The Art of Empowerment: Communicate Your Message

Creating a life that you love requires that you step into your authentic power as a leader. As a visionary leader, the ability to communicate effectively in front of audience will help to get your transformational message out into the world. When you make the decision to invest in yourself, it will pay more dividends that you could ever imagine. Learning how to speak effectively in public is a skill that is essential to your success.

Businesswoman Delivering Presentation At Conference

Being able to speak effectively in front of an audience ensures that you can capitalize on opportunities. If you have not been taking your speaking development seriously, now is the time to start doing so. The first place to start is to do an assessment of your communication skills, in terms of your strengths and challenges. Every time you deliver a presentation you need to capitalize on your strengths. One of the most effective ways that you can get a sense of what your strengths are is to compile data through feedback and by recording yourself on video to determine how you present.

On the opposite side of knowing your strengths, you also need to examine your communication challenges. Feedback from people that you know and trust can help you in identifying your strengths and the areas that you need to improve. Once you identify the areas that you need to work on, obtaining a mentor or a coach can help you improve your communication skills. Also investing in a program like Toastmasters, a self-directed communication and leadership training program can help.

If you want to learn to speak effectively in front of a group, learning the fundamentals of public speaking is important. Some of the fundamentals include: knowing your speech purpose, knowing your audience, learning to develop great content, using your nonverbal language effectively and being conscious of your language usage. When you know the purpose of your speech you are able to connect with an audience. Doing demographic research helps you to identify who your audience members are and craft your presentation to meet their needs. When you learn to develop great content, you can connect with your audience with storytelling techniques and relevant research. When you organize your speech effectively you take your audience on a journey. Learning to use your nonverbal communication like body language, gestures and facial expressions effectively all play a role in connecting with your audience. In terms of your language usage, use powerful words as they do influence the audience’s perception of you.

As a visionary leader, you have gifts, talents and skills that the world needs. Learning to become a powerful speaker can help you to get your life changing message out into the world to help transform lives!

As published in Sibyl Magazine: For the Spirit and Soul of a Woman (August 2016 issue)

The Art of Empowerment: Be Audacious!

Say it out loud the word audacity! It feels good, doesn’t it? The general definition of audacity is boldness. I would say that is it boldness taken up a notch. Are you an audacious person? Do you have the audacity to be seen, to be heard, for who you truly are? Can you own your brilliance? In other words, can you embody that boldness that is required to start a business? Or be vulnerable? Or to step outside of your comfort zone to speak in front of an audience to demonstrate your talents and expertise.

Man jump through the gap. Element of design.

People are scared of stepping outside of their comfort zone and trying something new. They are fearful of being ridiculed or of being judged. Public speaking and communicating effectively are essential skills you will need to learn in order to get your message out into the world. If you don’t learn to be audacious, you’ll miss out on many of life’s opportunities.

In life, I believe in being respectful and treating people with dignity. Sometimes in life though being a little edgy in a good way can help you move towards your goals. If the circumstances in your life have prevented you from pursuing your goals or you feel stuck perhaps it is time to bring boldness or audacity back into your life. Many of us are people pleasers who look to others to approve of the choices and the decisions that we make in our lives. If you want to live a life that you truly love realize that it is only you who needs to approve of the decisions and the choices in your life. We conform by seeking approval because we want to be accepted. Learn to accept and approve of yourself. You don’t need anyone to determine your worth. You were made by the Divine. Breaking the bonds of conformity and being truly who you are requires audacity. You are being audacious when you stand in your authentic truth.

Be audacious and commit to owning your power. Owning your power means taking the full responsibility for the choices and results in your life. Conformity is not your friend. When you listen to Divine Guidance you will know what steps to take to make the life of your dreams come true. Listening to Divine Guidance will allow you to be that audacious person who stands fully in your power. When you are audacious enough to fully own your power, you know that you have the power of choice to make your goals and dreams come true. Know that you are worthy to pursue your dreams. In other words, it’s time to start owning your brilliance and the value that you bring to the world. Be audacious and let the love and gifts you bring to the world shine in all their glory!

As published in Sibyl Magazine: For the Spirit and Soul of a Woman (July 2016 issue)

Phenomenal Insights from Author, Speaker and Success Coach Brendon Burchard

Brendon Burchard is a # 1 New York Times bestselling author, speaker and success coach. He has a huge online following and is considered to be the modern day Tony Robbins. He has written several books and my favourite is the Motivation Manifesto. When he was in Toronto recently at a conference, I had the pleasure of hearing him speak and met him at his book signing.

Brendon Burchard and Deborah Austin at Hay House Conference

I enjoy attending conferences and workshops and have heard many of the “heavy hitters” in the personal development area speak at events. Burchard was one of the most outstanding speakers I’ve ever heard. He had the perfect mix of substantive content, conveyed his message effectively, had good audience interaction, had great use of humour and his delivery was excellent. He received a well-deserved standing ovation that lasted several minutes. His speech really impacted me and made me re-evaluate some things in my life. Here are some of the highlights from Brendon Burchard’s presentation. In no particular order, the key learnings were:

I must raise my standards and my ambitions and refuse to settle. How many of you have settled at some point in your life with the status quo? Raising your standards and ambition can help you to start making breakthrough towards your goals. Of course, action is always key.
I must no longer fear rejection. Get over the fear of rejection. Rejection is going to happen. There will always be people who love and support you. Just as there will be always be people who reject and criticize you. You cannot let rejection and criticism prevent you from fulfilling your mission in life. As Burchard, says, “Find something to fight for or love.” That will help you counteract rejection.
I must face my fear and jump in. As you try more things and get better at them you will learn and gain more confidence. Life is an adventure. Learn to develop confidence and a healthy self-esteem so as not to take rejection personally. Engage, have fun and live!
I must refocus and get more committed. As Burchard says, “Believe in your ability to figure it out.” In order to reach success we need to have new conditioning. New conditioning means raising your ambitions and vision. According to Burchard, our vision of what we can achieve can be caged by the past and our upbringings. We need to learn to set new ambitions and a new vision for ourselves. Some of us were born into communities were most people don’t aspire to wealth because they don’t believe that they can achieve it. Don’t let that happen to you! Refocus and recommit to your dreams.
I must live each day with purpose. Need I say more? Live each day with intention and purpose. Don’t just go through the motions. Achieve your highest priorities each day.
• The difference between unsuccessful and successful people is…drumroll please. According to Burchard, unsuccessful people say, I don’t know how to do something and leave it at that. Successful people make the time to find out how to do something. Successful people schedule it and put it on their agenda.
Learn to have ambition and expectancy. Expect that you can make your success happen. Even if you don’t have everything figured out,“Bumble Into the Future.” To be successful, you have to be hungry for the success. Stop fearing your ambition. Expect that you can make it happen now. Don’t wait for years to make it happen. As Burchard says, “The piano of purpose will not fall on your head.”
We all get a second chance to live the life that we want. In other words, Who am I going to be? Answer that question truthfully and it will help you to move towards the vision of the life you want.
Figure out what questions I will ask at the end of my life. Once you figure them out start living the answers to them now!
We are creative beings. Find a way to generate the happiness you seek and live into the intention of it. In other words, don’t wait until the future to be happy based on some event. Start generating your happiness now doing things you love and helping people.

There were many excellent takeaways from Brendon Burchard and I feel blessed to have met him. Some of his key learnings helped me to refocus my mindset. Pick up your copy of the Motivation Manifesto or the Millionaire Messenger today!

Appointed as an eWomen Network Ambassador

I am pleased to announce that I have been appointed to the leadership team as an eWomen Network Ambassador for the Toronto Chapter. I will be working with a talented leadership team to support women entrepreneurs and corporate professionals in the Greater Toronto Area. The eWomen Network is one of North America’s premier women’s business and professional organizations.

Beautiful woman writing a business concept

If you are an entrepreneur (or corporate professional) who is looking for opportunities to grow your business and network, look no further than the eWomen Network. The eWomen Network has many benefits that can support you as you grow your business. The organization consists of women who support each other while growing their businesses and giving back to the community. If you are interested in joining the eWomen Network, please contact me for further information at deborah@deborahangelaustin.com

Interviewed on The Brave Entrepreneur Podcast

My interview with branding expert Jena Rodriguez is now live on itunes. Jena Rodriguez is a brand strategist, national speaker, author, and founder of Brand With Jena based out of Texas. She interviewed me for her podcast: The Brave Entrepreneur where she discusses how entrepreneurs can be brave in both business and in life.

