Overcoming Fear of Public Speaking

Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking, and is one of the most common of all phobias. National statistics show that in 2013 74% of the population experienced some level of speech anxiety, and this is regardless of gender. More often than not it goes hand in hand with social anxiety. In both instances the anxiety is driven by the fear of saying the wrong thing, being judged negatively, and not being liked by others.

Speaking is a major form of communication for the human species. It is how we express our opinions, thoughts, and feelings, which are the very things that define who we are. Technically we are all public speakers, and the anxiety that arises stems from caring or worrying about what others think of us. At the end of the day we all just want to be liked.

In a work situation it is completely normal to feel nervous before a presentation. However if you are paralysed by fear this can be incredibly detrimental. Some people are natural born speakers, whilst others need time to develop this skill. But just like riding a bike, the more you practice the better you become! And it really is an invaluable skill to have, not only in the workplace, but also in personal relationships.
If you suffer from a fear of public speaking and wish to work on alleviating your anxiety, here are some useful tips:

1. Know the topic that you are speaking about. If you are standing up in front of people, this means they want to learn something from you. Develop a plan for how to give a couple of key messages, clearly and concisely.

2. Eliminate the expression “what if” from your lexicon. “What if I sound stupid?” “What if I get asked a question I don’t know the answer to?” “What if I sweat too much?” Again, these thoughts stem from worrying about what others think of you, and also your assumption that you will fail. Manage your nerves by challenging these unhelpful negative thoughts that are ultimately creating further anxiety for you. Remember, the calmer you are, the better your presentation will be!

3. Be yourself. Whatever the presentation is about, let your personality shine through. If you try to be someone you are not, your audience will pick up on this. The more you remain true to who you are, the more relaxed and engaging you will be.

4. Your brain absorbs what you tell it to, so visualise yourself coping and doing a great job. Having positive affirmations or reading inspirational material, or watching clips on YouTube of others delivering presentations, can help you gain confidence.

5. Interact with your audience and be open to their feedback. Speak confidently with your audience, not arrogantly at them. Ask questions that can assist you in becoming better at your next public speaking engagement.

6. See public speaking as a fantastic opportunity rather than a dreaded battle!

For more help with public speaking, grab a copy of a self help book that Dr Aileen Alegado has been a contributor to “Picture Them Naked: Everything you ever wanted to know about presenting and public speaking but were afraid to ask” authored by J. Burrows available now from www.amazon.com

*This article is also published on www.icreatepositivity.com

Plugged in and Disconnected – The emerging social media addiction

Group of three smart phone addicted friends in a coffee shop terrace everyone with one cellphone

Recent studies show that Social media addiction is now being recognised as a real problem.

Social media use that has been seen to be more addictive than alcohol or cigarettes. The likelihood to this rise may be attributed to the availability of access and the social acceptability of its use.

The symptoms of addiction include but not limited to; chronic online activity and incessant “checking” of social media sites – increased time spent online whether it be passive (“liking” status or posts, looking constant Instagram images, “stalking” people’s profiles, or incessant refreshing of the Facebook newsfeed or active (posting status updates or pictures)

What are the downsides to using social media excessively?
Being addicted to social media can create a mindset that has increased pressure to conform to societal expectations – similar to the term ‘keeping up with the jones’ and the unhealthy competition of comparing one’s life to the other. It can create lowered self esteem for those who don’t feel that their life is as “exciting” as their peers. Another downside is it opens us up to vulnerability – eg. Criticism, judgement and rejection made famous by the “trolls” – that can result to bullying and lack of privacy.

Another pitfall is the lack of engagement with “real life” as we become more online or live our lives online.For example, people having their phones while having dinner rather than conversing with their partner or being more concerned about what people think on every aspect of what you do that actually being ‘plugged in’ with how it is making you feel.

Tips on managing social media use
1. Be clear on what you are using social media for so you can optimise the benefits of using it – eg. Work/ business purposes, networking/ making friends or staying in contact with family/ friends.

2. Inform yourself about security options – most sites have security options you can control so you can monitor who sees what you post. This will enable you to be in control of your interactions with others.

3. Use your social media in a positive way – take advantage of what information we are now able to share and also acquire online. Communicating with someone far away, or with people with the same interests have never been easier.

