Not sure what to say for your next speech? Liberate ideas in a 20 minute exercise.

Posted: February 23rd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Exercises for speakers, Practice, Speechwriting, Trust | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »


Today’s post is available via a 2 minute audio clip; or the written content follows too just below.

Not sure what to say for a speech? Here”s a favorite 20 minute exercise to help #dctweetup cc @sisarina (mp3)

Frustration, frustration frustration.

A few colleagues and clients recently shared they were mentally caving to frustration. They were preparing for their next talk and realized: they didn’t know what to say.

They have deep funds of knowledge.

They have specific and creative expertise.

They’ve been speaking to public audiences on and off for years.

They are intelligent, driven people with plenty to offer a range of listeners.

Yet their ideas were stuck, as in really stuck…like an elephant caught in spandex. As in, no idea and no sense of permission were escaping the inner workings of their mind.

The ‘It’s Not Good Enough” syndrome: a common cause of blocked ideas
In each conversation with these great professionals one trait unified each person’s predicament: in every attempt to even casually brainstorm a point of view for their speech — each person immediately criticized themselves. Whatever idea they tossed out as a potential vantage point from which to develop their presentation – it wasn’t good enough to them.

Image Unstuck by MC, Creative Commons

Getting beyond cycles of criticism: a 20 minute exercise to help
Even with heaps of expertise to draw from and share, this often happens — that cycle of ideas/delete/ideas/delete.

This whirlwind of self-criticism builds off itself, making the self-perception of “my ideas aren’t good enough” as the only type of creative development possible.

This is a cycle to break.

For our ideas to progress as public speakers at this type of crossroads, the main goal (stat!) is to create a sense of permission with how we express (and assert) ideas.

Here’s a favorite exercise to get unstuck:

1. Set your timer for 20 minutes.
Your iPhone, Android, or old time tomato timer on the stove. Please grab it and set it for 20 minutes.

2. Commit to zero self-criticism.
Before diving into this exercise, dedicate your mind to a criticism-free zone. Grant full authority to your hand, the pen it is about to hold, and the paper it will write on.

2a. Which leads to: turn off your computer and find paper and a pen.

3. Start the timer.

4. Then write down at least (3) assertions in 20 minutes — one or two sentences each — about your expertise and related to the gist of your speech.
Keep writing until the timer rings.

Judge not, judge not, just write write write. And ideally: consider these assertions as points of view too. As in, write down what you hold true about your industry with your expertise in mind, again in one or two sentences per assertion.

Start each assertion with the words “I believe…” if that helps to dislodge thought.

Raw example:
“I believe public speaking is a self-assertion game and a clarity game…and it takes time to achieve both.”*

*Is that a run-on sentence? Yes. Is it perfect grammar? No. Is it an assertion that I hold true as a public speaking professional? Yes.

Does it satisfy the perimeters of this exercise? You bet.

Because the goal is to get unstuck, out of your mind, away from delete-every-idea-syndrome and onto the page before you.

Another raw example:
“I believe social content is an interactive and strong way to build community online.”
or… “I believe public relations means stimulating social voice around your company.”

How about you?
What tactical ways help you liberate creativity when preparing for a speech (and abandon self-criticism with ideas)?

More ideas you might like:

Festivities galore: Social Media Week has arrived!

Posted: February 13th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Women entrepreneurs | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

That hilarious 80 second video is just one part of Social Media Week’s story!

It’s a worldwide festival where at least 12 cities across the globe are hosting events online (and offline too), looking at this question:

How have societies, cultures, and economies become more integrated & empowered through a global network of communication?

Want to learn more?
No matter where you are in the universe – if you have web access at your fingertips, you can engage with conversations and festivities by following #SMW12.

There are diverse, fantastic ways to participate offline too. Just take a look at what events are unfolding in or near your city.

Are you in the Washington, DC region?!

Look out! This is the inaugural year for DC as a host city. The dynamic team at iStrategyLabs is leading the way. And I’m excited to be an advisory board member too.

