Every Saturday morning that I’m in town, I walk over to the farmer’s market near where I live (a cute neighborhood in Oakland, California, right by a lake). I love buying organic fruits and vegetables, in season, straight from the people who grow them – and have gotten to be friends with some of the vendors too.
At the farmer’s market, I’ve made it a regular practice to buy flowers. Sometimes I see a glint in a passerby’s eye, a “knowing look,” wondering what lucky woman is getting them.
But they’re for me. That’s right: every week I buy myself flowers. Sure, if I’m dating someone, she may be getting flowers too. But I first buy for myself the color and arrangement that I intuitively feel will nurture me that week. And when I look at them across from my desk over the coming days, I feel kindness toward myself.
It’s a self-love practice.
Self-love is one of the most important things we need to find confidence – in life, and certainly as speakers.
As you know, we are our own biggest critics. Which means that we’re generally the ones getting in our own way, and stopping ourselves from enjoying life and appreciating our successes. For example, many speakers get angry at themselves when they make a mistake.
Have you ever had a speaking engagement, or something else with high stakes, where it mostly went well… except for that one thing didn’t go quite right? Did you fixate on that one little issue, and blow it out of proportion? Or, did you notice it, take note of what to adjust for next time, and then appreciate all of your hard work as well as everything that went well?
Yes, it’s possible to do that! But it takes practice, and changing our orientation around what happens when things don’t go as planned.
One of the most essential aspects of speaking, and confidence, is our relationship to ourselves. Instead of being self-critical, could you be kind to yourself? Become your best friend, instead of your worst critic?
For some, self-love feels like a tall order. So I often start my clients off with generating compassion instead, using a compassion meditation that begins to change their response to themselves. This is a repatterning of self-destructive thoughts and feelings that, unfortunately, we pretty much all do. Your goal is to be able to be kind to yourself when something doesn’t go right – when speaking, or in life.
There’s much more to the topic of dealing with “making mistakes” (if there really is such a thing), including more fully trusting the flow of life. And we can develop greater capacity for handling whatever arises – because with public speaking (and everything else, for that matter), it will never quite go as we expect! Still, generating lovingkindness toward ourselves is a pretty great place to start.
So, whether you buy yourself flowers, do a metta/compassion/lovingkindness meditation, or another practice, please: be kind to yourself. I guarantee that when you are nicer to the person you spend the most time with - yourself - you’ll not only feel better. Your audience (and everyone else, for that matter) will also sense this, and feel safer with you as a result… and welcome you into their hearts even more.
Will you share your comments and feelings about this below? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Today’s my 42nd birthday. According to Douglas Adams of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 42 is the answer to “life, the universe and everything.” The real conundrum, though about this answer: what is the actual question?
That’s a little bit of what my life is: a search for meaning, for purpose, for answers. Since my path is transparency and authenticity, I’d like to “WholeSpeak” with you – to share with you some of my growth over the past year and beyond… and, if you’re in a stuck or growing place, I hope it might provide a little insight or inspiration.
From Being a Starving Artist to…
…So, things are going really well. This year I finally broke 6 figures in my business. But that really doesn’t make me jump for joy. I’ve always valued happiness and fulfillment over money. After all, I’m a theatre artist as well as a coach: self-expression and truth are of the utmost importance. Yet, a few years ago, I had to come to terms with the fact that I didn’t know enough about business, and that I was $30K in debt from simply under-earning. And I was frustrated and depressed that the world didn’t seem to appreciate what I had to offer. I won’t tell the whole story since this is a long email anyway, but I finally really did the inner work, shifted, and in 2 months’ time had like 8-10 clients a week – during the two weeks of Christmas and New Year’s!! Soon after, I started paying for a lot of coaching so I could make my results grow and be consistent.
All told, it took me around two and a half years to pay off $40,000 ($30K plus another $10K in coaching programs – I spent much more than that, actually, but used a small inheritance from my grandfather’s passing). The truth is that every online program launch was about paying off my debt more quickly. Sigh. And this summer it was DONE! It’s amazing to now have money in the bank. I can choose to upgrade my lifestyle to what excites and fulfills me more.
