The Importance of Human Connection


By Corrie Miller

When I first met my friend Taya, I was almost overwhelmed by her warmth, her ability to draw me in, to want to get to know her. I was so comfortable that I was almost uncomfortable with it! Instantly. To this day she remains one of my favorite people on this planet. The reason? That connection is rare and is so awesome when you find it.

In my 13 odd years on the media side  of business I have always been intrigued by those people who can elicit an instant connection, and by the situations in which I find myself able to elicit that connection with others. I have always intuitively known how important that connection was but now I want to know WHY and HOW to do it every time.

Here’s what I think. And this pertains to presentations as much as it does to every day dealings with people. Of course I welcome your input and counterpoints…

I think it boils down to confidence; in myself, in my material, and in knowing that I have something that others want to hear/know/see. In my radio job that could be as simple as a free movie pass or concert tickets! Today, it’s more complex, sharing information on how to engage your audience, even if it’s just a one-on-one meeting. I am amazed how much of that confidence or intimidation in a situation is entirely perception-based and resides solely in the grey matter between our ears.

When I am relaxed, confident, and feeling grounded, I am relaxed, confident, and grounded in my business dealings with others, and in my personal relationships. When I’m not feeling all of those things (having an “off” day), I have struggled to put on that business face and it just doesn’t flow the same way.

As for perception, what I’ve discovered of late is that the people I meet are nowhere near as scary, as intimidating, or as MENSA level genius as I’ve built them up to be in my head. I’ve been proved wrong time and time again. It’s refreshing!

Everyone is learning. Everyone has insecurities. Everyone can do what they do better.

And, everyone can gain from being vulnerable and authentic in their dealings with others, and in their presentations. The key notes or TED talks I’ve watched that really get to me are the ones that connect on an emotional level where the presenter appears genuine, and by way of letting that guard down and sharing a story, vulnerable. Here’s how U2’s Bono does it with a comment on global poverty at this year’s TED 2013 conference in Long Beach.

Vulnerability. Not something I’ve been comfortable with in a work environment. Controlling my emotions and projecting what I perceive to be acceptable to succeed, yes, but standing up in front of a room full of strangers or even acquaintances and really and truly being myself?  MMmmm…scary. Will they LIKE the real me? Isn’t the old adage “Never let ’em see you sweat”? Isn’t it still sort of prevalent today? Maybe connecting with other humans is about being willing to be vulnerable, tell a story in your voice, make it real.

Janice passed along a blog post that talks about letting the walls down, even in business. Being real with others builds trust. Trust builds relationships. And relationships are what life, and business, are all about. Have a read.

Sage advice from Sara Wachter-Boettcher of the Pastry Box Project. Thank you Sara!

To Your Voice,





by Corrie Miller

Women are doing amazing things.  They are building their communities, they are striving to better themselves and they are inspiring global change.

It’s no secret that every day of our lives we are presenting, putting ourselves “out there” and making impressions on others. And it struck me recently just how many amazing, dynamic women have crossed my path of late.

Calculated Presentations will begin to feature women that are making a difference here on this blog on a regular basis. We help women on the way up with their presentation skills (click to find out more!), so we feel it makes sense to feature some who are presenting well in all areas of their lives.  After all, whether we like it or not, life is one big exercise in public speaking. At least if you want to connect with others.

A few friends of mine have headed back to school long after they walked up on stage to collect their high school diplomas and others long after seeing the inside of their local college or uni. Two of these women are in their late thirties, one went back in her late forties. Tanya went into Dentistry, Cassandra is becoming an Art Therapist , and another intrepid entrepreneur started her own successful communications firm. I am inspired. You see, it proves that it doesn’t matter what stage you are at in your life, you can always strive to be a better version of yourself.

just do it


My friend Jen Schaeffers is a connector of humans and a philanthropist. She saw a need for a website that would showcase Vancouver networking events that would allow people to connect. She filled that void with

Networking In Vancouver is proliferating and she is doing this while sitting as Executive Director of the CKNW Orphans Fund and raising two young kids. And making the the rest of us look bad (tongue planted firmly in cheek).  It inspires me to see women like Jen who seem to be able to keep a million balls in the air and remain so engaged, present, and happy. I suppose the lesson is

Find your passion, and just do it. The rest will follow.


