Matching Your Tone to Your Intention

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Many speaking coaches will tell presenters to "vary their tone". The problem with this kind of coaching is that it leads to "outside in" behavior. The presenter starts to raise and lower his/her voice and gesture "creatively" simply for the purpose of variety. The result: an inauthentic delivery style and self consciousness on the platform.

The fact is, variation will arrive organically when you are truly connected to your material and you are -- as we say in the acting world -- in the moment.

Just think of how a kid tells a story when they're excited or in a state of wonder.

I had an Alexander Technique teacher years ago who used to say "let, allow, permit" when it came to how we moved on stage.

The same is true for speaking. Rather than force a tone, let it happen organically.  On top of this, it's critical that you are connected to what you are saying so that you never are out of sync with your content. Quiet moments should elicit a quiet tone. Excited moments should bring an excited tone.

But all this will come if you structure your presentation so that you have a full spectrum of experiences within it and then you reconnect with those experiences. If you do, you will have more variety than you can possibly imagine because inside of you is a full prism of colored light just waiting to shine.

Hollywood & You...

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This interview with Pete Docter, the director of INSIDE OUT (Pixar's new film which opens this weekend!!) is worth listening to.

Whether you're leading a division of thousands...
or you're speaking to one team member...
whether you're presenting in front of those you serve... 
or talking with your spouse or kid...
you will have a far better understanding of what's going on inside their minds...and the importance of appreciating and acknowledging it all.
In Rock The Room™, I often talk about Full Spectrum Speaking™ and use the metaphor of a prism; we all have a full range of emotions and experiences. 
And as a leader, you need to be aware of this if you're going to effect change.
Here's the link:

P.S.  We're lucky enough to count Pete (the director) as one of our close friends. Here are some festive photos from the Premiere last week.

Animating Experiences, Adjectives 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.

The Importance of Accuracy in Someone's Name

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I want to talk today about the importance of accuracy and specifically as it pertains to someone's name.

Now, some of you watching this have a complicated name. Even a simple name though, like Smith might be S-M-I-T-H or S-M-Y-T-H or S-M-Y-T-H-E. Now, Erica could be with a K or a C. Eric could be with a K or a C. My name is Labalme, it's a French name. And people more often misspell it, then get it accurate. Which is extraordinary, because it's partly how we can tell how conscientious someone is in their emails to me. I mean, it's at the bottom of my email signature when I reply. And people still reply back with a capital B, with an L-E instead of an L-A. And, to me it just is an indication of a lack of awareness and attention to detail.

And, as a professional, I think it's critical to get someone's name accurate. Over the years I've gotten so many misspellings of my name and it used to really upset me. Then I thought, "Well, how do I take something that I can't fix, and instead feature it?" So what I started to do was collect all the misspellings of my name that came in the mail. And I got many, many, dozens. And then we created a poster of all the misspellings. I'm going to show you that poster here, so it looks like this.


But some of them on here...and to be clear, this is sometimes when I'm the keynote speaker and they still get it wrong.

So, this one says, Vicotria Lebalm. Vicotria. This one says, I don't know if you can see it, Virginia. I'm the keynote speaker. It says, Virgina L-A, capital B. We have Laboum, Lacalm, Lasalme, Labaloney, Lagalme. It goes on and on.

So, not only that, here's another one that's even more glaring. Recently I gave a keynote speech and I'm going to cover up the client name. Now, this was for their administrative professionals. Think about this. The administrative professional job is to be accurate and get details correct, people's names, all these data entry points.

They print up this beautiful foam cork poster board with my name on it. Here, Administrative Professionals Board presents keynote Victoria Lebalme.

So, I want you to think very carefully. When someone calls your office, you can train your staff this or you can answer this yourself. You need to ask, "How do you spell your name? I want to make sure I get it correctly." Because once it's in the database wrong. Oh, my gosh. It goes everywhere.

So, how careful are you? And, how careful is your staff when it comes to getting people's name correctly? Are you winging it? Are you just taking a guess? Or, do you really show how much you care?

Let us know what you thought of that. Put your comments below and we'll be in touch!

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Victoria_Labalme_The_Prism_Effect.pngI'm tired of those who say you have to decide which talent to pursue. We live in a world now where you can COMBINE and harness the full spectrum of who you are and what you've got.

You just need a bit of courage, imagination and determination.

No doubt, it's far easier (though ultimately more painful) to tone yourself down than it is to dig deep and combine and celebrate what you have.

But the truth is, landmark success doesn't come from running with the pack and shaving off parts of who you are to fit into a mold.

Landmark success results from taking risks; and risk requires exploration, creativity and the courage to trust that the integration of talents -- those with which you are inherently gifted -- will produce extraordinary results.  This is the foundation of The Prism Effect. It is the foundation of all great lives, great businesses and great works of art. And you...are a work of art.

Agree?  Feel free to comment and/or join our community...

Are You Blowing It With Someone's Name...?

