Captivate and Persuade Your Audience with Transparency
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Giving a presentation is like pulling up to a stranger in your car and yelling, “Hey, let’s go for a drive!“   You’re hoping that the stranger will humor you and at least get in the car, giving you a chance to prove that you’re a trustworthy driver and that it’s going to be a great ride.

As a public speaker, you are the driver, and you’ve only got about thirty seconds to persuade this stranger, a.k.a. your audience, that the journey you are proposing will be worth their attention.  What can you do that screams to your audience “good times ahead!” in such a short amount of time? You can be transparent. Who doesn’t want to hear about someone’s most embarrassing moment, or the story of how they met their spouse?  Effective transparency is more than just spilling your guts, however. In this article, I’ll be demonstrating how you can strategically utilize this technique to not only capture your audience’s attention, but to also make them more receptive to the ideas you’re trying to convey.  What’s more, I’ve decided to put my money where my mouth is - all of the stories I tell about myself here are true.


Let’s start with a brief explanation of what it means to be transparent.  It’s simply being honest about what you and your life actually look like, and resisting the urge to portray yourself as bigger, better, and/or flawless.   Although your audience already knows you’re not perfect, your willingness to admit and even talk about these imperfections has a powerful trust-building effect.  What’s more, it’s irresistible, and will draw your audience in without them even realizing it.


At this point, if you’re thinking that this article doesn’t apply to you and your field, don’t be fooled.  Whether you’re talking about something as technical as the best way to present numeric data or a more creative process such as brainstorming, I argue that every presentation can benefit from a judicious dose of transparency.  And I provide an example later in this article, just for you.


The easiest way to be transparent is to tell stories in which you reveal a struggle you experience, talk about an emotional or life-changing event, or describe a downright failure.  This is the stuff of real life, and your audience will be riveted. Obviously, we all have these kinds of stories. The challenge is to find one that you feel comfortable sharing and that is also related closely enough to your point that it can serve as an introduction or example.

Imagine that I’m doing a public speaking training that includes the topic of dealing with nervousness.  I might begin with the story of how I was recently on my way to my own birthday celebration at a restaurant and arrived about 45 minutes late because I had been wandering around, unable to find it.  This, in spite of the fact that I was sure I was going in the right direction when I started (I wasn’t), I had Google Maps open the whole time, I was trying to follow the big fat dotted line, and I had called the restaurant two separate times to get directions.  When I finally got there all the restaurant workers greeted me with “You made it!”

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I would transition into my topic by pointing out that while arriving late to my birthday dinner was frustrating, arriving late to your own presentation is an entirely different animal, and guaranteed to ratchet up the anxiety significantly.  I would then go on to explain that in my case, I generally have to give myself twice the amount of time I think I’ll need to get someplace new because I’m so directionally challenged. Unfortunately, I forgot that rule on my birthday. As a public speaker, however, it’s not enough to arrive on time.  To actually decrease your nervousness, you’ll want to arrive early so that you have plenty of time to make sure that everything is in order as well as to get yourself in the right frame of mind.

That little anecdote works well on several levels.  It captures my audience’s attention because it’s a story, it leads into my topic, and it employs self-deprecating humor.  Poking fun at yourself is a kind of transparency that is especially effective because it makes the audience laugh, which in turns helps them to relax and better understand and remember what you’re saying.

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Being transparent can also be helpful when you need to address difficult issues.  As a speech coach specializing in the field of human trafficking, I’m dealing with sensitive topics all the time.  One of these has to do with the way that victims of labor trafficking are producing products that ordinary citizens buy on a daily basis without a second thought.  If I were speaking on this issue, it would be easy for me to point the finger at my audience and say “So long as you continue to turn a blind eye and indiscriminately buy whatever you want, you’re perpetuating the problem.”  But in my experience, revealing my own struggles in this area would actually be a much more effective way of connecting with my audience and make it more likely that they’ll be open to my message. For example, I could tell this story.

I recently went shopping at the mall for a purse and a couple of tops.  I remembered that H&M has expressed awareness about the problem of trafficking, so I started there.  I tried on several items but had no luck whatsoever. I moved on to a smaller store and tried on more clothes.  Nothing worked, but I did finally find a purse. “Made in China,” the tag said. I sighed. . . China is notorious for trafficking.  I put the purse back. I went to a third store and after looking around for a long time, I finally found several blouses that not only fit but looked great.  What a relief. I don’t particularly like shopping, and by this time I was tired, hungry and just wanted to go home. I didn’t even care that I hadn’t found a purse.  But while I was waiting in line to pay, it dawned on me that I should check the tags. “Made in China.” Every single one, made in China. I hesitated. I ran through the options in my mind, looked at my watch, listened to my stomach rumble . . . and then I bought them.  I still feel frustrated by the whole situation.

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With this story, I am accomplishing several things.  One, I’ve demonstrated that I’m not speaking down to my audience from a position of superiority, but rather, I’m walking alongside them, experiencing the same challenges of being a conscious consumer that they are.  If I were to propose some solutions to these challenges later in my presentation, I believe my audience would be more likely to consider them.

Two, I’ve taken an issue that might seem removed and remote and made it personal.  I could go on to remind my audience (and myself) that someone’s fingers had sewn that tag on.  And it’s possible that those fingers belong to a person who is not free. The more we can bring issues down to an individual level, the easier we make it for our audience to empathize and engage.

Now imagine for a moment that I’d ended this narrative immediately after I’d seen that the purse was made in China and I’d put it back.  In that case, I would’ve been the hero of my own story. But bragging about that particular success would have done nothing toward getting my audience to trust me and go on that persuasive journey with me.  I also want to point out that if I had edited the story in such a way as to make myself look better, I wasn’t being truly transparent.


Hopefully by now it’s clear that personal stories can go a long way toward achieving the kind of transparency that draws in your audience and makes them more receptive to your message.  But I would be remiss if I didn’t warn you about transparency’s flip side, the “vulnerability hangover”. This condition occurs after you’ve exposed more of yourself than you intended, and you’re left wishing that you had a fishing rod with which you could reel those unfortunate words back in.  

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For example, perhaps while you were practicing your motivational speech in the privacy of your own home, telling that story about the time you were homeless felt like a good idea.  It seemed a powerful way of demonstrating the point that adversity can force us to see life in a new way. But when you stood on stage and looked out at all the dressed for success executives, you weren’t so sure.  Afterwards, although your presentation as a whole seemed well received, you couldn’t get rid of that nagging feeling that people were looking at you differently and that you shouldn’t have divulged that information.


Fortunately, there are ways to avoid the dreaded hangover.  I suggest the following:

•  Determine in advance how much personal experience related to your topic you’re willing to share, and stick to this decision.  In the previous example, the speaker might have felt more comfortable recounting that he had talked to a fair amount of homeless people, and that he’d learned some important lessons from these conversations, assuming that that were true.

This advance preparation will also be of tremendous help after a presentation, when you’ll often have the opportunity to field questions from the stage and/or interact with audience members individually.  These moments can be a time of intense pressure to reveal more details. But remember, how much of that personal experience you want to relate is entirely up to you, and a decision that is best made before you’re put on the spot.

• If you still aren’t sure about including a particular narrative, err on the side of caution.  Remember, telling a story about yourself is only one way of making a point. If you do decide to go ahead with a specific story, prepare an alternative way to support your point in case at the last moment you decide that you’d rather not be transparent in that way.

• Redirect or call out inappropriate questions.  To do this, you need to prepare beforehand by anticipating questions that are invasive and/or insensitive, and practice how you could respond.  In this situation you have two options. One is a simple redirect, as in the following example. I was listening to a podcast in which a woman was discussing her novel, a story that includes the theme of trafficking.  She was then asked point blank if she was a sex trafficking victim herself. She replied by stating that there were some things she felt comfortable talking about, and others she didn’t, and then redirected the question by saying “but what I can say is. . . .” and she went on to focus on a different but related point.  The redirect was smooth and the interview continued without a hitch.

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Your second option is to directly address the inappropriateness of the question itself.  If you like, you can frame it as a “teaching moment” in which you explain that questions which ask about deeply personal information that the speaker hasn’t already divulged put that speaker in a near impossible situation.  It’s like asking someone if they’re gay. Fortunately, more and more people are coming to the understanding that essentially outing someone in this way is wrong. But in other sensitive matters, for example, bankruptcy, abortion, incarceration, sex trafficking, etc., people still often forget to exercise the same good judgment.  By facing this kind of behavior head on, you’ll not only gain respect, but you’ll also leave your audience a little wiser in this regard.


Remember at the beginning of this article I promised that even if you have a “sterile” topic such as how to present numeric data, transparency can work for you, too?   Here’s one example. Let’s say you’ve been hired to provide a training titled: Effective Ways to Present Census Data to State Government Agencies.  If you’re yawning already, this is precisely all the more reason to be transparent - to breathe life and personality into a potentially dry and boring topic.

If this were me, I might begin the training by telling the story of how my daughter broke her arm when she was five years old.  I still remember it vividly; I was jogging behind her and her brother, dog in tow, when she suddenly lost control of her bike and went flying off.  She had to have surgery on her arm later that day, and her dad and I were worried about how we were going to pay for it. At the time, we were earning very little, and we didn’t have health insurance.  Much to our surprise, we were able to enroll both of our kids in a low cost health insurance program that covered the surgery.

I would then transition into my topic by saying something like this: “You’re probably wondering what my daughter’s broken arm has to do with the census.  My story had a happy ending because at some point, census data indicated that there was a significant number of uninsured children in my state, so an affordable health insurance program for these children was created.  Helping kids get the medical care they need is just one example of why your job presenting census data in a clear and accessible way is so important.”

Obviously, you could insert these kinds of stories throughout the training.  If you can’t think of a story about yourself that works, you can talk about a relevant situation that moved you.  If you express how you personally felt or were affected, you have moved from simply telling a story to being transparent.


Transparency is no doubt one of the most powerful tools in your persuasion toolbox.  It embodies multiple aspects of a successful presentation - it grabs your audience’s attention, maintains their interest over the course of your talk, and increases receptivity and trust.  Consider how you can incorporate it into your next speech and let me know how you did in the comments below. I’m pretty certain that with the feedback you receive, you’ll be encouraged to make transparency a regular part of your work.  You can also check out my blog post here if you’d like more examples of how to incorporate stories into your presentations.

Use an App to Improve Your Public Speaking!

Wish you could get some immediate feedback on your delivery skills?  Orai can help! It’s an app that critiques your public speaking in real time.   I not only spoke to Paritosh Gupta, one of the co-founders of the app, but I also tested it out myself. Here’s what I discovered….

It provides support in four main areas:

word clarity - Let’s you know if are easily understood.  This is especially helpful if you are a non-native speaker of English.

pace - Indicates whether your speed is too fast, slow, or just right.  Even points out specific spots in your recording that are problematic.

energy - Gives you feedback on the variation in your tone.  A monotone becomes boring, but strategically using volume can make your delivery more interesting.

filler words -  Counts your use of words like “um” “uh” .  An occasionally filler word is fine, but a lot of them can be very distracting.

