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


How Using Dead Languages Brings Life to Your Speech

How Using Dead Languages Brings Life to Your Speech

Advance warning, dear reader, I’m indulging a desire to really geek out on some rhetoric here. I invite you to come along and get your word nerd on with me…

 

I’m currently making a new series of Pop-Up Rhetoric videos (they aren’t released yet, but you can check out other Pop-Up Rhetoric videos on my YouTube channel). These videos bring to life the analyses of 3 political speeches and a presidential debate featured in Appendix 1 of my book.

This project means I’m mired in rhetorical terminology – mostly Latin and Greek. Pathos! Logos! Concessio! Epizeuxis! Using these terms always means risking making people’s eyes cross or putting them to sleep. These were the kinds of terms that high school students were required to memorize in English class, creating an irritable soup of confusion and ennui.

So why do I insist on using them in my videos, my talks, and my training? Why do I talk about Logos instead of logic, or concessio instead of conceding?

I’ve got three reasons.

First, it’s because simplified English translations of these words don’t work very well.

The direct translations tend to be inaccurate – they miss core concepts and usually require lengthy explanations. Dignitas is more faceted and complex than the closest English word ‘dignity’ implies. It’s much easier (and more fun) to say epizeuxis than it is to say “repeat a word over and over with increasing force for vehemence or emphasis.”

Second, using technical terms changes fuzzy, ephemeral ideas into hardnosed tools that can be wielded strategically.

Many of us have a mental block when it comes to developing a strategic approach to speaking. We think that skillful speaking is more alchemy and instinct than careful planning. We spend all our time tweaking the content or memorizing lines than we do figuring out how to use language, voice, and body to give our words bigger impact.

Third, using technical terms helps strip away some of the baggage and pre-conceptions about rhetoric and how it can be used.

Click to Tweet: Technical jargon can help us overcome the baggage of colloquial terms. #communication #lifehack

For example, most people instinctively translate logos into logic, and then confuse ‘logic’ with truth or fact. But logos is less about truth or fact and more about what you choose to offer as evidence or proof based on your audience’s viewpoint. Logos also incorporates how you arrange that evidence within your argument to make it as convincing as possible. Using a logical fallacy is fair game when playing with the logos part of your argument. All those details about logos tend to get lost or overlooked when we call it “logic.”

Similarly, I find people can think more objectively about strategically using emotional hooks in their speech if we talk about figuring out the pathos than if we talk about how to work the audience’s emotions. Working people emotions feels icky and manipulative. But digging into different pathos devices seems more strategic.

Truth be told, I really don’t care if people can remember the technical names of different rhetorical devices and concepts. Heck, I can’t remember them all either – that’s why God made reference books. I’m much more concerned with whether people are able to apply the concepts they carry.

But if you find yourself struggling to get your head into the rhetoric game, or are looking for a way to express or nail down an especially slippery concept, or need to step back and really examine the effectiveness of your presentation, consider putting your toga on and switching over to those good ol’ dead languages. That rhetorical jargon might just help you unlock your genius.

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"


Category Archives: Behaviour

Introvert V. Extrovert: How much does it REALLY matter?

Introvert V. Extrovert: How much does it REALLY matter?

Photo credit: dierk schaefer via Visual Hunt / CC BY

 

When doing an activity that puts you in the spotlight, it seems a given that your personality will have a pretty significant factor in whether or not you enjoy it and how much effort it takes to succeed at it.  When it comes to public speaking, most assume that extroverts are naturally more inclined towards this activity. Those spotlight loving social butterflies have a natural edge when taking the microphone. Introverts, with their quieter, shyer natures, would presumably have to make herculean effort to face down a crowd of people and monologue for 30 minutes.

Or is it the introverts, with their capacity for preparation, detail, introspection, and careful expression, who have the public speaking advantage?

The arguments as to who has the edge change a lot. Some people claim that introverts require vast preparation and memorization while extroverts can simply wing it. Others say that extroverts are out of luck because of their flighty tendencies, while those deep thinking introverts are more likely to captivate the audience with their ideas. Right now, being introverted is somewhat fashionable, and so the prevailing argument as to who makes the better speaker is leaning towards that type.

The problem is that none of these arguments – nor any of the typecasting baggage attached to them – are helpful when working on your speaking skills. Out of all the individuals and groups I have coached and trained in speaking and presentation technique, I have never seen a correlation between aptitude for public speaking and personality type. I’ve watched introverts and extroverts alike shine like diamonds or become shaking messes when speaking to an audience.  Nor does personality type indicate if a speaker prefers the intimacy of a small group or the dynamic energy of a larger audience. These are individual perspectives and experiences that vary widely even among people with similar personalities.

There is one area in which notions of personality type do seriously impact public speaking: in making excuses. With predictable frequency, introversion and extroversion are invoked as excuses to avoid doing the work and taking the risks demanded by public speaking. I’ve had people claim that they can’t speak at a conference or present without a lectern (read: safety shield) because they are introverted.  Others have said that they can’t speak more slowly or can’t restrict themselves to one focused topic because they are extroverts. I’ve also had people present the excuse that to change their public speaking approach or mannerisms wouldn’t be ‘true’ to their personality type, even when those mannerisms get in the way of their ability to communicate with a crowd.

Whenever a pop psychologist assigns certain skills and characteristics to introverts or extroverts, a veneer of credibility is given to these sorts of excuses. We feel justified protecting ourselves from the inherently uncomfortable practice of developing their speaking skills.

But regardless of personality type, public speaking is difficult – full stop. It is a demanding thing to do. Creating a presentation with laser focus and then keeping your brain on task while at the microphone takes huge concentration and discipline. Putting yourself on stage to face potential rejection is nerve wracking – orientation towards introversion or extroversion doesn’t change this. The thing that does make public speaking easier is practice, application, persistence, and guts – none of which are the sole property of any one personality type.

Public speaking isn’t an act of personality – it’s an act of art, of sharing, of instruction, and of performance. Some speakers love the aesthetic part of the speaking; they like playing with words and crafting meaning through tone and expression. Others get a rush from the performance, from feeling and working with the audience. Still others are primarily focused on sharing and instructing – they want to help spread their knowledge or ideas, and public speaking is the best way for them to teach what they know.

CLICK TO TWEET: #Speaking isn’t an act of personality, it’s an act of art, sharing, instruction, & performance. #communication

Skilled speakers obsess less about their personality and more about their talk. They do the hard work necessary to deliver a great presentation. They engage deeply with their content, thinking about it, experimenting with it, practicing and crafting and honing it. They form emotional connections with their audience, deliver deeply thoughtful presentations, engage in entertaining storytelling, and make people laugh, think, and look at the world in new ways.  They are willing to take the risk of discomfort or rejection or failure in order to deliver their message to their audience. And they do this regardless of their introversion or extroversion.

Introvert? Extrovert? It doesn’t matter. Don’t use a label as an excuse. You have something to say, and if your need to say it is strong enough, you’ll push past whatever it is you believe is holding you back.

Some people are just really hard to talk to…

Some people are just really hard to talk to…

    Despite all best efforts, some people are simply difficult to communicate with.  You’ve probably met this person; no matter how hard you try, they seem to miss chunks of conversations.  No matter how clear the note, they still twist the message.  No matter how explicit the instructions, they still manage to screw them up.  It doesn’t seem… 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.