Recently, I have been fascinated again by the brilliance of the sunsets we enjoy living on the prairies. Sitting on my backyard deck, I frequently drink in the beautiful array of colour that lights the sky as the sun slowly goes down on the horizon. It reminds me of the beauty that emanates from a person who has come to know and love who they are and embraces their uniqueness daily. You and I are created to shine everyday and light up someone else’s life. It is not something we should try to do, but simply a by-product of resting in the unique purpose in our life and seeking to live that fully.
Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook and author of “Lean In” said in her commencement speech earlier in 2016 to a class of graduates at the University of California, Berkeley. She was talking to them about the lessons she learned in death – the recent death of her husband, that is. As I read her speech, I found myself reflecting on some of the things she described as part of the shock and process of grief. I, too, lost a spouse to death , became widowed at a young age, and found myself learning so much in the process, about myself and other people. Many times, circumstances of life try to take us off course and threaten to destroy our personhood. And, if we let them, they will. Disappointments of all kinds have a way of draining our energy and speaking words of doubt, trying to convince us “Its no use, just give up.” But don’t listen to those words. They are only expressions of momentary disillusionment that cloud the truth and reality of who you really are.
You may have heard it said before that “it is not what happens to you, its what you do with what happens to you that matters.” The truth is YOU WERE MEANT to SHINE!! In every season and in every circumstance, you have a choice in how you will move forward and this will either add value to your life and those around you, or takeaway. I am not saying to live in denial or pretension. I am saying that after every night, there comes a morning. After every sunset, eventually comes a brilliant sunrise!
As Sandberg said in her speech, “the seeds of resilience are planted in the way we process the negative events in our lives.” As you learn to process disappointment and pain with an eye for growth and gratitude, you will find yourself shining in every season of life.
This often comes down to understanding of how precious every single day is and choosing to savour the moments as if they were the last minutes of your life , or someone else’s close to you. Whatever else you do on the earth, know that you were meant to shine everyday, so embrace life fully !!
Lisa Vanderkwaak. is a Best -Selling Author, Speaker, Executive Speaking Coach, and believes in embracing life fully and living your uniqueness with freedom and joy!
Have you ever wondered why some people go farther in their career, or attract more doors of opportunity than others in the same industry?
Is there something one is doing differently that we can learn from?
Twenty to thirty years ago, having a degree from university or college almost guaranteed you would be able to land a good job. In fact, not long ago, it was your educational credentials that gave you the edge over others applying for the same job. However, that is not the case for the millennial generation. Studies show that today, if two people who are highly educated and equipped with the same technical skills applied for a particular job position,the person with highly developed “soft skills” would most likely get the job.
What exactly are these soft skills and how do you develop them? Communication is ranked as one of the top soft skills most lacking in people seeking jobs or wanting to advance in their career. Yet, it is one of the first skills employers notice and look for in the hiring process. Some organizations classify oral and written communication as “hard skills’ , some put them in the “soft skill” category. No matter what category you put them in, according to a Forbes online, and a recently released article by Caroline Ceniza-Levine, public speaking and writing proficiency are consistently reported as two of the top five skills most lacking in every industry. Yet it is these same skills that are said to be THE skills that boost average income by 20 % according to a recent report by Payscale, and are necessary skills to develop for those wanting to advance in their career and achieve higher levels of success.
Ironically, programs that offer training in these skills are not often viewed as not worth the investment for companies and individuals. Even though, studies show that possessing these skills move women leaders, in particular, into higher levels of success and increased income brackets faster. Soft skills are defined by Oxford Dictionaries as personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. Toastmasters rightly claims that, In addition to a few others, communication, is one of the skills most desired in nearly every occupation.
How can you attain these skills? You can do what most people do, and take a one-day course that gives you a certificate so you can then say “Been there, done that” , and give you a false sense of confidence that you are now equipped to be a more effective communicator. However, you and I both know that the real sharpening of speaking skills come through constant use AND constructive feedback from someone more highly trained in these skills, such as a speaking coach. Author and leadership expert, Ken Blanchard says that “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”
Practice alone can actually lead to developing bad communication habits. Having someone to give you feedback and train you in how to fine-tune these skills will give you the edge above your competition and lead to increased income. This is especially true for women leaders who are heads of associations, hold a C-suite position or who are entrepreneurs committed to growing their profits and expanding their impact on those around them. A few years ago, I was listening to an interview with a high profile event planner who confirmed that the biggest challenge for most event planners is finding women speakers who have highly-developed speaking skills. There is a huge vaccum for any woman willing to do what it takes to fill that gap.
To help you get started in developing these skills download my FREE Cheat Sheet, 8 Things you Need to Know to Prepare for the Platform . Take a moment to honestly assess your preparedness and level of proficiency in public speaking. Where do you need to grow in this highly sought-after skill set? I want to encourage you to make a plan in the next 30 days to find someone who can provide the high-level feedback you need to help you fine-tune your speaking skills. Through intentional movement forward, you will soon find yourself being viewed as one who truly stands out in your industry, and beginning to enjoy greater levels of success in your area of expertise.
