Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Art Series: The Art of Presenting

Tell me this, have you ever attended a presentation that just bored you out of your mind?  The material was great, but the presenter was not so engaging.  Have you ever been that presenter that failed to captivate the audience?  In the next few moments, I am going to give you a few tips to take you from not captivating an audience to engaging them and keeping their interest.

Right now, I know you are wondering what skills do I possess that could assist you in being a better presenter.  Currently, I train various individuals in Job Readiness programs for permanent employment.  A lot of this training consists of me presenting to the group, interacting with them, engaging them, and making sure they understand the material.  I have trained high school students, older adults, and individuals with developmental disabilities and mental health disorders. 

In the past, I could relate to being the presenter that did not captivate the audience.  An example of this was when I first started training individuals four years ago.  As I was presenting to a group of two individuals, I started putting my own self asleep.  It can honestly be said that if you are putting your own self to sleep with the material, you are more than likely doing the same thing to your audience.  After evaluating myself, I found that I talked the majority of the time, did not interact with the listeners, and had only one method to the presentation (lecture).  At that moment, I asked myself, "What can you do differently to make sure this never happens again?"  My conclusion was that my material needed to be more engaging.  I definitely had great knowledge to provide the group; however I did not have the follow through to make the students were engaged in the subject matter.  Needless to say, I changed my approach immediately.

Below, you will find some helpful tips in captivating your audience:
  1. Get to know your audience
    • Evaluate the room
    • Make small talk
  2. Interact with your listeners
    • Ask questions
    • Answer questions
    • Make eye contact
    • Be social
  3. Use various presenting tools
    • PowerPoint
    • Printouts
    • YouTube Videos
    • Websites
    • Games or Interactive Strategies
    • Let the audience guide some of the discussion
  4. Be excited about the material
    • Smile
    • Provide personal examples
    • show enthusiasm
 I am hoping that these techniques will help you in engaging your next audience.  Remember that your audience will respond to your energy.  So give off positive and engaging energy.

Truly Amazing

Today, I was truly amazed when I listened to WHCR 90.3 FM.  CCNY's President, Lisa S. Coico, interviewed the winners of The City College of New York 40th Annual Spring Poetry Festival, Maurisa Fraser, Nykemah Warren and Dolen Le and the Director of the CCNY’s Poetry Outreach Center, Pamela S. Laskin. Listen here.

Congratulations to Maurisa for being the first place winner!

Friday, July 27, 2012

What a Girl Wants: What a Girl Needs!

Understanding the female perspective is really not as hard as some have deemed it to be.  Listening to her, as she listens to you, is the key componet to understanding her.  Listening entails allowing her time to talk, rephrasing what was stated, making eye contact, and showing some sign of understanding to the discussion.  Now, there are going to be times times that you don't understand what she is talking about.  This is when you should tell her that you don't understand.  I know she will appreciate your honesty.  Below, I will review some things that women want and what they need.  Please note that not all women want the same things.  This list was compiled from my conversations with men and women over the past three years.

Honesty is one of the ingredients for any successful relationship, friendship, partnership, or any other type of communicative effort.  It makes the person feel valued and worthy of such a relationship.  In the past, some male acquaintances have told me in open dialogue that "women cannot handle the truth."  Well, I'm here to say that women can handle the truth because the truth is much better than a lie.  The truth may hurt in the beginning, but a lie will hurt even worse.  So if you have something you need to get off of your chest, tell her.

Entering and maintaining relationships with someone who is goal-oriented and attempts their goals is a must.   Recently, I was among a group of male friends who have always been upfront with me about their feelings and the differences between men and women.  The group of men, who were high school and/or college educated, agreed to the same thing; women want more for their lives than men and that men are content with their current lives.  This statement seemed to be true because a friend of mine recently disclosed information to me about wanting her boyfriend to be more goal-oriented and want more for his life.  I honestly believe that wanting more out of your life really depends on the person because I have been around men that have wanted more out of their lives than some women did.  If the woman finds the scenario above to be true in her case, she and her significant should discuss if the relationship is worth pursuing.  The relationship may work for some; however not work for others.

Have you ever been in love with someone and the feelings just were not reciprocated?  I am sure a number of us have felt this way either this month, last month, or the last couple of years ago.  In my evaluations and discussions with men and women, I have noticed that women tend to fall for a guy in the beginning of a relationship.  She sometimes gives her all in the beginning because anything less would be uncanny.  In comparison with women, men tend to take longer to divulge his feelings to a women.  In this type of situation, I say that each individual has to give a little.  The man may tell the women to be patient; however he too should learn how to disclose some of his feelings earlier on, so it is a win-win situation.   

