What Would You Be For Only One Day?

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

Today is Halloween.  A time to dress up as anything you want to be – anything at all.

I can still remember when I was a kid, my mom would let me pick my own costume.   I was always a princess.  Every year l would pick just about the same outfit.  I had a sparkly gown and a tiara and sometimes even a magic wand. I’d get all decked out – and every year it was the same – FREEZING outside!  We lived in Chicago and the weather was quite unpredictable, except on Halloween.  You could always count on it to be cold and windy.  My mom would make me  wear my heavy winter coat over that magical outfit.  But I didn’t care because deep down I KNEW I was a princess – if only for one day.

So now, many years later, I find myself thinking: what would I be if I could choose just one thing for today – if I could allow myself to be a kid again.  Who would I be?  The possibilities are endless.

This time around, I’d like to be a dancer.  I mean the jumping through the air, graceful, costume flowing behind me kind of dancer.  Whenever I watch them in a live performance or on TV, I always marvel at their carefree spirit.  Yes, that’s what I’d like to be for one day – a dancer.

What about you?  What would you like to be for only one day?  Throw all caution to the wind.  Become a kid again.  Who or what will you be today?

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Life is Like the Changing Leaves

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

I am amazed and awed and humbled by the beautiful colors that surround me.  It’s that time of year – autumn.  And here in Midwest there is a blaze of color everywhere I look.

As I turn around and gasp at the beauty, I can’t help but compare the leaves to my own life.  A life that has certainly known many colors, dimensions and phases.

This is the way I see it:

Some of the leaves are still a very healthy and green, just like some of the phases of my life.  There have been times when I have lived without any doubt or fear and everything seemed to be going my way.  Kind of like the way it is right now.  I have a new husband in a new town and my new business is taking off to new heights.  Every day is lived with excitement and anticipation.

And then there’s the leaves that are turning yellow and red and orange.  They remind me of the changes I’ve faced that were just as beautiful.  Things like finally buying that dream house, or getting that hard earned promotion, or finally bridging the distance between myself and an old friend.  Those beautiful colors remind me of the good changes in my life that I have welcomed with open arms.

But let’s not forget those brown, dark and dried up leaves, ready to fall to the ground.  Just like those terrifying changes that crept up behind me and socked me in the stomach so hard I could hardly breathe.  Changes I certainly didn’t want and couldn’t control.  They were here to stay and, like it or not – ready or not – I had to figure out a way to deal with them.

So now, as I sit back and marvel at the changing trees, I also marvel at my life and all the ups and downs, in and outs, and everything else I have survived.  All of them, good and bad, bringing me to where I am today.  I understand that the changes will be constant.  My hope is that I will always find the beauty in every single one of them.

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It’s Time to Give Back

Professional Speaker-Positive Attitude-Personal Development

Do you volunteer?

I have found that whenever I take time to help others, asking for nothing in return, some unexpected and amazing things happen.

For instance, several years ago I volunteered for a group called Chicago Greeters, obviously located in Chicago.  They offered free tours to anyone visiting the city and matched them with a knowledgeable tour guide – that was me.  It’s an amazing service: http://chicagogreeter.com/.  If you are ever visiting Chicago, I highly recommend it.

Well, during the two years I volunteered there, on one day, and one day only, I worked with a young woman and we became instant friends.  Now, ten years later, we still remain very close.  Her friendship was worth any amount of money I could have been paid.  And as the commercial says – our friendship is PRICELESS!

Another great experience I had was with an organization called H.O.M.E. (Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly) also located in Chicago: https://www.homeseniors.org/.  They asked me to help a 90 year old woman who was depressed and she needed someone to keep her company.  They asked me to read to her, play a game with her or simply visit and keep her company.  I spent three years with Geri Franklin before she passed away, and in the time we spent together, she shared with me a love and wisdom that has literally changed my life.

So now I have moved to a new city.  Unfortunately, I haven’t found a place to volunteer and I’m getting antsy.  It’s time – time to give back and make a difference in someone else’s life.

So that’s why I’m asking you – do you volunteer?  What experiences have you found to be the most valuable?  What organizations would you recommend?   What are your stories of volunteering?  I’d love to know.

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Remember – It’s Your Story

Professional Speaker-Professional Development-Positive Attitude

This is the fourth week we are talking about storytelling.  Why?  Because it is so powerful in getting your message heard and remembered.  Did you know that an audience is twenty times more likely to remember a fact if it is presented as part of a story that touches them emotionally (this is according to Jerome Bruner, cognitive psychologist).

But does it really matter who said it?  Just think about some of the lessons and techniques you have learned recently.  Do you remember the Power Point and graphs and charts – or do you remember the stories that you identified with.

So in order to be a great storyteller, let’s take it to the next level…

So far, I have shared with you techniques on where to find your stories and how to construct them to have your audience sitting on the edge of their seats.  Now there’s only one more bonus tip you need.  It will help you become one of the best storytellers ever!  The final tip is how to remember your story so you can make an impact on your audience.

Bonus Tip!

To help remember your story:

  • Record it and listen to it over and over again.
  • As you listen to your story, visualize it.
  • Say it out loud as many times as possible.
  • Use short, simple, descriptive words.

So, if you should find yourself standing in front of an audience, and those nerves begin to kick in, try the four tips above.  Remember, it’s your story.  You should know it better than anyone else, so just begin telling it.  Have fun with your audience.  Laugh along with them. You will be amazed at how impactful you can be.

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Jaw Dropping, Captivating Storytelling

Professional speaker-professional development-positive attitude

In my last two blogs, I shared the importance of storytelling and specific ideas on where to find your stories.  So now that you have the idea, and your story is written, how do you bring it to life? How to you actually tell it so people will want to listen.

Here are a few ideas:

One trick is to engage all your senses – or at least some of them.  That means, tell your listener what you see, what you hear, what you smell, what you taste and what you feel.  This last one can be what you feel inside, like an emotion, or what you feel physically, like a hard bench.  By engaging the senses, you invite your listener into your world and make them actually feel  your words.

Another technique is to use dialogue.  Here’s an example – see if you can tell the difference:

My brother stepped out of the phone booth and told me that Mama said we could go on the

roller coaster.

OR

My brother stepped out of the phone booth, looked at me and said: “Guess what, Nancy, Mama

said yes, we can go on the roller coaster.”

Take a minute and say those two examples out loud.  You will definitely notice a difference.  Creating dialogue makes your story more exciting and more engaging.

And then there’s the Power of the Pause.  When you want to create suspense or need your audience to sit up and take notice, PAUSE. It works every single time.  A word of caution here – it will seem like an eternity to you, the speaker.  But the most dramatic lines are delivered with a longer pause.  One thing that helps me stay on track is to silently count to three in my head before I deliver the punch line or dramatic statement.

If you would like to see some of this in action, check out the story I told when I won the Chicago District 30 International Speech Contest.  I finished in the top 100 out of 30,000 competitors, and it was my storytelling techniques that helped: Mama Told Me Not to Come. It’s a hoot.

Well, look at this – time has flown by.  I have a few more tricks and tips to share with you on storytelling, so I hope you’ll join me next week.  I promise it will be well worth your time.

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