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I want to say something about names here and how you speak to someone. It is so common for people to shorten a name without permission. So for example, my name is Victoria. And I cannot tell you how many people just call me Vicky. It happened yesterday, I can't even remember who it was. But I'm on the phone with this person, a potential client and they're like, "Okay, Vicky. Thanks." I'm thinking, "Wait. When did I say Victoria is Vicky? Those are two different names." And the joke I always say is it'd be like if your name was Richard and I just decided to call you Dicky. Not the same. If someone's Elizabeth. Don't call her Liz or Lizzy without permission. If someone's Jeffery. Don't call them Jeff.

And be conscientious about your comments about someone's last name or first name. It's always nice to compliment them versus make some wacko comment. Years ago, believe it or not, I had a teacher when I was in grade school who taught theater and his name was Mr. Hamburger. Now, can you imagine having a name like that? But if you were to meet someone today. How could you, if it was you, approach him and say something that was not the typical, "Hi, hotdog?" Because what you do in saying a common comment is you lower your status. So how can you raise it?

Now I was doing an event where the sound guy's name was Dustin. Now, a lot of us in a certain generation would think immediately of Dustin Hoffman. But if I say, "Oh, Dustin. Like Dustin Hoffman." I'm thinking in the back of my head, "He's probably heard that many, many, many times. How could I distinguish it?" So the easiest thing that you can do is just to comment on the fact that you know it's probably said often. So you can simply say, "Dustin, I bet you a lot of people make a comment about Dustin Hoffman." And just by nature of that distinction you are separating yourself from the pack.

So think about that carefully. When someone offers their name to you don't shorten it, don't nickname it. And be very careful about your comments on who they really are.

Let us know what you thought. Put a comment below and we'll be in touch!

Why You Don't Want to Cut Corners - Ship in a Bottle

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How often do you think of cutting a corner on a small, small, small element? Well, it's a little vague as an open. Let me give you an example what I'm specifically talking about. That was my attempt to be totally cagey and draw you in.

But here's what I wanna say...

Years ago, I was just beginning in my business. I was really a newbie. I was at this stage where I was making my business cards by printing them on my printer at home, and then I wanted to put them on really heavy cardstock. I couldn't get the cardstock through the printer, so I would print them black and white on a single piece of paper, then I'd walk it over to Kinko's, and I would get really heavy cardstock of my own that I got at an art supplies store, put that through the printer, and then hand paint each card so it was color. And then I would slice them with a slicer. This was my process.

I was beginning out. I didn't have business cards, didn't know how to get them. And I had a big event that I had signed up to go to. So I thought, "I had better have some business cards." In fact the guy hosting this event (it was this elite, exclusive high-level retreat), he said, "I'd like each of you coming to this retreat to send 12 business cards." And I got this notice and I had very little time that week and I thought, "Let me just print them in black and white. I'm not going to hand paint them. I don't have the time."

I went through the process of black and white, went to Kinko's, printed the cardstock. Sliced them into individual 12 per page. Then I thought, "You know what, let me do this right. Let me take the extra half hour to paint these properly," because I figured he'd give one to each person attending the seminar.

Well I got to the event, no business cards were distributed, and it was a two-day experience. The night between the two days I went back to my hotel room and sitting on the bed was a box, a little bigger than a shoebox. I thought, "What's this?" And it was a gift from this guy who runs the seminar. In fact I'll say his name, because he was so great. His name is Nido Qubein. Brilliant, brilliant leader. And I open the box and I pull out what's inside. It's a bottle. You know, ship in a bottle type of bottle, and actually inside is a ship. I'm thinking, "This is the coolest gift."

But not only is it a ship, it's a ship that's made with business cards. I'm going to have our camera woman, Becca, zoom in so you can see this. She's going to nod to me when you can see. If you look carefully, you'll see the V and the L of my logo. This is my old logo. Each of them is painted slightly differently because I was working with watercolors and these little characters. And here's the ship in the bottle made with my business cards. I was so glad that I'd taken the time to paint the V and the L, because every time I look at this it's so much more bright. And even though it's not something that I exhibit to clients, it's something that stays here in my studio, it reminds me of the importance of doing things right.

I have a wonderful colleague, Gregg Goldston, who I've done many, many projects with. We always use the phrase, "Ship in a bottle," which means, "Do it right." So I say to you, the next time you think about cutting a corner, remember, ship in a bottle, because you never know where your work is going to end up.

The Idea that Might Lead to the Idea

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One of the core tenants of my coaching is exactly this: the power of "the idea that might lead to the idea."

In developing new material or even in revamping old, this is critical. We so often get stuck in old patterns of thinking and when get that flash -- that creative impulse (however wacky) -- it is worth paying attention to.

I believe this is your creative genius at work.

When I start working with a new client, I always explain the importance of this -- of not tossing out any ideas too soon. This gives them freedom to brainstorm without fear of judgment and often what follows is a client will say that day or at a future session, "OK. I know this is kind of strange. But it could be 'the idea that leads to the idea.'"  And we are off and running.

So...let's look at that as it applies to your next interaction in which the topic always feels kind of the same in tone, content and delivery: perhaps it's a weekly staff meeting, an annual convention, a regular get together with some family members or friends at which things are always "kind of the same."

What's your wild idea to shake things up? Begin by saying quietly to yourself, "Wouldn't it be cool if...?" and see where your imagination takes you.

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

Do What The People You Love Love To Do

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