Dog With A Bone


Are you a woman in tech who wants to stretch herself? Have you thought about getting out there and being the speaker/presenter rather than the woman sitting in the audience listening to male speakers/presenters at conferences?

Sandi MacPherson (@sandimac), Founder at Quibb, is putting together a directory of women speakers because of her frustration of the low representation of female speakers at tech events.

I’m like a dog with a bone with this. I want to see more women giving presentations. It will make a difference at a micro level to women themselves and at a macro level to our economy / culture. For young girls to take their place in STEM they need to see women out there front and centre as role models.

Here’s where you’ll find the sign up list:

Please pass this along to women you know who would be interested.

Be bold … tell your story!


Yes, it does and I don’t believe it is a placebo effect.
Before a presentation or pitch, you’ll find me in the bathroom donning my superwoman pose. Why? Because I feel energy and confidence run through me when I do and more importantly I notice the difference in my ability to focus and connect with my audience. I’ve also noticing my audience is more engaged and the feedback has been different…more connected and positive.
I demonstrated the superwoman pose as per Dr. Cuddy for the lovely Young Women in Business ladies at SFU last evening. Had them laughing and some told me they will be using this technique for their upcoming exams. Best of luck and take up your space ladies!

Close your eyes and listen to Ursula K Le Guin’s 2014 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters acceptance speech at the National Book Awards that you’ll find at the end of this post.

Because she is reading her script watching is distracting. That’s why you need to close your eyes.

Listen to her cadence and use of deliberate pauses…Le Guin carries you away. And perhaps will inspire you the next time you arrive behind the podium to buck the status quo.

The privilege of standing in front of others and sharing your vision is a gift. To stand before that audience and know that you are going to ruffle  feathers takes huevos.

Le Guin’s subtleness (and some not so subtle references) of her jabs will have you stopping and listening. She has crafted her speech with the great care she gives to her imagination igniting books.

The applause gets louder as she moves through her speech.

Le Guin’s rallying cry to an often played out dilemma: art vs selling-out is sadly true. It is the chicken and egg dilemma. As artists do we create art to feed our soul or to feed our mouths/bank accounts. Or perhaps there is a happy in between – a place to meet in the middle.

Good art can’t be created when the marketing machine is hovering…it produces pablum.

And pablum in not what the audience of Amazoners and marketing teams who attended Le Guin’s acceptance speech got. They got wise, sage words. New ideas and vision is really what the market wants…”Written by writers who remember freedom”, as Le Guin eloquently says.

It will be a sad day when we don’t remember freedom.

Here’s my blessing to go out and ruffle feathers the next time you have a mic in hand and an audience before you. An audience who might be offended by your words but needs to hear them.


And How To

There were a few rolling eyes exchanged between my partner and myself a few weeks ago during a local evening event. Those knowing glances shared between two people when the spectacle endured is going down in flames. There was whispering sullying around us and we could feel anxiousness (for a few of the speakers) and the desire to find a convenient exit. A few people bravely trickled out as the evening rolled out.

What went wrong?

A few of the presenters insulted the audience.

They made assumptions and didn’t do their homework about what sharing of information should look like and  how it should feel.

How did they go so wrong?

#1 One of the speakers lectured us. We were told in a pedantic tone how to think and act. Finger wagging and disingenuous, dramatic tones landed on us. He had his little cult group of followers give him a standing ovation when he finished his tirade. No one else clapped or stood up.

What should he have done? Invited us to listen to his story and contemplate his thoughts and vision. Should’s, need to’s, and must have’s do not have a place as in order to persuade others.

#2 Another speaker told us he hadn’t prepared his presentation. He was extremely busy opening up another office in New York. So much for respecting the 300 plus people who had invested an evening of their time to attend.

What would have been a better approach? Consider whether you have time to accept a speaking engagement. Do you have the time to invest to fully understand what your audience wants to hear and how you can best share with them? If you don’t it’s best to decline.

#3 The curators chose a speaker who has made the rounds on the Vancouver circuit. All well and good however his material for the most mirrored all the other speaking engagements he spoke at. The epitome of laziness and lacking foresight. I wasn’t the only person who had attended those previous events.

Your key message doesn’t need to change to keep your audiences wanting more. How you prove it and the examples that you bring to light do. Every presentation needs to be fresh.

The evening was saved by a young women with a big heart and a powerful voice.

Was the evening a write off? By no means. There was a lovely young women who runs a very cool non-profit who spoke confidently from her heart. She stood before us with humbleness and spoke her truth. She was vulnerable. She knew her words. She made most of us wipe away tears. It would be a privilege to know her. 

Why do we sometimes believe that we need to hide behind facades to be excellent speakers? Finger wagging, wearing fragile egos on our sleeves, or staying stuck with what’s worked before…

Rather than taking a leap of faith. Believing in ourselves that we will touch and attract those who we are meant to connect with when we show up as ourselves.

To your voice,




Is it okay to be vulnerable when you give a presentation? To tell of the mistakes you have made or let others know when you have failed to make your mark … or perhaps share an inability to persuade?

