My birthday wish

happy birthday
My birthday is right around the corner (it’s November 10). I’m not asking for presents, a big party, birthday cake, or comments about how wonderful I am (although that would be okay).

And if you want me to tell you how old I am, that’s not happening either.

Back to the presents. The best gift you could give me is to be kind and compassionate to all.

Are you with me? Happy birthday!

 

 

Moving ahead

no more secrets
For all my talk about “speaking up” (see previous blog posts), I haven’t been true to my word. That hurts.

I’ve failed to voice my own truth. Blocked it. Denied it. Imagined the worst if I disclosed the “secret.”

I took a very tiny step to sharing my story on Facebook on Oct. 9 with the headline “Infusion day” with this photo.

Ocrevus infusion
And when friends asked what was going on after seeing this cryptic message, I said:

New MS drug Ocrevus. Replaces Tysabri.

“I didn’t know,” “Thinking of you,” “Sending you warm wishes,” were among the responses. As the conductor on the denial train, readers would just have to imagine some more; figure it out, whatever.

Then this morning I read Option B:  Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. These words, these authors, were speaking directly to me. The book presents real stories, offering practical advice for life’s challenges. I would highly recommend this book to anyone.

Speaking up, I’m also sharing the story I submitted to the Dallas Morning News several months ago (it hasn’t been picked up) before I started on my current course of therapy with the new MS drug Ocrevus.

6 12 17 Dallas News editorial

I feel better now. Much better.

 

 

For what it’s worth – now is the time

Things that matter

At the risk of being ignored, unfriended or scoffed at loudly by some, right now is the time to speak up. I’ve never hesitated to comment about things that are meaningful to me. I’m relatively unafraid (or just stupid as some have said) – after all, I’ve jumped out of an airplane 22 times (BTW, I don’t do that anymore).

Now is the time to speak, to voice feelings and concerns, and speak up against injustice. Not tomorrow or the next day or next year. Time is short; life is short.

And a couple of related observations. It’s easy to get angry and write someone off in the heat of the moment when you disagree, but everyone deserves a chance to be heard. I regularly remind myself about forgiveness, mercy and compassion; I’m still working on this.

Second, everyone is dealing with something. Who doesn’t have problems or frustrations? Who doesn’t feel sad or unhappy from time to time? And it’s not about the “issue” itself. If something is significant to you, you won’t hear me say your concern is silly or unfounded or stupid. I may disagree with your point of view, but I’ll listen to what you have to say. Or I’ll be there in the moment with you, not saying anything. Words aren’t necessary. Frankly, sometimes words are overrated and emotions and sentiment rule the day.

It’s no coincidence that today a friend posted on Facebook: “Reminded today of how blessed I am.” Remember the things that matter.

Enjoy. For What It’s Worth, Buffalo Springfield, 1967.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speak up: Saturday musings

Speak up
You don’t agree with something or someone – what they say or do – fine.

You don’t like me because I don’t share your point of view? That’s okay too.

I will always defend your right to express your opinion. But please remember that works both ways. I will call out hate and injustice when I see or hear it forcefully and without shame. It’s what I can do.

It’s my voice.

 

 

Celebrate your speaking independence!

fireworks
As an experienced communicator specializing in public speaking, this offer is for you.

It’s the “I’ve got to have it” flier on my best speaking tips and tactics. And the best news of all? It’s free.

I’d like to get this awesome free handout on Best Speaking Tips and Tactics from Phyllis. 

Click here to send me your info! Happy speaking!

 

What will you do on Independence Day?

Happy 4th of July!

 

 
Between all the outdoor events and festivities, fireworks, food, and time with family and friends, I’ve decided to place one thing at the top of my list on the Fourth of July 2017. Prayer.

Don’t get me wrong.

That doesn’t mean I’ll retire quietly at home in thoughtful meditation for the next few days ignoring this holiday completely. After all, we celebrate American Independence Day on the Fourth of July every year, marking July 4, 1776 as a day that represents the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation.

My declaration on this Fourth of July is to “speak up” in prayer, words and deeds.

I will act with kindness and inspire reasoned discourse.

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”     – Martin Luther King Jr.

Honoring our veterans

Memorial Day 2017

I wiped away tears yesterday morning after going through the drive-through at Starbuck’s (my guilty pleasure).

It was a lovely day. My window was open, and I was behind a gentleman with his window rolled down, too. I noticed his license plate frame engraved with the words “Air Force” and “Vietnam vet.” I waved my arm out the window, smiled, and yelled “thank you for your service,” pointing to his license plate. Mentioned that my Dad was a retired Air Force vet who had served in Vietnam. He nodded his head.

