Let’s face it, technology can be one of those things that adds to our nerves and anxiety – we fear it won’t work; that it hates us; and that the evil gods of tech are waiting for the chance to humiliate us in front of everyone.
The solution is simple. Don’t use technology you’ve not practiced with, for any event that ‘matters’. Professional performers have technical rehearsals and in an ideal world, so should we. There, that’s that dealt with. 🙂
I want to go past the fear-of-tech however, to look at how technology can actually help with nerves and so on.
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The obvious ways – targeted technology
This list tends to be a bit, well, obvious, really. For example, if you’re using a laptop to make a presentation and you turn on ‘Presenter View’ you’ll be much more confident about what you’re saying simply, because your laptop will show you not only the current slide, but also the slide that’s coming up next. I can’t begin to describe how much of a booster that is.
Or there’s always the knowledge that you’re going to be on time for your meeting, because you’ve taken the time to learn how to use your electronic calendar properly – so it gives you appropriately timed alerts for the estimated travel time (plus 10% in case of last minute toilet trips! 😉 ).
How about the confidence that comes from knowing someone has received and read your email? You can get that from a Gmail plug-in or a host of other ways. No anxiety about missed communication!
And what about those situations when you can relax, knowing that you’re going to be able to recognise someone – and have things in common to talk about – when you first meet them because your CRM, or something similar, has found them for you? Trust me, it really takes some of the sting out of networking events and so on!
The big one, for me, however, is knowing that anything I capture or record is going to be available to me anywhere. Like a lot of the people I know, I use Evernote to capture information at the point when I come across it. It works beautifully on my smart-phone, desktop computer, laptop and online. And with the search functions it has, I can be pretty confident that I can not only capture information but I can find it later. That sounds trivial but it means, very significantly, that when I’m in a meeting with someone I can concentrate on them and what they’re saying – I don’t need to devote any of my all-too-limited-head-space to thinking about how to capture information and worry about getting it sorted out later. (Incidentally, knowing that my diary does that is another big plus!)
Recently, I’ve taken this to another level by getting an Evernote Notebook – actual physical paper! Much to the shock of everyone around me, I went old school. If you’ve read the book you’ll know why – because people take better notes by hand than when they’re using computers – but the magic happens when Evernote converts my notes to digital stuff, sharing it magically and even allowing me to search by text, when it converts my handwriting to data. Awesome. Not only is it a productivity booster, but it’s also a real confidence booster! I know, I know, it sounds silly.
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Instead of just learning tech by accident, stop and think for a minute. For something that you do repeatedly, which makes you nervous, or which matters to you a lot and makes you nervous, what one thing would make life easier and your confidence better? Then search for it on google. You’re bound to find a life-hack or gadget or trick that does what you need.
Then learn it!
Yeah, I know, I’m stating the obvious but we often get so far inside a problem we don’t see the obvious solutions like other people can from the outside.
The not-so-obvious ways
Mastery breeds confidence. Knowing that you’ve got something sorted makes you feel good. Knowing that you’ve got your clothing just right does it, and so does knowing that you’ve got a piece of technology or some technique under your belt. Confidence transfers. Even if you are completely screwing up at X, if you know you’ve got Y absolutely nailed it helps you handle things. It’s not a pure, 100% transfer, of course, but it certainly helps.
Yes, I know, being competent at non-tech things works just as well, perhaps even better. For example, knowing that I’ve been a good father to my daughters equips me to handle some negative feedback from clients etc. I’m just concentrating on tech here because it’s relatively easy to master a few tech tricks – and because they’re more related to productivity at work than some other stuff. 🙂
There’s also the ‘insider advantage’. What’s that? It’s not a proper jargon term, ‘cos I’ve just invented it. It’s my term for the slightly smug feeling you get when you can do something other people can’t. I’m not saying I’m a nice man for feeling it, but there’s nothing quite like boosting your confidence at work when a co-worker comes over and asks for your help to handle something “because you know about this stuff”.
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It’s nice to be known for something, so take some time to figure out what would be useful. Then learn it. You’d be surprised how easy it is to learn tech stuff when you can find a good YouTube vid and play it over and over. Don’t forget you can pause it while you carry out the instruction. I’m lucky here, in that I’ve got two monitors to my computer and I use one to show the video while I try it out, live, on the other monitor. I recognise I’m lucky, but just pausing the video every now and again works almost as well.
And remember – baby steps. Use a step-by-step plan and break things down. When you master something, stop and celebrate, even if it’s only a small step forward. Rome wasn’t built in a day and you’ll not be a tech wizard in a day… a week maybe 😉