Here’s our local schedule of events with a fun summary of what’s to come this week from DC Event Junkie’s Lisa Byrne.

And are you in DC, ready for fun this week on Feb 15th?!

Please join Women Grow Business editor Tinu Abayomi-Paul and good ole Live Your Talk this Wednesday, Feb 15, as we go offline to get social and have some fun in honor of the week.

How to RSVP for a soiree!

We’re celebrating women’s leadership in DC business and co-hosting a happy hour soiree.

Just visit here to RSVP and join us for great conversation on innovative ideas in the area.

On that note, a big hearty thank you to our fantastic friends and sponsors for Wednesday:

Look forward to seeing you along with these vibrant business minds!

And no matter where you are this week, enjoy – and please remember there’s a place for you in these worldwide events.

3 tips for talking to the camera and videoblogging

Posted: February 1st, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Practice, Videoblogging | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

There are so many great ideas on how to start a video blog and express one’s self to the camera. From the perspective of growing as a public speaker, I heartily see videoblogging as a fantastic development tool.

It exercises our ideas, our vocal control, how we handle vulnerability (and can be a strong teacher for stage presence). Love me some video blogs. And this morning, new videoblogger Lisa Byrne published her first video with a lot of honesty.

I really enjoyed it because of her genuine, comical nature which she shared.

Her video also demonstrated these three tips for getting a video blog off the ground (which can apply to shaping your mindset when talking to the camera in general).

And the 3 tips are:

1. Seek honesty vs perfection.
The camera is a 100% truth finder. Faking it? It sees it. Doubting your ideas or words? The camera (and thus audience) sees that too. She (Lisa) didn’t shy away from the fact she was nervous about talking to the camera. Expressing her anxiety openly fit into the topic of her overall video blog.

2. Assert clear intent.
Did Lisa have a distinct message, as if giving a media Q&A? No and that was absolutely fine (and more natural). She did however assert clear, simple intent and purpose for the video i.e. to share her big goals to improve physically and professionally.

3. Create momentum through editing, a layered viewpoint, or storyboarded structure.
Stimulating energy in the cut itself can be done with different editing decisions. It can be achieved by showing enthusiasm and conviction for your topic. Choosing a specific content structure enables energy to come across too. This was Lisa’s approach: choosing a simple consecutive structure. Lisa conveys uncertainty about her structure in the video itself. It works however.

She relayed one-by-one different goals she wants to accomplish this year. That added vocal variety and thus stimulus from an audience’s vantage point (yet without losing focus on the main purpose of her cut).

What ideas and tips do you like to use when “getting your video blog on?”

More ideas:

White House video: the team and process behind writing the State of the Union

Posted: January 31st, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Speechwriting | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

The ideas, the policy, the diplomatic process to get it done — a speechwriting team’s view of the White House during crunch time!

This insight was fun to experience.

Behind The Scenes: Writing the 2012 State of the Union Address from The White House on Vimeo.

A dancing grandpa speaks volumes: 1 minute video (and Happy New Year!)

Posted: January 3rd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Videoblogging | Tags: , | 2 Comments »

It sometimes can be a challenge for me to articulate joy without uttering a word. But then an expression comes along from other people, offered with a glance or gesture that conveys joy without restraint.

…like this dancing Grandpa.

Very Happy 2012!

Learning about refugees motivated this question: Is your home worth $5?

Posted: December 12th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Videoblogging | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »


Is it clear how your home impacts your life? Frankly I haven’t often reflected on it. I’m embarrassed to admit that. And learning about refugees through The Blue Key Campaign has crystalized for me how much the experience of a home is worth.  It has motivated personal action too; and I’m honored to be a champion for the cause of refugees and the Blue Key campaign.

It’s an incredible anchor, isn’t it?
Or how else would you describe home? How would you like to describe the experience of home and its impact on your life? I’m more fully valuing what a gift it is to have the opportunity to dwell in a home day in and day out.