It’s affordable.

Orai provides 10 minutes of free feedback per month, as well as basic lessons.  This is definitely enough to let you know if you could use more help. The Pro Plan, at $9.99 per month, offers unlimited recording time in addition to the basic lessons. This feels like an incredible deal to me - unlimited feedback on demand for just $10 bucks.

It supports non-American English accents.

And that’s on all plans.  I consider this feature a huge benefit, because it means that Orai will work for you whether you speak English with a Nigerian accent, a British accent, an Indian accent, an American accent, etc.

It works!  

Here is a screenshot of one of my practice recordings.

Here is a screenshot of one of my practice recordings.

Recently I was preparing to be a guest on a podcast, so I rehearsed some of what I wanted to say using the Orai app.  Knowing that it was going to be counting my filler words helped me to be more conscious of pausing and choosing my words carefully in order to avoid those “um’s” and “uh’s.”  After several recordings I was using zero filler words - a great success!

And although I had generally good ratings in the other areas, it was interesting to see the graphs showing my variation in energy and pace over time.

It can’t replace personalized coaching.

Using Orai to address those four aspects of your delivery can go a long way toward helping you improve, especially if you struggle in these areas.  However, you’ll still need to craft your speech, which includes creating an attention-getting introduction, compelling stories and support, a clear and strategic organization, etc.  And there are other matters of delivery such as eye contact, movement and posture which Orai is unable to address.

Some features are rather subjective.

Apparently I’m too enthusiastic, lol.

Apparently I’m too enthusiastic, lol.

For example, in a few instances I got rated as being “a little too energetic.”  I had to laugh because I’m definitely very expressive. From my perspective, a high “energy” rating can mean you’re interesting to listen to because you vary your pitch a lot, or, as per Orai, it can make you seem nervous or inauthentic.  It also occasionally rated me as speaking too fast, but I’m quite intentional about my speed and know that in some instances, faster is better. Finally, my word clarity never got about 90%. Considering I’m a native speaker and have excellent enunciation (pretty necessary in my line of work, lol), I’m not sure why it wasn’t higher.  

In any case, Orai draws your attention to potentially troublesome aspects so that you can then consider and evaluate this feedback and/ or get other “human” feedback.

The bottom line?

I will definitely be recommending Orai to my clients.  (And in the spirit of full disclosure, I receive nothing for these recommendations.)  You can go to download the app and get started. Or go here to listen to the full interview.  

And don’t forget to share this post if you found it helpful!

Trauma, Trafficking and Public Speaking with Russell Strand
Nancy Hardcastle and Russell Strand for

Nancy Hardcastle and Russell Strand for

Russell Strand is easily one of the best public speakers I've ever seen. And he's not simply an expert in the field of human trafficking; he has also played a significant role in creating and educating law enforcement and service providers about better ways to respond to victims. He provides some fascinating insight on effective presentations, trauma and consent, but **TRIGGER WARNING** we do discuss specific examples of sexual assault, rape and child abuse in this interview.

Russell begins by explaining why he sometimes jumps on top of a table while he’s giving a presentation (no joke!), and his perspective on what it takes to be a truly effective public speaker.

Then we move on to a discussion of the complexities of sex trafficking and related issues, including:

  • the role that trauma plays in the lives of victims.  Russell explains why the general public often has difficulty understanding the behavior of a person being trafficked, and why they are often seen as a criminal rather than a victim.

  • rape culture, and how various aspects of our culture, such as certain music and movies, as well as pornography, have the effect of desensitizing us to dangerous and violent behavior.  

  • consent, how it’s defined and how the criminal justice system addresses this issue. We talk about why this is another complex issue, especially in long term child abuse and human trafficking cases.

Returning to the topic of public speaking, Russell talks about creating and delivering presentations as an “an art form”.  He also describes how he connects with and reads his audience and then responds accordingly.

Russell concludes with a strong call to action, encouraging us to find new ways of approaching these issues to bring about true change, and the importance of being transparent in the process.

If you’d like to know more about Russell’s work or get in touch with him for a presentation or otherwise, he can be reached at:



  • on Facebook at @strandsquared

Human Trafficking Expert Talks About What It's Like to Be a Speaker/Trainer
K. D. Roche

K. D. Roche

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If you’ve ever wondered what life as a public speaker is actually like, here’s your chance to learn more about it. In this interview, go behind the scenes with K.D. Roche as they travel across the U.S., speaking and training organizations about human trafficking. It's a good place to start if you'd like to give presentations that teach others about sex trafficking. Have a listen!

I heard K.D. speak a few years ago at a conference.  I was immediately impressed with their ability to connect with the audience, keep us engaged (i.e., laughing) and educate us, all at the same time! When I recently learned that K.D. is now working full time giving presentations, I knew that I wanted to talk to them about it in more depth.

In this interview, K.D. discusses how they got started, what a typical speaking gig looks like, how to speak on difficult topics, sex trafficking, a hilarious “most embarrassing moment” and more.  They also give advice to those who would like to begin doing public speaking themselves.

Go here to watch the interview.  And, if you’d like to start working on a presentation of your own, feel free to schedule a session with me here.

Craft a Speech That Brings Down the House With Oprah Winfrey!
Oprah Winfrey receiving the Cecil B. deMille award

Oprah Winfrey receiving the Cecil B. deMille award

This is the speech that Oprah Winfrey delivered at the 2018 Golden Globes, and it brought down the house.  There’s a lot to be learned here, and in this post I reveal the key strategies and techniques Oprah used that add up to nine minutes of presentation genius.  And, I keep it simple, so you’ll understand how you can incorporate these 5 keys into your own speeches. (I’ve noted them in upper case throughout.)

Oprah opens with a STORY.  (Of course she does, lol. It’s one of the most powerful tools you’ve got, as I explain here and here.)  But listen to it carefully.  She doesn't just run through a series of events; instead, she uses precise, descriptive language to paint a picture.  She’s not just watching t.v. - It’s 1964, and she’s a little girl sitting on the linoleum floor watching Sidney Poitier rise to receive his Academy Award.  Portier isn’t just dressed up - he’s “elegant”, and he’s wearing a white tie. Then her mother arrives, “bone-tired from cleaning other people’s houses.” With all of these vivid details, we understand on a deeper level what it meant to her to see Poitier become the first black man to win an Academy for best actor.

Then she uses a “CIRCLING BACK” technique, in which she notes how, on this particular night, little girls are watching again, but now these girls are watching Oprah herself be the first black woman to receive the Cecil B. deMille award.  Circling back is often used in conclusions, when the speaker brings us back to something that was said at the beginning. It’s a great way to tie everything together and finish it off with flair. I found it intriguing that Oprah uses this technique early on.   In any case, the juxtaposition of these two”firsts” is powerful. Oprah gets a little emotional, and the audience gets a little excited.  Audience 1

Next, she moves to EXPRESSING GRATITUDE to those who supported her.  She keeps the list short and moves through it quickly, which saves us from becoming bored, and then transitions ever so smoothly to not just thanking the press, but thanking them for their efforts during these “complicated times.” Onto this backdrop she underscores her main point, that “speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”

Before I go on, I want to point out a few things.  First, gratitude is a theme to which Oprah returns again and again.  The end result is that her AUDIENCE FEELS ACKNOWLEDGED AND VALUED, and she has subtly made them, and not herself, the star of the hour.  Making your audience the star is a basic principle of public speaking that I mention in this blog post.  

Second, her TRANSITIONS are worth a second look.  She picks up a thread from what she was talking about and ties it seamlessly to a thread from what she is going to talk about next.  In the instance above, she moves from all the other thank-yous to thanking the press, which she then links to our current political climate.  Oprah audience 2

Orpah expresses GRATITUDE for all the women “who have endured” a long list of injustices, and TRANSITIONS (once again, seamlessly) into the STORY of Recy Taylor.  I point out the transition again because seamless transitions like these are what help your audience follow along without having to think twice about what you said.

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She uses the STORY of Recy Taylor to create an emotional foundation upon which expresses the dismal status quo, in which “women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men.”  She then describes the better future, in which she emphasizes, “their time is up.” This short rallying cry brings the audience to their feet, cheering.

Orpah returns to the past and its dismal status quo, referencing Recy Taylor and Rosa Parks once again.  Then she swings back to the better future which the #MeToo movement promises, and discusses how those who overcome are those who maintain hope.  This moving back and forth between the old way and the new way is a specific SPEECH STRUCTURE revealed by Nancy Duarte and which you can read more about here.  

In her closing, she CIRCLES BACK to the little girls who are watching, and offers them the hope of a better future, continuing with the SPEECH STRUCTURE I mentioned above.  Once again, Oprah ACKNOWLEDGES those in the audience, men and women alike, who have fought and continue to fight to bring this new day into reality. At this point people are practically dancing in the aisles.  I love seeing smiles on their faces as they realize how brilliantly she has nailed it. Audience 3

The 5 takeaways for YOU are pretty straightforward.

1.  Start with a vivid story, and throw in additional mini-stories to create more impact and help your audience remember your message.

2.  Circle back at some point to something you said at the beginning.  This creates the satisfying sensation that all of the pieces of your speech not only have value, but belong together.  If you can circle back at the end, all the better.

3.  Make your audience, or at least others (and not yourself) the star of the show by expressing gratitude and acknowledging their accomplishments.

4.  Use well-constructed transitions to connect your points, finding a common idea that you can use as a link from what you were talking about to what you’re going to discuss next.

5.  Consider using Nancy Duarte’s speech structure if what you want is a truly inspirational speech.

If you found this post inspiring, hit one of the buttons below so that your friends can be inspired, too!

If you’d like help creating your own inspirational speech, go here. I’d love to help you make a difference!

Learn About the Transformative Power of Stories

Find out how one woman uses stories to help people see themselves and others in a new light.  In this interview, I talk with Yvette Angelique Hyater-Adams, a "storytelling facilitator", poet, and writer.  We cover discrimination, the women's movement, race, power, "unpacking self" , hair, and what all of that has to do with telling a story.

I recently met Yvette at the See the Girl summit in Jacksonville, Florida.  I participated in one of her workshops and then had the pleasure of sitting next to her at dinner.  We immediately launched into an intense conversation as we shared tomatoes and french fries. We found that we have a lot in common, particularly our love of words and stories.

I was so impressed not only with Yvette and her work but also with her wide range of experience that I wanted to introduce her to my readers.  If you, too, are a lover of stories and are interested in how you might harness their power to transform the world around you, I encourage you to have a listen.   You can also learn more about Yvette here. If you have a story you’d like help with, go here.

And don’t forget share with another story loving world changer!

Yvette Angelique Hyater-Adams

Yvette Angelique Hyater-Adams

How to Use Your Passion to Fight Human Trafficking
Lauren Trantham of

Lauren Trantham of

Yes, you really can do something you love and fight human trafficking at the same time.  This blog post provides a real-life example you won’t forget. Keep reading (and watching) to find out how one woman started with a broken heart and ended up on a cross country motorcycle ride that helped raise nearly $60,000.

