Bouncing Back from having a Bad Boss

Protecting yourself and creating a healthier dynamic in the workplace.   A post by Matthew Hill

I recently coached a number of working heroes who had one thing in common. They suffered with challenging and irritating bosses.

In this post we look at 6 ideas that will help you protect yourself from hurt and manage this, the most draining of scenarios.

1. Find your purpose – How can you strengthen yourself from the inside?

Individual resilience and wellbeing increases when you understand the “why" of your job and consciously connect with your calling and motivation. Here is a very simple coaching exercise, best done with a friend that may surprise you as you uncover the power of your “mission”. Answer the following questions about yourself and answer the questions as you hear them. Whilst there are no right and wrong answers in this exercise about a third of the time you will mess it up, some of the time you will get an OK result and, if you're lucky, you may reach a golden answer first time.

a) Who are you?

b) What do you do?

c) Who do you do it too?

d) Why do you feel that you do it?

e) What benefit is it to those that you do it too?

This is a powerful way of shaping your mission, purpose and raison d’etre. When you next face one of those tough moments, remember that you are a front-line working hero with a valid purpose can be of great value and support.

Regain your power

Regain your power

2. The gratitude list – This simple coaching exercise is extraordinarily powerful. Each day take a blank sheet of paper and write down 50 new things that you are grateful for or appreciative of. Big things, small things – anything. It might take you 40 minutes the first day and I want you to repeat it with a fresh white sheet of paper every morning. In a week’s time you will have a completely different energy. You will have a powerful list that flows easily. You will remember just how amazing life is.

Additional parts of the same exercise include writing down 50 skills that you have and 50 achievements that you have accomplished.

3. Detach detach detach – It is so very important that you learn to protect yourself by dissociating from the barbs, slights and insults that your boss articulates. You must isolate yourself from the negative energy and stop engaging whilst wearing your heart on your sleeve. There is a mantra that helps. It is a cynical one but effective in this circumstance. “Life is empty and meaningless and the fact that life is empty and meaningless is, of itself, empty and meaningless!” Repeat it 10 times before you go into the next negative meeting with your boss and treat yourself to an inner smile as you realise this crazy mantra is protecting you from harm as it builds distance and defense from attack and raw emotion.

4. Neutrality – Most expedient humans get through life using their primitive brains and jumping to conclusions, leaping to interpretation, and rushing to label. For some, it is the only exercise they get!

A better way, and following on from point 3, is to neutralise your perspective. Be a boring policeman with a notebook describing exactly the facts in front of you. Using your perceptions, describe what you see and what you hear. Smile as you begin to appreciate the boring nature of your inner voice. Being bored is better than being emotionally beaten up.

5. Projection is dangerous. You do not know what is going on in your bosses mind. You do not know about the baggage they carry around with them. You do not know of their past suffering. It is then pointless to project and set the standard for perfection that doesn't exist in the commercial world or the public sector.

They are human.

They're doing their thing for many invisible and unknown reasons. We do not have to project our own fears onto them. We can leave them be. Put some more distance between you and them. Literally imagine they are standing a little further away from you!

6. Write a positive attribute list. If you've only read this post once, point 6 may be a point too far! If you have read it a couple of times and managed to get some distance, protect yourself and to detach, then I will now set you a test.

Take a piece of paper and write down 3 positive attributes of your boss. Do so without any drama in your mind and resist the temptation to interpret, project, label or to judge. If you can write 3 positive things with no discernible increase in your heart rate you are really making progress. The task on day 2 is to extend the list to 5 positive attributes. Work on this every day until you get up to 10. You will be surprised how your energy changes and you might be more surprised to witness the energy of the other person improve in your dialogues and encounters.


So to summarise, whilst difficult people are difficult, you can protect yourself by peeling off the labels of meaning that you have put onto them. As you detach and put some distance between you and them, you create a healthy space in which to be neutral, be yourself and to explore the positive possibilities of your potential interactions.