In sum: a few years ago I just wanted to pay my bills by doing my own work. Two years ago I had my sights on paying off my debt. And now that it’s done, the question is: what’s the life I truly desire?
Tired of Not Practicing My Art
For the past few years I’ve sacrificed my theatre work (doing only small, side projects, instead of big creations like I had been doing) in order to have a real business. But I chose this from a place of higher guidance, because I got the clear message that growing my coaching business would not just be financially smart, but also transform me… and it has. Yet, I’ve also felt like a poseur in my theatre community; it’s been hard on my ego.
I’m ridiculously impatient. I want to do everything *now* - theatre, workshops, writing 4 books… you get the picture. Plus, I became single again this year and am now dating… and want to find that one extraordinary woman… which takes focus too! So what’s next, and aligned, for my life and business?
What’s Coming Up Next
Yes, I’m a kickass coach (I’ve been doing it 17 years – I sure hope so, by now! :-) ) and people love my online trainings. But what excites me the most? Live group workshops. It’s where I shine. As well as speaking, performing, and creating theatre.
What this means is (drumroll, please)…
- Greatly reducing my private coaching practice, or possibly leaving it. Note: if you want to work with me but have been waiting, now’s the time. Yes, I’m a little scared to declare that! Much still has to unfold. Also, I’m not sure of the fate of my online programs (see below).
- Leading live events and workshops. Whee!! …Honestly, I get a little scared about marketing these, because I know my community is international – for which I’m ridiculously grateful!! Yet, will they fly out for something that I’m deeply called to create? I know, though, that the transformation that happens live is unparalleled, so it’s simply gotta happen.
- More theatre, performing and live speaking. While I love helping others shine, I need to more fully claim my own voice!
- Being far more provocative. The truth is that I’m a provocateur. Example: I recently bought the domain name “UnconsciousBusiness.com” (which would have the tag line “Business as Usual”) to create a parody site. I feel so strongly that the world needs to be transformed and uplifted – and I MUST speak my full truth, and deliver my true message.
- A new platform. My work is going to shift away from mainly public speaking (although it will likely still be a subset of my work), directly into the deep transformations that happen when people work with me… personal power, self-love, authentic and expansive self-expression, deep connection, and more.
I’m dying to share the details, but feel I need to keep it inside to cook a little longer before I reveal it publicly. What I can tell you, though, is that my framework is that transformation can be FUN. Imagine personal growth workshops where you have more fun than you thought possible, while growing incredibly in a safe space. Stay tuned.
What I Don’t Know Yet…
I’ve been asked a lot recently about when I’m leading my next live online course. The issue is that running and marketing it takes up most of my energy and focus for several months – which means it’s hard to have time to do theatre or to develop the new direction of my business.
When I set out to write this newsletter, I honestly had no intention of this being anything other than a truth-telling email. But I feel called to do something – to support those who are wanting to be an empowered speaker, and perhaps also for my inner theatre creator who’s dying to get expressed. This week I’m offering Claim Your Voice, self-study version, for 50% off, my transformational 7-week training on public speaking skills, confidence and empowerment. Two important notes:
- Every person who enrolls will automatically fund 2 third-world entrepreneurs via kiva.org with microfinancing loans. That’s 14% of every sale. You can even choose your preference and tell me who you’d like to support.
- Money from all sales will go to only one thing: to support my next theatre project! So, while finding your voice, you’ll also help me get my butt back in the theatre. http://ClaimYourVoiceNow.com (full-pay option only) coupon code KIVA. Available through this coming weekend.
A few key things I hope that are conveyed here:
- You can create change in your life anytime. It’s accessible… when you’ve truly had enough of things staying the same… and especially when you choose to get help from an expert who really resonates.
- Positive change (in business or in our personal lives) can happen really quickly – especially if we do the INNER work first. Otherwise we end up just blocking ourselves.
