Why I Speak

Posted by on Oct 27, 2013 in Business, Education, Writing and Speaking | 0 comments

A gentleman sitting in the second row raises his hand. I nod and extend my hand toward him, inviting him to speak. “I have two questions,” he says. “I’m listening to you describe all that you do as an introvert to transition from calmly moving around your kitchen, as you say, to being energized and ‘on’ to present to us today. Do you enjoy the process of that transition? Also, if you are an introvert and you are ordinarily pretty subdued in your everyday life, why do you choose a career presenting to groups and working as a public speaker?” By the time this man asks his questions, the audience of job seekers and I have been together for almost an hour. I am giving a presentation called “The Introvert Steps Out” to a room in which 98% of the people self-identity as introverts. Nearly all in the room are people who refill their energy reserves by spending time on their own, and they experience a depletion in their energy after interacting with other people. This happens even when the interactions are positive and rewarding. Within the group, some also identify as shy while others are comfortable speaking to large groups. The participants are attending my presentation to learn essential survival strategies that work for all introverts–regardless of how shy or outgoing they are. From the beginning of my talk, I have been challenging what some people in the room believe about themselves and about introverts in general. Most people in the room have seen dynamic presenters create a high level of energy in a room with jokes, stories, or songs. Not everyone, though, has witnessed a person do this and disclose all the revealing details that confirm the presenter is, in fact, a real, live introvert–just like them. I can hear the genuine curiosity in the man’s voice when he asks his questions. Up to this point, I have told them “how” I do what I do, but he wants to know “why.” No one has asked me this question in a public venue before, and I find myself grateful for the way this man has opened the door for another important revelation. To answer the first question, I tell the group that I do love the process of preparing to present. I share how empowering it is to know that, regardless of how much or little sleep I have had the night before or how many unexpected events come flying toward me in the hours leading up to a presentation, I can transform myself from quietly bumbling around my kitchen into being a dynamic and energized speaker. The fact that I can generate myself in this way...

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Working Retreats

Posted by on Oct 20, 2013 in Business, Education, Writing and Speaking | 0 comments

This November, I will be facilitating a Strategic Planning Retreat with a dynamic team of colleagues. We are working with an educational organization to which we each have a strong connection and personal investment. The process has been exhilarating, inspiring, and transformative. I described to a friend who also works in education what the faculty and board participants will be doing with us during the retreat. She exclaimed, “That doesn’t sound like a retreat! That sounds like WORK!” I considered her perspective. There are times when we retreat for the purposes of relaxation and enjoyment. Often, though, we retreat when we are ready to delve deeper into an area of work for which we need the freedom of complete focus. A couple of years ago, a friend of mine decided to enter into a two-year study program to become a nurse practitioner. The year before she began the program, she started preparing her clients and her team of family and friends for her retreat. She shared the level of dedication and focus she would need to invest to complete the program successfully. She let people know in advance that she would need to pull back from almost everything and everyone else she was currently engaging with in her life. Her enthusiasm was contagious and her vision was powerful. Folks became invested in her reaching her goals. Instead of feeling frustrated or offended because she was not accessible for regular interaction and communication, people felt honored to be a part of the team that was supporting her as she worked through the program. My friend’s process illustrated the three important steps we can all use when we are working on goals. Before we begin, we need take stock of where we are, where we are going, and what–realistically–we will need to do in the timeframe we have set. There can be many goals which will require a form of retreat. Writing a book, selling a house, caring for a newborn, and bringing teams together to shift the direction of an organization are just some examples. Once we have named our need for a retreat, we have an opportunity to design the structure for it. For my own writing goals, I find that going away for a weekend of writing aligns better with the needs of my family and clients than if I were to disconnect for an entire week or month at a time. Knowing this, I am willing to set a timeframe for completion that works with that structure. After we design our retreat, it is vital that we include the members of our team in our intentions. When our team recognizes why we are choosing to retreat and...

