Merge's Blog

Monthly Archives: January 2010

Overcoming speaker anxiety

Glossophobia: the fear of speaking in public…

If you’ve ever experienced sweaty palms, a rapid heartbeat, or a cold feeling in the pit of your stomach just before you had to stand up in front of a group of people and make a speech, then you should know that you are not alone. Various surveys suggest that glossophobia is experienced by 75 to 80 per cent of people. In fact, a now-classic study conducted in 1973 discovered that people are more afraid of public speaking than of death. Ironically, that literally means most people at a funeral would prefer to be lying in the casket rather than giving the eulogy. Yet despite its much-hated status, the ability to speak publicly is a necessary skill for professional success.

As someone who speaks for a living, I am often asked for advice on how to overcome this fear.  So much so, that back in 2004, I wrote an article specifically on this subject.  Read the entire article here.

If you are a leader, you have to be able to compose your thoughts and deliver your message,  sometimes to large groups of people? What are you doing to overcome speaker anxiety?

The energy of momentum

I shouldn’t be, but I am constantly amazed by the energy of momentum.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know that on January 12, Haiti was devastated by a deadly earthquake.  A nation already ill-equipped to manage any sort of crisis, the disaster completely overwhelmed its citizens.  And as news of the destruction began to dribble out from ground zero, the world kicked into gear to assist.  Which is amazing in itself!

But the momentum I speak of happens at an individual level.  Recent case in point.  Continue reading

What’s stopping you from communicating with confidence and clarity?

Have you ever found yourself in the situation where you know EXACTLY what you want to say …. except that it’s ten minutes too late?!

If so, you’re not alone.  But what other challenges do you face when it comes to communicating in the workplace?  Do you lack confidence to speak up when you should, or is it that you simply can’t get the words together to get your message across with clarity?  The bottom-line truth is that your communication skills can significantly add to … or detract from …  your credibility with your staff, peers and managers.  What is your single most difficult challenge in this area?  Ask your tough questions at, and I’ll do my best to answer as many as I can in my live Audio Conference coming up on February 10.

Praise as a workplace motivator

For the price (nothing), you can’t beat praise for its cost-effectiveness as a motivator.  The key is to keep it specific and sincere.  As long as it is genuine and timely, praise can work wonders as a VERY effective workplace motivator.  But keep these four tips in mind.

  1. People often ask me what “timely” means; my own personal rule: within 24 hours of the event having occurred (or you finding out about the event).
  2. There is no such thing as “too much praise”.  As long as the praise is directed towards something specific, you can’t overdo it.
  3. Praise is always best in person.  But if that’s not possible, voice mail should be your second choice.  If it’s a matter of giving it via e-mail, or not at all, then a short note is an acceptable alternative.  But make sure that you keep within the 24-hour rule.
  4. And perhaps the most important tip: praise only works as a motivator if you actually say it out loud (or write it) to the person who deserves it.  Don’t laugh … I can’t tell you the number of times supervisors and managers THINK about praising an employee, but don’t ever get to it because they get busy, or they don’t see the person, or they forget!  So if you want your praise to count, you can’t just think it, you have to SAY it!

What’s your experience with using praise as a motivator in the workplace?

Attention: Internationally Educated Professionals (IEPs)

If you are an Internationally Educated Professional (IEP), currently unemployed or not working in your chosen profession, then you ABSOLUTELY MUST attend the 7th Annual IEP Conference on Friday, January 29, 2010 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.  This conference will give you an opportunity to network with and learn job searching skills from industry experts, employers, and successful IEPs.  Now in its 7th year, the IEP Conference is regarded as one of the most innovative and respectful events for skilled newcomers seeking practical, effective career advice.  Registration is FREE, but since this event traditionally attracts over 1200 delegates, you should avoid disappointment by registering early.  Lunch and refreshments are included!

I am honoured to be delivering the opening keynote that morning, so do stop by to say hello and introduce yourself.  And please, if you have friends or colleagues who could benefit from attending, let them know as well.

To register or get more information, go to

Which fisherman are you?

The storm raged for two days. The wind gusted furiously and thunderously as the ocean waves boiled and seethed, crashing endlessly upon the shore. For two days, intimidated by the power of the ocean, neither swimmers nor fishermen dared go into the water. But then finally, on the third day, the weather gods came to the rescue. As I walked out on to the patio of the beach house, the sun was inching up over the horizon, and the deepening blue sky held promise for a clear and sunny day ahead. Continue reading

Top 5 Workplace Issues in 2010

Derek Sankey recently wrote this article published in The Calgary Herald, The Telegram, New Brunswick Business Journal, Global Regina, and  I was honored to be asked for my input.

Both employers and employees are looking ahead more optimistically to a fresh slate in 2010, but there is no shortage of challenges facing corporations and job hunters in the year ahead.   An informal survey of recruiters and human resource consultants shows that while the economy appears to be slowly recovering from the deep recession felt last year, business leaders will struggle to address ongoing concerns even as the hiring outlook improves as the year unfolds.   The top five workplace issues in 2010, as predicted by those surveyed, reveal some ongoing challenges and some new concerns.  Read the rest of this article

Good leaders respond to customer feedback

Three months ago, I blogged about Air Canada and its new CEO, Calin Rovinescu.  Back then, I was cautiously optimistic; after two previous CEOs, Rovinescu was a welcome breath of fresh air.  Unlike his predecessors, he actually seemed interested in what his most loyal customers had to say.  With his senior management team, he met with groups of individual frequent fliers in cities across the country to get their feedback and input on how to create a better air travel product.  I was at such a meeting in Calgary in September and I was impressed to see that his team listened, asked questions, took notes, and pledged to turn things around both for disillusioned customers and a disconnected workforce.  Big news indeed for a company that has unfortunately developed a reputation of taking its customers for granted!  So, three months later … has Rovinescu been able to alter the negative perception of Air Canada that has plagued the minds of customers and employees for several years now? Continue reading