How to Avoid Losing your Audience

Have you ever listened to a speaker and at some point started zoning out? You are not alone!  If you are the speaker, this is one of the things you want to AVOID– having your audience disengage, tune you out, or worse – just walk out!Do you struggle with How do you know which content to put in a message and which to leave out

We live in an age of information saturation! The content you give your audience needs to be valuable, but not overwhelming. One of the biggest struggles I hear over and over from emerging speakers is about putting together a message . Just this week again, someone asked me,

 “How do I take all the ideas in my head and put them into a message that is concise and compelling?”

His question reveals a common frustration so many speakers face. Perhaps you can relate to this struggle? Do you have a desire to share your experience or expertise with the world but don’t know how to pull it all together? Or maybe you just put it all in and don’t know where to stop. As a result, you end up running out of time when you speak! Sure, your audience may  walk away feeling full – but are they so full they can’t move?

Do you spend hours, days or even weeks re-writing the content, and then second-guessing right up until the time you step onto the stage? Maybe, you also struggle with having so much content that often talk faster, or go overtime just to get out all the information. I remember, so vividly, a time when I was asked to speak and my time was cut in half from 60 minutes to 30 minutes because the previous speaker went overtime. (By the way- you don’t want to go over your time!) Being a new speaker, I did what most speakers would have done in that situation. I glued my eyes to my notes, spoke as fast as I could, and looked up only when my time was up. When I finally came up (for air) and looked at my audience, I realized that although I was successful at  getting out all my information, I failed as a speaker. That day became a turning point for me, as I realized that speaking is not so much about giving information as it is about evoking transformation in the hearts and minds of your audience members. I knew that I  missed the mark that day because I failed to do the most important thing during my message – I failed to connect with my audience.

A sure way to lose any audience is giving so much information that your audience doesn’t have time to process or digest it. It was not until many years after that painful experience that I learned  that speaking is not about what the speaker has to give , but more about what the audience takes away!!

I wish I knew then what I know now. After much struggle and spending lots of money, I finally found a system that transformed the way I create messages and prepare for speaking engagements. As I worked with it and modified it, I felt like I hit the jackpot!  Having this system helps me determine which content to keep and which content to leave out of a message. It also helps me to easily adapt my message to any audience, any time frame and even with short notice.  Having such a system has significantly affected my speaking success and opened more opportunities than anything else.  I  wish I had this system when I first started public speaking.

Abraham Lincoln once said ” The best way to predict your future , is to create it.”  What do you need to do today to start creating the future you dream about?  What skills can you start developing today that will equip you to become a more dynamic speaker?

 

If you want to get a head start on your speaking success, and avoid losing your audience, check out the cheat sheet I created that outlines the 4 Biggest Mistakes that Emerging Speakers Make & How to Avoid Them.                                                                                                                                  

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Avoid the 4 Biggest Mistakes Women Speakers Make!

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Her Speech Changed History

One Speech that Changed the Future for Women and Children!Henrietta_Edwards

 

An article in the local newspaper caught my attention today, as it reminded us that today, April 16, marked 100 years since Alberta women were granted the right to vote. In her article, Paula Simon spoke about one specific lady and her speech. She wrote that “Henrietta Muir Edwards, a 58-year-old Baptist writer and mother,… travelled to Edmonton to address a major convention of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.” Simon went on to say that “Edwards’ speech was anything but temperate.” You can read Simon’s full article online at the Edmonton Journal.

 

Although I had read about Henrietta Muir Edwards before (and the other Famous Five women), I had never read her speech, so being curious, I looked it up. As I read Henrietta’s speech, I found myself trying to imagine what absolute courage it mFamous Fiveust have taken to go against the cultural norm  when she stood and delivered a message that challenged the prevailing mindset that women were not persons.

Of the  complete speech , this section was my favorite. I imagined her standing with confidence and speaking with clarity of purpose as she declared:

We do not ask for the vote because we are antagonistic to men-far from it-we do not want the vote in order that we may vote against the men, the men are our fathers, husbands and brothers, their best interests are ours. We want the vote that we may strengthen their hands in all that stands for right and justice. As Miss Willard has said, “The whole intention of the woman movement is not to declare the rights of women, or to usurp power, or to alienate men, but on the contrary-it is to unite men and women on the most enduring plan; to study the harmonies between them, to prove that their interests are indissolubly linked, and it is a far more scientific, sensible, and Christian way of dealing with one half of the human race, because it is equally in the interests of the two halves.”

