How to Become a Better Speaker

Have you ever been to a conference or presentation and a speaker is so good that you envy her ability to stand in front of a room and effortlessly speak? You think she is just a natural or chalk it up to her being an extrovert. But what if I told you that she practiced several times in front of a mirror. Or, that she had to give herself a pep talk in the bathroom right before she went on stage. Or, that she couldn’t eat breakfast because her stomach would have betrayed her.

Of course there are people that are naturally talented but, even the most talented people practice. They aren’t winging it. And, you shouldn’t either. Before your annual review, go over points that you want to make and practice those points until you aren’t stumbling over your words. If you have to give an update at a meeting, jot down a few talking points and say them out loud once or twice beforehand. And, if you have to give a speech or presentation, practice. This doesn’t mean you should memorize every single word but, you should have an outline that functions as your road map. Just like a dress rehearsal in theater, set yourself up for success with your own dress rehearsal: even if the rehearsal is in the car, the bathroom, or the elevator. Just stop winging it.

 

The One Career Mistake You’re Making and Don’t Even Know it

As women, we are mistakenly told to put our heads down, work hard, and be nice. But one of the biggest career mistakes you can make is not advocating for yourself. Yes, you work 10 hours a day and get along with everyone in the office; but, if you aren’t actively seeking out opportunities because you’re waiting for people to approach you then you’re going to be disappointed.

We’ve all heard the saying “squeaky wheel gets the oil.” Be the squeaky wheel. Speak up. If you want to be included on a new project, ask. If you want to be considered for a promotion, ask. And don’t just ask, be prepared to discuss why you’re qualified for the project or position. Stop sitting back and thinking your hard work will speak for itself, because it won’t. You will end up sitting at your desk wondering why no one has approached you. Take your career and future into your own hands and ask for opportunities, even if you have to ask more than once.

 

How to Stick to Your 2020 Resolutions

With all the chatter about resolutions and goals for 2020, many of us went full speed ahead on January 1st. But now that we are almost two weeks into the year, are you still going as hard? Probably not. With crazy work schedules and unexpected setbacks, it is easy to get overwhelmed and simply give up. I don’t blame you.

But if there is one thing 2019 taught me, it’s that in order to accomplish your goals, you have to give yourself leeway to adjust and reset as life comes at you: because life will undoubtedly come at you. It’s so easy to get caught up in the “push through” and “work harder” mentality because every article we read suggests that scaling back is for people who are mentally weak. But just like driving, in life you have to slow down and reroute your GPS when there is an unexpected road closure.

In 2019, after a month of crushing my 2019 resolutions, my cousin Jesse died unexpectedly. We were extremely close and it knocked the wind out of me. While I did not let his death completely derail my goals, I did allow myself time to ignore those goals for a few weeks and simply be ok with taking one breath at a time. Then, I was able to adjust my planned path to accomplish those goals given the circumstances.

As you embark on your journey to greatness in 2020 remember that life happens, be gentle with yourself, and don’t be afraid to adjust those goals along the way. Setbacks are unavoidable so, be ready. Whether you need to take a week off from the gym to focus on a stressful project at work or you need to recognize that reading one book a week for all of 2020 was too ambitious; do it. Either way, don’t abandon your goals, just adjust them to fit into the unknown of life. Take that week off and then set a goal to hit the gym twice the following week and then three the next. Instead of giving up on reading completely, adjust your goal to read one book a month. And, if that’s still too much, aim for one book every other month. The point of a resolution or goal is to make us better than before. Better can mean 300% better or 3% better. Yes, we all want to shoot for the stars and conquer the world but, we can’t do that if exhaustion or poor mental health gets the best of us. Never give up on your goals just be prepared to adjust the path to those goals along the way.

 

Who Should Pay for Lunch?

We’ve all had that awkward moment at the end of an otherwise great networking lunch when the check arrives. Who pays? You might be the person who always asks that the check be split. Or maybe you’re the person who assumes the other person is paying so, when the check arrives you sit there while the other person reaches for her wallet. But in certain scenarios, you should pay.

If you invited her to lunch, you should pay. Especially if you invited her to lunch asking for her assistance or advice. Whether it be career advice or otherwise, if you gained something valuable from the lunch conversation, you should pay. I don’t care if you just had water and she had a margarita, you should pay. If you can’t afford to pay for lunch then don’t ask her to go: suggest meeting for coffee instead.

Now, there are some instances when your mentor or the person you invited insists on paying. In that case, politely offer to pay again and if she still insists then thank her for lunch and tell her the next lunch is on you. Be sure to follow up with an email or text thanking her for lunch and make a mental note to schedule lunch in the future.

Knowing when you should pay for lunch will ensure that you aren’t straining relationships with friends and mentors because you didn’t know that you should have paid.

The One Thing You Should Do At Every Networking Event

If you have ever attended a networking event, then it’s likely that you’ve seen a woman standing by herself or attempting to awkwardly navigate her way into another group’s conversation. Maybe she is an introvert, maybe she is new to her profession and nervous to be in a room full of accomplished people, or maybe she doesn’t know how to network. Whatever the reason, if you see her, go up to her and introduce yourself. And, if you’ve found your networking circle, invite her over and introduce her to the people in the group.

As women, we owe it to each other to make one another feel included. Even if all you do is talk about where the tray of crab cakes went, at least you took a step to make another woman feel slightly less awkward. So, if you see her and she looks lonely, go say hi: it won’t kill you and it will make both of you stronger.