the inspiration blog

Many Inspiration Blog readers are service-based providers who work with clients. If this is you, in order for someone to decide to work with you, you probably need to talk to them. That is, they might get exposure to you through a free talk or webinar that you give – or, perhaps you offer a free consultation of some sort.

There are a lot of great approaches to doing free consultations and talks. As a public speaking and communications coach for 18 years (err, almost 19), I’ve noticed one element frequently missing from these systems… but which I teach my clients for when they do their own consults and talks. I haven’t yet shared this publicly, though. Here it is:

Your niche wants to be talked to in a particular way.

This is essential. While you do need to know how to put together a great talk and/or conduct a powerful consult, if you don’t talk to your clients in the way they desire, there will be a disconnect. And this impasse will get in the way of inspiring clients to work with you.

Different niches want to be talked to differently – and your ability to establish the “know, like and trust” factor largely depends on how you talk to them. Here are a few different examples:

  1. Your speaking style and tone of voice. Executives, for example, generally desire a faster pace, and to have you get to the point more quickly, than holistic practitioners do. (Niche is far more nuanced than that, but it’s a clear example.)
  2. Vocabulary usage. What terms do your ideal clients use? First, make sure you speak in relationship to their struggles and desires, and not with the lingo or your techniques or methods. Second, use vocabulary that correlates with their professional level:
    • Corporate types use a particular lingo and terminology, and holistic practitioners utilize  very different terms.
    • If you work with intellectuals, they’ll enjoy your using bigger words; if your clients are more blue-collar, those same words will alienate them.
  3. Becoming increasingly fluent in their pains and desires. Intimately know both what they want as well as where they’re stuck. For example, I know very well that many of my clients suffer from nervousness or fear around speaking… or having a monotone voice… or don’t know how to craft a powerful talk that inspires and enrolls.

You also need to know about who they are personally. Most people I serve are on a path of personal development and spiritual growth, as am I – so I also express that clearly when I talk with them. Oh, speaking that way will repel those who aren’t my niche. And that’s a good thing: I get to work with clients I love, and can refer out those who would better be served by someone else.

If you don’t have a niche…

Have you had a practice for more than a year or two? (At first, it’s good to try working with different people, hone your skills, and get a sense for you who like.), If so, then honestly… it’s time to hone your niche. It’s essential. If you don’t know who your clients are, you don’t know where to find them, among other things.

In terms of communication and speaking, if you don’t have a niche, you will likely be speaking very generically – both in terms of how you speak and your message. Which means that you won’t be particularly compelling to anyone. Well, you’ll still be yourself… but often when we are trying to speak to everyone, we can wash out the colors of our true personality, and not shine in our full glory… and that’s of course what inspires clients to work with us.

Let me say it again: a successful practice for service-based providers – like coaches and holistic practitioners – needs a niche.  A good niche, one that’s right for you, is defined so you get to work with all of the clients you LOVE, and doesn’t exclude anyone with whom you want to work.

By the way, as an Intuitive Business Strategist (one of my hats), one of my favorite things to do is to help coaches and holistic practitioners clarify their niche and message very quickly, so that it connects deeply with their life purpose and highest service. If your practice lacks focus (and maybe profits) because of not being clear of your audience, you’re invited to be in touch – email me or schedule a time to chat.

In sum, by deeply knowing your niche – and how to speak to them and how to serve them – you can love them more fully. And they’ll feel loved. That’s my idea of good business.

How do you talk to your niche? How do you bring out your personality, and connect more deeply? Or, what problems are you facing? Leave a question or comment below.

After emailing my community and posting here, I received a huge amount of feedback. Much of it was positive and thankful; others questioned how I could doubt the jury and due process.

It’s a complicated issue. The prosecutor has widely been regarded as not having done his job well (and even in August was named as historically siding with police, and his father was a policeman), and the grand jury has been put to shame by the American Bar Association. Plus, Blacks are 20 or 30 times more likely both to be shot and killed, and to be prosecuted, than white people.

Here are some links I’ve assembled through my own research and through the help of friends. I hope they’re of benefit.

http://www.vox.com/2014/11/25/7287443/dorian-johnson-story

http://www.newsweek.com/ferguson-prosecutor-robert-p-mccullochs-long-history-siding-police-267357

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/prosecutor-faces-criticism-ferguson-case-27187809

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fy49SyK95E

http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/justice-scalia-explains-why-ferguson-grand-jury-was-completely-wrong

http://www.propublica.org/article/deadly-force-in-black-and-white?utm_campaign=sprout&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_content=1416930099

http://www.vox.com/2014/11/25/7281165/darren-wilsons-story-side

http://billmoyers.com/2014/10/27/century-racist-policies-created-ferguson/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/11/24/as-a-federal-prosecutor-i-know-how-hard-it-is-to-convict-officers-like-darren-wilson/

http://us7.campaign-archive1.com/?u=b493e6c4d31beda32fdaf8e2d&id=73514e334b

http://www.blackgirldangerous.org/2014/08/things-stop-distracted-black-person-gets-murdered-police/

http://qz.com/250701/12-things-white-people-can-do-now-because-ferguson/

I was planning on posting something different today – on how to talk to your ideal clients. I will do so… but right now there is only one thing on my mind. So I wrote this up, and also created a short video about it.

