Life · Society & Culture

You are at your ugliest when vulnerable. Here’s why

I was afraid to share my secrets.

Here we are at the usual coffee shop near Town Hall, and my friend asks me.

“Could you tell me what’s wrong?”

I couldn’t. I didn’t want to be seen as weak.

I bottle my problems up so that I don’t bother others. Yet, I felt his sympathy.

“Well…”

15 minutes of silence after, I told him.

I didn’t want him to know, but I was at a loss. No one was there to help me. I couldn’t make sense of the thoughts in my head. I didn’t want my best friend to see me in such a poor state.

Have you ever had a time when you were uncomfortable with sharing something due to who you are?

It could be this notion I have in my head. Whatever my problems were, it doesn’t seem right to share. He might be uncomfortable hearing about it. He may judge me.

He won’t. He’s my friend. I know him that well.

Yet, I felt unattracted to the idea. I am at my ugliest when I’m most vulnerable.

When I realized that, I started crying. He already had his hand on my shoulder.

He knew I was suffering. We all need help sometimes.

Continue reading “You are at your ugliest when vulnerable. Here’s why”

Communication

What is a Keynote Speaker and Why You Need One on Stage

A keynote speaker is someone who sets the tone for the audience.

A capable person on stage, they introduce the topic of their choosing and, assuming the topic is of interest to us listeners and proceeds to set the tone.

Like all types of speakers, keynotes have a core theme that is highlighted throughout the presentation. This core theme is the journey that the keynote speakers takes us on. As they explain key points and shares their thoughts, you begin to understand the purpose of this journey.

If you have gained value at the end of the keynote, whether it be new thoughts, perspectives, and realization, the speaker succeeded in their mission. There has been an increasing demand for these performers on stage, and as someone who can introduce a certain train of thought for everyone throughout the event, speakers are highly sought after.

Why are they effective?

Presentation is key in almost every form of interaction.

Good writing, great conversation, and well-fitted clothing: these all add to the general impression one can get.

Keynote speakers capture the core part of the theme through a presentation. As this is their method of choice to convey to the audience, a well-executed presentation can leave a lasting impression on those who listen. That is what the audience is there for and that is what lies at the essence of a great keynote.

Furthermore, since there is limited time in a keynote, speakers are made to introduce the most important highlights to the audience. This creates relevancy and adds to the overall value that we seek.

In order to do this, speakers are prepared: they thoroughly research the issues that need to be discussed, the industry it is in, and the audience themselves. All this is preparation for a 40-minute talk: while some speakers drone for too long, others may leave out important details. Keynote speakers give an effective keynote right in the sweet spot.

The best part? Every speaker is different, and therefore every keynote is different. The talks are unique, and only for the audience to see. Instead of witnessing a speaker’s antics from far away via blog posts and social media, seeing them voice their thoughts on stage is the closest to conversing with them.

The difference between listening and reading

You could take the time to research these things yourself. If it was a field of your interest, maybe you could reach the same conclusions.

But, how do you know if your conclusions are justified? What if there was more knowledge that you did not know about?

This is where a keynote speaker comes in: they introduce their side of the story.

Compared to reading an article, the stage has more impact. The keynote speaker is an article talking to you, introducing their own model of the world and what they observed. Granted, an article may do the same – but there are difficulties in articulation that a blog post can face.

A keynote speaker talking towards the audience, towards you, makes the story more believable. As they craft and articulate their words, the most important points are being presented to you immediately. In essence, they can help you think.

With keynote speakers in front of you, they make the theme clear to understand and guide you in addressing it.

The greatest reassurance for us listeners is that they have their bodies on stage. Many signals can be found in one’s non-verbal communication patterns, and these signals help us understand the topic better.

Whether it be the tone, movement of the body, or the speed, the speaker’s movements act as markers to help guide us through their speech. If they are there for us, this makes them trustworthy and adds accountability to their name.

You would need a keynote speaker at your event to set the first note. It’s where the name came from: singers sing the first note before a song to set the key. Your key is the mood and the attention of the audience.

Starting off with a great opener, and setting in stone the topic of the day, a great keynote speaker knows what to do and say. With enough presence on stage, they can influence everyone’s thoughts.

Presence is key in speaking after all.

Business & Finance · Life

Motivate Yourself by Capturing the Moment

You have your tasks set for the day.

The conditions are perfect: The sun is shining, everyone is smiling, the air is fresher than usual.

