Isn’t it Time you Tackled your Fear of Public Speaking?

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A veteran public speaker with twenty five years of experience coaching, training and delivering platform speeches, Lisa Bernard now teaches introductory courses on Effective Communication and Master Classes on Public Speaking and Presentation Skills, Audience Analysis and Conducting a Professional Q&A Session.  Talk with her at (203) 293-4741.  Email her at LisaBernard@SecuritySpeak.net.  Need fast help?  Purchase self-help tools at http://www.CueCardCommunications.com.  Replace your fear of public speaking with confidence in your skills in 2018!  Need a riveting guest speaker for your upcoming event?  See Lisa’s bio and those of her speakers at http://www.SecuritySpeak.net.

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Six Steps to a Gracious Speech of Acceptance

On the Contrary!

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Accept the Responsibilities of Accepting an Award

A well-received Speech of Acceptance is a humble acknowledgement of all those who specifically helped the recipient achieve the results that earned him, her or them the award and those whose efforts make the grating of an award possible at all.  In addition, it makes clear that the award-winner understands that his or her or their work is part of a larger contribution to a field, industry or medium.  A well-crafted Speech of Acceptance sends a clear message to the audience as well as the grantors of the award that their recipient was indeed the right selection. S/he comes off as humble, gracious and appreciative of the opportunity for his or her role in the granting institution’s efforts, mission and identity.

Three Things about Awards That You Need to Know

  1. Yes, candidates for an award do prepare, polish and practice Speeches of…

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Social Media and Communication Infantilization?

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I love infants.  When my friends with small children post photos on Facebook I giggle and hit the heart button.  And when I see babies in person I can’t help but interact with them.  I make faces to elicit reactions and I am amazed that they understand gestures and language.  If they’re nine or ten months old I ask them, “Where’s mommy?” and they point to their mother.   It’s a marvel that their feelings and knowledge are expressed without words and it is remarkable that we adults interpret them accurately and respond accordingly.  At their first cry after naptime we ask “Are you hungry?”  And as we approach them with a bowl, bottle or breast they reach to us – eyes wide and hands outstretched.

Late in 2017, I made an observation that gave me pause:  On some social media platforms, my feelings and reactions are expressed as though I am an infant – that is, with pictoral facial expressions to symbolize what I “like” or “love” or what makes me feel “sad,”  “happy,” “angry” or “shocked.”  Don’t get me wrong, it works for some media and in some situations.  A smiley face is sufficient for expressing that you’re genuinely glad your buddy’s power returned after a storm.  Enough clicked.  As an adult, however, it isn’t enough to “make a face” in most situations and relationships.  And as social media offer alternatives to face-to-face communication and live social and professional engagement, some possibilities and concerns are worth noting.  Are we becoming accustomed to “reacting” rather than “interacting” and “responding?”

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With my students, I’ve noticed a shift over the last two years.  Among those raised in societies such as the U.S. with ready access to the internet and social media, more seem to be “spectators” than “participants” than in earlier generations.  They “watch” my lectures and interactions with other students and are uninclined to participate – to exchange their ideas and feelings beyond, “I like it.”  Or, “it’s good.”  They may smile and nod their heads, but they hang back from the articulation of their assessments even after encouragement from me and prodding from their peers.  I cannot help but wonder why this is happening.  Sometimes I have a sense that I am the first live authority figure to press them to articulate clearly their thoughts and feelings.  Sometimes they don’t have the vocabulary to express the nuances of their sentiments and impressions.  Many confess that they don’t read – for school, to keep up with current events or for pleasure.  That certainly can stunt a vocabulary and limit one’s conversance on an issue.  Together, they’ll zap an undergraduate’s confidence and the development of original ideas.

Lately though, seeing many coeds go immediately to their phones and tablets during break and as class ends,  I wonder how long they’ve been voluntary and friendly hostages to social media platforms – platforms that may be conditioning them to be passive in their learning and to “react.”  You know this drill; view a post and be cued: “Like and share if you agree.”  That’s social media-speak for “pass along someone else’s viewpoint” – an anemic substitute for individual expression.  And “reacting” flies in the face of  Effective Communication 101:  Don’t react – respond.  A reaction is an uncensored, involuntary and immediate emotional release.   A response is a judicious decision about when and how to behave and speak.  Children react.  Adults respond.

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Marry that to the trend in my undergraduates away from primary source research – that is, the avoidance of face-to-face interviews and in-person visits when investigating speech topics.  These missing pieces in their due diligence put them in a one-down position from the get-go compared to their contemporaries who actually have a probe, look, smell, taste or listen for themselves.  Reliance on social media outlets for information puts a wall between students and the gold mine of empirical research.  Increasingly I find myself saying, “Let’s get out of our chairs and from behind our tablets,” to some blank stares.  For them, it might as well be an online course with a student to instructor ratio of 1000:1.

