My Mojo Mission

 

By Jo Britton

30 October 2020

 

 

Will you join me on my Mojo Mission?

 

 

As we navigate the unpredictability of these chaotic times, I’ve decided to go on a mission.

 

 

To help people around the world find their mojo and sustain it. It’s an ambitious mission. And if I’m honest, I don’t really know where to begin or whether I’ll achieve it.

 

 

But this really matters to me. A lot. And if there’s one thing I know as a coach, setting a big, hairy, audacious, goal (BHAG) – or a challenge that’s so outside the box (think putting a man on the moon type) helps you open up your thinking and can create a sense of urgency.  And let’s face it, right now that’s the kind of approach the world needs to get out of this pickle.

 

 

Because what we’re seeing as we live through this global pandemic is a global stress response across the world.

 

 

Every day there’s something new or scary we need to cope with or adapt to at a moment’s notice – whether that’s local lock downs happening over night (or the impending anticipation of a national lock down again), or whether we’ll get to experience Christmas with our families.

 

 

Or maybe  we’re experiencing mass changes and restructures in the workplace, the threat or even unfortunate experience of redundancy, the financial worry if our industry has been shut down, the juggling of family and work life, trying to find new ways to generate income for our businessess or protect them from this unpredictable chaos. And for so many trying to cope with long periods of isolation.

 

 

And what’s the effect of this?

 

 

It’s having a profound effect on our nervous systems. Throwing them into an unsustainable state of dysregulation.  And for many of us, it’s affecting our Mojo and we may be staring at the dregs of an empty mojo cup.

 

 

We may be lacking enthusiasm or energy and motivation, maybe our thinking is foggy or perhaps we’re feeling agitated, angry or frustrated.

 

 

And this was me back in March 2020.  You can read more about my experience here and what I did to help myself bounce back.

 

 

So when this happens, neurologically, it becomes impossible to think positively, productively and to find solutions which will help us cope better with daily life and get us out of this global mess.

 

 

And we’re seeing this play out in our society every single day. The trolling on some social media channels (granted this isn’t a new thing but we are seeing this at more heightened levels), tension and exhaustion in work places, arguments in the home, anxiety, worry, withdrawal and depression.

 

 

The politicians appearing to react – not with a sense of thought through logic but with a sense of knee jerk, panic. Sorry I know it’s a really tough job and we’re experiencing something we’ve never experienced in our life time at such large scale but it does feel to me that there’s a lack of listening, connection, collaboration and community. Stuff that’s needed to inform decision-making and solutions right now. And to take people with you.

 

 

And I truly believe that it will be connection, collaboration and community with a tonne of mojo spirit that will help us get through this in a way that will serve us, serve our future generations and our planet for a better future.

 

 

And it’s easy sometimes to sit back and think this is somebody else’s problem to solve.  Or what can I possibly do as one human being on a planet of 7.8bn people?

 

 

But what I do know is that so many of the most amazing things that we have today, the fantastic experiences that we’ve been so used to having and that we take for granted have started with one person on the planet.

 

 

One person with passion, purpose, energy, enthusiasm. One person who has faced challenges and obstacles but kept going.  One person that overcame set backs and that found ways to motivate themselves when they just felt like giving up. One person that encapsulates what mojo spirit means to me.

 

 

So what is your mojo? Why does it matter? How do you find it? How do you keep it? And if you’ve lost it, how do you get it back? Mojo sounds a really frivolous term doesn’t it?

 

 

I always used to giggle when I heard the mojo. You may too if you’ve watched the Austin Powers movies. Afterall, mojo is what gives him his legendary sexual prowess.

 

 

If you google the term, you’ll find loads of different definitions. A magical charm or spell, slang for your libido, your power to attract people. So let’s clear up a few definitions.

 

 

My definition of mojo is your energy, your enthusiasm, your motivation, your confidence and your ability to bounce back from set backs. So that you can take productive action, calmly, consistently and persistently without freaking out and burning out.

 

 

Mojo is the state I believe we need to be living in right now (despite how horrible it is) so that we can navigate this storm constructively and productively.

 

 

So I’m starting from this premise.

 

 

I’ve decided I want to do my bit and help as many people as I can to navigate this chaos in a more calm and productive way. I want people to find their mojo. I want this to be my legacy.

 

 

Because we get so little time on this planet. I’ve been running my Find your Mojo in 14 Days Challenge and it’s been getting game changing and life changing results for many. But that’s not enough. I need to do more. And to a bigger scale.

 

 

So, this is day one of my mojo mission.

