Public speaking, presentation, and communication coaching and training for professionals and businesses

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CLASS ANNOUNCMENT: Registration for the Winter 2015 Group Class Public Speaking for Beginners and the Truly Terrified is OPEN!

This year I am running two classes of my 8 session public speaking course. This challenging fun, intensive course will enable you to overcome your anxiety, unleash your voice, and create presentations that will capture your audience's attention.

The Tuesday class meets every two weeks from January 26 to April 26, and the Wednesday class meets every two weeks from January 20 to April 20.

Make 2016 the year you finally become the speaker you need to be! Register online now!

Click here to register for the TUESDAY class

Click here to register for the WEDNESDAY class

Full course descriptions are on the registration pages. You can also contact me at 780-966-2401 to register over the phone.

Have questions? Call me at 780-966-2401. I'm happy to discuss your speaking goals and class details!


Lauren's Blog

Thoughts, insights and ramblings on communication, public speaking, and what makes our work and businesses tick


Public Speaking Hacks (A Rant)

Public Speaking Hacks (A Rant)

Photo credit: JeepersMedia via Visual hunt / CC BY

 

My Twitter feed gets filled up with lots of exclamation-mark-heavy headlines about genius ways to “hack” public speaking. “3 Public Speaking Hacks from Top Leaders!” “4 Hacks to Eliminate Fear of Public Speaking!” “The 11 Best Public Speaking Hacks You Will Ever Need (#7 is Pure Genius)!” 

They promise ways to trick your brain, or trick your audience’s brains, or trick up your content in ways that magically transform you from a shivering wreck into a confident dynamo. 

These articles are great Cinderella stories. And I loathe them. 

The very notion of public speaking hacks drives me nuts. It isn’t that all the advice contained within these articles it terrible. Sometimes the techniques are often pretty solid – heck, I even teach variations of them myself.  

No, the problem is in the way the techniques are framed: as easy shortcuts any doofus should be able to accomplish. Any article that describes a skill or technique as a ‘hack’ is making that promise. 

Here’s the rub: finding public speaking techniques that work for you is not like discovering a new use for lemon juice or dryer sheets. Speaking is a deeply personal act, one that’s affected by a lifetime of habits and hangups. To tell someone that good speaking is as easy as simply choosing to relax, smile, and joke around with your audience is doing that person a disservice. When every cell in your hindbrain is screaming to cut and run, relaxing and cracking a joke is neither simple nor easy. Telling someone to “practice your talk” is a facile bit of advice when you don’t acknowledge the mental blocks or time crunches that are preventing them from engaging in that practice. 

That process of learning how to relax requires time and attention. The speaker need to learn why they are tense, what situations trigger their tension, and what techniques seem to help. They need to practice those relaxation techniques over and over in different situations until they’re able to apply them quickly and easily when they’re up at the front of the room giving their presentation. The same goes for practice techniques – you need spend time in a thoughtful trial-and-error process to figure out which practice strategies work for you. Yes, strategies can be taught (I teach a number of practice strategies to my clients), but it takes time and effort to make those strategies work. 

Most public speaking techniques takes a whole lot of time, attention, and patience to implement. Boiling down these processes to pithy little hacks does little more than make people feel like failures because they aren’t able to turn speaking into a task as simple as de-stinking your garburator with a lemon rind. They’re more likely to become dissuaded rather than encouraged. 

There are no shortcuts in public speaking. If you want to become good, you need to play the long game. There’s ways to become more effective or efficient, but you have to be willing to invest time and effort. If you want to improve your speaking, don’t search for hacks. Instead, admit that becoming a good speaking and crafting good presentations takes time and effort. Look for resources that promise “effective” rather than “quick.” Then patiently and gently put in the hard graft necessary to make a real, sustained difference to your speaking skills.  

And take it from someone who’s lived it: the reward of the long game outstrip anything you’ll get from a hack. 

 

Ever tried a trick or hack to help with your speaking? Did it work for you? Use the social share buttons on the left to tell me on Twitter or Facebook!

News, Developments, and Upcoming Talks/Events

  • See me in action at Nerd Nite November 26 at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, AB! How To Lose Friends and Manipulate People: The Fine Art of Bamboozlement (title may change depending on my caprice). Click here for ticket information and to learn more about Nerd Nite.
  • Currently in development - my online digital course "Masterpiece Presentations: Your step-by-step method for creating high-impact presentations"


Monthly Archives: March 2017

The Twin Killers of Business Communication

The Twin Killers of Business Communication

Managers, business owners, and professionals of all stripes take note – there are killers lurking in your communications. They undermine your words, cast doubt on your trustworthiness, and make people question your judgement. They can create breakdowns in communication between team members, between departments, and most certainly between your business and your customers.

