, so much so, that we were asked if we could create an even longer version to really dig deep into the subject.

That’s when Presentation with Impact was born.

One of our shorter Presentation courses builds people’s confidence, their understanding of what happens in front of an audience, their skills in presenting with flair and style, their ability to cope under pressure.

Our Five Day Elite Presentation with Impact takes presenting to a whole new level: it is all about becoming a master of the craft of presenting.  One delegate described it as getting an injection of charisma he didn’t even know he had.  Five days of immersion will do that!

We say that this course needs courage; presenting is already a challenge to many people and to spend five days mining deeply into the subject and stretching each delegate’s capacity and creativity can be daunting – it can also be transforming.

There’s also time to learn more ‘tricks of the trade’ – bringing PowerPoint to life and being in charge of it instead of the other way around, learning the craft of storytelling to bring a freshness and inventiveness to each presentation, learning how to truly inspire and motivate an audience.

Presentation with Impact isn’t just about becoming a brilliant presenter; it is about gaining insight into yourself, how you work best and how to use your authentic, original self in everything you do.

Check out Impact Factory’s Elite Five Day Presentation with Impact courses.

By Jo Ellen Grzyb, Director, Impact Factory

Thursday, 15 October 2015

The Apprentice Episode 1

The Apprentice is sort of becoming a caricature of itself.  What was once an intriguing, kind of exciting programme has stayed stuck in a weird time-warp where these aspiring apprentices have the oddest perspective on what being a business person is all about.

Here are some of the inevitable Opening Night quotes– is this really the best of what’s out there?

“I want the cars, I want the girls but most of all I want the power.”

“I’m disgustingly ambitious.”

“I want to be a billionaire; I want to be richer than Lord Sugar.”

Yup, television at its best I guess.  Clearly the show must get good ratings for it to continue year after year.  To me the formula seems stale, unexciting and a poor representation of what a lot of the business world really is.

Obviously, there are still businesses out there that operate with that ‘old school’ approach of intimidation, character destruction and making people feel small.  The idea being that we’ll put you through a crucible of fire (fish fingers??) and if you survive you’ll be a better man/woman for it and you’ll surely succeed.

And people do.

Yah, yah, it’s all about television, but really, would it hurt to show other aspects of leadership, team working, feedback that aren’t about putting people down, lack of nurturing, lack of compassion?

For me I suppose I shall have to park the realist in me that would love to see a programme devoted to emotionally intelligent leadership, compassionate role modelling and a different kind of template to show younger people an alternative aspiration.

Of course businesses have to make a profit to survive. But as I question the premise every year, should profit be the only criteria for winning?

Often the winning team on a given week, to me should actually be the losing team because even weighed against the profits made, the way they were made is distasteful, unprofessional , even cruel.

That wasn't true last night, as Versatile, the team that made the most profit did indeed do a better job.  

Yet, Dan, the person 'fired' had other qualities that I would prefer to work with than April, the Project Manager for Conexus.

Of course I've made hiring mistakes and will probably continue to do so; that's part of the joys and despairs of running a business - we don't always get it right.  But I just feel that other useful qualities are overlooked. 

But I'm not the show's producers and if you have a winning formula, you stick with it.

I guess I'm looking for more humanity and fairness and I guess that I'd be laughed out of the Boardroom if I said that there was a kinder way to do business and a kinder way to lead other people than the examples displayed on The Apprentice.

So I will continue watching and commenting and perhaps the smart thing would be to view it not as a true representation of how people should progress in the business world, but as purely a soap opera-like entertainment with a complete suspension of disbelief.

After all, look across the pond at who's running for President, so clearly, the joke's on us!

Check out Impact Factory’s range of Personal Impact, Communication Skills, Leadership Skills and Line Management.

By Jo Ellen Grzyb, Director, Impact Factory

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Bake Off Confidence

I may as well add my adulation of The Great British Bake Off’s winner Nadiya Hussain by quoting her moving and inspiring words as so many others are doing since she won last week:

"I'm never going to put boundaries on myself ever again. I'm never going to say 'I can't do it'. I'm never going to say 'maybe'. I'm never going to say 'I don't think I can'. I can and I will."

Nadiya didn’t just speak to Bake Off fans who have been following her up and down and up journey over the past 12 weeks; her words will resonate with anyone who has ever struggled with confidence, felt a failure, given up before they’ve begun, let their limiting beliefs stop them from trying.

Now, of course, Nadiya spent 12 weeks in the crucible of fire known as the Bake Off Tent, with cameras poised to capture her facial expressions, emotions, her disasters (not all that many) and her triumphs (quite a few). 

Clearly, most of us don’t have to challenge our confidence levels in quite such a public way, yet Nadiya summed up what so many people feel who struggle with self-confidence:  she had to battle her lack of belief in herself which at times got in the way of her talents and gifts.

With millions watching, she battled her demons and won.

Let’s look at a few things you can do when you find yourself saying, “I don’t think I can.”