When you put your hands on the keyboard, ideas just pour out from your mind and onto your screen. Everything just works: All your focus is on one task at a time, and you complete them.

You exceed expectations: your boss praises you, and you’re doing great work for yourself. You feel satisfied.

You’ve done a lot. Nothing went wrong with what you did.

It’s an amazing feeling. But it doesn’t last long: you may not be so motivated the next day.

Sometimes, you have days when you don’t feel like doing much. When you do so, you start to think about that amazing day again. It gets frustrating:

  • How do I become as motivated as back then?
  • What do I need to do to achieve the same result?
  • How do I stop comparing myself all the time?

Your job now is to capture that feeling.

How to capture the moment

Set aside one hour to yourself.

No distractions, no technology; just pen and paper.

In order to capture that lovely day, you need time to reflect. Record the following:

The Conditions

Write down what were the conditions around you, and within you.

After all, the mix of both resulted in that golden moment you were looking for.

Your conditions can range from:

  • The weather
  • The temperature of the room you were in
  • The taste of your coffee
  • Whether you’ve done much exercise
  • Your internet speed
  • The amount of time spent being distracted, etc.

The Inputs

Next, write down what are your preferred tools for input:

  • What tools do you need to work with? A good outfit, a laptop, your favorite pen and notebook?
  • What’s your style of writing? Do you prefer long-winded notes, or bullet points?
  • What inspired you to do so well that day? Did you propose to someone the day before?
  • Did you get enough sleep?

The Process

Write down the flow. This is where the magic happens:

  • What were your chosen methods?
  • What was your thinking process as you carried out your tasks?
  • What level of research was needed to achieve this?

The Output

  • Which tasks were completed?
  • Have you done the 5 most important tasks?
  • Did it turn out to be as you imagined?
  • How much time did you spend on each one?

Feedback & Reflection

It’s time for feedback! What do you think of your work? How do others think of your work?

Then, you reflect. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What did you do?
  • What were your objectives?
  • Who was it for?
  • What was your intended goal?
  • What did you have to research?
  • What skills did you have to use?
  • Were you already prepared beforehand?
  • What were your thoughts throughout the entire session?
  • How many perspectives did you use to tackle the whole situation?
  • How large of a part did the following play into your session: your phone, social media, friends, colleagues, personal worries, world events, electricity, internet speed?
  • What could you have done better? What methods can be explored further in order to be more productive?

Be as methodical as possible here. This is your chance to record down the whole process.

It is always good to have a system for self-reflection: you spend less brainpower on thinking up questions to answer, and instead use that on actually answering.

You can even play around with what you’ve written above, drawing it out like a diagram:

Conditions -> Input -> Process (Methods, Thinking, Diagrams, Research Headlines) -> Output -> Feedback

Recording your Golden Moment.

You have your diagram. Now, you have your reflection. It’s in one file, or in your notebook, or documented somewhere that is easily accessible.

Congratulations! You have just made a graphical representation of your most productive time.

The purpose of this is to remember the level of clarity and focus needed to achieve that level of output.

Assign a phrase to this Moment.

Treat it like a password: It’s that important. It can be anything you want, it’s your Golden Moment after all.

Write it on a post-it note and put it somewhere visible: your workstation, the bedside table, or your phone wallpaper. You need to make every effort to remind yourself of this mindset.

This is to condition yourself into reliving that Golden Moment again.

Shocking your routine

When you need to work again, and you’re not feeling so empowered: look at your phrase. What does it mean to you?

The memories will come back: How much you did, how satisfied you were, how content you were, what you are capable of. How should you implement this into your routine?

Remind yourself over and over again what you are capable of achieving when you are productive.

Keep the phrase in your mind, and the feelings will surface again. When you capture that feeling again, keep it sustained for the rest of the day. Naturally, you would be more productive, positive and empowering on a day-to-day basis.

One thing to note: Personality is formed from habit.

Prepare yourself for the day by looking at this phrase as a routine. Write the phrase anywhere, anytime. Forgot what you wrote? Go through your answers. Your objective, is to pull yourself back into that moment again.

I have a few phrases of my own to get back into the zone. Sometimes, one phrase isn’t enough, so I have more.

  • ‘Nothing But Now.’
  • ‘Shut up and do the work.’
  • ‘The world around me does not matter until I myself move forward.’

These are my phrases. They may not mean much to you, but they do to me.

They came up when I was at my most productive, and when I am really satisfied with what I have done. These are my Golden Moments, and no one can take that away from me.

