I am frequently put on the spot in workshops, meetings and other client facing situations and some feedback my manager gave me the other day was that I could be more confident when I’m asked a question that I don’t know the answer to. As a result, I did some research and came up with the list below.
Consider the question
- Is it even a valid question?
- Shut it down, disagree with the implied statement etc.
- What is the questioner’s motivation?
- Are they testing you or genuinely interested? If genuinely interested then a “I’ll get back to you” will probably be quite an acceptable answer.
Ask them to repeat the question as a way of stalling for time
Unless it was a very technical or heavily accented question this will almost certainly be seen as stalling for time.
Ask clarifying questions
Get the scope of the question narrowed down and in so doing giving you more time to work out how to answer.
Ask for definitions to jargon
Sometimes TLAs or other company/sector specific jargon will genuinely confuse you. Similarly, clarifying definitions can help buy time and ensure you don’t accidentally answer the “wrong” question or give away an element of your negotiation strategy.
Think out loud
Quite literally talk through what you are thinking as you work out what they want to know, what kind of information they need, and which kinds of evidence/specifics they might want.
Obviously you will then need to organise yourself and provide a clear and confident response, but it shows the questioner that you:
b) you don’t have a ready answer however you can
c) think on your feet and
d) recover to provide a clear and confident response while under pressure.
Acknowledge the person’s own work/expertise
As part of considering the question, consider the expertise and knowledge of the questioner. It may be that they have generated knowledge on the subject and you might garner some bonus points by referencing it. Even if you don’t know the answer but know that they have expertise in it, tell them that you know that they’re the expert and what you know about their expertise. Beware the temptation to avoid the question through flattery however.
Choose 1-3 points and pieces of evidence
When you are asked a question and a million possible answers pop in to your head, take a moment and identify between one and three and respond confidently and succinctly on these. Do not gabble and jump from one to the next to the next to the next. Remember that you need to be calm and respond confidently.
Tell a story
Tell a story that captures the questioner’s underlying reason for asking the question and then takes them through what is/was done.
Sometimes it is clear that the question has been asked to garner some underlying information and you can easily provide the information they seek without actually answering the direct question. Besides: everyone loves a story.
Prepare – What if…
Preparation is the key to most situations where you’re going to be put on the spot. Anticipate the kinds of information they’re likely to want and prepare stories and answers to those. Apart from allowing you to respond to any question confidently, it’ll be obvious that you’ve thought ahead, anticipated their needs and prepared accordingly – all excellent behaviours to be exhibiting.
Practice clear delivery
Falling into the “preparation” bucket, practicing confident delivery will mean that when you are in fact under pressure and being made to think on your feet you don’t also have to try and remember to appear confident while desperately thinking through this list of possible response methods and trying to think of a suitable response… Practice does NOT make perfect: Practice makes PERMANENT.
What to practice?
- Speaking in a strong, confident voice – a good practice for this is to make up a story on the spot and ensure you’re maintaining the confident voice even though your made up story has silver fairies dancing with the queen while a one legged dog tells jokes to distract the guards…
- Remember that you want to be able to keep a good level of eye contact. Not a stare but a comfortable some-on-some-off kind of natural contact. It’s ok to look away to remember something and remember to re-connect when you deliver a succinct answer as it will add a confidence to any response.
- Speed of delivery – Time seems to speed up when we’re under pressure. We take a breath and take a moment to think about the question and possible answers and all of a sudden it feels like there’s been an hour’s silence. Relax – you have more time than you think. A quiet period while you gather your thoughts for a confident and well delivered answer is a million times better than filling the space with er… or simply filling it with the random and unconnected things that “might” be vaguely connected to a possible answer.
- Body language – I’m terrible for this as I am always catching myself dry-wringing my hands or fiddling with a pen: all signs of discomfort and being unsure of oneself.
