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The Confidence Lab Manifesto

So where did The Confidence Lab come from? It started with a glass of wine one snowy evening as I struggled to articulate where it was I hoped to take PrepTalk next. Here is what came forth from my rapidly typing fingers: (Spoiler Alert: The story ends - or actually begins - in Italy this October)

Not gonna lie – I’m not used to writing like this.  You know why? I need to make sure that I’m not using my typical ‘works for everyone/corporate-safe’ language about my training here. No – what I want to do is invite you in to a discussion about what I think I’ve got – and how I think it can help you. Well, some of you. But okay, probably most of you.

 

Because here’s what I know: After 20+ years of teaching presentation skills and speechwriting and media training, I’ve come to think of myself not as a coach (a term I really dislike for many reasons – but I’ll tell you about that over a glass of wine when we are in Italy together) but as a scientist. A lab-coated, nerd-glass-wearing scientist who has been able to apply the ideas of curiosity and magic and experimentation that I’ve been doing across all kinds of test subjects - CEOs, TEDTalk speakers, those battling butterflies, middle managers, women, men, tech nerds, business bros, leaders and followers. No matter where they are on the totem pole or how they measure success, many of my clients share a few key strands of speaker DNA:

 

  • You want to be heard

  • You want to be your authentic self

  • You want to speak without those butterflies banging away in your chest or making your voice shake

  • You want your presence to match the level of skill and success you bring to nearly every other situation.

  • You want to be able to get up in front of any audience, in any situation, and have the poise and professionalism to remain confident, clear and compelling. *No matter who is in the audience*.

 

It’s not that hard, right?

 

Actually, it’s *really* hard – and I have to say I’ve had so much respect for the hundreds and hundreds of people who have come through my classes, shed their fear and improved these skills that somehow everyone seems to think everyone else was born with.

 

Believe me. They weren’t. That CEO who gets away with being a little bit arrogant because he makes the stockholders swoon? He was actually just scared shitless and worried he wasn’t going to look as smart in front of all the other execs in the room. That super smooth speaker at your company who just seems to do this really well? They’ve worked on it. They’ve sweated to have those muscles.

 

So that brings me to what I want to say to you. I want to sweat with you.

 

Wait that sounds weird.

 

I want to watch you sweat. Help you sweat.

 

No that’s even weirder. Okay here’s what I mean:

 

I want to take all these years of experience – helping people ditch that fear and uncertainty – by bringing you directly into the lab. It’s the perfect place to let you test the variables that may be in place for – and may be unique to – you. Some of you will have some vague sense that sometimes you ramble or don’t get to the point, for instance. But listen – this isn’t a surgical center. We’re not going to cut that problem out of you and send you off bandaged up with no sense of whether that particular problem will ever come back. Nope. We’re taking you into the lab, where we can dig into *why* that rambling happens. Does that rambling happen because you are still wrapping your brain around the topic in the first place? Probably not, but if it is, then we know what to tackle first. Is it because you are spending a hell of a lot of energy talking in circles because there are higher-ups in the room and you feel an insane amount of pressure to sound smart? That’s a different problem and so we work on it differently.

 

In essence, you get to put yourself under the microscope AND look at yourself at the same time. No one – no matter how fantastic they are at public speaking – can know how they come across without the process of practice that they can review. And when you spend day after day, week after week going to work, you start to feel like there’s no safe place you can do that practice, much less review it.

 

My microscope is a video camera. The test tube is watching those videos with you and the experiment is giving you the space and time and room to give yourself the luxury of repeated practice. This means you try and fail and refine and refine some more – until the DNA of *you* as a speaker becomes clear. This means you get to walk out of the lab knowing exactly what you’ve got going for you, and the muscle memory to take those skills right back into your regular life. Are your pacing muscles in good shape? Great. We won’t spend time there. Are you breathing correctly? We’ll check into how you embody what you want to say – and exactly how that comes across.

 

And with a nod to Walt Whitman: No judgement. Just curiosity.

 

I hope you’ll join other speakers seeking the formula for presentation perfection, and step into the lab for the toughest, safest and most transformative presentation practice you’ll ever do.

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