In November 2018 I interviewed Lauren Trantham of Ride My Road, an organization that uses motorcycle events to increase awareness of sex trafficking and also raise money for anti-trafficking organizations.

She told me how she was inspired to get on her motorcycle and go on an epic road trip across the country after the devastating loss of her marriage.  We talked about the sex trafficking survivors that she photographed along the way, and how they helped her in the healing process.

We also talked about the work she’s been doing since that trip and what’s on the horizon.

I’m working on getting our interview uploaded to YouTube. In the meantime, you can watch it here .  When you’re done, ask yourself:  What is MY passion, and how can I do what I love and fight human trafficking at the same time?  If you’re not sure, hop on my Facebook page, @standupbegreat, and ask. I’m sure the community can help you come up with something!

If you know a friend who wants to join the movement, hit one of the share buttons. It’s going to take a whole lotta people to overcome this problem, but we can do it!

10 Ways to Practice Your Presentation Like a Pro

If you want to be truly prepared to deliver your speech, you need to do more than simply run through your notecards or  Powerpoint slides five or six times.  More times will help, but it still won’t get you there. To nail your speech, you need to seriously challenge yourself while you practice. Here’s how.

A Couple of Important Notes Before We Start:  

London Breed speaking at Day Without a Woman San Francisco

London Breed speaking at Day Without a Woman San Francisco

These suggestions will work great if you’re planning to speak from limited bullet points, from short cues taken from slides, or completely from memory.  On the other hand, if you’re planning to read your entire presentation word for word off of notecards or slides, I suggest you read this post and get back to me.

Also, I’m assuming that you’ve already made sure your content is clear and organized well.  You want to do as much of that work as possible beforeyou start practicing

Here we go then!   Start with the first suggestion, move on to the second, and work your way down the list.

1. Say the whole thing in front of the mirror.

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The mirror is almost as unforgiving as the camera, and acts as a kind of editor, so it’s good to practice this way at the beginning.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve carefully prepared a section of a story or speech and when I stand in front of the mirror and deliver it, all I can say to myself is, “What were you THINKING?!”  

It’s like the mirror calls us out.  Any false sentiment or fakey gesture and the mirror shouts “STOP THAT RIGHT NOW!  NOT ON MY WATCH!” Please note - this is necessary and good work, and will help you edit your speech. If it looks, feels or sounds awkward to you, it’s probably gonna seem like that to your audience as well.  Tweak or cut until it feels good. More than once I’ve had to rework something between 5 and 10 times before I felt comfortable delivering it. But that reworking makes all the difference when you’re on stage, because it eliminates the second guessing that happens when something feels off.

I know that sometimes in this process you’re going to have that sinking “back to the drawing board” feeling.   Just be glad that the mirror is essentially telling you here, in the privacy of your own home, that you’ve got spinach in your teeth, vs. letting you walk out on stage like that.  

Now that you’ve gotten any glaring content problems out of the way, you’re ready to move on to #2.

2.  Deliver your speech in a “larger than life” style. 

By “larger than life”, I mean, make it BIG.  Talk too loud. Vary your volume from high to low and back again.  Exaggerate your pronunciation. Gesture hugely and ridiculously. Don’t stand in one place - take up a lot of space on the stage, or in your bathroom - wherever it is  you’re practicing. Pause dramatically and stare at the audience inappropriately. 

Here’s what’s going to happen.  First, it will help you relax, because it’s so silly.  You’re gonna laugh at yourself. If you didn’t laugh, go back, stand in front of a mirror, and do it bigger.  Don’t stop until you crack yourself up. Second, important little light bulbs will go on. You’ll discover that you actually like saying just that one phrase in an almost “over the top” way.  Or maybe you realize just how effective bringing the volume way down can be. You might notice that moving more makes you feel less nervous. Third, you’ll find that your range of expression is much broader than what you’ve likely experienced, and now you can pull from that range, adapting and incorporating certain elements into your speech.

3. Practice your speech while doing another task.

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Washing the dishes is my preferred task of choice.  In the shower is a little easier. (If you have to wrap a little note card in plastic wrap and set in in the shower caddy, go for it.)  Walking somewhere also works well. The point is, you’re trying to get distracted. Because guess what? When you stand up to speak, you’re gonna be distracted.  (In fact, I wrote a whole blog post about dealing with distractions which you can read here.) And you want to have trained yourself to power through those distractions.  

In the beginning this is going to be hard.  But keep working at it, and after awhile you’ll notice that you’re able to simply tune out everything except your presentation.  (Just don’t, you know, stab yourself with a fork or forget to wash your armpits.)

4. Recite your talk as though something went awry.

Imagine that everything started out just fine, and then 4 minutes in, your outline spontaneously combusts and you don’t have another copy.  The show must go on - what’re you gonna do? Or imagine that at slide #13 the computer crashes and you can’t just stand there waiting for the tech ambulance to come.  Now what?

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Insert these kind of worst case scenarios at various points in your speech and figure out how you would recover.  It might mean you need to memorize your outline so you can continue to the next point. Or that you have a story prepared to make up for the lack of slides.  There’s no one answer here, obviously. The point is, you’ll be really glad that you thought through these kinds of scenarios BEFORE they happened. And so will your audience.

5.  Give your speech as fast as you can.

Saying your speech as fast as you can is simply a way to get the content firmly rooted in your brain.  Repeat this exercise until you can do the whole thing at top speed. It’s very effective at showing you what areas you need to be more familiar with.  It’s kind of fun, too.

Needless to say, you don’t ever want to actually deliver it this way.   Ever.

6.  Start your speech at random points and move forward.

Don’t always start from the beginning - that’s too easy, lol.  Start at a sub-point or example and go from there. Do it again starting from somewhere else.  And again. This is simply another way of becoming so familiar with your content that you don’t need the usual order to help you.

If you’re using a PowerPoint type program, this is also a great opportunity to learn how to jump quickly to different points in your slide deck.

7.  Begin, stop, do something else, and start again.

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This method is a little like #6, but instead of jumping around, you start at the beginning and take pauses along the way. So for example, if you’re at work, start your speech, reply to an email, resume for a couple of minutes, make a quick phone call, resume again and repeat until you finish your speech.   If you’re at home, start, throw out the trash, resume for a few minutes, do a few yoga poses or play with your dog, and continue. Task switching is a different kind of distraction that presents a great challenge.

8.  Practice while listening to the radio and doing something else.

For example, turn on the radio, start cooking dinner and get reciting.  If you can move through your presentation with grace and ease while all of this is going on, good job, ‘cause you’re seriously rockin’ it. I’ve found that favorite songs make this already hard task even harder, ‘cause who doesn’t want to sing along?

9.  Film yourself giving your presentation.

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I’ve saved this technique for the end for two reasons.  First, most people dread being filmed, but by now, you should be feeling much, much more confident about your material.  Second, since (hopefully) you’re no longer focused on what you’re going to say, you can focus on how you’ll say it.  Think about being present in your body, connecting with your (imagined) audience, and delivering your talk in a way that feels authentic and powerful.  (And yes, that’s a whole other post….)
Now watch the video.  If wine has to be involved at this point, I won’t judge you.  After you’ve gotten over the initial shock, make a list of what you consider glaring problems.  Now go back through and circle the ones you have control over. Think about possible solutions. Try them out, make adjustments, and record yourself again.  Repeat a few times and you’ll see improvement, I promise.

You can also hire a speech coach to help you evaluate yourself if you find this step too difficult.  Having this recording of yourself is an excellent place to start.

10.  Stage a dress rehearsal.

Ask a few trusted friends and/or family members to watch you give your presentation.  There’s nothing like a real audience to light your fire or scare the living daylights out of you, depending on how much you enjoy public speaking.  Either way, you want to get used to that feeling of people staring at you. And laughing at your jokes. And smiling. And clapping. 

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And make this a full dress rehearsal, including shoes and jewelry, because what you wear can actually make a huge difference.  While it’s important to look professional (you’ll want to find out in advance what level of formality is appropriate for the occasion), it’s equally important to FEEL GOOD in what you’re wearing.  Feeling happy about what you’re wearing leads to more confidence onstage. So don’t leave this decision to the last minute.

If you’ve worked your way through all of these steps, congratulations!  Be proud of yourself, because this kind of serious, intense practice will make a huge difference in your final presentation. Go here to see what it looks like when you’ve practiced like a pro.

If you need some more help and you want to start practicing with a pro, go here. If you’ve already filmed yourself and you’d like some feedback, go here. And if you know of another public speaker who could use a little practice (lol), hit one of the share buttons.


Challenge Your Speaking Skills With an Open Mic

If you’re a speaker with a lot of experience but would like to challenge yourself, sign up for an open mic today!  It’s some of the scariest, most educational fun you’ll ever have!  Today I’m going to tell you all about my own personal strange and tricky open mic storytelling experiences, and the take-aways I gained along the way.And before you bail because this sounds too scary, consider this: the stakes are low.  Even if you crash and burn as a storyteller, unless your story is broadcast all over YouTube, it’s unlikely that your performance is going to negatively affect your professional life.  (If in doubt, don’t invite important clients, or, um, your boss.)  Yeah, you might embarrass yourself a little.  But think about it -  pride is a pretty small price to pay for mad skills.


One of my more recent distracting experiences involved an opera singer.  You don’t really expect to hear opera being belted out in downtown Puerto Vallarta, but if you were expecting it, it just wouldn’t be the same, now would it?

Here’s what happened.  I was telling an original story in a coffee shop located on a main street.  I was already having to deal with the waitress taking orders and coffee cups clanging, but it was fine. I’d found my groove and I could see by their expressions that the audience was with me.  And then from somewhere across the street, it started. An opera singer. In the split second when I realized what was happening, I thought about pausing. I thought about saying something about the elephant, I mean, opera singer, in the room.  But I was at a crucial point in the story. I didn’t want to lose momentum. Plus, she wasn’t that loud.  So I raised my voice just a tad and kept going. Gradually, her voice became louder.  Not to be outdone, I spoke louder, too. Our voices competed for what seemed like forever, and somewhere in the back of my mind I wondered if a glass was going to break.  Somehow, the audience was still with me, and finally, she finished the song! A few minutes later, I finished my story.

I thought about the incident later.  Would it have been better to stop? Did I do the right thing by forging ahead?  I decided that while it was a huge distraction indeed, the audience could hear me and more importantly, they were still paying attention.  Plus, it would have been very difficult to recover and help the audience “re-enter” the story if I had stopped. So it felt like I did the right thing.  But this tale isn’t over yet….


A few months later I was telling another story at the same place.  I kept thinking about that opera singer. I couldn’t help but wonder if, by some bizarre cosmic coincidence, it was going to happen again.  I even told my audience before I started how funny it had been, and that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Then, in the middle of my story, a remarkably loud bus passed by.  It was so loud, in fact, that I was forced to pause at a point in my story where I had just said “Weeks passed....” And so, after the bus went by and we could hear again, I gestured to the street and said “Busses passed.”  Everyone chuckled, and I continued.

