April 17, 2021

There's no such thing as a dry topic, only a dry speaker

The other day someone commented on a post I wrote, saying, "Public speaking is easy if you love what you're speaking about and know it thoroughly. Then you just can't wait to stand up and tell everyone about it."

But sadly, not everyone feels passionate about their speaking topic. Many of my clients are business and nonprofit leaders who love much of their work, but have to speak (both internally and externally) about a range of topics they aren't excited about.

I also have clients who aren't passionate about their jobs at all, but they still have to go to work every day and complete their duties, some of which involve speaking. 

A client once told me that part of her problem around creating an engaging presentation is that "It's just a job." She was going to be introducing her company as a sponsor at an industry networking event, and she had no real motivation to speak. She didn't have an emotional connection to the work and therefore couldn't see how to make it exciting for the audience.

Business speakers are frequently put in the position of giving presentations they don't care much about. A department report in a staff meeting, a compliance presentation, a discussion of company financials that only 5% of your audience understands: Sometimes you just don't have enthusiasm for your topic. 

At the same time, you have people like me telling you to make your topic engaging and interesting for the audience.

What to do?

I tell speakers that your audience is always asking "What's in it for me?" In this case, I want you to ask yourself this question first.

1. What are the benefits, opportunities and possibilities that come your way when you give a presentation?


You get to practice your communication and leadership skills

You get to show your boss that you're a team player

You get to demonstrate your expertise and authority on a subject

You get to learn and grow from your experience and mistakes

You get to build confidence in your abilities

You get to learn and practice a skill that you can take with you to any job in the future

2. What DO you enjoy about your job or this topic? Where do you find satisfaction? What accomplishments make you feel good about your work?

If you can figure out what matters to you, you can make it matter to your audience. If you need to persuade your audience to do something, whether it's hire your company, purchase your product, give to your cause or just turn in their forms by the deadline, you can dig down and find that thing. 

3. Now that you know what the benefits are to you, go back and dig up the benefits to the audience. 

In the case of my client, something she enjoyed about her job was teaching employees how to pass a particular test, because she knew she was helping them achieve goals to further their careers. By helping these employees succeed on the test, she was also making the industry better for all of us who are consumers of that industry. 

We talked about how to make this the focus of her presentation. If that's what she cared about, she knew she could make the audience care about it, too. And it ended up being a much more interesting speech than, "Here's what we do... we have x numbers in the industry... we are customer-oriented... hire us."

Not every speaker has the luxury of being "passionate" about their topic. Oftentimes, speaking is a mundane duty that holds excitement for neither the speaker nor the audience.

But deep down inside, we can always find the thing that clicks. There's no such thing as a dry topic, only a dry speaker!

Are you an entrepreneur or professional who's looking for better results from your speaking? Are you hoping to build credibility and visibility for your business or cause? Tired of just "getting by" and ready to deliver truly engaging and powerful presentations? Click here to fill out my consultation questionnaire and we'll schedule a time to talk!

Three key words for any Slayer

Were you a fan of the TV show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer?" I missed it the first time around; having been out of high school for some time when it came out, I didn't find a show about high school kids killing vampires to be very appealing.

However, as I recently discovered the joys of comedy-horror movies ("Ready or Not," "Cabin in the Woods," etc.), I started getting a lot of suggestions from friends to give Buffy a go! 

And sure enough, it's a perfect blend of wit and sarcasm, cheesy 90s demon-slaying, feminist superhero, and high school angst. My husband and I are well into season 3, and it helps take our minds off of some of the heaviness in the world right now.

So when I heard this dialogue, I couldn't let it go by without sharing with you:

Wesley Wyndam-Pryce: Remember the three key words for any Slayer: preparation... preparation... preparation.

Buffy Summers: That's one word three times.

That Buffy could be really snarky. 

So many speakers could be slaying (see what I did there?) their formal and informal presentations if they just spent the time to prepare properly!

Sure, Buffy's destiny was always to be a slayer. But she also regularly trained on fighting and slaying techniques and kept a supply of tools at hand (holy water, wooden stakes and crosses; you know, the usual stuff), to never be caught off guard.