Identify those demons and limiting beliefs.  For many people their behaviour is often of the knee-jerk variety where they react first and often don’t ask questions of themselves at all.  “I don’t think I can” comes out of their mouths because they’ve already convinced themselves they can’t.

It really does help to take time to list what those beliefs actually are and how true they are.  When I was a child I was told that I couldn’t draw and it really stopped me picking up a pencil or even some crayons for all my childhood, teen years and early 20s.  My fingers would itch to draw but my head would remind me that I couldn’t do it.

Finally, I discovered stick figures and that I could draw stick figures that had real character.  I somehow found a way around my limiting belief that fulfilled my drawing need. 

So much of what limits us are messages we got when we were young and those messages get internalised so they feel real.

They aren’t.

You already do some things really well and you’ll have some lovely qualities; it’s always a confidence booster to remind yourself what those are.  They don’t have to be big, major things; they can be loads of small things you do well:  offering to make colleagues tea, remembering to put the bins out, being on time, being cheerful when you get into work.  Often we think something has to be earth-shattering to qualify as worthy. 

One thing you can do is to look back on the past three to six months and think about anything you’ve done that you feel proud of achieving.  For instance, I’m proud that I filed my taxes ahead of time.  Now I pretty much file my taxes ahead of time very year, but just because it’s part of my normal routine it doesn’t mean I can’t be proud of it as an achievement.

We sometimes set the bar of what’s ‘acknowledgeable’ way too high.

Next, identify your passions – you’ll have loads of those.  Things that make your heart sing and you senses stir.  Again, they don’t have to be grand passions; you can be passionate about salted caramel flavoured ice cream or Marvel comic books or Downton Abbey.  What’s important is that you acknowledge the passions you have and that they say something about who you are.

Accepting all of that – your qualities, accomplishments, things you’re proud of and your passions – can help build your confidence.  Most of us spend way too much time telling ourselves, ‘maybe’ and ‘I can’t do it’ and ‘I don’t think I can’ when, actually, like Nadiya, we can and we ‘should’.

Check out Impact Factory’s range of Personal Impact, Assertiveness and ConflictManagement courses.

By Jo Ellen Grzyb, Director, Impact Factory

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Communication and Self-Blame

I do seem to be obsessed with blame these days. It's predictably reassuring to hear Jose Mourino blame everyone else but himself for Chelsea's poor form, and listening to the (also) predictable
reaction of Volkswagen top bods "It wasn't me, Gov, I didn't know anything about it" once Martin  Winterkorn fell on his sword (he also didn't know anything about it, but resigned anyway).

Humility is definitely not the order of the day.

This week, though, I want to look at self-blame and the negative impact it can have if unchecked. I was reminded of this aspect of blame when I screwed up my timings the other day and made my husband and I late for an important appointment; I who am rarely late. I was so not a happy bunny, and despite no censure from anyone else, I continued to give myself a hard time for quite a while.

What I realised once I climbed out of my pit of self-chastisement, was that blaming myself for my own misdemeanour served no purpose whatsoever.

It wasn't like taking responsibility for a mistake and then moving on; no, I dragged out my own unpleasant feelings which didn't change a thing and only made me feel worse. Far better if I had taken my own advice about accepting I had goofed and at the same time avoided guilt. What I realised is that by wallowing in self-blame I was really looking for exoneration from my husband and from the person whose appointment we were late for.

In an odd way, I was taking too much responsibility, and acting like a disapproving parent to myself, when what would have been a more appropriate and proportionate response would have been to apologise for the lateness and been done with it.

I did carry on unpicking the situation:  what would have helped me in my moment of self-reprimand? What could I have done to let go sooner?  Looking outside myself for reassurance that I wasn’t a bad person worked a little bit, but I still continued to tick myself off and ultimately seeking that from others isn’t ideal. To be looking outside for approval leads to an undermining of self-confidence and gives too much not necessarily wanted power to others.

So here’s a few things I could have done:

Assessed the situation with objectivity:  just how bad was my crime (notice the dramatic language I’m still using)?  Did the punishment I gave myself fit the crime?

Given myself a two-minute time limit to wallow and moan and then called a halt to it all.

Phoned a friend from the car to distract myself from slipping back into scolding myself.

Raised my awareness that my inner critical parent was giving me a harder time than any outside person would.

Joked to my husband that there were quite a few people who could use a little more self-blame and a lot less finger-pointing.

Used the time more constructively by catching up with stuff with my husband that we hadn’t had time to discuss.

Given myself a break!  Put my disapproving parent in a box, told it to shut up and got on with getting to my appointment.

The point is, I’d never communicate to anyone the way I communicated to myself.  It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t nice and as I said at the beginning all it served to do was make me feel worse.

In a way I’m glad it happened because it reminded me that in extemis unhelpful behaviour creeps in and if I hadn’t been so down on myself I could have found a way through much quicker.

Now if I can just find a way to make Mr Mourino behave with a little more humility, that would really be something (but not nearly as entertaining).

Check out Impact Factory’s range of Communication, Conflict Management, LineManagement and Customer Service courses.

By Jo Ellen Grzyb, Director, Impact Factory