 

 

I’ve decided to keep myself accountable by documenting the journey on social media platforms. And I mainly hang out on Instagram @jobritton.mojo if you want to follow along and join me in my mission to create a movement that will help the world be a better place both now and in the years to come.

 

 

Or if you’d prefer to start by Find your Mojo, you can join me and others in my Find your Mojo in 14 Days Challenge starting again soon.

 

More details here 

Turning stress into success in just 14 days

 

Turning stress into success in just 14 days

By Jo Britton

 

When the pandemic struck Artist and founder of CreativeH, Helen Dowley, decided to use the time to do more of what she loves – creating art. With a love of colour and a passion for how colour can affect mind and mood, she started to explore new styles and a variety of subjects including everyday objects, childhood memories and landscapes.  She also created a new line of greetings cards as a lock down project with her eldest son.

Whilst Helen had started to sell more of her art, she had always wanted to make more money from it but self-doubt and nerves held her back.  She joined the Find your Mojo in 14 Days Challenge and just 10 days into the challenge, she turned a new  idea of painting personalised house portraits into reality and started getting commissions.

 

 

 

 

I developed the Find your Mojo Challenge after experiencing extreme fear and anxiety at the start of lock down, when most of my regular corporate client work disappeared overnight. I used the toolkit I had as a coach to get moving and take action.

 

Feeling more buoyant and calm, I then used these learnings to innovate and develop the MOJO Method, which aims to help people and organisations navigate the chaos and disruption brought about by the pandemic so that they can bounce back productively, effectively and healthily.

 

It uses a four-part framework that helps people find their Motivation and focus and helps them to sustain it; Overcome obstacles – those internal and external obstacles that prevent you from taking action; Joyful possibilities – enabling you to move from negativity to possibility and positivity and Oomph – finding your energy to become a consistent action taker.

 

Says Helen: ‘I was interested in the Mojo Challenge but thought I just didn’t have the time. But I took a leap of faith. And I’m glad I did. I’d been nervous about selling and making money from my art.  I’d had an idea to paint portraits of peoples houses and to turn these into personalised Christmas Cards. I used the challenge to give me the confidence and momentum to just do it. I followed the MOJO method and the trainings. From day one of the challenge I could not believe how much better, clearer, organised and fired up I felt. I was amazed at how by being aware of the things that were holding me back and making a few little changes,what a difference it made. That was a gamechanger. I now feel like a different person with so much more energy, confidence and positivity. I feel that I can take on many more challenges that I would have previously shied away from.’

 

Others to benefit from the Mojo Challenge include Diane Moore, an events coordinator. Her company wanted to support staff during the pandemic and funded her place.

 

Says Diane, ‘Like many I’ve been juggling working from home with family life through the pandemic and it’s not been easy. I’ve always been a keen runner. Before the pandemic, I used to be able to run 15k on most days. I’ve run a marathon without stopping and went on to run an ultra…. but recently I’d lost my energy and motivation. I struggled to run a mile without stopping.   Just a few days into the Mojo Challenge I ran 4.5k non-stop and by the end of the 14 days I’d managed 10k.  All with a positive mindset and getting rid of that little voice inside of my head that kept telling me to stop.  One of my friends said she’d noticed I’d got my Mojo back.  I also feel better organised around daily life and despite some recent difficult personal circumstances, I’m getting better at being optimistic and positive each day’

 

 

Julie Sinclair, an HR professional who works for a global supply chain and logistics company describes the mojo challenge as ‘life changing’.  Working in HR and in supply chain logistics during the pandemic has meant long hours for those businesses and the people that work in them.  Says Julie: ‘It’s been an exhausting time for our industry, our people and the HR profession.  The Mojo Challenge has given me the tools to help me navigate and cope with the day to day pressures and challenges of this pandemic. I’ve recommended it to others.’

 

 

Maureen Hutchinson, a single mum with an 8 year old son, a busy job in the NHS and a carer to her parents joined the Mojo Challenge because she wanted to be able to better manage home and work life, be more organised and improve her sleep patterns. She described how at times she felt like she wasn’t doing enough or being enough at work and home.  Says Maureen: ‘I’ve really enjoyed the challenge. I’ve learned some really interesting, easy and simple tools that have helped me feel better by making slight changes to my routine. I’ve learned how I don’t need to put pressure on myself and that I’m doing the best I can at such an odd time.  The mojo challenge has made me think differently and I realise I am doing enough and I deserve time out for me too.’

 

 

 

The Find your Mojo Challenge has attracted people from around the world with participants from South Africa, Singapore, Australia as well the UK.  They include single, working mums, busy executives and those who have recently been made redundant as a result of the pandemic.

