Digging Up Stories: Memories from Floor Plans

You can mentally dig for stories in your own back yard!  Or, at least a drawing of your backyard.  One exercise that can help with your recall of stories is to draw the floor plan of one of your childhood homes (or even a “map” of the back yard).

For example, when I drew the rough floor plan of my childhood home, it was like I stepped through a time portal as I mentally stepped through the front door.  In my mind, I was walking through the house, a house I hadn’t been in for 20 years.  I could see the family pictures on the bumpy-textured walls. I could feel the stickiness of the plastic covering on the couch (yes, my mother put plastic on the couch and left the plastic covers on the lampshades, too). I could smell my mother’s oregano-laden spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove. When I arrived at my bedroom, I opened the closet and saw the picture I had drawn of my grandmother when I was a teenager and I remembered how she stood up to Santa Claus when Santa forgot to give me a gift at a family Christmas party.

As I mentally walked from room to room, I was amazed at how arcane details would jump into my memory–like when I was a little girl and I would sit, transfixed at my mother’s transformation as she applied her makeup.  She was so beautiful that even my little second grade friends would remark on what a pretty mommy I had. But, I knew the truth. It was work.  I can still remember her saying, “It hurts to be beautiful.”  She said the same thing when she would make me sleep in the pink sponge curlers to make my thick, stick-straight hair fall in perfect waves around my shoulders.  At seven years old, I didn’t care about being beautiful.  But, I now could use that story to help make a point.  What we see as beautiful, or accomplished might seem to have been effortless, but there often is effort or sacrifice involved.  And, some people don’t want to make the sacrifice.

What stories will you rediscover when you mentally walk through your childhood home floor plan?




Digging Up Stories: Every Face Tells a Story!

Almost any presentation, even business presentations, can be enhanced by using personal stories to anchor your points.  But, how do you recall and apply those personal stories?  One technique is to look at photos, specifically photos of yourself and try to recall where you were at in life and/or the story behind the photo.  Often one photo can result in multiple story ideas. The four photos above and their brief explanations below will give you a flavor for the concept.  That, and you will see some of the very fashionable glasses that I’ve worn over the years!

Every Face Tells a Story

Age 11 I am in 5th grade and am about 10 years older than my brother.  We are about to have a formal picture taken, probably at Kmart.  My mother took lots of pictures.  I think it was to preserve the fantasy of a happy family.  My parents were not happy together.  I would go to my basement room and tune out their arguments by playing my violin.

Themes:  Fantasy vs. Reality, Tuning Out the Negative

Age 22 This picture was taken right before I left for my first day of work as an engineer for General Dynamics in San Diego.  I look so young and innocent.  I had no idea about the realities of being a woman in a male-dominated field.  Or, how ill-prepared I was by college.

Themes:  Being Different, Discrimination, Experience vs. Head Knowledge

Age 27  I became a full-time mother and homemaker, while at the same time building an Amway business with my husband.  We were going to be rich and have perfect children.  I became an invisible woman—my husband’s wife and my children’s mother.

Themes:  Managing Multiple Priorities, Identity Crisis, Unrealistic Dreams

Age 48  This is my first photo for my professional speaking business.  I didn’t have much money to spend because our technology business wasn’t doing well.  At the end of the year, we had declared bankruptcy.  I smiled to hide the pain.

Themes:  Starting a business on a Shoestring, Dealing with Loss, Rising from the Ashes

Need a story to anchor your point?  Try looking at some pictures!

Be an Audience Magnet with One Simple Act

Smile Magnet

Do you want to be a people-magnet when you speak?

Did you know there is one thing that you can do that will increase your trust-level, likeability, perceived confidence (and competence) and your attractiveness?

That one thing is to smile–your genuine smile!

Smiling can reduce the levels of stress hormones and increase the levels of mood-enhancing hormones–in both you and your audience.  Smiling relaxes your audience and  the contagious nature of smiles encourages them to smile back at you!  Plus, because a smile is the most easily recognizable facial expression–it can be seen from twice the distance of other expressions–smiling helps you connect more with a large audience, too.

Knowing the importance of smiling means two main things for a speaker:

1. Smile often, especially at the start of your presentation.

2. Have the best smile you can.

First, smile often.  Before you say a word, you can smile at your audience (look at them with love, excited to give them the gift of your presentation).  During your speech, not every part of your speech will be appropriate for smiling, but odds are you can smile more.  One thing I’ve noticed as I get older is that my neutral expression looks more negative than neutral, but a smile lights up my face with positiveness.

Smile during the happy or exciting parts of your speech.  Smile after you have given your audience a “take-away” point or an action step.  Smile and nod at your audience to get them to “buy-into” a concept.