Women need to be in a relationship with no double standards.  How many of you men can honestly say that you did not want your woman hanging around male friends; however it was ok for you to hang around female friends?  Do you honestly think that was fair?  Some of my male friends told me that they like it that way because they know how men are and some women are naive.  Could the same be said for women and could some men be naive?  I would say the same goes for both men and women.  We are all tempted by some of the same things and react in a similar way.  A good dose of trust is needed in this situation.

The last thing that women need is time to focus on her.  Women like to be pampered, spoiled, and thought highly of.  Why not take her on an all expense paid trip to Montego Bay?  Ok, I may be pushing the enevelop a bit, but if you can afford it, why not?  If you can't, then take her out to dinner and to a movie.  Let her relax without having to pick up the tab.  Let her have quiet time for her thoughts and be able to focus solely on herself.  Take her shopping or to one of her favorite places.  You will know exactly where to take her because you have invested enough time in her to know these things.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

People and Our Differences

Have you ever been at the park with a friend and you happen to see someone who looks different from you?  Maybe you are at the grocery store and see someone who walks a little different?  What about having a manager’s meeting and another manager thinks differently than the other managers?

If you have answered yes to any of the statements above than welcome to this wonderful world we call society.  A world where people are made up of different shapes, sizes, colors, abilities, and thought processes.  A group of people that encompasses different cultures, religions, preferences, and upbringings.  Who would have imagined such a group of extraordinary people?

We are a people of many differences, yet many similarities as well.  Have you ever seen the dedicated African-America mother who works hard to make sure her four girls are raised the right way?  What about the Caucasian father who helps his son learn how to play baseball?  Don’t forget about the dedicated Asian boy who learns how to play basketball well enough to make it to the NBA.

As a society of many differences, we also have to respect our similarities and the things we have in common.  We must put aside our strife toward other races, sexes, religions, cultures, and other protected classes, in an attempt to gain what is naturally ours; peace.  

When I think about peace and coming together despite our differences, I reflect on the Statue of Liberty.  The statue has a very symbolic meaning that I am pretty sure that most of us can identify with, being that we are a nation of immigrants.  It was gifted to the United States by France in 1886.  The statue:

Stands for an idea. The Statue of Liberty stands in Upper New York Bay, a universal symbol of freedom. Originally conceived as an emblem of the friendship between the people of France and the U.S. and a sign of their mutual desire for liberty, over the years the Statue has become much more. It is the Mother of Exiles, greeting millions of immigrants and embodying hope and opportunity for those seeking a better life in America. It stirs the desire for freedom in people all over the world. It represents the United States itself.

When dealing with other people that are different, remember the easy part is judging immediately.  The hard part is understanding the unknown.  Are you tired of taking the easy way out of life?  Be more than the judge and jury socialites that we come into contact with or have become today!

What Type of Energy Have You Been Giving Off?

Have you thought about this question lately: What type of energy have I been giving off?  I have asked myself that question a couple times this month.  The question occurred because  recently I had been extremely happy for some reason and my phone was constantly beeping with messages from friends I had not talked to in over four months.  I started to ask myself if my friends could feel my positive energy in society and responded to my happiness with “Hey girl!  How’s it going?  And what’s been up?”  Something was definitely going on and I needed to find out what. 

In thinking about positive and negative energy, I can honestly say that I have been on the spectrum of exhibiting both positive and negative energy levels; with the negative portion being attributed to obtaining my master’s degree last year.  My energy levels were usually positive; however in my pursuit for my master’s degree, I experienced negative energy to its fullest extent: I was constantly complaining, had my first tiff with a friend I had known for at least 10 years, and felt like I would never be able to write a 60 page paper in three months.  I believe that all of this stress was due to me completing my thesis project, working a full-time job, attending social functions, and other functions of my life that I wanted to maintain.  Though I was the creator of my own negative energy, I told myself to push through it and learn to deal with the detrimental state I was in, so I could learn how to cope with like situations in the future.

Often, when people exude positive energy, everyone wants to be around them.  It’s like a magnetic attraction that makes people joyful.  It makes like souls congregate and provide strength for one another.  It lets people see that all things are possible through strength and dedication.  These individuals may display a certain passion toward something, which is exuded in the way they treat people, the way they respond to certain situations, and the forces they allow to have dominion over them.  People who exemplify characteristics of negative energy are often avoided by others, especially the positive energy holders.  Negative energy tends to repel positive energy, which provides a feeling of discomfort, stress, and ambiguity.  While negative feelings cannot always be avoided, the way that we respond to them can.  You cannot always control the things that happen in your life; however you can control the way that you respond to them.