- Use the questioner’s name in your response. Confident people use other people’s names when they talk. Practice this with your friends. It might be slightly odd, but then isn’t dealing with feeling odd a confidence thing anyway?
- Go on an improvisation course – Seriously, this will give you the practice and skills to be able to think on your feet, appear confident and absolutely own any off-the-cuff questions and situations that might arise.
I don’t know
I don’t mind admitting I don’t know something but I hate having to take away actions from a meeting but if all else fails “I don’t have the answer right now, but let me reach out to some colleagues and get the answer for you in the next 24hrs.”
Hopefully I’ll remember some of these for the next client meetings I have (and I have a few coming up!)
This week I discovered something about myself and how I hold goals in my head that will hopefully make my gym sessions a little less daunting and much easier to achieve mentally.
The sweet thing is that it is a really easy thing to change and will hopefully have a dramatic effect both in terms of achievability and in terms of feeling good when they’re reached:
Only take and look at today’s goals for the gym session.
I was tired and a little grumpy and I could feel the thick and grey cloud of fatigue gathering around my peripheral vision and I’d only done the warm up for my first exercise!
I’d been up late the night before at gymnastics and working all day and here I was in Bulks trying about to embark on an hour and a half of awesome movements challenging gravity with even more weight than last time. My coach was doing a good job of encouraging me and avoiding my bad mood and as I wandered over to the training programme to remind myself what exercises and weights I was targetting today, the mental strength that I’d manage to last the session was definitely fading.
It wasn’t until after the session, having pushed through and completed everything (except leg raises at the end which I cried off due to pulling an oblique at gymnastics) that it dawned on me that I may not be using my goals to their most effective and that seeing the weeks of increased weights and sessions stretching across the page was not helping focus on what I needed to here and now.
So next time I head to a training session, I’m going to copy out the goals for that session and only take that piece of paper with me. That way I can focus on what I can achieve today and not get distracted of feared out by seeing the goals for the next 12 weeks at the same time. Easy!
A small change but something I know will pay dividends next time my willpower and motivation is feeling low.
Rings based exercise
In April this year I started working on gymnastic based exercises and I started working with a personal trainer who introduced me to Olympic Rings (Amazon link to some good ones) and bodyweight workouts.
Anyone who follows me on facebook or Instagram will have seen various pictures and videos of my workouts and progression and a friend of mine recently picked up a set of rings for himself and asked me what he should be working on. I wrote the following as an email but here it is for the world to see for all those others out there who want to learn some rings based exercises but are not sure where to start.
There are lots of exercises and routines to work on on YouTube and other places but I find having just a few to work on focuses my training and means faster progression. The following are the essentials that I’ve been working on. You may want to do some others so checkout the sources section at the bottom.
This is essential for working on muscleup and pullups on the rings. This video is the best I can find and gives you a really good idea of how to work on it.
This will take time (it took me 3 weeks I think) to master and will be sore the first few times.
Aim to get to the point where you can hold at the top for 30 secs for 5 sets with 2min break between sets. This will hurt your chest, ribs and rotators and you’ll be wobbling all over the place until you build the muscles to control stability (which thankfully should grow relatively quickly)
It is essential work for most ring-based exercises. Progression involves starting to hold support with your hands slightly further away from your body.
Pullups on Rings
Self explanatory really but make sure you’re in false grip (above). When you’re doing pullups, aim to bring your nipples to your hands. Point your elbows forward and keep the rings as close to your body as possible – further away = harder. When you’re working to progress into muscleup, you’ll get to this point, then do an imaginary header through the straps and transition into a deep dip.
Aim to do 5 sets of 5 and don’t hang around. There is rebound effect to use when you come down: come down and then bounce straight into the next rep. This applies to all exercises including dips.
[only the first 3 mins or so of the following video]
Start doing regular dips and aim for 5 sets of 5 dips.
When you get to the top (unlike in the video above), twist your hands out so your palms are facing forward (this is Support Position).