4. Be respectful of others and be aware of information you post – Think carefully prior to posting other people’s personal information, including posting pictures or making comments about them on your site. Stick to the rule that if you’re not willing to say it in person, then don’t do it online.

5. Restrict when you use social media – try to set times eg. Lunchbreaks only, end of the day if you find yourself spending too much time on social media. You can either opt to delete it from your phone which makes its accessibility less.

Creating an Agile Workforce: The Need for Speed

businessman teamwork for puzzles in arrow shape on doodles wall

Today’s business success hinges on strategic agility and the ability to execute in a timely manner. In a continually evolving global business environment, opportunities for growth are juxtaposed against a shrinking pool of high-performing talent that can quickly seize those opportunities.

The ability to anticipate talent needs, optimize a talented workforce, and keep retention rates high, despite constant change is the key to a company’s sustainable competitive advantage. According to the Pricewaterhouse Coopers 11th Annual Global CEO Survey access to talent remains a major issue. Less than half of all CEOs agreed that their HR teams were equipped to handle the change required to compete for talent.

What is Agility?
“Agility” is the ability to change the body’s position efficiently, and requires the integration of isolated movement skills using a combination of balance, coordination, speed, reflexes, strength, endurance and stamina. Sheppard and Young (2006) define agility as “a rapid whole body movement with change of velocity or direction in response to a stimulus.” In Business, agility means the capability of rapidly and cost efficiently adapting to organisational changes in context of changing business environments. Agility is therefore, the ability of an organization to adapt to change and also to seize opportunities that become available due to change. While there has been much work and discussion of what agility is and how firms can become agile there is little work at measuring the agility of a firm.
An Agile workforce can be defined as a culture or organization with the knowledge based diverse workforce that can adapt to a changing business environment. To accomplish this human resources must build a work force that is flexible, must have a diverse business and technically knowledgeable in all areas of business, be able to trouble shoot day to day, be cost effective and completive. HR need to assess and analyze their current corporate culture and employees, and establish practices and strategies to develop and facilitate an agile workforce through empowering employees.

The main motives for pursuing workforce agility and agile employees, can be classified as improved efficiency, enhanced flexibility, increased quality, and improved work culture (Hopp, Tekin and Van Oyen, 2002).

The following are some strategies to support and encourage an agile workforce

1. Assess a current baseline of how agile your employees currently are. This will establish gaps in agility and change readiness and what is required in anticipation of changes when they do happen.
2. Talent management is another important priority which includes, recruitment, reward and retention of agile employees who have natural strengths in their ability to think creatively and adapt and problem solve amidst change.
3. Market focus and position is another building block of high performance and how the organization understands and responds to its markets. Critical elements include management of the business portfolios and market insight, with the ability to sense market trends and changes and respond to them proactively.
4. Fostering leadership in managers and team leads and qualities such as adaptability, creativity and innovation, assertiveness and risk taking.
5. Adopting and promoting a work culture and mindset of continuous renewal, an organization helps to create a culture that supports and motivates the kinds of behaviors required to be more agile.


Mindset Consulting corporate services helps with all areas of individual and business development, Call today for more information.

Dealing with addictions

Alcohol addiction : Portrait of a lonely and desperate drunk his

Lately I’ve found myself increasingly using alcohol day to day. It’s starting to affect my work and relationships to the point that I think I may have an addiction problem. How do I stop?

In today’s modern world the pressures and demands society place on us, as well as those we place on ourselves, continues to rise. As this stress increases so does our need for escape, either physically, emotionally, or mentally. A common source of relaxation for many people is alcohol.

Alcohol is considered a socially acceptable way for us to unwind with friends and family. But what happens when this form of escapism becomes detrimental to our health, relationships, and career? Addiction is a very real problem that many people struggle with, be it with alcohol or drugs. Or both. This article will focus on the former, but as a general rule, most of what is outlined below can also be applied to drug addiction.

How to tell if you or someone you care about has become dependent on alcohol.
There are certain diagnostic criteria that can determine this.