- Live Your TRUTH! Listen to the experts… and then follow your own path.
So, there you have it. Thanks for reading this whole thing – I know it’s long. I’m hoping that sharing my journey may be helpful for yours. What steps would you like to take to be more true to your own calling and path? Please speak your truth, and inspire others – share your comments below.
I had the great fortune to spend the past few weeks in Bali, and wanted to share a little about my journey – and some insights that might be of service to you – for your business, for public speaking, with networking, or in your life.
Why Bali? Well, I was going to go to Detroit… and decided Bali sounded better. No, really: I was headed to Detroit to see my sweet baby nephew Luca and for a business workshop, when I realized that what I truly needed, and hadn’t had for quite sometime, was a vacation – a journey both outer and inner. And I desired a blend of the spiritual, adventure, and culture… and chose a destination I had always wanted to visit. It’s *amazing* how something that feels so far away can become yours so quickly.
One other qualifier: I desired a place I would enjoy going as a single man. I completed a long-term relationship this spring with a woman who was wonderful, but we had to admit it just wasn’t serving either of us anymore, despite our best intentions. While I’ve done a huge amount of healing and growth work during the past several months, and am in a truly wonderful place now, this would be my first time doing a long solo vacation in many years.
And… the past 3 weeks were utterly magical. I meditated and prayed in traditional ceremony in temples throughout Bali, seen incredible performances, and much more. It was also a process of inner growth: when I felt lonely, I realized I had left the Divine Flow, and remembered to return to it. Much of my trip was taking trust, and committing to the divine flow of energy in life, to an entirely new level. When I was truly in a place of trust, things flowed, I always met amazing people, and my cup truly ranneth over.
How does this apply to public speaking?
In two ways, actually. First of all, our public speaking fears often arise when we don’t feel or trust the flow of an event and its energy. It’s easy to become afraid (either before or during an event) – afraid of what might happen – or to feel out of control by thinking that things are supposed to go a certain way. They generally don’t. That’s just not what life is. Lesson: let go of any preconceptions of how a speaking engagement (or, really, anything in life) “should” go. Instead, notice what is actually present. Know that everything is truly just fine – no matter what it is – and do what is called for in the moment. Then you never need fear again what could “go wrong.”
Second: we are never alone. Trusting the flow of life brings true connection. If you haven’t heard me talk about it, I totally geek out on connection; I’m a little obsessed by it. Because we’re never alone. We can be present with ourselves. There is Divine Source with us always too. And there are many other people around who are available to connect with – if we open to them. But we must begin by connecting with ourselves. Then we honor ourselves and have an inner foundation from which to relate to others.
And as far as getting clients is concerned… Connection is the heart of networking. True connection must be made – not superficial banter – in order to make contacts that become clients, referral partners, and friends (which I find just as valuable). If you haven’t heard my talk on networking, I bring a very unusual perspective on it, and am speaking about it on an upcoming interview.
I’ve now returned to the US, with a great tan, but far more importantly with a greatly enlivened spirit. Now that I’ve connected inwardly, and had an incredible journey, I’m renewed to be of service again. I’ll be leading a private training next week in LA, then have a trip to Colorado. Note: If you’re in LA or Colorado and want in-person support, email me to get just 1-2 session times available in either location.
And, check out the offerings below for some great support and free resources.
EVENT: The Abundance in Business Telesummit
MY TOPIC: The Art of Connection: How to Make Networking Enjoyable, Meaningful and Profitable
Money isn’t the root of all evil. In fact it’s simply an exchange of energy. It’s essential to realize that being compensated in full for your work is part of the spiritual law of giving and receiving. Zahra Efan has brought together a series of experts who will help you if:
- You think money isn’t “spiritual.” (You can’t share your deepest gifts with the world if you can’t pay your bills!)
- If you’re feeling ‘not good enough,’ ‘not ready yet,’ or wonder ‘where do I start?”
