August 30, 2019

Why your role model doesn't have all the answers



"You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world's problems at once. But don't ever underestimate the importance you can have, because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own." ~ Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama is one of our country's most beloved role models. Her advocacy, sense of style, willingness to speak authentically about a range of issues, and of course, her book (which took only 15 days to break the record for the most copies of any book sold in 2018), have made raving fans of millions of people.

Positive role models often embody characteristics we wish we had. Even when we know that role models are human and flawed, just like all of us, we find comfort in knowing there are people in the world whose work, behavior or abilities we can admire and even strive to emulate.

But I believe that in looking up to role models, we discount our own ability to influence others.

We look to role models to speak up, because they're celebrities (in one way or another), they have a bigger platform, they already have the attention of many, and they have the superpower of being able to bounce back from bad press or criticism. Sometimes it seems like speaking up is something "other people" do.

Maybe it takes the pressure off; if someone else is speaking up for change, you don't have to. It's easy to hide behind our role models, to share their quotes on Facebook, to give their books as gifts, to pay top dollar to hear them speak at events, and to continue to let them do all the advocacy and activism.

Michelle Obama impacts millions of people, but she doesn't resonate with everyone. None of us will resonate with everyone.

But what if you could impact 100 people with your message? What if you could impact ten people? What if you could change one person's life? 

What if you could be someone else's role model?

Guess what: You already are!

There are people who look up to you. Your message and your story are unique to you, and there are people who need to hear exactly what you have to say, in the unique way that you say it.

In fact, you might be advocating for the same important issues as a well-known celebrity or other known personalities or experts, and yet you have the opportunity to connect with individuals and your community on a personal level that a celebrity rarely gets.

Role models are often inspiring teachers and examples to us. But don't forget that you can also be a role model, and probably already are.

Don't wait for the someone else to speak up. Now is the time. You have the right message. And you are the right person for the people who need you. And believe me, people need you.

Michelle Obama said it herself in the quote above: "...don't ever underestimate the importance you can have, because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own."

Now, who are you going to go out and inspire?

If you desire to impact and influence your audiences in a bigger way through speaking up for change, there are still spots open in my new Speaking Up For Change: Engage, Inspire, Transform online program starting September 10.

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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 27, 2019

She nailed it!



I started working with a client last month who was tapped to give a presentation at a leadership conference within her industry. The audience was made up of younger versions of herself (don't you wish you could always speak to younger versions of yourself?), and she was challenged to share her story while also teaching leadership lessons.

She came to me with some common concerns: She's used to "winging it" and not not fully preparing; she gets a little bit of stage fright right before she speaks; and this was very different from her usual shorter and more technical presentations.

Her goals were straightforward and simple: to be more strategic, impactful, and prepared, and to provide an authentic and inspiring experience for the young leaders in the room. Also, because she's applying for a new, more visible, leadership role in her company, she wanted to leave a good impression and to come across as thoughtful, articulate and organized.

We spent 90 minutes together - three 30-minute sessions over the phone - to prepare her content, structure, engagement activities and slides.

As I had hoped, on Friday I got an "I nailed it" email, with a great testimonial.

But the best part was when I asked for permission to use her words on my website. This was her response:

"Yes of course! Thank you so much again. I am ironically eager to try another presentation!"

This is what REALLY lights me up.

Sure, I want my clients to walk away from their presentations feeling confident, successful, and impactful.

I love to hear that their audience related to what they said and that audience members' attitudes and thoughts about themselves as leaders have changed.

I especially love it when one of the organization's leaders tells my client she should do a TED talk! πŸ€―πŸΎπŸŽ‰

But mostly? I want them to see all the possibilities that await them as speakers.

I want them to enjoy it so much that they want to do it again and again!

And I want them to experience #speakingupforchange firsthand.

This client is now planning to apply to be one of 13 speakers at a conference that just happens to be a partnership between her company and TED!

If you desire to impact and influence your audiences in a bigger way through speaking up for change, I want to let you know that there are still spots open in my new Speaking Up For Change: Engage, Inspire, Transform online program starting September 10. (The graphic says 9/11, but it is in fact 9/10.)