Aim to progress to dips with a weight jacket then on to these:
I love these bad boys! Hang the rings really low (4-6in) to the ground and start in a pushup position on the rings with the straps running up your arms and shoulders, body in plank position (you can start on your knees and progress to toes). Keeping your arms straight (straight!!), allow your arms to go out horizontally either side of you. Hold for 2/3 secs and squeeze your arms together to come back in. Make sure you keep your shoulders above your elbows and your arms straight (otherwise you’re just doing a pushup).
This video is using TRX straps (also worth investigating) and relatively poor technique but gives you some idea
Start in the same position as the flyes but push your arms forward, hold for 2/3 secs and then squeeze to bring back in. I find this really hard, especially on my lower back which often results in my collapsing. As a result, I’ve been working on back-ups, dead lifts etc to strengthen it. In terms of form, aim to keep your body in the same position throughout the exercise so it’s only your arms that change angle as they go forward and back to vertical.
Mental video here:
Front & Back Lever
Levers are probably my weakest area because, like everyone: we all have our weak areas, my lats are my weakest muscles and are receiving a lot of attention from me at the gym and on the rings.
Back lever (awesome video as it has other preparatory work):
Front Lever (I’m a big fan of Sam’s work – checkout his videos of doing Cyr Wheel!):
This video will get you doing muscleups in no time (though I would suggest that the guy has his rings too far apart in transition from pullup to dip and you’d do well to keep them closer to your body – aim to have your hands touching your body all the way through).
I strongly recommend you checkout Strength Project. They have loads of inspirational stuff and awesome tutorials.
Barstarzz – Another essential channel and website (and Instagram actually)
Ring Fraternity - Actually discovered these guys putting this together and their tutorials on YouTube are awesome! Checkout the Muscleup one.
There are loads of other exercises and stuff to do but I’ve found that having too many results in me not doing any, so I’ve put down a few here to get you going.
Let me know how you get on and share the videos!
Should I go to Change Phenomena 2012?
The incredibly popular and successful hypnotism conference “Change Phenomena” is happening once again this year on the 19th May in London, UK.
I haven’t been before and it occurred to me, having largely stopped hypnotising people these days, that I may not be the only one’s trying to find an excuse to go but having thoughts and doubts about how I can justify the cost. [NOTE: The awesome guys running the conference have actually kept the early bird discount going, so if you’re quick you can save 10% on the full ticket price!]
In the end I decided to write out some of the main questions that I thought people might be thinking about and then talk to Anthony Jacquin about them. Rather conveniently, there are five:
- Is it aimed at street/stage hypnotists or hypnotherapists?
- Is it for beginners?
- Is it for those with experience?
- Is it just another opportunity for them to sell me their next product or course?
- Is there anything new for those who’ve been before?
Before I dive into the questions, Anthony and I had a really great chat about Change Phenomena conferences past and present and I hope to be following up this post with another discussing some of the items that Anthony and I covered about the guys speaking and demonstrating this year that isn’t already on the Change Phenomena event details page. A kind of exclusive for me I guess! Exciting!
Is it aimed at street/stage hypnotists or hypnotherapists?
If you’ve seen my YouTube channel, you’ll be in no doubt that I (used to) do a fair amount of street hypnosis and while I’ve never done entertainment hypnosis for money, I have cured the odd phobia, overcome smoking addiction and with one particularly pleased client: overcome alcohol abuse through a combination of hypnotherapy and Integral Eye Movement Therapy.
Is Change Phenomena going to help me with my interest in the street/entertainment side of hypnosis or is it going to be more focussed for those in the therapy profession?
Anthony: The initial idea for Change Phenomena was that the vast majority of hypnotherapists do not use or exploit hypnotic phenomena. Now because I am a hypnotherapist that does, I know just how powerful an ideomotor movement can be in a therapy session. So the aim of Change Phenomena is that a) to give therapists an insight into the phenomena of hypnosis and how to use them and b) for people who got an interest – via performance or just intrigue or perhaps done some hypnosis training – Eventually, they get tired of sticking people’s hands to the table and they want to answer the question: “Can you help me with this?” with “Yes!”
