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


Quick Communication Tips for the Holiday Season

Quick Communication Tips for the Holiday Season

Communication stress and communication fatigue are real things, and they are rife during this time of year.

This season can trigger a lot of communication stress and fatigue. #communication #stress #Christmas Click To Tweet

This time of year brings pressure to interact, be social, and put on a display of happiness in our words and actions. Even if you’re feeling very merry indeed (I’ve been feeling quite Christmassy this year), you’ll probably also be strained and snappy every now and then. There’s only so much socializing, chatting, talking, networking, and well-wishing we can do before we get worn a bit threadbare. Here are a few tips to help you remain sane and fit for human interaction during this season:

1. Don’t feel obligated to do Christmas Activity XYZ just because everyone else does.

The sheer amount of engaging we do during the holiday season can be draining. If there is some kind of social activity that you find really saps your mental energy, feel free to bow out. As much as I like receiving Christmas cards, I hate writing and sending them so much that I felt like an absolute fraud every time I sent one out. I don’t send them anymore. I also don’t attend every party I’m invited to, even if I’ve got “time” in my schedule for them.

Here are some more of my opt-outs: Attending big parties in cramped quarters is like running a gauntlet for me, and I find it hard to have decent conversations with people there. So I don’t go to very many, instead preferring really small gatherings with just a couple friends. Ugly Christmas Sweater thing? Nope. Not doing it. But I’ll happily make jokes about yours.

The social pressure to take part can really drain us of the bandwidth necessary to connect meaningfully with people. Pick and choose what you’ll participate in with the confidence that gracefully bowing out of certain things doesn’t make you an antisocial curmudgeon. It will actually help you be more engaged and present in the things you do take part in.

2. Recognize that sometimes more interaction is what you might need.

We’ve all been there – wanting to crawl under the covers and hide from absolutely everyone. But if the urge to hide from the world is making you feel more miserable, then you might actually need to rally your nerve and seek out more interaction, not less. Yes, we all need a break and time to ourselves, but it’s about balance. If you find yourself going too far into hermitude, find one or two people you can go out with (even if it’s just for a walk) to help lift the clouds a bit.

3. Sometimes, the choice you have is between being right and being pleasant.

This is one of my mantras for getting through awkward family or work related parties. If conversations turn heated, don’t worry about being right. It’s a party, not a court trial, and your goal is to survive the conversation with your dignity and relationships intact. Instead, focus on being pleasant and leave the desire to win behind. (Click here for more tips on surviving parties!)

4. Build space for silence.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the noise of the season. Be sure that you protect time in your schedule where you don’t need to talk to anyone. You don’t need to spend the time reflecting or meditating or anything like that – sometimes that can constitute mental noise as well. Just give yourself some time where you can turn your brain off and enjoy something that doesn’t involve talking or socializing. One of my favourite non-talking times is the night where I stay up after everyone else has gone to bed and finish decorating the Christmas tree with the 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice miniseries playing in the background. It’s brainless bliss that doesn’t involve me uttering a single word.*

It's easy to get overwhelmed by the noise of the season. Be sure that you protect time in your schedule where you don't need to talk to anyone. #christmas #communication Click To Tweet

5. Greet people with the expression you feel is right for you, and graciously accept their choice of greeting in return.

This is a source of stress for so many people, and it is totally and utterly unnecessary. There’s more than enough politics in our communication already – don’t add to it by worrying excessively over the best format of your chosen holiday greeting. Most (reasonable) people won’t take offense to you wishing them a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, or other greeting unless one of you is trying to make a point with it. And as far as I’m concerned, the only point worth making is “Hey, I hope this time of year is a happy one for you.” Which is basically the spirit behind any of these greetings. (And if someone greets you with something you didn’t expect and you find yourself flummoxed, you can’t go wrong with saying “Thanks! Same to you!”)

 

I’ll be going quiet on the blog for the next couple of weeks while I unwind a bit. So in the spirit of tip #5, I wish you all Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a bright and beautiful New Year!

 

*With the exception of the occasional expletive whenever I drop an ornament.

 

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.