When I got to the window to pay for my coffee, the barista said there was no charge. The driver in front of me had picked up my tab.

I was surprised and startled. I smiled. Then I cried, all the way home.

Today – Memorial Day – I honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. They gave the ultimate sacrifice. They won’t be forgotten.

 

Public speaking – it’s all about the audience

Aud speaking tips

 

You’ve been invited to speak at a meeting. This could be something internal (within your organization) or external (for example, you volunteer with a not-for-profit organization and you’ve agreed to talk to a group of potential donors on their behalf). Following up on a previous post, here are some observations on audiences to help you become a more effective presenter.

Who are the people listening – or not listening – to you? Why are they there?
The event has been scheduled, the invites/notices have gone out, and you are the presenter. What do you know about your audience?

Audience analysis involves identifying the audience and adapting your presentation to them. This doesn’t mean “saying what they want to hear.” Audience adaptation should guide your content development and approaches to delivery.

Audiences can include reluctant attendees, indifferent visitors, agreeable supporters, and angry or fearful dissidents.

The “we have to be there” mindset.
For instance, I would contend that students in a public speaking class – and their motivation to listen to you – is somewhat mixed. (Hey, they’ve “got” to be there regularly, right? We refer to this as a “captive” audience.) In my experience, here are some of the reasons students are in class:

  • They want to get the information they need to do well on an upcoming test;
  • They hope the skills they learn will help in an upcoming job interview;
  • They want to get through the class to receive credit towards their degree and/or at least not get dropped from the course (if the teacher is recording student absences as outlined in the class syllabus they’ll meet the minimum attendance requirement);
  • They love learning.

The “who cares” listeners – uninterested or apathetic.
Perhaps a friend or significant other dragged these folks to your talk. Audience members are asking themselves “Why am I here?” Your biggest challenge will be getting people in this group to even listen.

The “we agree with you” point of view.
Most audience members share your opinions. As a collective group, your listeners relate to you, connect with you, and endorse your contentions and recommendations.

The “we don’t agree with you” and/or we’re angry or frustrated attendees.
What if audience members don’t concur with your main points? This is definitely a challenge if you’re trying to persuade. Can you establish “common ground” with listeners if they aren’t inclined to listen from the get-go? This – this – is why knowing about your audience is so important.

Here’s an example of a speaker at a recent community Town Hall, Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX) at an event in rural Frost, Texas. These Town Halls are set up as open forums for constituents to ask questions and hear from representatives. In this instance, Barton seemed to be unaware of the level of “resistance” he would encounter from audience members opposing his policy positions.

Listen to a portion of the presentation where Barton shouted back.

The bottom line.
Every audience is different. However, consider the potential “makeup” of attendees who have come to hear you speak before you arrive to speak. Tune in for the next post in this series on audience adaptation, some recommendations on ways to engage with your audience/s.

Who is your audience?

Audience analysis
The speaker-audience connection.

My friend, fellow communicator and screenwriter Jim Ramsbottom recently asked me to share some insights on public speaking and audience analysis as a guest on his podcast. Check out our conversation.

Listen to the interview.

Thank you, Jim!

 

Speaking and communication

expression
Through the years I’ve listened to plenty of speeches as a communications coach and teacher. I’ve worked with corporate executives to help them refine their communication skills and abilities. I’ve taught public speaking at colleges and universities. I’ve given informative and persuasive presentations to business audiences, too.

Public speaking involves sharing information with an audience to inform, persuade or entertain listeners. Seems simple enough. But let’s take a closer look and reframe our perspective a bit.

“Speaking” isn’t the end game. We are communicators. Speaking is the channel, the tool we use to communicate; writing is another form of communication. As a communicator, speaking can be incredibly powerful in connecting with others.

Through public speaking, we can share our feelings and points of view. We express ideas, personal narratives, or experiences. We may convey emotions or impart deep concerns.

What makes some communicators stand out when addressing an audience to persuade?

They inspire, enhance understanding, and influence through personal examples, credible evidence and documentation. They maintain eye contact with the crowd. They compel listeners to act. And that’s just the beginning.

I’ll be publishing more tips and tactics right here – verbal and nonverbal thoughts and recommendations – to help you become a more effective communicator in the public speaking setting. Stay tuned.

Next up:  we’ll examine your audience. Who are they? Why are they listening to you?