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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.


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



March 2016


         Midnight musings of grammar fans

Intrigued by the headline at right? My featured blog this month serves as a timely reminder of why grammar matters, in writing as well as speaking.

I am offering one more Executive Communications Skills workshop at my home studio this spring. Click here for more information. Or send an e-mail if you want to discuss other ways I can help you upgrade your speaker's toolkit.

 Tips you can use!

Draw in the margins
It's OK to put cue words, emoticons, emojis and even old-fashioned free-hand doodles in your margins. Let them help you recall your subtext for a particular passage. For example, put a smiley face beside that paragraph telling the story of your team's fantastic progress. You will remember to "glow with pride," even as you dispense the necessary facts and figures.

Stay centered
Need to sound convincingly strong and dynamic as you battle seasonal allergies or a spring cold? Maintain your energized delivery by relying on inner strength that comes from centering. Use your core to let the breath support your sound. If you speak from your throat and head only, your audience will hear a voice that is even weaker than you feel.

Save the bling
Don't wear showy jewelry or flashy clothing to an event where you are speaking (I'm looking at you, Sarah Palin!). Unless you are introducing your new fashion line or dropping your latest single, it will distract from your message. Save it for your photo shoot! 

February 2016

Critical Communications

My monthly blog features a recent experience I had with some excellent communicators—in a place where I did not expect to find them—and the lessons there for all of us.

Interested in my upcoming workshops? Check here for dates and details. If you can't the workshop at my home studio, send me an e-mail and let's discuss how I can bring it to you.

 Tips you can use!

Kill the PowerPoint
Or at least cut it down to size! Use slides as a visual backdrop to reinforce your message with a thematic image or a well-chosen graph. Get rid of all the tiny bullet points. Unless you are just conveying facts, your job is to offer interpretation, synthesis, analysis. All of which are more effective if you are actually speaking to your audience, not just splattering words on slides.


Be in charge
If your colleagues have fallen into the habit of interrupting every presentation, you need to state upfront that you will take questions after you have finished yours. Often their queries will be answered as you speak, and you certainly will be better at maintaining your "flow." Do your part to put an end to this (sometimes unconscious) collective rudeness.


Dodge the draft
Large rooms that are used for presentations can be drafty this time of year. Take extra "indoor" layers to help you stay warm. Nothing kills your credibility like trying to speak through shivers and chattering teeth!

January 2016

Misplaced passion

In response to those of you who have asked me to weigh in on the speeches and speaking our current Presidential candidates, this month's column offers a quick take. Doubtless more detailed analysis will follow, when I feel I have some fresh insight to offer!

Don't forget to check here for dates and details of upcoming workshops. If you can't attend offsite, send me an e-mail and we can discuss how I can bring it to you.

 Tips you can use!

Build in the white spaces

Format your speech with a double-space return between sections. That way you can visually scan your text and know that a shift to the next  point is coming up. Make your pause in between a tad longer,  signaling to the audience that you're wrapping up one point and transitioning to another. Use this breathing break to create a signpost--like an auditory road map.

Away with "so"
If you are leaning on "so" as a crutch to start all your sentences: stop! This little gem came in #1 on this year's List of Banished Words. I have never liked it, and am glad to see others agreeing that its overuse has become a supremely annoying verbal tic.

Take care of yourself
It's finally winter, so you need to take extra care not to catch whatever is going around. Get plenty of sleep. Exercise daily. Eat a balanced diet. Hydrate. Get a flu shot. Maybe you won't need any of your sick days this year!


artwork: Political Drama (1914) by Robert Delaunay, courtesy National Gallery of Art