Cold and flu season is upon us and it’s usually one of the busiest times of the year for speaking engagements, corporate training and coaching clients in the area of public speaking. The other day I wake up feeling SO sick – I’ve come down with that nasty flu that’s going around. NO!!!!!!!

We’ve all been there. As a professional speaker, public figure or executive you can’t cancel a speaking engagement, media appearance or business presentation just because you’ve got a “silly little cold” - that’s ridiculous. You’re tougher than that! You just power through - here are some tips that will help you:

  1. Don’t apologize. For goodness sake what ever you do don’t apologize for being sick – that’s often the first thing people do when they get on stage. “I’m sorry I’m sick but….”. It makes you look weak and it will make your audience feel uncomfortable.
  2. Do build in more audience interaction. This is really going to help you if you’re speaking with a soar through or have coughing fits. Ask more questions – get the audience talking more. It’s also going to make you a more engaging speaker – so it’s a win-win.
  3. Do stay hydrated. Drinks lots of water or herbal tea (I like mint or ginger tea when I’m sick) before, during and after your presentation. Its good for you and your vocal chords. I would stay away from caffeine and alcohol which will both dehydrate you.
  4. Don’t blow your nose on stage! This is common sense right, but I still see it. Better to take a decongestant a couple of hours before (if medically safe and approved by your Doctor etc…) and/or clear your nasal passages (in the bathroom, not at your table!!!) before you go on stage. You don’t want to gross everyone out.
  5. Do stay focused and committed. This is going to be tough because you’re brain is more fuzzy when you’re sick. Take a few more minutes to compose yourself before you go on and take some extra deep breathes. Focus on the task at hand - clear everything else from your mind. The audience deserves that.
  6. Keep hand sanitizer with you. The reason for this tip is that you’ll probably shake hands with audience members and speak to them after your speech or presentation – so you want to make them feel comfortable. Keep some hand sanitizer visible and ready. Use it as soon as you come off stage (make sure people see you using it) and then start meeting people.

I’m going to sign off now, so I can finish my mug of hot ginger tea and blow my nose before my next meeting. Take care of yourself this Fall and Winter and if you need to reach out to me with any questions or comments email me at narges@executivespeak.com – I’d love to hear from you! Or you can visit me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/executivespeak or Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/nargesnirumvala.

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Recently I went to a fun, high-profile event here in Vancouver. While there, I posed for some pics (one in particular was going to turn out really well) - others were taken randomly during the course of the event. Today I was excited to see that they were finally uploaded by the event organizer into an album on Facebook only to find that I wasn’t there. I went through all the pictures twice. Even the posed photo (that the photographer said came out very well) hadn’t been posted. So being the person that I am, I called them to ask what had happened to that photo and I was told that the executive I was standing with in the posed picture didn’t like the photo of her, in fact she didn’t like any of the photos of her (I was standing near her throughout the event) – so she didn’t allow any of those photos to be posted. In my business as an executive speech coach I see this all the time. Executives and elected public officials who don’t like their picture being taken. My advice to them? Get over it! Visibility is an essential part of leadership and here’s why:

As a leader you are an ambassador for your company brand. So if you don’t have any pictures of you taken you aren’t doing part of your job, which is to promote your brand and your organization to the world. Most of the executives I work with have their companies pay for the events they go to – the companies do so willingly assuming they will be a visible and competent spokesperson for their brand.

As a leader you are setting an example to your team. When they know (and they do) that you don’t like being in the spotlight it doesn’t reflect well on you. They will assume it’s because you lack self-confidence (and they’re probably right) and make other assumptions about you which may not be right.

Being in the spotlight and visible is an essential part of any leaders role 24/7. Just think about it - from charity galas to media interviews, people are going to look at you, watch you on TV, listen to you on stage – you are going to be in the spotlight whether you like it or not! So you may as well Capture the Spotlight rather than shunning away from it!

So having said all this I just have to live with the fact that there will be no pictures of me at the event in question (which really irritates me by the way, because I was wearing a particularly gorgeous outfit!). If this describes you and you’re a person in a position of leadership who doesn’t like their picture being taken, then seriously consider the harm it’s doing to your career and your organization over the long term. Then do something about it and drop me a line through my contact page - I can help you!

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I recently went to the amazing leadership conference ‘The Art of Leadership‘ in Vancouver at the Centre for Performing Arts. It was a full house – the venue capacity is about 1836 people on three levels. I was sitting on the orchestra level and was lucky to find an open seat only a few rows in from the stage, so I took it. The first speaker was John Mackey, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Whole Foods Markets and Author of the book ‘Conscious Capitalism’. While he wasn’t the best speaker of the day technically speaking, his words did inspire me the most. He spoke about authenticity, honesty and integrity in leadership. He emphasised the importance of values and servant leadership. All concepts I share with my clients on a regular basis.