So we wanted to pitch the conference right down the middle so that both parties can learn from each other. So, the weight of it leans ever so slightly towards therapeutic applications but we always have a performers slot and personally I would expect everyone to benefit from all of talks. I have no doubt that the therapists in the first year [Change Phenomena 2010] that the therapists benefitted from James Brown‘s talk even though he had the performers slot. Equally, I would expect that the performers like Mike Stoner or whoever’s got into it via impromptu hypnosis to benefit from listening to Jørgen Rasmussen because his thinking is just so original and out of the box.
This year, it’s kind of the same thing: Kev’s talk and Marcus’ talk is not about performance, it’s about hypnosis and how it works and what the experience is like, so I expect everyone to be able to benefit. Adam Eason’s talk is about personal application: self-hypnosis. So it could be that people take away some of his self-hypnosis tips and work on themselves, it could be that they can better communicate those ideas and techniques to their clients.
Here’s Jorgen Rasmussen in the DVD trainer from the 2010 event :
I’ve been hypnotising for years, so is it going to teach me something new?
I wouldn’t call myself a master by any means (I actually believe that “master” is a label that only other people – one’s peers in particular – can bestow upon you) and I know that there is both heaps to learn and even more experience to develop. Coupled with that, the technology (and I don’t mean IT) of hypnosis is constantly developing and evolving (e.g. Head Hacking’s “AI” model or James Tripp’s “Hypnosis Without Trance”), so there is undeniably a great deal for me to learn. That said, I don’t consider myself a beginner so I don’t really want to be spending lots of time and money going over old stuff (though from time to time a review of the basics is most beneficial).
And what about all those professional hypnotherapists out there, keen to learn something new to bring to their clients? Surely Change Phenomena isn’t going to provide them with these new therapy tools, is it?
Anthony: One of the things we ask the speakers to do is to talk about their contemporary ideas and applications. So I’m expecting everyone to demonstrate some of their techniques and do that in such a way that the audience can take away those techniques and use them. We specifically ask people to speak who we think are doing something in their own field that is kind of at the cutting edge in terms of application. There are not many hypnotherapists that work in the way that Barry Thain does. Very very few who use hypnotic phenomena in that fashion. Yes there are sports psychologists and hypnotherapists within sport, there are not many people using it in the way that Gary [Turner] does with post-hypnotic suggestions that are going to be triggered during fights.
So is it going to teach you something new? Yes. Because, you simply won’t have heard this material before for start.
Is it for experienced hypnotists and hypnotherapists or can anybody benefit?
In contrast to those who have been learning and practicing hypnosis for years, it is equally important to acknowledge and include those who are just starting out on the voyage of discovery that is the human mind. Those studying psychology, or those looking to become hypnotherapists and change workers or even those looking to make a career as a stage or show hypnotist. Or perhaps those, like myself, who have an interest in it and want to find out a bit more.
Is Change Phenomena 2012 going to be too advanced for them?
Anthony: [Change Phenomena] doesn’t presume you have a huge amount of knowledge. People who are less experienced: I think it will give them a good starting point into the realities of being a practitioner of hypnosis. So they’re less likely follow some of the false leads and paths that perhaps don’t have that much utility when you actually come to practicing this stuff. I’m expecting everything to be easily understood and of practical value.
It’s not about “advanced” hypnosis. I’m not a big believer in “basic” or “advanced” when it comes to hypnosis. I’ve been on this journey myself and performance stuff has helped me in a sense that communicating in clear language that a child could understand is more effective than some of the more complex language and technique we use. So even if someone was a beginner, I would still expect them to benefit from this conference.