My sister in law Jennifer Trayler and her friend Danielle Nesbit decided they wanted to start a business. So they did (a premium ice supplier for hospitality and consumer verticals), but one of the first things discussed was that they wanted their business to help affect the change they wanted to see in the world.

Compassionate Eye Fundraiser

Last week On The Rocks Ice partnered with the Compassionate Eye Foundation to fund clean water projects in places like Kenya and Guatemala. Jen’s presentation on why she organized this event and why it’s so important nearly brought me to tears. She spoke from the heart, which is all we should ever try to do.


Women  are doing amazing things. Its a fortunate time… to be one.

Do you know an amazing woman that should be featured here?  Please leave your comments and we will make it happen.

To Your Voice,





Have you had times in your life when you are open to opportunity and the universe decides it is time?

I had the very good fortune to be introduced to Ron Finley by my good friend and colleague Dragana Djurasic of Radiant Minds. Ron auditioned at the TED auditions here in Vancouver this past Spring. Dragana knew he was someone special and that he had a powerful story to tell. She graciously introduced us.

Since I began my business in late 2009 I had dreamed of working with a TED speaker.

And I had the pleasure of collaborating with this lovely and humble man who is doing good work in South Central Los Angeles. I hope he is as proud of himself as I am for him. He received a standing ovation today…and I even heard whispers that his presentation was better than Bono’s. He charmed the audience and spoke his story from his heart.

You all know how I always go on and on encouraging (well maybe nagging a little) you in my blog posts to be yourself when you have the opportunity to speak in public. I have expressed many times that being comfortable and confident in yourself and your words is what separates the best speakers from everyone else.

That’s what Ron did today and I can’t wait to give him a giant hug in person. Hopefully he will be invited to TED 2013 in Vancouver.

Helen Waters, who I had the pleasure of meeting in Doha at the TEDx Summit this past April, has written a fantastic blog post about Ron and his presentation at TED. She describes the heartwarming boulevard garden project that Ron has instigated and given legs to.

Today, for Ron and myself, the universe and stars aligned. It was a good day…

I would like to hear from you — has the universe aligned for you when you took your place and spoke from your heart? Was it a time when you were open to possibility and opportunity?


This is why I love what I do:

Every day I learn about what gets people out of bed in the morning. Their passions, dreams, innovations, and tenacity. How can life be better than that?

Often people who do amazing things want to share them. The best way to do that? Take the stage! Crow from rooftops and give others an opportunity to listen and be part of the vision.

Check out what Mike Matas is up to in this TED video – how cool is that?

What does Mike do right while presenting his innovative software?

1. He is humble and comfortable in his own skin. Notice his relaxed breathing and posture.

2. Mike jumps right in and captures us immediately. No long diatribe of the project’s history or who Mike is.

3. Mike tells us a story and leads us through the possibilities. My mind churns with what I could create – Mike lights the sparks.

Note what a brilliant facilitator Chris Anderson is. I had a few questions and realized that Mike had some holes in his presentation – Chris took to the stage and led Mike along to answer the questions that likely many audience members had. Chris was able to guide Mike to create a full circle presentation that would facilitate complete understanding of this very cool software.

I don’t know about you but I can’t wait for this software to be available not only to publishers but for mainstream use. Oh, the possibilities!

To your voice,


My go to public speaking and presentation resource treasure trove (aka learn from the experts – no need to rinse and repeat the mistake cycle):

Duarte Design: Nancy Duarte and her team generously share their deep and broad presentation knowledge. Nancy is the author of slide:ology and resonate – two go-to-guides for building professional presentations. The Duarte team showcase the subtle nuances that separate good speakers from excellent ones. Here’s my favourite post to date, which outlines the musicality of presentation content design.

The Eloquent Woman is written by Denise Graveline. Denise’s journalistic and communications background hone in on presentation and public speaking tips and techniques. I am always on the lookout for examples of powerful women speakers to share with my clients and Denise graciously has created a brilliant compilation.

The world’s your oyster at TED the amazing platform where ideas worth spreading are, well, spread. TED presentation’s span themes and styles. The site hosts the fabulous to the not so fabulous and is great fodder for discovering what works and doesn’t. All time fav – Evelyn Glennie, a deaf drummer, who champions the importance of listening. I’ve watched this clip over and over again.