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In the interview, we discussed how people can step into their authentic power as entrepreneurs and professionals. I discuss tips to be an effective speaker and why you should no longer put your dreams on hold. The time to start working on your dreams and goals is now! It was an honour to be interviewed.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST:
The Brave Entrepreneur Interview

Lessons Learned from Billionaire Businessman and Philanthropist Michael Lee-Chin

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a lecture by billionaire businessman and philanthropist Michael Lee-Chin at The Rotman School of Management at The University of Toronto. He was speaking there as part of an investor speaker series and there were approximately 250 people in attendance. In the lecture, he outlined some of his investing and life principles. Afterwards, I attended a reception, where I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Lee-Chin.

Michael Lee Chin and Deborah Austin at U oT Investor Speaker series reception (January 2016)

It was truly an honour to meet him. In life, I believe, that you can learn from anyone regardless of status. When you have the opportunity though to learn from people like Michael Lee-Chin who have achieved extraordinary success in life be it with their families, in their business and in the philanthropy/contribution area, it is important to take special heed. This blog article contains my musings on my encounter with one of Jamaica’s and Canada’s most successful businessmen and philanthropists. If you are interested in learning more about Michael Lee-Chin’s career and philanthropy, there are numerous articles that describe his rise to fame and fortune.

From the lecture and my conversation with Michael Lee-Chin, I took away many lessons that will inspire me for a lifetime. One of the main lessons that was reinforced was that anyone can have a successful life, if they are willing to do the required work AND implement proven success strategies. If you examine the lives of successful people you will see commonalities. Success, as businessman and motivational guru Tony Robbins likes to say leaves clues.

Early in his business career as a young man, Michael Lee-Chin visited families in order to sell investments. One of the primary questions he would ask is, how can I make this family wealthy? In other words, how I can create value for this family? This is a question worth asking on a daily basis. How can you create value for people on a regular basis? As an employee, how can you contribute to your employer on a daily basis? As an entrepreneur, how are you helping your clients solve problems so that they can attract clients and new opportunities as well as save money? As a speaker, how are you ensuring that your message resonates with your audience? As a family member, how are you contributing value in terms of your love and time to the development of your family? Your answer to this question which is about contribution and the actions that you take can be a determinant for your success in life.

We all know that there are proven and timeless principles and formulas that will help us live successful lives. While there are various formulas and principles that outline how to become successful, find the strategies that work for you. Michael Lee-Chin in his lecture outlined some of his principles for building wealth.

When he was a young man starting out in the business world, Michael Lee- Chin also studied the wealthiest people in the world. He discovered five main principles that wealthy people around the world have used to build their wealth overtime. While I’m not an investment advisor, here are the principles with my personal perspective on them. They are:

1.Buy a few high quality businesses.
People who have accumulated great wealth overtime have usually concentrated on buying or investing in a few high quality businesses. In other words, they are focused investors in terms of the type, quality and the number of businesses that they have. If you apply this principle even further to the personal level consider this. Do you invest your time in many different things that don’t yield great results? Or are you using your energy and time in a few high quality things that help you achieve optimum results to reach your goals.

2. Once you own these high quality businesses (i.e. investments) understand these businesses thoroughly.
Once you buy high quality businesses become the expert on those businesses. In other words, know them inside and out. Applying this to the personal level, regardless of how small the amounts are, do you know all the intricate details about your investments. Do you know how they are performing on a consistent basis? If you don’t know the specifics about your investments, make it a priority now. While your investment advisor may be competent, you are the one who has the greatest stake in your future so ensure you understand your investments thoroughly.

3. Invest in businesses that have strong, long term growth.
When it comes to your investments, are they performing consistently and growing in the long term? That is one of the key to success. Even though there may periods when your investments have lower returns monitor them consistently to ensure that they overall have strong, long term growth.

4. Use other people’s money prudently.
Using other people’s money prudently means, how can you learn to borrow and invest intelligently to purchase businesses or investments in order to build your wealth. As we all know, this is easier said than done. If you are able to invest with other people’s money to build your wealth ensure that have you done your due diligence on all accounts.

5. Hold on to your businesses (i.e. investments) for the long term.
Unless you win it, marry it or inherit it, building wealth is a process that takes time. So many people want quick returns on their investments. The key to building wealth is to develop your long term strategy rather than focus on short term gains. Part of that strategy means holding on to your high performing investments for the long term.

While these are the five main principles that I learned about building wealth while listening to Michael Lee-Chin’s speech, there is so much more information that I could add. I’ll save that information for another article. The lessons learned from meeting Michael Lee-Chin will inspire me for a lifetime.

Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking Article

I love to write. Throughout my life, in some capacity I’ve always engaged in creative writing. When I was in university, I wrote for the student newspaper, The Varsity and was an editorial assistant and intern at The Toronto Star. My career in public service took me away somewhat from my creative pursuits and now I’ve come back full circle. 

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I’ve been accepted as a writer for Sibyl magazine for 2016. Sibyl: For the Spirit and Soul of a Woman is an online international spirituality magazine. Every month between January – December 2016, I will write an article for the magazine. The theme that I chose for the year is: The Art of Empowerment. Also, from time to time, I will write articles for a Toronto based online news site called Good News. In contrast to mainstream media stories that tend to highlight negative news, Good News chronicles only good news stories. 

Below is my first article for Good News called: Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking. Enjoy!

Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking

Book Recommendation – Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation

Do you know how to fascinate? In other words, do you know how to be captivating so that people take notice and pay attention to your message? In Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation, author Sally Hogshead outlines the elements that you need to become more fascinating. The book is based on research from leading experts as well as the results of a national marketing study. In this study over 1,000 people of various backgrounds were surveyed in depth on fascination. The book is divided into three parts. The first part of the book discusses why the ability to fascinate people is so important and some strategies you can use to make your message compelling enough to fascinate.

young stylish caucasian woman posing, isolated over white, retro styling, space for copy

The second part of the book discusses what are some of the triggers that you can use to get people interested in your message. The seven triggers that Hogshead discusses are: mystique, lust, alarm, prestige, power, vice and trust. For each of the triggers she gives an analysis of how the trigger works and how it can be used to make your message stand out. For the third part of the book, Hogshead helps you to develop your action plan to make your messages more fascinating.

A recommended read for people interested in developing compelling marketing messages and becoming more fascinating.

Featured Business Tool – Trello

There are several project management tools that are on the market right now. One of the most popular is Trello.  As a project management tool app, Trello is one of the most intuitive and user friendly tools. I’ve used the tool to keep track of projects as well as projects where I’ve collaborated with other people. It has features where you can upload documents, track activity and add other elements that you need for your projects. Trello has both a free and paid business version depending on your requirements. For more information visit www.trello.com

Empty asphalt road towards the big cloud and signs symbolizing success and safety

Three Tips to Make 2016 Your Best Year Yet!

Will this be the year that you finally accomplish your goals and dreams?

Colorful fireworks of various colors in the evening sky, fireworks on the beach

I’m sure that many of you plan for the new year by doing some type of visioning, goal setting or planning work. You intuitively know that you don’t need the beginning of a new year to transform your life. You can make changes now or at any time of the year. One of the great things about being human is the power of choice. You can choose when and how to affect change in your life. Here are three tips that will contribute to helping you have an outstanding year in 2016.

1. Take Massive Action
Business leader and motivational guru, Tony Robbins often says that if you want to change your life take massive action in the specific area that you want to change. Stand your ground this year and don’t fall prey to procrastination, excusitis and a myriad of other things that will stall or prevent you from accomplishing your goals. Taking massive action means that you take specific, measurable action steps that will help you to achieve your goals. Then rinse and repeat. Do these action steps continuously until you achieve your goals.

The Pareto Principle also known as the 80/20 rule is a well known principle named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto who developed the concept. The principle states that 80 percent of the effects (your success) will come from 20 percent of the causes (your actions). What this means for you when you take massive action is to focus on the most leveraged activities in your life. Focus on the 20 percent of your activities that will yield the highest results (the 80 percent) for you. Let this be the year of massive action where you soar.

2. The Pursuit of Excellence
You have many talents and abilities, some of which you undoubtedly have not fully tapped into during your life thus far. There may come a time when you examine your life and feel that you’ve been performing below your potential. It is too easy to accept the status quo and let mediocrity slowly creep into our lives.

The way that we crush mediocrity is by not tolerating it. The key is to pursue excellence. For 2016 continue to cultivate or learn to develop the habits of a person who pursues excellence in all that you do. Be around people who exhibit the character, habits and behaviour in the areas that you want to improve or enhance.

3. The Energy of Gratitude
I’m a member of the gratitude tribe and I’m know you are as well. I believe in giving thanks and counting blessings. It’s very easy to get complacent when things are going well. When food is on the table, a shelter is over your head and the bills are paid, who would complain? In the fast pace of life sometimes, it is easy to forget how truly blessed we are. When you have good health, family, work and creature comforts, these are things that shouldn’t be taken for granted.