Rise above the fray. Be a better and resilient helicopter pilot hovering above them. You are away from the drama and can enjoy your job as you rediscover the authentic and healthy you.

The you that is protected and distant from your boss. Welcome back – you are now a high-functioning individual working hero again.

Matthew Hill trains groups in Assertiveness and Personal Power.

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Presentation Disasters and 5 tips to help YOU not make them. Part 1

  by Matthew Hill

The gap between a person's brain, intellect and expertise and their ability to communicate even a small part of this wisdom to an audience can be wider than the Grand Canyon. I remember meeting one of the deepest thinkers on educating people that the UK has ever produced. He was also one of the worst public speakers an audience has ever had to endure. This irony continues to buzz around my mind.

Below are 5 ideas that you can apply to make sure no one says about YOU, “They seem to really know their stuff. It's a pity their attempt to convey it to the audience is a total failure!”

1. It's not about you – whilst you are the star, standing under the light, mic in hand and dressed to kill, the point of the presentation is to align your information and message to the desired outcomes of the majority of your audience.

Useful questions before you present might be, “What is their level of knowledge?" “What do they expect today?" “What do they want from this session?" And, finally, “What do they really need?"

presentation skills training

Step up and present

Before you write a word of your presentation, ask these questions and be mindful of the answers. Also implied in their response is bonus information – What they absolutely DON’T want you to speak about.

2. First impressions last – I once tripped over on a stage in Milan in the style of Charlie Chaplin and raised an embarrassingly large laugh from the audience. Unfortunately that was not my intention and things did not flow smoothly from that point on.

An audience will have read your profile and possibly check you out on LinkedIn. They are making an active and tough judgment of you based on your physical appearance. If you are scruffy, ill-prepared to deal with technology, hesitant and showing non-verbal signs of stress, anxiety and fear it is no wonder that the audience will disengage from your private greatness and let their minds wonder to other topics (probably sex and shopping.)

What does it take to make a fantastic first impression?

Dressing one level smarter than your audience, dry cleaning your dark suit, investing in a decent haircut, considering replacing your glasses with contact lenses, practicing Amy Cuddy’s power poses and firing your BIG GUNS first. All of these represent a good start.

3. Pleasure or pain? Related to 2. The audience will amalgamate all of the information you are consciously and unconsciously broadcasting and rank you on two exclusive scales.

Power and dominance – your tone, stern look, square shoulders, booming voice and content of doom laden scenarios and facts may give you an impressively high dominance score. Is that what you want?

Likable and trustworthy – A high score on the opposite scale is achieved by displaying charisma, charm, humour, self-deprecation, honesty, integrity and demonstrating your ethical values to the audiences.

Only you can decide which scale is more appropriate your next presentation – Is it time to practice non-verbal charm in the mirror or to rev up your sergeant major impression?

4. Words Words Words – With everything you say you are either engaging more with the audience or distancing them. You may think that filling your presentation with intellectual complexity, esoteric jargon and obfuscating argot will do the job. Wrong – The simpler you are the more you will connect with the audience and the more they will buy what you are selling.

Speed trumps caution

Many presentation coaches warn that excessive speed of presentation will be perceived negatively. This is not the case (with the caveat that you need an audience speaking the same language as you.) As long as you are clear and loud enough your audience will be taken away by the speed at which you deliver your wisdom. Unlike complexity, speed is perceived as a sign of intelligence.

Fluent slick and smooth

Unsurprisingly, a smooth radio delivery will impress an audience. On occasions it will increase your ratings even when you are having an off day, your brain is addled with tiredness or your mind can only manage to operate at half power.

5. Everyone loves a story – Every presentation coach is asked what is the best structure for delivering a presentation. It can be a best man speech, a professor's keynote address at a conference or thanking people at your retirement do. The best way to package information is to give it a familiar dramatic structure – beginning, middle and end, a “V” structure – unleashing tragic chapters that shock your audience followed by an inspiring twist and uplifting ending, or a WW structure like a Dr. Martin Luther King speech that repeatedly takes the audience from the difficult present to a better envisioned future.