 

 

The Mojo Challenge is brilliant for those people who are tired of worrying , whether that’s because their business has been struggling, they’ve been made redundant or they’re simply exhausted by keeping too many plates spinning.   When you sign up you will meet others in the Mojo Tribe who are in a similar position.   With me as a guide, we will work together to set the result you want to achieve by the end of the 14 days.  You’ll also take part in fun daily tasks designed to lift you and refill your mojo cup. The Mojo Tribe that you’ll be part of will provide encouragement and help keep you accountable.

 

The 14-day challenge involves daily trainings, coaching and practices in a private on online community.

 

To find out more or sign up for the next 14-day Mojo Challenge starting Monday 26 October 2020, please visit https://bit.ly/mojochallenge14 or email me jo@pacedevelopment.co.uk

 

Why tomatoes can help you get more stuff done

 

By Jo Britton

 

Why tomatoes can help you get more stuff done.

The 4Ps to help you be more productive and get stuff done without the stress and overwhelm

 

 

Ever felt that you’ve got too much to do and not enough time to do it? Perhaps you long for more hours in the day? Or that you were just better at managing your time? If this sounds familiar, join the club. The thing is this. We all have the same number of seconds in a day – 86,400 – to be precise.  So, we can’t manage time, but we can manage what we do with it.  Many us confuse busyness with productivity and effectiveness. And this can cause overwhelm, frustration and stress. Aside from some simple housekeeping tips such as clearing the clutter from your work space, scheduling time in your diary, turning off distractions (such as emails, your phone etc) and keeping yourself organised, here are a more few tips to help you get stuff done with less overwhelm and stress.

 

 

  1. Parkinson’s law – use it to your advantage

There’s a law called Parkinson’s Law.  It says work expands to fill the time you have. For example, if you have a task which should realistically take 25 minutes to do, but you have an a hour available in your schedule, you’re likely to take an hour to complete it. Thus you fill the time you have available to do it. So here’s the tip. Use Parkinson’s law to your advantage to boost your motivation and productivity. How? Set yourself a chunk of time and a deadline within which to complete the task, however small that task is. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll be able to achieve.

 

 

2 Pareto Principle – the 80/20 rule 

 

You know the 80/20 rule don’t you? Originally, the Pareto Principle referred to the observation that 80% of Italy’s wealth belonged to only 20% of the population. Nowadays the principle tends to be applied more generally to suggest that things in life are not evenly distributed.  For instance 80% of your business income may come from 20% of your customers or 80% of your output comes from 20% of the effort.

 

The point is this, the 80/20 rule enables you to maximise your efforts so that you can let go of the tasks that are time and energy sapping and that don’t yield results. When you spend so much time working on tasks that don’t produce significant results, over time you’ll feel stressed or overwhelmed.

 

So focus your time and energy on tasks that generate a bigger result. Do fewer of them and do them better and to completion without over promising and overcommitting yourself. How? Identify the few critical tasks that give you the biggest impact rather than spending time on all the trivial many. Then focus on the urgent first followed by the ones that yield the biggest results.

 

3. Pomodoro Technique – why tomatoes are your best friend

 

Originated by Francesco Cirillo in the1980s, the pomodoro technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, usually of 25 minutes in length, with short breaks in between. Each interval is known as a pomodoro (the Italian word for tomato and named after the tomato-shaped kitchen time).

 

How you do it? Decide on what task you are going to do. Set your timer for 25 minutes. When the timer goes off, mark a cross on a piece of paper to denote the first 25 minute interval. Then start the timer again. If you complete the task with less than four pomodoro intervals take a short 2-3 minute break.

 

Four pomodoro intervals make a set. Then take a slightly longer break of 15-30 minutes. The idea is to be able focus with concentration and without distraction.  There are few different variations of this technique in terms of the number of minutes in an interval. For instance some people feel they can work a little longer between intervals before taking a break.

 

I’ve found this method to be super helpful when I’ve got a long list of stuff to do and I really just want to get it done! I’ve actually been using this technique to write this piece and have got it done in super quick time. It’s interesting how much can be done and that the short breaks help me feel much more productive for the next task.

 

 

4. Procrastination – the enemy of progress

 

One of the big reasons we don’t get stuff done is because we procrastinate. We put things off and often this can become an habitual pattern. The word procrastination comes from the Latin verb procrastinare – to put off until tomorrow.  It’s also derived from the ancient Greek word akrasia – doing something against our better judgement.

