Harness nerves and speak with confidence

confidence

Quora didn’t like this answer about speaking with confidence, for some reason, so I’ll share it with the world this way. I think it’s helpful, and I’d like to put it where it can do some good.

The original question was “Tomorrow I have a presentation and I don’t know how to start it. I feel afraid in front of people. What can I do?”

Here is my answer (and I can’t see a thing wrong with it, but it got “moderated”). It has only been edited to use more active voice. (I would have edited it more there, but I didn’t get the chance.) Continue reading “Harness nerves and speak with confidence”

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Behold the power of story

Chinese baby

Just for clarity: I have never been a Chinese woman. Except for a few minutes this morning.

Just 15 minutes ago or so, I was listening to NPR on the radio as I was driving in to work. They were interviewing Jenna Cook about her search for her birth mother. Like most of you, I have been aware for a long time that international adoptions are not uncommon, and even that the situations that lead to such adoption are quite complex. But I had never been touched by those complexities. Continue reading “Behold the power of story”

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Stories: the low-tech mind meld

robinson

If you think about your own experience, I think you can see how a good story deserves the metaphorical label of “mind meld.” I remember being enthralled as I listened to Appalachian storytellers at the Museum of Appalachia’s Fall Homecoming, as I read my first novel that a teacher didn’t assign (it was Have Space Suit – Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein), and as I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey. You know that power on the receiving end, and (I hope) have experienced it on the other end.

Continue reading “Stories: the low-tech mind meld”

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Empathy and Easter: The power of story

mater-dolorosaThis is not a religious blog, and that’s not about to change. But religion and spirituality are a big part of life, even for those not conventionally religious, and it is certainly an area where communication skills matter on a lot of levels. What I have in mind here, though, has bearing on any communicator, religious or not.

As I write this, it is Saturday before Easter. Because of the events commemorated around this time of the year, a lot of attention falls on Good Friday, and of course tremendous attention on Easter Sunday. (Yes, I know about all the interrelationship of Easter bunnies and pagan celebrations. It’s beside the point for this post.) Some groups have traditions around Holy Saturday as well, the day Jesus “rested” in the tomb, and also the time of the Harrowing of Hades. It is also sometimes called Black Saturday, a day of mourning.

For some reason, it has really struck me this year because of those first mourners. Obviously, Jesus suffered the most, but those who loved Him on earth suffered also. Friday was the worst; Sunday, everything changed. But Saturday? Saturday was the Sabbath, supposed to be a day of rest. How restful could it have been for the apostles? For His friends? For His mother? Continue reading “Empathy and Easter: The power of story”

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Choosing stories wisely solves many speaking problems

storytelling_sm

Today I witnessed a student struggle initially with an impromptu speech. He started out so general that he covered his topic in only 15 seconds, leave a full 45 seconds to meet his minimum. For impromptu speeches, I’ll nudge them a little if they get stuck, and he responded, but only plowed ahead a little bit before grinding once again to a halt.

He was almost at his minimum time at that point, so I almost “helped” him out by starting to applaud, relieving him of his discomfort. Before I could, though, an expression of recognition crossed his face. ClichĂ© it might be, but it was like the sudden illumination of a light bulb. He had instantly recalled, then over the next minute recounted, an actual story of something that happened to him when he was young. Continue reading “Choosing stories wisely solves many speaking problems”

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