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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.


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!

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. 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



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.



January 2017

Only connect

Happy New Year! This month's blog discusses the secret to making those crucial communications connections. Hint: It's not just your words that matter.

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

Tips you can use!
Lose the need to win
The new year is a good time to assess where you fall on the continuum of confidence, over-confidence, and bullying. People love a "winner," but if that win comes at the expense of relationship-building, your success will be short-lived. So if your ego is intruding into your communication, you might want to give it a rest.

Resolve to prepare
Want to find extra time this year? It sounds counter-intuitive, but the more time you put in up front--like organizing a meeting status update into a succinct, cohesive, clear statement--the less time you'll spend after cleaning up the messes that result from misspeaking "on the fly."

Go to the light
When speaking to a group informally at events like receptions, be sure to stand in the light. People need to see you to fully understand you. And I mean that quite literally: if they can't see your mouth it's much harder for them to hear what you're saying.

December 2016

A holiday wish list

As the year draws to a close I'd like to say "thank you" to all my loyal readers, clients and colleagues. So I'm sending you a list of wishes that will help you become better speakers in 2017 (if not before)!

And resolve to start the New Year right with my ever-popular workshop Executive Communications Skills: The One-Day Blitz. Check out this link for specifics on the January and February sessions.

I am happy to announce that I have been selected by the Women's Media Center to join their SheSource team, as an expert in Communications, Women's Leadership, Public Speaking, Media and Entertainment.

Tips you can use!
Make the most of every party
Networking opportunities abound at holiday parties, so be sure you're prepared! Practice your well-crafted one-sentence intro till you can just drop it into a conversation, and you'll be ready for every social event this season.


Celebrate appropriately
It's fun to cut loose, but think twice if you're giving a toast or making a speech. There's a fine line between relaxed and tipsy. If you DO find yourself called upon to speak in such circumstances, fight against the induced inclination toward expansiveness and keep it short.


'Tis the season for too much of everything, and sometimes that leads to stress! You can combat that by breathing--deeply and often. Luckily, delicious aromas and scents surround us during the holidays. So take a deep breath of that wonderful balsam or gingerbread and unwind, unbend, and start smiling again.