I was glad that this time, even though I had no choice but to pause, I was able to be real, address the issue and move on.  Sometimes, as in this case, you might as well go ahead and acknowledge the elephant, because it’s essentially stepping on everyone’s toes.  It’s a judgment call, though, and you’ll get better at making these calls the more opportunities you have.


#1.  Sh*t happens. And since you just never know when something weird and completely out of your control is going to happen, do your best to roll with it.  If you don’t make it a big deal, neither will your audience.

#2.  Sometimes rolling with the weirdness means pausing, or stopping altogether, and calling it out.  Occasionally, if you pretend the weirdness isn’t happening, that just makes it weirder. If you can, make a joke.  Say that somehow your worst nightmares left out this scenario. Anything to remind your audience that they are in good hands and it’s all gonna be o.k.

In addition to busses and opera singers, people who scowl can also be very distracting. While they’re certainly not unique to open mic audiences, open mics are a great way to face the frowners and develop thicker skin as a public speaker.


A while back I told a story at an open mic while I was traveling.  This particular event is held in a theatre and feels like a proper show in which people are seated, the lights go down, and the artist steps on stage.  This is perhaps the easiest type of setting because generally speaking, distractions are limited and you have full visibility of your audience. But I still had to deal with the “frowners” in the audience.  There was one couple sitting in the front row, and the lighting was such that I could clearly see them absolutely scowling at me.

For a split second I was disconcerted.   Wow, they must really hate this story. Don’t they realize the negative energy they’re putting off?  Maybe they’re just concentrating...? Or maybe they’re thinking of something completely different and it has nothing to do with me at all?  After several failed attempts to “woo” them with energy and eye contact, I decided to move on and focus my attention on more receptive members of the audience.   


I can still clearly remember one woman from the audience in particular.  She seemed to never take her eyes off me and smiled and laughed with abandon.  I stopped looking at the scowly couple altogether, which made it easy for me to focus not only on this woman but also on others who appeared to be happy to go along for the ride.  The ironic thing about that night is that I was able to be present in my story and on the stage in a way that I had never experienced before.


#1  If you can’t get people on board, move on.  I did my best to draw that couple into the story, but when they didn’t budge, I stopped trying.  It’s better to channel your energy where it’s being received than where it’s being rejected.

#2 Don’t take frowners personally.  Maybe they were constipated.  Some motivational speakers say that you should never take anything personally, ever.  It’s something to think about.

Sometimes, though, there is no happy ending.  In fact, sometimes your audience actually gets up and walks out.  Earlier this year, I was telling that same story at another open mic here in Puerto Vallarta.  This venue is very casual - although there is a stage, there’s also a bar just next to the stage, people are being served food and drinks during the show, etc.  The logistics are also not great for a performer - the room is a long rectangle and includes seating on an outdoor patio. When I got on stage I immediately realized that I was going to need to have a “wide gaze” in terms of eye contact in order to not miss audience members sitting on the periphery.


As it turned out, that was the least of my challenges.  Just a few minutes into my story a couple of men at the bar started talking in very loud voices, so loud that I wasn’t able to hold the attention of everyone in the audience and people started looking in their direction.  Finally the owner of the theatre got up and asked them to keep it down. I avoided looking in their direction as all of this was transpiring so as not to be (even more) distracted.

While I continued, I could hear the waiters just to my left talking quietly to one other.  I doubled down on my concentration, focusing on a few couples who rewarded me with smiles and laughter.  Then one of these couples got up to leave. That’s odd, I thought. They looked like they were really enjoying themselves.  Then a few more people got up to leave. Wow, I thought - I have really misread this crowd. At the same time, more people wandered in, and one new couple in front of me didn’t even seem to be aware that I was performing.  I forged ahead, determined to deliver a good story no matter what, shifting and re-shifting my focus to whomever was obviously listening at the moment. By the time I had finished and stepped off stage, the audience had shrunk considerably.  I was pretty sure it wasn’t because I had given a bad performance, so I was confused, and trying not to take it personally.  (See previous take-away.)

The MC said I was a pro for not missing a beat with all of that commotion. While I appreciated his kind words, I mostly just wanted to know what had happened.  Later, privately, he explained to me that a lot of people had come to the bar for a drink before the concert downstairs began. When it was approaching time for the concert to begin, they had to leave.  He said one couple even asked him to be sure to tell me that they really enjoyed my story but needed to take their seats downstairs.

I learned a lot that night.  Here are my take-aways:

#1 - Don’t assume you suck just because people are walking out.  Boy, was I glad I hadn’t jumped to any conclusions.

#2 - The folks who stay from start to finish deserve your all, so bring it, even if there’s only one person left.  In fact, I was so grateful to that handful of people who stayed until the end that I was super motivated to deliver, just for them.

#3 - Fall in love as many times as you have to during a performance.  Here’s what I mean. In a situation with a lot of distractions, find those people who are smiling and clearly interested and pour your energy into them.  Then, if they get up and walk out, leaving you like a jilted lover on the stage, shamelessly rebound as fast as you can, finding someone else to love. If it happens again, as it did to me that night, rebound again!  The important thing is to not dwell on the who or why, but stay present in your story and with your (remaining) audience.

If you’re a speaker with a lot of experience but would like to challenge yourself, sign up for an open mic today! It’s some of the scariest, most educational fun you’ll ever have! Today I’m going to tell you all about my own personal strange and tricky open mic storytelling experiences, and the take-aways I gained along the way.#speech #publicspeaking #openmic #speechcoach #storytelling #publicspeakingtips #bodylanguage #learnpublicspeaking #ideasforpublicspeaking

Having said all that, would you still believe me if I told you that open mics are fun?!  Everyone is trying their best  and cracking up and forgetting and recovering all at the same time, and audiences are generally quite supportive and forgiving.  If you like telling stories, you've gotta do it! It’ll put you under a different kind of pressure that you might not be used to as a public speaker, and you’ll get even better than you already are.

And before you go, hit one of the share buttons ...after all, open mics are always more fun with friends.  :)

Top 10 Reasons You Need a Speech Coach
Me, Nancy Hardcastle, hosting an open mic.

Me, Nancy Hardcastle, hosting an open mic.

You have passion, you have expertise and you have experience - why whould you hire a speech coach?  I’ve got ten wonderful reasons for you, but they all boil down to this - if you hope to be the kind of speaker that makes your audience want to cry and cheer and congratulate you all at the same time, you can!  It’s just going to be nearly impossible to do it by yourself. To find out why, let the countdown begin....


10.  Practicing in front of your best friend (or significant other, grandmother, etc.) will only get you so far.

Generally speaking, practicing in front of anybody is helpful, but if you’re expecting your friends or family to be able to give you the constructive criticism that you need and help you fix the problems they pointed out, that’s not realistic.  It’s kind of like expecting your gardener to be able to look at your hair, give you style feedback, and also trim it up real quick.  Besides that, those loved ones of yours are probably gonna go easy on you because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.

9. While watching yourself on video is both brave and excruciating, it won’t help you know if you’re explaining your topic clearly.

You know how when you get a “For Dummies” book, you feel like an even dumber dummy because you can’t understand it?  The problem is that these writers are so immersed in their field that they can’t imagine what starting from zero really looks like.  In the same way, it’s likely that you’re so familiar with your material that you don’t realize all the assumptions you’re making about what your audience does and doesn’t know.  In their book Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath call this the “Curse of Knowledge.” They write:

Once we know something, we find it hard to imagine what it was like not to know it. Our knowledge has “cursed” us. And it becomes difficult for us to share our knowledge with others, because we can’t readily re-create our listerners’ state of mind.

To overcome this “curse” and to make sure you’re making yourself understood, you need someone else to give you feedback. (And if you’re serious about creating radical change, I highly recommend this book.)

You have passion, you have expertise and you have experience - why should you hire a speech coach? I’ve got ten wonderful reasons for you, but they all boil down to this - if you hope to be the kind of speaker that makes your audience want to cry and cheer and congratulate you all at the same time, you can. It’s just going to be nearly impossible to do it by yourself. Keep reading to find out why. #Powerpoint #keynote #speechcoach #ipresentation

8. Even if you’re a “natural” on stage, everyone needs input on delivery.  

There’s a popular misconception that speech coaches want to turn you into something that you’re not, including forcing you to use weird, awkward gestures that make people embarrassed for you.  That’s not the kind of delivery input I mean.

I’m talking about working on the deliberate use of elements such as pauses, eye contact and body language to strengthen the overall impact of your presentation.  You’ll still be 100% “you” - you’ll just be the enhanced version best suited for public speaking.


7.  You need targeted practice.  

A  good coach will make you practice in ways that not only challenge you, but prepare you for all manner of catastrophes, including but certainly not limited to crashed computers, lost files, broken glasses and wardrobe malfunctions.  You’ll prepare for normal situations as well, because sometimes things actually do go as planned.

6.  Moving from “great idea” to “great speech” can be very challenging if you don’t have extensive experience as a speaker and/or writer.  

Knowing how to develop your ideas in a way that doesn’t bore everyone to tears is a learned skill.  So is crafting a compelling story that will both engage and move your audience toward the desired outcome.  You need these skills and more to create powerful content.


5.  You probably forgot about your audience.

It’s easy to forget that you aren’t the most important element of your presentation - the audience is.  Think about it - without them, where would you be? So before you ever step on stage, you’ll need to make sure you’re considering your audience and the specifics of your presentation that are going to speak to them as individuals (no pun intended).

4.  Persuading an audience requires a strategy.


This strategy will include several tactics.  You can probably find some good suggestions on how to be persuasive, and perhaps even come up with a decent strategy on your own.  But if this is an important talk and the stakes are high, do you really want to run the risk of not being as persuasive as you could be?  I mean, I like to bake, but if one of my kids decides to get married, we’ll be hiring a professional. Just sayin’.

3.  It’s likely that you haven’t organized your speech in the most effective way possible.

If you’re starting by introducing yourself and explaining what you and/or your organization does, I rest my case.  That’s not a good way to start. Yes, that introduction and explanation belongs somewhere...just not in your opening remarks.  Good organization helps your audience focus on the material because you 1) make it clear from the beginning where you’re taking them 2) help them navigate along the way  3) demonstrate from the get-go that it’s gonna to be a helluva ride.

2.  Your slides could be better.

Building a PowerPoint slide deck (or Prezi, Keynote, etc.) includes so many important components that I’ve written a  30+ page slide guide! Fortunately, if you’ve been working hard on deleting unnecessary slides, editing down long bullet pointed lists and finding compelling images, you’re likely well ahead of the game.  

Nevertheless, you need an objective eye to tell you what’s confusing, redundant, and (hopefully not, but quite possibly) just plain ugly.  It's like hiring an editor.  No writer worth their salt would consider putting something in print without having an editor look over it first.

And finally....


1.  You’re boring.

Okay, okay, you’re probably not boring the whole time.  But I would bet that at least part of your presentation is boring.  Why? Because most talks are. And most speakers do what everyone else does.  Unfortunately, passion, expertise and experience are not enough to overcome this problem.  You’ve got to do something different!