Sometimes, those of us who give regular presentations—and especially those of us who enjoy being in front of an audience—stop practicing and preparing. We lose the sense of urgency we felt in the beginning when we didn't know what to expect.

Buffy is secure in her ability to take down the bad guys. Once she accepts her destiny, she's all in. But she can still be a whiny teenager, not always wanting to do the work required to keep up her skills!

Do you find yourself being the whiny teenager? "But I don't WANT to practice my presentation!" "But I don't WANT to create a new outline!" "I just want to throw a bunch of stuff together and get it over with!"

The benefit of practice and preparation can't be overstated, even for short presentations and especially for remote presentations. The more prepared you are, the easier it is to improvise in the moment when something goes wrong or something unexpected happens (and you can be sure it will)!

When a disgusting demon in a tub of water (yeah, who knows what that was about) had Buffy's true love in his grip, she spotted a light fixture hanging above and cut it loose so the monster was electrocuted. That was just plain quick thinking, no weapons required!

Part of preparation means making room in your schedule for keeping your skills and tools sharp, like Buffy makes time (sometimes reluctantly) for training and skill-building. What are you doing to stay sharp, focused and ready?

👇🏼 👇🏼 👇🏼

If you're ready to slay your next presentation, register for my Mini-Retreat on Micro-Presentations: two options coming up in April and May!

The April retreat is 4/28-4/30. You'll need three half-days available in your schedule to attend and to create your 5-minute presentation/video/message for personalized coaching and feedback. And it will be worth it!

"I was attracted to Lisa's micro-presentations retreat because of the promise of laser-focusing a tight little talk, and having it presentable by the end of the retreat, and indeed that is what I got from it!"

"Uplevel your presentations—virtual needs a lot more magic than stage, and Lisa brings it!"

"I have come away with some key learnings about myself and others, AND a 5-minute presentation framework that has set me up to present more effectively for impact, engagement, information, AND fun."

The registration deadline for your VIP goodie box expires on April 21.

The May retreat is further out (May 26-28), but the 2-pay plan expires on April 19.

Register here for either April or May retreat: https://coachlisab.com/mini.

So, are you going to ⚔️slay⚔️ your next micro-presentation, or what? 

Are you an entrepreneur or professional who's looking for better results from your speaking? Are you hoping to build credibility and visibility for your business or cause? Tired of just "getting by" and ready to deliver truly engaging and powerful presentations? Click here to fill out my consultation questionnaire and we'll schedule a time to talk!

November 5, 2020

5 ways to improve your micro-presentations

Have you noticed presentations getting shorter? I have!

Because speakers are onscreen, sitting at desks, or on the couch, or in the kitchen while we're presenting, it's much easier to switch speakers quickly at online conferences and summits.

One of my clients told me about speaking at an event where there were ten speakers in a hour. Other clients and colleagues have reported being asked to give 3-minute presentations. The madness of it all! 😵

While this may not be ideal for your topic OR your audience (many event organizers have no idea how long it actually takes to give a certain amount of information while also being engaging and interactive and persuasive), it's reality.

In fact, I give only 2-3 minutes in my retreats and corporate trainings for my attendees to practice their presentations. Micro-presentation are a great way to distill down your content to its essence, and an effective exercise for learning conciseness.

But they're not easy, and they come with unique challenges.

It's even more critical to stick to your time in the online presentation environment. When you go over, it pushes everyone else back – just like when you present in person. Which is already not a good idea, and an unprofessional practice.

But with tighter time frames and people tuning in from home, there is much more likelihood of someone going straight from one meeting to the next with no break in between. Your audience is now jumping from one Zoom call to another with seconds to spare.

Not to mention the fact that your audiences are dealing with home-based school and more responsibilities than ever just outside the periphery of their screen

Your audience is invisible; not only can they can turn off their mic and video camera and go on with other duties like folding laundry or making lunch, they can also just–poof–sign off without anyone even noticing.

Here are a couple of quick tips to make the most of a virtual presentation under ten minutes long and ensure that you're not causing your audience members to drop the call because you weren't prepared.

1. Script out anything of vital importance. While analyzing the above client's presentation, we discovered that there were some pieces missing. But with a time frame of 7 minutes, her presentation was already bulging at the seams.

