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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.


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?

May 2016 

                   Better living through chemistry?

This month's blog post deals with the growing problem of treating "speaker's nerves" like a medical ailment, and why drugs are not neccessarily the answer. You can read all about it here.

My final Executive Communications Skills workshop of the spring wil be May 23rd. If you've ever thought you might want to attend, now's your chance! You can find more details here.


Tips you can use!


If you're on time you're late
When you are scheduled to speak or present, make sure you get to your venue well before your speaking slot. Even if you have to wait for others to clear the room, you'll benefit from having time to pull yourself together, and let your breathing and heart rate return to normal. If you feel rushed at the start, your speech will only go downhill from there.

Falling on deaf ears?
Let's face it: some people will never hear what you have to say. Don't waste energy stewing about this. Try creative ways to get your message across. Here's one: enlist an ally who does have this person's ear. Working together this way, you may reap unexpected benefits.

No more bad hair/good hair
Hair is a constant source of anxiety for many people, yet what we are seeing this election cycle reinforces what I tell my clients: if you have energy and commitment to your message, your audience will respond to that, instead of whatever particular physical trait or stylistic statement you get hung up on. Simply put: they won't see a bad hair day if you don't. How else can you explain Donald Trump?



April 2016

                        Seriously not a circus

This election has provided us all with many examples of public communications--the good and the bad. You can find out what I think one of the yuugest candidates can teach us in my blog here.

April's workshop has filled, but details of May's workshop on Executive Communications Skills are here.

Tips you can use!

Keep your eyes on the prize
In high-stakes conversations it is easy to become emotional or otherwise distracted from your main goal. Stay focused: remember your objective. What can you do to get what you need out of this interaction? Phrase that in as few words as possible and repeat it like a mantra when you feel a derailment coming on. 

Allergic reaction
Now that it's pollen season, you may be taking antihistamines to help with sneezes and sniffles. Be sure to hydrate more than usual to keep that vocal mechanism "well oiled." You'll find more on tips for speaking during this trying season here.


Slow and steady wins the race
. . . or at least makes it easier for people to hear you! In conversation with friends and family—who are used to our inflection and rhythm—we often speak quickly and mumble. When speaking with others, even in less-than-formal presentations, we need to slow down and speak clearly. If you have to repeat yourself because your listener could not hear, your leadership quotient may be diminished.

illustration from "The Circus Procession," published by McLoughlin Brothers, Inc., 1888
courtesy Library of Congress