Lucky for you, there’s hope.

Obviously, you can hire me. I’d love nothing more than to help you blow your audience out of the water with an amazing presentation.  It’s the best part of my job. And if you can’t hire me because, I don’t know, you don’t have an internet connection, you can start by addressing the ten issues above, and you’ll be well on your way.

And just one more thing...if you’re afraid of harsh criticism, I get it.  I hate mean. That’s why I work extra hard at helping you relax and find your groove.  In fact, it’s one of my specialties.

I will definitely point out where you need to improve, and show you how.  But I’ll also tell you all the things you’re doing well, and I’ll encourage you along the way.  

So go here, and let’s get started!  Your audience will thank you for it.

Overcoming Stigma - Learning From Intimate Partner Violence

In spite of having endured tremendously difficult situations, those who have experienced sex trafficking and/or intimate partner violence often face a stigma.  To help shed some light on overcoming this stigma, as well as on other issues that affect both survivors of intimate partner violence and sex trafficking, I interviewed Dr. Christine Murray, the co-founder of "See the Triumph".  She does an excellent job of clarifying these topics and showing us why there's plenty of hope for survivors.    You can read a transcript of the entire interview below, or skim the headings for specific sub-topics.

Dr. Christine Murray, the co-founder of See The Triumph, an organization that works to end the stigma surrounding intimate partner violence.

Dr. Christine Murray, the co-founder of See The Triumph, an organization that works to end the stigma surrounding intimate partner violence.

Meet Dr. Christine Murray

Nancy:  Hi everyone!  This is Nancy Hardcastle.   I’m a speech coach, and I use my work to help public speakers level up their skills while at the same time fighting human trafficking.  It’s interview day here at my blog, and today, I’m interviewing Dr. Christine Murray.

I recently read a blog post that she wrote called "Linking Services for Survivors of Domestic Violence and Survivors of Trafficking" and I was fascinated  when she pointed out that the dynamic that happens in a relationship where there is intimate partner violence is very similar to the dynamic that happens between a sex trafficker and the person being trafficked.

I wanted to learn more about what was going on there, and also about the implications that Dr. Murray’s research has for those who are working to support sex trafficking survivors. So that’s what we’ll be talking about today.

Hi Christine! Thanks so much for joining me.

Christine: Hi!  You’re welcome.  And thanks for having me here.

Nancy: So you’re a woman of many hats.  You’re a professor at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, where you coordinate the Couple and Family Counseling Track.

You’re the co-founder of See the Triumph, an organization that works to help survivors of intimate partner violence not only overcome the stigma of that violence, but also to go on to lead healthy lives.

And, you’re currently the director of the Guildford County Healthy Relationships Initiative.

Anything else you’d like to add to that impressive list?

Christine:  I think that pretty well covers my work.  I guess I always have to add that I’m a mom and so I think that definitely, being a mom and my own family really drives my passion behind a lot of my work.

Nancy:  Do you have daughters?

Christine:  I have two sons, actually. 

Nancy:  It's an area that they need to learn about, right?

Christine:  Yes, absolutely.

What is Intimate Parnter Violence? (IPV)

Nancy:  So before we go on I’m wondering if you could give us a definition of intimate partner violence.  I think it’s pretty self-explanatory but I just want to make sure we’re all on the same page since that’s the basis of so much of your work.

Christine: Sure.  So, when I use the term intimate partner violence, what I am usually referring to is any form of violence or abuse in a current or former intimate relationship, and so this can include physical violence, emotional or psychological, sexual, financial, economic abuse, so virtually any sort of power and control wielding tactics that one partner uses against the other.  So, I usually think of intimate partner violence as an umbrella term that could define a lot of different types of abusive relationships in a current or former couple relationship.

What is "See the Triumph" and How Did It Start?

Nancy: And so I read that when you started doing research in this area, you wrote that the survivor stories that you heard during your research  - they were the impetus behind you starting “See the Triumph”, and I’m wondering what was it specifically about those stories that caused you want to start this org and could you perhaps give us an example.

Christine: Sure.  So we started our research - I co-founded “See the Triumph” with Allison Crowe, who’s a professor in the counseling department at East Carolina University - and she and I started the research by doing interviews, face to face interviews with survivors.  We were interested in learning if the concept of stigma applied to their experiences, and overwhelmingly we heard that it did. And from them, as well as as we’ve expanded our research into more surveys, which have included 100’s of survivors over the past several years, one of the things that we hear so often from survivors is that they say “I’m participating in this research and I’m sharing my story with you in the hopes that it can help somebody else."  


And so we knew that we needed to do more than what is typically done with research, which is publish it in a journal article and never think about it again.  So that’s where we got the idea for “See the Triumph”, which really started as a social media campaign, in large part to disseminate these stories and share them, but over the past 5 1/2 years in which we’ve existed, so getting close to our 6tyear anniversary on January 1, it’s really grown into a community for survivors, and also as a source for us to be able to develop a lot of different resources for survivors themselves as well as organizations that work with them. 

So I’ll share real briefly one of the stories because you asked for one specific exampe.  Actually the name “See The Triumph” comes from one of the stories and one of the interviews that I did with a woman that came into my office and was sharing about her stories.  One of the last things that I asked her was, I said, well what would you like others to know about your experiences of past intimate partner violence, or something like that, was how the question was worded.  And she said, “well, I wish what other people would see”, or she said ‘I think what bothers me” - you can read the exact quote on the website, I’m paraphrasing here - but she said “I wish that others could see the triumph in it”.  I think that her meaning was that so often people would look at her experiences and see her perhaps as weak or broken, but they hadn’t seen all she had done to overcome it, and so that really is the whole essence of the meaning behind the “See the Triumph” campaign.  And so even the name of the campaign really stems from the survivor stories and it’s really core to our mission.

Getting Survivor Stories Seen and Heard

Nancy:  So just to recap, at the beginning, the idea was that you didn’t want to have all these stories and essentially not get them out because the survivors themselves were saying -  I want this to be used to help somebody else.

Christine:  That’s right.  And so one of the things is many survivors do go on to tell their stories publicly, and that is sometimes for them a very healing thing, a therapeutic thing for them to do, but there are a lot of reasons why survivors of abuse may not want to share their story publicly.  There may be safety risks, they just may not want to do it for their own personal reasons.  We’ve done some work around survivors stories and speaking and telling their stories, or writing their stories, and we always really believe that it’s important for survivors themselves to choose whether, when, how and to whom they share their stories.  

Telling your story in a public forum certainly is not a prerequisite or requirement for healing from that abuse.   But we do know that for a lot of them, then being able to share it in somewhat of an anonymous format, through the research, becomes part of that experience.  And we’ve heard from many survivors over the years who’ve shared their stories with us that by sharing their story they felt that it was very healing and they felt good, even though it was very hard to revisit those experiences potentially in talking about them, that they felt good about the potential that it could help others.

Nancy:  That’s great.  So in that sense it’s a two-fold really positive thing, because the survivor has the knowledge that they might be helping somebody else, and then of course whoever’s reading it can be helped as well, be encouraged, really.

The Power of Survivor Stories

Christine:  Absolutely.  So we’ve had a lot of survivors who have been guest bloggers or blogging contributors with “See the Triumph” over the years and one of the things that I think survivors themselves can speak with the most authority, let’s say, compared to other people, is, some of the really nuanced aspects of abusive relationships.  For example, we all can think, oh, intimate partner violence might mean hitting or physical violence or sexual violence or things like, you know, calling names, things like that, but what survivors are able to really get at is how different it can look in different situations. 

Just even I think a week or two ago we had a blog post from a survivor writing under a pseudonym who said, who spoke about how hard it was just getting used to sleeping in the bed by herself after she had left.  And so it’s those really subtle pieces that you may not get from a lecture, from an expert researcher about violence, but the stories really capture that, and so I think what’s really become powerful about this campaign is that we have people sharing their stories and then other people can really relate to it.  And hearing that your story isn’t the only one, whether you’re a person sharing it or if you are reading somebody else’s story, can be a really powerful thing, because, especially because we know isolation is such a big part of abusive relationships.

Nancy: Right. So it’s creating the community but then it’s also giving those survivors who are reading hope.  “I’m not the only one” is the message that they’re finding there, which is really powerful.

Christine: Right.  And if I’m not the only one that who experienced this difficult abuse, then I may not also be the only one who can overcome it, and it pulls at both, at all different phases of the recovery process .


Promoting A New View of Survivors

Nancy: So, one of the goals of “See The Triumph”as stated on your website is “To promote a new view of battering survivors," which you kind of addressed this a little bit earlier “that shows them as triumphant, courageous, and resourceful.”  And so I’m wondering how do you do that,  it sounds awesome, it sounds like difficult, too, and then how do you know when you’ve been effective in actually changing the perception of “oh, this poor women” to “wow, what a powerful woman”?

Christine: Well, I think when we can present the stories that really show that, it's the best way to do that. Because we can say “look at all their triumphs, look at how courageous they are,” but when you actually can hear a story about somebody who left - I think we’ve shared a couple stories like this - of somebody who left with their baby in their arms and $5 in their back pocket and that’s all they had, and then they drew upon different sources of support to be able to do that.  You can’t help but put yourself in those shoes and think how much more difficult it is than I think a lot of people assume when you do have that expectation, a lot of times when people might say, well why don’t they just leave,  like it’s easy to leave an abusive relationship.  We’ve also heard a lot about some of the longer term experiences of survivors.  So for example, they may leave the abusive relationship but the abuse may continue in different ways.  One of the things we’ve heard about a lot is abuse through the family court system and through custody cases.  And so even showing that as a way that people can be triumphant, courageous and facing those battles, because even though they’re facing these difficult experiences in the long term aftermath of the abuse, they're facing it and they’re not going back to a situation that’s unhealthy, even if the current situation is really stressful and very, very difficult and fraught with many challenges. 

Preventing Intimate Partner Violence

Nancy: So moving to the prevention piece, based on this research that you’ve done, I’m wondering what are the main ways that you see to prevent intimate partner violence in the first place, and then I’m assuming that the organization Healthy Relationships Initiative plays a piece in that.  Could you speak to that?

Christine: The HRI is locally funded through a local foundation here in my community, but it is an upstream, preventive healthy relationship promotion program.  And a large part of that is ultimately trying to help people have the skills, knowledge, abilities so that ultimately, ideally, one day we can start preventing the violence. So we know in our community and a lot of communities there are a lot of great resources set up to help people once they’ve experienced the abuse.  And that in and of itself can be considered a form of prevention, if you’re helping people get out of abusive relationships so that they’re preventing future violence. 

But, especially as we’ve looked at - and I think this is why I wanted to mention the fact that I’m a mom -  because I look at my own children, and I think, well, I can’t just tell my kids, “Don’t fight with each other”, right? or, when they get old enough, they’re 8 and 11 now, but you know, when they get old enough to be dating, “Don’t be violent, don’t abuse your partner”.  What do I need to teach them instead so that they know how to have healthy relationships, and how to be non-violent, and be a safe, supportive partner, as much as they can.  

