Month: March 2012 (Page 1 of 2)

Speak up community

Some colleagues and I are exploring the possibility of setting up a mutual support community for up and coming speakers. This would include new speakers as well as experienced folks who are seeking to “move up” in the world of professional speaking where we can share what we’re discovering. I’m grateful for the mentoring that comes from more experienced speakers, many of whom are very willing to provide guidance. But there are some things that we all have to work out on our own, and we think mutual support might help that.

In a sense, speakers are competitors, but much more true is the fact that each speaker is so unique that no one really competes with anyone else. When we share what we’re learning, it’s like the rise of the tide: everyone’s boat floats higher. Continue reading

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Realistic problem solving



"Dear God, he's right behind me, isn't he?"

If you have a speaking habit that gets in the way, you can obsess it, or you can fix it.


Vicious dog, aka Tinkerbell

I’ve been fighting a situation in my house for months. I have a chihuahua and two cats. (The picture above isn’t my chihuahua, but she’s very close. The one to the left is my chihuahua.) They don’t like each other. As far as the dog is concerned, the main use for the cats is exercise. The only things on earth that the dog isn’t afraid of are the cats.

Whenever one of the cats ventures near, Tinkerbell nips at it. The cats are always nimble enough to avoid her. One cat, Angel, the classic “fraidy cat” stays as far from the dog as possible. The other older cat, Annie, tolerates the dog, humors her mostly, although she weighs twice what the dog does, and will shred Tinkerbell if she is ever so foolish as to actually push it. Continue reading

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It’s a small world after all*, part 2

Dutch Children Sing "It's a Small World"

In “It’s a small world after all, part 1,” we talked about how social media connects people in ways that weren’t possible until recently, and focused especially on Twitter. In this post, we continue the conversation.

Through Facebook I have connected more solidly with my friends

Thanks to Facebook, I have reconnected with old friends from high school and college that I haven’t seen for nearly 40 years, and I get to socialize with current friends much more than I otherwise would, since everyone is always on the run and time for “real world” socializing is short. I have also found some folks who share professional interests, but Facebook is mainly about fun and socializing for me.

Though it took me a year to start using it, up until about last October it was the social medium I turned to most. I connect with co-workers here, but more on a “water cooler” level–valuable, but a different sort of thing than the other two services we’re considering here. Continue reading

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I’m juggling, not procrastinating

There hasn’t been much activity here the last week or so. In fact, none that you could see. What’s frustrating is that I have four other posts almost ready to go, but I haven’t had time to finish them.

I don’t even have time to develop this thought very far right now, but a) I wanted to share the above graphic with you, which I think is hilarious, and b) I wanted to comment that most people in current society who describe themselves as procrastinators are wrong. They are simply jugglers who are juggling past their skill level. That’s me. As soon as I can either master throwing one more object into the mix, or can put one down, or I drop one and it breaks, I’ll pick this one up again. Soon.

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Eye contact helps overcome stage fright

I’ve read a few posts lately mentioning that eye contact is hard for a speaker, even experienced ones. (One place I just saw it is in the very good article “5 Public Speaking Tips that Build Relationships.”) I agree! But I also want to push a little beyond the initial resistance we have to it.

As Dr. Michelle observes, “Making eye contact allows you to connect with your audience.” The emphasis here is on genuine contact. The old saws about picking out a spot on the back wall or looking at their foreheads do not work simply because they don’t establish contact. While the idea of contacting a stranger that intimately seems threatening at first, once you do you’ll discover something very pleasant: there is no such thing as an audience! Continue reading

photo by: @Doug88888
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It’s a small world after all*, part 1

One of the great wonders of the Internet age is the ease with which people of like minds can find one another. When people say they don’t understand Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn, it just means they haven’t found the “like minds” hook that matters to them yet.

I joined Twitter four years ago, but only really started using it about three or four months ago. I joined Facebook in Jan. 2007, and then went for a year before I posted even read anything. I also joined LinkedIn in 2007–February, to be exact–but went even longer before really using it. It just took awhile to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of each.

Though this blog focuses on effective communication rather than social media, social media is a growing form of communication. If you remain confused why anyone would use these services, or if you ignore any of them because you prefer face-to-face communication, read on. I also prefer face-to-face communication, but these services help form genuine connections and friendships. Continue reading

photo by: sanctumsolitude
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Inspiration from Dr. Seuss

This isn’t directly related to speaking or writing, but it is inspiration from one of the most effective writers of the 20th century. In any case, I hope you’ll enjoy it, and most of the quotes are good encouragement for anyone, especially those who seek to spread a message of some sort. (And for speakers: it’s pronounced “Zoyce,” not “Soos.”)

Dr. Seuss Quotes
[Via: 30 Dr. Seuss Quotes to Live By]

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Thanks, Garr: Appreciate what’s important

When I read the headline of Garr Reynold’s post, Slowing down to appreciate what’s important, I expected to read a Zen-inspired post about leaving extraneous material out of your presentations.

I read something even more important.

Most of my kids are all grown and off on their own now, except for our special needs daughter and our son who graciously stays around to help take care of her. Garr is just beginning with his children, and he has his priorities straight. He’s a world-known expert in presentation design and other communication areas, and his passion for that remains, but I wholeheartedly confirm that he would regret not putting the children first.

It doesn’t much matter if you can communicate effectively unless you have something to communicate about, and significant people to communicate with.

Garr, you don’t know me from any of the other 7 billion people on earth, but congratulations on your newest additon, and commendations on having the good sense to share the toast. Whether in presentations or in life, it really is about focusing on what’s important.

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How to save your voice while speaking

Creative Commons License photo credit: Jacopo AKA Bracco

It amazes me that students sometimes get hoarse just from delivering a five-minute speech. I can talk for hours without affecting my voice by following a simple procedure.

We know just enough biology to cause ourselves problems. People know their vocal cords are in their throats, so they think that you have to do something with the muscles there in order to project more effectively. However, the best thing you can do with your throat is to relax it–get out of the way! Continue reading

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