the inspiration blog

Posts Tagged ‘public speaking

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

I’m in Boulder, Colorado for a week, where I’m starting development of a new one-man show. I did one of my graduate degrees here at Naropa University, and returned  to work with an old friend and collaborator. It’s my first new solo theatre piece in a good while… and so exciting to be diving back in!

At the same time, it’s also scary and intimidating. I always take on topics where I don’t have all of the answers. My last show was about Jewish identity, and my new show is about being a man. Pretty big topics, which can become quite overwhelming.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed whenever we’re doing something new – because we don’t know the twists and turns of the path. When we’re still trying to figure it all out, we can feel swept away or off-course. And it’s hard to see the destination when we’re mid-river. When we don’t know how we’ll get there, it’s easy to hesitate, question what we’re doing, and procrastinate… or even give up out of self-doubt.

The fact is, if we’re doing something new, we seldom have a map of how to get to our destination. At best, we can follow others’ advice or strategies; yet, we have to take the journey ourselves, and make it our own. This is true with our businesses, and our lives – whenever we set a new goal, it’s always an adventure – which sometimes feels like stumbling around in the dark. Yet, there’s always a flow to it.

This is also true with public speaking. Even if you’re giving the same signature talk for the umpteenth time, every time you do it is different. Your audience is different… the room or surroundings likely change… and current events have shifted. In sum, the energy will be unique every time. 

Which is why it’s essential to be present. (Tangential reminder, if you haven’t heard me say it before: presence is the art of being fully present.) If we’re present, and open, and listening, we can feel what’s needed next. You might slightly change how you word what you say… or you could change the delivery. If you’re tuned in, and going with the flow, it gets easy. If you resist and try to force things, you may drown; but if you let go, the river will take you where you want to go.

Going with the flow means trusting you can handle anything that happens. In other words, you don’t need to have any fear or nervousness, because you know you can deal with whatever arises. 

Whether in regards to a speaking engagement, with our businesses, or in other areas of life, things seldom go just as we plan or as we expect. But in that moment when the river changes course, we can listen inwardly, look outside to what is going on, and tap in… and we can do what that moment needs.

For speaking, of course, a fair amount of preparation is needed. It’s essential to have a wide toolset to draw upon, so that you can adeptly handle anything that happens. And it takes skills and practice… which is what WholeSpeak coaching and workshops are for. Stay tuned for announcements of some powerful workshops happening this year.

When times are challenging, what do you do to get back in the flow? Please leave a comment and share.

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.

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.

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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:

http://marketingforhippies.com/events/

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:

Confidence.

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://www.yourtruevoice.org.

And I  also invite you to my 10-week online program: Claim Your Voice: Speak with 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 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://www.yourtruevoice.org.

–Jonathan Bender, MS, MFA, WholeSpeak  – http://www.WholeSpeak.com

Most professionals and entrepreneurs who need to give a presentation, talk or speaking engagement will do some degree of preparation. Unfortunately, they prepare the wrong way! Many focus on their content, trying to get every word perfect, maybe making tons of last-minute changes. And others “prepare” by procrastinating. Finally, some will just look at their notes and mumble through it… but that also doesn’t prepare you adequately.

As well, I often get calls from people who get nervous when they speak. Or I get asked to help them craft a talk. Or they want to know how to speak “off the cuff,”  and to not be worried too much about what to say.

These are all signs of a lack of knowing how to prepare.  So, here are some important elements to keep in mind.

Know the core of your message. When it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter if you mess up  a little, or find the perfectly nuanced phrase. Simply stay in touch with the central idea or transformation you are trying to convey, and that’ll keep you on track.

Focus on helping and serving your audience. Place your attention on how you can be of service. Make it about them – not about you. This is your intention. When our intention is about being of service, rather than about our own desires, it can help us relax.

And, more than anything… warm up! It’s absolutely essential to have a great warmup routine. You wouldn’t run a marathon without a lot of stretching as well as eating right beforehand, would you? The same goes for speaking. Here are several elements to a good speaking warmup.

  1. Warm up your body. Stretch, move around, and practice body language like gestures and facial expressions. Speaking is a full-bodied act!
  2. Open up your voice. Do vocal warmups, enunciation exercises, diaphragmatic breathing, and more, to find the full power of your voice. Practice using different vocal dynamics.
  3. Warm up emotionally. What do you need to do to feel ready? To take care of yourself? To be present? It’s essential to have your heart in it, and to feel good.
  4. Get in the game. This would also be called your “mental” warmup, and could be done in part with the aforementioned focus on serving your audience. You can also do affirmations. I teach mindset shifts to my clients, and these are also helpful.

And, once you’ve done all of these, you can finally apply these to your presentation, and practice your talk. Remember that 50-80% of communication is nonverbal. So, focusing on everything but the words may also help it go well. Also, last-minute text changes tend to throw you off, not help; it’s  more important to get comfortable than get the words totally perfect.

If the above are a mystery about how to do them, keep an eye out for the Claim Your Voice training – it’ll make it all really clear.

What surprised you from these ideas? Or, what are your own ways you warm up for a talk? Please share and comment below.


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