Lisa Vanderkwaak MSc., has spent over 25 years training and coaching leaders in how to stand with confidence, speak with clarity and lead with transformational impact. In addition to being a best-selling author and a certified speaking coach, Lisa has been in the speaking industry since 1996, and is often referred to as a transformation catalyst. As well as giving seminars and keynote, locally and internationally. Lisa recently founded the Emerging Women Speakers Academy, an online training school for women who want to stand out as speaker and expand her influence. Contact Lisa for your next event.
One Speech that Changed the Future for Women and Children!
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 must 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?
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!
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.”
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™ !
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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!
Lisa Vanderkwaak coaches women leaders on how to improve their public speaking skills so that they can lead with greater confidence, clarity and impact!!
Have you ever travelled to another Country and found yourself
wondering why they aren’t as polite as …well… as Canadians?
If you are a Canadian, like I am , or know a Canadian , you would know that one of the reputations we have around the globe is that “Canadians are very polite”, and some would argue, at times “too polite”.
Is there such a thing as being “too polite”?
As a matter of fact there is, especially when it comes to public speaking. What I am about to say may be contrary to what you have been taught, but if you want to stand out as a speaker, and own the stage, you NEVER want to open your message with a THANK YOU. What I am referring to are the “niceties” that most speakers start off with after they are introduced. What distinguishes the best from the rest is when a speaker uses the first 30 -90 seconds of their message to capture the audience’s attention and get them curious enough to want to keep listening to what you have to say. Let’s face it, audiences don’t really care that you are “glad to be here” or “so thankful for (so and so) inviting you to speak”. What the audience cares about is “What’s in it for them?” Audience members have lots of competing thoughts going on in their mind as they sit there. As a speaker, your challenge (and goal) is to interrupt those thoughts and capture their attention and keep their attention so they discover what you have to say applies to their life. The first 30-90 seconds of your message is a critical piece as your audience will be determining whether they like you, and assessing whether they think you have any thing relevant that’s worth their time and attention.
If you must thank someone from the stage, do it AFTER your Opening and before you get into your main content of your message , or somewhere else in the message (appropriately) but DO NOT OPEN with THANK YOU.
Take note the next time you hear a speaker and see what they do and what difference in impact it made in the message. If you currently do this, take out the niceties in your opening and open with a bang. See what difference it makes in capturing your audience’s curiosity and infusing your message with fresh power!
Love to hear about what you discover. Send us an email or post on the FB page.
Have YOU ever asked Why it’s Called “Leap Year” ?
Have you ever wondered how the concept of LEAP Year came to be? It always seemed odd to me, that every 4 years we add another day to our year, until I researched it.
History reports say that he Roman dictator, Julius Caesar, is considered the “father” of leap year. The ancient Roman calendar system was based on a total of 355 days in a year—a full 10 ¼ days shorter than a solar year, which is the length of time it takes the Earth to make one complete orbit around the sun. To keep the calendar system in line with the seasons, Roman officials were supposed to insert an extra month every so often, but by the time Caesar began to rule Rome, the calendar had gotten seriously out of whack. Caesar consulted with the top astronomers of the day, and in 46 B.C. decided to add one day (known as leap day) every four years to make up the discrepancy between the lunar and solar calendars.
According to Wikipedia: The name “leap year” comes from the fact that while a fixed date in the Gregorian calendar normally advances one day of the week from one year to the next, the day of the week in a leap year will advance two days (from March onwards) due to the extra day added at the end of February (thus “leaping over” one of the days in the week). (This also why your birthday is on a different day every year).
Adding a day didn’t quite solve the problem, but it was better than adding a whole month.
Why am I telling you this?
Well sometimes , simply adding something to your life will solve a problem, and even better align you to your dreams and life purpose.
A few years ago, after interviewing a number of women entrepreneurs, I discovered something interesting. The women who were the most successful had added something to their skill set, which ended up being a major contributor to their success. What they added was a decision to regularly invest in improving their public speaking skills. Each of the women sought out coaches and opportunity to learn how to become more effective communicators. By actively pursuing this goal to adding speaking to their skill set, they saw their business LEAP forward and ALIGN to their original dreams of success.
What do you need to ADD to YOUR skill set to help you LEAP forward in your business or dreams for the future?
In honour of Leap Year, I want to invite you to a FREE Webinar where you will learn about the 3 main components that these women added to help turn their Presentations into PROFITS.
The Webinar will be on Monday , Feb 29th. Reserve your spot so you will also receive a recording link afterwards:
Sign up Here
Take the Leap! Can’t wait to connect with you on Monday.
To Your Speaking Success!!
I recently had a conversation with someone about having Confidence as a public speaker. Exuding confidence plays a huge role in how others perceive you. Many people say your confidence will grow the more you practice – and yes, there is SOME truth in that! However, one of the best ways to increase your Confidence is by being PREPARED. Sometimes you may look at public speakers who seem to do a good job at “winging it” and believe that this is the mark of someone with confidence- being able to “wing it”. The truth is those who are best at “winging it” are actually the most prepared. They may not have specifically prepared for that moment when they were called upon spontaneously to speak- but their ongoing preparations gave them what they needed to be able to “speak off the cuff”. They pulled from their storehouse of prepared materials to confidently respond in the moment.