By going through these phrases over and over again, I can capture the feeling again. I can look at my past self, the great work that I’ve done, and tell myself I can do better than that.

Capture that feeling, and do better. You will do better, and nothing else will matter.

Communication

The 7 Inner Tools for Effective Public Speaking

What are obstacles to you?

This was the question I asked the audience on Toastmasters night.

An obstacle can differ in meaning according to the individual.

Silence.

Fear. Money. Expectations.

Silence.

But, obstacles are chances; they are opportunities for you. They allow you to be greater than you were before.

I scan the room, addressing every single member with my eyes.

Obstacles are necessary. They make us great.

Silence. Then, the clapping began.

Above was a snippet of my table topic for Toastmasters night recently. It gave me the chance to practice my tools for public speaking.

The great thing is that these are tools are available to all of us. They all come under the usage of your voice and body language: essential elements to the public speaking formula.

If you want to rock the stage with your public speaking skills, remember these 7 key tools:

Silence is the answer.

Every speech has one thing in common: there are points to be made.

These could range from:

  • Thoughts to consider
  • New perspectives for understanding
  • Questions that need to be answered.

As a speaker, you have a duty to inform your audience of the points being addressed while on stage. Silence is one of the best ways to achieve this.

Whenever you make a point and keep quiet for a moment, this is what you have sent to your listeners:

This is my point. Think about what I just said.

Silence is powerful. Having small pockets of silence after a certain sentence informs our listeners of their importance.

This is effective for questions as well. During a speech, when you ask a question to an audience:

Why do we need to address this? Cue silence.

This emphasizes our questions. You want your audience to not only listen, but think as well. These are your markers, your ways to interact with them:

This is my question. Can you answer it? Do you agree/disagree? What is the first thing that comes into your mind?

A moment of silence challenges your audience to think of the content they have just digested. It is similar to a conversation in that regard. We keep quiet to listen to others after all.

I tend to teach those around me about the power of silence in speaking: whether it be for power, listening, or to provoke the minds of others. We can stay silent to be humble, and keep quiet to stand our ground. In public speaking, the rules are the same.

Do not underestimate the quiet ones. Silence is a core part of public speaking.

The most powerful actions need not to be said, only experienced.

Intonation is powerful.

Have you ever been in a monotone conversation? Can you remember what was said?

It could be a talk with your least-favorite lecturer about an complex field. They could have no enthusiasm in their voice whatsoever. It can also be someone who has trouble speaking in large groups: their voices are small, and may not be taken seriously.

In public speaking, intonation is essential.

It is generally known that the most compelling words are best told by the most strongest and energetic of voices. These are the ones who say with conviction what they want to say, and it doesn’t matter if you agree with them or not. They are sure in their craft and opinion, and it leaves you with a good impression of them as an individual.

As a tool, the tone of our voice helps the audience recognize our intentions. It is a guide for the audience as they listen to what you say, to understand the purpose of each word.

We can categorize our words by intention, or statement types:

  • Is it a question? Raise your tone at the end of the sentence.
  • It’s a statement! Have a powerful ending to your sentence.
  • It’s a fact. Tone is slightly raised, with great clarity.
  • An observation, a justification and a conclusion: Keeping it varied to distinguish between each section.

Tone allows you, the speaker, to influence the focus of your audience. Through your tone, you can tell your audience which sentences are questions, statements or observations. Making each intention clear helps them understand you better. When you are understood better, you have greater accountability.

Monotone speeches have very little emotion injected into them. They are then regarded as negative in terms of provocation and provide little engagement. It is akin to white noise – a constant pitch or sound. Without any change in tone, it would be the same as riding a train: a constant hum, which would inevitably bore us as an audience.

Keep your tone varied. Show them how enthusiastic you are.

Vocabulary must be clear.

To be clear, is to be concise.To make things simple, is to make things easy to understand.To complicate things, is to show your inability to explain them.

This rings true for any audience. But, who is the right audience for you? Your vocabulary is the answer to that question.

Vocabulary is important when deciding what you want to say. It shows your ability to think from your audience’s perspective.

Understand that the audience is willing to comprehend your speech from the very beginning. Complicating things will make it difficult for them to do so. Vocabulary is one way to counteract this. Some questions to ask ourselves included:

  • Who is present? Age group, demographic?
  • What is their language ability?
  • Do you tailor your words to your audience?

Is your audience full of specialists? Are they experts in their field? If the vocabulary in your speeches consist mainly of technical terms, this would be a good fit.

