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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.


November 2016

Boxed In

When we're expert at something we need to remember that not everyone speaks our language. This month's blog has some tips for the best way to communicate what you know so well.

Time to sharpen those speaking skills? Need to become a more active listener? Want to work your leaderhip presence?  Check out this link for upcoming dates for my ever-popular workshop Executive Communications Skills: The One-Day Blitz.

Tips you can use!

Be memorable
When introducing yourself at a networking event don't lead with your title and business name. If your workplace doesn't ring a bell you end up wasting precious time explaining what the business does, and not who you are. Better use that time to give a glimpse of what makes you special. People do business with people, not workplaces.

Check the mic
Where there's a mic there's a sound guy or gal. Listen, watch and learn when they tell you what to do, how to turn it on, whether there's red light to check, etc. When you open your speech by thumping the mic or asking "is this on?" you look like a rube. Which is a strategy. Just make sure it's the one you want!  

Get a flu shot
If you won't do it for yourself ('cuz maybe you don't want to stay healthy during the stressful crazybusy season?), do it to protect your "herd." Seriously. Don't be the one who sickens your office mates who can't get the flu shot because you read somewhere it might give you a case of the flu. It can't and it won't.

October 2016

Comfortable in Her Skin

Candidates' debates call on multiple areas of a speaker's expertise. While most of us won't ever be put through such a grueling exercise, there is much we can learn from watching. Read my blog review of the first debate here.

Interested in a workshop? Check out this link for upcoming dates for my ever-popular One-Day Blitz.

Tips you can use!

Try on your leadership shoes
Don't save your "powerful" new shoes for that special presentation. Wear them around the house to break them in.  Because it's hard to look and sound like a leader when your feet are killing you.

You need to eat. . .
The truth is your brain needs glucose to work. If you are hungry or dieting, your thinking may be fuzzy, and so will your speaking.   

Find your own "bridge phrase"
When you need time to think whip out your bridge phrase! It can rescue you from that dreaded silence. Practice, practice, practice till it feels natural rolling off your tongue. It will help you break the habit of relying on "um" or "so" to fill the void!

September 2016

True trickiness of tone

This month's blog shares some observations made during a reading of my latest play at The Kennedy Center. The realtionship of words said to tone used to say them is, I think, something we can all apply to real life situations.

Fall Workshops are back! Check out this link for upcoming dates for my ever-popular One-Day Blitz.

Tips you can use!

Toungue twisters to the rescue
Make sure your mouth is awake before you start your day by doing a few tongue twisters in the shower or on your way to the office. Take a minute to warm up your "talking muscles" before your day of calls, meetings, and chats. You won't get tripped up by the old mumble/stumble again! 

 This tip is evergreen--because it is always needed! Each day I hear people who forget to do the most basic thing before they start to speak: Breathe! Even if you haven't had a chance to do your daily breathing/centering warm-ups, taking a good deep breath before you start to say anything will help you speak with energy and focus.


. . . and breathe again!
Just because you've gotten off to a good start in your speech doesn't mean you are out of the woods! Fear can still overtake you. Be vigilant and keep the "speakers nerves" from wrecking your presentation by mindfully breathing throughout. A "note to self" written on your outline or text about 2/3 of the way through can't hurt, either!



July/August 2016

It sure is sticky!

No, this month's blog is not about tone policing or telling someone "you'll catch more flies with vinegar than honey!" It is about "sticky" speech--you know, the kind where you recall what was said long after you heard it. It is a big topic but I highlight two basic elements for crafting sticky messages.

In other news, my final group Executive Communications Skills workshop for the summer is coming up soon. And I have a few places left. More info is here.

Tips you can use!

Put on your neutral face
Yes, RBF is a real thing, so if you've been told to stop looking so mean, you're not alone! But you can minimize such comments by practicing your "zen face:" relaxed, not super-smiley, just a little less intense. Making a few muscular adjustments can make a huge difference in how others perceive you. 

Don't know? That's OK--
You can't be expected to know everything about your speech topic, but you should know  where to find the answer.  Don't make things up: chances are someone else in the room will have Googled the real answer by the time you've finished.

A better PowerPoint
If you absolutely need to put together a slide deck (using illustrative charts, graphs or maps) make sure they are big enough to be seen at the back of the room. Otherwise, find a graphic that reinforces your theme. Or just tell the story. Stories can be the most powerful tools in your speaker's arsenal. Revisit my blog post to find out why.  



June 2016

                What is authentic authenticity?

This month's post tackles the question of what it means to be a more authentic speaker, and why advice to "just be yourself" is not particularly helpful.  

And here is news of my next speaking engagement:

Take the Stage & Speak with Authority
at WIT Connect: WITx  
in conjunction with Women in Technology

Thursday, June 16, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
TEGNA/Gannett/7950 Jones Branch Drive/McLean VA, 22102

Summertime Executive Communications Skills workshop info is here.

Tips you can use!

Don't push your audience away
Even if you are super enthusiastic, you need to draw them to you with your message. If your energy is too aggressive, they will tune you out and start looking for an escape route.

Dressing for summer
It is tempting to throw caution to the wind when the temperature rises. But a fashion faux pas can undermine professional credibility. Be sure to consider the "prevailing norms" of your workplace or client sites, even when it is too darn hot. You may not agree, but until you're the boss it's better to go along than to dress down or under-dress.

Take your notes. Always.
You may never in a million years need them, but then again.... If you are stuck wracking your brain to remember what you wanted to say, you are guaranteed to fail at connecting with your audience. And that is critical. Why else would you want to be in the room where it happens?