personal development

Public Speaking and The Matrix

Much of today’s self-help and personal development programs and materials are geared towards the ‘quick fix’ crowd. People want results fast and the want them with minimal effort. It’s like the film The Matrix where whenever a character within the supercomputer needs to learn a skill, the needed knowledge is downloaded in a matter of seconds. Unfortunately, despite the fact that many tools only feed this frenzy, life simply does not work like that.

Why Most Self-Help Books are Garbage

I try to read at least one book per week. It doesn’t always happen, but I try. While I love sci-fi and other fiction, I always find myself drawn to non-fiction so the majority of these books are from the self-help category. I don’t know what it is that draws me in – perhaps the quick fix, answer to all my prayers, one missing ingredient that’s keeping me from my dreams – but I find them fascinating. I also find these books to be fun – sort of like a treasure hunt – as I search for those useful morsels that I can apply to my own situation.

But with more and more of these books hitting the stores each week, the quality of the books (and their material) has dropped significantly. I’m finding it more difficult to not only find useful information, but actually getting through the book. I’ve noticed that many of these books use a similar format – a breakdown of the content of their book into a few distinct categories. As you read along, you’ll probably notice that many of the recent books you’ve read use this very same formula. So without further ado, here’s the breakdown of major parts of today’s self-help books:

On Being Shy

I have a confession to make: I’ve spent the majority of my life being shy. When I was a kid having to meet new people – adults especially, but even kids – was a challenge for me. I grew out of it in high school and college but then when it was time for me to hit the workforce, it came back.

Three Ways to Close Gaps in Your Resume

As any job seeker that has been unemployed for an extended period of time will tell you, the biggest challenge they face is dealing with gaps in their resumes. These gaps could happen for a number of reasons: unable to find work, raising a family, caring for sick relative, taking time off for various reasons, etc…. The problem is that despite many employers having gone through these situations themselves, many see these gaps as liabilities and view them differently from when they were on your side of the desk.

The Trouble With Thinking Big

Many people that keep up with the latest trends in personal development find themselves surrounded by fads. These fads are often started by a new book, film or web site and then spread like wildfire. Some of them work while others are just noise.

One that I’ve been seeing and hearing over and over again is the concept of thinking big – if your goal isn’t big, throw it out and find a bigger one. To me, it’s just another way for people to feel like they’re moving towards their goals when they’re really not.

A Defeat Every Now And Then Can Be a Good Thing

Early in my career as a professional speaker, I made a lot of mistakes. I took on too many engagements when I had a lot of things going on with my personal life and with my job that paid the bills. I also made the mistake of allowing my contact for the presentation to select any topic that interested him or her, and then I would design a presentation around it. So I laugh to myself whenever I meet someone just getting into the speaking business that’s finding themselves battling these very frustrations.

The Most Deadly Presentation Mistake

Procrastination can be deadly to your career no matter which field you are in. In fact, it can literally be deadly in some cases. So why do so many people procrastinate? Well, there are two common reasons: 1. they associate some sort of discomfort towards the thing they have to do & 2. they have other things they’d rather be doing. So given that so many folks feel discomfort just at the thought of speaking to groups, it should come as no surprise that not adequately preparing for a speech is the most common (and most harmful) public speaking mistake.

Preparing for a talk is a lot of work. You need to research your topic, write your speech and then practice and tweak it. So it’s very easy for this task to either slip through the cracks or only get a half-hearted effort. And that half-hearted effort often results in a sub-par talk which just reinforces the speakers’ discomfort with public speaking. So how can you avoid this trap? Simply realize the costs of not preparing and compare them with the benefits of preparing.

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