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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

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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: Techniques

Demagogue: a lesson in rhetoric

trump

Demagogue, n.: A leader of a popular faction, or of the mob; a political agitator who appeals to the passions and prejudices of the mob in order to obtain power or further his own interests; an unprincipled or factious popular orator. (Oxford English Dictionary)

In democracies the principal cause of revolutions is the insolence of the demagogues; for they cause the owners of property to band together, partly by malicious prosecutions of individuals among them (for common fear brings together even the greatest enemies), and partly by setting on the common people against them as a class.

-Aristotle, Politics, Book 5 (20).

All good speakers understand how to work the three central aspects of rhetorical argument – logos (the logic that matches the listener’s worldview), ethos (the character that the listener sees as admirable or desirable), and pathos (the listener’s emotions).

Demagogues work with logos, ethos, and pathos by using people’s fears, anger, and frustrations. They have a clear understanding of who their target audience is, and they appeal to their basest reasoning and emotions. This was precisely what Trump did. He identified his target voters and played to them in a spectacularly effective way.

Trump wanted the evangelical vote, so he said things that would appeal to evangelicals (regardless how his behaviors contradicted his words). He wanted the disenfranchised blue collar vote, so he found their pain points and spoke about those who took or threatened their jobs (despite his own use of undocumented migrant workers and other shady dealings). He wanted the vote of those tired of the same old thing in Washington, so he associated and compared stagnant political activity with Clinton’s years in office.

In true demagogue fashion, Trump stoked the frustration, disillusionment, and rage of his supporters. He reduced complex socio-and-geo-political issues to us-versus-them sound bites. He offered no clear policy, no sober analysis, but by god did he ever get people worked up.

I can’t pretend to be unbiased when writing this – I believe that Trump’s campaign was repugnant. I also fully realize that the results of the campaign aren’t just down to how Trump campaigned. It’s a vastly complicated scenario that has been building for years. Many, many people cast their votes as ways to reject or protest things they didn’t believe in or couldn’t stomach, rather than voting because they were in 100% agreement with the candidate they chose. Politics and political choices is muddy business.

But in this post, I’m looking at the campaign from a speech and rhetoric perspective. And even when you step back from the emotions and take another look at the messaging, the speeches, the debates, and the Tweets, there can be no denying that his campaign was run on words of fear and hate and self-protection. His campaign was run in the style of a demagogue.

Still, we need to give credit where credit’s due. While listening to Trump speak and debate like eating word salad, the way he targeted and provoked his supporters was masterful. That’s a lesson that any speaker should take note of. It’s a way to win arguments and to craft powerful speeches. It might not be the most upstanding strategy, but it is a strategy you could use.

And before you, or I, or anyone who speaks to a crowd cries the they’ll never emulate a demagogue, take note: these tactics are tempting. They’re tempting because they work. They can sneak in and infiltrate even a well-meaning speaker’s words. So remember the demagogue, take a second or third look at your speech or talk, and be mindful of the strategies you choose to use.

The Practice Rant

The Practice Rant

  The secret isn’t innate confidence. It isn’t a good slide deck, either. It’s not positive, pre-show affirmations. It’s not killer quotes, “life changing” stories, or hilarious content. It definitely isn’t picturing your audience in their underwear.* The above all play a part in great presentations (with the exception of the underwear visualization), but they… Continue Reading

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