I suggested she streamline the content a little more, and then very strictly script out the extra content, rehearse it, and use the script while presenting.

I rarely recommend using a script because most people are just not good at reading them in a way that sounds natural and conversational. In this case, however, the new addition of some critical content would be about 30 seconds long.

It's worth it to script out, practice, and read aloud material that is vital to your presentation but might push you over the limit.

While bullet points are practical to allow free-flowing and spontaneous discussion in a regular presentation, a micro-presentation might require more scripting than a longer one.

However, scripting REQUIRES practice. So if you decide to script out part or all of your short presentation, you must practice it enough to sound natural. Just think back over a speaker you've listened to who sounded robotic and mechanical. Don't be that person.

2. Build in a cushion. If you get cut off by someone going longer ahead of you, you don't want to cut off the speaker after you as well. Everyone will remember the person who goes on too long–for the wrong reason. You don't want to be remembered as the one who pushed everyone else back.

Building in a cushion means that you end a 3-minute presentation at 2 minutes 45 seconds. Oftentimes when we practice, our presentations are shorter than when we give them in front of an audiences. The nuances of pacing often change when we're live.

So if your presentation is supposed to be 7 minutes long, practice it up to 6 minutes and 30 seconds, or even a little bit less.

3. Cut out all extraneous content beforehand. There is no time for extended "thank yous," filler words or anything that is not critical. Micro-presentations need to be refined in terms of seconds, not minutes, so be brutal with your editing.

This includes exercises and activities. If you're going to use a poll, breakout rooms, a handout, a game or another kind of engagement activity, time it. Don't use two polls if you only have time for one. Ask two questions instead of three. Tighten up the amount of time it takes to get the audience's focus back after an activity. Again: PRACTICE.

4. Be willing to edit as you go. This also takes practice, and experience, so this is another reason I recommend making and accepting as many speaking engagements as possible. 

I once missed a paragraph of a 10-minute story I was delivering at a storytelling event. The content was scripted and rehearsed, but I still forgot my place and skipped ahead. Because of my decades of experience, I was able to smoothly re-insert the missed paragraph a minute or so later, without missing a beat.

When speakers ahead have gone on too long, you might find yourself with five minutes to deliver a 7-minute presentation. You need to know all the content that can be cut on the fly and be willing to edit as you go. 

You can be the hero and save the day, getting everyone out of the meeting in time for their next commitment! Or you can be the one who refuses to acknowledge that the event is running late and still gives your entire presentation. Not cool.

5. Practice. Yep, I said it again. The less experienced you are, the more likely your sense of timing needs to be developed. Short presentations need to be tight and free of extraneous content, but still engaging, informative and persuasive. Just do it. Practice.

For good or bad, micro-presentations are here to stay. They require a level of focus and structure that longer presentations don't. Are you preparing properly? 

Are you an entrepreneur or professional who's looking for better results from your speaking? Are you hoping to build credibility and visibility for your business or cause? Tired of just "getting by" and ready to deliver truly engaging and powerful presentations? Click here to fill out my consultation questionnaire and we'll schedule a time to talk!

August 28, 2020

Rise up out of the noise

Every day, I see more of my friends and colleagues speaking out against injustice, finding their voices, and speaking their truth.

Just yesterday I wrote about a conversation with a friend who was feeling hopeless. Later that day, another friend spoke up publicly for the first time about the issues plaguing our country.

Maybe you didn't jump on the bandwagon three or six or 36 months ago. Maybe, for whatever reason, you've been holding back. Maybe you're afraid to rock the boat, turn off potential customers and clients, or upset your boss.

You know what? There are A LOT of ways to speak your truth. You don't need to bash people over the head.

But if you're a public figure in any way (speaker, coach, entrepreneur, business or nonprofit leader), with a public platform, and you're not saying *anything,* you're doing your customers and clients a disservice.

Are you a leadership coach or speaker? A financial coach or speaker? An expert on customer service, marketing, social media, graphic design, money mindset, mental health, chronic illness, fitness or something else where your clients are relying on your support to transform their lives or work?

How does your topic/work/content apply to what's happening right now?

People need you. They need to know how to manage their money - in this current environment. They need to know how to stay mentally and physically healthy - in this current environment. They need to know how to deal with their customers - in this current environment.