For 2016, increasing your gratitude level will translate into benefits that can improve your quality of life. Who doesn’t want more peace and contentment in their life? Gratitude for what you do have is one way to achieve that. Is there a note of thanks or appreciation that you have been putting off. Why not write it now. Are there people in your life that you have been meaning to tell how much you care about them. I encourage you to seize the moment and do it as soon as you can. I recently received a card that had lovely words of appreciation on it. It was very meaningful to me and I will cherish it.

The start of a new year always brings with it renewed hope and optimism. I hope that this year for you will be a year of: massive action to reach your goals, a year of excellence and continued blessings. Thank you for your support and being a part of my community. I look forward to hearing about your achievements in 2016.

I wish you a happy, successful and prosperous new year!

Five Tips for Effective Networking

Do you know how to network effectively? If yes, bravo for you. If not, don’t be discouraged as this is a skill that can be learned. The reality is if you are an entrepreneur, professional or anyone really who is looking for clients, new business contacts and opportunities, you have to “put yourself out there.” There meaning different types of business and professional events. Regardless of what type of business you have or are in, you are in the sales and marketing business. Networking can play a role when it comes to promoting and making sales for your business.

Tips for Effective Networking

Networking to me is about building a relationship with someone to see how you can mutually help or benefit each other. It is not a one way dialogue, there is reciprocity involved. Here are five networking tips that I’ve learned through my entrepreneurial journey. They are:

1. Effective Networking is About Reciprocity
When you first meet someone at an event rather than going straight into a promotional spiel about your program, product and service, think reciprocity. How can you mutually benefit from knowing each other? Is there a resource, book, website or referral that you can recommend or make to the other person. Once you nurture that relationship, then it is possible that the person you met at the event could become your client, business associate or even over the long term friend.

2. Tools of the Trade
If you are going to an event, ensure that you have the tools that you need so that people can contact you. These tools are at a minimum your business card and perhaps a promotional brochure. Even if you don’t have a website, it is fine to have cards printed with just your name, your title, your phone number and email address. Also make sure that your business cards present the type of image you want to convey. They don’t have to be fancy, just professional. I have been handed business cards that had liquid paper on them, with the phone number whited out and a new number written on top. This does not leave a professional image in your potential business associate’s or client’s mind. A professional business card is an essential tool.

3. Be a Good Listener
I’ve been told that I deliver excellent feedback. The feedback could be for colleagues at work, for my coaching clients or for colleagues in my volunteer work. One of the reasons that I am able to deliver excellent feedback is because I am a good listener. When you are at a networking event use your listening skills to the full capacity. Be genuinely interested in the person you are speaking with at the event. Ask questions in a non-intrusive manner. For example, what is their professional background? Why did they start their business? How does their product or service help or benefit people? Truly listen to what the other person has to say.

4. Use Positive, Rapport Building Nonverbal Communication
When you meet a person at an event, make sure that you use positive, rapport building non-verbal communication. What does that mean? For example, when you first meet someone when you greet them make sure that you smile, look at the person directly, deliver a firm handshake and say your full name. Before you describe what you do, let the other person introduce themselves. In general, remember to smile, have good eye contact, nod from time to time (so that the person knows that you are listening) and have relaxed body language. You want your body language to convey that you are confident and attentive to the other person.

5. Go to the Event Early.
Even though it may be fashionable to arrive late, when you attend networking events, arrive early. When you go to networking events you can make some of your best connections early on at the event. Also at the earlier stage of the event, it is not as noisy as there are less people so you can have longer conversations.

BONUS TIP

Follow Up
When you meet someone new at an event that you are interested in keeping in contact with, follow up. Whether it is for a potential client, business associate or potential friend, make contact with the person as soon as you can. In an ideal world, follow up should happen the next day. Sometimes though that is not possible, try to make contact as soon as you can. You can send an email or call to follow-up on the interaction that you had at the event where you met.

For the more introverted among us, while networking is not the easiest skill to master, it can be learned. Networking effectively can help you promote your business, makes sales and gain new clients. Happy Networking!

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Join Associations Like eWomen Network

When you are embarking on a new endeavour in life, it makes sense for you to join groups, associations and organizations to learn from people who are further along the path in terms of where you ultimately want to be. In my life, I’ve been blessed to have mentors who have shared their time, wisdom and experience with me to help me grow in different areas. In turn, I’ve mentored and coached people along their life’s journey in specific areas.

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I recently joined the eWomen Network (Toronto Chapter) an organization that supports women entrepreneurs through events, networking, and other resources. The eWomen Network was started by Sandra and Kym Yancey over 15 years ago and has chapters across North America. Each chapter is unique and the members come together to network, learn, support and make business connections with each other.

I’m inspired by the members that I’ve met at the Toronto Chapter who have encouraged me. Thank you especially to Daniela, the Managing Director of the eWomen Network (Toronto Chapter) who is inspirational, has encouraged me with words of wisdom and has been supportive as I move forward along the path of my entrepreneurial journey.

If you are interested in learning more about the eWomen Network please feel free to email me at deborah@deborahangelaustin.com.

Use Your Visual Aids to Enhance Your Message

Imagine a magician who has various props that he will be performing with on stage. In order to use the props effectively, he would have practiced with them well in advance of his show. The seamless use of props will enable the magician to connect with his audience and deliver an amazing performance. When audience members see the magician use his props effortlessly, they are entertained and believe he is a professional.

Businesswoman Addressing Multi-Cultural Office Staff Meeting

If you want to perform or speak successfully in public, think about the ways in which you use your visual aids to enhance your message. When you rehearse in advance with your visual aids, your performance is more polished.

Visual aids can include props you use to tell stories, flip charts for training or other tools such as PowerPoint presentations where you use a laptop, a projector and a screen. The purpose of visual aids is to assist you in getting your message across when you speak before an audience.

Here are five tips to help you use your visual aids effectively. They are:

1.Know your material well. As a speaker, know your material well enough that you are able to present with AND without any visual aids or technology. The reason being that in the event that your visual aids don’t work or go missing you can still deliver your presentation. As we all know, technology is not infallible and you don’t want to be overly reliant on your visual aids. Being a professional means that you are able to present even if your technology fails at any point during your presentation.

2.Practice with your equipment and visual aids. Practice well in advance with your equipment and visual aids before delivering any presentation, especially with PowerPoint. Practicing includes rehearsing and testing your laptop, projector and wireless presentation device i.e. clicker before delivering your speech.

3. Arrive early at the venue. Arriving well in advance before you deliver your presentation ensures that you have adequate leeway to troubleshoot any issues that arise. Arriving early allows you to relax before your presentation, test your equipment, and greet members of your audience.

4.Look at your audience when presenting. When you are using a PowerPoint presentation, ensure that you are not reading directly off your slides with your back to the audience. Angle yourself so that you can read/reference your slides while still looking at your audience to maintain the rapport and connection.

5.Use large letters, print neatly and use dark markers on flip charts. Even though PowerPoint has become the de facto presentation software in use (Mac users use Keynote), there are still speakers / trainers who enjoy using flip charts. Flip charts would typically be used in smaller rooms and can be used for various purposes, mainly for recording the audience’s perspective or for group exercises. When using flips charts, write legibly and neatly in large print. Also use black as the base colour with red or blue markers as accent colours so that people at the back of the room can see the writing on the flip chart.

In the end analysis, visual aids should be used as a way to enhance your message and not detract from it. You don’t want them to act as a barrier between you and your audience. Your visual aids or any technology for that matter should not overshadow you as the speaker. When used effectively in your speeches and presentations, visual aids can help you to deliver a professional and polished performance.

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5 Ways to Develop an Attitude of Gratitude

This weekend is the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. I wanted to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. We all have so much to be thankful for in our lives. Our blessings include: love, our health, family, friends, food, water, shelter and so many things to be grateful for, the list could go on and on.

An attitude of gratitude

We all know that giving thanks should be a practice that we cultivate on a regular basis rather than once per year. We should never take those blessings in our lives for granted. An attitude of gratitude can go a long way in helping us to appreciate our lives. Here are five ways that can help us learn to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. They are:

1.Spiritual Practice. Developing a spiritual practice can help you to connect with God or your version of a higher power which will help you to appreciate the blessings in your life. For example, this practice could involve prayer, meditation and spending time in nature.

2.Thank People. Thank the people in your life who have had a positive impact on you. You could do this in person or write them a letter telling them how much you appreciate them in your life.

3. Gratitude Journal. Start keeping a gratitude journal. Write down every day (or as many times as you can) the good things that are in or that are happening in your life. Documenting your life experiences will help you to develop your gratitude muscle even when life is challenging or difficult.

4. Reach Out. If you are having a difficult time in life, reach out to someone who can help you. People want to help and be of service. You don’t have to go through things on you own! Even if you are having a challenging time in life, there is always someone else who is worse off or having a much more difficult time than you. Volunteering or helping someone less fortune is another way that we can exercise the gratitude muscle.