IDEATRANSPLANT is the site for juicy and luscious presentation design. Jan Schultink, a presentation developer located in Israel, is the master of building slidedecks that connect message to emotion.

And last but certainly not least – Ana Foureaux Frazao of AnaFxFz creates gorgeous slidedecks – her graphic design smarts is impeccable. Ana created the PowerPoint (TM) for Guy Kawasaki’s “Enchantment“, which I saw in real life at the Art of Marketing Conference in Vancouver and will vouch for its awesomeness.

Enjoy and to your voice!



Between you and me, I dislike the word authenticity. It is worn out and many undeserved types wear the badge and shouldn’t.

But I couldn’t come up with a word more appropriate for Will Phillips, the forthright young man from Arkansas who refused to recite the daily “Pledge of Allegiance” in his classroom. I missed this story that went viral early in 2010 – my apology to those for whom this is stale news…

Will’s issue is that the pledge calls for equality and justice for all and until there really is equality for all he won’t be a hypocrite and participate in the ritual of reciting it. Good on you Will, I’m in your court. Huevos at his young age, clearly articulating his disagreement to status quo.

And I digress. My reason for this musing is to share that it is possible to read a script and still enrapture your audience. I couldn’t take my eyes and ears off of this clip of Will accepting the 2010 GLAAD award.

Many of us are required to present from a script because we don’t have time to practice or it is important that we recite stats with precision. But do your audience a favour, if you love your job and feel privileged to take centre stage, speak from your heart – from your (authentic) real self.

Will Phillips’ Acceptance Speech at the 21st Annual GLAAD Media Awards

*GLAAD – The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation – Words and Images Matter


Two, yes count them, two, ideation creating presentations two days in a row.

Why would I run on about attending mind blowing presentations. Aren’t they all like that?

No, many run the range from milk toast to just plain crap. Under-practiced, no point, no emotion, etc. We’ve all endured more than our share.

What made these two special? They opened me up to changing my outlook and they ran raw and deep with emotion and heat. They made me squirm with discomfort about some of my own closed thinking, made me laugh, and had me nodding in agreement. Different than many presentations that bring images to mind of Charlie Brown adults spouting blah, blah, blah.

I attended Shifted with no expectations. Everything about the evening worked. District 319 in Vancouver is an unexpected gem of a theatre. It is located in Vancouver’s toughest neighbourhood – a refurbished jewel – the theatre not the neighbourhood. The lobby is a casual spot to meet people with a bar situated in the middle. The theatre space ushers you in with carmine red leather lounge seats. So comfortable, and drinks are welcome to join you. Civilized!

It was the speakers and the organizers who were the ruby. All spoke from the heart. As simple as that. No magic. They’ve all lived lives with the drive to embrace a shift. Right or wrong they took the dive.

Chloe Gow-Jarrett has a raw talent for creating an event. She collaborated with a team bar-none along with the help of her husband who blatantly adores her. Reading her blog posts illuminates her success – she had the guts to let go and trust them.

Chloe invited five speakers who hold some notoriety here on the west coast of Canada. Although a few fly humbly under the radar.

First up was Danielle LaPorte of White Hot Truth fame. I know of Danielle through her blog, Twitter feed, a quick electric hello at a conference, and knew nothing of her before life. She rode high in her other life. She chose, at an apex moment, another. Danielle has a gift – she allows you to feel what she feels while carrying us along in a story of learning.

David Bentall cracked open the door to his broken spirit and bleak marriage. He exposed the nastiness of criticism in a marriage and at work. David lived in a broken marriage for 10 years. “Something” held him there – he didn’t leave – but he did finally understand and he grew.

My friend Darlene Carty asked David this pointed question, ” When you came to the decision to change, was it for your own survival or the love of your wife and family?” David candidly responded, “At first for my self, than I realized it was the love of my wife and our family.” Heavy stuff and a testament of the courage to share.

As did Andrea Baxter.

I’ve met Andrea Baxter a few times. She is a driven and honest young woman. Andrea works hard. While working at her dream job- just acquired – she was offered another. Andrea took us through the process of making a momentous decision. And shared with us what a leap of faith looks like. She told us that once you make the leap it gets easier every time.