 

So contrary to what many think, the tendency to procrastinate isn’t because we’re lazy or that we’re bad at managing our time. According to numerous psychologists, there are two reasons we tend to procrastinate. The first is that some people are thrill seekers.  They put things off right until the last minute because they get that ‘thrill’ of working under pressure when a deadline is looming.

 

However, this isn’t the case for most people.  The biggest reason most people tend to procrastinate is because it is a way of coping with unpleasant or challenging emotions or negative moods brought about by certain tasks – things like self-doubt, frustration or fear. Sometimes the unpleasant emotion may be induced by the task itself such as cleaning a dirty toilet! But often procrastination is an effect of low self-esteem, self-doubt or because of something we fear.

 

For example, I may procrastinate all day, every day about picking up the phone to make sales calls – I’d even find a reason to clean that dirty toilet! Why am I procrastinating? If I’m honest, it’s because I have a fear of rejection. ‘What if I make this sales call and they say no and I feel rejected?’ That doesn’t feel good so I avoid the task. Whilst I feel immediate relief in that moment, the more I avoid the task, the stronger the cycle of procrastination becomes and so for me I may start to feel guilty and stressed over time.

 

The procrastination cycle over this task becomes harder to break and I feel worse and worse about doing it. It goes something like: I know I should do the task, it feels unpleasant, I avoid it, I get a short term reward of feeling better in that moment I don’t do it, then I feel bad and stressed and the cycle starts again.

 

So what can you do to win the game of procrastination? First become aware of the cause of your procrastination in the first place and then work on that. So if it’s a fear of being judged or rejected or a fear of failing, that’s the thing to work on first. In short, procrastination is a freeze behaviour and the stress response kicks in. So if you focus on the cause of your procrastination then you’ll remove your tendency to procrastinate. I cover more of these techniques in my Find your Mojo coaching programme.

 

Second, envisage the benefit and reward of doing the task and all the pleasant emotions and feelings that come along with that benefit and keep focused on that. Third take your first action step towards achieving the task. Say to yourself, ‘I know you don’t feel like it, so just do a little bit.’

 

By doing a little bit, you’ll get a little shot of dopamine – the feel good, reward hormone.  Then just do a little bit more and a little bit more. Before you know it, you’ve made great progress and you’ll find you’ve started to build your confidence in getting that particular task done, so it will get a little bit easier next time around.

 

 

Ready to take things to the next level and achieve the results you deserve to achieve without the overwhelm and self-doubt?

Find out more about my Find Your Mojo Challenge or 1:1 coaching programmes.

 

 

A tale of 2 photos

A tale of 2 photos 

 

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Or maybe that’s the other way round.

 

These 2 photos tell my recent story.

 

The worst of times

I’ve been reluctant to share the first photo. But I’m keeping this real because so often so many of us show up at work or with friends or on social media platforms with our ‘best’ face on.  On the surface we may look like we have everything together. The reality may be quite different.

This first photo was taken a week into lock down back in March 2020. To say I’d lost my mojo was an understatement.

 

 

 

My business had been hit hard by the pandemic. I had no money coming in. I was worried about paying my mortgage and bills. I didn’t qualify for any of the government support schemes. I was worried about my the health of my family.  I worried about EVERYTHING.

 

I was paralysed by fear. Anxiety through the roof. Couldn’t eat. Couldn’t sleep. Couldn’t get out of bed. Panic attack after panic attack. I was stuck. I couldn’t think clearly.

 

I watched people around me who appeared to be effortlessly adapting to the pandemic which was sweeping the world.

 

Health workers were fighting the battle on the front line with extraordinary courage and strength.  Scientists were working around the clock to discover treatments and create a vaccine. Engineers were pivoting their businesses and manufacturers re-purposing their factories to make essential health care equipment that was in critical short supply. Key workers in public services, food, transport and logistics were keeping the country going.   Parents with busy jobs were working, home schooling their kids, joining in with Joe ‘The Body Coach’ Wicks’ daily PE lessons and baking banana bread.

 

Here I was sitting at home, completely paralysed.  I was doing my best hippo impression, wallowing in a mud of fear and anxiety. I lacked energy and motivation. My confidence took a huge knock.

 

I just couldn’t understand what was happening to me.  This really wasn’t me was it? To be afraid and wallow in the face of change and challenge when times got tough? It’s not something I’d ever been like before.  Throughout my career, I’d never been afraid of change or challenge. I thrived on it. In fact, I actively sought it. So why was I feeling paralysed? I was horrified and I was stuck. Sitting at home, feeling helpless and dare I say worthless.

 

For goodness sake, I was a coach.  Why wasn’t I able to function? I felt guilty about all of this.

 

My mental and physical health were really suffering.  I needed help.  Understandably it was a challenge to access the health system. It had much bigger priorities.

 

I had a choice. Stay this way or take action. I chose the latter. And to help myself.

 

I prioritised investment in myself so that I had the navigation tools to cope with this continuous disruption healthily and productively. I knew we were in it for the long haul.  We just can’t be  certain of how things will pan out.

 

I created a daily regimen combining brain boosting nutrition and neuro literacy. And I used all the tools and experience I had under my belt as a certified coach using evidence based techniques.

 

The best of times

The second photo. This was taken mid April 2020

The result? I’d found my Mojo.  I felt calmer, healthier and became a productive action taker. I pivoted my business to get results quicker than ever before.  And crucially without freaking out and burning out.  You might say that I’d turned my stress into success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

However bad things get, I always try to find an opportunity. The pandemic has been my opportunity to really find my sense of contribution and purpose in the world.

 

My experience helped me to innovate a new method – the MOJO method.  And I can’t wait to share this with others to help them too.  I have a mission. To help millions of people around the world find their mojo. Because this pandemic has been exhausting for many and it is having a profound effect on mental health.

 

Too many of us are living in a continuing state of fight, flight or freeze. Not only can this lower our immune systems – something we don’t want when the virus is around –  it can also affect our confidence and motivation.  Living in this fear response long-term can also set us up for more serious health conditions.  That’s why it’s so important that everyone has access to tools that can help mind and body cope with the on-going disruption and chaos of the pandemic. And this is what my MOJO method is designed to do.

 

It’s a four-part framework that starts with Motivation – finding focus and motivation -and sustaining it; Overcoming Obstacles – finding those internal and external obstacles that stops you from taking action; Joyful Possibilities – enabling you to move from negativity bias to plausibility and Oomph – finding your energy to become a sustained action taker.

 

I’m introducing it to the world with a Mojo Challenge –  a 14-day taster that can help you bounce back from the chaos and uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.  It will involve webinars, daily practices to improve stress and emotional regulation and support from others in the Mojo Tribe.

 

The Mojo Challenge is brilliant for you if you’re tired of worrying , whether that’s because your business has been struggling, you’ve been made redundant or you’re simply exhausted by keeping too many plates spinning.

 

When you sign up you will meet others in the Mojo Tribe who are in a similar position.   With me as a guide, we will work together to set the result you want to achieve by the end of the 14 days.

 

You’ll also take part in fun daily tasks designed to lift you and refill your mojo cup. The Mojo Tribe that you’ll be part of will provide encouragement and help keep you accountable.

 

The 14-day challenge involves a live webinar or daily practice challenge and live coaching in an online community, before ending with a celebration event and guidance on the next steps.

 

More details or to sign up for the 14-day Mojo Challenge from Monday 26 October please visit https://bit.ly/mojochallenge14

 

 

 

Are you willing to give up being a caterpillar?

 

By Jo Britton

 

People usually hire me as their coach when they want to make some changes in their life or in their business.

For that change to happen, something needs to change. And usually that’s ourselves.

 

We may need to let got of something, work on our mindset, change beliefs that limit us, upgrade our emotional skills, learn new things, start new habits or give something up that’s not serving us well.

 

During lockdown, we’ve all been experiencing huge change. I’ll admit, it’s been hard going for me.

But one of the benefits of being at home is that I’ve been lucky enough to spend more time in my garden.

Here I’ve been taking inspiration from nature, particularly the graceful butterflies.

The butterfly’s metamorphosis ha been a great reminder for me.

 

If you want to fly, you’ve got to be willing to give up being a caterpillar. And that means change.

 

Change requires growth for which we need fuel.  Just like the caterpillar fills up on leaves to make its transition, we can fuel up by upgrading our emotional management skills and knowledge.

 

Change is uncomfortable. We may struggle. But strength comes from struggle.  The butterfly’s struggle to break through its cocoon is necessary to strengthen its wings in order to fly.

 

I love this excerpt from ‘Hope for the Flowers’ by Trina Paulus which seems to sum this up so well:

When she heard the word butterfly, her whole insides leapt.  ”But what is a butterfly?”

The cocooned caterpillar explained: ”It’s what you are meant to become.”

‘Yellow’ was intrigued, but a bit defiant.

”How can I believe there’s a butterfly inside you or me, when I all see is a fuzzy worm?”

On further reflection she pensively asked,

”How does one become a butterfly?”

”You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.”

”It’s what you’re meant to become.”

 

If you’re yearning to become the butterfly you’re meant to be and need a bit of extra support, find out more about how our coaching programmes can help.