Men don't like emotion.

Whilst there are some coal mining villages where men can only cry if they are one kilometer underground, most humans, irrespective of gender, enjoy having their feelings taken for a spin. It is diverting and stimulating and always will be.

Human Rights

Please respect the human right of your audience not to be bored within an inch of their life. Practice practice practice until you are fluent and can lose yourself in a story that entertains even you, the speaker.

And if you are not a natural comedian, a presentation is not the place to begin your new stand-up career.

Good luck with the next presentation. I hope you WOW the audience and they give you a standing ovation.

Matthew Hill is a Trainer, Author and Coach working with international audiences to help them uncover their deeper potential and shine in public.

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Get on the Presentation Fast Train Part 2 – 5 tips to get you applause and success

By Matthew Hill

You have done 5 to 15 presentations and you have overcome your shock and dread.  You are thrilled that people seem to be engaging with your material. But you have yet to experience an ovation. You have not been clapped to the point of personal embarrassment. And you have yet to be pestered to sign a business contract directly after one of your speeches.

How can we change this?

Here are 5 tips to further refine your excellent presentation skills and get you closer to being a commercial presenter that generates warm commercial interest.

1 Identify with your audience – You have less than 10 seconds to verbally connect with your audience. If you don't grab them then some shiny object in their periphery will.

Ask yourself what are they thinking? What are they feeling? And what's top of mind for them NOW? A trick that I use is to make a reference to my journey to the venue, a conversation that morning or some extremely topical news event that I heard about on the radio earlier. This builds a wonderful connection, proves that you are confident enough to spontaneously busk in a presentation and shows that you are professional enough to care.

Always Presenting

Always Presenting

2. My brain hurts – it is tempting because you put so much work into your Ph.D. to give the audience the benefit of your 7 year working process and an insight into the long journey that led you to your 500 page dissertation.

But just DON’T.

Slides full of words, overly complex graphs and a philosopher's lexicon will lead to cognitive overload and the smell of smoke as your audience’s brains are taxed beyond reasonable expectation.

K.I.S.S. – humans can hold 7 or so items in their memory at one time (plus or minus 2.) if you are sending the audience an excess of information to their mental processor they will no longer listen to your message. Whilst complexity seems like a good idea and a badge of credibility, it is more likely to be perceived as a cowardly shield covering up a lack of certainty and confidence about the veracity of your core message.

Steve Jobs, whilst a complex and sometimes unpleasant person, understood that one word and a picture made a memorable slide; that a turtleneck and charisma made up for lots of data and a simple demonstration beats complex theory every time.

3. Selective attention – there is no one setting for attention level for an audience. Monday morning blues, post-lunch carbohydrate low or following the wittiest man on the planet will contribute to your audience NOT giving enough attention to your wonderful show.

Whilst we would love full engagement by everybody all of the time, this is a fantasy that we need to give up. I like my audience to listen with selfish attentiveness  – being stimulated by keywords that bring them back from their daydream and get them to focus on your next 3 sentences. Sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll, money, wealth, health, sleep, infidelity, danger, secret, celebrity, free prizes, death and happiness. These buzzwords, overused by the Internet, bring people's attention back to you, the speaker.

The only difficulty now is following up your buzz word with something that makes it worth while for the audience to stay focused on your presentation.

4. Say, repeat and repeat again – in my early days as a group trainer in global corporations, I would encourage the audience to discuss and share ideas. I made a naive assumption that when one audience member said something intelligent and in a fairly clear way that the rest of the audience words hear, process, understand and remember that nugget of gold.

How wrong I was.

Unless you nail it to their foreheads you cannot assume that the information has gone in.

There's an old army saying from the parade ground that says, “Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell it to them and then tell them what you have just told them.” Whilst that sounded ridiculous when I first heard it, it now makes perfect sense.

Telegraph what you are about to present with hooks, fliers and cut through text. Spell it out in the core of your show and always provide a summary at the end.

