Public speaking, presentation, and communication coaching and training for professionals and businesses

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


Public Speaking Hacks (A Rant)

Public Speaking Hacks (A Rant)

Photo credit: JeepersMedia via Visual hunt / CC BY

 

My Twitter feed gets filled up with lots of exclamation-mark-heavy headlines about genius ways to “hack” public speaking. “3 Public Speaking Hacks from Top Leaders!” “4 Hacks to Eliminate Fear of Public Speaking!” “The 11 Best Public Speaking Hacks You Will Ever Need (#7 is Pure Genius)!” 

They promise ways to trick your brain, or trick your audience’s brains, or trick up your content in ways that magically transform you from a shivering wreck into a confident dynamo. 

These articles are great Cinderella stories. And I loathe them. 

The very notion of public speaking hacks drives me nuts. It isn’t that all the advice contained within these articles it terrible. Sometimes the techniques are often pretty solid – heck, I even teach variations of them myself.  

No, the problem is in the way the techniques are framed: as easy shortcuts any doofus should be able to accomplish. Any article that describes a skill or technique as a ‘hack’ is making that promise. 

Here’s the rub: finding public speaking techniques that work for you is not like discovering a new use for lemon juice or dryer sheets. Speaking is a deeply personal act, one that’s affected by a lifetime of habits and hangups. To tell someone that good speaking is as easy as simply choosing to relax, smile, and joke around with your audience is doing that person a disservice. When every cell in your hindbrain is screaming to cut and run, relaxing and cracking a joke is neither simple nor easy. Telling someone to “practice your talk” is a facile bit of advice when you don’t acknowledge the mental blocks or time crunches that are preventing them from engaging in that practice. 

That process of learning how to relax requires time and attention. The speaker need to learn why they are tense, what situations trigger their tension, and what techniques seem to help. They need to practice those relaxation techniques over and over in different situations until they’re able to apply them quickly and easily when they’re up at the front of the room giving their presentation. The same goes for practice techniques – you need spend time in a thoughtful trial-and-error process to figure out which practice strategies work for you. Yes, strategies can be taught (I teach a number of practice strategies to my clients), but it takes time and effort to make those strategies work. 

Most public speaking techniques takes a whole lot of time, attention, and patience to implement. Boiling down these processes to pithy little hacks does little more than make people feel like failures because they aren’t able to turn speaking into a task as simple as de-stinking your garburator with a lemon rind. They’re more likely to become dissuaded rather than encouraged. 

There are no shortcuts in public speaking. If you want to become good, you need to play the long game. There’s ways to become more effective or efficient, but you have to be willing to invest time and effort. If you want to improve your speaking, don’t search for hacks. Instead, admit that becoming a good speaking and crafting good presentations takes time and effort. Look for resources that promise “effective” rather than “quick.” Then patiently and gently put in the hard graft necessary to make a real, sustained difference to your speaking skills.  

And take it from someone who’s lived it: the reward of the long game outstrip anything you’ll get from a hack. 

 

Ever tried a trick or hack to help with your speaking? Did it work for you? Use the social share buttons on the left to tell me on Twitter or Facebook!

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.