What people don't need is shallow platitudes and empty clichés. People are struggling. People are hurting. They need you to rise up out of the noise and speak authentically to them about their challenges.

Stay tuned: I'm offering my FREE Speaking up for Change virtual workshop next month to help you get your message out of your head, off of your heart, and into the world. 

You'll learn the Why, What, Who, Where, How and When of #speakingupforchange!

Want to know more? Raise your hand in the comments! Details are coming soon!

Are you an entrepreneur or professional who's looking for better results from your speaking? Are you hoping to build credibility and visibility for your business or cause? Tired of just "getting by" and ready to deliver truly engaging and powerful presentations? Click here to fill out my consultation questionnaire and we'll schedule a time to talk!

August 25, 2020

How to be comfortable with uncertainty

I had an enlightening conversation with my acupuncturist yesterday about the uncertainty of life, that triggered a revelation I want to share with you as a lesson for public speaking.

But first, let's go back to December 1, 1990. I was a happy-go-lucky grad student on my way home from the store on my scooter, with a few groceries in a paper bag tucked under my feet. 

In a split second, I was a no longer happy-go-lucky grad student, lying in the middle of a busy intersection with blood pouring down my face, having been hit by a car that didn't see me—head-on.

Due to the head injury and other bodily injuries, and the length of my recovery time, I ended up finishing grad school in two years instead of one. My future changed that day in many ways.

December 4, 2017 was the day the Thomas Fire began, right down the road from us in Ojai, eventually burning through 440 square miles of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, destroying over 1,000 structures, damaging 280, and ultimately causing $2.2 billion in damages.

If it wasn't enough that many lost their homes and businesses (the fire raged for a month, causing such poor air quality that people stayed inside, not shopping, eating out, or pursuing any leisure activities), we had heavy rains the following month. The rains caused a massive debris flow in Montecito, in the area of a burn scar, which killed 21 people.

March 2020: Coronavirus. Need I say more?

What do all these things have in common? In a split second, those of us involved faced death, disability, destruction, disaster, devastation.

Now, let's go back to September 1987. I started a new job and met the man who would become my husband. Three months later, we had our first (group) date, and the rest is history.

How about March 2018, when a rambunctious cow cat named Benjamin, in need of a home, streamed through my Facebook feed? A week later, he was soothing our grieving hearts after having recently lost our 14-year-old TigerLiger to cancer.

Again, in a split second, life changed. But in these examples, instead of destruction and devastation, love came into our lives.

We've been talking about COVID as a "time of uncertainty." And of course, it is. Life has changed and will never go back to the way it was.

But isn't this always true? Isn't every day uncertain? Do we ever know what's going to happen tomorrow? 

In a split second, everything can change. And it does. On a regular basis. Not just now. Not just because of COVID, and not just because of a looming election. Not just because of climate change or because of racial unrest. In a split second, everything can change. And it does. Every single day.

What's happening right now is that this uncertainty is right up in our faces. We can't hide from it. It's easy to forget that life is so unpredictable. We don't like to be reminded.

I was wondering why this "uncertainty" hasn't bothered me as much as it has bothered some. After all, I never know where my next client is coming from. I never know if we'll face a raging fire that takes our home. I never know if I'm going to be healthy tomorrow, or if perhaps I'll fall down the stairs and break my leg. Oh yeah, that already happened on the 4th of July. So that's out of the way.

I also never know if something amazing is going to happen tomorrow! With COVID, I'm seeing so much innovation and creativity, that I'm overcome with optimism for our future. 

And in this experience lies the difference between how I face uncertainty and how many others face it.

I see the possibilities in the world. When I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, that's okay. I know I don't control the outcomes of everything. In fact, I control the outcomes of very few things in my life, when I really think about it. And I'm okay with that.

I wasn't always this way. I have been a major control freak in the past. That car accident in 1990 set me straight.

I was in a lot of pain. I couldn't think straight due to my head injury. I couldn't do my grad school homework. My short-term memory was shot. And I started having panic attacks and anxiety that have never fully gone away and are now managed with medication. I couldn't control my body or my mind. Wow. Not good when you're used to the illusion of controlling everything!