5. A Goldfish with ADHT – there is much debate about modern gadgetry, information overload and the competition for your audience’s time. Whilst the population of planet Earth has probably not turning into 30-second listeners, you do need to mix up your delivery to keep people going past about magic 10 minute mark.

Contrasting media – changing from flipcharts to roving microphone to video film clip to a song and summarising with a picture on a PowerPoint will certainly give you full marks for professionalism, variety and ingenuity.

Robbie Williams hit the nail on the head when he said, “Let me entertain you."

I have taken up 3 min of your time and must stop before shiny objects, inappropriate thoughts or the next e-mail ping take you away.

Good luck with your perfect and professional presentations.

Matthew Hill is a Trainer, Author and Coach working with international audiences to help them uncover their deeper potential and shine in public.

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Practical Presentation Skills Part 3 – Become Simply the BEST – 5 Final tips to get you there

By Matthew Hill

What is the worst case presentation scenario you can imagine? Your audience are pointing and laughing at you as if you are tied up in the stocks getting hit by rotten vegetables!

Animation helps

Animation helps

 Ironically, whilst this is one of the top ranked human fears, audiences actually want you to win.

 They are happy if you enjoy the show. It means that they can too. They want you to be witty,   charming and intelligent. They want you to have a good time and to give them a great time.

 Where that phobia becomes relevant is not in the presentation – the trap lies in the preparation of  your presentation.

 In this post we will explore a couple of differences between myth and truth when it comes to giving confident presentations and getting applause and action at the end of your show.

1. Too many wires – The quickest way to lose an audience is to mess up at the beginning. Your computer is off and it takes 3 minutes to get the slides moving; you haven't got the charger wire or adapter and you run out of juice halfway through; you forget your main prop or visual demonstration aid and only remember during the show (this happened to me last summer in front of 300 professionals…); you stumble up the stairs as you take your position on stage; the audio track on your film clip is too soft for people to hear; the lights are so bright no one can see the screen; there is a distracting and irritating noise outside your room; you rushed to get dressed in the morning and your buttons are misaligned or you fail to notice the huge gunshot wound of strawberry jam slowly sliding down your tie.

All these things have happened. And all these things are preventable. Perfect Preparation Prevents pathetically poor performance – this is the 6P truth. Having a laminated list of 20 things that you must check, like a fighter pilot before takeoff, will make you 20 times more reliable. And trust me, it can happen to the best or the most experienced presenters. Versions of all the above have happened to myself and many great speakers. My mistake for many years was to have only a mental list – not so reliable. I now have a card-based list and check through before a presentation as if my reputation depends upon it.

2. Remember or take action? – It is easy to forget that there are different and sometimes competing outcomes that you can go for. Do you want your audience to laugh? Do you want your audience to remember something? Do you want your audience to be emotionally moved? Do you want your audience to consider change? Do you want your audience to take action?

Please feel free to ask these questions now. If the objective is to have your audience retain information you may emphasise key points with repetition, deploy a handy pneumonic, or tell a story, possibly involving a celebrity.

If you wish them to take action you may build up your ”cost of not” argument, the consequences of ignoring your talk and the diabolical future that the audience will then face.

The best example of this I've ever seen for promoting action occurred when I was MC at an awards ceremony in London. One of the prize winners came from a medical company. He came on stage and his acceptance speech started with a question, “How many of you have diabetes at the moment?” Before everyone had had time to feel fear or more than a few brave souls had put their hands up he interrupted the process, “Oh well. It doesn't really matter. In 10 years time most of you will get it!” Stunned silence. But we were totally ready for what he said next and were actively attending to any words approximating to a cure and help for our imminent health crisis.

If you want your crowd to apply your wisdom – then “monkey see, monkey do” is a good way to achieve this. This can be with a live demonstration or a film with commentary. A verbal description of physical action is less powerful and more ambiguous than an accurate depiction of the physical act itself.

Think about the outcome and adjust your presentation accordingly.