 


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How to slow down to speed up

 

By Jo Britton

 

As a coach, I work with many leaders who are exhausted or in danger of burn out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my clients said she felt like she was pulling a truck with square wheels.

 

She was so busy taking action that she’d confused busyness with productivity and effectiveness. And had missed a great idea which would make life much easier.

 

Sometimes we just need to slow down to speed up.

 

If you struggle to take time to pause for thought, set an alarm on your phone every hour to remind you.

 

Spend a couple of minutes taking a few calm, deep breaths to relax and enjoy being in the present moment.

 

The more you practice this, the more this will become a great habit

 

You’ll be amazed at how much more productive and effective you will become.

 

Want to achieve even more in less time and with confidence and impact?

 

Procrastination: the enemy of progress

 

 

How I spent my time when I had loads to do

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then spending the evening feeling guilty. ☹️ 

 

 

Does this resonate with you?

 

Research says that procrastinators suffer higher levels of stress, insomnia, immune system and gastrointestinal problems.

 

We procrastinate for different reasons:

 

1.Thrill seeking – the rush we get when leaving something til the last minute

2.Fear of success, failure or being judged

3.Struggling to make a decision

 

 

Whenever I am procrastinating I do these things:

 

✅ Ask myself what I’m afraid of and work on that fear

 

Prioritise 3 things I’ll do today

 

Allocate time to complete each task

 

Do one task at a time, ticking it off my list before moving to the next

 

Reward myself when I’ve completed my list

 

 

 

Is procrastination getting in the way of your progress? Need help?

 

Get in touch about our coaching programmes 

Finding your voice

 

By Matt Britton

 

What separates the ‘Steve Jobs’ from the ‘Steve Jobless?’ What makes a good speech truly great? The apple visionary had an amazing ability to speak with passion and make his ideas understandable and memorable. For a tech guru he didn’t overload us with jargon nor did he kill us with PowerPoint. Jobs looked and sounded relaxed as he walked around the stage freely. It looked natural and effortless. What many don’t know is Steve Jobs rehearsed for days every major speech and product launch. He knew what every actor knows: it takes a lot of practice to make it look natural.

 

Fortunately for us not-so-natural speakers most of the important parts of presentation can be learned. From slowing down to eliminating pesky ‘ums’ and ‘ers,’ there are plenty of tricks to help you be heard above the crowd.

 

Theatre director and facilitator of our Presenting with ImpACT masterclass, Matt Britton, leads you through some simple pointers for getting the best out of your voice…

 

And breathe

It could be the idea that is going to change the world. But unless we can hear it- how do we know?

 

Whether it’s delivering that keynote presentation or simply fighting to be heard in a large meeting, finding your voice is key. When it comes to volume breath is essential. Under stress people tend to breathe from their lungs instead of their diaphragm. This results in short anxious gulps leaving speech pinched and shallow. Have you ever ran out of breath towards the end of your sentence? It’s because you’re not taking breaths from the diaphragm. Take a quick body check now. Breathe in slowly for a count of five. Do you feel your shoulders rising as you inhale? If so, you’re breathing shallow breaths from the lungs. Now try it again. This time place your hands around your waist. You should be aiming to feel your sides expand. This is a sign you’re breathing deep from near the belly. Remember, breath= fuel for the voice. And no, we’re not talking about shouting. Doing your best Malcolm Tucker impression is unlikely to endear you to any listener. There’s a difference between filling the space with a strong voice supported by sufficient breath, and straining your voice to be heard. If you leave the conference room hoarse you’re not using your voice or breath correctly.

 

 

Not so fast.

Already running on nerves, adrenalin and a gutful of macchiatos, public speaking tends to get us in a rush with our words. We’d rather just get it over and done with. As a consequence our mouths go into overdrive and our ideas end up hitting the back wall before registering in our audience’s mind. Simple tip. If you want to be heard in a fast world: slow down. Not only does slowing down enable you to articulate better it gives your brain chance to gather its thoughts. It enables the listener to collect their thoughts too. A good rule of thumb is to aim for short sentences spoken at a measured pace. Long-winded sentences can leave us gasping for breath. Never a good look. Short sentences which use shorter words are punchier and much easier to deliver. Slowing down, however, should never be confused with monotony. Which brings us to our next point…

 

 

Mix it up.