So I think that has been somewhat of a missing piece, to some extent, in prevention initiatives, not for the fault of any of the current resources, but I think that there’s been definitely a lack in general of sort of funding across the spectrum for more preventive initiatives to really help people. And especially for people who do grow up in families where they may not see those healthy relationships.  So what they’re learning to be normal, we need to help correct that, so that they can learn healthier behavior, and ultimately learn to prevent the past, or if violence or small lower scale abuse occurs,  that they can get help sooner, before it really escalates into when it where becomes dangerous.

Relearning "Normal"

Nancy:  I read a story in one of your articles about a woman who said several times,  “This is how it was in my family growing up, so I just thought it was normal.”  And then when the man started escalating the violence, she said again “I just thought this is what happens,” and so with this initiative you’re trying to really take some steps back and teach, no, this isn’t normal, this isn’t a good way, and obviously with your sons... I think too, with kids, teaching them to recognize the cultural messages, just pointing out things in movies and music -  look at that, what do you think about that?

Christine: Definitely, and I think that’s where we’ve found a lot of our work locally, a lot of the entrance has been in coming and talking with teenagers, especially.   I think they really do not have a lot of really positive models, of healthy relationships in their media. They’re so infused with things like social media and technology that it’s. . . they face even more challenges in connecting.  They have this world of connection available to them but they’re not necessarily learning to relate with other people, and that becomes difficult then when people enter into dating relationships or eventually into longer term relationships like marriage.  And if they just don’t have the skills to be able to navigate the hard times in relationships, ‘cause hard times are gonna come, and so for people to know what are these red flags, you know, how do we take healthier steps in our relationships, what does that even look like, what does it mean to resolve conflict in a healthy way, and those sorts of things.  

My hope is that that is sort of like the next wave in violence prevention - really swimming a lot more upstream.   Because now a lot more of the prevention is trying to raise awareness, and get people connected to services when they’re already experiencing the violence, which is very important and I hope will continue.   As long as there is violence we need those things, but we  need to also really start to think about how do we start to prevent these things in the first place.

Nancy: How did it get this way -  how did it get this way in the first place and what can we do to change that?

Christine: Yeah.

Why Is Leaving So Hard?

Nancy: So going back to the idea “Well just leave, why doesn’t she just leave?” this was something that struck me when I read your article about the turning points that prompt survivors of intimate partner violence to finally leave.  I was struck by these two things that are quite contrary.  On the one hand, I realized, oh my gosh, it is so complicated and so hard for some of these survivors to leave, and then on the other hand, hearing this phrase in my mind, why didn’t she just leave, and then even more so, if she goes back, oh my gosh, why in the world would you have gone back once you got out, this kind of thing.   I’m just wondering if you could, let’s say that I’m the average person and I don’t know anything about why a woman wouldn’t “just leave.”   Explain to me what’s happening there.

Christine: Yeah, sure.  I’m glad you referenced that research article about the turning points. That’s actually one of my favorite research studies that I’ve done in my whole career so far, because it really touches on that stereotype that it’s easy to leave, or that they don’t want to leave, they want to be abused, as long as they’re staying.   And we just know from all of our work with survivors, that that’s just not true, but what happens gradually over time in an abusive relationship is people become so entrapped in those relationships and their access to their resources becomes really limited and their options. . . it’s like being in between a rock and a hard place, where on the one hand they’re in a really horrible abusive relationship that they don’t feel good about, and then on the other hand they are looking at the, what possible future in leaving that relationship looks like.  

Recovering From Abuse Workbook by See The Triumph

Recovering From Abuse Workbook by See The Triumph

And that’s very difficult too, because maybe they’re not working, or even if they are working, they may not have access to the financial resources.  If there’s children, there may be a threat of custody issues that may come up and lead to a long legal battle, and they might not have the financial resources to fight that battle. They may not have money for housing, they may not have transportation on their own.  They may have been threatened that if they leave their partner says they’ll kill them. 

And so even though I think the assumption often is that they should just leave, but the reality is that it’s very difficult to leave, even a healthy relationship, even if a case of say, divorce, where there’s no real threat of violence.   Just ending a relationship like that can be very difficult, all the emotions that come with that, so then you add on top of that the threat of violence and abuse and it just becomes really very difficult for people.

The Power of Turning Points

Christine: So I think it is important for people to understand that it’s never as easy as just leaving.  The other thing that I think is important to remember, and we’ve heard this from many many survivors who participated in our research, is that by the time their relationship ended, their sense of self-worth was basically down to nothing, because their abuser had just stripped it down.  But what I loved about the turning points article is it did show that there are these moments or there are these experiences that can help people realize or even. . . one of the important things that we noted in there is that it doesn’t automatically translate from the turning point happened and then they left the next day.  Sometimes the turning point happens and then there’s a very long period of planning and developing the resources and kind of strategizing and having a safety plan or working with professionals  or a counselor or an advocate.  But it could be things like having some sort of external intervention like a friend or family member sitting down and saying that they’re concerned. It could be another sort of external situation like the police being called and having some sort of external involvement.   It could be a threat of harm for the children.  For some, I know that it was when the violence became extremely severe, and so they were like, if I don’t leave, my life is gonna be over. 

And so I think what that shows is that it is important for people to express their concerns, be supportive, if you’re a friend or if you’re a family member, that you can make a difference and don’t get frustrated if the person doesn’t up and leave the next moment, because there may be a lot of things for them to work through, but to help understand that.  And often these turning points aren’t just something that happens in an instant, it may be something that occurs over a period of time, whether it’s a few months or a few weeks, or even a few years, where gradually you realize . .  . I was trying to fight to save this relationship for the sake of my children but now I have seen enough over the past couple of years that I’m realizing my children are gonna suffer because of this.  And so I think it is important to note, though, that, just for people in that situation that there often is one or more kind of sign or moment, light bulb moment, whether that’s a quick moment or it’s over an extended period of time where they just finally realize that they need to leave the relationship, but that it may not be easy.

Helping Others To Understand The Difficulty of Leaving

Nancy: Yeah, I’m really glad that you mentioned the idea of just leaving any kind of relationship is hard, because when I think about teaching people about these issues, as a teacher or as a public speaker,  you want to find this point of connection, this point where the person will go “ohhh” because they’ve experienced it.  You’d be hard pressed to find somebody who hasn’t experienced the end of a relationship, and that it’s hard to do that.  And also, I think you’d be hard pressed to find somebody who hasn’t had experience with just having their self-esteem shot, and it may not have been in a relationship, but if a coach, a mean coach, was yelling at them for a semester, or a mean teacher, or whoever it is, a parent,  that’s something else that they can relate to.

And so I just really appreciate that there are these - and that kind of was the point of my question - what are these points that we can reference so that the average person will go “ohhh, right, yes, it is hard,” and obviously,  that’s on the easier end of the spectrum, compared to the kinds of situations that you’re talking about, but nevertheless, it gets people understanding that “oh, it’s not that easy.”

Christine: Well, and I think, another piece that often goes undiscussed about this but is important to note that a lot of times people who are being abused by their partner, they still love them, and most people who are abusive, I believe, I don’t necessarily have hard and fast research to back this up, but I can kind of speak from the hundreds of survivors and you know, themes that we’ve see, most abusers, they don’t abuse one hundred percent of the time.   So it may happen once a month, or it may happen once a week, or once or twice a year, and so then things get better, and then they’re thinking, well maybe they’ve changed, and it’s better.  Honestly, that’s a natural cycle in any couple relationship, to some extent, not the abuse piece of it, but there’s gonna be easier times and there’s gonna be harder times and there’s gonna be times when “wow, this person is so wonderful and everything’s so great”, and then there’s gonna be times when it’s like “gosh, this is really hard, it’s really hard to get along with this person right now.”  

And so I think that’s something that potentially, especially as you’re thinking about people sharing their stories, that’s something that most people could probably connect with and understand, and you didn’t leave your. . . if everybody left a marriage or any romantic dating relationship at the first sign of trouble, there would never be any romantic relationships ever, because that’s just a part of relationships. And sometimes even in very healthy relationships you can have very unhealthy moments, and the difference, I think, between a healthy relationship and one that potentially is abusive is that in a healthy relationship you can correct that, and you can correct course, and both people take responsibility for something they may have done or said, and then they work on it, but in an abusive relationships you just, you don’t have that. 

But even in an abusive relationship, a lot of times things can kind of get smoothed over and people feel better, and especially if there are children involved, the economic dependence at all, where the possibility of leaving just really would mean a substantial change for them.  I think people can connect with that more, because like you’re saying, everybody’s experienced that to some degree, most likely. If you have any experience in a relationship, you have the experience where the person you’re in a relationship with does or says something that’s hurtful and then you have to sort through well, do I stay with this person or not, and nobody’s perfect, and we all do it ourselves, too, right?  None of us are 100% healthy and positive all of the time.  So, I think people can relate to that, too.

I often tell people when I’m teaching, especially if people are really starting to first grapple with these issues, that nobody, really, almost no abusive partner slaps their partner on the first date, right? You know, if they did, the person would almost certainly walk away, even if you have pretty low self esteem, you would get up and walk away, or you would say you don’t want to go out with this person anymore, but that’s not how. . . .  Healthy relationships start pretty much exactly the same as unhealthy and abusive relationships do.   It’s sort of what happens over time and it makes it very difficult within that relationship to see and evaluate what’s going on.

Nancy: Which brings me back to the Healthy Relationships Initiative, because then if people are educated about what does healthy look like, right, then if you see certain behaviors begin, or start to escalate, then you’re aware.

Christine: Yes.  Exactly. And so the more aware somebody is, I believe, of healthy relationships, the more they can start to use that information to evaluate the health of their own relationship.  And definitely be able to identify when things are becoming unhealthy, or worse, unsafe, and that’s when abuse would be entering into the picture.

When Intimate Partner Violence and Sex Trafficking Overlap

Nancy: So moving a little more toward sex trafficking specifically, in the blog post that you wrote that I mentioned at the beginning, “Linking Services for Survivors of Domestic Violence and Survivors of Trafficking” you listed a lot of ways that intimate partner violence and sex trafficking overlap. And, I’m gonna go ahead and list some of these:

  • Power and control dynamics are present.

  • The victim is often isolated from others.

  • The perpetrator limits the victim’s access to financial resources.

  • The perpetrator uses threats and intimidation to gain and maintain control.

  • Multiple forms of violence--including physical, sexual, and emotional--may co-occur.

  • Survivors may be afraid to seek help.

You also mention that there is even a Power and Control Wheel for Sex Trafficking and Labor Trafficking, which is similar to the Power and Control Wheel that is used widely in domestic violence advocacy work.”

I know that when I read this list . . .it could be the exact same list that you would use to describe someone who is in a sex trafficking situation, or even in a labor trafficking situation.  And so my question right now, is, do you think it’s helpful to think of this, these similarities that are going on as a continuum, with domestic violence on one end and trafficking on the other, or is there a better way to think of it, perhaps a different paradigm altogether?