3. Mind your language – in other posts we have made it clear that speedy delivery is less of a problem than most presentation trainers acknowledge. If you are fast but fluent this will probably be perceived by your audience as you being intelligent and an expert. The exception to this is in sales part of your pitch, when speed is taken as a sign of nervous deception.

Accent is an interesting one. When you're watching British TV have you noticed how many advertisements have a Scottish actor’s voice. Apparently this is the most attractive and credible accident for selling products in the UK. Similarly any brand from Yorkshire has a thick brown Yorkshire accident that naturally promotes the consumption of tea, cakes and beer.

Other accents have historically caused a problem. In the UK, the Birmingham accent does not always promote credibility and confidence. If you have a pronounced regional or country accent, it is best to draw attention to this early on and get the subject out of the way. Otherwise the audience will spend more time analysing your geographical origins then listening to your message.

Swearing is another counterintuitive phenomena in presentation. One of the most successful presenters of all time is Tony Robbins. He is famous for dropping the F bomb during his 50 hour seminars. It does not seem to have done him any harm. He has the world record for the largest ever one-speaker event – I know, I was there. With a charismatic speaker, swearing is perceived as passion – the presenter losing themselves in their authentic content.

4. You lost me at blah blah blah – if you made a graph of attention over time the average audience low ill happen after about 10 minutes of chat. There is a little miracle that clever presenters use to restore energy and concentration in the audience. They segment the presentation, however long or short, into parts that each contain a clear start, middle and finish. When you telegraph part 2 is coming up or you are approaching the end of the 3rd section, your audience will look up from their iPhones and wait for a summary, a conclusion or a punch line. They will also be ready to absorb the next sentence that will tell them whether they should listen to your new section or go back to texting their friends.

Related to this is the helicopter or microscope. Deductive thinkers will want context and atomic detail before they “buy” you, whilst holistic experiencers will enjoy a high altitude overview of your topic to become engaged. Obviously you will have a mixture of types within your audience and so moving from high-level to detailed and back again is a great way to include everybody sat in front of you.

5. Fake it until you make it – as stated, the audience wants you to be successful. They will enjoy the show if you look like you are enjoying it too. When you think about it that’s wonderful. You are not going to the Coliseum as a gladiator performing in front of a cynical and bloodthirsty crowd that want you to come to a sticky end. An audience wants to be entertained, informed and moved emotionally. That's all you have to do.

It starts with you coming on stage as if you mean it, looking good and smelling good, and getting your first sentence right. Apart from practice, practice and more practice this is about banishing your self limiting beliefs, putting yourself in a peak emotional and mental state and truly believing in what you are speaking about.

One of the best tricks I know for boosting presentation confidence is to give your presentation to someone cynical and asked them to pitch you with difficult questions. If you can defend your case whilst maintaining your cool think how this will benefit you in your actual presentation. You will feel calm because you know you have a water tight defence…and in the Q&A session at the end you know you are more than ready.

I hope this three-part series has been of help to you. Please now go and apply the science and wisdom of presentations to your next show. Maybe, this time, they will give you the standing ovation that you richly deserve.

Matthew Hill is a Trainer, Author and Coach working with international audiences to help them uncover their deeper potential and shine in public.

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Consultative selling is about ENGAGEMENT – Matthew Hill & Ursula Brinkmann

What is your dream sales outcome?  – A Global corporation spontaneously calling you with a warm and friendly offer to buy your premium priced full-service solution for their executive elite?

Does what you’ve just read seem improbable? In fact, it is anything but.

The ladder of engagement ends with the most credible people in your target business sector actively encouraging their high-quality contact list to buy and use you and your services.

It is not a quick journey and it requires plenty of persistence, intelligence and inspiration on your part AND it is entirely possible.

ROS – Return on Sweat – what are you implementing at the moment to fill your business pipeline? Some live follow-up phone calls offering to help people if they have a problem? A Christmas card in December? Or launching a fresh website with moving parts?

Lovely as these things may be, they are not going to fill a sustained and secure business pipeline. They are not going to give you the feeling of being in control. They are not going to propel your reputation and BRAND to the next level.

