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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


Equivocation in the wake of Charlottesville

Equivocation in the wake of Charlottesville

It’s called “equivocation.”

What Trump was doing in those two press conferences since Charlottesville – the rhetoric he’s using is called equivocation.

Equivocation is a logical fallacy that uses vague language to hide meaning or to avoid committing to a point of view or stance. You see it used frequently in politics when a politician is trying to appeal to everybody, or – more frequently (and most certainly in this case) – afraid of upsetting a significant number of their supporters.

It also allows the equivocator to avoid counterarguments, to dance around hard questions like “was it terrorism” without giving a committed response.

Let’s look at just a couple of examples from the August 15th press conference*:

“There was terrible violence. On many sides. On many sides.”  Equivocation.

“You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now.” Equivocation.

“So, this week it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder is it George Washington next week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after?” More equivocation, with a side of slippery slope fallacy thrown in for good measure.

Equivocation waters down statements made about a specific issue. By talking about violent acts coming from the counter-protesters in the same breath as those coming from the alt-right, it lets him avoid the real subject: that the rally and its resulting violence were driven by the organized actions of white supremacists.

Some of his equivocations centered on who was perpetrating the violence. Others were attempts to create uncertainty about the real point of the rally, namely the comments regarding the statue of Robert E. Lee. Recognize statements like these for what they are: misdirections and clumsy red herrings thrown out to lure our attention away from what really matters.

Trump’s brand of equivocation also seeks to absolve or diminish the actions of one group by pointing the finger at someone else and chanting, school-boyish, “see, but they’re doing it too!” It’s like a five-year-old tattling “Bently hit me!” after he first pushed Bently over and kicked sand in the kid’s face.

Trump and his mouthpieces will attempt to hide these equivocations by saying that he’s just telling the truth, looking at facts, or – to steal the tagline of one of Trump’s preferred sources of infotainment – presenting the “fair and balanced” view.

You don’t need to equivocate to look at both sides of a story, to tell the truth, or to look at facts. You don’t need to absolve one group of inappropriate or harmful actions to condemn another. With situations like this, it’s important to keep the focus where it belongs, clearly, plainly, and with absolute sincerity.** And in this case, with the abundance of videos evidence of what was going on at this event, it is very clear where our focus should be.

Within politics, equivocation is the tactic of cowards and deceivers. It’s the slippery way out, the easy road when a leader’s beliefs, fears, or position makes the hard path too intimidating to stomach. Sometimes it’s a difficult tactic to spot. In this situation, however, it stood at a podium and brayed angrily for all the world to see.

So see it, and recognize it for what it is.

 

*Click here to read a full transcript of the press conference.

**That was a big strike against Trump’s August 14th statement. His distinct personal style and habit of saying whatever pops into his head (along with the pride he takes in his undisciplined speeches) makes it painfully obvious when he’s reading something prepared for him by his staffers…and even more obvious when he doesn’t really buy what he’s reading.

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: Discipline

What to do when you’re afraid to fly…or speak?

What to do when you’re afraid to fly…or speak?

Photo credit: miikkahoo via Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

 

I have a secret for you:

I don’t like flying. 

I don’t like the idea of being in a pressurized tube thousands of feet in the air, hurtling along at ungodly speeds.

I don’t like being trapped in a confined space from which there is no escape.

I don’t like turbulence.

I really don’t like the feeling of being utterly helpless in my seat, unable to pilot the craft, but absolutely convinced that things would be much better if I was in the co-pilot’s seat.*

And while I can usually maintain my composure on a flight, there have been times on particularly bumpy rides when I’ve had to grip my husband’s hand tight, and even a couple episodes of silent tears.

No, I don’t like flying. But I absolutely refuse to let my anxiety about flying limit my ability to take advantages of the opportunities and experiences that flying enables. 

In the space of just a few weeks, I’ve flown to Las Vega, Fort St. John, and Chicago. All of these trips were amazing. All of them gave me the opportunity to meet and connect with people, share experiences and knowledge, and see new and interesting things.**

And the more I fly, the less I fear it. I was even fairly composed when it came time for my solo flight from Chicago back home. Exposure helps a great deal in working through this fear. The longer I go between flights, the more anxious I become. Do it several times in short order, and I’m able to get through it relatively easily.

Once I’m up in the air, and my amygdala tries to claw its way into my consciousness with visions of horrible, terror-filled final moments, I help quell it by consciously (and sometimes vocally) marveling at just how amazing the whole thing is.

Isn’t it amazing that humans were able to figure out how to do this? Isn’t it amazing that we can actually keep a thing this size airborne? Look at the patterns of farm fields, at that mountain, at that snaking river, don’t they look amazing from this high up? 

Yes, this strategy of choosing to be amazed instead of frightened feels completely fake at first, but if I keep it up I actually start to believe it. I start noticing things instead of living inside my own head, staring blankly at my own anxiety. I start to settle down, and even to enjoy myself.

If speaking gives you the same jolt of fear that flying gives me, don’t avoid it. Expose yourself to it as much as possible, even if it’s in a tiny gesture like voicing your opinion in a meeting or standing up to ask a speaker a question. Drown out your anxious thoughts with thoughts of wonder or amazement, or simply by noticing interesting things around you. Isn’t it amazing that everyone is here on a common purpose? Isn‘t it incredible that we’re able to videoconference in people living halfway around the globe? This is incredible – these people genuinely want to hear what I have to say, and I have this amazing opportunity to say it to them. This remote presenter actually vibrates when I only have two minutes left in my talk – this is the best gadget ever!”

These tactics might sound overly simple or silly, but they really do help. You might not eliminate your anxiety (I still get a bit nervous when I fly), but you will help work through it. And by doing that you’ll be sure that you never miss out on the opportunities and experiences that public speaking enables.

 Click to Tweet: Don’t let the fear of speaking limit the opportunities and experiences public speaking creates.

*This notion is complete nonsense. I have no idea how to fly a plane. It does, however, say something about my latent control-freak nature. 

**This is also why this blog has been relatively quiet over the past month or so.

Spending more time worrying about your speech than working on it?
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