Absolutely, and it is a terrific way to begin a presentation. This technique will have your audience listening and paying attention right from the second your first words are amplified from the mic. Consider how many speakers are willing to bare their souls. Tell of the missteps they made to get to where they stand today. Not many in the corporate world.

But at the end of the day we all stumble sometimes and it is the element that connects us—when we can identify with others, knowing they are giving us the honest account of how life rolls out.

For my client, Coro Strandberg, (check out her video posted below) it was the piece that brought warmth to her presentation. She let her young audience at the Net Impact Conference for UBC business students know that when she began her career she had an opportunity to present an idea that had never been executed.  It was met with deaf ears. She was promptly shut out and shut down by her colleagues.

The magic in beginning a presentation this way is it give you the speaker, the opportunity to transition on to  telling a story … become the conquering hero of sorts. And also bring your audience into the story. Share with them how they can be heros too. As Coro said it won’t be without pitfalls and push backs.

Coro used a few other techniques too.

Did you notice the self-effacing humour? I’m sure that to this 2013 class of business students shoulder pads and big glasses must be fodder for fits of snorts and giggles.

Another presentation strategy that Coro used was problem – solution. She told the audience who would be soon graduating and entering the world with tons of energy, not only what the problem is, but how to solve it. Coro shared that it took many years of work and research for the generations behind them. The generation of today has access to information like no other and many of the mistakes have been made for them. They have the answers at their fingertips.

And what do you think of Coro’s close? She challenged them to grab the baton. A fine call to action and a brilliant way to end a presentation.

We’re conditioned that business presentations need to be all buttoned up. Actually, it’s bad advice. If you want to engage and connect with your audience…to persuade them…as Brene Brown during her thought provoking TED talk tells us…you need to be comfortable with being a little vulnerable.

To Your Voice,



Check out Coro’s trailer of her presentation here:



A connection between public speaking and yoga? Stay with me…

Recently TED organizer June Cohen put a call out to women to audition for TED2014 in Vancouver. Don’t get her wrong, she wants the guys too, but is aiming for a 50% representation from women this time out…a number that she explains is very hard to come by. Women say “no” more often and cancel more frequently. If you want to hear her reasons why that is, click here.

The question is: Why do we shy away from the things we want to do, need to do, would be so great at? Why do we bite our tongues when we have something valuable to share with the world? Why do we put ourselves in our own way of success in any part of our lives?  If you’re a person with a great idea, why NOT try to share it on a platform such as TED that can bring so much attention to that idea?

Last week I had a bit of an “A-Ha” moment. And it was while contorted in Eagle pose in my first yoga class in a while.

The answer:


Recently I’ve been dogged by persistent low back pain. After a few Chiro and Massage Therapist treatments and making little progress, I decided it was time to head back to yoga. Not just any yoga; the hot sweaty kind of torture that I knew would fix the problem but that I dreaded:  Bikram. Bikram yoga classes are 90 minutes in length (conducted in 40 degree heat), 26 postures that will contort your body into positions it has no business being in (or maybe it does) but the outcome for many is reduced back pain, lowered blood pressure, relief from arthritis, a resolution for type II Diabetes and Thyroid problems, and a whole host of other benefits including weight loss (yay!).  Your goal at the first class is just to: STAY IN THE ROOM.

So where am I going with this as it pertains to public speaking?  The answer is in the PERSEVERANCE. Facing the fear. Just committing to being uncomfortable for awhile and seeing where it goes. Usually there’s a payoff.

Bikram practioner works on her "Standing Head to Knee" pose

Bikram practioner works on her “Standing Head to Knee” pose

The first few times I got up to speak in front of a group of people, or in a major day-part on radio, my heart would pound, my mouth would go dry, and I would feel almost as though I was leaving my body. The more I did it, the more comfortable I became. It’s not rocket science that the sheer act of practising made me better.

Perseverance in the face of fear; in the presence of a difficult task is what ultimately makes you grow, makes you a better version of yourself.

That first Bikram yoga class last week almost killed me (ok, I’m exaggerating). I had to lay down a few times just to get through it, but I came back. The second class was easier, and by the third my instructor complimented me on the strength of my practise (pardon?!). Now after the fifth class inside a week and a half my back hurts less, has increased flexibility, I feel the initial problem starting to resolve (already) and I’m CRAVING my next class despite some sore and tired muscles in the rest of my body.  Who’d have thunk?!

Sometimes the toughest things,  the things that challenge us the most physically and mentally, are the things we SHOULD do.  So if you have something to say, get out there and say it!

The deadline for TED2014 audition tapes (1 minute) is September 1st. If you get in you’ll speak at TED@NYC in October.  Go ahead..take the plunge. What have you got to lose?

To Your Voice (and Perseverance)


Bikram practitioners in "Camel" pose, one of the most challenging postures.

Bikram practitioners in “Camel” pose, one of the most challenging postures.


The Deadline for TED 2014 auditions is fast approaching and TED organizer June Cohen is putting a call out to women in an aim of a 50/50 speaker split at the TED2014: Next Chapter Conference, happening for the first time outside of California. TED 2014, which is slated for March 17 to March 21 next year at the new Vancouver Convention Centre, is a huge boon for Vancouver and for Whistler, which will host the TEDActive conference concurrently at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler.

