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[Speaking-Out-Loud March 2013] Just breathe, deeply
April 01, 2013

Welcome to the March Issue of Speaking-Out-Loud's monthly E-zine to help you effectively 'talk your walk'.

If this E-zine speaks to you, then quite likely it will talk sense to your friends, family or work mates too. Please pass it along.

You might even suggest that they sign up! The page to send them to is here Speaking-Out-Loud

Remember, if you have any questions you're most welcome to ask them through my contact form. I enjoy hearing from my readers and will respond as soon as I am able.


In this Issue

If you don't have time to read the whole ezine, click on the topic that interests you. This month you will find:

Susan's Spiel

Same old, same old
How do you know when to retire a set of presentation notes? Find out more ...

Just breathe
What's the first thing you should do when you're about to go on stage, or whenever life throws you a challenge? My Mother's secret remedy revealed!

Triple treat - 3 posts to stimulate and inspire

I am always looking for ways to improve the site. If you see any errors or would like to contribute in any way, please accept this invitation to contact me through my About Me page.

Thank you for reading.

Happy speaking,


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Same old, same old

There are many situations calling for repeated presentations of essentially the same material. Examples - inductions for new employees or 'how tos' of any type. Once you have a formula ticking off all the essential boxes it's tempting to keep using it. While that's understandable, it's also dangerous as you risk losing your audience.

How many times can you recycle a presentation before it becomes stale, flat, routine; lifeless?

If you can repeat the entire thing without pausing to think, or even consider your audience as being distinct from the one who heard it the last time, it's time to change. You're on auto pilot and when you're in that mode you've blocked off any possibility of real communication. Your audience is blanked out.

(Here's a real life example, one you'll possibly identify with. I remember a trainer who re-hashed the same set of notes for years complete with jokes so old they'd grown mold. Nobody laughed; instead they rolled their eyes in disdain and were embarrassed. His audience endured his presentation because they had to!)

Tips to tell if your presentation is tired:

  • you update your handouts by changing the date and you've done that 5 times before
  • if you use slides; the clip art or images are out of date
  • your examples or references no longer fit the audience
  • you don't feel energized when you deliver the content
  • you haven't practiced or run through the presentation because you know it inside it
  • your audience doesn't respond either by asking questions or laughing in the places you planned they would

The cure is simple. Toss it all out and begin again at the beginning. The key questions remain the same but the answers may be very different this time around.

  1. Who is my audience?
  2. What do they need to know and why?

For more about creating genuinely audience focused content check this page on building rapport.

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Just breathe

My mother had a cure-all. It didn't matter what the situation was, her first response was a command. My cat was killed by a car. "Breathe!" My brother and I quarreled. "Breathe!" I was turned to stone through fear, standing in the wings of a stage unable to move on cue. "Breathe!"

Breathing. The Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh says:

“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.”

It appears my Mother and he were in agreement.

Held, irregular or shallow breathing increases tension and anxiety. And it follows that when the essential ingredient bringing thought or words to life is disturbed or stressed it is reflected in the quality of our voices. They are strained in tone, higher pitched and less fluent.

The very first place to start dismantling whatever tension you experience though speaking in public is through breathing well. Here's a simple exercise. Use it when you realize you are beginning to do the things you normally do when you're under stress. Eg. bite your nails, check everything for the umpteenth time or snap at people without provocation.

  1. Stand with your feet a comfortable shoulder width apart.
  2. Support the weight of your body through your hips and legs rather than locking your knees.
  3. Consciously release and relax your shoulders.
  4. If you're holding your stomach in, let it go.
  5. Place your hands on your stomach.
  6. Breathe in through your nose to the count of four. Count slowly. As you inhale feel your diaphragm rising.
  7. Breathe out through your mouth to the count of four and now feel your diaphragm expanding.
  8. Do three rounds of inhaling and exhaling while making sure you keep your shoulders, stomach and legs relaxed.

You'll find when you're through you will be more relaxed, alert and able to think and speak more clearly.

You can find variations on this exercise, as well as links to more, here.

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A round up of posts I found stimulating. I hope you enjoy them too.

If you find gems you'd like to share post them to our Facebook page. It's a little bit sad and could do with a boost!

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PS. Did you know I offer a speech writing service?

It's for those who struggle, (or simply don't have the time), to put words in order and have them say what you want them to.

Last week it was someone needing a 50th birthday toast. Just before that, it was help with a eulogy. If this is assistance you could use you'll find the details in the right hand column on this 50th birthday speech page. If you have questions about how the process works, I'll gladly answer them.

To keep up with what's new on the go to our What's New Page, Blogging Aloud. There you can subscribe to the site and add it to your RSS feed, Google, Yahoo, MSN, Newsgator or Bloglines site.
These days you can join us on Facebook too!

Thank you for reading the March Issue of Speaking-Out-Loud. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please feel free to contact me with any questions through the form at the foot of the Speaking Out Loud Page. I love hearing from my readers!

If you liked this issue of Speaking-Out-Loud, please feel free to send it on to any friends or family. The site url to forward so they can subscribe is Speaking-Out-Loud.

Until next time,
Happy speaking,


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