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: 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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