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


Introvert V. Extrovert: How much does it REALLY matter?

Introvert V. Extrovert: How much does it REALLY matter?

Photo credit: dierk schaefer via Visual Hunt / CC BY

 

When doing an activity that puts you in the spotlight, it seems a given that your personality will have a pretty significant factor in whether or not you enjoy it and how much effort it takes to succeed at it.  When it comes to public speaking, most assume that extroverts are naturally more inclined towards this activity. Those spotlight loving social butterflies have a natural edge when taking the microphone. Introverts, with their quieter, shyer natures, would presumably have to make herculean effort to face down a crowd of people and monologue for 30 minutes.

Or is it the introverts, with their capacity for preparation, detail, introspection, and careful expression, who have the public speaking advantage?

The arguments as to who has the edge change a lot. Some people claim that introverts require vast preparation and memorization while extroverts can simply wing it. Others say that extroverts are out of luck because of their flighty tendencies, while those deep thinking introverts are more likely to captivate the audience with their ideas. Right now, being introverted is somewhat fashionable, and so the prevailing argument as to who makes the better speaker is leaning towards that type.

The problem is that none of these arguments – nor any of the typecasting baggage attached to them – are helpful when working on your speaking skills. Out of all the individuals and groups I have coached and trained in speaking and presentation technique, I have never seen a correlation between aptitude for public speaking and personality type. I’ve watched introverts and extroverts alike shine like diamonds or become shaking messes when speaking to an audience.  Nor does personality type indicate if a speaker prefers the intimacy of a small group or the dynamic energy of a larger audience. These are individual perspectives and experiences that vary widely even among people with similar personalities.

There is one area in which notions of personality type do seriously impact public speaking: in making excuses. With predictable frequency, introversion and extroversion are invoked as excuses to avoid doing the work and taking the risks demanded by public speaking. I’ve had people claim that they can’t speak at a conference or present without a lectern (read: safety shield) because they are introverted.  Others have said that they can’t speak more slowly or can’t restrict themselves to one focused topic because they are extroverts. I’ve also had people present the excuse that to change their public speaking approach or mannerisms wouldn’t be ‘true’ to their personality type, even when those mannerisms get in the way of their ability to communicate with a crowd.

Whenever a pop psychologist assigns certain skills and characteristics to introverts or extroverts, a veneer of credibility is given to these sorts of excuses. We feel justified protecting ourselves from the inherently uncomfortable practice of developing their speaking skills.

But regardless of personality type, public speaking is difficult – full stop. It is a demanding thing to do. Creating a presentation with laser focus and then keeping your brain on task while at the microphone takes huge concentration and discipline. Putting yourself on stage to face potential rejection is nerve wracking – orientation towards introversion or extroversion doesn’t change this. The thing that does make public speaking easier is practice, application, persistence, and guts – none of which are the sole property of any one personality type.

Public speaking isn’t an act of personality – it’s an act of art, of sharing, of instruction, and of performance. Some speakers love the aesthetic part of the speaking; they like playing with words and crafting meaning through tone and expression. Others get a rush from the performance, from feeling and working with the audience. Still others are primarily focused on sharing and instructing – they want to help spread their knowledge or ideas, and public speaking is the best way for them to teach what they know.

CLICK TO TWEET: #Speaking isn’t an act of personality, it’s an act of art, sharing, instruction, & performance. #communication

Skilled speakers obsess less about their personality and more about their talk. They do the hard work necessary to deliver a great presentation. They engage deeply with their content, thinking about it, experimenting with it, practicing and crafting and honing it. They form emotional connections with their audience, deliver deeply thoughtful presentations, engage in entertaining storytelling, and make people laugh, think, and look at the world in new ways.  They are willing to take the risk of discomfort or rejection or failure in order to deliver their message to their audience. And they do this regardless of their introversion or extroversion.

Introvert? Extrovert? It doesn’t matter. Don’t use a label as an excuse. You have something to say, and if your need to say it is strong enough, you’ll push past whatever it is you believe is holding you back.

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

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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