5. Appreciate Life. Give thanks for the gift of life and the breathe that animates our bodies. Each day, even with life’s ups and downs is another day to love, learn and explore!

You Are the Artist of Your Life: Part 3

Previously, I explored the concept of the Life as Art Metaphor indicating that it reveals certain maxims or truths about life. The first two maxims are:

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1. Artists take responsibility for creating their art.

2. Artists are on a quest to continually perfect their art.

Today, let’s explore the third and last maxim. The third maxim is that artists know that they are always free to create again in the moment.

Artists usually have a muse that serves as inspiration for their work. Sometimes the flow of creativity is constant and sometimes there is a block that the artist must break through. Some artists can bring their artistic vision to life on their first attempt. For many artists though it takes several attempts to bring their vision to life. For example, think of writers, many times after a first draft they revise it substantially or dispense with it altogether and begin again.

As the artists of our lives, we should know that we do have the choice to begin again. Few things in life barring death (and some other things) are truly irrevocable. How many times have we made choices and decisions assuming that we have to stick with them because that is what is expected. Now I’m not saying to abdicate any moral and legal obligations to your critical responsibilities. What I am suggesting is that we are free to create new things in our lives at any time we choose as long as we are not infringing on another person’s rights. For this year, make a commitment to yourself that you are free to create the life that you desire. Realize also that with the power to create also lies responsibility for the consequences of what you create.

I refer again to the great Michelangelo. There is a story about how Michelangelo created the David statue. It’s impossible to know what really happened as none of us was there. I like to envision that the story went something like this. One of his contemporaries asked him, how he managed to sculpt the perfect David. The David being one of the most beautiful statues at the time. According to Michelangelo making the statue was “easy” because the David i.e the statue was already inside the marble. All Michelangelo had to do was remove the superfluous (unnecessary) parts from the marble and reveal the statue within.

As human beings, we do have the power to create happiness and joy, even bliss in our lives. We don’t have to put up with things that are not for our highest good. These things might be a bad relationship, work that is no longer suited to our personalities or a one-sided friendship where you give and the other person takes all the time, in other words there is no reciprocity. I’m not saying that creating the life of your dreams will be easy and magically appear. Life does come with its challenges and inevitable ups and downs. I am encouraging you to have a magnificent VISION for your life. One where you are actively focusing on and pursuing those priorities that you love and that have meaning for you.

If you are not responsible for your art i.e your life, then I ask you who is? If you aren’t painting on the canvas of your life, I assure you that someone else is. Do you like what they have created for you? You are free to create a new life at any moment and I encourage you to create or recreate the life of your dreams. Make your life your artistic masterpiece!

You Are the Artist of Your Life

You Are the Artist of Your Life: Part 2

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The Fundamentals of Public Speaking

Learning the fundamentals of public speaking can help you to become a more effective speaker and overall communicator. While the fundamentals can be grouped or categorized in different ways, this is how I describe the fundamentals of public speaking. They are:

microphone on stage with blue background

1. Know the purpose of your speech. Knowing the purpose of your speech helps you to communicate clearly the message that you want to convey to your audience. Think about whether your purpose is to persuade, inform, inspire, motivate, or entertain.

2. Know your audience. Identify who your audience members are. Develop your presentation to meet their requirements and needs.

3.Develop great content. How do you develop great content? Developing great content means knowing your audience well and using stories and anecdotes to engage them. It also means doing the required research for the main points of your presentation and using supporting material.

4.Have great speech organization. Having great content alone in a presentation is not sufficient. Learning how to organize that content effectively is a fundamental. Learning effective speech structure ensures that you have a clear introduction, body, and conclusion for your presentation. The beginning of the presentation should attract the audience’s attention, the body supports your main points and the conclusion summarizes your main points.

5. Be conscious of your language usage. Use powerful words when you write your presentation. Use clear and descriptive words that will communicate your message.

6.Use your voice for maximum impact. Your voice is like an instrument that you use to communicate. When delivering a presentation remember to use vocal variety and be aware of your volume, pitch, and rate of speaking. A key skill is learning how to use pauses for maximum impact.

7. Use your body language and gestures effectively. Your body is the vehicle through which you communicate. Make sure that your nonverbal language accurately matches your message.

8. Use the stage platform to your advantage. Be consciously aware of how you use your speaking area or “stage platform.” The platform could be an actual stage, a podium in front of a meeting room, or a conference table for an interview. Utilize your stage platform to your advantage.

9. Use your facial expressions and eye contact effectively. When delivering a presentation, your face conveys your emotions. Make sure that your facial expressions are in alignment with the message that you are communicating. Remember that smiling and effective eye contact are critical when building rapport with an audience.

10. Know how to use your visual aids. Visual aids such as PowerPoint presentations are tools that help you communicate or emphasize your message. Practice with them ahead of time to ensure that you are using them effectively.

11. Know Your Strengths. Do an assessment of your strengths and use them consistently in your presentations. One of the best ways to determine your strengths is to obtain feedback on your presentation skills from people you know and trust. Another way to determine your strengths (and areas of improvement) is to record yourself on video so that you can see how you present. Be confident in yourself!

12. Authenticity. When delivering a speech or another type of presentation be yourself. Whether it be a personal or professional endeavour, be authentic. Being authentic means doing the required work so that you can use your gifts, talents, skills, and strengths to deliver the best possible speech or presentation that you can deliver.

By knowing the fundamentals of public speaking, you will set yourself up for success in your speeches and presentations. Below are previous posts on related topics. If you received value from this post, please comment and share.

Be Yourself
The Audacity To Be Seen and Heard

Speech Purpose
Know Your Speech Purpose

Speech Organization
Take Your Audience on a Journey

Language Usage
Use Powerful and Affirming Words

Use Nonverbal Communication Effectively
Nonverbal Communication

Thank You Dr. Wayne Dyer

This past weekend, the world lost a beautiful human being, Dr. Wayne Dyer. He inspired millions across the world through his love of humanity, his compassion, spiritual insights, his lectures and books. I was personally inspired by Dr. Dyer and read many of his books. My favourite book is The Power of Intention.

Deborah with Dr. Wayne Dyer at Toronto Conference

I had the honour of meeting him a few years ago at a conference in Toronto. I spoke to him briefly saying I was so inspired by his work and could I please take a picture with him. He graciously agreed and said that I was beautiful. It was one of the highlights of my life, the opportunity to meet Dr. Dyer, someone whose work had such a profound effect on my life.

Condolences and blessings to his family and friends. Thank you Dr. Dyer for inspiring me. Your love and light will live on!

Commit to Continuous Learning

The life as art metaphor, I believe is a powerful, guiding metaphor because it reveals certain truths or maxims about the human condition that we can apply to our own lives. Some of those maxims are:

Young woman silhouette practicing yoga on the sea beach at sunset

1. Artists take responsibility for creating their art.
2. Artists are on a quest to continually perfect their art.
3. Artists know that they are always free to create again in the moment.

In a previous post, I examined the first maxim that says that artists take responsibility for creating their art. You Are The Artist of Your Life

Now let’s look at the second one that says artists are on a quest to continually perfect or improve their art. If you know any artists they always seem to be engaged in some type of learning or continuing education. If they paint, they are trying to figure out how to utilize new colour schemes or brush strokes in their paintings. If they are actors, they are taking classes or workshops to improve their craft.

As the artist of your life, are you open minded and engaged in continuous learning? It is said that the great Italian renaissance artist Michelangelo once wrote in the corner of one of his sketch books the words Ancora Imparo which loosely translated from Italian means I am still learning or still I learn.

When I read this about Michelangelo, it inspired me. I mean this was after all, The Michelangelo, the master artist who chiseled the perfect life-like statute of David and who spent years laying in awkward positions to paint a masterpiece with scenes from Genesis on the roof of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. I was moved because a master artist was willing to adopt the perspective of a student or a novice, even after all his achievements.

By committing to continuous learning, you will be surprised at how rich your life will become. What are you going to learn this year so you can improve the quality of your life. Perhaps you always wanted to learn a new language or play an instrument. Will this be the year that you finally sign up for French classes or learn to play the piano or learn that which your heart truly desires.

This year if you adopt the Doctrine of Ancaro Imparo and commit to learning something new, you’ll be surprised at how much of a difference it will make to your quality of life. After all, you are an artist and learning to perfect your art is a required skill.

