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: email

How are your emails doing?

How are your emails doing?

Has anyone ever told you “don’t take this the wrong way, but…”

Where did your head immediately go upon hearing that statement? I’m willing to bet is was not to a place of productive objectivity.

Email seems to require the “don’t take this the wrong way” disclaimer more than any other form of communication. For many of us, email is the communication method we use more than any other during our workday. And considering how inundated with email we tend to be at the best of times, that leaves a lot of potential for taking things the wrong way.

Whenever we read or write something, we insert tone. Even if you think you are the most objective, neutral writer or reader in the world, you have mannerisms and context that affect the way you “hear” written words. And while you may think that the tone of your words is obvious, you can neither predict nor control the tone perceived by the person at the other end.

On top of misunderstood tone is our tendency to be more aggressive when communicating through a computer. There is something about that protective shield of the screen that lets our inner a**H#!^ out. With email, even nice, measured, even keeled people can be quick to anger. Whether or not we then react by sending a knee-jerk response (emphasis on “jerk”) or simply seethe with irritation for the rest of the day, our reaction to irritating emails can be disproportionately heated.

When dealing with email, a simple question can help get you back on track if a snippy tone or aggressive demand marches its way across your screen:

How can I make this interaction positive or productive?

Click to tweet: How can I make this interaction positive or productive?

It’s a straightforward question that can resolve a whole host of issues. If your main goal is to make an interaction positive or productive, you’ll start to look for ways of working with the person on the other side of the screen rather than butt heads with them through email exchange. Anger, hostility, or imagined offense can’t co-exist with positivity or productivity, so focusing your attention away from the negative and towards the productive can help you salvage the situation.

There are other questions you can ask yourself to keep a clear head about the email you send as well as those you receive.

If you are sending an email, ask: Would I say this to the person’s face?

It can be tempting to say what is on our mind, but you still need to ask “How can I make this interaction positive or productive?” If you wouldn’t say what’s in the email to the person’s face, it is unlikely that you are generating a positive or productive conversation. If you aren’t sure, try reading your email out loud so you can actually hear the words on the screen (what comes out is sometimes a revelation).

If you are receiving an email, ask: what useful information or questions are in this email?

When reading email, keep your focus on the useful parts of the email and gloss over any nasty tone or rude words. Try to read it with a relatively neutral voice. Don’t add inflection or tone that you are not 100% certain exists. If confronted with an overtly rude email, print the email and black out every word that does not productively contribute to the conversation. Then, only reply to the parts of the email that are NOT blacked out.

Also, never respond to an insulting email immediately. I fully realize that this is an obvious piece of advice, but it’s easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment and rap out a inflammatory reply. Take several minutes to cool off, and always, always ask yourself – whether you are writing or reading an email – how can I make this interaction positive or productive?

You’ll be amazed at how well that question can decompress a lousy email!

 

Want some more email tips? I’ve devoted an entire chapter in my book to email! Get your copy of The Handy Communication Answer Book today, flip open to Chapter 5, and start doing email right!

The Handy Communication Answer Book is available through all major online retailers and is in a bookstore near you. Click here to view or order it on Amazon.

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.