Take action today by understanding your negative feelings and dealing with them in a professional manner.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Helpful Relaxation and Rejuvenation Tips

Do you know someone who is in need of a relaxing and stressfree night?  Well, I have just the thing for you.  The letter below will help you, help someone else.  You can provide the letter to the individual with a bag full of goodies to help them relieve their stress.  You will need to purchase the items listed below, which are a part of setting a relaxing mood.  Remember that you can add or subtract anything for the bag.


Please accept this gift as a token of my appreciation for who you are and what you will be.  I am pretty sure you are aware that who you are now is not who you will be in the future.  Experiences bring so much to our lives and help us deal with whatever is thrown our way. 

In this bag you will find:

A candle

Moisturizing Bath Beads

Aromatherapaes Bath Ball

Pure & Natural Hand Soap

Eye mask with soft gel pearls

These items will allow you to get away from it all and relax, even if only for a short moment in time.  You truly deserve it.  You have to promise me one thing upon accepting this gift.  You will use these items to assist you in releasing harmful thoughts and emotions within your body and create a calm and soothing environment.  As stated by Michelle Obama in an interview with Barbara Waters, “you have to take care of yourself first before you cantake care of anyone else.  I know that statement all too well.  While in school, I was a little selfish with my time and the relationships I entered into because I was focusing on myself.  I felt that I deserved it because too often I was focusing on making other people happy and the same was not always returned.  I have returned to helping other people again, but I know that I need my selfish days to help me make it through life.  So with these items, be selfish and rejuvenate your spirit to continue helping others and obtaining your dreams.

Men and Women: We Need Each Other

The truth to living a comfortable life is that men and women need each other.  We need each other for our physical and mental capabilities.  We need that emotional factor that pulls us into each other’s spirit.  We need the security that we provide each other.  We need love reciprocated at a monogamous level.  We need the discussion aspect of the relationship that makes us well rounded and feel appreciated.  Now the listening part of the relationship can be tricky because the fact of the matter is that we don’t always listen to each other.  Honestly, I can be accused of not listening to a significant other.  It was nothing he or I had done; it was just that we sometimes needed time to ourselves to process various things in our lives in order to be there for each other.  We wanted to be there for each other, so we listened; although our minds were somewhere else. 

Has anyone heard the comment before, “Men and women can be independent and don’t need to be loved?”  Well, I’m here to say that the statement is not true.  In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory, he reveals a level of needing to be loved.  While the love of family and friends is great, there is nothing that can compare to loving and being loved by a significant other; Being loved by a person that truly understands you and by someone who can read you inside out.  Love of family and friends cannot replace the love of a significant other who is going to cuddle with you at night when you need security or the warmth of another body.  It also will not replace the truthfulness of your significant other stating that you gained a little weight, but he likes it on you.

Now, I’m definitely not telling you to go out and get into a relationship with just anyone because you still need to make a well-informed decision when dating.  I am just telling you to acknowledge that each gender plays a specific role in each other’s life.  We need to respect each other, stop focusing on the other gender’s negative traits, and love each other for who they are and will be.   

~We need each other

Saturday, July 7, 2012

How Do You Determine Who Will Be Successful?

Do you think determining who will be successful in life is as easy as looking at a newborn baby and seeing a certain gleam in his/her eye?  Let’s all take a mental field trip to the maternity ward at a hospital and suggest who we think will be successful in life.  What do you think our probability of success will be?  What do you think our probability of failure will be?

Many notable people, such as Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, and St. Paul, have tried to determine what makes some people more successful than others.  Take for example:

I believe that a person’s ability to understand and apply the lessons they have learned will make them very successful.  Many times, we are provided with lessons that we must understand on our own.  Sometimes, we will see the same thing others see, but detract different lessons from what we saw.  This does not make any of our assumptions incorrect.  It just provides many perspectives on what has taken place.