Is it the general public? Depending on the demographic, they may have different levels of understanding. Little value can be obtained if you stick to complicated concepts and the like.

As public speakers, we need to make sure our speeches cater to the right audience. One way is to include and implement a wide variety of vocabulary. Though having technical vocab in your speech is optional and may depend on who is attending, clear concise vocab will always work.

Think of the Feynmann technique. This is a technique to ensure we keep the right perspective. I like to explain this technique as the 15-year-old Rule.

It’s simple: Treat the audience like they are 15. It’s not an insult, don’t worry.

As the audience, I may not have much knowledge or understanding of what you’re talking about. With that in mind, I may have more questions after listening to your explanation. I may want you to elaborate more, but without the expertise that you have (as the speaker).

As the speaker, your job is to dumb your speech down an easy-to-understand level, to allow all audiences to receive your points. This creates clarity and maximizes effectiveness.

Clear wording has less noise. People do not have to think so hard to understand what you say. This means that your other techniques could also be amplified: silence and tone for example. It is easier to include tonal techniques to short, clear points as opposed to long-winded theories.

For technical explanations, you need to define the purpose of each one. Some explanations can be a necessity, especially for an audience full of experts. As a public speaker, you need to define the following:

  • What is the point of your explanation? Is it to have an idea of the situation being described?
  • What can I, the audience, benefit from your explanation? Is this knowledge I can apply to my daily routine, for example?
  • What are the main takeaways from using technical terms in my speech? Awareness? New perspective? A fun fact?
  • How long is the explanation? Will it take a lot of time? Could I get bored as an audience member?

Clear vocab trumps all. Technical vocab is mainly used for specific audiences.

Make sure you use words with clear intended purposes.

Slides are not always important.

How important are slides in your public speech?

Is there something that you need to show, or is there something very difficult to describe without a visual aid? An example would be ideas found in a field or a diagram that is very complex to explain.

Note: slides are a compliment. There is no defined context for them unless you, the speaker, are present to explain them for greater clarity. The presentation is not a primary source of information: you are the primary. Audience members can refer to the slides to stay on the topic, but they will refer to you as the expert.

There are cases where slides are beneficial or a necessity. But, you must be careful: make sure that there is a limit to detail concerning content on your slides. If you have too much, it may be daunting.

If your slides are too effective, why are you speaking?

The point of you, the expert, being there diminishes. If your slides can talk for you, then it is not a public speaking event anymore.

It can happen. Some people are visual learners as opposed to aural. They may ask to have a copy of the slides and leave it at that. You want to minimalize the chances of your audience losing their attention span, and resorting to other ways to learn the same content.

There are methods to mitigate this: speakers can benefit from ebooks or document links provided at the end of the talk as a refresher. This maintains you as the primary source of information during the public speech and serves to help your marketing/sales funnel if you have one. Very useful for an aspiring public speaker indeed.

In essence, most presentations can be done without slides. If slides are unavoidable however, try to avoid going more than 6 lines each slide. There is only so much information you can take from one slide, and trying to fill it up dense information can be detrimental to your audience.

6 is only a guideline, some advocate for 4 while others for 8.

In terms of what goes on the sides, this is the magic formula for it:

Pictures > Numbers > Words

A Picture tells a thousand words. Diagrams include much more.

Numbers help emphasize facts that are important to the audience. You can complement your mention of a number by having it presented visually, to further emphasize its importance.

All in all, don’t make the slides control you. You are the one walking on stage and giving the talk, not the projector behind you.

Eye contact is a must.

Maintaining eye contact maintains power.

This is seen in everyday conversation. Timid individuals, or those from higher-context cultures, for example, tend to not focus on eye contact as a form of non-verbal communication.

Power is everything in a public speech. For those who are not so confident in public speaking, the ability to go on stage in the first place already gives a first impression. Maintaining that power requires you to hold your ground. One of the ways to do that is eye contact.

On the stage, if you make it clear that you are giving eye contact to your audience, this reaffirms your personal space on the stage. When you maintain this, these are the messages communicated:

  • This is directed at you and is therefore relevant to you.
  • I am the one on the stage, believe my word.
  • I am giving you my full attention. Listen to me.

It also helps to maintain your eye contact across a large audience by scanning across the room.

In your path to public speaking, there will be tons of people who want to hear what you say. You cannot neglect your audience, regardless of where they are in the hall.

Make them feel wanted with your eyes, and they will listen to what you say.

