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: Rhetoric

5 Books To Boost Your Speaking

5 Books To Boost Your Speaking

Photo by gpoo on Visual Hunt / CC BY



As you get into the swing of the season and start tackling your Christmas shopping, I’d like to lend you a hand with my top recommended books on becoming better, bolder speakers and communicators. 

I love giving books as gifts. Giving someone a book that you think they’ll love is like sharing a little piece of yourself with them. Plus, if both of you read the book, you can then compare thoughts on it afterwards.  

So if you are hunting for a gift for someone who is building a career or business, or who loves language, or who wants to share a message with the world, or just who just wants to be a better communicator, I’ve got a list of books that may fit the bill. 

The books below look at communication from different angles; some are full of practical tips for specific tasks like arguing, speaking, or negotiating. Others provide the inspiration we sometimes need to keep putting our message out in the world. They all explore factors that affect our communication, whether verbal or non-verbal.  

None of these listings are sponsored. I’ve read and re-read all of these titles, and am recommending them because I love them and find them useful in many areas of my life. And I think that you or someone on your Christmas list will also find them interesting, helpful, and practical in your/their life as well. 

Without further ado (and in no particular order), here is my list of 5 Books That Will Boost Your Speaking! 



1) Thank You for Arguing, Third Edition: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion – by Jay Heinrichs. 3rd Ed. Three Rivers Press, 2017. 

Core topics: Rhetoric, persuasion, public speaking, language 

Buy this for:  Anyone. Seriously. 

If anyone asks me about my most recommended book on public speaking, this is it. I’ve purchased more copies of this book than any other because I keep forgetting them on airplanes, at people’s houses, and in random office buildings. I’ve managed to hold on to my current copy for a while, and it’s dog-eared and covered with marginalia. 

There’s a good reason I love this book so much: it’s a useful, accessible, and entertaining treatise on rhetoric and persuasive speech. Jay Heinrichs produced a magnificent volume, with easy-to-understand information on rhetoric and how it applies in daily life, plus great activities to help you get a grip on the strategies and skills. This book will improve your speaking and your writing, and help open your eyes to persuasive strategies being used on you. You’ll laugh, you’ll learn, you’ll persuade. 

This laugh-out-loud book will boost your persuasive skills in ways you never thought possible. #communication #rhetoric @jayheinrichs Click To Tweet


2) The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? – by Seth Godin. Penguin, 2012. 

Core topics: Resilience, personal development, business, creativity 

Buy this for: Creatives, artists, entrepreneurs, or anyone putting in the long, hard work required to create something big (be it a career, a business, a vision, a piece of art, an athletic feat, etc.).  

Most of the books on this list are about how we talk to others. This one is more focused on how we talk to ourselves, especially as creators, makers, and artists…and yes, you are an artist. 

I could recommend nearly any of Seth Godin’s books, but this is the one that’s really speaking to me at the moment. It’s both an inspirational guide and a reality check. The Icarus Deception takes an honest look at the work and mental fortitude needed to make our art (Godin’s definition of art is broad: “the act of a human being doing generous work, creating something for the first time, touching another person”). 

Godin’s words are encouraging and uplifting, but challenging. This book contains no vapid affirmations, but an honest examination of the mental and emotional work necessary to create and pursue our art. It empathizes with our struggles, but also pushes aside the excuses we invent to get ourselves off the hook. It acknowledges that this work is hard, but that there’s also so much we can do and must do in order to bring our gifts to those who need them. 

To me, this book is like a wise friend who first gives me a comforting shoulder to cry on, then says “enough excuses” while shoving me out the door and in the direction of my ambitions. I’ve both read it and listened to the audiobook many times, and I return to it whenever I need a shot of comfort and encouragement along with a really good kick in the ass.  

We are all #artists & this book gives us the encouragement and the kick in the ass we often need. #entrepreneurs @thisissethsblog Click To Tweet


3)Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success – by Sylvia Ann Hewlett.  HarperCollins, 2014. 

Core Topics: Leadership, influence, business & careers, public speaking 

Buy this for: Leaders, entrepreneurs, people who are advancing in their careers, people wanting to improve their leadership skills or influence at work, those interested in speaking and presenting with greater presence and impact 

Image counts for a lot in our careers and businesses, regardless of your industry or profession. The impression we give to others can make the difference between getting a promotion or being overlooked, of getting a plum assignment or being sidelined for the umpteenth time. Presence, and its close cousin Charisma, fascinate me. They’re among the key tools and features of exceptional speakers, have a measurable impact on our lives, yet are hard to capture and define. 