In this post, we will spell out the pathway to outstanding customer engagement. Please feel free to read on, take notes and, more importantly, take immediate action once you have finished reading.

There are 10s or possibly 100s of high-value customers who will be ready to call you in 2017. Alas, today, they do not know you exist. How will you take steps to help them find you?

The Ladder of Engagement – Step by step

Don’t Know You – in the past, people became famous by advertising, putting brochures in the post or cold calling decision-makers. Today the returns on these crude activities is negligible and anyone attempting an old school marketing campaign will quickly become poorer and disillusioned.

Know You – today it is about getting noticed by being good / great / exceptional, showing / sharing your expertise and connecting with the emotions and issues of your well-funded and needy audience.

The single most effective way I know and use is to secure public speaking opportunities where I have an live platform to point out what the audience does not have, point out the cost of not having it and to talk about where they may acquire it. This rich and warm touch-point is invaluable in building a database of contacts that are warm and responsive.

Another powerful medium for throwing bait to the fish is to post intelligent, ethical and useful thought pieces on the LinkedIn post site, or via a WordPress blog site that has being well prepared for Search Engine Optimisation so that your new audience can find you.

Keywords are the key to ending your obscurity.

Like you – if you are blessed with natural beauty, above-average height or piercing blue eyes much of the job has been done for you already. For the rest of us we can dress like the audience, speak their language and use intelligence, humour and passion to convert an emotionally neutral crowd into people that care what you say next. This applies to a live audience, a webinar broadcast or a piece of marketing collateral. Despite your hesitation, believe me when I tell you, you can demonstrate your personality and wonderful character to powerful effect and deliver your core message well and in an effective way.


Your homework with friends and family is to get a reaction out of them. Sit around the table and attempt to provoke either agreement or intellectual disagreement as you make your case. Do so with sophistication, eloquence and charm.

Trust you – The three pillars of trust are Ability, Benevolence and Integrity. Your success depends upon you knowing your skills, articulating your skills and demonstrating your skills. It requires that you prove goodwill and your desire for mutually beautiful outcomes. The second and last pillars are connected. Are you truly aligned with a healthy purpose and are you consistent with your message? Repetition of your key proposition and the benefits in multiple media, across different channels over a period of time will help people to come to trust you.

Buy from you – at some point we must convert the marketing momentum into the signing of a contract. To make this easier we have split the commercial part into two. We begin with the first sale or transaction. The first coaching hour, the first half day’s training or the first DVD. The skills you need here are to use a process. This requires that you remember a simple closing sequence. If you outline the benefits of what you are providing, pre-empt possible objections with honest and demonstrable outcomes, point out the implications of those outcomes for improving the customer’s life and business and articulate ways to reduce emotional and financial risk, you will be well on the way to winning your next piece of business. Selling is a process not a black art.

Buy more from you – some people say that your first sale can only be called successful when the customer comes back for more. This seems sensible because it means you've delivered what you promised. The investment by you to make this happen is in the quality of the customer experience of your product or service.

Advocate and refer – the Holy Grail of customer engagement happens when you over-deliver so frequently that client’s trust in you becomes unshakeable. They migrate from being distant corporate executives to becoming your raving fans and unflinching advocates of your proposition. Sometimes as active marketers and referrers they will send high-quality business directly to your desk. This is the gold standard of engagement and is what anybody can expect to achieve with excellence, intelligence and openness to critical feedback. You will also require an obsession for improving the quality and customer experience for whatever you deliver.

Do not underestimate the work involved in getting to the top floor. There will be setbacks, disappointments and even betrayals. Other people may sometimes let you down. The one constant MUST be you, your determination, your grinding persistence, your scheduled activity and your openness to constructive criticism. Finally, your willingness to constantly expand and improve upon what you provide in return for the customer’s money will determine you long-term success in business.

To accelerate your journey to the top of the engagement ladder we are running our next  2-Day Consultative Selling Course in Amsterdam 11th & 12th September. Book your ticket at;

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