You do not have to look directly into their eyes all the time: for large events, the act of it also works. Looking in their general direction shows that you are making an effort to create eye contact. This is done through your body language, and it does show weakness if you refuse to look your audience members in the eye.

Maintaining eye contact (or ‘faking’ it), is a good way to show power when speaking. Use it often.

Pace sets the structure.

Set the pace for everything that you do.

Do you have a time limit for your speeches? A limited amount of slides to hold your content?

For the listening audience, they are there to learn and think. To achieve these two key objectives, having a structure in place is essential. Some may explain the outline of their presentation before starting, while others go straight into it.

Your pace defines structure. Generally, there is little value in telling your audience what they are about to see, as opposed to showing them said content. Instead, you can dive straight into the content and control your speed, to control the learning pace of everyone listening to you.

Examples include:

  • Slowing down during a specific explanation informs your audience of its importance. It could be a point, or data, or a diagram. Whatever it is, it tells your audience that they must listen.
  • Maintain a constant pace throughout a section of your presentation and people will assume that it is a standard explanation. It may be up to them to take notes, listen or ignore.
  • Having a variety of speeds in a section helps with identifying different statement types. Important points can be stated slowly, but clearly (with proper tone!). Explanations after that add detail to reinforce the point, but it is complementary and can be mentioned at a regular pace.

Control the pace, and you will control your stage.

If you are just blazing through your speech, you are letting the talk overwhelm you as an individual. That can result in mistakes or blunders, which are of little value to your audience. You have a responsibility to avoid this, and pace is one of the ways to do so.

Remember that the stage is yours, so the pace is yours to manage.

The stage is a wild animal: You control it, not the other way round.

Always practice, become better.

Reading advice helps, but nothing beats practice.

Nothing beats going in front of a bear and checking your different aspects and apply them.

Nothing beats being in front of an audience and seeing your feedback in real time.

Nothing beats struggling under an intense environment.

Nothing beats being in the field.

Always practice, and you will always improve. Just remember to make it a habit!

Communication

4 Reasons to Use Questions in Public Speaking

Your speech is set and you are ready to go.

You walk up on stage and stand in front of the mic. The MC introduces you. Clapping ensues and fades away.

Now, the stage is yours.

What should you start with?

Do you begin with a cool fact? Should you introduce yourself formally, what you do and what you will talk about?

Or, do you begin with a question?

There are some speakers who prefer to be commanders. They start with powerful statements and get you right into the middle of it. Through facts, they justify their relevance throughout the speech with conviction. They come to the stage to preach, state their thoughts and encourage the audience to only listen.

Others can be more friendly: sharing a story from their personal life to allow the audience to relate to them better. In both of these cases, where would questions fit?

A number of speeches have questions in them. This can range from thought-provoking questions to ‘What do you think?’ questions. Their purpose differs depending on how personal the question is, and the significance of said question to the audience.

How effective are these questions though? Should we leave them out of a speech? I am with the motion that they are very important, and here are a few reasons why:

Questions immerse the audience.

What do most stories start with? A problem. An issue. A growing concern.

We address it, analyze it, and make solutions for it: The Hero’s Journey.

If you have a story to tell, questions are one of the ways people can ease into it.

Immersion is very important in understanding. Without it, we would not be able to comprehend other people’s perspectives. Just like an engaging fiction/non-fiction book, audiences must be immersed to follow the journey. In the case of public speaking, people would not listen without immersion.

This is where questions come into play: your questions can guide the audience in order to immerse them. Asking them something after a certain point gives them time to address what was mentioned. Coming in with a controversial question incites feelings and potential discussion.

Without questions to immerse in your speech, you would be reading from a textbook.

As pace is an important factor of immersion as well, questions allow you to ‘pause’ your speech for greater effect.

  • Short, powerful questions and their shock factor may further pull the audience.
  • Long, deep questions tell the audience to address the topic at hand from a different perspective.

Your speech needs to be like a rollercoaster. It must not be monotone, otherwise, people may tune out. This is one way to help with that: people immerse themselves naturally when answering your questions in their minds.

What should you ask though?

Questions make you relatable.

Asking questions you have asked yourself, allow people to peek into your mind.

People listen better to those who are relatable in nature. In the case of public speaking, you may not personally know the entirety of your audience of 1000. Having only 45 minutes to be yourself on stage can be difficult for some speakers; some may have trouble voicing out their intended message in public. This is when relatability comes into play.

You can allow people to understand you better by asking them the same questions you’ve had in your mind when presenting this topic.

