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: Uncategorized

The Twin Killers of Business Communication

The Twin Killers of Business Communication

Managers, business owners, and professionals of all stripes take note – there are killers lurking in your communications. They undermine your words, cast doubt on your trustworthiness, and make people question your judgement. They can create breakdowns in communication between team members, between departments, and most certainly between your business and your customers.

The killers’ names are Inconsistency and Incongruity.

Are you afraid? You should be!

 

These two killers feed off one another, creating a rat king of confusion that shakes the trustworthiness of your words. They cause stress, confusion, and uncertainty among the people you are communicating to, whether you are communicating through words, action, or (usually) a combination of both.

Click to Tweet: Inconsistency & incongruity create a rat king of confusion that can kill your communication.

Inconsistency and Incongruity are cousins – related, but not quite from the same family.

Inconsistency happens when “standards” are applied in a non-standardized fashion. It happens when the voice and tone of communication varies so much that readers or listeners have no clue what to expect and no way to predict how they should interpret a message’s subtext1. It happens when communication is sent out willy-nilly with no way to predict when, where, or how a communication may take place.

Incongruity happens when what you’re communicating doesn’t make sense – it doesn’t fit or match with other things related to it, like a vegetarian who goes big game hunting. Incongruity occurs when a business communicates values that clash with one another.

 

An excellent example of these two communication killers comes straight from Facebook HQ and their odd, unpredictable enforcement of community standards in relation to nudity.

Recently, Facebook banned a photographer for posting a gallery featuring unclothed models standing behind mannequins – the kind of plain, plastic mannequin torsos you see on display in a clothing store.

The Facebook community standards state that “we remove photographs of people displaying genitals or focusing in on fully exposed buttocks. We also restrict some images of female breasts if they include the nipples [. . .]. We also allow photographs of paintings, sculptures, and other art that depicts nude figures.”

The photographs that were removed fell within the guidelines of allowable content. There were no exposed genitals, no nipples, and the photographs would fit into any reasonable definition of “art”. Yet they were removed, and the photographer banned from posting for 30 days.

The inconsistency is obvious: they clearly communicate one set of standards, but don’t apply those standards in a predictable way, meaning that “nudity” is really whatever they define it depending on the moods and whims of the people enforcing the standards. The subtext is that

There is also huge incongruity here. The community standards define what is considered “decent” on Facebook. An art project featuring non-sexualized images of women without any exposed genitals or nip-slips is unacceptable, but crap like this is totally OK2. Few people would argue which post takes a more liberal definition of “decent.” This is the vegetarian going big game hunting.

Inconsistency and incongruity can kill your business communication because they foster mistrust and cynicism among anyone who is listening to you. We’ll all slip up and make mistakes on this front every now and then, but if these communication killers crop up frequently, then you’ll need to revisit your communication standards and strategies. Take a hard look at your messages and actions overall and ask yourself the following questions:

What are your business’ values?

What are your business’ standards?

Do the values and standards reinforce one another?

Does your business communicate those values and standards in both your words and your deeds? (Do you do walk the talk?)

If there is doubt, disagreement, or discomfort in your answers to any of the above questions, you can be certain there is inconsistency and/or incongruity in your business’ communications. If this is the case, ask yourself the following:

What message am I really sending by allowing this inconsistency/incongruity to exist?

Click to tweet: What message am I really sending by being inconsistent or incongruous?

Step out of your own head for a moment and try to answer that question from the point of view of your audience. Don’t assume your audience – be they your team members or your clients – sees things your way or has the same context or viewpoint as you. Look at it with fresh eyes. Ask others what they think.

Find those twin killers, and create a strategy and framework for dealing with them. It might be something simple, or it could end up being a major strategic project. Don’t shy away from the work – your credibility and trustworthiness depends on it.

_______

  1. Subtext is the message running in the background, behind the literal words that are being said. It’s what we’re seeing when we “read between the lines.” Subtext is loaded with meaning, such as emotional meanings and implications, and it’s strongly subject to interpretation. There is always, always
  2. If you don’t want to click on the link, here’s a description: it’s a video promo for a spring break at a dirt sports track. It features close-ups of nubile buttocks in barely-there bikinis twerking, bumping, grinding, and rubbing up against one another.

 

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Want more communication insight? Click here to check out my new book, or contact me to discuss how I can help you improve your business’ communication.

Fearless

  “Fearless,” “bold,” “brave,” and other variations are descriptions lots of people assign to professional speakers. People have called me those things, and I’ve heard lots of other speakers described that way. I’ve just come off the rush of the most incredible conference I’ve ever attended, the annual Canadian Association of Professional Speakers convention. I… 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.