What’s the dynamic at work here?   It seems that while communication technologies continue to evolve, human nature hasn’t changed a stitch.  We muggles are attracted to appliances that make things easier for us and social media platforms and mobile devices square with our appetites for simplicity and accessibility.   Yet – and here’s the root of the paradox – we humans also long to express ourselves as individuals.  We crave being heard and understood by others.   And we aspire to feel confidant when we speak with and in front of other people.  Reality check: only actual live face-to-live face interaction satisfies these needs over time.

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Nonverbal cues like nodding, a pat on the back and eye contact impact us synergistically.  And verbal clarification in interviews and questions from live audiences help us refine our messaging and clarify our content – key ingredients for the superpower known as confident communication.   Knowing that we are being heard is gratifying.  Validating what we know and identifying what we’ve yet to learn feed our confidence – at any age and at each level of development and maturation.

So looking forward – literally – in 2018, let’s not allow social media to walk us backward or hinder our growth.  Let us avoid the infantilization of our communication.  Effective communication is our super power as human beings.

Lisa Bernard has prepared and represented people from all walks of life to speak publicly at meetings, on panels, in their places of worship and as keynoters. She herself has addressed audiences as large as 2000 and designed and delivered over 500 workshops, seminars and college-level courses on oral communication.  She has slowed down fast-talkers, turned “uhmers” into smooth-speakers and moderated accents from Brooklyn to Beijing – all to develop confident communicators.  Lisa has a Masters Degree in International Affairs from Columbia University and today manages Lisa Bernard’s SecuritySpeak, LLC, a consulting firm that makes available experts on national, global and cyber-security for distinguished lectures worldwide.  You can reach her at (203) 293-4741 or LisaBernard@SecuritySpeak.net and like her firm at www.Facebook.com/PodiumTime.

 

 

 

 

 

Are You a Busy Bee or Just Buzzing Around?

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My last morning ride of the autumn was on a classic Indian summer day.  It was sunny and comfortably warm.  The sky was azure blue.  I was grateful for the gift of another opportunity to saddle my horse in such accommodating weather.  After a while on the trails, I dropped the reins to allow my Dolce to go where he pleased to graze.  I respect my horse.  Our relationship is a partnership and after we ride a trail of my choosing, I like him to have time to choose his own forage and to just be a horse.

Busy Bees

This particular morning I noticed he was grazing on a weed sometimes called “Long-bristled Smartweed.”  It thrives each fall on his farm and he seeks it out each year.  Just as I was considering this, I noticed the many bees also enjoying the Long-bristled Smartweed.  There were dozens of them all within a one-foot radius of his head!  My first reaction was to move us along.  Horses have many nerve endings around their mouths and noses and I could only imagine that being stung there would be terribly painful for him – and dangerous for me if he bolted or reared.  But then, I realized that we’d been there for some time.  Those bees were not paying him any attention at all.  They were entirely engrossed in the nectar of the pink buds.  They had what to get done and they were doing it.  And the bees were silent.  There was no buzz at all from these very busy bees.  No buzzing and no stinging.  This got me thinking …

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I often hear people say, “I’m so busy!” You call or text or email and they first assert, “I’ve been so busy …”  You invite them and they say, “Sorry, busy.”  Busy, busy, bizzzzyyy.  My students almost all tell me repeatedly that they are “so busy.”  Then there are the people in my life who never use that word.  Here’s the interesting thing: they are the most committed, devoted and productive people I know.  When I call or text or write them they are attentive, present, focused, decisive and efficient.  They’re the ones with demanding careers, elaborate pursuits, families and time-consuming hobbies and avocations.  I don’t notice them multi-tasking, but they certainly have multiple roles in their lives.  Beside my close family members and friends, many of those who come to mind are the experts I represent at my speakers bureau.  I have such respect for them.  They are devoted spouses, parents and grandparents.  They run firms, write books, conduct elaborate research, attend professional conferences, give interviews and deliver speeches and travel the world in doing so – literally.  Their deadlines are hard deadlines.  They are genuinely “busy.”  But they don’t describe themselves that way.  They tend to focus on the matter at hand.  My favorite vignette comes from my speaker whom I texted, “Have 5 minutes for a chat?”  He texted back, “Yep.  10:00.  Cell.”  It was already 10:40 in the morning so I asked, “Tonight or 10:00 a.m.  tomorrow?”  His reply: “Tonight.  On midnight flight to Moscow.”  He’s busy.  That kind of rigor and efficiency are the norm for my speakers.