The questions can be of different types:

  • ‘What should I do next?’ (When talking about struggle in your startup)
  • ‘Should I take the risk?’ (Addressing a decision you had to make)
  • ‘I don’t understand this. Can you elaborate?’ (If you are reenacting a conversation in your story, you can ask that same question to the audience as well)
  • ‘How would this tech benefit our cause?’ (Setting yourself as the expert in this field, you can share how you’ve addressed a new technology/development)

You can ask these questions out loud, or have them on your slide. The purpose of this, is to expose your perspective for others to understand.

Your questions are part of your journey – sharing that allows others to live that same journey.

By opening the question up to the public, you are inviting other people to relate to your struggles and thought process. People relate better to struggles, failures and the lessons learned: questions are one way to deliver that.

Questions make you think.

Thinking is interaction. Speeches are powerful because they provoke us to think.

If you introduce rhetorical questions, or questions that have clear agreements/disagreements, you are encouraging interaction with your audience.

The audience is the lifeblood of the public speaker. Without an audience, no one would hear what they have to say. Your audience has to be alive to listen to you, and getting them to think is one of the ways to validate that.

Ask questions. Make your audience think. Create an impact through your statements.

If you have your audience thinking about what you’ve said, you have succeeded in making them listen to you. Valuable questions that have answers to them is one way of getting people to listen.

The speech doesn’t end off stage.

The right questions stay for a long time.

The quality of a question is correlated with how long it stays in one’s mind:

  • It can be from a critical discussion on macro-level topics.
  • It can be a question that divides the audience: a motion that has ‘for’ and ‘against’ connected to it.
  • It could be a question that is so relatable, the audience understands the experience entirely. They may have experienced it themselves: a struggle perhaps.

As more and more people become involved in the question at hand, as someone in the room you could benefit from the discussion. Your peers may hold different answers, and the public speaker may mention something unexpected. These all amount to different kinds of interaction, which is good in our eyes.

All of this breathes life into the question. It, therefore, sticks into one’s mind for a long time. As a result of your effective public speaking skills, you have introduced content that the audience is ‘listening’ to even after you step off the stage. Good job!

This helps with: accountability, trust, expertise and intellectual engagement.

If you are capable of doing all this, the audience, in turn, will take you more seriously. There is greater accountability from someone who is capable of looking at a topic from a Socratic point of view, ask the right questions and puts effort into answering them.

There would be nothing but respect for that endeavor in the eyes of the audience, and as a public speaker, this is extremely important.

You want to have a good image: someone whom the people can trust, has expertise in their field and is capable of engaging with the audience intellectually. Questions are one of the ways to do that.

Think of what kind of questions the audience may have. Questions, that you yourself have. Put them into a list, and you have a question framework to start with.

Let’s start.

Communication

The 4 Biggest Fears of Public Speaking

The stage is empty, no presence. There is a full crowd.

You finished your water even before stepping on stage.

The voice in your head comes up again: “Will this go well? Do I remember everything? Will I be okay?”

Most of us will stop and let this voice overwhelm us. The voice that you are listening to, is Fear, and Fear is always present in anything we do. Public speaking is no different: whether you are worried about messing up, being too quiet, or speaking in an incomprehensible way, anything can go wrong.

If you want to tackle these fears, it’s better to address them first. Here are some fears that may come up when you are about to speak:

Anxiety before the first word.

All eyes are on you.

Taking the first step to anything is very difficult. It’s quite intimidating every time, to come onto the stage for people to listen to your thoughts and findings.

Knowing this, the pressure all eyes are on you, the speaker, create this bubble of anxiety: made from expectations that you have created.

Will they understand me? What do they want to hear from? Will they like what I say?

This can crack the best of us; when you’re in the spotlight, it feels like you’re alone.

While some thrive being in the spotlight, as if they are the heroes of their own movie, others may find this process overwhelming. This ends up becoming a factor when public speaking: until you say the first word in your speech, the walk up to the stage can be difficult to do.

Many public speakers have different solutions to get past the first step:

  • Hyping themselves up in front of a mirror
  • Slapping themselves in the face to get into ‘Presenter’ mode (I am guilty of this)
  • Going for a jog, or a quick work-out before the speech.

The first step is all in your head, and the next is the stage. Don’t lose your footing.

Knowledge Confidence.

Do you know your stuff?

Knowledge Confidence describes how sure you are in your content. This can be seen in the way that you are delivering your speech, with absolute confidence and conveying your intentions to the audience.

