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


Quick Communication Tips for the Holiday Season

Quick Communication Tips for the Holiday Season

Communication stress and communication fatigue are real things, and they are rife during this time of year.

This season can trigger a lot of communication stress and fatigue. #communication #stress #Christmas Click To Tweet

This time of year brings pressure to interact, be social, and put on a display of happiness in our words and actions. Even if you’re feeling very merry indeed (I’ve been feeling quite Christmassy this year), you’ll probably also be strained and snappy every now and then. There’s only so much socializing, chatting, talking, networking, and well-wishing we can do before we get worn a bit threadbare. Here are a few tips to help you remain sane and fit for human interaction during this season:

1. Don’t feel obligated to do Christmas Activity XYZ just because everyone else does.

The sheer amount of engaging we do during the holiday season can be draining. If there is some kind of social activity that you find really saps your mental energy, feel free to bow out. As much as I like receiving Christmas cards, I hate writing and sending them so much that I felt like an absolute fraud every time I sent one out. I don’t send them anymore. I also don’t attend every party I’m invited to, even if I’ve got “time” in my schedule for them.

Here are some more of my opt-outs: Attending big parties in cramped quarters is like running a gauntlet for me, and I find it hard to have decent conversations with people there. So I don’t go to very many, instead preferring really small gatherings with just a couple friends. Ugly Christmas Sweater thing? Nope. Not doing it. But I’ll happily make jokes about yours.

The social pressure to take part can really drain us of the bandwidth necessary to connect meaningfully with people. Pick and choose what you’ll participate in with the confidence that gracefully bowing out of certain things doesn’t make you an antisocial curmudgeon. It will actually help you be more engaged and present in the things you do take part in.

2. Recognize that sometimes more interaction is what you might need.

We’ve all been there – wanting to crawl under the covers and hide from absolutely everyone. But if the urge to hide from the world is making you feel more miserable, then you might actually need to rally your nerve and seek out more interaction, not less. Yes, we all need a break and time to ourselves, but it’s about balance. If you find yourself going too far into hermitude, find one or two people you can go out with (even if it’s just for a walk) to help lift the clouds a bit.

3. Sometimes, the choice you have is between being right and being pleasant.

This is one of my mantras for getting through awkward family or work related parties. If conversations turn heated, don’t worry about being right. It’s a party, not a court trial, and your goal is to survive the conversation with your dignity and relationships intact. Instead, focus on being pleasant and leave the desire to win behind. (Click here for more tips on surviving parties!)

4. Build space for silence.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the noise of the season. Be sure that you protect time in your schedule where you don’t need to talk to anyone. You don’t need to spend the time reflecting or meditating or anything like that – sometimes that can constitute mental noise as well. Just give yourself some time where you can turn your brain off and enjoy something that doesn’t involve talking or socializing. One of my favourite non-talking times is the night where I stay up after everyone else has gone to bed and finish decorating the Christmas tree with the 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice miniseries playing in the background. It’s brainless bliss that doesn’t involve me uttering a single word.*

It's easy to get overwhelmed by the noise of the season. Be sure that you protect time in your schedule where you don't need to talk to anyone. #christmas #communication Click To Tweet

5. Greet people with the expression you feel is right for you, and graciously accept their choice of greeting in return.

This is a source of stress for so many people, and it is totally and utterly unnecessary. There’s more than enough politics in our communication already – don’t add to it by worrying excessively over the best format of your chosen holiday greeting. Most (reasonable) people won’t take offense to you wishing them a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, or other greeting unless one of you is trying to make a point with it. And as far as I’m concerned, the only point worth making is “Hey, I hope this time of year is a happy one for you.” Which is basically the spirit behind any of these greetings. (And if someone greets you with something you didn’t expect and you find yourself flummoxed, you can’t go wrong with saying “Thanks! Same to you!”)

 

I’ll be going quiet on the blog for the next couple of weeks while I unwind a bit. So in the spirit of tip #5, I wish you all Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a bright and beautiful New Year!

 

*With the exception of the occasional expletive whenever I drop an ornament.

 

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.