Today I honor this woman, and the 100’s of others who stood with her, for the courage she displayed and the beliefs that motivated her.  Indeed, what she had to say WAS important, and needed to be heard. Some of the freedoms we enjoy today is because Henrietta Muir Edwards  chose to push through the fears, and speak with confidence and clarity,  transforming the cultural mindsets of her day.

I can’t help but wonder, how many other people have messages buried deep inside of them, just waiting for the right time – that when finally spoken out loud has the potential  to impact generations?

What about if one of your not-yet-written messages is one of those?

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Lisa Vanderkwaak MSc.
Speaker-Author-World Class Certified Speaking Coach
Lisa is has a unique ability to  equip leaders to stand with confidence and speak with clarity and make a transformational impact.
Book Lisa for the keynote at your next event!

5 Confidence Stealers that can Sabotage your Success!

Research shows that having confidence still remains an important, though elusive, characteristic for many women seeking promotions in the workplace? A recent article by FORTUNE  reporting on the findings of a study conducted by KPMG,  revealed that 63% of respondents cited confidence as a top characteristic of leaders, but 6 out of 10 women said they find it hard to see themselves as leaders.

One respondent was quoted to say, “I wish I would have learned to be confident and stand up for my beliefs. Just to never be afraid of what others think.”  The solution to helping women prepare for and do well in leadership positions was in making training more accessible. In particular, Debbie Messemer (@DebbieMessemer), reflecting back on her career, said that there was a time that she knew she had the experience and attributes to be successful in (leadership ) roles but lacked the confidence to raise her hand to be considered for them. She went on to say that, 

“Having access to positive role models, who exemplified how I should look and act, and leadership training that included effective public speaking (as an introvert, this was particularly important for my development,) helped bolster my confidence to lean in and ask for these leadership roles.”Woman walking head down

 

Are you a woman in leadership? Or do you aspire to advance in your career or business endeavour as a woman entrepreneur? I want to encourage you to seek out leadership training, and in particular, seek ways  to intentionally develop your public speaking skills. The survey also concluded that 8 out 10 of the working women believe that networking with other women leaders  will help them advance in their career. Networking is said to be most beneficial when you hang out with women who are already doing what you want to do, or have skills that you can learn from . That way you will always be challenged and inspired to move forward and upward.

I can certainly relate to how these women felt. In the past, I have found myself in situations where I knew I was qualified to do the job or take on the responsibility , but lacked the confidence to go for it.  Often, it’s because we are unsure that we have “permission” from those in authority , unsure they believe in us. May sound strange but that is the kind of self-talk that can sabotage your success . Are you looking for a place to receive training in public speaking skills? A place where you can connect with other women leaders in a safe , growing environment, and where you can develop your communication skills?

Perhaps you need  a community to cheer  you on towards increased confidence and give feedback so you can speak with greater clarity.  That’s exactly why I created The  Emerging Women Speakers Academy™ !    Woman talking in small group

The definition of the word “Confidence” comes from its root words that mean “with faith”.  Do you have faith that who you are is enough? Do you trust that as you step forward you will have everything you need to accomplish the tasks? As you seek to build your confidence, beware of the 5 biggest thieves that seek to sabotage your success by stealing your confidence. They are:

  1. People’s opinion. No matter what you do or say, there will always be people who try to discourage you and see life through a negative lens. Two of the best ways to protect yourself from their deflating words is to either avoid them all together or decide to “press delete” so their  words don’t even have a chance to root in your heart.
  2. Unclear purpose. If you are not sure what  your purpose  is in life or in stepping out in an area, then any challenge will rattle your confidence. Get clear on your purpose and watch how it affects your confidence.
  3. Lack or preparation.  When it comes to public speaking, many people think that “winging it” may portray you as more competent. However, many people don’t realize  that those who can “wing it” the best are actually the most prepared. They don’t just get ready but stay ready for opportunities that come their way. They are always prepared which makes it easy for them to pull out of their toolbox something to say when asked on the spur of the moment. Research has shown that preparation is not just a good idea- it is a great way to build your confidence.
  4. Perfectionism. I am a recovering perfectionist. It started when I was a teenager when I became obsessed about my appearance  and looking thin. This lead to destructive habits of control, denial and an eating disorder. It was only years later that I realized that attaining perfection is an impossibility. It’s alright to aim for perfection, but be willing to settle for excellence. This applies in public speaking as well. Trying to give a perfect presentation is the biggest hindrance to connecting with any audience.  Value progress over perfection. Shaking free of perfectionism is hard, but possible. It will require courage and action to step forward and be willing to put yourself (or your marketing) out there as done even if its not perfect! Try it!! Not only will you experience new levels of personal freedom, but your confidence will actually increase (even when you don’t get it right all the time.)
  5. Practicing wrong things. You have heard the cliche, that “practice makes perfect”. Well there is some truth to that, unless you are practicing the wrong habits. For example, a young man asked his mentor how he could connect better with his audiences when speaking. The mentor suggested he always start his messages with a joke. Well, humor is a great way to connect with people, however not if it is forced or inserted without any relevance to the main theme of the message. A more effective way is to practice “uncovering” humor in the message or situation you find yourself , so it becomes more organic and much more entertaining. Practice does make a better presentation- only if you are practicing the right things. As you become more aware of the habits you need to replace so that  you can be more effective  as a communicator , your confidence will strengthen as you discover new ways of connecting and impacting your audience.

