Saturday, April 3, 2010

Eric Feng's Workshops, Part 1

I have just attended two of Eric Feng's workshops. Each workshop lasts about 3 hours and is run on Saturday afternoon from 2 pm to 5 pm. The workshops which I have attended are:

i) Building Positive Relationships through Effective Conversational Skills
ii) How to Speak with Confidence and Charisma in Front of Any Audience

The thing I like about Eric is his generosity, his sincerity and his passion about helping us to be better public speakers.

After being in the corporate world for more than a decade, I could not agree more with him that the one thing that distinguish good from great is verbal fluency. Personally, I find it very difficult to conduct presentation before joining the Toastmasters' Club. Even after joining the club, it takes me a few months before I finally warm up to my club members and begin to do my projects diligently. Thereafter, I do see noticeable improvement in my speaking skills. But Eric makes it even easier for non-Toastmasters to ease into the speaking game. So for those of you who are eager to see the change in yourself, do visit Eric Feng's blog ( and follow his blog, attend his workshops.

Here are some of the things which I have learnt from Eric at the first workshop which I have attended.

Six ways to look confident and credible in front of an audience and also with strangers whom you would like to build a positive relationship:

1. Smile. Smile is the shortest distance between two strangers. Eric shares with us the Hillary Clinton technique - to slow down the smile, more for ladies.

2. Eye Contact. Look at them in the eye but do not stare. For speaking in front of an audience, look at one, talk to all.

3. Energy. Energy is contagious. Eric loves to listen to music to perk himself up before the important presentation. What about you?

4. Body language. Stand or sit straight. You will be amazed at how much a good posture can do to boost your confidence level. If you find yourself fidgeting while standing, you can try the rooting technique - imagine your feet grow roots on the ground and you cannot move.

5. Voice. If you want to speak well, you need to breath well. Be mindful of your voice, in terms of volume, pitch and speed.

6. Language or ABC. Pay attention to your enunication. It could something as simple as pronunciating the last letter in a word as in "speak", "test", "toast", "kick". Another as stressing the syllabus. For a four syllabus word, usually, we stress the 2nd syllabus as it will make the word sound good as in "magnificent". Another is to eliminate our pause-fillers. Pause-fillers are irrelevant words which we use to fill up our speech. Another tip is to improve our vocabulary as the words we use is a strong indicator of your social status. But do not overdo it as to use too pompous word eg. it is an acrimonious day. Gosh, everyone will be scratching their heads to understand what you are talking about.

Build Rapport & Trust Through Small Talk

The first and most important ingredient is to pay attention to the person. Attention is the currency of all relationship so be genuinely interested in the person.

Of course, we can get a little tongue-tied as to how to start a conversation. So here are three types of openers.
- Address the immediate situation. E.g. what do you think of...
- Compliment the person, sincerely of course.
- Ask for opinion (make the person feel good). It also gives you the chance to follow up.

Two fail-safe questions to can:
- What do you like to do in your free time?/ What do you do most of the time?
- How do you decide to be xxx?

Remember. Avoid closed question.

After we are done with the starters, we need to work on the main course. The key here is to create the "I am like you" effect. So we need to do our homework and find the common ground. We need to find a little bit more about the event which we are to attend. Speak their lingo, pick up a magazine, read more - The World in 2010 by the Economist.

Eric shares with us the 5 Ps as follows:

1. Physical
2. Passion - what is your favorite food/hobby/ambition
3. Pain - what pisses you off
4. Principles
5. Philosophy - what is important to the person/ values

And .... 3 magical words: Tell me more. If that is still not enough, there is a bonus which is to use the last word. Eg. What do you like to do? Shopping... Shopping?

Last but not least, we can work our magic with people with four social gifts, namely:
1. Compliment
2. Connection
3. Elevation - meaning make people feel good or better
4. Enlightenment - share with others, things that you know e.g. finance/ life/ content.

Eric reminds us that things happen, we just need to pay attention. Have a little notebook around to jot down and use it as party story.

This marks the end of part 1 of the workshop which I have attended. There are so many things which I cannot possibly record as Eric shares tonnes and tonnes of information. Each person has different perspective so what I have jotted will be different from other person.

Another thing about Eric's approach is experiential learning. We learn and we apply the technique immediately. Thereafter, Eric also follows up by collating our questions and answers which we have worked together during the workshop and email us the complete set.

A very powerful workshop for people who are looking for a program to jumpstart their public speaking skills.

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