But the 1:1 coaching bonus goes away on Friday.

When you sign up for the program, you'll get personal attention from me on putting together your presentation, within the Facebook group, but you won't get a free 1:1 coaching call with me unless you sign up for the program by this Friday.

Do you want to nail your presentations?

Do you want to experience the powerful results of speaking up for change?

Do you want to go out into the world and deliver your message with joy, confidence and ease, over and over and over again!

Please join me!

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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 7, 2019

Claim the Stage podcast interview with Angela Lussier



Listen in on my conversation with Angela Lussier about ditching perfection and creating connection as a speaker!



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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 1, 2019

It's not fair



Last week, as many of my speaker colleagues packed and prepared to attend our annual convention, I saw a repeated refrain in our comment threads, all a variation of:

"I have to get a blow out, spray tan, hair colored and cut, teeth whitened, nails done, legs waxed, lashes extended, eyebrows dyed, shop for makeup and new outfits, find my Spanx, and find a gown to wear to the gala that I haven't worn before."

While lamenting that our male colleagues don't have to do any of this to prepare for a conference.

And more than once: "It's not fair."

Is it really? Not fair?

I'm not going to go into a huge gender socialization rant here or rail against a society that has such dramatically different expectations for women and men when it comes to appearance. Unfortunately, gender socialization frequently blinds us to the reality that we do, in fact, have a choice.

This post is about choice. You have a choice.

Sure, there are things in life that aren't fair, like genuine discrimination on the basis of gender, race, ability or sexual orientation.

But nobody is forcing women to dress and groom ourselves the way we do.

I'm not going to pretend I'm immune. I hate shaving my legs, and I actually stopped doing it about 30 years ago. But then I realized that sometimes I want to wear a skirt on stage, without tights or pantyhose. And I don't want my audience to be distracted if they notice my hairy legs.

So a couple of years ago, I started getting my legs waxed. Once a year, in the summer, so if it's hot and I want to wear a skirt or dress without tights onstage, I can, and no one will be distracted.

I hate that I care about this, or that someone might be so disturbed by the faint hair on my legs that they won't be able to listen to my content. But it's still my choice to wax my legs that one time a year. No one is forcing me to do it. I could wear tights. I could wear pants. I could let it go, and see what happens!

You have a choice. Do you have to dye your hair? Nope. Do you have to whiten your teeth? Nope. Do you have to wear Spanx? Good lord, no you do not!

Don't kid yourself that someone is "making" you do these things. The only thing that isn't fair is how you're treating yourself, like you're not a good enough female human unless you jump through all these hoops that prove you're what society considers appropriate and feminine.

If you enjoy doing all of this stuff before a big conference or speaking engagement, then by all means do it! I'm not judging and nobody has a right to judge you.

But if it annoys you... if you feel that "it's not fair"... and if you wish you didn't have to do it...

Guess what: You don't!

There are women speakers who don't wear heels, or clingy dresses that require Spanx, who don't spend a fortune on hair, lash and nail maintenance, wear minimal makeup (depending on the stage, you probably need at least some to be seen) and who still get hired and, by the way, get paid a lot of money to do what they do.

You are more than your appearance. Your message is what matters. Your personality, your authenticity, your connection with the audience. Your brilliance.

No matter what anyone else says, you don't have to do anything you don't enjoy doing.

What's not fair? You or anyone else making you feel that you're not good enough just as you are.

P.S. Have you read my book, Presenting for Humans: Insights for Speakers on Ditching Perfection and Creating Connection? Just another little encouragement toward being real, embracing your uniqueness, and kicking butt on stage!

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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!

July 17, 2019

Your voice: Small pebble... big ripples



A few years ago, I was taking my usual shortcut through Earl Warren Showgrounds on my daily walk, when I was stopped by a family in an SUV. They had a couple of questions about the Fiesta rodeo, a longstanding Santa Barbara tradition that's part of our annual Old Spanish Days festivities.

"How is the rodeo?" they asked. "Is it suitable for children?" And... "Is it violent?"