If you haven’t been following the story, here’s the background. Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot 6 times and killed by white police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. And a grand jury just decided to not indict Wilson.

I live in Oakland, California, which has a bad rap for being a dangerous unsafe place – if you’re not from here. In actuality, Oakland has both posh, upscale neighborhoods as well as poor, economically-challenged areas; it’s also one of the most diverse communities in the country even as it’s rapidly being gentrified via the San Francisco Bay Area’s skyrocketing housing prices.

Tonight, I met with a group of friends in an 18th floor apartment one of them has, just a short walk from my home. From our safe (and, definitively privileged) location, we watched protests, police in riot gear, and hundreds of people streaming onto the freeway and stopping traffic. As I write this, the sound of helicopters is omnipresent. Similar protests are happening across the United States.

Many people in my community reading this live outside the United States; or, you may be in the U.S. but feel far away from the issue. Unfortunately, while we have a black president, we by no means live in a “post-racial society.” Unconscious prejudice and racism are still prevalent. I’m disgusted that this is still happening; the 1992 Rodney King riots occurred while I was in college, under similar circumstances – and this is still happening?

Watching these protests, and feeling heartbroken that this is today’s news and not decades old, had me feel the need to write to my community and just say this:

YOUR VOICE MATTERS.

What you say matters. And, if you don’t say anything, that matters too.

Look. While I have really strong feelings about what’s happening now, I’m called to just use this as a reminder to tell you to speak up.

I didn’t name one of my online trainings Claim Your Voice because I thought it was catchy. This is one of my deepest beliefs: we will create change in the world once we choose to step up and say what we need to say.

If you’re not speaking up about what you care about… well, let’s refer back to what pastor Martin Niemöller wrote about the rise of Nazism, as quoted by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

This is not to imply that people of color can’t speak up for themselves. They have powerful voices. But those of us who benefit from white privilege also have a duty to 1) really get what this is about, and then 2) speak about it. Here’s my favorite quote on the topic I’ve seen so far: “White privilege is me being outraged and angered by the Ferguson decision rather than utterly terrified.”

Do it. Choose to speak up about what’s important… to you, and to the world. 

You can make a difference. For example:

Write and give a speech.

Write a blog.

Create a YouTube video.

Whatever works.

What do you need to speak about? What have you been holding back saying? Why? What are you afraid of? It’s okay if people don’t like you. Really. They may not anyway.

But we have to speak.

You can disagree with me if you want. It’s an explosive issue. It should be. But I really want to know what you deeply want and need to speak about.

Leave your comments below.

Here’s an interesting little story about what we take for granted: how technology transforms our lives, our mindsets, and our experiences.

When I was departing Bali in September to return to California, I saw an elderly man escorted by his younger relatives, heading into the airport – likely to meet an arriving relative. He was new to airports: in fact, I witnessed what must have been his first experience with a moving walkway. He stepped onto it with great hesitancy, and *leaped* off of it at the end.

And maybe he was the “healthier” one. We’re so technologized at this point – yes, with our smartphones, but with so many elements of technology that we don’t even think about anymore. Is this healthy? We of course gain great conveniences – but what do we lose? With this cyborgian mindset of having things done for us without even thinking? Is there an aspect of being human that gets lost?

Action: When you find ourself inconvenienced by something technological that doesn’t quite work right, try taking the very slow route – and reveling in it.

You may have recently seen me announce a 3-day workshop in November called WholeSpeak Core Intensive: Speak with Power and Presence. I was looking forward to leading this transformational event that teaches my proven methods to transform fear and nervousness into presence and confidence, as well as all public speaking essentials, with the support of my fully-trained WholeSpeak coaches. Having coached public speaking for decades, I know the power of the WholeSpeak Method: it not only teaches incredible skills – it also consistently changes lives.

And yet, I’ve had a hard time putting the word out. Every time I went to do it, I stopped in my tracks. Inside, the message was “No. Wait. Not right now.” While I truly was looking forward to a transformative 3 days, another part of me was saying no. As difficult as it was, being a man of my word who is committed to follow-through… I finally listened. I called the venue, all of my WholeSpeak coaches, and those who were thinking of coming, and said: the intensive will happen later, but not now.

What happened? Well, here’s the truth: recently I’ve felt like I haven’t fully living my purpose, and I can’t keep doing that. Let me briefly explain.

I’ve known since a young age that I’m on the planet to create transformation: all of my work (be it theatre, coaching, workshops or my writing) is for that purpose. Now, when people get help from me with public speaking, they’re definitively receiving professional skills… and also are stepping more fully into their authentic, fully alive selves.