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You Are the Artist of Your Life

Thinking of life as art, I believe serves as a powerful guiding metaphor for us as we lead our lives. As the artists, i.e. the creators of our lives, we realize certain maxims or truths. I believe that some of those maxims are:

iStock_000037806152_Medium

1. Artists take responsibility for creating their art.

2. Artists are on a quest to continually perfect their art.

3. Artists know that they are always free to create again in the moment.

Each of our lives is overflowing with potential and possibilities. Let’s see how we can use that metaphor of life as art to create the best possible life that we are capable of creating. Looking at the first maxim that artists take responsibility for creating their art, simply means that the power to create lies with the artist and their vision. In other words, each of us is ultimately accountable and responsible for our lives. On an intellectual and intuitive level, we know that this is true. Yet at times, we tend to forget or blatantly disregard that the power to create the best life possible resides within us.

We blame external circumstances, our upbringing, other people and our past conditioning to abdicate taking responsibility for how our lives have turned out so far. Real maturity in life means accepting the fact that if we want to have or continue to have a great life, it starts with having a vision and a purpose. If you can consciously be accountable for your choices and actions, you will see a change in your attitude. You realize that you are responsible for your own happiness or…. the way that you react to your own challenges in life.

Now I’m not totally naïve and I’m not saying that life is not very challenging or difficult at times. Bad things do happen to good people and each of us have had our share of loss and heartbreak to contend with in life. And sometimes through no fault of our own, we are forced to deal with the bad choices and actions of other individuals that have long lasting repercussions on our lives. What I am saying is that if we ever hope to create or continue to create the type of life that our heart truly desires, a life that is meaningful, the difference is the accountability factor. Be a true artist and take responsibility for the art i.e your life that you create.

If future posts, I look forward to discussing the two other maxims that artists are on a quest to continually perfect their art and artists know that they are always free to create again in the moment.

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Know Your Speech Purpose

The basis of any great speech or presentation is your content. In order to structure your content effectively for maximum impact, you need to know the main purpose of your speech. Is your purpose to persuade? Is your purpose to inform? Is your purpose to inspire? Is your purpose to motivate? Or is your purpose to entertain? Your purpose will be your guiding principle throughout your speech. Although during your speech you may be doing several things such as persuading and entertaining, your speech will be more effective if you focus in on one main purpose.

Business group of people attending and listening at conference

In other words, what exactly do you want to communicate to your audience? Making sure that you have a clear purpose ensures that your core message (and call to action) will ultimately resonate with your audience. Again the purpose of a speech broadly speaking can be to: persuade, inform, inspire, motivate or entertain. Let’s look at each of these individually.

Persuasion
If you are being persuasive, you are convincing your audience members to either adopt a position that you hold or change their minds (and hearts) to another point of view. For example, if I am environmentalist, my purpose might be to persuade my audience that global warming is real. I might demonstrate the evidence by presenting research, facts and statistics that show the increase in temperature over the last decade.

Inform
If you are informing your audience about a topic, it means that you are relaying pertinent information. For example, if you are a scientist, you may be conveying the results of your research on an experiment that you conducted. You are in a straightforward manner explaining the results of your research. Depending on the type of research that you conducted, you might also be persuading the audience to adopt your research findings. Most likely, your primary purpose would be to inform.

Inspiration
If your purpose is to inspire your audience, you are interested in helping people to see and feel that new opportunities and transformation are possible for their lives. For example, if a speaker in his seventies took up writing and was successful at it, his speech purpose could be to inspire people that you can have writing success at any age.

Motivation
If your speech purpose is to motivate your audience to action, that would mean that you are encouraging your audience members to have a transformational shift in their mindset. You are motivating them by encouraging them to inspired action for a specific reason. For example, a personal trainer who was once very overweight might deliver a speech with the purpose of motivating the audience members to get fit for health reasons.

Entertainment
If your purpose is to entertain your audience members you want them to be entertained and enjoy themselves when you deliver your speech. For example, if you were to deliver an after dinner talk your purpose would be to entertain and you would include humour because people love to laugh especially after having a good meal.

In order to define what the purpose of your speech is, being able to describe it in one sentence is ideal. Clearly defining your purpose, will help you stay focused when you write and deliver your presentations. If you are unable to clearly define your purpose, take some time and reflect on what you ideally would like to communicate to your audience and the message that you want to convey. Defining your purpose will help you to connect with your audience and ensure that your message is delivered with maximum impact!

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A Winning Attitude

As a speaker, when you have a winning attitude, it can help you to connect with your audience. Here are four components of a winning attitude that can help you to deliver a great presentation. They are:

A Winning Attitude

1. Be positive. When you’re a designated speaker at a meeting or event, you are sharing your knowledge, skills and expertise with your audience. For some speakers, their thoughts are, sigh “Here we go again, ” they have a negative attitude towards public speaking and then they wonder why the audience doesn’t absorb their message. When you treat speaking before an audience like a chore, it disconnects you from your audience. Being positive is one way that you can truly connect with your audience. Audience members can sense positive energy. Life is such a gift. We have so many things to be grateful for and positive about. Some of them include: our health, family, friends, spirituality and creativity to name a few. If you are having negative feelings before you present, think of the things that you are truly grateful for in life and watch that energy spill over into your public speaking. If you want to connect with your audience, be positive.

2. Be Confident. Many of us struggle with self-confidence issues due to our upbringing. If you haven’t already, start valuing what you bring to the table. When you underestimate, discount or devalue your gifts, talents and abilities you do yourself a disservice. Being confident before an audience means that you believe in what you have to offer and it is of value to your audience. If you don’t believe in what you have to offer, how then can your audience believe in your message, your products and your services?

3. Be Bold. Have the courage to be bold! Speaking in front of an audience is a bold move since you have the courage to “put yourself out there.” When you speak in front of a group, you are in a sense subjecting yourself to other people’s judgments. In an earlier blog post, I wrote about having the audacity to be seen and heard.

http://deborahangelaustin.com/the-audacity-to-be-seen-and-heard/

People judge us based on our looks, weight, upbringing, education level, profession, and family just to name a few things! Having said that, as a speaker you can’t let people’s judgments stop you. In the majority of instances, your audience will be receptive to your message but sometimes some members of the audience won’t be receptive. Regardless, still have the courage to soldier on and proceed with delivering your message. Your message might touch someone so deeply that it changes their life!

4. Be of Service. While it is great that you are positive, confident, and bold when you present coming from the mindset of being of service to your audience is important. Being of service means that you really want to add value to your audience members’ lives through the information that you present. If you come from this mindset, it will help you to build rapport and connect with your audience. This is the most important aspect of a winning attitude because you care about the topic you are speaking about and you want your audience to benefit from the information.

As a speaker when you practice being positive, confident, bold and most importantly being of service your winning attitude will shine through to your audience.

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Use Powerful and Affirming Words

We all know that words are extremely powerful. Think about how powerful words are in your life. We know that words have the power to heal and wound. Think back to when someone said something that hurt your feelings. Chances are that even though you may have let it go, you probably do remember the words that were spoken and the hurt feelings you felt initially.

A Purple Label with the Words Seize the Day on it

On the other hand, think about when you hear the words I love you from a loved one or when they say other empowering words, how do you feel? You feel supported and affirmed. In many cases, words can be life changing and transforming. Words can change the way that you see yourself. Even the way that you use words with your internal dialogue can boost or diminish your self confidence. Since words are so powerful, use empowering words that can uplift people’s spirits. Here are three tips that can help you use words powerfully in your speeches. They are:

1. Use vivid imagery. When writing your speeches, carefully consider the language that you use in order to have maximum impact. Use words that will really paint a picture for your audience. For example, you could say, I went for a walk along the beach. Your readers will obviously get the main point of what you are trying to communicate. Or you could say something that is more descriptive, such as, I sauntered across a white sandy beach as the sun set under a crimson and orange coloured sky. Using vivid imagery and being evocative with your language in your speeches will enable you to connect with your audience more.

2. Eliminate jargon. Research your audience before you speak. Knowing who your audience members are in advance will help you to determine the type of language that you should use. For example, if you were speaking to a group of IT professionals, doctors, lawyers or accountants you might use language or jargon specific to those professions. If you are speaking to a more general audience you might want to eliminate or reduce your use of jargon.

3. Eliminate Filler Words. Filler words are words like um, uh, like, you know etc. that we use in order to take up time or we use when we don’t know what to say. When we are nervous, unprepared or simply unaware the tendency is to overuse filler words. Filler words can make us seem less knowledgeable than we actually are. Recording yourself on video is a great tool in order to assess how often you use filler words. Seeing yourself on video can help you to become aware so that you can eventually eliminate those filler words.

Remember that words are powerful. They have the power to affirm another person in a positive way. On the other hand, if we don’t use our words consciously, they can also be used in a negative manner. As a communicator, take the time to consciously and carefully consider your words especially when you speak in front of an audience. Using positive words can have a major impact on the way that the audience relates to you.

