Professional Skills: 10 Things You Hate To Do (But Should!)

Posted by Bridget Beirne
March 20, 2013

Just like taking your medicine, when it comes to professional skills some of the toughest things pay off the most!

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Let's be honest- we all know that there are aspects of our professional skill set that are difficult to perform or work on- for whatever reason, they are just things we hate to do! Here's our list of 10 Things You (Might!) Hate to Do, but in the long run you definitely should!:

1.  Work on eye contact: For some people, making direct eye contact is extremely uncomfortable. It can make us feel vulnerable and awkward. However, without it, we look unsure, less-than-confident and untrustworthy. That is WAY worse. Using the 3 Second Rule* can help you become more comfortable in an instant.

2.  Presenting: This almost goes without saying- we all know the statistics about people fearing public speaking more than death! But bear in mind that, more and more, employers are requiring their people to excel when it comes to communication and presentation. Batten down the hatches- it's time to sharpen those skills! (We know a professional skills training firm that can help!)

3:  Presenting cold: It happens all the time- speakers pass on rehearsal, and then have to suffer through a presentation they've barely worked on. It's agonizing for the speaker AND the audience! It begs the question: if we hate presenting cold, why don't we rehearse? Here's why:

4: Rehearsing for a presentation: "I can't find time!" "I don't need to!" "I'll just wing it!" We have said again and again (and again!) that rehearsing for a presentation, and using our rehearsal process, is the key to feeling confident and battling stage fright. Learn more about the rehearsal process here.

5.  Stepping away from the lectern/table/computer: Often, we hate taking center stage- it's much easier to hide and protect ourselves behind our presentation "set". It can be comforting to have something between you and the audience. But stepping out from behind the furniture and "taking the stage" is a great way to make a stronger audience connection. Take the leap.

6.  Writing "Thank You" notes: We know we should do it, but so often we put it off or try and substitute a different kind of "thank you". (Thank you texts don't count!) However, a handwritten thank you note is a great way to build a relationship. It shows that you care enough to take the time.

7.  Taking a PAUSE: A moment of silence can be scary- we hate feeling like we might lose our turn to speak, or seeming uninformed, or worrying the audience might get bored. The funny thing is, when you take a pause rather than rambling or "ummm"-ing your way through a problem, the opposite happens- you retain your power to speak (just ask for a moment!), you seem knowledgable and assured, and your audience will wait for you. Empowering, no?

8.  Saying "I Don't Know": We wrote a whole blog on this subject. We might hate to admit we don't know something, but it is actually a strong alternative. Check out why here.

9.  Slimming down our slide deck: Perhaps you think that you need to have a ton of information on your slides, and the thought of trimming it down is hateful. Remember, your slides are there to support YOU, not the other way around. Streamlined slides highlight your information, rather than dumping it all on your audience. Try it!

10.  Graciously accepting recognition: Did you do a great job with your presentation? Or have a fantastic meeting with a new client? Or help a colleague achieve a goal? When someone sings our praises, we might be uncomfortable in the spotlight, and try to downplay, brush-off, or undercut our good work. ("A great presentation?? I totally messed up!" "Thanks, but that meeting was awful." "Oh, I didn't really do anything...") It's not egotistical or indulgent to say a sincere "Thanks! I appreciate that." when the great reviews come your way.

Hey, we think you're fantastic- keep up the good work! You can thank us later.

*Bonus Fact! The 3 Second Rule is a gauge for how long to hold eye contact- less than three seconds can seem untrustworthy, and more than three seconds can seem creepy! 

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