Here are this week’s 10 Life Pro Tips
01. How to give a quick, impromptu speech or toast!
Most people would agree that the idea of speaking in front of large groups of people can be terrifying, and so we tend to avoid it whenever possible. There are times, however, when we are faced with the task and there’s no running away: we must say a few words. The following is a template for success which you can use when it’s your turn to speak, in just about any type of gathering, formal or informal.
1. The Greeting
The greeting is the easy part. You begin by simply wishing your audience a good morning, afternoon, evening, or whatever time of day it is. *Good* evening everybody…*
2. State the Event
“As we all know…”
The second part is also very easy: You simply state the obvious and remind everybody what the purpose of the event or celebration is, and what you’re all doing there. **As we all know,* we’re here to celebrate the marriage of John and Kate, and to show them our support as they begin their journey of love and life together…* Now you’ve got the ball rolling, and the words are coming out easily. You look like you know what you’re doing up there, and people are listening. So now, it’s time to….
3. Establish Common Ground
It’s important to include your audience as part of the message you’re delivering. Talk about something both yourself and your audience can relate to regarding the event or celebration. **We’ve all* had the wonderful opportunity to get to know John and Kate and enjoy watching their love develop…*
4. State Why You’re Speaking
Include a personal account, or tell a brief story to let people know why you specifically are talking. What gives you the right to be speaking..? **I’ve* personally been very lucky to have John as a close friend of mine, and it’s been quite amazing to watch how he’s grown as a person, and couldn’t be more pleased for him to have found someone like Kate to go about his life with…*
5. Call for Action
“So let’s all…”
Finally, close your speech with a call for action. This lets everybody know that you’re finished without you having to awkwardly say “That’s it!” or “I’m finished, thank you”…that is how every weak speech is concluded and makes the audience uncomfortable. You should say something like **”So let’s all* raise a glass to John and Kate, and wish them well. Cheers!” or, So Let’s all give a big round of applause to Mark for the outstanding job he’s done while working with the company”*
Obviously, there are many different ways these leading lines can be used, but if you can commit them to memory and be prepared to use them next time you might be asked to speak, you will let go of all fear and anxiety, and people will be impressed with your ability to get up and give a confident, fluent speech in front of a group of people, while looking like you didn’t even have to prepare!
02. Stop making awkward small talk…
Stop making awkward small talk by focusing on the rhythm of your speech. Some things that make conversations awkward include:
· Accidentally talking over someone
· Ending a long, trailing sentence with “…yeah,” or some other babble because you actually have nothing else to say.
· Talking for too long and losing your companion’s interest.
· Launching into a full conversation with someone who is distracted, but is responding to you anyway out of courtesy.
If you’re socially awkward, you may not notice when these things happen, but they’re all really off-putting. People expect other people to pick up on small conversational cues, and it’s really frustrating to be on either side of a failure in that department. How can you catch yourself before becoming a nuisance? Rhythm.
A conversation needs to have give and take. You know when you feel steamrollered by a conversational partner? That happens when the other person isn’t listening, but is instead smothering you with ideas, pausing only to wait for another opportunity to speak. This person is treating you as if you are a member of their audience. They are monologueing. It sucks.
For the purposes of this LPT, I’ll define the rhythm of your speech as the rate at which your words communicate a single idea. A “beat” is a single idea unit. Next time you’re talking to someone, pay attention to this: how long did it take for you to tell Jenny that a bird flew into your house on Sunday? Two minutes? That’s one thought communicated, one beat.
You might feel compelled to keep talking to Jenny. You want to tell her how difficult it was to get the bird dislodged from the space above your kitchen cabinets, or what kind of bird it was, or about that summer you spent working at a chicken farm when you were sixteen. These things are all relevant, but they all compose a new beat in the song that is this conversation. Before you add another beat, you need to let Jenny respond.
People who are good at conversation do this naturally. Now that you’ve communicated your charming bird anecdote, having a successful conversation with Jenny is more important than your desire to communicate more information. To that end, you need to let Jenny participate. She may do this verbally or nonverbally.
Your role is to:
· Stop talking
· Look at Jenny
· Listen to Jenny
Decoding Jenny’s response:
Positive/Encouraging: If she wants to hear more about the bird, Jenny will ask you a question. She may also merely smile and/or nod. A nonverbal show of genuine interest is a good reason to go ahead with one more thought. After communicating one more thought (the part about the bird getting stuck above the cabinets, maybe), re-assess Jenny’s interest.
Distracted/perfunctory: If Jenny smiles weakly (without eye contact), looks elsewhere, says “uh-huh” while performing another task, or is actively reading her computer screen after your first beat, it’s time to bring this conversation to an amicable close. She’s busy, or not interested, and if you linger and try to pile on some more beats, she won’t remember anything about the bird anecdote except that you wouldn’t shut up about it. If she’s self-destructively polite, she might say something as you walk away like, “No, no, I’m sorry. I really do want to hear your story.” You can be dismissive/defensive (“It’s not important.”) or charming (“Sorry, I lost track of time. I’ll tell you later.” Or, if it’s a really good story: “How about over coffee?”)