Guess who had to get over being a control freak, and super fast? Yep, this chica. (I had a great therapist who helped me recognize this!)

One of the things that many of my speaking clients hate is the uncertainty of presenting. You can practice for days and weeks. You can record yourself. You can create the most beautiful, perfect slides. You can hire an expert like me to ensure you are performing at your best.

But when Zoom goes down for hours (like it did this week), or your client forgets to set up your polls and breakout rooms, or you wake up with laryngitis (happened to me) or your next-door neighbor starts up the leaf blower right outside your window, how exactly are you in control?

We can have contingency plans all day long—and many speakers do! It's a really good idea. But life is uncertain. Presenting is uncertain. Every time you present, you are stepping into the great unknown. And ultimately, we can look at that as potential disaster, or we can look at it as potential possibility.

You actually get to choose how you see the world, how you perceive change, disruption and the unpredictable nature of life.

I had a client who used to dread speaking. We worked on his mindset. After a radio appearance he had feared, he told me that he actually enjoyed himself. In changing his mindset about the possible outcomes, he realized "I had no reason to believe it wouldn’t go well."

How about you? Can you practice making this mental shift? It's true, tomorrow could be a disaster. You could get hit by a bus. Or you could get pooped on by a bird. Or you could win the lottery.

Or, to paraphrase my favorite Instagram dog Beaux Tox, tomorrow could be the best day you have ever had in your whole entire life!

Are you an entrepreneur or professional who's looking for better results from your speaking? Are you hoping to build credibility and visibility for your business or cause? Tired of just "getting by" and ready to deliver truly engaging and powerful presentations? Click here to fill out my consultation questionnaire and we'll schedule a time to talk!

August 19, 2020

Your presentation needs osteoclasts

Nerd alert! 🤓 I have become obsessed with the process of bone healing!

On July 4, I lost my footing on the stairs in my home and suffered a compound fracture in my right leg, an "open tib-fib" in medical shorthand. I'm calling it "The Saga of the Four Fractures."

I had surgery on July 5 to insert a rod and screws (you can call me the Bionic Woman🦿), and I've been working on my healing and recovery for the past six weeks.

Of course, I started studying up on bone healing. Our bodies are amazingly resilient, but the way bones heal is particularly magical.

You would expect that there are cells that are entirely responsible for building bone. They're called osteoblasts. 

A couple weeks after the initial fracture, after the body has produced a healthy swelling around the injury and then a soft protective callus made of collagen, the osteoblasts start their work building new bone.

The osteoblasts add minerals into the collagen tissue—starting at about the six-week mark—and between weeks 6 and 12 (on a lower limb injury like mine) the hard callus forms.

We might expect that, once the hard bone has formed, the work is done.

But wait, there's more!

There's another type of cell that now jumps in and continues working on the bone. This cell, the osteoclast, is responsible for removing bone.

What? Removing bone?

The osteoblasts are not about finesse. They build bone where it's needed, with a little extra for good measure.

The osteoclasts now come in and remodel the bone, reshaping it to its proper form. They break down and digest excess bone in a process called bone resorption.

This balance between building bone and breaking it down is called bone homeostasis: Osteoblasts and osteoclasts are equally important in the process of maintaining healthy bone, not just when bones are broken, but throughout our lives.

Yep, this illustration of homeostasis is directly related to your presentations!

Most speakers have too much information to share. It's rare when I see a client who doesn't have enough to say about their topic. When you're a subject matter expert, it's hard to say everything you want to say in an hour or less! I get it.

In an effort not to leave anything out, many speakers pack their presentations too full. They overbuild. And frankly, they make a mess of things. 

They put too many bullets on slides, they leave out interaction and engagement activities, they talk too fast, and they run over time... all in an effort not to leave out a single concept or idea.

There is a better way! Incorporate the osteoclast techniqe into your presentation!

First you build the presentation. Then you practice the presentation out loud and record it. Why out loud and why record? Because this will give you valuable information about flow, structure and timing.

Once you have this information, you start breaking it down, reshaping it and shaving off the excess. 

You cannot create a successful presentation without removing the excess, paring it down, and culling the extraneous. You can't create a successful presentation without the balance of expanding and contracting, building and demolishing.