Have you ever heard this saying? ” Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.”
Developing new and effective communication skills are key to increasing confidence and ongoing personal and professional success. Being prepared ahead of time is one of the best ways to grow your confidence. Craig Valentine says it best, “Don’t just GET ready, STAY ready” for when opportunity knocks. Here’s a great article taken from Entrepreneur magazine online , written by Jacqueline Whitmore (http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/247353)
6 Actions You Can Take Everyday to Build Your Self-Confidence.
Even the greatest leaders lack self-confidence at certain times. Self-confidence is not a static quality; rather, it’s a mindset that takes effort to maintain when the going gets rough. It must be learned, practiced and mastered just like any other skill. But once you master it, you will be changed for the better.
Here are six effective ways to promote your own self-confidence.
1. Act the part.
Your body language can instantly demonstrate self-assuredness, or it can scream insecurity. Present yourself in a way that says you are ready to master or take command of any situation. If you look confident and act the part you aspire to reach, you’ll not only feel in control, people will have much more confidence in you as well.
Hold your head high, sit up straight, gently bring your shoulders back to align your spine and look directly at the other person when interacting. Avoid a limp handshake and maintain good eye contact while someone is speaking to you.
2. Dress the part.
When you look better, you feel better. If you choose clothing and accessories that fit you well, suit your industry and lifestyle, and make you feel good, this will automatically increase your self-esteem. Look like the part you want to play, or in other words, suit up for success. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine in your accessories. Bold jewelry or a colorful tie can be a focal point and a good conversation starter.
3. Speak assertively.
The next time you listen to your favorite speaker, be mindful of the way he or she delivers a speech. A great speaker speaks confidently, in a steady, rhythmic tone. Instead of the “ums” and “ahs” that interrupt flow, they use pauses to emphasize ideas.
Adopt an assertive, but not aggressive, way of speaking that indicates your self-confidence. You will feel your self-esteem begin to rise. To be taken seriously, avoid high-pitched, nervous chatter or twittering giggles in your speech. People will listen to you more attentively when they see the leader radiate from within you.
4. Think and act positively.
Positive energy leads to positive outcomes, so set your mind to the can-do side of any situation, avoiding the negative self-talk that can make you feel less confident. Smile, laugh and surround yourself with happy, positive people. You’ll feel better and the people with whom you work will enjoy your company.
Keep a gratitude journal to remind yourself of the high points of your day and your accomplishments. You will develop more peace and confidence when you are in a grateful state of mind.
5. Take action.
There’s more to being confident than just how you look. You must act the part. Walk up to a stranger at a networking event, or accept a project you’d normally reject. Practice being self-confident and soon it will become second nature.
Inaction breeds doubt and fear, while action breeds confidence and courage. As an exercise, jot down your strengths and weaknesses. Most people will tell you to work on your weaknesses, but use what you’ve got and capitalize on your strengths instead. Once you put more energy into your positive traits, your confidence will start to shine through.
6. Be prepared.
Remember the five P’s: Prior planning prevents poor performance. The more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll feel about your expertise and competency. Preparation will help you avoid getting tripped up by life’s unexpected glitches.
Learn everything you can about your industry, your subject matter, your goals and what drives you towards success. Before you start a task, first imagine how you want to feel once you’ve completed it. Don’t try to accomplish too much at once. Break complex tasks up into small, bite-size, manageable pieces.
As U.S. Army General Creighton Williams Abrams Jr. once said, “When eating an elephant take one bite at a time.” If you have patience and perseverance, you are only steps away from a more confident you.”
How do you need to start preparing for your next speaking opportunity – scheduled or not?
Want to Become A Speaker?
Are you an entrepreneur, coach or author? Do you have a message in your heart that doesn’t always come out the way you want it to ? This one day Bootcamp will help catapult you into higher levels of confidence and speaking success!
The Get Coached to Speak Bootcamp is designed to not only show you what habits may be hindering your effectiveness but also equip you with the tools to implement right away to connect more deeply with your audience and motivate them to action.
Reserve your seat for the next Get Coached to Speak Bootcamp on January 23, 2016
Limited seating available. CLICK here to reserve your seat!
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT….. or does it?
You have probably heard it said that “practice makes perfect” and yes there is some truth to it. However, what if you are practicing the wrong things, and bad habits are forming. Many speakers mistake their confidence in public speaking as evidence of their effectiveness as a speaker. Getting practice speaking will help, ONLY IF you are practicing the right skills!
The Get Coached to Speak Bootcamp is designed to not only show you what habits may be hindering your effectiveness but also equip you with the tools to implement right away to transform the way you deliver your message.
Reserve your seat for the next Get Coached to Speak Bootcamp on JUNE 7, 2014.
Limited seating available. CLICK on the icon below to reserve your seat!
NEXT BOOTCAMP JUNE 7, 2014