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Use Nonverbal Communication Effectively

As a speaker learning how to use your body language effectively will help you to connect with your audience. Body language, gestures, facial expressions and eye contact are commonly referred to as nonverbal language. Even before you open your mouth, your body language conveys how you feel. It is important that before you present, you get into as much as possible a positive frame of mind. Since our bodies are the vehicle through which we communicate and express ourselves, it should come as no surprise that our body will through our nonverbal language ‘’leak” what we feel. As much as possible, you want to convey positive emotions in order to connect with your audience.

Happy smiling businessman giving hand for an handshake isolated on white background

Congruency
When it comes to body language, one of the most important aspects to remember is the notion of congruency. Congruency means that your nonverbal language matches your verbal message. If you say that you are happy to be speaking at a function, your nonverbal language should match and express that sentiment. Have a smile on your face and use your eye contact to look at audience members and build rapport with them.

Congruent body language demonstrates that you are confident in delivering your message to an audience. On the other hand, if your body language does not demonstrate congruence, the audience will not believe your message. There will be a major disconnect. One of the tips that will allow you to master confident body language is to ensure that you are prepared. Being prepared and knowing the content of your speech well in advance will help you to project confidence.

How often have you seen a speaker who says that I’m so happy to be here speaking in front of an audience yet the nonverbal language does not convey that message. For example, people who are not confident when they speak, tend to mumble, not project their voice, avoid eye contact with the audience, slouch and are generally nervous and edgy. Confident speakers on the other hand tend to speak in a clear voice, build rapport by looking and smiling at the audience and their carriage (body posture and stance) projects confidence.

Facial Expressions and Eye Contact
As a speaker, your facial expressions and eye contact help get your message across to your audience. Smiling and effective eye contact are critical when you’re building rapport with audience members. It’s important that you learn to “soften” your facial expressions. When we’re nervous, whether it’s related to public speaking or another endeavor, the tendency is to tighten or tense our facial expressions. The facial expressions that are conveyed, therefore are not as welcoming as they could be. Learning to relax can help us with demonstrating positive facial expressions.

When delivering a presentation, focus your eye contact on specific areas of the room rather than all over the room. You don’t want your eye contact to be like an oscillating fan. Be laser focused, don’t sweep the room back and forth with your eye contact. The strategic way to use eye contact is the following. When you’re speaking, make eye contact with a few people on each side of the room. For example, look to the left, the middle and then to the right and back again with a pointed focus. If you have the opportunity to meet some of the attendees before you begin your speech, try and make eye contact with people you know to put yourself at ease.

Open and Closed Gestures
There are many different types of gestures and broadly speaking they can fall into two main categories. They are: open or closed gestures. Make sure that when you use your gestures, they are punctuated with purpose. A certain points in your speech, using simple gestures can really help you to connect with your audience. You need to ensure that your gestures are enhancing your message and not detracting from it. Closed body gestures have the appearance of making you seem less relatable. An example of a closed gesture would be, having your arms crossed for the duration of your speech. This gesture would make you appear closed off, unapproachable and not connected to your audience. Of course this is purely perception. Open gestures on the other hand, are gestures that are more relaxed or expansive. An example, would be having your arms rest at your sides with open palms. If you want to be seen as someone who is warm, open, and relatable aiming for more expansive gestures when you speak will leave the audience with the impression that you are more approachable. In turn, using open gestures will in many instances make your audience more receptive to your message.

Learning to use your body language effectively when you speak will help you build greater rapport with your audience and deliver a successful speech.

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Are You Ready to Pay the Price for High Level Results?

When it comes to achieving success, do you truly believe that successful people are just lucky, rich, had the right breaks, are attractive, or have a great network to leverage? All of which may or may not be true. There may be a percentage of people who have achieved success the so called easy way (what way that is, I don’t know).

Time for Action

The reality is that the majority of successful people have worked hard to attain success.  And yes, they may have leveraged their personal and professional connections, their education, financial resources and “lucky breaks” (also known as opportunities) that came along to achieve their success.  They also would have worked hard, set goals, overcome obstacles and pursued their goals with  tenacity.

Think about yourself for a moment and the skills that you’ve developed throughout your life.  Whether it was for a new venture,  learning a new language or instrument, or learning how to parent, wasn’t there hard work involved to be successful in that specific area. There was a major commitment of time, energy and money to study, train  and gain the required experience and skills necessary to be successful. You may have “failed” or have been unsuccessful several times before mastering the skill you needed to learn. If learning the skill or achieving the goal was important enough to you, I bet you did the required work to learn the skill or achieve the goal. In other words you “paid the price.”

The truth is some people just aren’t willing to do the hard work required to achieve high level results. For example, if you want to have a bikini ready body, that would mean that you would have to workout consistently (at least one hour per day, maybe more),  eat a healthy diet on a regular basis and forgo many high calorie treats. Some people are just not willing to do that type of work to obtain that type of body. Which is perfectly fine. What about being an entrepreneur?

Being an entrepreneur involves long work hours, reduced family time, and unpredictable income with no guarantee of success. All of which are totally reasonable in the entrepreneur’s mind (at least in the short term) because having a successful business will eventually lead to (in the future) more financial freedom, more family time and possibly living a location independent lifestyle. With up to 80 percent of small businesses failing within 18 months (according to Bloomberg), the majority of people aren’t willing to do the hard work required to become a successful entrepreneur. They don’t want to gamble with their time, family or financial resources, which is perfectly understandable. The rewards though for the successful entrepreneur can be substantial so the work involved to achieve that success is more than justified.

The next time you encounter successful people who you believe have obtained success (or a specific result that you want) the so called easy way or “overnight,” reflect and think about what really went into building that success. The answers you come up with will be very illuminating. As an exercise, creatively reverse engineer how the successful person achieved that high level result by working backwards. For example, if an actor you like won an Academy Award and you have acting aspirations, what are the steps that would have led him or her to that stage? If someone you know just launched a tech start-up, what are the steps required to launch a tech business? If you know someone who is an outstanding parent who has raised children who are now wonderful adults, what are some parenting strategies you could adopt that can help you with your young children.  When you do an exercise like this you soon realize that behind any successful person there are many factors that contribute to their success. It was rarely “easy.”

Success is not achieved in a vacuum. There are many factors that contribute to being successful in life. Many successful people had to study, train, gain experience and fail many times before achieving their definition of success. In fact, failing numerous times is a common trait among successful people. The difference is successful people do not allow their failures to define them or allow failures to distract them from achieving their ultimate goals and dreams. People who are successful and achieve high level results think and act differently when it comes to commitment, discipline, focus, surmounting obstacles and pursuing their goals with determination. The so called, “Overnight Success” rarely is and has worked for years (often decades) setting the foundation for the success that they end up bringing to fruition.

In a future post, I look forward  to examining  the mindset of  successful people and high achievers. I look forward to sharing tips with you on how you can learn to develop that mindset.

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7 Tips to Prepare Before You Deliver Your Speech

Before you present before an audience, there are several things that you can do to ensure that you have a successful speech  or presentation. They are:

7 Tips to Prepare Before You Deliver Your Speech

1. Be Knowledgeable about Your Subject Matter

When you present at a meeting or before an audience that is not the time to “wing it.” Be sure that you know your content inside and out so that you can appear competent and professional.

2. Know Your  Audience

Before you present, conduct some research on your audience’s demographics and their interests. If you are presenting at work that will be easier as you will know all or the majority of the people. If you are presenting before an unknown audience, attempt to do some research on the people who will be there in terms of  their gender, age, interests, professions etc. This will assist you in crafting your speech to connect with the audience.

3. Have a Good Introduction

Many speakers ignore this important step before they present. It is essential that you have your host introduce you with a proper introduction that states your credentials. It does not have to be long. There should be sufficient information presented about you so that the audience can see why you are the credible authority to speak on that particular topic.

4. Know the Image that you Want to Convey

Before you present before an audience, it’s important to know the image that you want to convey. The way that you look, especially in terms of your attire can act as a detraction from your message if it disconnects you from the audience. You want to convey an image that is consistent with your personal brand and in alignment with the core message you want to communicate.

5. Make Contact with Your Host in Advance

If you have been invited to speak to staff at a company or organization, conducting research on the demographics  of your audience is a good idea.  After you receive the invitation to speak at an event, contacting your host well in advance ensures that you know the expectations for the speaking engagement. Contacting the host in advance ensures that you can communicate your needs also such as for example, your audio-visual requirements ahead of time.

6. Know Your Practical Strategies for Success

Before your presentation, know what are some of the practical strategies that you can use to ensure a successful speech. For example, for the event where you will be speaking, will you have the directions printed out in advance so that you are not late? How many days in advance will your handouts be prepared, so you are not left scrambling at the last minute. Before your speech think of and make a list of practical things that you can do to ensure success.

