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: 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 flights to and from Chicago. Exposure helps a great deal in working through this fear. The longer I go between flights, the more anxious I become. When I fly several times in short order, I’m able to get through it fairly 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 with 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?
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.