- You would appreciate an approach to business that integrates Divine Wisdom
Zahra’s experts, including myself, invite you to take this step now, not only for yourself… but for the world that is calling you to share your gifts.
Register here – yes, it’s free: http://zahraefan.com/cmd.php?Clk=5107983
You will love the grounded, earthy and inner transformation that will guide you…
before you jump into taking tons of action. (Take the right steps – not just random ones!) The result will be less overwhelm, more income and a life and business filled with ease and abundance.
Oh! And something else important: when you register, you get instant access to the Abundance In Business eBook: get it here
Get Your Niche On!
Look, here’s the deal: it’s far, far more difficult to be successful or attract a stable client base if you don’t have a niche. I work with clients all the time to help them clarify who they truly seek to serve – and spend time with – and to make a real mark in the world. Finding your niche is essential. Yes, I know you can help everyone. But there isn’t exactly time to. Where do you want to make your mark? Who do you deeply and truly want to serve the most? It takes time to find a niche – and most coaches and practitioners need to narrow their niche far more.
One of my very favorite coaches in conscious business – who specializes in niche-finding – is Tad Hargrave. If you don’t know him, please check him out. He’s doing three free 90-minute webinars (the same one 3 times) on finding your niche:
Some of what he’s covering:
- six reasons most people avoid niching (and why they’re not true)
- the nine biggest niching blunders
- four simple steps to identifying and honing your niche
- lots of real life niche examples
- how even something like yoga (that can help everybody) can be niched a bunch of different ways.
I find Tad to be totally down to earth (his business is called Marketing for Hippies, after all!), and some of my clients have worked with Tad and adore him. He’ll also be discussing an upcoming course on honing your niche, which you can check out here: http://nichingforhippies.com/
One last note on connection: Strategic Alliances
My friend and colleague, Tara Butler Floch, is putting on an exciting free webinar called “Savvy Strategic Alliances – 6 Steps to Creating Fun & Profitable Partnerships with Other Professionals.” This webinar will:
- Talk about the 6 savvy steps to creating fun, profitable partnerships with other professionals
- Dive deep into the first step of the 6 step process which is all about how to assess and choose the right professionals with whom to partner PLUS give you an interview guide to help guide you through the process
- Discuss the common challenges entrepreneurs have in choosing the right partners
I have partnered with Tara, and I know this will be totally juicy – and inspiring. Sign up here: http://www.broadviewpreneur.com/strategic-alliance-call/?ap_id=wholespeak
No matter what, remember: connection, with yourself and with others, provides meaning as well as makes for good business. Take a peek at these great offerings to support you. And no matter whether you’re on vacation, at home, or in a networking event, trust that you are being guided forward on your path.
I’ve talked a lot recently about the fear of speaking, because it holds so many people back from speaking their truth – as well as from using speaking to easily get clients. However, for many, there’s a bigger problem:
Why in the world should confidence be a problem?
To be honest (which I always am – it’s my M.O. – but I’ve never addressed this before), I’ve never loved the term. Yes, this is true even though “confidence” is in the subtitle of my upcoming training and I talk about it a lot. Why? Because for many, it is about the ego. For example, I’ve heard many coaches declare, “You just gotta be confident!”… as if implying that confidence is easy, or that it can be somehow pasted on. Often, confidence is forced or misguided. When confidence isn’t 100% real, your nonverbal communication looks forced and pushes people away.
This is different than true confidence - which is completely relaxed – even humble, because you don’t need to prove anything to anyone… including yourself. It’s largely a reflection of being present, centered, and being able to deal with anything.
And while you can fake confidence, what cannot be forced is presence… and self-acceptance… and deep connection with an audience.
Here’s the biggest problem with confidence, though:
When we’re confident, it’s easy to think we know everything.
And no one knows everything. In my 17 years of coaching public speaking, I’ve never seen a single speaker, be it live or on YouTube, who couldn’t improve.
Every day, I see confident speakers making basic mistakes – ones that can be easily rectified.
