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

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.

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


The Mighty Reframe

The Mighty Reframe

Photo credit: Tortured Mind via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

 

For several years, my son went to a wonderful daycare. The staff were caring, he had friends to play with, lots of walks and visits to nearby playgrounds, field trips, lots of learning, and just about anything else a preschooler could want in a day. He loved that daycare and enjoyed his time there.

This September, he started kindergarten. He’d no longer be going to daycare, and would be leaving behind a familiar place and people he loved. I was worried about how he’d deal with the transition, about saying ‘goodbye’ to the staff one last time, about what would happen when it sunk in that he wasn’t going back and probably wouldn’t see the other kids again.

When that Last Day came, my son seemed to take it all in stride. As he was leaving, he told the other kids and the staff that he’d be going to kindergarten now. He gave them big hugs, and raced out the door as usual, no tears, no fuss. I, meanwhile, waited for the shoe to drop.

A few days after the Last Day, we drove past his daycare while out running errands.

“Mom,” he piped up from the back seat, “is daycare locked or open?”

“It locked right now, sweetie.”

“Okay.” He paused. “I hate that daycare.”

I paused, shocked. He spoke entirely without malice and as matter-of-factly as though he was saying “I like crayons,” or “gas stations smell weird.” Still, though, I was taken aback that he spoke that way about a place that he previously always loved.

“Don’t say that,” I admonished him without thought. “That daycare was a very good place for you. You had a good time there!”

“Yeah, but now I hate it. I don’t go there anymore. I go to kindergarten. I like kindergarten.”

I was mildly upset by this declaration. After all, my son is normally a very loving little chap and for him to declare that he hated daycare seemed unusually nasty of him. Still, I didn’t make a fuss over it and instead just changed the subject.

This scene repeated itself over the next few days. He would ask a question about daycare – whether it was locked or open, what the staff were doing, what the other kids were doing – and then declare that he hated daycare.

Several days later, a realization struck me. He was reframing.

Reframing is a particularly useful technique I teach people who are anxious about public speaking. My clients and participants learn to manage that anxiety by consciously changing how they perceive the sensations. They learn to look at the physical feelings, such as the pounding heart or fluttering stomach, differently. When giving the talk, they make a point of relating to their audience differently, of seeing their role as a speaker differently. To make this work, you have to repeatedly remind yourself of the new way you are perceiving things, the new way you are choosing to ‘frame’ the experience in your mind.

This is a very conscious action – it takes repetition and effort to bend your brain towards a new way of looking at these situations. And this is exactly what my son ways doing, albeit in the blunter, slightly feral way that is to be expected from a 5-year-old. He was consciously choosing to see his daycare in a different light, not as something he couldn’t have but instead as something he didn’t like and didn’t want anymore. This gave him the mental resources to handle the difficulty of separating from a place, from people, and from friends who had been part of his daily routine for over half his life.

Maybe it’s a marker of my naivety as a young parent that I didn’t figure this out earlier (he is, after all, my first kid). But this realization helped me appreciate how capable kids are at developing their own coping mechanisms. It also reinforced to me how much we choose our reactions by choosing our perceptions.

While I wouldn’t recommend the black-and-white, sour grapes style of reframing my son used, he did a pretty good reframe for his limited experience and emotional vocabulary. And it’s a pretty good reminder for us as adults that we can make a difficult thing easier if we put in the effort needed to see it through a different frame. If a 5-year-old can do it, so can you.

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: April 2017

How are your emails doing?

How are your emails doing?

Has anyone ever told you “don’t take this the wrong way, but…”

Where did your head immediately go upon hearing that statement? I’m willing to bet is was not to a place of productive objectivity.

Email seems to require the “don’t take this the wrong way” disclaimer more than any other form of communication. For many of us, email is the communication method we use more than any other during our workday. And considering how inundated with email we tend to be at the best of times, that leaves a lot of potential for taking things the wrong way.

Whenever we read or write something, we insert tone. Even if you think you are the most objective, neutral writer or reader in the world, you have mannerisms and context that affect the way you “hear” written words. And while you may think that the tone of your words is obvious, you can neither predict nor control the tone perceived by the person at the other end.

On top of misunderstood tone is our tendency to be more aggressive when communicating through a computer. There is something about that protective shield of the screen that lets our inner a**H#!^ out. With email, even nice, measured, even keeled people can be quick to anger. Whether or not we then react by sending a knee-jerk response (emphasis on “jerk”) or simply seethe with irritation for the rest of the day, our reaction to irritating emails can be disproportionately heated.

When dealing with email, a simple question can help get you back on track if a snippy tone or aggressive demand marches its way across your screen:

How can I make this interaction positive or productive?

Click to tweet: How can I make this interaction positive or productive?

It’s a straightforward question that can resolve a whole host of issues. If your main goal is to make an interaction positive or productive, you’ll start to look for ways of working with the person on the other side of the screen rather than butt heads with them through email exchange. Anger, hostility, or imagined offense can’t co-exist with positivity or productivity, so focusing your attention away from the negative and towards the productive can help you salvage the situation.

There are other questions you can ask yourself to keep a clear head about the email you send as well as those you receive.

If you are sending an email, ask: Would I say this to the person’s face?

It can be tempting to say what is on our mind, but you still need to ask “How can I make this interaction positive or productive?” If you wouldn’t say what’s in the email to the person’s face, it is unlikely that you are generating a positive or productive conversation. If you aren’t sure, try reading your email out loud so you can actually hear the words on the screen (what comes out is sometimes a revelation).

If you are receiving an email, ask: what useful information or questions are in this email?

When reading email, keep your focus on the useful parts of the email and gloss over any nasty tone or rude words. Try to read it with a relatively neutral voice. Don’t add inflection or tone that you are not 100% certain exists. If confronted with an overtly rude email, print the email and black out every word that does not productively contribute to the conversation. Then, only reply to the parts of the email that are NOT blacked out.

Also, never respond to an insulting email immediately. I fully realize that this is an obvious piece of advice, but it’s easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment and rap out a inflammatory reply. Take several minutes to cool off, and always, always ask yourself – whether you are writing or reading an email – how can I make this interaction positive or productive?

You’ll be amazed at how well that question can decompress a lousy email!

 

Want some more email tips? I’ve devoted an entire chapter in my book to email! Get your copy of The Handy Communication Answer Book today, flip open to Chapter 5, and start doing email right!

The Handy Communication Answer Book is available through all major online retailers and is in a bookstore near you. Click here to view or order it on Amazon.

Confidence Isn’t Dominance

Confidence Isn’t Dominance

This post is an excerpt from a project I’m currently working on: The Little Book of Big Confidence     Here’s a pernicious myth about confidence:  Confident people are dominant. Utter hogwash. It’s easy to think that dominance indicates confidence. After all, people who speak louder than others, or take up all the space, or… 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.