Friday, September 28, 2007

Fear vs. Fun

At the end of a private session yesterday, a new client related to me that she had been telling friends and colleagues that she was going to see a speech coach to prepare for an upcoming presentation. The reaction of most? "Oh my God, why??" As in, "Why would you want to subject yourself to such torture?"

Yes, we all know the oft-quoted statistic that more people fear public speaking than death. Maybe because death (or whatever comes afterward) is forever, while speaking in public just feels like it'll never end. :-) ... So what does that mean a coaching session is like?

Most people are afraid of feeling completely vulnerable and exposed. To some degree, this is true. But it all depends on the environment created by the coach. No one likes to be criticized, so many people have an automatic fear arise. While I can't speak for other coaches, as for myself, I always strive to create a dual atmosphere, one that is both safe and fun. As a matter of fact, last night one of my students in a free class at a WholeSpeak Open House remarked upon how fun it was: "If people just knew how fun this was, everyone I know would come!"

Fear, of course, is usually of the unknown or of an imagined worst-case scenario. But the truth? My students consistently remark about not just the fun they have in a workshop, but the amount of freedom and joy they experience in life afterward. Because of this, I have even instituted a money-back guarantee that all participants will learn new skills and find more freedom in expression.

Learning from an expert is essential. One colleague of my aforementioned new client told her, "You're already great! You don't need coaching!" While positive reinforcement and accolades are important, I wouldn't ask my best friend about the condition of my teeth - or ask my dentist if my tax return looks good. While I'm glad to say that people enjoy my workshops far more than going to the dentist, it's important to realize that an expert in any field will see things that others don't.

So forgive this somewhat self-referential post about why my work is both enjoyable and helpful. But after hearing the aforementioned comments yesterday, I thought it might not be a bad idea to pose the question: What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Whole Self Expression

One of WholeSpeak's mottos is "Express your whole self." What does it mean, exactly?

When we "perform" in everyday life, the tendency is to choose (both consciously and unconsciously) what part of ourselves is appropriate to show and express in a given situation. If we're with people we don't know very well at a party, for example, walls may go up, along with possibly a fake demeanor that wouldn't be there with a close friend or spouse in a private setting. For those who work in the corporate world, an entire everyday performance may be constructed to conform with its standards and expectations. While this is true for numerous environments and cultures, when we spend the majority of our day in it, we may start to forget the full range of expression - and even the true scope of our potential. We may even forget what it means to move beyond these fractured identities, and to be whole.

When people take a WholeSpeak course, the first phase can be a bit uncomfortable, because it's about breaking free of the societal chains that we've agreed to wear. A process of unshackling, on many levels. But it's also exhilerating. So many times I've seen a reaction such as, "You mean it's okay to do *that*??" Yes, you can move differently than you're used to. Yes, you can access and play with a much wider vocal range when speaking. Yes, you can own your power and be yourself, not just what is expected of you, and still keep your job.

This work certainly engenders superior public speaking skills. But it does far more. Other people begin to see you differently, because you become more comfortable in your own skin, wherever you are. You can express far more of yourself than you used to. Becoming whole, and expressing wholly, are the same work.

WholeSpeak's new Signature Series, Whole Self Expression, begins this fall. The first course (offered as a 1-day intensive or on two Thursday evenings) is Unshackling Expression. WholeSpeak 201 is Cultivating Expression, and 301 is Extraordinary Expression. You can find details on our web site at about these courses in Colorado.

We of course also travel around the country, so be in touch if you'd like to bring this work to your organization or community - the transformation it brings to a group is quite tangible and powerful.