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


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"


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.
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