However, primarily coaching public speaking has felt off-target… like a disguise for what I really do. All of my being is screaming for me to step into more overtly offering my work as intentional personal transformation, not solely as a professional development skill.

This isn’t new: I have taught performance-based workshops focused on personal growth since 2006, even before I founded WholeSpeak. And my Masters’ theses for both of my graduate degrees even helped me create a unique theoretical foundation, as well as a methodology.

I call this body of work “The Performance of Your Life.” It excites me to no end… and includes many teachings that are so dear to my heart, like workshops on Presence as well as the Art of Connection. There’s a lot more to say about it later… this email is really not intended to market it. I just wanted to come out and say what’s been going on.

Even though I’m known for being up-front and very open, sending this out (instead of just not saying anything, and quietly canceling it) was a scary choice, but felt important to do. During the past several years, I haven’t had a single “failure” (although my earlier coaching years were another story). And yet, I teach my clients to embrace failing – because taking risks is how we grow. Ironically, in this case, postponing the workshop was the bigger growth opportunity: it would have been better business-wise to do it as planned. But I made the difficult choice to risk disappointing a lot of people, and to heed the calling of my inner voice.

Note: if you’re in my community because you want to find confidence and unparalleled skills in public speaking, do not worry: that will still be offered, through coaching, workshops and online trainings. It’s not going away, and I’ll announce new opportunities for learning this soon.

And, if you were looking attending the November WholeSpeak Core Intensive but hadn’t been in touch yet, please email me back. There are other training options available (like coaching, online trainings, and small groups), and we’ll find the right one for you.

So, that’s my news… and now, I’d like to ask you:

What are you doing that isn’t feeling aligned? Are there aspects of your work you’re really done with?

What do you love that you aren’t doing? What calls to your soul right now? 

And, is there a way you can celebrate risk-taking and “failing” more?

I’d love to hear from you. Would you answer one or more of these questions below as a comment? Share, and join me in being “out” what what is really going on – and get support.

Warm wishes,

Jonathan

Today marks the start of using more video – and the start of a new YouTube channel called “The Performance of Your Life,” which you’ll hear more about in the future.

Let me know what you think. -Jonathan

 

Most of us have no idea about what we can do with our voice, or how to use it in all of its potential. Many people don’t conceive of what it means to discover their true range of vocal power.

Then again, perhaps it’s difficult to grasp what it means to truly reside in our power.

This is a topic I think about quite often; it’s been a big part of my own journey, from feeling very powerless early in life, to eventually coming more fully into my power. This is a life journey for many of us…. It’s about owning all that we are, and embodying and wielding it responsibly, and with heart.

And the same thing goes for your voice. Did you realize that your voice reflects your experience, your power, and what aspects of yourself are easily accessible?

For example, if you’re uncomfortable (be it in life talking with one person, or in a speaking engagement), it’s incredibly common to freeze up and lose a lot of your vocal and physical expression. Your voice gets “flat” and your TMJ area may get tighter. In this case, you’re locking up your true expression, which perhaps only those closest to you get to see – and are not releasing into our power. Power isn’t about trying to be “big” or forcing it out; it’s about relaxing into all that we are.

Having a Dynamic Voice – and Thoughts on Authenticity

As well, we have so many vocal dynamics available to us… and yet most people generally utilize very few of them. With my clients and in workshops, I often address dynamics like pitch, tempo, volume, enunciation variation, and powerful pronunciation. Did you know that each of them has a different energetic and psychological correlation? For example, I’ve found that if you don’t enunciate strongly, that’s energetically associated with holding back from really impacting others. In terms of pitch, if you habitually have a high voice, your voice is likely disconnected from your power center – and needs to be reclaimed.

You can radically enhance your voice – and, as you do, reclaim more of your power. This is, of course, not power over others… but power within. And yet, it affects others strongly. All sound is vibration – and your voice resonates within other people when they hear it.

Because 50-80% of communication is nonverbal – both body language and vocal tone – how we speak often matters more than what we say. For example, learning how to have a more resonant, fuller voice will affect others’ feelings about you (even though they typically won’t know why).

When we transform how we speak, it challenges our ideas about ourselves because we’ve never heard our voice that way before. Some people tell me, “Oh, using my voice that way isn’t authentic!” My response is, typically, “No – that’s not being habitual.” Because enhancing self-expression is a process of self-expansion.

What’s needed first?

Before you start to radically enhance your voice, however, it’s essential to begin with stepping into your power – and your presence – as a speaker… and in your life. Foundations must be laid that will open up your voice and your presence. Once those are set, you can then start to find the incredible self-expression of which you are fully capable.

And, on that note… keep an eye out for a special invitation soon. I’ll be announcing an intensive 3-day retreat in the San Francisco Bay Area mid-November, that you won’t want to miss. Hint: it has to to do with finding power and presence – as a speaker and in life.

How aware are you of the potential that your voice holds? Do you realize when you freeze up and are holding back? And… do you know that this can radically change?

Please leave your comments and questions below!

 

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