Keep practicing, recording and revising, until your presentation has taken its most streamlined and elegant shape. Just like your beautiful bones.

Are you an entrepreneur or professional who's looking for better results from your speaking? Are you hoping to build credibility and visibility for your business or cause? Tired of just "getting by" and ready to deliver truly engaging and powerful presentations? Click here to fill out my consultation questionnaire and we'll schedule a time to talk!

June 10, 2020

Do you cringe when you hear "white privilege?"

Equating racism with hate is a red herring for white people. (Or maybe just liberal "enlightened" white people.)

Making hatred the defining characteristic of a racist person allows white people to disengage from the exploration of white privilege and implicit bias.

I’m going to go out on a limb and wager that the majority of the people I know and love don’t actually hate anyone based solely on their race, ethnicity, religion, weight, sexual orientation, physical abilities, or socioeconomic status. 

(Maybe some of you do hate people based on these attributes. Then I guess this post isn't for you. And we shouldn't be friends.)

It’s easy to think that, because you don’t “hate” anyone or you’re not “mean” to anyone, you can’t possibly be contributing to racism.

You may not hate anyone, but if you’re white, you still benefit from a system of institutionalized racism that discriminates against people of color. 

You may not hate anyone, but you are part of a society that, from textbooks to news media to movies tells – at best – an incomplete and stereotyped story of the lives and contributions of POC and – at worst – a completely false and dangerous story.

Study up on white privilege, read about implicit bias, acknowledge your defensiveness when you hear the words "hate" and "privilege," listen to the experiences of POC, and find ways to take tangible action to break down the systems and policies that put nonwhites at a lifelong disadvantage.

If you want to put the focus on love and kindness, please also remember to focus on personal responsibility for self-awareness and action.

And if you don't feel that the words "hate" or "privilege" apply to you, keep listening, reading, and studying anyway. Don't let the words distract you from the work.

Are you an entrepreneur or professional who's looking for better results from your speaking? Are you hoping to build credibility and visibility for your business or cause? Tired of just "getting by" and ready to deliver truly engaging and powerful presentations? Click here to fill out my consultation questionnaire and we'll schedule a time to talk!

May 12, 2020

I have a secret...

There are so many great online programs out there, and I have several coaches whose programs I'm pretty much always going to join.

But most programs have a Facebook group component, and this is where I find myself holding back from signing up for a program, especially if I know that this program has 50 or 100 people in it. 

When I'm about to join a group with 50+ people all doing the same homework every day, I get super anxious.

Am I supposed to comment on and like all 50+ people's posts every single day in a 31-day challenge or an 8-week program? How am I going to have time to watch all 50+ introduction videos and other videos? How am I going to support others while also getting my own work done? 

I'm highly apprehensive about groups. In fact, I really don't like 90% of the groups I'm in.

I don't like being in groups that don't have active participants, obviously, and I feel sad and lonely if no one likes my posts, so I want to be active for the other people in the group. 

But I also don't have all day to spend in a group making sure other people get likes and comments. I have anxiety and guilt pretty much every time I'm in a program or challenge group.

This past weekend, I started leaving Facebook groups. I'm still in a LOT. Too many, in fact. 

The ones I'm paying for, I keep, and I do my best to balance my own needs with being supportive of others.

Ones I'm not paying for, especially ones I've never been active in, that seemed like a good idea at the time, those are gone.

Groups that are community-based, like local buy/sell/trade groups, I keep for their usefulness when and if I need them.

And then there's that "other" category: groups I joined to help or support a friend or colleague, but that I never really pay attention to. Arrrgh. What do I do about THESE groups?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on (large) groups. I'm in some smaller groups that are perfectly manageable. 

But when you're in a large group, do you feel compelled to support everyone else? 

Do you feel guilty if you comment on some posts and not others? 

Do you do "drive-by likes" where you just like every new post so people don't feel ignored?

Share your thoughts, guilt, anxiety, or love of groups!

Are you an entrepreneur or professional who's looking for better results from your speaking? Are you hoping to build credibility and visibility for your business or cause? Tired of just "getting by" and ready to deliver truly engaging and powerful presentations? Click here to fill out my consultation questionnaire and we'll schedule a time to talk!

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