Here are the biggest problems that confident speakers and networkers have:
- Not authentically connecting with the audience. And if they don’t connect with you, they won’t be moved to work with you.
- Mistaking loud volume for being a dynamic speaker. I focus with clients on 6 primary vocal dynamics, 4 advanced speaking styles, and powerful ways to use gestures, facial expressions and body language. Most speakers don’t even get close to exploring their full range.
- Not being grounded, centered and totally relaxed. This is part of what creates presence – and it’s hard to be centered when speaking, which is a heightened experience! This takes practice, technique, and a fantastic warm-up routine to help you get “in the zone.”
- Not realizing that speaking in front of larger groups, and other high stakes situations like selling from the stage, can cause you to lose your confidence. We all need methods to become more relaxed and centered, when on a growing edge.
- Skipping public speaking essentials. Can I tell you how often I see confident speakers betraying themselves by using ineffective body language, a plethora of “ums” and more? Far more than I’d like. Oy vey.
The strength of people without confidence is that they realize they need to learn. And who doesn’t need to grow? For yourself – and to grow your business?
If you haven’t seen it, I’d like to invite you to check out my free video training on speaking with confidence and presence, at http://bitly.com/speakingtraining.
And I also invite you to my upcoming 7-week online program: Claim Your Voice: Speak with Confidence, Heart, Power and Presence. Details and Registration: http://ClaimYourVoiceNow.com
If you consider yourself a confident speaker, in Claim Your Voice you’ll also learn how to get more comfortable when selling from the stage and other high-stakes situations. And learn a ton of other skills – read my article on The Public Speaking Must-Haves.
In any case, here’s the deal with confidence… it’s pretty much 3 things: getting the skills you need, relaxing/centering, and trusting your capacity to handle anything that happens.
Which of these is your next step?
–Jonathan Bender, MS, MFA, WholeSpeak - http://www.WholeSpeak.com
For many, being an effective speaker is a mystery; for others, they feel fairly comfortable and think that’s all they need. Since speaking is the best way to get known as an expert and build your business, it’s important to really know how it works. Over the past 17 years of coaching public speaking, I’ve developed a thorough breakdown of everything necessary to speak powerfully. It can be categorized into 3 levels.
Level One – The Core Foundations
- Strong Content. It’s essential to know how to put together a great presentation – how to grab attention at the beginning, keep your audience members engaged both emotionally and intellectually, and move them to want to work with you or follow your call to action.
- Comfort – turning nervousness into confidence. This is a curious skill, because when most people hit a new edge (for some, just speaking at all – and for others, it’s presenting in front of a much bigger audience or with higher stakes), then they get nervous – even if they’re confident otherwise. Other aspects of comfort:
- Knowing how to warm up for a presentation, and how to recover if you lose your mojo mid-way through.
- The inner mindset – how you treat yourself (are you critical? Fearful? Or self-accepting and caring for yourself?).
- Effective Use of Voice.
- Clear Enunciation. Don’t make the audience struggle to understand you.
- No Fillers, such as “Um.” If these are largely present, they’ll undermine your credibility.
- Powerful Body Language. This includes several areas:
- How to completely relax. Body tension will hurt your presence as well as your voice.
- How to stand. The right position will cause to both look and feel more confident.
- How to walk. Aimless wandering or pacing will hurt; deliberate steps and walks will guide your audience through your presentation.
- Gestures. Those hands aren’t just meant to dangle there!
- Facial expressions. These also help establish connection, while they bring out more of your personality.
- Connection. You simply must authentically connect with your audience in order to move them. There are 9 aspects of connection, 7 of which are pertinent to speaking, so it’s a long topic, but you need to begin with connecting with… yourself.
- Eye contact. Strong eye contact will cause every person in the audience – no matter how large it is – to feel like you’re speaking directly to them.
Level Two – Presence
Presence isn’t an intangible, and it’s not a pat answer. Here are the most important components:
- Integrated Comfort and Connection. When you learn to easily get yourself into a state of being where you are both fully at ease, and also deeply connected with your audience (and with yourself!), you’ll be on your way.
