How Do You Know You're On The Right Path?

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How do you know when you're on the right path?

Is it a feeling or an emotional or physical response?

Changing the Look Behind Their Eyes

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Sunday V-4-13-14-Victoria Labalme.jpgAt some point, most of us want to quit. 

Something keeps us going.

For each person it's different, but for each person, it's a driving force...what I call "The Through Line."

My dear pal Jim Freydberg, the Broadway producer, sent me the image below a few months back.
I loved it. I looked it up and it turns out the image is all over the internet.

What I suspect makes this drawing so popular is that we all feel at times like we're in that tangled mess...and we all think it's wrong.

Sometimes we're the sailing arrow; sometimes we're in the squiggles...(or as the guitarist/songwriter Mark Knopfler says, "Sometimes you're the windshield; sometimes you're the bug.")

It's nice to know that everyone goes through this. Success is filled with screw ups, struggles and sideways steps. Welcome to life.

Years ago in the 1990s, I called Jim in a moment of great despair. I needed some advice and I needed someone who knew the emotional terrain of the performing arts. As a producer, he'd won a Tony award and not many years later, another one of his productions was panned by the press. He'd gone from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. So I knew he'd understand.

"I want to quit," I murmured into the phone. He listened, absorbed what I was saying, and then replied. His voice was calm.

"You can't quit. You can take a break, but you can't quit."

I got back up on my feet, and I kept going. I had something I wanted to share. It wasn't entirely formed, it wasn't entirely clear, but I knew it had something to do with helping people live life on their own terms, risk forward, and express their vision.

I believe The Through Line is at the core of every business, every Broadway show, every presentation...and every life. Your Through Line is why you do what you do, and once you know that, everything changes. It's not about the goal; it's about something much, much larger.

Whether you're in the tangled mess or panned by the press, reconnecting with your Through Line will help you find your way out. Every time. 

(c) MMXIV Victoria Labalme Communications, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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A great lesson for life (and a great lesson for great presentations) is that we can plan a bit - structure allows for freedom -  but you must always
present from the present.

Last year, I worked with a neuroscientist on a video series she's putting together. For our second session, she came into my studio with a 2-page script. We did a first take. But half way through, I could tell how much she was forcing herself to talk about things in the order she thought was right; organically, her body wanted to say something different. She tried to stick to the script, twisting her way into it to keep on track.

That struggle manifested itself as tension and awkward behavior on camera - her mind forcing herself to go in one direction and her intuition was keen to go somewhere else.

It was a perfect segue into a technique I teach that frees people up ENORMOUSLY - and lets them express themselves with structure AND with spontaneity. 

But in life, people often force themselves into a path. A lot of companies unfortunately do this, and a lot of speakers do the same.

It's worth letting go the reigns just a bit and seeing where things lead. Goal setting is overrated. When it comes to speaking (and I've venture to say life as well), find your form organically. THEN set down your markers and your goals.

(c) Victoria Labalme Communications, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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I am always, always, still learning and practicing the importance of prep. It is critical. Even for a short presentation.

When I was on "Sex & The City" now over a decade ago, I had only 5 lines. I only had 5 lines to establish my character and tone.

When you have a brief introduction to give or a short 5 minute segment as part of a larger client or prospect presentation, when you only have a brief moment to say good bye to someone or to welcome them,  how you use those 5 minutes (or 2 or 10 minutes) becomes even more critical. You only have that one opportunity. So don't blow it. Don't take it lightly.

Never underestimate the power of prep - especially when your stage time is limited.

As Stanislavsky said, "There are no small parts; only small actors." Don't be a small actor. Do your part and do it well.

(c) Victoria Labalme Communications, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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There's nothing like a few missed facts or mispronounced words to create a dent in your status as a presenter, leader, sales professional or service provider.

Are you blowing it?

Communicating & Connecting - The Reaction Shot

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In the film world, The Reaction Shot is just this: the camera angle/shot that reveals the reaction of a given character to what was said.

This is critical because as an audience, we're not just interested in what one person says; we're interested to see how it affects another.

In life, in sales, in presentations and in communication settings of all kinds, people often forget to check "The Reaction Shot" -- meaning, they are so busy talking that they neglect the critical component of observing how someone responds...and then adjusting accordingly.

Believe it or not, this concept can be applied to yourself. How? Here's one example...

Every New Year's Eve, many people (maybe even you) will write out, share or silently review their goals for the time ahead.

The challenge, though, is that
we sometimes put down goals that are hollow, goals we think we should have but which don't really light us up.

We forget to check in with ourselves. We forget to notice our own Reaction Shot to a given plan.

Look at your list from last year. How do each item feel? Do you really WANT that goal? (Whose goal is that anyway?)  As you plan the year(s) ahead, notice your "Reaction Shot".

It's a short life. Plan the one that lights you up.

(c) Victoria Labalme Commmunications, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Animating Adjectives, Experiences and Emotions

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As we all know, there are many components that make for a great speech but one technique that's rarely talked about is what I call "Animating Experiences, Adjectives and Emotions."

When you are truly committed to your point, analogy or story, your body and voice will come to life. This is why coaches who work from "the outside in" will get you in trouble. The gestures they give you to do are forced and inorganic. And, the forced movement can also come from speakers who have presented their story so many times that the movements seem phony -- a mix of self-aware, hollow and overdone.  

Think for a moment of a young child you know or your own kids when they were little. When telling a story that they truly want you to 'get', their voice is filled with unexpected sounds and huge shifts in volume and tone; their bodies is alive with animation.

The fact is, they are 100% committed.
So how committed are you?
How much passion do you have for your topic?
And how important is it that your audience 'get' your message?

How much or how you little animating you do depends on the venue, the audience, your message and your objectives...a boardroom presentation is vastly different from a keynote address at an arena-sized space, but
audiences will never care about your message unless you care first.

And animation is just one way to let that passion out.  Take a look at the video, give one of these ideas a try, and let me know how it goes.

(c) Victoria Labalme Communications, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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When you think of New York City, does Times Square come to mind? That's just the problem...and the point.

The truth is, there's a lot more to New York City than Times Square, Wall Street, Madison Avenue and "Ooooh, the Village." 

So what's the "Times Square" of your industry, service or business? And are you aware of how much people may be holding that up as a lens through which they view you and what you offer?

Whether you're an executive, entrepreneur, sales professional or professional speaker, ask yourself the following:

1) "What's the typical (negative) assumption or misconception people have about the industry, service, business in which I operate?"

Then ask....

2) "How can I do the exact opposite and/or take some aspect of what makes me unique and use it to delight my clients, customers, or audience?" 

There's enough craziness and cacophony where the crowds are already with people clamoring for attention and putting up billboards and lights. Why not plant your tree or better yet, start sharing some of the garden you've been keeping hidden?

(c) Victoria Labalme Communications, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Distinguishing Your Brand - Start With Your Business Card

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Looking for ways to distinguish your brand and stand out from the rest of your industry?

Maybe you should start with your business card!

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Looking for new ways to incorporate stories into your next presentation?

Consider adding mime and movement to animate your message.

Your audience will love you for it.