 

Value what you have to give, the combination of education, trainings, experience, personality and talent. It is your unique contribution to the world so offer it with confidence and assurance that someone somewhere is needing to hear what you have to say – and waiting for you to speak.  Step forward with confidence and embrace life fully engaged!

 

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Lisa Vanderkwaak coaches women leaders on how to improve their public speaking skills so that they can lead with greater confidence, clarity and impact!!

Talkers are not Always Good Speakers

Did you know that over 90% of what makes up effective communication are learnable skills? That means no one is exempt! You can  become  a great speaker……if you are coachable.

microphoneRUI

 

Most people believe that if they love to talk and don’t mind speaking in public that they don’t need to improve their communication skills. In my experience, it is actually these very people who could benefit the most from coaching. In fact, the most effective communicators tend to be those who say less but what they do say is intentional and pointed. Giving too much content in a message can actually backfire and hinder your effectiveness as a speaker. The audience can only take in so much information and if too much is given they won’t be able to process what they hear and literally, it will go in one ear and out the other. This usually leads to an audience that does not know where to start at applying the information and therefor end up doing nothing and forgetting the message completely. If you want to stand out from the rest, seek to become a speaker who doesn’t just transfer information but evokes transformation. One way to do this is to learn the rules surrounding how much content to say and how much to leave out. You will find that your message will be remembered long after you finish speaking  and your  audience  impacted more profoundly.

 

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Are women allowed to speak?

Today I read an article that saddened me about women not being allowed to speak in a public meeting. This may not be uncommon in some Countries, but in Canada, where I live, and in the UK, where the incident happened, this should no longer be an issue. But it is… and mainly in some religious circles. What disturbed me most about this article was that it was a Student Christian group that imposed the ban. The article said that  “The Christian Union at the University of Bristol has refused to allow female speakers at their weekly workshops unless they attend the meetings with their spouse.”   No Limits to what we can achieve pix

I want to say that I am a Christian, and I have worked in the past for several years as a campus minister. In my experience and in my study of the Bible, this is not TRUTH as outlined in the Bible. It is not God’s treatment of women. This is a belief that organizations and cultures have adopted as the “christian way” when in fact it a mindset that has been used to silence women.

 

While Jesus was on the Earth He actually did several things that was contrary to the religious norms and cultural laws, such as speaking with a woman in public (without her husband present) and he gave women permission to lead, speak and operate in their strengths, just as He did to men. The truth is that “there is no difference between male and female” in the eyes of God- both are of equal value, worth and capabilities and have been given a voice to speak. In fact, throughout the Bible, there are several accounts of women speaking, prophesying, and teaching in public, and were affirmed and encouraged to do so.

This article saddens me because it misrepresents TRUE CHRISTIANITY and the heart of God towards women. It also saddens me because women are called to be a powerful voice on the Earth, especially in this time in history. I want to challenge women, both those who are single and those who are married: Align yourself  spiritually to the pure Truth,  find your voice, and speak with the wisdom and strength God provides. Filter the messages you receive about yourself through the grid of the Word of God, then your influence and power will be manifested as pure, full of grace and able to transform cultures in positive ways. Throw off the lies you have been believing. It is time to step forward, stand confidently and speak with wisdom, accurately reflecting the true nature and character of God and biblical Christianity. In doing so, you will push back the walls of oppression, kick satan in the head, and release other women to walk in the fullness of life, freedom and authority they are created to.

Here is the article I am referring to:

Women Banned from Speaking Publicly without Husbands Present

For resources to help you become a more effective speaker as a woman, check out my REAL U Speaking™ Complete Home-Study Program

Walk in truth, speak boldly

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How to Lose your Audience

4 Biggest Mistakes Women Speakers Make and How to Avoid Them!