- Staying Fully Centered. Few people can do this under great pressure; those who can become leaders. Knowing how to breathe deeply is a good start – and many other exercises help with this.
- Enhancing the Voice. This includes finding a more resonant, relaxed voice. It’ll then literally resonate more fully with your audience.
Level Three – The Dynamic, Charismatic Speaker
- Advanced Vocal Dynamics. Mastering how – and when – to utilize and combine pitch, tempo, volume, pausing, enunciation variation, and tone will help you hold the audience’s rapt attention at all times.
- There are also 4 powerful speaking styles, which you can use effectively (more difficult to describe in brief, so I’ll leave it at that).
- Advanced Body Language. Beyond the basics, there is a deeper level of movement available to you. Yoga is a good start; movement techniques used by actors and dancers will take you even farther.
- Mastering Emotion. Acting techniques will help you find a fuller range of emotion to express yourself and move the audience.
- Charisma. While the above elements help bring it out (especially when they’re combined), this also arises from more advanced acting techniques.
- Professionally Crafted Content. While the standards for crafting a talk work at all levels, to move to another level, the content is fused with emotions. That is, everything you say is deeply stirring or moving – no matter what the topic.
What level are most speakers at?
Unfortunately, I’ve found that the majority of speakers who don’t suffer from a lot of fear are somewhere around mid-level 1. That is, they feel somewhat comfortable, but still really need to master the essentials of body language and the voice. The sad part is that because they feel a little confident, they don’t get the help they need to really step up their game.
Want to learn these skills quickly, instead of taking years figuring it out yourself?
My training program, Claim Your Voice: Speak with Confidence, Heart, Power and Presence, covers Levels 1 and 2. There’s less emphasis on content, which is easier to implement; thorough guidelines are provided for participants to apply themselves. The biggest difficulties in speaking lie in all of the other areas, which are far trickier and more nuanced.
Even if you’re doing okay right now, you may have little idea how much better you can be! When you transform your connection skills, body language, presence, and mindset, the audience will be completely yours.
If you’re ready to step into your full potential as a speaker, you are warmly invited. Please go to http://www.ClaimYourVoiceNow.com for full details and to register.
And, if you’d like another perspective and hear me speak about it, watch a free video training at http://bitly.com/speakingtraining.
–Jonathan Bender, MS, MFA, WholeSpeak - http://www.WholeSpeak.com
Does SELL feel like a dirty 4-letter word? Is the fear of it stopping you from making a living?
For the first few years of my coaching business, I really struggled to make it. Why? Because I felt like I was “selling myself.” I could talk about other people’s work that I loved, but to talk about mine? It was really hard. Even though I teach public speaking!!
And what did this mean? I was selling single sessions, one at a time… instead of bigger packages and offerings, which my clients truly needed. And I struggled financially, and didn’t have enough clients, even though my coaching was great.
To become successful, I had to translate the idea of selling (ew!) into… serving.
This is the first secret to know: your work is not about you. It’s about providing value – and transformation – to your clients. Offering single sessions is literally underserving people who need us. We need to create packages – and know how to talk about them effectively – so that we help clients the most, and enroll them in the packages that will give them what they really desire.
Honestly, this is a HUGE topic. So I want to recommend a resource for you, by an awesome friend and colleague of mine, Leela Somaya. She rocks. We were having a chat at a cafe yesterday, and she was telling me how she had to deal with getting over this fear herself.
Obviously, Leela did – because she made it to 6 figures within 14 months of launching her coaching business!
Leela is leading a free training: “Stop Selling & Start Listening: How To Get Three Dream Clients In 30 Days—By Learning to Listen on a Deeper Level & Serving From A Place of Compassion”
If this is an issue for you – especially if your fear of selling is stopping you from bringing your heartfelt gifts to the world – then I recommend joining in.
I’ll be there too! (I always want to learn more and get other perspectives.) Hope you enjoy it too – comment on this blog entry afterward and let me know what you got from it.