Typically male-heavy when it comes to speakers, organizer June Cohen asks  “Where are the women?”.

Maybe you are a thought leader, a science educator, a female tech geek with big dreams for our future. If so, TED wants your 1 minute audition tape by September 1st to be considered for the next round in NYC in October. Take a risk. Go for it. We believe in you! Details on applications are here.

Need more convincing? Here’s June Cohen speaking earlier this year at TED Global 2013 in Scotland:


To Your Voice,






Would you like to speak at the 2014 TED conference being held in Vancouver, BC, Canada?

TED is looking for 34 thought provoking speakers. They are looking for one minute audition tapes and will pick  speakers who will shed light on THE NEXT CHAPTER.

Perspective speakers will be asked to wow the TED team in New York City with a six minute audition that could go live on TED’s homepage.

Do you have a story to tell? What are you waiting for? Check out the details here!

To Your Voice,


Photo: Ryan Lash


By Corrie Miller

Recently I decided to check out  Toastmasters. The reason I initially set foot inside the local rec centre for my first meeting was not because I felt compelled to become a better speaker; it was for research. I wanted to know, in joining Janice’s Tomich’s business, Calculated Presentations, what the differences were in what she offered (which I found were many) from a business perspective. The first thing I discovered was that Calculated Presentations (find us on Twitter @calcprez) offers much more in terms of personal attention and the ability to work with you on your individual presentation and associated slidedeck if the need is there.  But I will say that that where we offer intensive training for the corporate audience, a group like Toastmasters can be a great place to get the long-term practise of standing up and speaking in front of others. The biggest take-away I’ve received from presenting to others, both with Janice in the corporate environment and at those recent Wednesday nights spent at the rec. centre?

Get feedback… an evaluation. Get the debrief after a training session. Get others’ opinions. It’s paramount to your personal (and business) growth.

Hearing how others perceived your talk/pitch/presentation is really the best way to improve. Whether practising with a personal coach like Janice or in a more long term social setting, having someone else adjudicate  you is so important. From the content of your presentation to “ums” and “ahs” and making you aware of nervous body language (mine is touching my hair and swaying on my feet, another woman I know rubs her nose. I also know a man who is a chronic belt fiddler!), having an evaluator take an objective look at what you’re doing can do amazing things for your personal growth in this arena.

Bottom line is, everyone needs a mentor. A coach.

As Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google has said:

“One thing people are never good at is seeing themselves as others see them.”

Happy growing!

To Your Voice,






Today I stumbled upon an article a woman named Carrie Gallant had posted on Linked In. It was a piece written by the curator of TED Chris Anderson on what makes for a “killer” presentation: One that connects, has the audience hanging on your every word, and maybe even garners a standing ovation . If you don’t know, the TED conference happens every year in Long Beach, California and presenters share “Ideas Worth Spreading” in roughly 18 minute presentations. It’s coming to Vancouver in 2014 and is a huge boon for the city.

Anderson gives the example of a 12-year-old Masai boy who’d come up with an invention that would keep the lions in his Kenyan grasslands home away from their livestock, and Anderson knew that despite a huge language barrier that Richard Turere’s story needed to be shared with a broader audience; one that the TED talk format assists nicely, not only on the stage but, as TED talks often are, shared socially by thousands, even  millions. Here is Richard’s story.


Chris Anderson shares that getting Richard to the point where he was able to get up there to speak took a lot of time, scripting, planning,  re-working, and practise, practise, practise over a 6-9 month period. By the end of Richards talk we are cheering for him, we are drawn in and want to hear more from this boy. And in the end, that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? Drawing people in. Changing minds (whether simply in your audience’s choice of product or on a global scale).

Here are a few points gleaned from Anderson’s article. To read the full story click here:

  • Invest the time… and even the most reluctant speaker can give a talk that engages. When you are confident in your story and clear on what you are going to cover, you will appear more relaxed and might even be able to laugh with the audience. A relaxed presenter is far easier to watch and your audience will be able to focus more on what you say rather than your distracting body language.
  • Drill down your key message. Many presenters try to pack too much information into their presentation. Get specific rather than presenting broad ideas. As Anderson says: “Go deeper. Give more detail. Don’t tell us about your entire field of study—tell us about your unique contribution.”
  • Find the right balance between facts and story. This will be different for a talk to the Financial Services industry than it will be for a product launch. For dry material, provide the facts but try to weave some narrative through to appeal to people’s emotions. For a product launch try to talk about how my life will be changed after using your product rather than just talking specs.
  • Don’t Read it. As soon as you read to your audience, their sense of connection with you is gone. As much as possible practise your key points and talk around them. The “ifs”, “ands” and “the’s” don’t matter if you know your material inside and out. Bullet pointed cards are okay, but strive for no notes.
  • A presentation is a  journey. Take me on one. Don’t try to force authoritativeness, or empathy. Just be yourself. That is good enough. There is no substitute fo authenticity.

I hope you connect with your next talk. If you’re struggling, drop us a line .

To Your Voice,



Be bold. Get heard. Inspire action.