Smiling is easier if it comes naturally, so take some effort in your day-to-day activities and smile at the checkout girl at the grocery store, smile at the waiter who serves your lunch, smile at the Starbucks barista and even smile at the grouchy woman behind the counter at the post office.  Spend some time with small children–little smile machines!

Second, make sure you have the best smile that you can!  Regular flossing and brushing and good dental work make a difference.  Consider orthodontia if your teeth detract from your smile.  Over-the-counter teeth whiteners can be an easy way to boost the brilliance of your smile.  If you are a woman, frame those pearly whites in an attractive shade of lipstick.

Smile to draw your audience to you and your message like a magnet!

When you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you . . .

Create Your Killer Keynote in a Day!

“Diane pointed out several things that will help me engage my audience better, while communicating the topic more thoroughly. She offered great insight into both the delivery of the speech and the structure so that my audience hears a clear call to action.“~Bill Svoboda, owner Coed Monkey


Create a Keynote Speech in a Day Workshop

Limited to only 3 participants per session!  Register now!

Turn your ideas into Keynote speeches that create confidence, credibility and cash!
Pick your date! Choose from one of 3 Saturdays this fall (7:30 AM -5:15 PM):
September 22 or September 29 or October 6

In this one-day interactive, workshop intensive you will :

  • Transform your IDEAS into a killer KEYNOTE speech (15-45 min) in ONE DAY
  • Learn a PROCESS to create even more Keynote speeches
  • Discover a powerful Keynote STRUCTURE
  • Create engaging STORIES that will keep an audience hanging on your every word
  • Paint WORD PICTURES more vivid than PowerPoint (plus a short topic on PowerPoint!)
  • Create CATCH PHRASES that will stick like glue in the minds of your audiences
  • Learn time-tested RHETORICAL DEVICES to take your speech from good to GREAT
  • “Find the Funny” and effectively use HUMOR
  • Develop DYNAMIC CLOSINGS that compel your audience to take action
  • Melt the “plastic person” and become AUTHENTIC
  • Learn key DELIVERY techniques
  • Learn how to PRACTICE your speech without having to memorize it all.
  • Learn how to ADJUST the content of your speech to fit the time allowed.
  • Learn how to INVOLVE your audience and when and how to conduct a Q&A session
  • Discover the top TIPS to prepare for the big day.
  • PRACTICE a portion of your keynote and gain valuable feedback

Who should attend?
Communications Professionals
Professional Speakers
Aspiring Professional Speakers
Business Owners
Conference speakers

What to expect:
At the Create a Keynote in a Day Workshop, you can bring a speech material that you already have, or arrive with a blank sheet of paper! All other materials, breakfast, lunch and snacks are included! Please bring your computer if you prefer working on a computer (I do!).

You will learn the step-by-step process and techniques, work on your speech in bite-size chunks, practice your speech and get feedback on content. We will be working at Diane’s dining room table, in the adjoining living room, and if weather permits, you might even get to sit outside! Diane does have a cat, a very helpful husband and a teenage son who may make appearances for food.

7:30-8:00 Arrive
8:00 AM Light breakfast
8:30-10:00 Workshop session I Topic: Writing Process, Structure & Content
10:00-10:15 Break
10:15-12:00 Workshop Session II (guided writing with individualized assistance)
12:00-12:30 lunch
12:30-2:00 Workshop Session III Topic: Practice, Delivery and Performance
2:00-2:15 Break
2:15-4:00 Workshop Session IV (continued writing with individualized delivery practice)
4:00-4:15 Break
4:15-5:15 Workshop Session V (guided performance and feedback)

Location: Diane’s apartment in St. Paul. “Kitchen Table Keynotes!”

Your workshop tuition includes:
Workshop and materials
Individualized attention—a maximum of 3 students!
breakfast, lunch and refreshments, too!
BONUS GIFT: Storytelling Instant Teleseminar! I did this for a a major training company which sells it for $229! I sell the same content for $29 and you can have it FREE! Your registration confirmation will include a link to a download page. You can learn at your own convenience!

Register today!

Think about this, if you leave the workshop with one good keynote that can create confidence, credibility and cash that’s worth a lot, but if you leave with a process that you can apply to create one captivating keynote after another, that is priceless!

100% Guarantee: If you are dissatisfied, you are entitled to a complete refund and the bonus gift is yours to keep.
Cancellation policy: Full refund (minus $29 for bonus gift) for cancellations 1 week prior to event. 50% refund for cancellations less than one week prior to event.

Nothing to lose! So much to gain!  Register here.

Speech Class for Teens Book Now Available!

Do you remember taking a speech class in high school?  That pit in your stomach?  Sweaty palms?

