Everything in life is a presentation. Whenever we interact with others, we are presenting the most important commodity we have: ourselves. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first day on the job, the first big client meeting, or even meeting your in-laws; people judge us by every action we take and create a lasting impression for every future encounter. Of course, presentations can elicit many different reactions in people. To some, presentations are a chance to display their knowledge and skills. To others, it is what nervously keeps them up at night. A 2014 study in the Washington Post reported that America’s biggest phobia is the fear of speaking in front of crowds at over 25% of those surveyed, just ahead of heights, bugs and snakes.
This is the reason I began attending Toastmasters, an international organization whose mission is to provide a supportive and positive learning environment. They strive to give every member the opportunity to develop their oral communication and leadership skills, which in turn foster self-confidence and personal growth. As I listened to speakers of all skill levels –old and new Toastmasters members –attempt to hone the art of delivering an effective presentation, it occurred to me that being able to present information and speak to an audience is not just a skill only truly dedicated people practice but should be viewed as the “golden skill” that everyone needs to practice. It is not just a skill for formal business but a skill for speaking in any type of setting.
As someone who has started the journey to becoming a better presenter, here are a few tips I have already learned that can improve anyone’s presentations skills:
Engage in roleplay: Create a character bursting with confidence, long strides in their walk, an important job that demands everyone’s attention and respect. By imagining this persona and pretending to be them before a presentation, it can greatly improve your ability to speak clearly and confidently.
Start and finish strong: Your goal should be for the audience to actually listen when you speak and remember what you say. Have a beginning that draws the audience and an ending that calls them to action or leaves the audience with something profound to think about
Don’t memorize: Preparation does not equal memorization. While this is counterintuitive to what you learned in school, it is expected that you may make adjustments off the cuff. The main goal is to expand upon the slides of your presentation.
Engage your audience: Know your audience: Whether pitching to your company or meeting your in-laws, it is important to tailor your presentation to your audience.Tell less and show more with your deck: Engage your audience with some great images and quotes that support your speaking points and enhance your words. Don’t be afraid to pause and think: It’s a presentation, not a marathon!
With all I’ve learned about public speaking and presentations in my short time with Toastmasters, it’s clear that there are no limits to how far we can take our ability to present information in an interesting and effective manner. There are all different forms of presentations and not all involve standing at a podium. It is an ever-evolving art that people should always be looking to improve upon and grow, just as we at Cheer strive to grow every single day.
Today many companies claim to put employees first, but fall short when it comes to “walking the walk”. However, Cheer Partners stands out as an organization that follows through on their mission to truly shift the way employees like me experience work. My experience on the Cheer Partners team has been an exciting adventure and entirely different than anything I’ve ever been a part of. One of my favorite aspects of the culture has turned out to be our decentralized office structure.
Having grown up in New York, I took what seemed to be the most logical step after graduation by applying for jobs at several PR and communications firms in New York City. I accepted an offer for a role in which I reported to the office every Monday through Friday, like most of today’s workforce. There was an occasional sick day or snow storm that allowed me to work from home, which was always a treat. A full-time remote position, however, was a completely different ball game.
At first I thought, “Of course I’d love to work from home. What could be better than getting to focus on a project in my pajamas?”. Truthfully, it is nice to exist professionally in a more casual environment. I have a corgi, Koda, that I take with me to as many places as possible, so getting to take him out during the day seemed like the biggest perk to me. And, while I do not see my colleagues in person regularly, I am never completely on my own. Our team is continuously brainstorming fun ways to connect like enjoying virtual coffee together or planning team bonding activities. What I consider to be one of the most overlooked benefits of our decentralized office is just that: the ability to work from anywhere, as long as you have cellphone service and Wi-Fi.
This month, I found myself making another move, this time from New York to California for the winter. It hadn’t really occurred to me before planning this trip how much more I could be doing with my time if I worked from a different place every once in a while. I wouldn’t have to wait until the weekend to explore a new city or take Koda to the dog park. If I stationed myself somewhere new to start the work day, then I would have a head start to start exploring as soon as I finished the day.
This became especially true with the three hour time difference in California. The majority of our clients—and employees, for that matter—are currently on the East Coast. So, when I made the move, I remained on an East Coast time zone for business hours. My typical day starts at 6am here and ends around 3pm. A year ago if somebody told me I had to show up to the office every day at 6am, I probably would have grumbled a bit; but, given my current circumstances, what could be better? I get to curl up on the couch with a cup of coffee and my corgi, plus have a nice early start to the day. I stay completely connected with my team on their schedules and then have the whole rest of the day to get to know this new place.
There’s no more waiting for the weekend to do all the things I plan to do. I find myself at in rare place where not only have I become a part of this incredible group of people whom I’ve grown to rely on and enjoy supporting, but I also get to work on reaching my personal goals. So often I hear of people having to sacrifice their personal goals for professional growth, or vice versa. However, with this new wave of millennials being too burnt out to spend more than a year or so in an office, I think Cheer Partners is really on to something. Our employees appreciate the flexibility and opportunities that our company structure offers, so we feel that much more motivated to give back to our employer and put our best work forward.
