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


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.

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: Business behaviour

How Corporate Sponsorship Can Teach Us Better Communication

Lauren MCing the Western Sponsorship Congress
Lauren MCing the Western Sponsorship Congress (a bit blurry, but you get the idea!)

 

I had the pleasure of being Master of Ceremonies at the Western Sponsorship Congress on November 23 & 24th. MCing is delightful – it really is heaps of fun helping delegates at an event relax, connect, and engage with the program and with each other. It also positions me to meet the interesting, smart people attending and participating in the event.

But MCing the WSC had an additional advantage – I was able to sit in on some outstanding sessions with great takeaways about the sponsorship side of corporate partnerships and communication.

Even though the context was corporate sponsorship, the ideas that many speakers touched on reflect principles of communication and speaking that apply across different industries. I’m keen to share them with you. Here were my top takeaways from the Western Sponsorship Congress:

Honesty, integrity, and authenticity can (and should) be achieved in communication even when pursuing personal or business advancement goals.

Just because you are connecting with someone in order to achieve a goal like brand recognition, better sales, or some form of personal gain doesn’t mean that the communication and connection can’t be real and full of integrity. Many of us are deeply cynical consumers – if a person or business might gain from interacting with us, there’s a knee-jerk reaction that assumes their message or efforts are somehow phony.
This is a win-lose mentality, one where we see everyone as being out to get us. But it’s a mentality that is fostered in a culture where every second bit of information is an advertisement and two thirds of your social media feed features someone presenting a dishonestly polished version of their life. This breeds cynicism in communication, and it’s up to the communicator to overcome that.

While the corporate presenters at the WSC were very up front that their sponsorship campaigns were done with an eye on the ROI, they focused even more attention on the other reasons for their sponsorship activities – creating a positive corporate culture, engaging their employees in meaningful and restorative activities, making a real difference to a group of people or a cause or a social good. Showing their heart and putting those messages out to the public help them rally attention to the causes they sponsor and, of course, gives their brand a positive image at the same time. This is win-win. Authentic communication (showing your sense of humour, highlighting the people behind your business, sharing the causes you support and the actual impact your support had) helps you get across the heart of your message. Integrity allows you to be up front and objective of the economic gains you or your business will make from the interaction. These two things together create an atmosphere of honesty that drastically helps overcome any cynicism in the person you are communicating with.

The people, associations, organizations, and causes you align with communicate something about your own values and beliefs. Choose carefully and don’t align with things that contradict what you do or stand for.

This is very much related to the point above, but it’s more cautionary. When you decide to chum around with someone, or toe a certain party line, or support a certain cause, it needs to be in alignment with what you do and who you are. If there is a disconnect, people will pick up on it. Sometimes they might just shrug and say ‘you do what you gotta do.’ Sometimes the disconnect can be compartmentalized, isolated, and explained or justified – lawyers have to do this a lot. But sometimes the disconnect is just too glaring to be ignored. When this happens, your authenticity, honesty, and integrity will be questioned and cynicism about your motivations will be fostered. For an outstanding example of this, check out one of Dr. Yoni Freedhoff’s posts about some of the sponsors of a medical conference on obesity. If you pull that kind of crap, people will question everything you have to say.

It’s all about your audience.

This is a communication principal near and dear to my heart. Your audience’s interests are number one in their mind. You need to communicate about the things they care about. If you are trying to persuade someone to take action, don’t tell them how much you’ll benefit from their participation in your business or your cause. Instead, tell them what they’ll get out of it. How they’ll gain, how they’ll feel, what they’ll experience. Weave yourself into your audience’s story, and describe the outcomes they can expect. Yes, it’s important to show your heart and soul, to let people know why you feel a certain way or believe in a certain thing, but once you give them a glimpse of you, you need to turn the attention on to them. That’s where connection really happens – when we see a bit of ourselves in what a person is saying.

There was more covered during the congress, for sure, and I covered many pages with notes. But these are the things that came up again and again in multiple presentations. I may not be a part of the sponsorship industry, but I still learned a lot from it and am glad to share some of it with you. And it goes to show that every group, industry, event, or situation can contain lessons about how we communicate and connect with one another.

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.