Why Is News Still Important?

I think it would be an understatement to say there is a lot of information from the news out there, at our fingertips through the newspaper, magazines and the internet, in our ears from the radio and as we sit to relax in front of the television

Recently a friend of mine told me a story of how her sister was scanning through Facebook and came across an article that causes stress and anxiety for her sister, based on its content and coincidental applicability to events taking place in her life. In an effort to calm her sister she checked out the article discovering that it was not a recent publication and is what is referred to as “click-bait”, where an article provides a shocking title or introduction to lure people to read it and click on a link to another page, which in this case was to sell a product she didn’t need. This particular situation can be related to so many people facing a daily bombardment of information and requires us as consumers of information to ask the right questions.

If there is so much out there that is not reliable, why is news still important?

It is still important to know the facts about what is going on around us to help us make better decisions. This could include the simplest news like the weather person telling us its going to rain, so you make decisions to pack an umbrella, to changes in the stock of a corporation you are currently investing in. Also keep in mind that positive stories are still out there. It can brighten one’s day to read a story of a student who volunteers her time after school to set up activities in her local elder’s residence or community coming together to help out a family

How do we decipher the information coming in and why it is important to look into where news comes from?

When looking at a source of information there are a few best practices in determining the reliability of the information. Some of these can take some time and research, but if someone is really determined to measure the reliability of a source there are a few steps that can be taken. These can be quick checks such as verifying the date of the publication of the article is current, checking who the author is and doing a search of the author to determine if they have credentials in the field they are discussing and verifying the publication source.  Further research could be in identifying the company or organization that is publishing this article, are they a known source, are they a source in the related field of the article topic?  Finally, another level of research could include determining the organization’s place in the industry and what their best interests would be.  For example, if you came across an article stating “Brand X” dog food is known to cause digestive illness in dogs and it is published by a communications division of “Brand Y” dog food, you might question what the motivation would be for this article.  Is it to warn people, or have “Brand X” purchasers move over to “Brand Y”, increasing sales?

What responsibility does the reader have in distinguishing fact from fiction?

As the reader we need to watch what is real and what is not to ensure we are looking at information that is correct and to know our limitations in how much to take in, by understanding the cues from our emotions.  If something induces a very negative emotion, it may be time to step away from that article, at least for the time being. Which leads us to…

When and why it is time to shut the news off?

As mentioned above, negative emotion can be your internal alarm to let you know when some news might just be enough and it may be important to interrupt the messaging being taken in at that time, to move onto something more productive and positive.

In these days of 24/7 information, give yourself permission to set boundaries around what is good for you and what is not good for you. You and your mental health are important!

The Epitome of Value Based Fees

trading your time for money

Did you hear the one about the customer and the plumber?  This is a classic anecdote that applies to more and more industries and professions as we realize that providing services is not about trading time for money.

Customer: “Hello, I have a problem with my bathroom plumbing and I need you to come over.”

Plumber: “What seems to be the problem?”

Customer: “Well, when I flush the toilet, the kitchen faucet drips.”

Plumber: “I’ll be over this afternoon to have a look.”

The plumber arrives, inspects the plumbing in the house, checks out a few things, flips a few switches, tests the system and fixed the problem in about 15 minutes.  He presents the customer with the bill.

Customer: “$600 to do 15 minutes work?!?!”

Plumber: “It took me 10 years to learn how to do that.”

There’s more to services than just trading time for money.  What about all the years it took to get your education, training and credentials?  What about your life experience?  The time and effort it took you to build your organization?  You’re worth so much more than dollars per hour. Think about it and share your comments.

Finding The Confidence to Speak

Being invited to speak at an in person or virtual event can be a wonderful honour given to the potential speaker by those who want to hear the speaker’s message and share it with others. However, for some, it can be a great cause of anxiety and fear, with the thought that all those eyes will be on them and focused on everything that’s said.

The ability to be a good speaker doesn’t always go hand in hand with the ability to do it easily. It takes practice. I have spoken with many who are fantastic speakers, but they are extremely nervous before hand to the point of being physically ill. Just remember, if you are in this group of uneasy speakers, you’re not alone!  So, then what? What can be done to make this easier, or at least get you through it?

Keep these few things in mind when getting ready to speak to a group when you may be feeling less than confident:

Your audience is there because they want to be: For the most part, people attending a conference, meeting or lecture are there because they chose to be there, they want to hear your message and will be supportive of your efforts. Attendees tend to not be judgmental, are not making snap decisions about you based on your haircut, clothes etc. and are there to hear what you have to say, even if they’re there not by choice (perhaps they have been instructed to go by their boss), these attendees, will most likely just listen politely.

Change your worry to excitement: This is a tough one because you’re so focused on the negative aspects of what you think may happen. What if you switched your thought process and redirected it to excitement at the possibilities of doing a great job? Go into it with a positive outlook and understand that even if it doesn’t go the way you want, you still did it! You would have accomplished a major step in your own personal development and that’s awesome!

Practice and prepare: Practicing the presentation before hand helps a lot. Try getting a small audience together or even just practice by yourself. Give yourself a few days in advance to do this. Go through and read your presentation, re-write if you have to and make a few speaking notes for yourself as a guide. By taking these steps to practice and prepare, you’ll be more familiar with the material, therefore making it easier to engage in a conversational type of presentation and making eye contact with your audience, instead of looking at your notes. Another great place to practice amongst a supportive group would be to contact your local Toastmaster’s group.

Know the environment: If you’re in-person, make yourself familiar with the presentation venue and environment so you’re more comfortable before speaking. Arrive ahead of time, sit in various places in the room for a few minutes to get different visual perspectives and get settled in.  Own the space.

Interact with your audience: If you’re worried about the audience getting bored, make sure to leave room for people to ask questions. Listening to their questions can give you a little break as well to take a drink of water and re-group as needed. This can also help you gain some extra time on your presentation if it seems to be too short. Remember to be welcoming of questions and stay calm.

Take care of yourself: Get plenty of rest, eat well and taking the time to pamper yourself a little before the presentation day provides a little extra boost and don’t forget to give yourself a little time to use the restroom before the presentation. Make sure you have some water by your side to take sips to avoid a dry mouth while speaking. If possible, make sure you’re already standing up a few minutes before the presentation, so you don’t have to maneuver around obstacles to get to your place.

Are you in the audience? Perhaps you are reading this and are not a speaker, but frequently attend presentations. Why not do what you can to make the speaker feel confident and perhaps let them know what you enjoyed in their presentation? We’re all in this together. No matter the size of the group you are speaking to, you can do it and there are people in your audience that are in your corner. Be excited for this opportunity – you’ll do great!