Scientists and leaders exude a certain sense of absolution in their voices. For leaders, a commanding voice fits well with their directive. Scientists, on the other hand, are confident in their findings, hence their justifications are sound and unmoving.

Once you are sure in your knowledge, you will naturally project confidence as well.

Steve Jobs is extremely confident during his keynote, unveiling the iPhone. Using effective techniques, Jobs would take the audience through A Hero’s Journey, defining the enemy (eg. their competitors), and conveying the iPhone’s benefits to the public.

He is sure these benefits are unique and have an advantage. He is sure of their vision. He is powerful in his intention, hence exuding strong knowledge confidence.

The fear is in not knowing enough to address the audience’s needs.

You are the expert on stage, and you are the one who will share your well-received opinions on the topic at hand. The audience, as listening participants, would share their thoughts at the end of the talk. With this in mind, the weight of your words carry an even greater responsibility, and in order to maintain this, you must have strong knowledge confidence.

Do you have confidence in your knowledge? Is there anything you are unsure of? Do you have questions you are afraid of hearing from the audience?

Address these as quickly as possible, before your talk. If you want to make sure these questions do not take you down, address them in your speech. Research these questions, read about them and you will broaden your knowledge. The more you know, the more confident you can be.

The fear of knowledge confidence can come from two factors:

  1. An awareness of how much you know right now
  2. An awareness of how much you do not know, at this time

When these two factors clash against each other, it might tip your confidence over. It’s understandable, don’t worry. This can escalate to become a fear.

Don’t worry, you already know so much. That’s why you are on stage, right?

Fears in verbal communication.

Your voice is everything in a speech.

Verbal communication is the umbrella term to describe many forms of mistakes that can happen in a public speaking event. Specifically, anything to do with one’s voice. Some examples include:

  • Stuttering
  • Unclear points
  • The monotony of one’s voice

And so on.

You may have increased your volume at the wrong part of a sentence: people may misunderstand and focus on something completely different, which was not your intention.

You may have quietened down during a detailed explanation, and some people could not hear your justifications. Your intonations may have been inaccurate, and that could result in sounding sarcastic, angry, or violent. It could be part of the speech, but when it’s irrelevant, people will listen more to how you say it than what you are talking about.

The fear, in this case, is the inability to voice out your speech properly. This can only be overcome with practice.

Practice, practice, practice. That’s all you need, and that’s what you should do. Practice is the professor of public speaking.

The unspoken fear: non-verbal communication.

This, part is about your bodily actions.

It may be good to do a public speech on the podium, but when there is no podium, you have a duty to use the stage as you see fit. Non-verbal communication cues come into play here.

Stage presence becomes an important factor in how far your voice can travel. If your voice does not travel far when done from one small corner of the stage, then you may have trouble with non-verbal communication skills.

Where do your arms go when you speak? If your arms are stuck beside your body most of the time, you have no intention of directing your audience with your hands. Not allowing the speech to be conveyed through your hands weakens the overall point you want to make.

Many speakers talk about the box of normalcy: Imagine a box in front of you, the size of your upper body. Any action with your hands straying too far away from this box won’t look ‘normal’:

Are you exaggerating? Are you being formal and proper, staying within the box?

Another one is slide dependence: If you have a huge dependent on your screen, your body will subconsciously turn to face it at times. This implies very little confidence exuded by your presence and being dependent on visual aids as opposed to directly explaining with your voice. Why listen when you can look at the slides?

A lack of eye contact can be alarming as well. If the speaker shows poor eye contact skills with the audience, they may find it difficult to convey personal interaction: to ‘look’ like they are addressing every audience member in the room. It would be good then to scan across the room

Non-verbal communication brings up the fear that your physical actions may prevent the audience from listening to you properly. It is the speaker’s greatest fear to not be heard and understood at all on stage. If your audience cannot be drawn into your speech, then there is a problem.

But, there is no greater teacher than being on stage at all times. If you take the time to practice in a controlled environment, address your speaking tendencies and build powerful and positive habits, you will overcome these fears.

All fears on stage are natural. It can be overcome with hard work. You just need the right people to tackle it.

Blockchain & Crypto · Business & Finance

5 Key Points to write a good Whitepaper

Initially written for a now-defunct cryptocurrency media website.

Whitepapers are long, detailed documents about the cryptocurrency in question. Sometimes, it’s full of technical jargon. In some other whitepapers, it could just be the $100 work of some freelancer.