The progression toward helping someone become successful should start at a very young age.  I would say as early as two years old.  Children start picking up on things around this age.  Now, helping them become successful does not mean to live your childhood dreams through them.  Helping them become successful just means to find out things that they really like to do and help them reach their goals.  Take my nieces for example.  These young ladies are nine and eleven years old.  The nine year old would like to become an actress and the eleven year old would like to become a professional dancer.  My family believes in encouraging them and providing them with the necessary tools to help their dreams come true.  Encouragement is done by conversations, participating in like events, and my latest gift to them: a vision board.  Recently, I gave them a vision board with the task of decorating the board and placing their dreams and aspirations on it.  I told them to place the board somewhere that they will see it every day, so they can start living in their passion.  The nine year old asked me for some ideas to help her make a vision board.  I gave her another task, which will help her on the road to success: I told her to look up some ideas on the computer.  I truly believe that success comes with self-direction and should be started at an early age.  My mother did the same thing with me.  When I was around 10 years old and wanted to know what a word meant, she told me to look it up.  This is the very reason why I continue to research questions that I may have about life, words, and human interactions. 
Success is truly determined by the individual by setting goals.  A good way to do this is to attach a time line to your goals.  Tell yourself, I want to sign up for dancing or acting classes by the time I am 16 years old or I want to have authored five books by the time I am 30.  The timeline will allow you to focus on what you need to do and when you need to do it.

~Don’t let people determine whether or not you will be successful.  Start defining your own opportunity.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Why Do People Cheat?

As the amount of marriages decline, we have to ask ourselves a question, “can this be attributed to cheating?”  Many people I have spoken with have various opinions to what they constitute cheating as; however can agree to one thing and that is their dislike of being cheated on.

Cheating is an act that makes some people upset, angry, confused, and insecure.  It can make significant others and lovers do things that they never thought they would do, such as: Hiding in the bushes, confronting friends, becoming confrontational, and acting out of character.  Who really has time to act in this manner?  Apparently some people do because these are still some of the current reactions to cheating. 
In trying to understand why people cheat, we have to understand the person and the environment he or she had been raised.  You have some men and women who were exposed to cheating at a very young age.  They saw their mother or father interact inappropriately with other people or they were told certain things about the other gender.  An example of this is of a father telling his young son that he should not allow any one girl to entrap his heart, like his mother did to his father.  He tells his son to date many girls and have many relationships while he is still young enough to do it.  The son receiving the advice may think he only has two options, which are to stay single for the rest of his life and live a glorious bachelor’s life or to get married to someone who he will sooner or later dip out on (cheat on).    

Another reason someone cheats is because he or she is looking for something else.  How many times have you ordered lunch at a restaurant, but really wanted something else instead?  Well, some people choose to keep the dish they have because with the right spices, anything is possible.  Others chose to eat the dish they ordered and then pick up a dish on the way home to make up for what the first dish lacked.  People deem this as “having your cake and eating it too.”   This type of individual likes variety, which means he or she can enjoy having the intellectual conversation with one individual, while having loads of fun with another individual.  He or she also may like having the financial stability that a lawyer can provide, while living dangerously with his stripper girlfriend or her biker boyfriend.  This more or less is a learned trait that could have been brought on by conversations with friends, watching movies, or wanting to experience life.  This individual may be of a younger age and easily influenced by others, but ages vary nowadays. 
What about those individuals that have become so accustomed to cheating that it is like wearing shorts and a tank top in the summertime?  To them, cheating or stepping out on their partner is a given.  They would not see it any other way.  These individuals include, but are not limited to the star football player on a well-known high school team, the promiscuous sorority girl on campus, or even the family-oriented minister.  Cheating is often the result of a dilemma which can be brought on by someone who has done it numerous times or someone who is looking for an outlet to some type of hurt that he or she has experienced.  The challenging part of cheating is the portion that deals with being faithful to the one you love.    

A few comments that I have heard from males about cheating is that their girlfriend or wife has let herself go, meaning that she gained weight, does not cook or clean anyone, or has changed.  It seems to me that sometimes, it is not only the woman who has let go of herself, but the man as well.  Isn’t that what love is about?  Letting go and being comfortable around the individual you love?  If we as people have to worry about not letting go, is it even worth the sacrifice?  Some comments that I have heard from females about cheating is that they are looking for more in a mate.  They are unhappy with their conditions because they feel as though they are not being appreciated or respected.  Have you heard of the saying that “when you first meet someone, you are meeting their representative?”  You are not meeting the true person because the person is trying to impress you in some way, shape, or form.  I actually call it lying because it is not your true self and you are impressing people with a fake persona.  Doing this could possibly lead to being dumped, cheated on, and maybe even a healthy relationship once you and your significant other have exposed the truth.    
So I conclude with stating that the decline in marriages could be attributed to cheating; however more research would have to take place in order to correlate those two variables.  As a population within an environment increases its knowledge of current problems and issues, it also increases awareness to create tactics to eliminate those situations.  One tactic is having an open conversation where both parties can be totally honest with each other.  Another tactic is helping the person who has cheated with working out certain issues or concerns that he or she may have with the other gender.  There certainly are many other tactics that may be helpful in understanding this issue.  Start this journey to understanding by being open-minded, receptive, and willing to forgive.