7. Visualize Your Success

Learning to master your content before you present in front of an audience is a major component of being an effective speaker. While knowing your content is important, visualizing your success before you speak is also important. Too many speakers  make themselves nervous by rehearsing scenarios where things don’t go according to plan. Before you present, visualize yourself delivering a successful speech.  Rehearse mentally the feeling of being confident and building rapport with the audience. See and hear the audience applauding your wonderful speech. Visualizing success can help you deliver an engaging and effective speech.

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Say NO to Being a People Pleaser!

Too many of us live our lives as if they are not our own. Instead of pursuing our goals with passion and determination we stay on the sidelines of life. There are many reasons why we do this including fear, procrastination and not having specific knowledge to move forward. Sometimes, it boils down to being a “people pleaser.”

istock / ©anilakkus

There are several reasons why we feel the need to seek the approval of others. Acceptance and approval are primal needs that go back to when we were very young. If our parents or caregivers did not fulfill their role sufficiently in terms of meeting our needs when we were young, some of us may grow up with low self esteem or a challenged self concept. This in turn may translate into the need to excessively please people in order to feel accepted or to gain approval.

If you are putting other people’s needs and wants above your own and relegating your dreams and goals to the “someday” pile, I encourage you to rethink this strategy. It is good to help people whenever you can. In fact, being of service and helping people is what life is truly all about. It is our relationships and contributions in the end that really matter. If you are constantly putting other peoples needs and wants before your own this can become problematic and can lead to both stress overload and burnout.

If  we are honest with ourselves, sometimes we are more interested in having people like us than in pursuing our goals and dreams. If you continually people please by responding to other people’s needs and wants before your own, you may start to feel resentful in that you are not being true to yourself. This is detrimental because your dreams can be put on the back burner. For example, instead of continuing to write your book, you are continuously at the beck and call of a friend or family member who always seems to be in some sort of financial or relationship crisis. Maybe it’s time that you tell him or her that they need to seek some type of assistance from a professional who can help them with these issues instead of always  relying on you.

All of us are living on borrowed time. It therefore becomes paramount that you make your needs and desires a priority. Not next year, next month or next week. Now! Now is the perfect time to revisit some of your goals and dreams that you have been neglecting and start pursuing them with a renewed tenacity. Look at the areas in your life that are either emotionally, physically or energetically draining  you or distracting you from your goals. Develop a plan to either eliminate them or minimize them. While the word YES is a powerful word, so is the word NO. If you tend to people please learn to employ the word NO more often, when it comes to people or projects that drain your energy and have no value to you. If this is a challenge for you consider taking an assertiveness skills or negotiation skills course so that you can say no authentically and powerfully while respecting the other person.

Share your insights into what strategies you have used to overcome “people pleasing” tendencies.

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The Audacity to Be Seen and Heard!

Audacity. Say it out loud. Audacity! It feels good, doesn’t it? According to www.merriam-webster.com, the definition of audacity is intrepid boldness or bold or arrogant disregard of normal restraints. Now I would never advocate that someone be arrogant; however, if the circumstances are ones that have prevented you from pursuing your goals or you feel stuck in a particular situation perhaps that definition is worthy of consideration. Breaking the bonds of conformity and being truly who you are requires audacity.

Stock photo © ariwasabi

Are you an audacious person? Is that you? Do you have the audacity to be seen, to be heard, for who you truly are? Can you own your brilliance? In other words, can you embody that boldness that is required to start a business? Or be vulnerable? Or to step outside of your comfort zone to speak in front of an audience to demonstrate your talents and expertise. There are studies that indicate that when it comes to public speaking, some people are more fearful to speak in public than they are of death. They are fearful of being ridiculed or of being judged.  This is unfortunate because speaking in front of a group about an important topic can be an enjoyable experience.

Speaking is the way that you express yourself, communicate and connect with others. On a one to one basis most people don’t find it too difficult to express their thoughts to loved ones, friends and colleagues. Yet to speak in front of an audience can be for some people, one of the most terrifying experiences that they will encounter.

This is truly unfortunate because if you don’t learn to become an effective speaker and effective overall communicator, you’ll miss out on many of life’s opportunities. This inability will hamper you both personally and professionally. Public speaking and communicating effectively are essential skills you need to learn in order to get your message out into the world. Commit to yourself that you will be audacious when it comes to speaking your truth. Being bold and having the audacity to be seen and heard  for who you truly are begins with knowing that you are worthy to pursue your dreams. In other words, it’s time to start owning your brilliance and the value that you bring to the world.

Today, think about (and share below) one way you can be bold or audacious in taking a step towards one of your goals. Know that you have value and you are ready to be seen and heard for who you truly are…in all of your brilliance!

Please comment and share if you obtained value from this post.

Welcome to my new success blog!

Dear readers, welcome to my new success blog! I am so excited to be launching my blog and my business. As an expert, I accelerate individual and organizational effectiveness through my work as a speaker, writer, trainer, consultant and coach. Thank you for the opportunity to share my worldview and perspective on life with you. My mission is to help you accelerate your success by providing valuable information and resources through my blog and services.

Key for Success , Vintage key with success tag

Starting a blog helps me to connect with amazing people like you who are interested in accelerating their personal and professional effectiveness. My mission is about helping people like you achieve a greater impact in the world through your work! The primary ways that I fulfill that mission is through my writing, speaking, training, consulting and coaching services. Let me become your trusted advisor and accountability partner as you work on achieving your goals and bringing your dreams to reality.

As we embark on this journey together, my wish is to get to know my readers. Here’s some information about me. My background includes a degree in International Relations. My professional experience includes working in the media, IT companies and in the public sector. I’m a Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM), which is Toastmasters International’s highest honour for leadership and communication excellence. One of my passions is mentoring and coaching people. I’ve won awards for my public speaking ability. I know what it takes to become a high-quality communicator and leader. My mission is to help you become one also!

It’s time to achieve the success that you deserve! I know that you have a life changing message that the world needs to hear.There are too many amazing people who are languishing to get their important messages out into the world. They are unable to get their message out into the world because they lack effective communication skills and have untapped leadership potential. I’m here to help you get the results (and the transformation) that you require to get your message out so that you can impact the world with your unique gifts!

We are part of the era where people, places, ideas and movements are seamlessly connected through technology. Together, let’s start a movement of people and entrepreneurs who are committed to excellence, abhor the status quo and are determined to live the best life possible. I look forward to sharing with you valuable tips, techniques, strategies, tools and resources. The information that I will share with you can help improve your personal and professional effectiveness and grow your business.

I look forward to helping you achieve your goals and hearing about your success.Thank you for embarking on this wonderful journey with me.

Wishing you infinite success!

Deborah

The Art of Empowerment – Your Life’s Mission is Unstoppable

As a visionary woman you are committed to manifesting your dreams. There is something very powerful about a woman who knows her values, has a vision and is committed to taking the required action to achieve her goals to live an authentic life.

Beautiful red haired woman posing over red background

When you take committed action to manifest your dreams and you start making progress, three interesting things (in no particular order) will occur. The first one is that you will start making accelerated progress towards your dream without making a huge production. One day you’ll be going about your daily routine, when you realize in the midst of it that, oh I’ve been in business for a year or oh I just finished the first draft of my book. You will feel a sense of pride of accomplishment when you realize that instead of talking about your dreams, you took strategic, committed action to make them happen.

The second thing that often occurs when you work on your goals is that your doubts and insecurities will arise when you begin a new project or venture. This is natural and is to be worked through. The third thing is that you will start to build your “tribe” which are the people who gravitate or are naturally drawn to you. For the people in your tribe, they are interested in how your life experience and message resonates with them. In other words, how can you help them to live the best possible life. Your tribe will also include the people who support you like mentors, coaches and collaborators. They are your support system and your cheering squad.

On the other hand, you will also attract people who are critics. Each of us is living on borrowed time and it’s our responsibility to live the best life that we can using the gifts and talents that we were given. Sometimes critics do have legitimate reasons for weighing in on an issue in our lives and sometimes they don’t. Be very discerning when it comes to accepting feedback and so called constructive criticism. Always examine where the feedback is coming from. Is it coming from a place of love or support, genuine good intent and the desire to help you realize your dreams.

When we start moving towards our dreams this can stir up insecurities and anxiety in other people. People will often project their fears and limitations on to you because they are not moving towards their dreams. The solution is to wish them well, bless them and if required limit your contact with them. Your life and mission are too precious to let critics and detractors stop you. After all, you are a part of the Divine and your mission is unstoppable!

As published in Sibyl Magazine: For the Spirit and Soul of a Woman (June 2016 issue)

The Art of Empowerment: Envisioning Your Future…and Take Action

As a powerful woman who wants to manifest the life of her dreams, you know that life is about taking committed, focused action. Your choices ultimately determine how your life evolves. Collective habits and beliefs can be described as a paradigm. In other words, a paradigm can be thought of as a filter or mode of operating that you use in order to navigate your world. Sometimes the actions that you take may not be as effective as you would like because of your out of date paradigms.