And the next speaker told us about leaping with the support of friends and his own determination.

When Tyler Mosher told us about breaking his back he made me feel the impact. While he spoke I was stuck to the leather seat and couldn’t move. He made me cry and he made my heart feel heavy. Tyler also made my chest feel big with his insight into valiant courage and the support of true friends.

The final speaker was Joel Solemn. He was the reason that I came to the event. I have been to Hollyhock on Cortes Island, that he and a band of like minded souls built. I’ve watched how Joel expanded into creating an investment fund that supports social change. And I knew that he was sick with chronic kidney disease and that a dear friend had donated her kidney to him. Simply, thank you for sharing your journey.

Are these people special? No, they are you and me.

Image attribution: Jason V

Part II to come – Luncheon for Ovarian Cancer Awareness ~ Featuring Virginia Greene


There are a few blogs and Twitter streams that are my go-to for inspiration and learning. And only a select few that are on my constant radar.


Quality writing and brilliant ideation. This world holds some brilliant people whose ideas I’d never considered, ways of thinking I’ve never had the privilege to be introduced to, and pre-Social Media I would never have met them.

They get my juices flowing.

What does this have to do with you, the grasshopper, who drops by this site to learn tips and techniques to speak with aplomb (love that word, isn’t it cool?) in the public speaking arena?

These authors and their words are a rich resource for speaking topics and dinner conversation:

My number one is not rocket science but I can’t help myself, I have a crush on him. He would be one of those people that if I would have him over for one of those special mind throbbing and idea sharing dinners.

Yes, Mr. Seth Godin

With a name like Erika Napoletano and the graphic in her tab, you can only expect a firebrand. She is! Erika makes me laugh – the big belly kind and she makes me think. Hard. She makes me think about what it means to be a woman and what it means to stand up and make a difference. She is one of my very special shares: The Redhead Writing She tweets too: @RedheadWriting – good for a coffee choke in the morning. I’d like her at my elbow at my dinner party.

Bit Rebels – Ideas, Ideas, Ideas. No more needs to be said, except the contributors are Misty Balardo, Diana Adams, and Richard Darell. They would be seated in the middle to bat ideas around.

Roger Ebert has been through the trials of a daunting illness. He has shown us human strength at it’s finest and his wife has allowed us a glimpse into what it means to stand fast and hard in a relationship. Mr. Ebert would not have come to mind as someone I would have invited to my dinner party when he was doing Syskill and Ebert.

Now, when he is focusing on writing – and he is prolific – I am gaining insight into what a master writer/author is. He has taught me the evolution of ideas and growth. His writing is eloquent and thoughtful. From his writing I am learning how to be a better writer. I’d like to seat him at my other elbow.

Tanveer Naseer, a fellow Canadian, is a thoughtful and brilliant man. He writes on leadership and I’ve watched his writing grow and inspire others. Amongst other things, he says he is a nice guy and unabashedly he should, because he is. He is the father of two young girls who he is supporting to be strong women who he is leading to believe in all that is possible.

The pages of Drive, written by Daniel Pink, are burning through my fingers even though I’m trying to savour them. I think I’m just going to read it again when I’m finished. Why does it resonate so clearly? Because it is confirming what intrinsically I already knew.

The drive to learn and create comes from within. It can’t be boxed in a cubicle with a time clock ticking. It can’t be bought. It is difficult to gain some level of mastery over what you choose to learn and no one is ever a complete master. But when you are in the zone – I call it Nirvana and Pink calls it flow – that is as good as it gets. It’s a toss up for whose at the other head of the table.

What a dinner party it should be…

Would you like to join us?



I’m experimenting with Cinch’s Beta version. Hear a glimpse of what I learned in San Francisco about what it takes to run a successful workshop.


With my Saturday morning coffee I usually read the online version of the New York Times. My favourite section is the “One in Eight Million”. Everyday New Yorkers are profiled with sharp photos and video clips. The interviewer asks questions that most would be uncomfortable to ask. We get inside of people like us but deep and personal.

A clip that I often go to when I need communication inspiration is the profile of  the tolerance teacher. He sums up communication — how communication is received depends on the circumstance.

And check out the mozzarella lady when you are having a low energy day. She is in her nineties and still pulling and selling the mozzarella.

Be bold. Get heard. Inspire action.