So it came to the end of this presentation and he turned to the audience of nearly 2,000 people and asked if anyone had any questions. The emcee came running down the isles with a hand-held microphone – one hand went up – a young gentlemen asked a question. Then nothing – I looked around – no one else had their hands up. So I put my hand up, stood up and took the microphone. I asked John if the concepts of servant leadership and integrity had a place in politics too (as I write this we have an election coming up). The audience laughed and he loved the question because unknown to me, his next book is about just that – it’s called ‘Conscious Community’ and how the same principles apply to community leadership and government. Minutes after my question I was inundated with tweets and emails from people congratulating me for asking the question. People had taken notice.

“If you want to stand out in a crowd then you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone and be willing to do what other people are NOT willing to do. You need to be the one to stand up and speak out.”

This is a concept I teach my one-on-one executive speech coaching clients everyday. After all my book is called ‘Capture the Spotlight‘ not ‘Cowar in Fear’! It’s a also concept I live in my day-to-day life. The world is full of people who think but don’t act. So the next time you’re in a crowd remember that to stand out you need to speak up. If you’re in an upcoming city on ‘The Art of Leadership’ tour then go – it’s well worth the investment of time and money for the amazing knowledge you can soak up in one day.

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As an Executive Speech Coach that works with people to dramatically improve their public speaking ability, one of the biggest obstacles I find with my clients, is their own fear and self doubt. Now let’s think about you. What’s stopping you from achieving your goals and dreams? You have the tools and the talent, but something is holding you back. When businesses fail people often blame external factors such as the economy, lack of cash flow or anything other than themselves. Of course these factors are important. But why is it that some businesses succeed, while others fail – in the same economy and the same industry? It’s simple – it’s the people running the businesses that are different.

Here are some tips that you will help you overcome your biggest obstacle – yourself:

Visualize Success.

You must have a clear vision for your business. Your business model and ultimately your business plan will be based on your vision. If you stumbled into your business like so many people do, there is still time to refine and focus your vision.

Surround Yourself with Positive People.

This is something I come back to again and again. We all have those days when everything seems to go wrong and it’s so hard to keep pushing forward. That’s when you need to turn to your family and friends and absorb their encouragement and positive energy.

Seek Expert Advice.

If you have a mental block, need to solve a problem or develop a specific area of your business then get help. I have a business coach in one key area of my business. I’m actually surprised by how many entrepreneurs feel they know everything and can solve every problem alone. That’s just ridiculous! Reach out and get an expert to help you.

Stop Being Afraid.

Are you scared of failure, success or something else? Regardless, get over it! Fear holds you back, stops you from taking risks and seeing new opportunities. I know it’s easier said than done, but if I can do it then so can you.

Believe in Your Vision.

We come full circle with this one. You have a vision, now you have to believe in it with every ounce of your being. Pour your heart and soul into it. Don’t allow doubt to enter your mind for even a moment.

Recently I’ve had so many people ask me what the secret to my success is. So listen up, here it is – a change in mindset. After years of self doubt and fear, I finally believe in myself and the power of my dreams. You have what it takes, but now you need to take that leap of faith and believe that you have the power to realize your dreams. So rip out the fear and self doubt that has been plaguing your dreams and allow faith and positive energy to propel you towards your true destiny.

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I’m delighted to introduce you to my exclusive fashion sponsor – Bellissima. They are a family business and a true Canadian success story. Carrying stylish labels like Jospeh Ribkoff, Conrad C and Frank Lyman – they were the perfect choice for all my events and speeches.

Because what I do is so visual by it’s very nature and I’m in the public eye, it’s essential that I stand out and make an amazing impression every time. So I only wanted to partner with the best and was delighted to find out that the executives at Bellissima felt the same way. 

“Bellissima is very proud to be sponsoring Narges Nirumvala.  Narges has a vivacious personality and projects the kind of ideals and professionalism that we look for in a partner.”  John Kwei, President of Serena Fashions Ltd.

Here are two of my favourite looks so you see what I mean.

Love this jacket from Bellissima - it really 'pops' on stage! Here I'm relaxing before a keynote at the Renaissance Hotel Vancouver.

Wearing a gorgeous Bellissima private label tunic and leggins while wine tasting with my family in the Okanagan!

Remember that non-verbal communication makes up a huge part of any interaction (public speaking or otherwise) you have with people. 

“Sight makes up 83% of the impact on the brain of information from the senses during a visual presentation. Taste makes up 1%, Hearing makes up 11%, smell 3% and touch 2%.” according to Pease B., Pease A. (2004). The Definitive Book of Body Language. 