In Executive Presence, Hewett does an admirable job of capturing and defining the different characteristic of presence. Through reams of detailed research, she’s able to articulate what gives people that aura of power and respectability we seek in our leaders. Hewett looks at details like comportment, assertiveness, style and grooming, speech and voice, appearance, empathy, social awareness, and more. This creates a very complete composition of the je ne sais quoi of those with true executive presence. While some of these topics might seem trite, I can assure you they aren’t. The topics that Hewett raises are things my own clients have worked with me on and agonized about. Hewett treats these subjects with the seriousness they deserve. 

This book is a must-read for anyone looking to advance in their career, enhance their leadership skills, or make a more impactful and favorable impression on those they meet. 

You need to cultivate your Executive Presence, and this book shows you how. Outstanding! #business #leadership @SAHewlett Click To Tweet


4) Ask For It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want – by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever. Bantam, 2008. 

Core Topics: Negotiation, women, business & careers 

Buy this forwomen entering the workforce, building their careers, dealing with tricky situations, or who need a bit of help boosting their confidence and pursuing what they really want. 

Ask For It is a book that every woman should have on her shelf. Negotiating is a crucial life skill that eludes many women. For many – myself included – it brings to mind hardball tactics, win-lose scenarios, or uncomfortable interactions and embarrassing rejections. Unfortunately, when we women don’t engage in negotiation, we can lose big in everything from our careers to our personal lives. 

Babcock and Laschever address how negotiation differs for women than for men. Our pro-social, cooperative inclinations, along with social pressures and expectations, means that we often need to take a different approach to negotiation situations than men would. The authors are up front about what makes negotiation so tough for so many women, and offer practical solutions for overcoming negotiation barriers. 

But don’t mistake the slant of this book as one that’s soft on strategies, tactics, demands, or outcomes. Far from it; Babcock and Laschever draw on their years of researching and training negotiation to create a robust approach that teaches us how to ask for – and get – more. The Negotiation Gym exercises at the end of the book are especially good, and I’ve used them myself to strengthen my negotiation muscles. 

The skills and mindsets taught in this book have strong parallels to the mindsets and techniques needed in non-negotiation communication as well. That’s part of the reason why I like it so much. It can help women become better speakers and communicators overall. 

A must-have book. Empowers #women to become more courageous and skilled in asking for what they want. #negotiation #business @sklasch Click To Tweet


5) The Handy Communication Answer Book – by Lauren Sergy. Visible Ink Press, 2017. 

Core Topics: Communication, public speaking, rhetoric, business and social communication 

Buy this forProfessionals, students, leaders, entrepreneurs, anyone wanting a useful and timely reference for their communication pain points. 

Of course I wasn’t about to leave my own book off this list! Released earlier this year, this is your ultimate reference book for anything about communication. I wrote it to be a communication coach on your desk, something you could reach for whenever you had a question like “how can I make my argument more convincing?” “how should I bring up this delicate topic with my co-workers?” “what the heck am I going to say in that speech I need to give at Bob’s retirement party?” Or even “when was the first postal system created?” 

(Ok, so not many people will ask that last one, but there’s a lot of interesting things to be learned in the history of communication, so I go over that as well). 

I cover communication history, rhetoric, business communication, public speaking, social communication, communication technology, written communication, body language, voice and anatomy, email, and more. There are analyses of famous speeches, and I even give you speech templates and sample speeches that you can adapt for when you are called to the podium. 

If you or someone you know would benefit from having my years of experience, research, expertise, and deeply geeky insights regarding communication at hand whenever you need it, this is the way to go. 

This book is a #communication coach you can keep on your desktop. #business #publicspeaking Click To Tweet


Now go forth, complete your Christmas shopping, and make the people on your list wiser, happier, and better communicators! 


If you’d like to purchase any of these books, consider clicking on the titles in this post and ordering them via my Amazon affiliate link. You’ll be helping support this blog. 


Is there a book that you would especially recommend as Christmas gift? Click here to tell me about it on Twitter, or share it with us on Facebook!


Help your friends tackle their own Christmas shopping conundrums – share this post on your favourite social media channel using the share buttons on the left!

Equivocation in the wake of Charlottesville

Equivocation in the wake of Charlottesville

It’s called “equivocation.” What Trump was doing in those two press conferences since Charlottesville – the rhetoric he’s using is called equivocation. Equivocation is a logical fallacy that uses vague language to hide meaning or to avoid committing to a point of view or stance. You see it used frequently in politics when a politician… Continue Reading

Controlling an argument, Pop-Up Rhetoric style!

This is the fourth pop-up rhetoric video created from the speech analyses in my book, The Handy Communication Answer Book. These four videos are something of mini-series within my larger Pop-Up Rhetoric video series, so be sure to check out my other pop-up rhetoric videos on YouTube!  Control: that’s what debates are all about. Are… 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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