If you know me at all, if you know how much I love animals and if you know that I've been a vegetarian for 30 years, you'll have an idea how I answered.

I shared my thoughts honestly. I told them that I don't agree with rodeos, that animals are harmed in the process and that I didn't feel it was suitable for children.

1) Animals (especially mammals) are feeling, thinking, intelligent creatures that suffer physical and emotional pain (reach out if you'd like me to send you resources on on the intelligence and sensitivity of animals).

2) People dominating animals for entertainment is harmful to both the animals and to the onlookers, as the audience becomes desensitized to the suffering of animals. (Yes, I know people still do these activities on ranches, which is an argument in favor of rodeos. That still doesn't make it okay as entertainment.)

But no, there's no blood and gore. The parents were satisfied with our conversation and they pressed on to look for a parking spot.

I had felt heartbroken that day walking through the showgrounds, past all the rodeo horses and other animals in their stalls unaware of the fear, stress and possible injury awaiting them.

The opportunity to speak with this family raised my spirits and gave me hope. I was grateful to introduce them to a perspective on rodeo they might not have heard before, about the effects on the animals pressed into service for what many consider to be an inhumane sport.

They listened and seemed thoughtful, and I hope they took my words to heart and maybe did more research on their own.

Speaking up for change doesn't have to be dramatic or aggressive. It can be loud or soft. It can be a poke or a shove, a shuffle or a stride. Change is change, whether big or small. 

Your voice is needed. Your message is valuable. A pebble still makes ripples!

What change do you want to bring about? What cause or issue are you passionate about? Want to make big ripples or small ripples? The choice is yours! 

Join my Speaking Up For Change: Engage, Inspire, Transform online program and get your message off your heart, out of your head, and into the world! It starts September 10, but sign up by August 30 for a free 1:1 coaching bonus!



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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!

July 3, 2019

I dare you to be expressive



One of my clients has been working her way through the upper levels of her organization with a culture-changing idea for her company. She flies jumbo jets, and her idea would impact all pilots in her airline, and ideally, pilots across all of aviation.

After her first presentation, to which she had invited some of her peers for support, she felt really good about her performance. She made a brief comment to her (all male) peers about an area where she thought she fell short, and they immediately began critiquing her.

For 45 minutes they deconstructed her talk, giving only negative feedback, and the piece that really stuck with her was the idea that she's was "being a showman."

When she and I first met, she was very clear with me that her style is forceful and bold. As the commander of a jet, she can't be shy and retiring. She's knows her personality is strong and she's a very expressive presenter.

Luckily, she didn't beat herself up about the feedback. She carefully analyzed it and went into the following morning's meeting with resolve to get the results she needed for her project.

And she did. The chief pilot suggested sending her idea up the chain of command and having the legal department take a look.

Let's talk about this concept of showmanship, and some speakers' fears around being seen as enthusiastic and passionate.

My client is passionate about her cause, and when she speaks about it, her passion comes out. When I hear her speak, I get excited too!

However, her male colleagues (but not the boss!) were extremely uncomfortable with what they deemed to be unprofessional behavior.

This is partly because women in general are often judged in the workplace for expressing emotion - any emotion. Not just sadness or anger, but also excitement and enthusiasm. But so are men, especially in the workplace, and mostly for enthusiasm.

"Emotions are just not professional," according to some sad, dreary dude in a gray suit way back in the olden days.

The problem with this belief is that it's wrong. And also, as a speaker, you must engage your audience emotionally in order to be persuasive. People don't change attitudes, beliefs or behaviors based on data alone.

Take a look at advertising, where experts in consumer psychology persuade us to buy things every day based on our emotions. Sure, there's some data, but we use that to justify our decision, once we're already sucked in emotionally.

If you want results from your presentations, you must activate your audience's emotions.

That doesn't mean you, personally, have to be emotional in a big way. But digging into your own emotions about your topic and taking your audience on a journey with you so they feel something is how change happens.

My client and I discussed how she can be persuasive but not "stagey," and this is a valid concern. She's expressive (as am I), but she needs to be careful not to "perform" expressiveness so that it looks like she's acting.