Alcohol dependence involves a pattern of drinking that leads to significant distress, when at least three of the following criteria are met within a 12 month period:

-A need for an increased amount of alcohol to reach intoxication.
-Withdrawal symptoms when not drinking or drinking to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
-Drinking in larger amounts or over a longer period than intended. I.e. Going out for one drink with friends, but staying out all night drinking.
-Unsuccessful attempts at quitting or cutting back alcohol consumption.
-Loss of interest in socialising, work, or leisure activities because of drinking.
-Much time spent recovering from the effects of excessive drinking.
-Continued drinking despite knowing the negative impact it is having.

Often the need for alcohol overrides all judgment. People find themselves justifying their behaviour or even denying that there is a problem in the first place. Their behaviour over time may become uncharacteristic, they may start drinking alone or lying about their alcohol consumption. There can be brief moments of shame and guilt that usually accompany substance abuse. These are short lived however as the vicious cycle of craving relief from withdrawal results in further drinking.

Things to keep in mind when dealing with addiction.
-In the beginning, drinking is normalised as short-term stress relief. It works, and this reinforces the belief that it’s acceptable.
-The temporary positive feelings mean we are not finding alternative and healthier means of dealing with stress.
-Alcohol is a mind altering and physically powerful substance that creates a chemical change within us. Not only does dependency develop, but also tolerance, which means we need more of it, and need it more often, to obtain the desired effect.
-Withdrawal is a major deterrent in stopping drinking.

Seeking help, The Wheel Of Change, and beating addiction.
It’s important to be mindful that overcoming an addiction is an almighty battle, setbacks and relapses are normal, and the desire for change must come from within. You cannot make someone give up something they don’t want to.


The cycle that every addict on the way to sobriety goes through is known as The Wheel Of Change, and it helps explain what happens emotionally and cognitively on this journey.
1. Pre-contemplative stage: the addict is in denial that there is even a problem.
2. Contemplative stage: addict acknowledges that there IS a problem but justifies it and says they can’t stop.
3. Preparation: addict takes the first steps in seeking help.
4. Action: addict implements change.
5. Maintenance: addict maintains sobriety and may attend meetings or see a counsellor.
6. Relapse.

Recognising where you are on The Wheel Of Change is the first step towards being out of the woods, in the clear, and on the road to recovery.

Coping With Family Conflict This Christmas

Family serving Christmas dinnerWith Christmas and other end of year festivities fast approaching, so too come the family get- togethers. Whilst for some this is a relaxing and wonderful time to be with loved ones whom you don’t often have the opportunity to see throughout the year, for many the words “dreaded” and “obligatory” precede any mention of “family Christmas meal.”

If tension and conflict are unwanted realities for you at this time of year, there ARE ways to lessen the pressure and help you manage December anxiety.

• Focus on the people at the gathering who you ARE happy to catch up with, rather than the ones you don’t get along with.

• If you have unresolved conflict with a family member, try to avoid using this time to address that. Save that conversation for a more appropriate and quiet time, and do your best to stay on topics that are neutral or positive.

• Keep yourself busy by helping out in the kitchen, tidying up, or playing with children. This can shift the focus away from feeling overwhelmed.

• Ask for help. If you’re hosting a Christmas lunch, don’t be afraid to ask your guests to bring a plate of food or drinks. Most people are more than happy to contribute.

• A Secret Santa/Kris Kringle is an excellent way to alleviate some of the financial burden that a large family gathering can bring. Each person has one gift to buy, rather than twenty, and ideally the same (and hopefully reasonable) budget is set for everyone.

• Physical activity and/or relaxation exercises in the lead up to the big day can be incredibly helpful in clearing the mind. Even if you can only manage a 5-minute walk on your lunch break, this can alleviate some of the stress you may be feeling.

• Plan ahead. If there are people coming to your dinner who you know don’t get along, have a seating plan that has them at opposite ends of the table, assign them jobs to help you, or have a game like backyard cricket that keeps everyone occupied and amused.

• Minimise alcohol intake. It’s common to reach for a drink when you’re stressed, especially at this time of year when you’re dealing with people you’d rather not have to. However with alcohol being a known depressant and likely to exacerbate ill feelings, it also has the potential to cause you to lose control and do or say things you may later regret.

• Perspective is key. Remember, for most, this is a once a year affair. Knowing there is an end in sight can help get you through the day.

• Stock up on Christmas crackers! Nothing lightens the mood and unites people more than daggy jokes and silly hats!