We’ve all been there. You’re sitting in a conference room for a business presentation and you start to nod off. The speaker’s voice has become so dull it’s hypnotic. All you hear is the same pitch, the same rhythm, you hear the words but the meaning has got lost in the monotony. Mix it up. Vary the pitch. Play with the rhythm. Our ears need to be entertained and kept interested. Use the full range of your vocals. Alter the tone. Your deeper range can indicate weight and credibility. Your upper ranger can communicate excitement and joy. To create passion in our voice we need to know when it is beneficial to raise the volume and increase the speed of our delivery. A good baseline is to maintain a measured pace with occasional flourishes of speed and volume.

 

 

Enjoy the silence.

A well positioned pause is a powerful skill in presentation. Too many of us feel the need to fill the silence. It takes a brave communicator to put a pause to good use. When we pause before a word or phrase, it creates anticipation. When we pause after we’ve said something, it allows the audience a moment to chew on the idea. When we talk about pacing our presentations and being mindful of the rhythm, a pause helps vary the delivery keeping ears from drifting off.

 

 

Finish strong.

The sun-soaked cul-de-sac of Ramsay Street first reached our TV sets in the mid eighties, introducing us to Kylie and Jason, Bouncer the dog, and the Australian upwards inflection! A whole generation began to add add inflections at the end of sentences, making our statements sound like questions. Actors, however, are trained to do the opposite. Rather than ending on a question, actors finish their lines on a down note. Completing your thought, then letting it stand in the silence, allows your audience to digest the information. It sounds much more confident than the uncertainty an upwards inflection brings.

A firm recently surveyed 700 British men and women in managerial and executive roles. 85% felt that the upwards inflection trait was not only annoying, but indicated a person’s insecurity. The study suggested this style of speaking could hinder a person’s career. If you want your voice to carry more authority wean yourself off the upward inflection and end your thoughts on a down note.

 

 

Practice, practice, practice.

What do you do when you familiarise yourself with your notes? You practice by reading it silently in your head, right? This is not actual practice. Actors’ rehearsals are noisy, loud and most importantly an opportunity to try things out and risk failure. Yes, they may learn lines in silence, but actual rehearsal is exactly that- rehearsing what you will do in front of an audience. Don’t let the first time you’ve heard yourself aloud be in front of an audience. Read it out aloud to yourself. Anticipate those trickier sentences, know which parts sound monotonous. Play about with pitch and rhythm and pauses. Practice. Practice. Practice.

 

 

There we have it. However, those previous tips won’t mean much if you leave your personality at the door. Bring your passion and enthusiasm to your speech. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. Bring you. The best, boldest version of you centre-stage. Learn the craft, learn to love public speaking.

 

 

Join our Presenting with ImpACT masterclass to bring power and performance to your presentations.

Talk to the hand

 

By Matt Britton

 

 

Professional actor and award winning theatre director Matt shares his five tips for bringing power and performance to your presentation to help you be a crowd pleaser. Matt facilitates our Presenting with ImpACT masterclass.

 

 

 

Shakespeare is difficult. Fact. At least when you are hearing the words fresh to the ear in the theatre. You might be able to tease out the meaning if you’ve studied the text beforehand. But if you’re ‘to be-ing or not to be-ing’ for the first time, even the sharpest mind can end up in knots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A good night out with the bard rests on how well the actor can transport you through time and place for a couple of hours. The best take the complexities of Shakespeare and make them easily accessible with passion and presence.

 

 

In a business setting, we are sometimes tasked with enthusing colleagues with complex ideas, through an upfront presentation, a public address or chairing a meeting. Adopting the right physical and vocal characteristics is key to ensuring your audience is on board.

 

 

Like the best actors, the best business performers, command presence.

 

 

Charisma might look natural to anyone watching in the front row, yet this skill of communication is result of practice, rehearsal and training. And if it’s a skill it can be learned. In other words- Presence can be practiced.

 

 

At PACE Development we believe acting techniques can be applied to work situations. Equipping people with the basic tools of an actor is proven to bring out star performances in the workplace. It’s not about pretending to be someone you’re not, quite the opposite. It helps you get to grips with the pressure and pain of presenting upfront, allowing you to engage with your audience positively.

 

 

Actors are trained to embody what they speak. A three minute soliloquy from Hamlet isn’t just a case of getting the words out in the right order. The sense is brought not just through what is said but how it is said. The body and the voice are deeply connected in performance. Every movement, gesture, facial expression is carefully thought out in the rehearsal room and then continuously practiced until it appears natural to an audience. For example, an actor will give close thought to how they use their hands during a speech. It has been said that 93% of communication is non-verbal. Passion and presence can be expressed as much through your hands as your words. All this leads us to the question we get asked a lot at PACE, ‘What do I do with my hands when I speak?’

 

 

Somewhere along the way, most of us have picked up this advice about public speaking: Stand still. Don’t wander about it. Keep your gestures to a minimum so people can focus on your words.