When I returned Dolce to his paddock that morning, there was a swarm of bees by the gate and I heard them before I saw them.   They were flying around and their collective buzz was audible – even loud.  They just didn’t seem to be doing anything – anything but buzzing, that is.  We avoided them.  This time, I felt we could be stung and late for where we needed to be next.  These were not “busy bees” but “buzzing” ones.

Lisa Bernard is now the President of SecuritySpeak, LLC, a consulting firm that represents unbiased experts on national, cyber and global security matters or briefings, talks and distinguished lectures before audiences with an interest in keeping the level of discourse high.  See more at http://www.SecuritySpeak.net and http://www.Facebook.com/PodumTime.  She can be reached at (203) 293-4741 or via email at LisaBernard@SecuritySpeak.net

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I Love Lucy’s Feminism “In Deeds” not Words

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Last week in my “Sell Me Something Workshop” I brought in American grand dame Lucille Ball in the TV, advertisement and comedic classic: VITAMEATAVEGAMIN.   We learned from what Lucy (McGuillicuddy Ricardo) did masterfully in her “sales pitch” and from what she bungled for not “knowing her product.”  This episode is so cherished that a gentleman walking down the corridor couldn’t help but come in and join us.  He was belly laughing, as was I.  Lucy’s authenticity – her gestures and her expressions – speaks right to your heart.  And, from the business, entertainment and media perspectives, Lucy’s impact on TV and comediennes thereafter is nothing short of stunning.  Take,  for example,  my family’s favorite, The Nanny, brought to life by Fran Drescher.

But above all, I am thinking now about Lucy’s subtle and sophisticated contribution to us women in the workforce and in business world more broadly.  In this episode are men’s inflammatory references to “the girl” and her husband Ricky’s sexist frowning on her career and her use of her maiden name professionally.  He even scolds her – publicly no less – for defying his wishes.  Yet, in the scenes – and behind them – is a woman who is undeterred and unflappable.  In velvet gloves, high heels and a pill-box hat was a trailblazer who produced, starred-in and made iconic a TV phenomenon – and brought along a crew of colleagues.  Both the character she played – and the woman she was – forged forward in professional life and as a wonderful wife, mother, friend, colleague and business partner.  She did it all.

As a younger woman, I missed the satire for the comedy.  Now, as a gal on the other side of life’s heavy lifting – marriage, childrearing, career- building – I am reminded that progress and feminism take many forms.   Now, see the satire through the clarity of the rear view mirror.  Now, I have fallen in love with Lucy all over again – not blindly, but with great clarity.

Lisa Bernard has prepared and represented people from all walks of life to speak publicly at meetings, on panels, in their places of worship and as keynoters. She herself has addressed audiences as large as 2000 and designed and delivered over 500 workshops, seminars and college-level courses on oral communication.  She has slowed down fast-talkers, turned “uhmers” into smooth-speakers and moderated accents from Brooklyn to Beijing – all to develop confident communicators.  Lisa has a Masters Degree in International Affairs from Columbia University and today manages Lisa Bernard’s SecuritySpeak, LLC, a consulting firm that makes available experts on national, global and cyber-security for distinguished lectures worldwide.  You can reach her at (203) 293-4741 or LisaBernard@SecuritySpeak.net and like her firm at www.Facebook.com/PodiumTime.

What a Recipe Name Reveals about Dignity and Fine Dining

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I am excited for this evening. It’s my barn’s holiday party and there’s much fun ahead –   from seeing my fellow equestrians trade-in their jeans and boots for holiday attire to enjoying ourselves by the fireplace as winter sets in and clips our time together on the trials.  Frankly, I am also looking forward to the fare.  A happy pescetarian, I pre-ordered the “scrod puttanesca.”  And when I did, the root of “puttanesca” jumped out at me as “puttana” in the vernacular Italian means “prostitute.”  Curious, I looked up the origins of the recipe to see if this is a coincidence or if there is a connection between prostitution and my meal tonight.  Turns out, there is.

Apparently, “puttanesca sauce” was developed by Italian prostitutes who wanted a fast-cooking and spicy gravy to complement the mild-flavored fish they prepared and ate in the little time they had between clients.  I love this.  I have always attributed my zest for fine food and commitment to eating well to the Mediterranean dimension of my heritage.  My Italian relatives respected meals and celebrated food as do I and as do my daughters.  However busy we are, we make time to prepare our food.  Three meals a day – each made with fresh ingredients.  I even laugh at myself as I write this and reflect on my breakfast today.  As the sun was rising and the coffee brewing, I was chopping Vidalia onions and roasted red peppers and fresh mozzarella for my omelette.  Eggs, a dash of grated Locatelli cheese, fresh-cracked pepper, some ribboned basil and there I have it – today or any other day of the work week.  And as I flipped it onto to my dish, I smiled nostalgically thinking of my late grandfather, Phillip, who never, ever ate on paper or plastic.  In my grandparents’ home, meals were plated – period.  That’s the dignity in dining that makes you a life – whatever you do for a living.