So my question to you is what kind of first impression are your clothes making?  Visit any one of their many locations in Alberta or British Columbia to see how they can help you put together a showstopping look for your next event.

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Boring people is easy. Dazzling people is difficult. Whether you’re giving a keynote or pitching angel investors, you need to be amazing if you’re going to succeed. Good just doesn’t cut it anymore. Why? Because there’s too much competition out there. Here are seven ways to dazzle your audience:

1. Write killer content.

Great speeches begin with great writing. This always surprises my clients. The last thing people think of when you talk about public speaking or presentation skills is good writing. But at the soul of both speaking and writing is the ability to communicate your thoughts and emotions with clarity and power. That’s at the heart of what I help my clients do. With these tips you will be better able to do that yourself.

2. Make eye contact.

Let’s assume you’re speaking to a small to medium sized group; then it’s essential to make eye contact and connect with your audience. Don’t think of them as potential clients or investors first, but as people just like you.

3. Dress to stand out.

About 8 times out of 10, I see people on stage wear the standard boring black suit. Why would you do that when there are so many beautiful colours in the Universe?

4. Act out.

Don’t just tell me, show me. Use your entire body to describe what you’re trying to say. I spend hours working on body language with my clients. It’s a huge part of any speakers’ repertoire and something that people often under utilize.

5. Use your voice.

A flat monotone voice is so dull. Imagine that your voice is a landscape – you want mountains and valleys. That way you’ll make your audience’s journey more interesting.

6. Respond to your audience.

It’s important that throughout your presentation or keynote you take cues from your audience. This takes attention and experience, but start with the basics. How do they look? Interested and engaged or bored? Are they asking questions? Be flexible and respond to their needs.

7. End BIG.

You want to end with something that will be both powerful and memorable. An emotionally charged personal story or a bold call to action. Something to remember!

We’ve gone through seven ways to make a more commanding impression the next time you have a sales presentation to give or are delivering a keynote. The key is to take one idea and implement it each time you take the stage (or the front of the boardroom). You can become a much more powerful speaker, with a lot of hard work and a little help from me.

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I have always loved watching political debates and today’s Southern Republican Presidential Debate (in South Carolina) on CNN was no different. I’m a top public speaking and executive speech coach based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. My goal is to share some of my casual observations with you, so you can learn more about public speaking and improve your communication skills as a result. This is not a detailed analysis and I have no political affiliations.

I’m going to remain positive and only focus on their strengths (based on my casual observations and perceptions), so let’s go through each one:

Rick Santorum: Mr. Santorum was the only candidate who was able to express emotions such as compassion, passion and outrage to his advantage. You could see it in his eyes, through his facial expressions and the tone of his voice.

Mitt Romney: Mr. Romney showed grace under fire and managed to remain calm regardless of what was being said to him, or about him. That is difficult for anyone to do, much more so with millions of people watching.

Newt Gingrich: Of all four candidates I felt Mr. Gingrich and his team had done the most research and planning. You could tell by the amount of detail in his answers and his frequent ‘power statements’  that were meant to look spontaneous, but in my opinion, were written ahead of time by expert speech writers (and why not?).

Ron Paul: Mr. Paul did not get as much time as the other candidates to speak during this debate, but when he did speak he used his sense of humour and honest demeanor to endear the audience.

All Four Candidates: All the candidates used personal stories and examples to add emphasis to what they said. That’s an essential skill in public speaking that I focus on with my clients.

Remember that every politician on this level usually has a team of people like me behind the scenes, to make them look and sound great – speech writers, public relations consultants, researchers, image consultants and public speaking coaches. Public speaking is an art and a science that can be harnessed to gain power and lead empires.  So my question to you is – why aren’t you using it?

 

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I had the privilege of meeting British Columbia Premier Christy Clark at breakfast event organized by the Kitsilano Chamber of Commerce and the Certified General Accountants Association of BC. It was held at the Boathouse Restaurant on kits beach in Vancouver on May 5th 2011.

People had the opportunity to ask questions of the Premier. Most of the attendees were small business people and questions ranged from the economy and affordable day care to transit and health care. What I appreciated the most was that she took the time to speak to me before the event and answer my questions and concerns personally.

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You walk into a room full of people you’ve never met before. Someone hands you a ‘Hello my name is’ badge and away you go. As you walk around the room deciding who to speak to first, you notice people looking at you. What do they think when they see you?

If only you could read minds it would be so much easier! When people meet you for the first time do you make a positive first impression? Do people think, “Wow, that’s a confident woman”?

People are making assumptions about who you are and what you do before you’ve said a single word. Of course they notice your hair, make-up and the way you dress. In addition to that you are sending out, like radar, subtle non-verbal cues through your body language.

To read Narges’ complete article as it appeared in Entrepreneurial Woman Magazine and learn all five secrets click here.

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