On a personal note, having discussed the line up and expectations of the day with Anthony, I would strongly recommend anyone who has some basic learning and hypnotised a couple of people to come. If you’re just starting out on the hypnosis journey and you’re looking for some training and education to get you started then of course you’ll get value and learn stuff, but it might make more sense to you once you’ve had some training and a bit of experience of being a/the hypnotist.
Is it just another opportunity to sell me on the latest course/product/coaching?
This is born of the fact that there are so many “me-to” people out there and hearing horror stories of horribly expensive (relatively speaking) seminars with all sorts of “special” or “celebrity” speakers where they take your money and then proceed to spend the next two days (or two hours or however long the seminar is) trying to sell you onto their even more expensive “mentoring” course or getting you to buy their £5000 “guaranteed success” hypnosis product…
Call me suspicious, burnt or just cheap, I have no interest in, or respect for, people who go about making a living that way, so just how much selling is going to be happening at Change Phenomena?
Anthony: No. Because selling from the stage is banned at Change Phenomena.
The speakers will have a stand, they can sell their products during the breaks or at lunch at discounted prices, but there is no effort [to be] made to sell from the stage.
So there you go. No selling from the stage and if you’ve been toying with the idea of investing some of their products, this event might be the perfect opportunity to meet them in person AND get their stuff at a discount!
I’ve been before so is there going to be anything I’ve not heard before?
Quite a straight forward question: It’s an annual event and this is the third years Change Phenomena has run in London.
I’ve been before (well actually I haven’t because it’s clashed with other stuff, but I would have if I could have), so has the content changed? Is there going to be new and interesting learning worth £100? [BTW, if you’re quick, they’re still running the 10% discount even though it’s past the “early bird” discount period]
Anthony: Yes. We’ve got five new speakers speaking on topics that have never been covered before from across the spectrum of practical applications. So it will definitely be worth returning.
Barry is the only “clinical” hypnotist in the country Adam has the best selling self-hypnosis products in the country, Gary is a 13 times world champion who uses this by himself and others and Harry is a very successful performer!
Seems like a whole lot of interesting people and perspectives and I’d be very interested to see what they all have to say and demonstrate!
So, am I going to Change Phenomena 2012?
So after all that: Yes, I’m certainly going.
Despite having given up hypnosis, I’m still interested in how and why it works and I actually think that this event is precisely what I want: It’ll give me new ideas and insights into hypnosis and how our minds work in and around hypnosis and it’ll be interesting to see some of the hypnosis world’s masters talking about and demonstrating their techniques. It’ll also give me a good opportunity to catch up with some old friends and make new connections with some of the leading hypnotists in the UK!
If I’m honest, it seems that a year off hypnosis (has it really been a year!?) is a long time in the industry these days and there have been loads of major advances and idea progression in the industry. Maybe I’ll have to start sticking stuff on my Hypnosis YouTube channel again…
When is Change Phenomena Happening?
Change Phenomena is happening on the 19th May 2012
Where is Change Phenomena Happening?
Lecture Theatre 1,
New Hunts House
St Thomas Street
Please note the lecture theatre has changed to Lecture Theatre 1 rather than Theatre 2.
Doors open at 9am. The welcome begins at 9.30am sharp. The event finishes at 6.45pm. Refreshments and a finger buffet lunch are provided throughout the day.
I am told to expect to head to a nearby pub afterwards with the speakers for a bit of refreshments and fun.
Book you place now and please remember to let them know that you heard about Change Phenomena here at benwhite.me because then I know that you actually find this stuff interesting and useful and I’ll keep doing it. I don’t get paid for this you know!
Making a princess cake from scratch…
…was a tough challenge to set myself for my daughter’s 5th Birthday party.
I hunted for a recipe or in fact recipes around the internet and they all either lead to spam sites or overly complex and just-plain-weird sites.
But I did it in the end.
I should point out (in case it wasn’t obvious from the photo) that I’m not a professional cake maker; I’m just a regular dad.