What if you had become a more confident speaker as a teen?  Would that have made a difference in your adult life? In your career?

The number one job skill cited by CEO’s again and again is communication and giving presentations is one aspect of communication that can be significantly mastered at a young age.

I want to help the next generation get heard!  So, I’ve just published a book based on the youth speech class I teach and on my experiences as both a professional speaker and as a Toastmaster.

This book is ideal for people who want to hold a speech class for teens, plus it doubles as the class text book for the participants!  Available on Amazon!  Coming soon to Kindle and iBookstore.


Why Do Some Speakers OWN the Stage? Tips from a Champ!

Darren LaCroix Event--Own the Stage

In August 2001, out of 25,000 contestants from 14 countries, Darren LaCroix (above in blue shirt) was crowned the 2001 World Champion of Public Speaking.

Last Thursday, Darren came to Minnesota and presented “Own the Stage Coaching” and I furiously took brief notes to share them with you (OK,  I really took them for myself).

Let’s first look at the “must avoids” and then at the “must haves” when speaking.

Must avoid:

  • Sameness.  Of course you know that monotone is boring.  But being at a high level of excitement throughout your speech can cause your audience to drift, too.
  • Thinking too much about what you are going to say.

“If you’re in your head, you’re dead.”

Instead, if you are telling a story, for example, don’t just say the words, but be present in the story, feeling the emotion.

  • Memorizing your speech.   Not only can you sound too stilted, but memorizing your speech also can limit your ability to respond and adjust to the audience. Don’t memorize.  Internalize.  Also, Darren believes that it is OK to use notes, as long as you just briefly refer to them (don’t read).  Your audience is there for CONTENT.
  • Gestures.  Gesturing just to have “gestures” can look almost comical.  Think “body language” and allow your body to “speak.”
  • Taking too long to get to the first story.  And, when you get there, piling on too many details. Use more dialog and less narration.

“It doesn’t matter what you say; it matters what the audience sees when you say it.”

Must have:

  • Audience–Do, Think, Feel. Know what you want your audience to think, feel or do when you are done speaking.  Write this foundation of your speech in 10 or fewer words.

When you are done speaking, what do you want your audience to do, think or feel?

  • Pause to reflect. Don’t pause for effect.  If you ask the audience a rhetorical question, give them time to mentally answer the question.  Or, as Darren says they say on the East Coast, “Shut up.”

The most important part of the presentation is the thought process of the person in the audience.

  • You-focused questions.  Don’t ask questions like, “Have any of you been to Las Vegas?”  Instead say, “Have you been to Las Vegas?”  Talk to the audience as though you are having a one-to-one conversation over coffee.  Be aware of your I:YOU ratio.

Speak to one.  Look to all.

  • Holograms.  Where ever you tell a story the audience makes a “hologram” of the scene.  Be careful not to mix up your holograms.  Darren gave the example of a speaker who told a story in which he knelt at his father’s coffin.  Later in the speech, he told a story about his family going on a picnic.  The speaker acted out spreading the picnic blanket in the same spot as–you guessed it–the coffin!  Have your stories at different parts on the stage.  Then you also can refer back to them with pointing to that same spot.
  • Purposeful movement. Don’t just move from one side of the stage to the other out of nervous energy or the feeling that you have to talk to the other side of the audience.  For example, move to other parts of the stage to make your points (the points can be at different parts of the stage, much like story scenes).
  • Tap and Transport.  Get your audience thinking about themselves (which taps into the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?) question and then transport them into your story.  As Darren mentioned, this concept comes from the 1999 World Champion Craig Valentine (Tap, Tease and Transport).
  • Use VAKS within 60 seconds to bring the audience into your story.  Use different modes of sensory communication at the start:  Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic (body movement) and Smell.  Here’s an example (which I just made up), that uses VAK: Shaking like a high school student giving her first speech, I walked on stage and looked into 600 eyeballs as the conversations of the conference attendees went from a loud roar to a quiet murmur of anticipation. 
  • Transition Phrases.  You can transition from point to point with silence, but you also can use effective transition phrases that tie your points together.

The example that Darren gave came from his world champion speech.

    • Setting up point 1 (a story):  Dr. Goddard had a ridiculous idea.
    • Point 1: Dr. Goddard story
    • Transition phrase:  I remember when I had a ridiculous idea.
    • Point 2:  My ridiculous idea story
Do fewer of the “must avoids” and more of the “must haves” to take your speech from good to GREAT and OWN THE STAGE.
Side note:  Don Matthews (to my right in the above picture) obtained a small stage, one that he got to keep, for the event. Don says, “Now I really OWN A STAGE!”