Blog Index
The journal that this archive was targeting has been deleted. Please update your configuration.
Navigation

Outside the Speaker's Bubble

a newsletter about speakers and speaking

The Speaker's Bubble is that wrinkle in the time/space continuum you experience whenever you speak, and experience even the slightest bit of pressure to perform. It's that place where your heart rate speeds up, just a little. Where you hear your blood pounding ever-so-slightly in your ears. Where you turn various shades of crimson, or feel short of breath. All these are purely normal physiological responses to the stress of "the-one-versus-the-many." There are ways to control this stress; excellent speakers know this. So do experienced leaders. My Communications Conditioning practice teaches speakers of all skill levels how to deal with stress and present like pros! I can give a practical road map of strategies to make anyone a better communicator for life.

Click here for a schedule of my upcoming workshops.

Tuesday
Jun062017

June 2017

 The power of stillness

My June blog is an update of a blog from 2013. It's about leveraging leadership presence by being the calm center.

I start teaching later this month at American University, so I am taking a break from offering my Executive Communications Skills: One-Day Blitz! The next one will be in SeptemberMore info here.

Tips you can use!

Take a quick look at your slides
See if you understand them at first glance. If you don't, edit them so that words and graphics clearly convey what you want to share. Cluttered slides, those that are too busy and/or complicated, result in failure to deliver a coherent message.

If you can't be loud be bold
Every time you speak, you need to be heard. But if you're a naturally shy person, you may connect advice to "be louder" with rude and rowdy behavior. So think of it as projecting a bolder physical presence, and your vocal strength will follow.

Less is always more
When you are putting together your presentation, aim to fill 80% of the allotted time. Trim the boring bits and allow plenty of time for follow-up Q & A—which usually gets shortened, much to the dismay of the audience. No one is ever criticized for running short, especially when summer fun beckons! 

 

Wednesday
May102017

May 2017

Respect the ice

I blog this month about an annoying trend I have encountered lately, the misuse of the "ice-breaker." I am always amazed when people employ communications tools without really understanding why and how they work!

I am offering one more Executive Communications Skills: One-Day Blitz! this summerMore info here.

Tips you can use!

Use real words...
...instead of industry jargon, when you network. If people can't understand what you do, no matter how impressive you think your title is, they probably won't remember you. Remember, the purpose of networking is not to impress, but to connect.

Make your point
In interviews be sure you get your talking points and stories out there, even if they are not directly asked for. Find a way to artfully insert them, so you can ensure you are on message, in control and saying what you need to/planned to say. 

Sit like a lady
If you're wearing a skirt, that is. Legs crossed at ankles, knees together (great for inner thigh muscles!) or knees crossed. You'd be amazed how many skirt-wearers seem not to know this. Remember, we can't unsee what you show us on a dais or stage! So if your skirt is too short to accommodate proper sitting, rethink your professional wardrobe. 
Wednesday
Apr052017

April 2017

It starts with structure

Yes! I did see Hamilton! And in this month's blog post I relect on challenges facing playwrights and speech crafters compelled to cover the essential facts and also tell their story.

If you'd like to sharpen your leadership speech and presence, join me for upcoming Executive Communications Skills: One-Day Blitz! More info here.

Tips you can use!

Use margin-al notes
Feel free to put notes ("smile," "with energy!") in margins of your text, along with any emoticon or doodle that might cue you to show what you are actually feeling about your speech topic. If you want to connect with the audience you have to first connect with your own emotions, so use notes to remind you to do that.

Partner up 
When you feel stonewalled or ignored in meetings, one effective strategy is to enlist an ally to help you make your case. Do it ahead of time and ask for backup at a crucial point. Or you can act "in the moment" by positively referencing someone else's point, then loop back to what you want to say. It's a bit of a tricky dance, but once you master the steps you will find it can be quite useful as an engagement tool.

Empty your pockets
Seriously. If you are standing up to do a speech, even if you are at a podium, take everything out of your pockets. That will make it easier to resist the temptation to stick you hands in them. If the specific situation calls for a casual delivery, it's all right to use the "hand-in-pocket" stance, but be sure there is nothing your fingers will find to jingle. Pocket change handled absent-mindedly can be very distracting!
Wednesday
Mar082017

March, 2017

Second bananas and comic relief

For this month's blog post I examine leadership speech, specifically Donald Trump's usage, through the lens of a playwright. Having just been immersed in a stage reading of my latest play, I am acutely aware that words and how we use them matter!

If you'd like to sharpen your leadership speech and presence, join me for upcoming Executive Communications Skills: One-Day Blitz! More info here.

Tips you can use!

No, you can't read your audience...
...unless you already know them extremely well! Yes, you can feel if they are with you, if you are connecting. As for being able to "see" what they think of you? Impossible to do this with strangers. Don't waste time analyzing how to win them over when you should be staying actively in the moment. Read this to find out why.

Don't do the cha-cha!
If you feel the need to move when you're speaking, move! Slowly walk in a triangle that is three steps on each side. Taking purposeful strides that punctuate your main points can be an effective way to underscore your content. But if you shuffle aimlessly from side to side, it looks like you mistook your speech event for beginners' ballroom dance class.

PowerPoint, now and forever
If I had my way this "tool" would be out of date and out of use by now. But...it seems to be here, at least for while longer. So ask yourself: how am I using this? If it is a reference document to hand out to your audience, consider sending the deck to them after your talk. Or letting them pick up hard copies on their way out. For your presentation, make simpler slides that illustrate (and I mean that literally) what you are actually saying. I guarantee you will see an uptick in audience engagement

 

Friday
Feb102017

February, 2017 

Communing as community

In this month's blog I reflect on how my practice as a communications coach is informed by my work as a playwright.

And check out this link for upcoming dates for Executive Communications Skills: The One-Day Blitz.

Tips you can use!
Show, don't tell
 It's true that one picture is worth a thousand words. Remember that when you put your slide deck together. Peppering a slide with words and then reading them to your audience is just plain boring! And if you don't read what is on the slide but talk over it, your audience will be doubly confused.

It's OK if they see you breathe. . .
And not just because you need to breathe to speak. Becoming overly self-conscious while speaking is a trap to avoid. Stay out of your mental cul-de-sac by saying "yes" to the breath; do it deeply, freely, and proudly!

Away with vocal fry
Or creaky voice or "gravelly ugh" (my pet name). Whatever you call it, it might be acceptable in private conversation, but when you stand up to speak in public, that sound can undercut your credibility. Using such a voice gives the impression that you're not at all well or you just don't care. Hard to overcome either and still be seen as professional.