Impacting family, community and business.
On a personal level, home has been the place to grow our marriage of 11 years. It’s a hub for reflection, contentment, togetherness, and relief. It’s been a safe place of fun for family and friends and our kittens. On a business level too, it’s been an anchor for my work – providing a place for clients and I to find solutions as a team.

Yet beyond the borders of my little safe home, there are over 43 million people forcibly displaced from their homes and countries worldwide.

And $5 can help them.

What you and $5 can do:
The Blue Key Campaign also taught how $5 can show support to those without a home — refugees specifically impacted by war, violence, and loss of stability. I invite you to learn more at The Blue Key – to show support in different ways and even get a blue key symbol of your own.

For some eye-to-eye contact and a story:

There’s a lot of emotional depth to the question.  Is it daunting to answer?  Sometimes I find that it can be a daunting thing to ponder.

Is your home and its impact on your life worth $5?

The Blue Key Campaign is an effort led by the United States based nonprofit, USA for the UNHCR, which supports the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNCHR).


More stories and insight:

  • Khadija Omar, a Tunisian refugee photographed at right, who gave up her child to protect her child’s welfare;
  • Shonali Burke, a great Blue Key advocate and why she’s turning blue;
  • Kami Huyse and a powerful idea;
  • Jason Falls and why he sees purpose in this particular cause.

How to persuade an audience with your point of view, voice, and use of silence

Posted: November 28th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Practice, Stage presence, Videoblogging, Women entrepreneurs | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

A 10 minute video tutorial on persuasive speaking, laughter, & yoga too…

After sifting through LiveYourTalk’s video archives, I edited one of my workshops into a shorter version. It’s based on a 4-prong approach to preparing persuasive presentations, plus tips for using more vocal flexibility and understanding the impact of silence.

A snapshot social album from today’s #Give2Max fundraiser breakfast helping Miriam’s Kitchen

Posted: November 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

What a great morning!
Give2Max breakfast.jpg-large

And more:

TODAY: Join us for a flash mob breakfast at Ben’s Chili Bowl for Give2Max

Posted: November 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »


Quick context about Nov. 9th, an invitation to you, and overall purpose here at LiveYourTalk

At the core here at the blog is talking about speech making and speech craft in general — and how to emerge ourselves into distinct, resonant public speakers….serving our audiences along the way.

This aspect of service is apart of conversation here too — how to use voice (and deed) to help those less fortunate and the organizations that achieve this purpose.

That’s why I support the GiveToTheMax event, a great day of online giving — on November 9th — to raise funds and awards for DC’s regional nonprofits.

Want to get involved with GiveToTheMax?

On that note: your breakfast invitation
And this is your invitation to join a flash-mob-breakfast-for-fun-fundraising event hosted by my business LiveYourTalk along with the ever good Shana Glickfield, partner of Beekeeper Group.

Shana Jill pic

What inspired this flash-mob-breakfast idea?
In the spirit of Digital Capital Week and the GiveToTheMax fundraising drive — we wanted to plan a coffee and breakfast to enjoy our community, gobble up some good food from a DC institution, and donate whatever we all can to help Miriam’s Kitchen — an area nonprofit which assists thousands of DC’s homeless and less fortunate

The who, what, when:

  • When: Wednesday, Nov 9th
  • Time: the fun morning time between 7am to 9:30am
  • Where: DC’s historical Ben’s Chili Bowl
  • Directions: how to get to Ben’s
  • More on menu: Coffee is on us….; if you crave more breakfast, Ben’s has a great menu for you to purchase from.
  • Just bring your sense of giving; and we’ll have donation stations set up for you.

So if you’re in the DC area:
Shana and I look forward to seeing you, enjoying breakfast, and helping out Miriam’s Kitchen!

More info and how to donate:
Here’s more insight about our efforts to support the GiveToThe Max drive, and Mirima’s Kitchen, on Nov. 9th.

Workshop recap: helping women find their voices as public speakers at Blogworld Expo LA

Posted: November 6th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Leadership and public voice, Practice | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments »