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: Performance

Back to School (for your speaking, of course…)

Back to School (for your speaking, of course…)

Photo via Visual hunt,CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication

 

It’s back-to-school time! For many of you out there, you or your kids have returned to the classroom for another year. Even for those of us who aren’t in the literal back-to-school rush, the start of the fall season usually bring up new energy, bold new plans, and a bit of internal fire to try something new.

If you’re feeling this sort of energy, I want to encourage you to do two things:

  1. Take on a speaking challenge.

For most of you, the best place to find a speaking challenge will be through your work. It doesn’t matter what job you have or industry you work in, there are opportunities for you to speak. We always, always need to share information with co-workers, and your “talk” could be anywhere from 30 seconds to 30 minutes. It all counts. Ask to deliver the departmental report at an upcoming company meeting. Offer to present some new information or resources at a staff meeting. In a more hands-on, less talky-talky type job? You could ask your foreman if you could add something to your morning on-site safety meeting – maybe a quick note of some problem equipment or a hazardous area on the worksite. Propose a new way of setting up a retail shelf display to your store manager.

Or maybe you have an opportunity to speak in a more social setting. Give a short speech at an upcoming social event (hey, September is a popular time for weddings). Do you volunteer on a committee or in a club? Share information that would be relevant or interesting. If nothing else, you probably have to convince a family member or friend of something, so approach it a bit like a presentation – take the time to plan out what you want to say, practise it, and then “present” it. The people you’re speaking to don’t need to know you are actually using this as a speaking challenge. Guerrilla speech practice is one of my favourite activities.

2. Experiment with your speaking, and don’t be afraid of not getting it right.

 Often, fear of failure is what holds us back from trying something new. This is especially true with speaking, where many of us get tongue-tied at the thought of saying or doing something wrong.

But here’s the thing: really good speakers experiment a lot. We try out new expressions, tones, gestures, stories, and ideas. And as it is with any experiment, not everything works. I’ve had jokes fall totally flat, given analogies that ended up being confusing and awkward, and have advanced ideas that weren’t quite the right fit for the audience. Heck, I’ve even experimented with ways of giving off different impressions of myself to others (my early “unflappable confidence” experiments just made me seem like an irritating ass. I’ve since modified my approach to projecting confidence, natch).

Experimentation is what lets us figure out what kind of body language or vocal tone or turns of phrase suit us. But you have to be willing to get some things wrong if you’re going to figure out how to do it right. Yes, it can be uncomfortable and even slightly embarrassing, but the more you do it the easier it gets and the better your speaking becomes.

And just as with the first challenge, you can conduct ‘guerrilla experimentation.’ Don’t tell your co-workers that you’re trying to hold yourself differently and use bigger gestures…just do it and see how they react. Don’t tell your partner that you’re trying out the famous “yes, and…” improvisation skill – just do it and see what happens! If something isn’t working, don’t beat yourself up – just try something else out and revel in the fact that you learned something new.

These two challenges go hand in hand. Taking on a new speaking challenge will give you opportunity to experiment with what you say and how you say it. You can do them in tandem, or you can do them separately. If you are a keener and want to take on a new challenge and experiment with your vocal variety at the same time, go for it. If you can only handle doing the speaking challenge and don’t want to experiment with technique because it will make you too nervous, that’s totally fine. Just do that first challenge and leave experimentation for a later date. A big key with both these challenges is not to overthink them – look for small, everyday places where you can try these out.

If you really want to jump into the spirit of these challenges, consider taking a speaking or acting or improvisation class. Any of these will give you loads of opportunity to take on a new speaking challenge and experiment with speaking methods and techniques at the same time.

Take a deep breath, let that crisp fall air and back-to-school vibe give you a rush of energy, and take the plunge. You can do a lot when you seize the learning opportunities in everyday life.

I’m going back to school, too! Yep, even pro speakers need to work on their skill and technique, so I’ve signed up for a stand-up comedy class (eek!). Are you trying out a new class or activity this fall? I want to hear about it – click here to tell me on twitter, or if you are more of a Facebook person, click here to share your activity on my Facebook page.

Your secret weapon: Power up!

Your secret weapon: Power up!

  Bet you thought I’d be going over the presidential inauguration speeches, eh? Not today! I’ll do a post about it later, as there was some interesting stuff going on. I was live tweeting during the inauguration, though – click here to see my in-the-moment thoughts regarding the rhetoric. Check my tweets from January 20th.   Communication… Continue Reading

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.
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