Christine: I think that’s a really interesting question. I would probably frame it as more of a Venn diagram where you sometimes have domestic violence that doesn’t involve any sex trafficking or any sort of trafficking, and then you would have some sex trafficking or any other sort of human trafficking that doesn’t involve any sort of intimate partner violence, but then I think then you have sometimes where they overlap.  And so you may have then. . . I guess it would be difficult to say is this primarily sex trafficking or is it primarily intimate partner violence, because I think every case would be very different, but I that it would be better to really think about it that there are some times where there’s overlap in certain cases and other times where there’s not,

So to me I think that image of the Venn diagram probably helps more, and then we can sort of see, but I do think that as you mentioned that we wrote about in the blog post, that there are a lot of similarities. I think, again, maybe backing away from this idea of a continuum or a spectrum, I would think about it also as, all of these are forms of, whether we call it interpersonal violence, or abuse.  And I would list a lot of other things on there, too, like bullying, sexual assault that may or may not be in the context of an intimate relationship, so, harassment, which again could be part of an intimate relationship or could be not.   So I think there’s all different variations on these abuses of power and control within some sort of interpersonal relationship. And so certainly I think you would see the parallels with sex trafficking if you have some sort of intimate relationship between the people who are involved, the victim and the perpetrator.  But I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s maybe on the same continuum.

When Might Intimate Partner Violence Become Sex Trafficking?

Nancy: So, if we think about that Venn diagram, and let’s say we’re in a circle of intimate partner violence, and then that actually does become the area that overlaps with sex trafficking, I’m wondering, what do you see as possible tipping points which cause intimate partner violence to become sex trafficking.  And obviously, somebody wants drugs, and somebody wants money, right?  For some reason I’m inclined to think that it’s more complicated then that, but I don’t know.

Christine: So at that point we really probably would need to start looking at the perpetrator and the different power and control dynamics that they are using within that relationship.   So if that becomes something that turns into trafficking, if they’re using their partner because they have so much control over them and if they’re using their partner and kind of selling them out for money or what not.  But also, I think that’s an interesting question.  I’m thinking back to one of the participants in our research who we wrote about in our book, I think it was the opening story of the book that we wrote, “Overcoming the Stigma of Intimate Partner Abuse,”and her abuser had some friends over, and they basically gang raped her. So that, I don’t know, is that a form of trafficking?  There may not be any money exchanged, but it certainly was kind of an arrangement of the abuser to bring his friends over.  

So I raise that as an example to say, I think it would be that sort of "tipping point" is the word that you used, around the point at which, to some extent, some of it becomes external to that relationship. So as so much of the intimate partner violence that happens does happen behind closed doors, nobody knows about it, nobody else is involved, but I do think that when you start to see a perpetrator who’s maybe involving other perpetrators, or again, bringing in the financial aspect of that, or other exchanges of whatever, resources, for lack of a better word, are being exchanged there.  But I guess I would certainly be more concerned about it if you had that piece of it, with the perpetrator bringing in other people in whatever regard, so that would seem like a key distinction to me.

Nancy: It makes me think that if the man and the woman initially had a “real”relationship where they actually did love each other, so let’s say it wasn’t somebody who went after this women specifically with the intention of using her, but started a relationship, but then if the view of the partner starts to be, well, I own her, I’ll use her (stereotypically - I know that men are also trafficked), but I own her, she has to do whatever I want.   And starting to think of the woman more as a commodity as opposed to this person that I love, then it seems like, well if she’s just a commodity that I own and I can use, well anything goes.

Christine: Mmm hmm.  Unfortunately that mindset is at play even in a lot of intimate partner violence cases where there’s no trafficking involved, where the person, the perpetrator views the other person as their property.  If you just even think about the more traditional power and control wheel, which is based in a heterosexual paradigm, but using male privilege, treating her like a servant are things that are listed on there.  Yeah, I guess I would think sex trafficking would become maybe a more extreme version of that.

Helping Service Providers


Nancy: Going back to the ideas of prevention and healing,I mentioned earlier that your research on overcoming abuse has really big implications for survivors of not only intimate partner violence and but also for sex trafficking, so I’m wondering, how are you trying to make sure that that information gets into the hands of service providers and counselors, etc. ?  And so obviously, ‘cause you touched on this at the beginning of the interview, that’s part of why you started “See The Triumph”, is, at the minimum, to change the stigma around these survivors.

And I read that article that you wrote about the stigma, the way that service providers are thinking of these clients with the stigma attached, and the clients are feeling that and they’re seeing that and they’re experiencing that.  So it seems really crucial, and I think it’s equally crucial for survivors of sex trafficking as well as the survivors of intimate partner violence that those kinds of service providers get a clue.

Christine: We definitely, I would say, through our social media outreach, I think that we view it as three distinct audiences.   First is to survivors directly, second would be to professionals who work with them, and then third is friends, family members, just interested community people who are interested in these issues. 

And so I think the first two are really at the heart of what we do in particular, although we have done a lot around how to help a friend who is experiencing abuse, and those resources tend to be really helpful.  I would say that’s the most common question that I’m asked in my work, is not somebody coming up to ask about themselves, it’s, say, usually when this topic gets raised, somebody will come up to me afterward, and say, my sister, my cousin, my daughter, my niece is in a relationship, what do I do? 

And I think our goal is to get this information out and that’s why we’ve spent a lot of effort building our community over the years.  We make all of the resources available for free through our web site, so we have, in addition to just the general social media outreach we’ve done, developed resources for survivors to use, we’ve developed some curricula that we make available to different programs, and we do track the people who are requesting those so that we know that it is getting into the hands of a lot of different organizations.   We also see a lot of different local domestic violence programs that share some of our messaging from survivors, which I think is just great, because they may not have the resources to do the research and these social media images, that they share them, and we’ve gotten requests, especially recently, from people, saying “Can we share this in our agency newsletter?”  And we always say “that’s fine, that’s great,” you know, we want to get it out as much as possible.  So I think we definitely do a lot of this outreach, and really have grown.

The Sucess of "See The Triumph"

Christine:  We just hit a milestone actually this past weekend, 4,000 followers on Facebook, which was really exciting for us.  Our website gets over 100,000 unique visitors every year, which is just amazing.  It’s mind blowing, because we really really didn’t know too much about developing a social media and a website campaign, and things like that.  So we are thankful.  We know that there’s a lot more people out there, too, that we can be reaching, but I think in a way it’s kind of taken on a life of its own, and people are hearing about the work that we’re doing.  We’re certainly not the only organization that does this but there are, I think, a lot of organizations that are kind of working with similar goals but now I think together the work that these organizations do is making a difference in how survivors are viewed in the world today, compared to even five years ago.

Nancy: Congratulations on your 100,000 unique visitors, that’s a huge number!

Christine: Yeah, it is a huge number. It’s kind of mind blowing, actually, but we’re thrilled to know that the resources are helpful.

Nancy: That means that your social media campaign at the least, is working.  I found you on Pinterest.

Christine: Mmm hmm.

Coming Soon(ish)! Survivors Retreat

Nancy: So it’s working, very good.  Anything you’d  like to share about what’s on the horizon for your work - books, projects or events you’d like to plug?  This is your opportunity to plug shamelessly.

Christine: Sure, yeah.  Well I would say that probably the one thing that we’re working on, I don’t have a timeline, but the next resource that we are in the middle of developing is a curriculum for a retreat for survivors, which is actually about helping them to tell their stories.  We did a pilot of the retreat here in North Carolina, in May, and it was wonderful.  And so it’s just a matter of time and lack of time availability, to kind of pull it all together.  But that’s the next thing that we’re really working on and that we’ll be releasing sometime as soon as possible.  We’re really excited about that because that was one of our first real face to face events that we’ve done.   And it was really, both from our own kind of impressions as the planners of the retreat but also what we’ve seen in the field and then what we’ve heard from the survivors who participated, was that a retreat like that doesn’t really widely exist.  There’s not a lot of face to face programs for people who are kind of beyond the initial healing, beyond the initial adjustment, post abuse, and they’re really ready to think about “how can I take my story and impact other people?” 

So we’re really excited, it was a wonderful retreat when we piloted it, and we are hoping to get it out as soon as  possible. So, we’ll definitely share that on our social media and the website, when we have it available, the curriculum.   Because we want to have the curriculum available so that if somebody in another state or another country wanted to take it, use it, adapt it.  We always encourage people, any of our resources, if you look at the different curricula that we have, we have one about survivor advocacy, we have an arts workshop, we have, just workbooks and discussion guides for kind of more of a group, support group type format.  We always encourage people to adapt them as they see fit, so certainly our resources don’t have to be used in a complete rigid prescriptive way. The retreat will be the same.

Nancy: That’s great.  That’s got to be encouraging for those survivors to have this focused time away, a break, where they can reflect on where they’ve been, where they want to go, with people who are encouraging them and helping them to see how they can move forward.

Christine: Yes, exactly.  We’re very excited about that, and that should be on the horizon soon.

Nancy: Ok, that’s great.  Put you on the hot seat . . . what question do you always wish people would ask you about you or your work that they never do and you always think, darn, I wished they would have asked me that?  And, could you answer your own question, if there is such a question.

Let's Not Forget That We Need to Focus on Perpetrators, Too

Christine: Ummm...that’s kind of a tricky one . . . I don’t know that it’s even a question, but it’s just more, kind of the way questions often are asked, which is so focused on the victims.  But I do think even with the perpetrator side, or potential perpetrators, that often gets sort of lost in the whole conversation, too.  Even thinking back to some of our discussion earlier, around “why don’t they leave?” and what are their decisions, and I always sort of think “Well, we really in many ways are always asking the wrong question, because we really should be asking why do people abuse in the first place,  and how do we get them to stop, and can they stop, and what does it take to stop them?"  And so I think that’s a whole other discussion for a whole other time.  

But I would just really challenge anyone listening to really be thinking about that angle as well because it’s not just about supporting survivors and helping people recognize, but we really need to spend more time in the field thinking about how do we really hold offenders accountable, how are they not held accountable?  And then how do we identify people who may become offenders, or how do we give people the skills so that they can not become offenders, and hold them responsible for what they’re doing.  And the whole question, "Why don’t they leave?", to some extent is really a faulty question. We should really be asking “Why don’t people stop abusing?”  So, I think that’s how I would answer that question. It’s a great question.

Nancy: Thank you.  You want to hear something really ironic?  In my original list of interview questions, I had a question about perpetrators, and then I thought, well, that seems like this whole other can of worms we’re going to get into.  But I thought about that and not only did I think about accountability, but I thought about things like, I don’t know if recovery is the right word, but I always think it’s really sad that somebody gets put away for forever, to me, that’s not good news. I mean, yeah, maybe they’re being held accountable for their crime, but if they don’t learn how to change, then eventually they’re gonna come out and be that same person who hurt somebody, except now, right, they’re really angry because they’ve been in jail for however many years or they’re even worse off emotionally, and so I would really like to see more, I don’t know if rehabilitation is the correct word, but anything along those lines, for people to find healing on both sides.


