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Begin Within: Prepare Yourself to Speak Like a Pro

It’s a new day for public speakers. Whether you lead team meetings, teach children, train adults or present information to civic or work groups—you’re likely doing all, or some, via webcam.

For more than twenty years I’ve coached and written speeches for business leaders, government officials and convention speakers, as well as trainers, entrepreneurs and political candidates. I’ve found that it really doesn’t matter whether you're preparing for an in-person or virtual presentation, the best practices for preparing, writing and delivering speeches remain the same. 

The Speak on Your Feet® series will touch on all aspects of public speaking. This installment suggests ways to establish a mindset that helps you speak with more confidence and less stress.

Begin Within

Even confident speakers find that the first minute or two of a speech is when they experience a  flood of energy. This sensation feels like anxiety and can overwhelm...

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Backlash Against Social Media: Is it the People or is it the Platform?

Steven Moffat, showrunner and television writer for Doctor Who and Sherlock, exited Twitter with a flourish: Now to burn down this Twitter account and dance on its ashes, singing ‘This platform is a dangerous affront to good faith human discourse: anger is a slogan, reason needs nuance, and love looks you in the eye when it speaks. Matches, trail of gunpowder, BYEE!’

Oh no! I’d hoped to read more of his tweets. I suspected he’d been the target of cruel, bullying comments. Many on social media claim a love/hate relationship with the apps and websites. Yet, why would a skilled writer want not just to exit, but to burn down his Twitter account?

For this piece I’ll focus solely on communication via Twitter and Facebook. I’ll leave to others the important concerns related to privacy, children, false advertising and political disinformation. 

The sites are designed to provide space to network, as well as to create and share content. What is it...

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De-escalating Phone Rage

When the phone rings and you say Hello, chances are you’re either taking a call at work OR you recognize the name on your caller ID. 

Suddenly a raging rant floods your ears and mind and, in that split second, your sense of well-being at home or at work can be destroyed.

Angry callers struggle to keep their emotions in check. Often this means they’re unable to talk clearly about issues. The listener becomes an easy, invisible target. 

If you work in a customer service call center for example, this scenario may be all too familiar to you.

You hear a beep in your headset.

Smiling, you begin your standard, friendly greeting ‘til you’re interrupted with a screech: YOU PEOPLE!

You wonder, Why can’t I get through one day (or an HOUR!) without one of these calls? 


When you’re the listener, it’s up to you to manage your stress and emotions in order to de-escalate the situation, to sort out the issues, and to seek a...

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Communication Chemistry through Constructive Conflict

A hint of conflict can kindle anxiety. We value unity, consensus and getting along. Most aim for dialogue in which communication remains civil, calm and clear. 

Yet conflict is necessary and inevitable. It’s a positive force for brainstorming, seeking truth—and it’s the only way to dig deeper into issues.


How we cope when conflict arises can make the difference between building ever-stronger bonds or damaging—even destroying—relationships. 


The fear of conflict leads some to try to avoid or squash it. And you may be all too familiar with the ways destructive conflict harms relationships. Nevertheless, strategic communicators learn how to be prepared and fearless in the face of conflict. It’s not that difficult once you adopt a few basic mindsets and tactics for constructive conflict that creates communication chemistry. 

Communication chemistry is the dynamic, confident connection you’ve seen between individuals who have...

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How to Respond to Disturbing Remarks and Behaviors

Note: This is written especially for someone who faces sexual harassment or hears a racist, homophobic or other type of horrific remark.

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You’re shocked, flustered, frustrated, and maybe a little frightened because someone uttered an inappropriate, sexist, racist or homophobic remark. Even worse, they might have touched you inappropriately. You know you must respond, yet you’re initially frozen, as you fear you’ll fly into a rage.

Without preparation, shock can cause your brain and tongue to freeze. You might shake your head in disbelief and go silent, or you might stammer or shout incoherently. You might feel the urge to shove or slap the offender, then pull back, especially if you’re at work and are afraid you might get fired.

You assess your quandary. You want to respond, yet must weigh competing priorities and realities. You hate abusive language, and you don’t want to be seen as weak. If this happens in your workplace,...

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Ed Peeples and Me

NOVEMBER 12, 2019

Edward H. Peeples, Jr. PhD, author, Civil Rights hero and social justice activist who passed away in 2019, sparked a miracle for me when he shared precious resources: his time and his attention. 

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"Ed’s gift of time, encouragement and mentoring altered the trajectory of my life. His positive influence becomes clearer for me with each passing year, and I am forever grateful."

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I was a young mother and a student at Virginia Commonwealth University in the early '90s. Ed’s gift of time, encouragement and mentoring altered the trajectory of my life. His positive influence becomes clearer for me with each passing year, and I am forever grateful.

Ed taught an honors class at the university, and he quickly became one of my favorite professors. “A Critical Look at Contemporary Medicine” was interesting and challenging. I didn’t expect to see him after the class ended, though. He was a professor of...

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What are Positive Power Lines?

Power lines transmit energy. They contain and direct power, delivering it quickly, usefully and safely. The energy conveyed through power lines provides comfort, illumination, and communication to all who are connected.

While it remains contained within the lines, power gently, quietly does its work. 

When a line breaks and wildly snakes about, following a storm or accident, power is no longer contained and directed. The power itself becomes dangerous.

This is the concept of Positive Power Lines™ in communication.

Containing and directing our communication power dials down the listeners’ stress and anxiety. This empowers us to deliver both the energy and ideas of a message in a way that can be calmly received.

 Simple words and phrases open dialogues, uncover hidden issues, and sometimes even open hearts to listen more deeply, receive new ideas and envision a brighter future, grounded in communication.

I look forward to exploring the language of communication...

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