As speakers, our voice, our hands, our bodies and our facial expressions are all connected, and they're connected to our emotions. They have to be, otherwise we look like we're faking it.

There's a middle ground between stagey and conversational, between over the top and just having a chat.

If we want to activate emotions, we have to tap into our own emotions and be willing to express them in order to bring our audience into our world. I know you might feel embarrassed for your audiences to perceive you as human, but human and authentic is what they want!

For me, expressiveness is a big part of my presentation style. It's not easy to get photos of me presenting, because I am ALWAYS making a face. My hands, my body and my face are all quite expressive. So on a scale of 1 to 10, I'm probably at a 9 when it comes to expressiveness.

This may not feel comfortable to you! But a 1 out of 10 is going to put your audience to sleep, guaranteed.

How can you increase your expressiveness in a way that is authentic to you, but also helps activate your audience's emotions? Can you move the needle from a 2 to a 4? From a 4 to a 6?

I dare you to upgrade your showmanship. 

Let your emotions flow naturally. Let your body and face be expressive, the same way they probably are when you're sitting around at a barbecue telling stories to your friends or kids.

There is no shame in being enthusiastic. There is nothing wrong with being expressive.

You can be in solidarity with the sad gray guy who decided enthusiasm is unprofessional. Or you can take a risk and free yourself from the restraints that one or two people in your workplace or audience would place on you.

My client got her results because her superior wasn't intimidated or threatened by her energy, and he was able to hear her message, get the data AND allow his own emotions to be activated.

Don't let small-minded fearful people interfere with your bold and courageous message!


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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 26, 2019

Don't wait for someone else to speak up



Once upon a time, I was getting on the freeway at an onramp near my home, and for the nth time, was nearly sideswiped by a car entering in the lane next to me. This onramp has two left turn lanes to enter the freeway, but once you begin the turn, the lane markings disappear.

If someone doesn't realize there are two lanes, it's very easy for them to drift from the left into the right lane. Accident waiting to happen.

So I contacted CalTrans on their website and shared my concern (they have a form just for these kinds of suggestions), and I received an auto-reply that my concern would be investigated. Exciting! But would it, really?

Less than a month later, I was getting on the freeway at this onramp, and suddenly realized that the entrance lanes were now demarcated with raised pavement markers!

(Here's a little factoid for you: These markers are called Botts' Dots.)

This was a small win, personally, but it made a big impact on all the drivers entering the freeway on that very busy street.

And I had had little faith that my concern would actually be heard and acted upon.

What are you longing to speak up about? What issue do you care deeply about, but feel powerless or afraid to address?

And what's holding you back?

  • Discomfort around being seen and heard? 
  • Fear of reprisal? 
  • Weariness from being ignored in the past? 
  • Apprehension about shocking people?
  • Belief that nothing will happen? 
  • Confusion about what's the next right action to take?

I hear you and I see you!

There are as many reasons NOT to speak up as there are to speak up.

Like you, I've suffered the emotional consequence of speaking up and being ignored or chastised. I've also experienced the incredible reward of speaking up and seeing change happen.

It's easy to sit back and wait for someone else to complain.

Or to share a post on Facebook and think we've done our civic duty to speak out on an issue (it's a start).

But someone else won't complain. Or not enough people will speak up. Or a lot of people will speak up, but not effectively enough to get other people to take action.

Sometimes we just don't care enough to speak up until we personally have been affected by an issue (like my unsafe neighborhood onramp). That's okay! Pick your battles. You can't fix everything, but you can take baby steps toward effecting change. You just have to participate in the conversation.

And... this is important... you have to be willing to take action and share action steps with others. Because the biggest frustration when we want change is not knowing HOW to take action. This is what knocks back the best of us from speaking out when we want to!

Want to learn how to effectively speak up in just a few easy steps?

Join my #SpeakingUpForChange 5-day Challenge here! We start Monday, July 22.

Have you stepped out of your comfort zone and spoken up lately?

Share it, use the hashtag #speakingupforchange, and tag me!


____________________________________________________
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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