Coro Strandberg – Pushing the Boundaries – Net Impact Conference 2013



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,



Watch now: How To Write A Good College Essay



We all get it. Those few days leading into a presentation where we are a bit anxious. Typically what rolls through our minds is that we won’t be well received or we will go blank.

Tony Haile share some words of wisdom – many that I share with my own clients.

  • Prepare, prepare, and prepare some more – live practice is the key to presenting with ease
  • Take every opportunity to speak – it gets better every time
  • Remember that your audience wants you to succeed.

I’d done a round-the-world yacht race, where 100-foot waves crashed over the foredeck. I led and managed polar expeditions. I never felt fear in those moments. But when I started at Chartbeat in 2009, I was terrified of public speaking. More from Tony

Image: h.koppdelaney


How To Stop Q & A Grandstanding

A recent event I attended allowed for 15 minutes of questions following a panel discussion. The panelists are well respected and have accumulated a wealth of industry knowledge. I was anticipating a stream of brilliant questions from the attendees – what an opportunity to delve into the minds of talented people. Disappointingly, it wasn’t to be.

Two high-jackings took over the Q & A period.

You know the type – the people who broadcast their own agenda while brilliant questions from savvy people are left unasked.

Out of misaligned politeness facilitators don’t want to appear rude by interrupting. In fact the facilitator is ignoring (being rude) to the rest of the attendees who are biting their tongues hoping the diatribe will end.

How do you stop high-jackers?

Through bold facilitation, which is not easy when the highjacker doesn’t seem to need to come up for air.

As facilitators we need to interrupt – as simple as that — mid-sentence and mid-stream. Then invite the speaker to continue their conversation after the event.

Your audiences will thank you (and be silently rooting be for you).








Do you want to be an excellent public speaker?

Then you must be a good listener as well as a powerful and articulate speaker. Not only before and after your presentation but during as well. You must be a human antenna attuned to your audience at every stage of your presentation from content development, while presenting, and post speaking.

Julian explains the elements of a good listener:

How can you put Julian’s insight into practice as a public speaker?

During the content development stage you must know your audience or you will be a lecturer not a public speaker. Know your audience intimately by brainstorming the nuances of the attendees who you want to persuade. Here is an audience analysis example that a marketing firm created so they could understand who their client’s customer is. They listened and understood how best to approach their clients because they now understand how to direct their message. Sit with a piece of paper and think about who your audience – there habits and beliefs – to understand which are the best pieces of your insight to share.

While presenting watch your audience – are they intent or are they looking restless? Are they responding to you with nods of agreement or are they engaged in their smartphones. When we listen our audience gives us clues as to whether to increase the volume or let us know if we need to change the direction of our content.

If you have the opportunity meet your audience attendees ask if there is something you can expand upon or if there is a concept they did not understand. Or send a survey post event and learn what resonated and what didn’t. Then listen sharply and take comments away for your next presentation.

Listening is easy but really listening, understanding, and then deploying is hard.

To your voice,


Do you want to learn how to polish your public speaking skills? Check out my bimonthly newsletter.


This blog post has been difficult for me to write. It has been mulling around in my mind since last week. I don’t take lightly negatively critiquing public speakers. It takes confidence and a leap of faith to be front and centre and I am a champion for everyone who makes the leap.

Here’s the but – When a speaker commits to the lectern they have a responsibility to deliver to the best of their ability and also to realize that every bum in a seat has invested time being there. Each attendee believes that a speaker will deliver insightful and valuable information.

Last week I attended a session where the sole reason for everyone in attendance was to listen to a speaker. It was a train wreck and I felt badly for the presenter. My heart went out to her. The start was shaky, the middle had no substance, and the end was disjointed.

The speaker has intimate knowledge of her subject and is well respected in our community. So what went wrong and how should you approach these problems?

  • She was very nervous and let her nervousness get the better of her. Remedy: Bring yourself to the present – feel your feet on the floor – don’t let your mind wonder ahead or in the past. Practice anchoring techniques to harness nervous energy and use them.
  • It was evident that little air was going into her lungs or out of them. Remedy: Breathe, simply breathe. When you feel your breathing becoming shallow stop and take a few deep breaths.
  • It was never clear what she wanted us to take away. Remedy: From the beginning of your content development build a clear key message. What do you want your audience to learn?
  • The content was adrift and touched on too many points. She included a few case studies that didn’t relate well to her content. Remedy: Ensure that you can always support your key message with information that compliments and builds on what you want your audience to take away.
  • Far too much information and she didn’t delve into her points deeply enough for true learning. Remedy: Cull your material until only salient information remains. Then dive in deep and explain thoroughly.
  • Only  the facts were presented. Remedy: Create stories around your supporting arguments that will grab your audience in their heart and minds.
  • “Well, I guess that’s all I have to say”. Yes, a sigh of relief from many could be heard. Remedy: Don’t let your endings drift off into the nether. Finish strongly with a call to action or tie your presentation up by looping it back to the beginning. Then stand quietly to let your audience know you are finished.

We all have our failures – I’ve had some embarrassing public speaking bombs but always realized it was my responsibility to improve and not waste people’s time. And I have learned and grown as a public speaker as is my hope for the lovely young women who put herself out there.


Do you want to learn how to polish your public speaking skills? Check out my bimonthly newsletter.

Image: Noel Zia Lee




Be bold. Get heard. Inspire action.