Change the subject If, at the end of your first beat, Jenny begins telling a story of her own, let her. If the conversation swerves wildly away from your original beat after that, let it. Conversation is not a competition. Don’t get upset if you get interrupted, and don’t talk over Jenny in an effort to tell your own story. Changing the subject might mean: “That was a fascinating beat, and it reminded me of something equally fascinating that I really want to share with you,” or “I want to talk to you, but I’m not very interested in the topic you broached in your first beat,” or “I’m a narcissist, and I don’t like having conversations about situations I didn’t witness,” or, “I would like to monologue at you, please sit still while I enjoy the sound of my own voice.” It varies. As the conversation progresses, continue to stop yourself after each of your own beats, and listen/watch for Jenny’s response (She may or may not afford you the same courtesy. That’s okay. Roll with it.) If she goes off on a long tangent, you may need to switch to observing your own interest after each of her beats, and end the conversation politely.
That’s about it! Speak, look/listen, evaluate, repeat. Don’t be afraid of small silences (your conversational partner might need short gaps to organize their thoughts). If all else fails, (if things start going down an awkward path) look down and compliment your companion’s shoes/carpeting/dog/desk chair. They will look down too, which will take their eyes off you and allow you to take a step backward (begin your retreat) or switch topics entirely.
03. If you need a quick or cheap engraved ID tag…
If you need a quick or cheap engraved ID tag for your keys or luggage, go to a pet store and use their tag machine. For only a few dollars each you can have it engraved to have your full name, address, Email address and several phone numbers.
04. Replace “but” with “however”, “although”…
Replace “but” with “however”, “although”, or even just a pause so your listener avoids negating the first part of your sentence. When people hear “but” they automatically negate the first part of your sentence. This is why many people say “I’m sorry, but…” Isn’t a real apology — because whatever the second part of the sentence is trumps the sorry.
I’ve found it is especially useful when you’re trying to avoid being accusatory or when you’re trying to bring up an issue without putting the other person on the defense because the pause required to replace the “but” will also make you consider how to phrase the rest of your thought better.
05. When painting a room…
When painting a room be sure to ask for two labels when buying paint. One to put on the paint can (of course) and the other to sticker behind the light switch panel of the room you’re painting. That way, you’ll know that exact color and brand in case you need to do touch ups later down the road.
Some other tips for organizing your paints/colors:
· Put a drop of paint on the lid by the sticker so you can easily see the color.
· Cover the sticker with packing tape, so you can wipe it off easily.
· Ask the paint store to put a comment on the receipt of what room you’re painting.
· Keep a copy of your receipt in your records (formula should be on it).
· Make sure the paint store has an account for you – they’ll store the colors for years.
06. How not to lose money in vending machines
The reason items sometimes hang in the metal spirals and don’t drop is because they were loaded incorrectly. Items are supposed to be loaded into a vending machine with both bottom corners of the package out in front of the spiral. If the person who filled the machine was lazy and put them in at an angle, with one corner behind the spiral, it will greatly increase the chance of those items getting stuck and not dropping.
So simply don’t buy anything from a vending machine unless you can see both bottom corners of the package in front of the spiral. See the above pic for reference. The poor soul who pays for that bag of Elfin Crackers or the Baked Cheetos on the far right is probably not going to get them. Also, shaking or tilting the machine to make a stuck item drop may damage the internal mechanisms, and cause the machine to stop working entirely. Not to mention that it may fall on you!
07. Don’t pay anyone (or any company) to consolidate your Federal Student Loans
Someone I know works in the industry, and they have met quite a few people who have paid a company to consolidate their loans for them. You can do so free at studentloans.gov. Also, if someone mentions forgiveness, they’re (probably) referring to Income Based Repayment, which offers forgiveness after 25 years of on time payments. There is also Public Service Loan Forgiveness, Teacher Loan Forgiveness, and total & permanent disability discharge, Keep in mind you don’t have to pay anyone to apply for these.
08. Enjoy tastier frozen microwaved foods by…
Enjoy tastier frozen microwaved foods by using your microwave’s power settings. Double the time and halve the power and you’ll notice a delightful difference in taste and texture. Frozen foods are becoming healthier and tastier so why ruin it by zapping it so much it becomes burnt and rubbery.
09. Instead of saying ‘yeah you told me’…
Instead of saying ‘yeah you told me’ when someone repeats a story, say ‘yes, I remember this.’ It comes across as caring enough to remember, as opposed to being bored with the other person’s story.
10. After a car accident, step-by-step checklist
Getting into a car accident can be jarring and emotional, even if it’s a small fender bender. Take this checklist to help take the thinking out of what information to collect. According to USAA, you should not disclose your coverage limits and deductible. If you need to print this out, you can find the higher resolution image here.