Lisa Bernard has prepared and represented people from all walks of life to speak publicly at meetings, on panels, in their places of worship and as keynoters. She herself has addressed audiences as large as 2000 and designed and delivered over 500 workshops, seminars and college-level courses on oral communication.  She has slowed down fast-talkers, turned “uhmers” into smooth-speakers and moderated accents from Brooklyn to Beijing – all to develop confident communicators.  Lisa has a Masters Degree in International Affairs from Columbia University and today manages Lisa Bernard’s SecuritySpeak, LLC, a consulting firm that makes available experts on national, global and cyber-security for distinguished lectures worldwide.  You can reach her at (203) 293-4741 or LisaBernard@SecuritySpeak.net and like her firm at www.Facebook.com/PodiumTime.

Make Your Message Memorable: Speak “Synoptically” This Season

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Calling all panelists, presenters, keynoters and hosts!  It’s October and conference season is upon us!  Are you ready?  Are you confident?  Is your message memorable?  At the risk of over-simplifying, my suggestion for making the points in your presentation more resonant will help not only your listeners remember your words of wisdom, but also help you to deliver them without notes and with greater confidence.  What’s the tip?  Speak your main points synoptically.  Crystallize your key content into sentences that are crisp, comprehensive and companionable with the human ear.   Listen as you say aloud the following examples.

Talking gets the appointment; listening makes the sale.

When it comes to retirement, if you fail to plan then you are planning to fail.

Content, digital, social media and more: marketing is still everything and everything is still marketing.

Hear it?

A dash of rhetoric will enhance the sound of your synoptic phrasing.  Select a device that is consistent with the tenor of the point you are making.  If it’s light and playful then alliteration is a candidate: Today, there’s a bounty of botanicals to beat the winter blues and blahs!  Is your point comprehensive?  Try chiasmus for that “final-word-on-the-subject” sound:  Distance learning is the future of education and the education of the future.”  Is your presentation revelatory?  Juxtaposition works naturally: New research shows that small talk plays a big role in long-term negotiations.  Is your point counter-intuitive or complex?  The simplicity of rhythm and rhyme will be welcome: Be curious not furious when you encounter hostility in a meeting.  Whichever device you deploy, a synoptic affirmation of your key points prepares your audience perfectly to hear your illustrations, elaborations and substantiations in the development of the points you make.

My fellow orators, when we convert our main points into phrases our audiences can quote, we benefit as well.  We internalize our lines faster and easier so we rely less, if at all, on notes at the podium.   These boost our confidence in our messaging and presentation skills.  Recall how extemporaneously without notes and assuredly the following were delivered as you finish these indelible and synoptic phrases yourself:

” My fellow Americans, ask not what you country can do for you, ask  …”

“That’s one small step for [a] man, one  …”

“Give me liberty or  …”

I wish you each a season of speaking that promotes your ideas, analyses, businesses and books to your personal best and with maximum benefit to our society.   Viva voce!

A professional speaker and communications coach for over 25 years, Lisa Bernard now offers master classes in Audience AnalysisPreparing and Conducting a Professional Q&A Session, and Extemporaneous Public Speaking.  She is currently President of Lisa Bernard’s SecuritySpeak, LLC, a speakers bureau devoted to her passion – the intersection of oratory and international affairs.  Her experts address audiences on matters of cyber, national and global security matters.  This follows her 20 year tenure as President of Word of Mouth, Inc. a full-service communications firm based in Westport, CT, that provided speech-writing, accent modification, interview prep, media training and customized seminar services in listening skills, meeting management and public speaking to clients worldwide.  Lisa began her communications career with the founding of Foreign Affairs Speakers Bureau in 1989 in New York City.  She is the author of a series of affordable and self-help guidebooks called NOTES from the PODIUM and still devotes one day a week to teaching at the college level in her hometown of Queens, NY.  She can be reached at (203) 293-4741 or at LisaBernard@SecuritySpeak.net.   Like her firm on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/PodiumTime.   Learn more about her work at http://www.SecuritySpeak.net and access her expertise at http://www.CueCardCommunications.com and via her blog, Security Briefs at http://www.SecuriITyBriefs.Blogspot.com.