 

 

Wise words. Except studies into TED talks that went viral proved that the most popular speakers were also the most animated. According to the Washington Post, the least viewed talks had an average of 272 hand gestures. Whereas the top-ranked averaged 465 hand gestures during the same length of time. In other words, people don’t just listen to what you say, but how you say it.

 

 

The issue for many of us is working out what to do with our hands. Unless we have a plan we can easily fall into the trap of hands in pockets, or worse still – jazz hands!

 

 

It can be useful to have pre-planned or rehearsed descriptive gestures to help animate your words.

 

 

For example, if you’re talking about a small thing, pinch your fingers. If it’s a really big point, don’t be afraid to raise your hands in the air. Any time you count off less than five points, show it by counting off your fingers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My five top tips for talking with your hands:

 

 

1. Find a comfortable base point for your hands. To avoid looking like you’re conducting an orchestra, choose occasions to use specific hand gestures which reinforce your words, and then take your hands back to a resting place. Hands in pockets can look too casual, we recommend arms by the side, or gesturing as if you’re holding a basketball between your hands. Steve Jobs frequently used this position during his public addresses. It can indicate confidence and control, as if you have all the facts at your fingertips. Your base point should avoid drawing attention to the wrong places. Some speakers clasp their hands in front of their groin. This keeps our hands locked making it difficult to use them more effectively.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Imagine a television in front of your torso. Keep your animated arms within this region. Anything that strays out of this area can look unnatural and distracting. Going too wide or too high can communicate insincerity. Contain your movements inside the imaginary  rectangular box in front of your chest and belly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Don’t point. Audiences hate it. It’s confrontational and unwelcoming. If pointing has become second nature to you, try the politician’s thumb. Pinch your thumb into your fist as you point. It’s less aggressive, however, be warned, you are communicating high status with this gesture, so unless you’re the CEO choose wisely.

 

 

 

 

 Photo credit Pablo Martinez Monsivais

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. For those of us not brave enough to use our hands imaginatively, try the ‘Prince Charles.’ Lock the fingers of both your hands and hold them flat at torso height. As well as working as a comfortable base point for hands, it also enables you to move them around, giving the illusion of expression. Although this isn’t the most effective way of strengthening your non-verbal communication, it is simple and safe, and prevents unconscious fidgeting of fingers or clueless gesturing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Open palms. Any outstretched gesture should be accompanied with open palms. Behavioural experts call this one ‘no tools, no weapons.’ It shows we have nothing up our sleeves, nothing to hide. By showing open palms it signals I’ve got nothing to harm you, I’m exposed, you can trust me. If you want to build trust- keep your body language open, and that includes your hands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’d like bring power and presence to your presentations, find out more about our Presenting with ImpACT masterclass

 

Jo wins new business start up of the year

 

JO BRITTON, founder and director of PACE Development was named winner of the new business start up of the year in the FL National Awards & Summit 2019, North West, Ireland and Wales region at an exclusive awards lunch which took place on Friday, 13 September at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel, Manchester.

 

Now in its 10th year, the awards are designed to demonstrate enterprise, talent and innovation from across the region’s thriving business community and have become one of the most recognised and well-attended business awards in the region.

 

Jo, a Manchester based marketing and manufacturing specialist founded PACE (Personal and Corporate Effectiveness) Development eleven months ago to help tackle critical skills shortages and a  lack of female talent at all levels of industry. Her business is on a mission to help women in industry accelerate their careers by adopting the personal branding techniques used by icons such as Lady Gaga whilst tapping into the support of a coach and mentor.

 

Says Jo, “I’m delighted to have won this prestigious award in our first year of business.  I was inspired to launch PACE Development having worked in manufacturing, engineering and technology based sectors and becoming increasingly frustrated by the lack of women in senior roles.”

 

She explains: “Sadly female talent remains under-developed and under-exploited.  Today, 10% of the UK engineering workforce is female and just 5% of  FTSE 100 CEOs are women who continue to be outnumbered by CEOs named Steve or Dave. In 2019, this really isn’t good enough. At PACE Development, we want to help change these statistics. Our aim is to help industry to access a massively untapped pool of female talent. This can make a huge difference to business productivity and growth.”

 

PACE Development also reinvests a percentage of its fees to help aspiring young industry leaders and those who face disadvantage to develop the confidence and skills to maximise their potential.

 

Since launching in 2009, the Forward Ladies Awards recognise leaders and organisations who have made the greatest impact on the regional and wider UK economy over the last 12 months. Winners of the regional awards will go on to compete in the national final in November.