I think our clients can benefit from us having this availability, as well. Changing up my environment has also changed up my perspective, which naturally flows into my work. I feel much less at risk of my work or what I produce becoming stale because I have so many opportunities to refresh or reset and bring new ideas to my projects. As with any job, there are long days and unforeseen obstacles that arise that test our patience with each other and ourselves, but I haven’t felt burnt out once since I started almost a year ago. On the contrary, I feel even more excited now than when I first started here. I look forward to all that is to come, for our team, our clients and, yes, for myself!
Job search: two words that can make anyone cringe just thinking about them. Whether you’re fresh out of college or a seasoned professional, looking for a new position often comes with the stress of the hunt, finding the right fit, perfecting your resume and, of course, the interview process. Our Talent Team here at Cheer Partners knows just how hard it can be to find the right position, the right company and the right culture for you. But, one of the most important things to do is to remain positive throughout your active search. If you’re looking to land your dream job, keep these essential tips top of mind:
- Update your resume frequently, even before you start the job search. You want to ensure that it captures all that you have accomplished and celebrates your successes.
- Give yourself a competitive edge. What can you highlight to make you stand out from similar candidates?
- Tailor your resume to match each job you apply to—it’s not one size fits all!
- Submit cover letters via email. Don’t create a separate document that needs to be opened, and also don’t squeeze it in with your resume. Take the time to write a thoughtful note, as this is the time to sell your personal brand.
- Don’t scroll through a ton of job postings with generic searches. Make sure your searches are targeted for the specific role that you want.
- Research the companies you are interested in and follow them on LinkedIn as well as their other social channels. This will help you get a feel for how they truly celebrate and engage with their employees.
- Follow up. HR and Talent Specialists receive hundreds of resumes for a single job post. So, several days after you submit your resume, reach out to reiterate your interest in the company and role with a personalized message.
- Maximize your LinkedIn profile. Keep it up current and be sure to feature your recent experience. If you’re working and you’re afraid of your changes being seen, go into your settings and make the necessary privacy adjustment to not have your updates posted.
- Reach out to your alumni networks! They are not just there for reunions and charity events and can open up a world of connections.
- Thoughtfully write your Thank You note. These go a very long way. Go beyond the “nice to meet you”. Be thorough. Consider sharing a case study, writing sample or something of importance to this role. Don’t reiterate items on your resume—you already did this during the interview. Take this moment and showcase yourself as being their next great hire.
As long as you remain optimistic and in control of your job search, your stress level will be low, and you’ll be able to truly focus on what your next steps will be. Be the candidate that you would want to hire, and that will shine through from your initial outreach through the offer. Good luck!
Each new year provides us with an opportunity to reevaluate our goals – professionally and personally. With the growing trend of blending work with our personal lives – think remote work cultures, expanded family leave policies, and other corporate culture perks and improvements – there’s a good chance this year’s goals and resolutions are much more closely related than ever before. After all, so much of our personal lives filter into the workplace.
Prioritizing self-care and getting more exercise are two popular new year resolutions, and with its increasing popularity you may have zeroed in on taking up a few yoga classes each week. And, why not? Yoga trends today tout sculpted muscles, burned calories and other improved mind-body benefits.
But, what if I told you developing a regular yoga practice could also help you achieve your workplace goals? In its purest form, yoga is much more than crazy, pretzel-twisting poses in sauna-like conditions; yoga is the study of balance and communication from the heart.
Based on more than 5,000 years of science and technology, yoga asanas or poses were designed to meter the breath, which prepares the mind for meditation, which ultimately leads to resetting the central nervous system to its original calm state. In a nutshell, the entire process is the secret sauce that has you leaving class feeling like your best self – calm, yet alert and fully energized.
What does this all have to do with the workplace? Plenty. Reduced stress, staying in the present moment and economizing the words that we use to be more effective in our communications are just a few examples. Others include refocusing your energy from unnecessary activity; talking less and listening more; speaking your truth more directly, and even writing in a more productive and meaningful way.
To get you started, here are a few tips to help make the connection from a yoga class to the workplace:
- Yoga means to join or yoke within a community, similar to our colleagues within the workplace.
- Listen to your body, as in, trust your inner guru or intuition when making decisions. Oftentimes, you know more than you think you do, so take some risks, when it feels right.
- Focus on your lines of energy, as proper alignment from the ground to the top is needed to maintain even the hardest of poses. Workplace initiatives and/or goals are best achieved and maintained when everyone is aligned from the most junior-level to senior executives using proper lines of communication.
- Remember the cadence of your breathe helps to keep the pose – even when it’s hard. In the workplace, things can get sticky or serious; but, like your breath, doing the prep work and being kind to yourself and others will get you through the roughest of spots.
- Setting your intention for a yoga session is similar to asking before embarking on a new work initiative: What am I looking to achieve here, and why?
Here’s wishing you much success in achieving your 2019 goals!
– Carol Ready is a Senior Director of Strategic Communications with Cheer Partners. She’s also a certified Vinyasa Flow and Restorative yoga instructor and is in the midst of earning her 500-hour certification.