The killers’ names are Inconsistency and Incongruity.

Are you afraid? You should be!

 

These two killers feed off one another, creating a rat king of confusion that shakes the trustworthiness of your words. They cause stress, confusion, and uncertainty among the people you are communicating to, whether you are communicating through words, action, or (usually) a combination of both.

Click to Tweet: Inconsistency & incongruity create a rat king of confusion that can kill your communication.

Inconsistency and Incongruity are cousins – related, but not quite from the same family.

Inconsistency happens when “standards” are applied in a non-standardized fashion. It happens when the voice and tone of communication varies so much that readers or listeners have no clue what to expect and no way to predict how they should interpret a message’s subtext1. It happens when communication is sent out willy-nilly with no way to predict when, where, or how a communication may take place.

Incongruity happens when what you’re communicating doesn’t make sense – it doesn’t fit or match with other things related to it, like a vegetarian who goes big game hunting. Incongruity occurs when a business communicates values that clash with one another.

 

An excellent example of these two communication killers comes straight from Facebook HQ and their odd, unpredictable enforcement of community standards in relation to nudity.

Recently, Facebook banned a photographer for posting a gallery featuring unclothed models standing behind mannequins – the kind of plain, plastic mannequin torsos you see on display in a clothing store.

The Facebook community standards state that “we remove photographs of people displaying genitals or focusing in on fully exposed buttocks. We also restrict some images of female breasts if they include the nipples [. . .]. We also allow photographs of paintings, sculptures, and other art that depicts nude figures.”

The photographs that were removed fell within the guidelines of allowable content. There were no exposed genitals, no nipples, and the photographs would fit into any reasonable definition of “art”. Yet they were removed, and the photographer banned from posting for 30 days.

The inconsistency is obvious: they clearly communicate one set of standards, but don’t apply those standards in a predictable way, meaning that “nudity” is really whatever they define it depending on the moods and whims of the people enforcing the standards. The subtext is that

There is also huge incongruity here. The community standards define what is considered “decent” on Facebook. An art project featuring non-sexualized images of women without any exposed genitals or nip-slips is unacceptable, but crap like this is totally OK2. Few people would argue which post takes a more liberal definition of “decent.” This is the vegetarian going big game hunting.

Inconsistency and incongruity can kill your business communication because they foster mistrust and cynicism among anyone who is listening to you. We’ll all slip up and make mistakes on this front every now and then, but if these communication killers crop up frequently, then you’ll need to revisit your communication standards and strategies. Take a hard look at your messages and actions overall and ask yourself the following questions:

What are your business’ values?

What are your business’ standards?

Do the values and standards reinforce one another?

Does your business communicate those values and standards in both your words and your deeds? (Do you do walk the talk?)

If there is doubt, disagreement, or discomfort in your answers to any of the above questions, you can be certain there is inconsistency and/or incongruity in your business’ communications. If this is the case, ask yourself the following:

What message am I really sending by allowing this inconsistency/incongruity to exist?

Click to tweet: What message am I really sending by being inconsistent or incongruous?

Step out of your own head for a moment and try to answer that question from the point of view of your audience. Don’t assume your audience – be they your team members or your clients – sees things your way or has the same context or viewpoint as you. Look at it with fresh eyes. Ask others what they think.

Find those twin killers, and create a strategy and framework for dealing with them. It might be something simple, or it could end up being a major strategic project. Don’t shy away from the work – your credibility and trustworthiness depends on it.

_______

  1. Subtext is the message running in the background, behind the literal words that are being said. It’s what we’re seeing when we “read between the lines.” Subtext is loaded with meaning, such as emotional meanings and implications, and it’s strongly subject to interpretation. There is always, always
  2. If you don’t want to click on the link, here’s a description: it’s a video promo for a spring break at a dirt sports track. It features close-ups of nubile buttocks in barely-there bikinis twerking, bumping, grinding, and rubbing up against one another.

 

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Want more communication insight? Click here to check out my new book, or contact me to discuss how I can help you improve your business’ communication.

How do you define confidence?

How do you define confidence?

Confidence is a subject I get asked about a lot. I’m currently working on a mini-book about that very topic – this blog post is an excerpt from the book draft.   Nearly everybody I work with believes that confidence is something other people have and they do not. When they try to define confidence,… Continue Reading

Spending more time worrying about your speech than working on it?
Sign up for my newsletter and get a free download for strategies and techniques to vanquish your nervousness! Plus, you'll get my latest articles and announcements I only send by email.
I pledge to be 100% spam-free. You can unsubscribe at any time.