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: Skill development

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.

This resolution is pure fun!

Happy 2017, everyone! My New Year’s Eve was relatively sedate. We spent the afternoon with a group of our friends, and after dinner I bundled my little ones home to get them to bed on time, and then sent my husband back to our friends’ place to continue the festivities (he definitely deserved a night… 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.
I pledge to be 100% spam-free. You can unsubscribe at any time.