Give Yourself the Gift of Confident Speaking

It’s that time when people are thinking about their New Year’s Resolution, and what better way to open the new year than to face down your fear and learn to enjoy public speaking!

It’s true that public speaking, as far as fear goes, tops the list, greater than the fear of death itself in many polls. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Yes, you can do it, and I’m happy to help! For more than 30 years, I’ve been teaching and coaching public speaking, debate, literature-in-performance, and readers theater at the college level.

I’m available for both private and group instruction. Check out our workshops and teaching materials, too. My method is to encourage, affirm what’s working, and help you work though the barriers, both technical and emotional, that have held you back.

Here’s to making this next year a great one. Give yourself the gift of confidence, and in turn, you can share your gifts of wisdom and insight with audiences. Believe me, you do have a story to tell and there are people who will benefit from hearing it!

You can contact me in several ways: email is robb AT speech.biz, Twitter @robblightfoot, or USPS at Robb Lightfoot, PO Box 11, Durham, CA 95938.

Don’t wait. Pick a date, and call me to check for availability. Current face-to-face coaching is doing via Zoom.

Robb’s Standup at #VirtualErma

Screenshot of Robb Lightfoot performing a virtual standup at the 2020 Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop

I had a blast telling a short story, at the 2020 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.

“There’s Always Room At Our Table” Mom said.

The #virtualerma standup challenge was to do a coherent set in only two minutes. This was an tough nut because my work is story-based. So, I wanted to have a story, with a twist, family-friendly, and in a stand-up, audience-interaction style (I had to do it virtually because, hey, it’s 2020). Also, the 650+ attendees at the Erma conference tend towards comedy that celebrates motherhood. So, I told a story (almost exactly as it happened) about my mom trying to teach me an important life-lesson. But, as is so often the case, she had a slow study in me. 🙂

Steve Job’s Thoughts on Intelligence

Image of a remote trail, without anyone on it... other than a dog

I’m sharing a link to a blog post that dives into what Steve Job’s thought it meant to be intelligent. But the short take is that you need to seek different experiences than the rest of the herd. Here’s the article. But while I agree that reading is a great way to open yourself up to new ideas, it matters that you’re not just reading the same books everyone else is.

This isn’t a new idea, of course. Poet Robert Frost wrote about “The Road Less Traveled,” and a brief but thought-provoking book “The Max Strategy,” offers some specific suggestions on how to get ahead by not doing the same things everyone else is. Worth a read. Here’s an Amazon Associates link.

What I like most about the Max Strategy is that it contends that it’s possible to position yourself for success and still have a satisfying life outside of your work. In other words, you can have fun along the way and have healthy personal relationships. While Jobs was an business genius, I wouldn’t recommend his personal life as a model anyone should emulate.

The Max Strategy is the story of the author, Dale Dauten, as a young man who has topped out in his career. He found out that he was passed over for a promotion. Worse yet, he learned this when he was snowed in at an airport after giving up a holiday weekend for his job. He’d been missing his family, for the sake of work, and felt he now had not much to show for it. He was angry, frustrated, and in low spirits. But in his funk, Dale noticed an older man, who was in laughing and joking with some kids. Being stuck at the airport wasn’t bothering this guy. Dale introduced himself to the man, and it turned out the older man, Max Elmore, was a highly successful businessman who had even served as an advisor a US president.

Dale and Max struck up a friendship, and Max mentored Dale. The essence of the advice Max gave is that it’s not enough to work hard and be smart, you have to be approaching everything in your life as ongoing pursuit of perfection. You can’t be like everyone else, doing the conventional things that are expected, and have any competitive advantage. You must make a conscious effort to try different approaches to all your problems and opportunities. This, literally, must be done each and every day. Your life, says Max, should be an ongoing experiment. You’ve got to continually refine what works and what doesn’t. Max suggests that you systematically try different approaches to solving problems or approaching opportunities, even if they seem odd and tank, but just keep tracking the results. Failure isn’t failure if you learn from it and unpack the experience. Just do it again and again. You’ll eventually break through with a series of trials.

There’s a portion of the book than suggests you look at everything that bugs you about your job, and what seems to be poorly done at your business, and attack these with a mind to improving them. Make a list and study it. This will help you find solutions and enjoy your work more. It’s the pathway to innovations.

So, it’s a short book with some simple but powerful ideas. If you like to read narratives that help illustrate the ideas. I recommend it. But if you just want to get on with the core ideas, then you pretty much have them. There’s more, but this is the “nut” of the advice.

Thinking Funny Comedy and Humor Conference 4-3-2021

logo of thinkingfunny.com

April 3, 2021 – Save the Date!

I’m assembling a team of my favorite funny people, and we’ll be launching a comedy and humor conference, appropriately enough, in April 2021. Details will follow, but the idea is to look at the celebrate those artists, living and dead, who make us laugh, help us spot BS, and generally lighten our spirits during difficult times.

Details will follow, but if you’re interested, email our team at conference@thinkingfunny.com.

We’ll be ramping this up, and you can follow the development of this conference over at Patreon site, https://www.patreon.com/ThinkingFunny.

As you may know, Patreon is a site that helps creators connect with supporters. Our particular page there has a lot of freebies, but it also has membership levels that will allow you access to some of our premium features. We’re using these financial resources to pay those folks who are helping generate content, for entertainment or education, and we hope you’re able to participate on whatever level works for you. There also will be exclusive, behind-the-scenes videos of the evolution of the conference, and books and performances.

Check it out, and offer constructive feedback if you like. 🙂

Interpersonal.Us

Some moments can change your life forever, and for the better.

I’ve seen this happen many times, especially when teaching how-to lessons in interpersonal communication.

Interpersonal communication was one of my favorite subjects to teach, for the 30+ years I taught college in California. The lessons were not some abstract and limited subject, like advanced calculus. Not to knock math, but the reality is that interpersonal communication offers skills and resources that can be used as soon as you walk out of the classroom, and can immediately improve your personal and professional life.

Better still, these activities are often fun and uplifting!

That’s why I’m going to, from time to time, be sharing some of these “try this” activities and key concepts. Look on this website under the Interpersonal.us category and key words such as #interpersonal and #communication. I’ll keep you posted, too, on other key words that emerge from my writing.

Until then, let me leave you with one of the first lessons in interpersonal, using “I language.”

Whenever you need to have a conversation about another person’s problem-behavior, rather than saying: “You did this, and you did that…” try this instead.

Lead off with how the behavior makes you feel.

“I feel frustrated when I walk into the den and there are dirty dishes left on the table.”

This approach usually focuses on your feelings, which you are entitled to, and it tends to dial down the defensiveness when a sentence begins with “you.”

In later posts, we’ll talk about other ideas that can be helpful, too. But in the case above, a follow-up sentence might be. “What do we (again, not “you”) do to keep this from happening again?” This invites a mutual problem-solving discussion, and it leaves an opening for the other person or persons to offer an explanation of an issue (the sink was already full of dishes, and I didn’t know where to put them) that lets them have their say.

Living and working with other people can be one of life’s top pleasures, and it can also be the source of recurring headaches. Usually, it’s a bit of both. But better communication skills can make the good times better and the bad-times not-so-awful.

Hope you can join me again. For the next posting.