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Express Yourself, Write!

Posted by on Oct 13, 2013 in Business, Education, Writing and Speaking | 0 comments

My client has just landed an opportunity to present at a large conference in her field. She is ecstatic that she was chosen, but confides to me that presenting at this level is new for her. She wants to do everything she can to make a great impression. We spend some of our session clarifying what she believes the characteristics of a successful speaker are and what concerns she has about her own abilities. “How clear are you about who you want to be when you are in front of the room?” I ask my client. “Well, I’ve given it a lot of thought. I think I have a pretty good sense of what I want,” she answers. “Fantastic!” I say. “I’ll write what you say. What’s the first thing you know is important?” When I named our company Express Yourself Write, I wondered if the name would convey the breadth of the work we did. Yes, many of our clients were working on goals to improve their actual writing skills. Yet, an equal number of clients chose to engage because of goals that involved spoken communication. Many of our clients were choosing to work with us because they wanted to communicate in a way that would have the greatest impact on those with whom they were speaking. In some way, all of the coaching, training, and information we provided focused on people finding their voice and using it well. Through working with the many clients who were not focused on writing goals, per se, I discovered that the name I had chosen for our business was, indeed, aligned and indicative of our work. For most of our clients, writing things down was one of the most valuable steps people took toward being able to express themselves with authenticity and confidence. People understand the value of writing in terms of preparing content. We write our speeches before we deliver them. We create scripts to guide us through collaborative trainings and performances. Even when we prepare to speak extemporaneously, we make a list of the points we want to be sure to include. Writing is often the step we rely on to organize our thoughts into a form we can express. Yet writing can be just as valuable for the less tangible aspects of preparatory work. What do we want to experience as we are presenting? What aspects of our personality do we most want to convey when we engage in a networking event or new dating situation? What intention would we like to set for how we will navigate an interaction we perceive as stressful? Using writing as a means to explore these types of questions can be just...

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In Gratitude We Trust – Guest Blogger

Posted by on Oct 6, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

This week I extend my gratitude to Dave for allowing me to share his recent blog post with you. In this article, Dave offers his perspective on the gratitude practice he began as a result of our working together. Sunday, September 29, 2013 In Gratitude We Trust A few months ago, my coach Sarah asked me to start a gratitude journal. I was pretty skeptical about the whole thing. I’m not typically a rah-rah person and I really couldn’t see how writing down things that made me grateful would help me in the least. But everything else that Sarah had suggested had worked out pretty well, so I decided to give it a shot. At first, I treated it like an exercise in recordkeeping. Every evening, I would sit down and rack my brains for moments throughout the day that made me feel grateful. It wasn’t that hard to do. I set a quota of three items a day, and I was often able to hit four or five. The thing that frustrated me the most was forgetting to include key moments. The other was repeating the same items. It felt a little like cheating if something made me feel grateful on both Monday and Tuesday. After about five weeks of dutifully filling in my gratitude journal, I decided to take a step back and assess how the journal was working for me. Even though it felt like I had low expectations going into it, I must have expected something because I was disappointed not to feel some positive, internal changes at work. I knew that Sarah wouldn’t have suggested the gratitude journal if there wasn’t more to it than this. When I brought all of this up with Sarah, we put our heads together and thought about how the journal might work better for me. Sarah suggested that, instead of using the journal for recordkeeping, I use it for dipsticking, recording what I was grateful for in the moment. She also said that repeating myself was normal, and that she had gone through a long period where her gratitude journal entries were almost identical day after day. After all, it makes sense that there would be things in our daily lives for which we would be constantly grateful. Some people will argue that keeping a gratitude journal and imposing a quota on it forces you to make things up or to be artificially positive. I would argue that we are genuinely grateful all the time, but our gratefulness can get covered up by immediate circumstances and negativity. We are not defined by the outermost layer of our consciousness. Digging down to our gratefulness uncovers something real if we...

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