But, what makes an effective whitepaper? You can take a look at examples like the Bitcoin whitepaper, or Ethereum’s. If you’re an investor, what should you look for? If you’re in the middle of drafting your whitepaper, what points should you address beforehand?

I’m here to help you out. Here are some key points to take note of before reading a whitepaper:

Which industry are we looking at here?

A company declares an ICO. NEW COIN! MANY PLANS! WOW!

….we’ve heard it many times. Do we need another ICO though? Would it even work in the first place?

One of the indicators of this is the industry this ICO will take place in. Do you happen to know a ton about this field? It could range from the airline industry, to agriculture and the medical sector. It is highly unlikely that farmers would be interested in airline cryptocurrency coins (unless their pigs could fly). Given your knowledge of the industry, what are some of the potential applications for blockchain? Decentralised logistics? Rollback prevention? Client identification?

It’s up to you to imagine.

What is their differentiation point?

The USP. The extra ‘flavour’. The special sauce. What makes them different from other coins? A whitepaper needs to outline this. Investors go through whitepapers like toilet paper: if there’s shit, we flush.

I can easily set up an ERC-20 Token and sell it as another money-making scheme, but that doesn’t make me different from the other 200 altcoins out there. Not everything is about money after all.

What purpose does it serve? It’s a two-way process: if you had intended to invest into this new coin purely for profit, to what extent does a whitepaper’s contents affect your decision? The amount of detail a whitepaper should have, may influence this.

Is it purely a coin? Does it influence transactional power in its respective blockchain? The whitepaper must have these details outlined. If they leave it out, or worse, missing, why invest when there’s better ones?

You need difference. Differences help you stand out from the crowd. The whitepaper is where you show that.

What is their Roadmap?

There might be a long-term plan outlined in the whitepaper. This is good. How long is it?

6 months? 1 year? 2 years?

If there is an upcoming token sale, what are the stages? What percentage of overall coins will be distributed for sale? How much will be shared amongst the team itself?

The roadmap (or lack of) gives you a good indicator of where your investment will be going over a long period of time. You can expect new features, major changes, etc. which could be turning points for your investment goals. Some examples of investment goals could be reverting back to fiat currency after a certain coin price, or capitalizing on the incentivized rewards the company will distribute amongst investors.

Which reminds me, are there rewards? I love rewards. Don’t you?

Who is in their Team?

LinkedIn is perfect for this. It’s becoming increasingly difficult in the contemporary working world to trust someone without a proper LinkedIn profile. Having an online presence is key to showing your brand: in this case, how legitimate your team members are.

There are a few cases of fake profiles set up to fill C-Pos spots on an ICO team. We don’t want that. During your due diligence, do a thorough check on all the members. Are they the best in their field? Where did they gain experience from? Who do they know? What is their level of presence in your region?

A company doing an ICO in one country on the other side of the world from you, may not be so relevant to what you want. Unless, of course, their price is predicted to be very liquid, and in your favour. That might be up your alley.

Know this: the whitepaper outlines every single member of the team involved behind the ICO. Investors will do background checks for members – they would be encouraged to see the team advised by major Bitcoin or Ethereum influencers. Roger Ver, or Vitalik Buterin, for example.

What else?

If your whitepaper is effective, your readers would have their expectations met. This can come in many forms.

Those whom are interested in contributing to your cause will study your whitepaper extensively. Having a well-written document creates accountability, and adds legitimacy to your ICO. Some investors have technical backgrounds, and they’d want to understand the finer details in your blockchain system. In that case, having a technical version of the whitepaper would be very helpful.

The whitepaper also serves as an official ‘FAQ’: if they have any questions, consult the whitepaper. For some interested persons, they perceive the whitepaper as final and absolute. You can find long-term plans, key objectives to meet, etc. written in there, and with these come possible answers. This depends on their investing habits, of course.

It also adds a sense of professionalism: how many ICOs have you seen pop up everywhere on your news feed? 1? 2? 20? Some ICOs are just mere marketing gimmicks, and the common occurrence of these ‘shitcoins’ can confuse the average individual. With a proper whitepaper, you can reinforce your professional place in the crypto world. You don’t want people to think you’re a scam, right?

Upcoming blockchain companies, take note. These are the kinds of things investors are looking for in a proper whitepaper. If they don’t see these, they get scared and look the other way. If you want to start drafting out yours, make sure to keep these points in mind!

What else should we look at? What’s your experience with low-quality/high-quality whitepapers? Comment below, I’d love to hear what you have to say!