Success concept related words in tag cloud isolated on white

Our paradigms were established when we were small children. As we become adults, many of us don’t challenge our established paradigms because they are so familiar to us. When you take action and make progress towards your goal, your paradigms are serving you. When your paradigms don’t serve you, you may not be as willing to take the action steps required that will push you towards your goals. Therefore, the actions that you do take may not be as effective. Negative paradigms often make us fearful or scared to take risks in order to grow.

This is where the power of envisioning your future can help you to take those baby steps towards the future that your heart desires. Along with working with a mentor or coach, visualization is a powerful tool. Don’t underestimate the power of visualization. Envisioning your goal actualized can help you take action. There are numerous academic studies that reveal that visualization can be a powerful aid along with practice. Numerous Olympic athletes and business professionals use it as a tool to help them prepare for sporting or business events.

One of the key things to remember about visualizing goal achievement is that you must fully immerse yourself in the experience. When you visualize reaching a goal, for example, envision vivid imagery, color, sound, and taste. In order to form a new habit, it can take anywhere from 21 days or longer to override an older established habit. This is due to the way that our brain works. Our habits form neural networks that are like well-worn grooves in our brains. When we are trying to establish new habits, we are attempting to override established patterns. For example, if you are a runner and your dream is to complete a 26-mile race, you have to run on a regular basis. In addition to running, visualizing yourself successfully completing the marathon will help guide your thought process on how you can achieve that goal.
It is challenging to change habits. Visualization can help along with taking action. Envisioning the future that you want on a daily basis is a powerful tool to help reinforce positive beliefs and establish positive habits.

As published in Sibyl Magazine: For the Spirit and Soul of a Woman (May 2016 issue)

The Art of Empowerment: Claim Your Power

When you are a visionary leader, you simply cannot play small in your life. The call to lead comes from deep within your soul and beckons you to be authentic. The people you lead, look to you for guidance. You learn to remove any social masks that you wear, that block you from true connection and transformation. A visionary leader like you, steps forward and claims your power with grace so that you can make a difference in the world with your gifts.

iStock - KIJe

Claiming your power means that you know that you are worthy of your dreams. I have met many people in life who are talented, gifted even, beautiful, kind and compassionate. Yet, they don’t feel worthy of pursuing their dreams and achieving their goals. They feel powerless in their lives to affect change. As a leader, claiming your power means getting straight with your internal psychology. It means recognizing that you are worthy of success and are worthy of leading others as well.

In order to claim your power, you will have to examine your belief system (which can be complicated) to ensure that it is serving you. Our belief system involves our upbringing, our socialization, our schooling, the messages we absorb from society and the media. All of which can impact our feelings of worthiness to lead.

Realize that in this moment, that God, the Divine has provided you with all that you need in life to succeed. So many of us go looking for approval or permission to be successful. Who? Who is the person who is going to give you approval to be in your zone of genius or permission to be brilliant. You! You have to say yes to yourself before others can truly believe in you. Claiming your power means that right now you are worthy of all the success that you could possibly imagine.

Another thing that will help us to claim our power as leaders is to clarify our value system. Values are our guiding principles in life. We know that life can be very challenging and sometimes life throws things at us that we can’t possibly anticipate. Our values are what help us to navigate the challenging times. You know what happens when you are not clear on your values. You are like the proverbial leaf blowing in the wind. As a leader, your values keep you rooted in your integrity.

Claiming your power is not about being authoritarian or autocratic. Rather, it is about knowing that true servant leadership is about creating an empowering environment where people can thrive. As you rise in your life, you help others to rise as well.

As published in Sibyl Magazine: For the Spirit and Soul of a Woman (April 2016 issue)

Share – Love – Celebrate! Isn’t that what life is all about. My friend Maria Racelis is launching a speaker series called: Share – Love – Celebrate and invited me to be a speaker on June 16th. My presentation is called: Own Your Power. The Synopsis is below.

Own Your Power by Deborah Austin
You have big dreams. You want to be of service. The world needs your gifts. So what’s stopping you from making an impact in the world. It’s not money, it’s not time, and it’s not your lack of connections. The answer is YOU! In this presentation, Deborah will outline how your vision, your mindset and your tribe all impact on how you show up in the world. There comes a day when you must make the decision to live the life of your dreams. Will today be the day?

I am really looking forward to it! There are several speakers and a portion of the proceeds will go to Sick Kids It’s going to be a great event. Get your tickets here:

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/share-love-celebrate-slc-speakers-series-tickets-25729643055?aff=es2

Date: June 16, 2016
Time: 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Event: Featured Speaker at Share - Love - Celebrate Speaker Series
Topic: Own Your Power
Sponsor: Share - Love - Celebrate
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.

Wisdom from Spiritual Thought Leader Gabrielle Bernstein

Gabrielle Bernstein is a spiritual thought leader, speaker, kundalini yoga instructor and the author of several books. I’ve read several of her books and one of my favourites is: May Cause Miracles. I heard Gabby as she is called affectionately speak at a conference recently. Bernstein delivered a beautiful speech about how our emotional wounds can be the entry point into our personal transformation. In order to transform, we must be willing to look at our wounds first. It was one of the best speeches that I’ve heard to date. It was also interesting in that her presentation involved: a lecture component, audience interaction, music, mantras and visualization exercises. Here are some of the highlights from her presentation. They are:

Gabrielle Bernstein at the Toronto I  Can Do It conference!

•Sometimes when we pray for guidance, chaos shows up first.
•We can have resistance to true healing. Whatever we resists, persist.
•If there is a shadow i.e. something emotionally that we don’t want to awknowledge it will remain until we deal with it.
•The shadow acts as a block to us if we don’t awknowledge it.
•When we examine the shadow, the stories we’ve concocted around it start to unravel.
•We should honour and awknowledge our stories and be the witness to our traumas.
•We need to consciously face our fears, by feeling the fear beneath the ancient wound that could be from childhood or a negative life event.
•You can’t avoid your spiritual assignment.
•When you expose your wounds metaphorically speaking to the light, have compassion for yourself. You are doing the best that you can.
•The ego will resist looking at your emotional wound(s).
•The places that we don’t want to go emotionally, are exactly the places that we need to go.
•If you want to start healing say that you are determined to see and see what shows up.
•Affirm that everything is happening around me and I am taken care of (by the Divine).
•Affirm what you want out of life, because where your attention goes energy flows.
•Share your emotional wounds with those you trust. In an authentic exchange, light i.e healing and compassion enters.

The audience was thoroughly touched by her speech and it was not a surprise that there were a few tears in the audience. It was special to have a photo with her as I admire her work. She was an outstanding speaker and the standing ovation was well deserved!
Check out www.gabbyb.tv

Lessons Learned from Sandra Yancey eWomen Network CEO & Founder

An amazing time was had by members and guests at the eWomen Network Success Summit on Thursday, May 26, 2016. Many new connections were made and attendees had the opportunity to learn from Sandra Yancey, the Founder and CEO of the eWomen Network. It was an honour to meet and learn from her. Through the eWomen Network she has created an empowering environment where women entrepreneurs and professionals can grow their businesses, learn valuable information and make new connections. ‪There were many brilliant takeaways from Sandra Yancey’s talk and here are some of the highlights. They are:

Sandra Yancey, CEO & Founder of the eWomen Network

– Nothing happens to me, it happens for me.
– When you are doubting yourself, remember that “every master was once a disaster.”
– It’s not working out because you are aiming too low.
– You were born a winner.
– Success is hard, so is being broke.
– Really evaluate the people you have around you to ensure they are committed to your success because, “Not everyone is designed to travel to your future.”
– Stop spending time with people who misunderstand you.
– You can’t build a million dollar dream with a minimum wage mindset.
– Have your point of differentiation and own it.
– The answer is always no if you don’t ask.
– Give yourself permission to succeed!
– Success is giving yourself goosebumps!

It was amazing to be a part of the leadership team as an eWomen Network Ambassador. Congratulations to the leadership team for organizing a wonderful event. The other members of the team are: Managing Director, Daniela Spirlac, Patti Pokorchak, Duygu Nangir, Kathy Barthel, Nicky Yiannakis, Heather Chernofsky, Debra Wilson and Beatrice Ten-Thye. Bravo!

It was my first eWomen Network Success ‪Summit‬ and I’m counting down for 2017! If you would like information about the eWomen Network, please contact me at deb@deborahangelaustin.com.

Date: May 30, 2016
Time: 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Event: MoMondays Event
Topic: The Power of Compassion
Sponsor: MoMondays (Toronto)
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.