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"


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.