Christine: Right, yeah, and being able to hold people accountable who do perpetrate, but then figuring out how to help them.  I do believe there’s a certain category of people who are abusive and perpetrators of abuse who are not, who are for whatever reason not able to change or not willing to change, but I think that there are some who are willing.  But as long as we’re still really focusing on, primarily on victims and “why do they stay” and you know, what’s their deal, and not really looking at abusers and helping them to not abuse, I think that, again, we’re just going to continue to have these cycles repeating without really preventing the abuse or violence.  They are a lot of people working in that area, and it is a very complicated topic. I’ve done some research evaluating a local battering intervention program, and it’s very interesting.  I mean, the research on these programs is very mixed, I would say.  But some people certainly do and can change, and I think we need to look more at that.

The Good News  - The Stigma is Being Overcome Indeed

Nancy: So, in wrapping up, I don’t know if you feel this way - I’m sure you do when you’re in the middle of this kind of research, I know I do -  after spending a week reading about trafficking, both sex trafficking and labor trafficking, and reading the difficult stories and seeing the really hard images, it can get really discouraging.   I’m wondering if you could give us some good news along any of the topics that we talked about.

Christine: Yeah, sure. So in my viewpoint, we launched “See the Triumph” January 1st, 2013, and  the reason I think that’s significant is that the cultural landscape around these issues, intimate partner violence, sexual assault, survivors, has really changed, dramatically, over the, even just five, six, almost six years.   That’s just kind of my point of reference.  I’ve been doing other work in this field for longer than that, but I first saw it change, in my viewpoint, when there was the Ray Rice controversy, and the video, and then all of the following discussions about the NFL, and how they were handling domestic violence.  And then we saw a lot of conversations about sexual assault on college campuses coming. 

So when I think to before some of those things started - and then of course now with the Me Too, and all of these different movements that we’re seeing - I think we’re in a really transformative time period.   I just think in the past about cases that happened earlier, where something would happen, would escalate to the news media and get their attention, and then it would go back undercover.  So, you think about O.J. Simpson, and that was in the news, but then after the media died down, nobody’s really talking much about domestic violence.  When the Rihanna and Chris Brown case happened, and the media was all over that, but then it kind of dies away and people don’t think about it.  And now, just from my personal vantage point, and I could be wrong about this, but my observation has been that this is the most sustained societal attention that we’ve had on these issues.  Especially with the Me Too movement around last Fall, within the past year or so, we’ve seen it really starting to transform, where you’re seeing more and more survivors coming forward, being believed, telling other people that they’re believed.  

So to me I know that it is very difficult, and it’s hard to understand, and know that these things are still happening, even in this world, in today’s day and age, in 2018. But I think the good news is that these are the things that need to happen, in my viewpoint, for it to really start to change the tide.  So I see, even in five years, and I certainly do not by any means say that "See the Triumph" is the reason for it, but I think that the thing that we’ve been working on is ending the stigma surrounding intimate partner violence and supporting survivors.  And there’s so many things that are happening at once right now, that I believe that hopefully if it continues to be sustained, and these conversations continue to grow. I believe five, ten years from now, my hope is that we will be looking at a really different landscape around these issues.  I think it’s great news to see those things.

Nancy: Yes, I agree, and I’m really glad you kind of went through that, because I have to admit, I lost the forest for the trees recently, and just to see, yes, this is happening.  And I agree, it does feel like it’s sustained.   I think even the retreat that you mentioned earlier, is fueling that, right, it’s fueling the empowerment of survivors, to not just write the hashtag but to actually stand up and say “yes, this happened to me” and to keep raising awareness.

Christine: And it’s become less stigmatizing because more people are doing it, and because more people are coming forward, and then you have more and more people doing it, I think now it is less stigmatizing to say “I’m a survivor of abuse,” because there’s so many other people that are doing it.  And so it’s just becoming more widely understood, this is happening.  It’s been happening for so long, but now people, I don’t think, don’t feel so isolated or alone in acknowledging what they’ve experienced. 

Yeah, it is easy I think, sometimes, to lose that big picture. I guess I’ve just seen it because I’ve seen the ways that our campaign has grown. I see the different ways that, when I’m called upon to do a media interview, that it’s talked about how frequently it happens, what are the cases around which that happens.   It’s so sustained right now, in a way that in my memory has never been the case. Granted I haven’t been part of the movement from the beginning, but I do believe that we are in a time where, and there’s more people moving, so that’s where I really anticipate that it will continue, because I think it’s growing, and more people are coming forward, and they’re getting the tools they need to be able to have those conversations.

Helping Survivors Tell Their Stories

Nancy: Right,  because it’s one thing for the stigma to be lessened or to be removed, but then it’s another thing to feel that you’re equipped to go out and talk about it, or write about it, or whatever you want to do to help others.

Christine: Yeah, there’s definitely a big difference, I think, between telling your story for therapeutic purposes, and just unloading it, getting it off your chest, things like that, and then really thinking about telling your story as a tool for transformation.  And certainly you don’t have to be 100% healed, I don’t know if anybody ever is 100% healed from going through it.   My viewpoint is I think it’s important to be at least somewhat far along in your healing process so that you can be speaking about it for the betterment of others.  And it takes some tools to do that.  And some people have really powerful stories and they don’t know how to do public speaking.  That’s why I think the work that you’re doing is so great.

Nancy:  Thank you. This has been really interesting.  I feel like anybody listening or reading will have a deeper understanding of the issues, a new perspective, and hopefully be encouraged to keep working in this field.  So thank you so much for your time.

Christine: Well, thank you so much.  I’ve enjoyed talking with you and I hope that it is helpful.

Final Thoughts

If you're interested in learning more about ending the stigma surrounding sex trafficking, head over to the See the Triumph website and have a look at their collection of blog posts on this topic.  And, if you found the information in this interview helpful, hit one of the “share” buttons over there on the right side of this page, so it can also help others working in these fields.

6 Ways To Help Fight Human Trafficking

This post is written especially for “ordinary people” who want to do something to help fight human trafficking but don’t know what.  The key here is that you are willing, because this problem is so massive that the only way that the world can overcome it is for millions of “ordinary” people like you to find their place in the movement.  If you need help finding what that place might be , keep reading. When you’re done, you’ll be full of ideas and ready to get started.   (And if you're wondering why a speech coach is writing a blog post about human trafficking, you can read the backstory here.)It’s quite possible that you’ve seen some kind of sad ad announcing that over 40 million people across the globe are victims of human trafficking.  You realize that’s a lot of people, although 40 million is pretty dang hard to visualize, and you imagine that being a slave of any kind has got to be miserable.  You feel bad about this statistic, and you wonder for a moment what you can do, but you're pretty sure you don’t have any kind of special anti-trafficking skills (whatever those are). Besides, how can you help 40 million people?  The whole thing leaves you with a vague feeling of unease, and even worse, now you've got that grim photo of those little boys carrying bricks stuck in your head.


The problem with global problems like human trafficking is that they are overwhelming.  But let’s say for a moment that you have a friend who is living in Brazil, and he tells you about Yasmin, a woman who started an organization that rescues kids who are being forced to beg on the street.  Your friend starts volunteering with Yasmin, and he posts on Facebook, asking for people to donate money. You give $50.00. It doesn’t seem like a lot in the face of 40 million people. But your friend says that Yasmin cried when she got that $50, because she’d run out of money to buy groceries for the kids she was taking care of.  

You’re kind of amazed.  You just did something to help keep those kids off the street and away from traffickers.  You’re suddenly thankful for all the food in your refrigerator. You’re thankful for being thankful, and you start looking for other ways you can help.

Donating money to anti-trafficking organizations is just one way to fight trafficking.  There are actually lots of ways, and I’m excited to share six others with you today. 

1. Use an anti-trafficking app

Yep, there’s an app for everything.



This is a super easy to use app that crowd sources hotel room photos.  Simply download the app, and next time you’re traveling, take pictures of your hotel room and provide the name of the hotel and city where it’s located.  These images will be stored in a database and then used to identify specific hotel rooms where sex trafficking victims have been photographed as part of online advertisements. The end goal is to reduce sex trafficking through faster identification of the location of both victims and criminals.

The Stop App 

With this app you can report suspicious activity that might be an indication of trafficking.  It works internationally, and provides a way for you to share what you’ve seen, with both text, photos and video, in a safe and anonymous manner.

Slavery Footprint 


After taking a survey about the items you own and consume, you’ll be told how many slaves are working for you.  If you’re thinking to yourself, “But I didn’t hire any slaves!” you’re starting to get the point. Their work is hidden, but that doesn’t mean they’re not working for you via the products they produce.  Going forward, they'll help you learn what you can do to change the situation.

2. Make a Purchase That Supports Trafficking Survivors


Rethreadedis a organization based in Jacksonville, Florida, whose mission is to employ and support survivors of sex trafficking.  They carry items such as scarves, jewelry and household items.  Locally made products come from upcycled materials, and all products provide employment for women seeking to stay out of sex trafficking.

Sudara  sells beautiful, comfortable loungewear.  Sales help create jobs and training “for women in India who are at high risk or survivors of sex trafficking.”


Purpose Jewelry  helps woman across the globe to break free of human trafficking by providing jewelry making skills, along with health care, education, etc.  They offer a large selection of necklaces, earrings and rings in a wide variety of both classic and contemporary designs.

3. Participate in or Host an Anti-Trafficking Event  

Here are just a few examples:


In this event, the ubiquitous 30 day challenge takes onhuman trafficking.  Participants pledge to wear a dress or tie every day for the month of December and fundraise for the cause at the same time.  It’s a great way to raise both money and awareness.

Red Sand Project 

The Red Sand Project is a creative way to get your community interested and active.  Here’s how the organization describes their work: “Red Sand Project is a participatory artwork that uses sidewalk interventions, earthwork installations and convenings to create opportunities for people to question, connect and take action against vulnerabilities that can lead to human trafficking and exploitation.”  

Sleep Out 

Did you know that traffickers specifically target homeless kids, preying on their vulnerability?  Raise money to help kids stay off the street by sleeping outside for one night. You can create your own group of “sleepers”, or join one of many nationwide events.

4. Use your day job to get involved.

If you’re an accountant, for example, you could reach out to a statewide trafficking organization and offer to keep their books at a deeply discounted rate. Is it sexy?  Maybe not. But guarantee, the people in charge of the organization will be hugely appreciative. If you’re a carpenter who builds furniture, contact a local organization that provides housing for people getting out of sex trafficking and ask if they could use some new shelving, or perhaps bunk beds.  You could solicit donations for the materials, and if possible, provide your labor for free.

I recently read about two restaurant ownerswho have structured their business to help their employees recover from addiction.  If you’re a business owner, take a page from their book, and let local anti-trafficking organizations know that you’re willing to hire victims of human trafficking who are no longer being trafficked but are looking for employment.  Will doing so present some challenges you might not be used to? Maybe. But poverty, due to lack of employment, is a huge contributor to trafficking.  Providing employment is a deal breaker.

5.  Pay Attention to the Supply Chain Of Your Business


Take a look at this supply chain “transparency tool” developed by Made In a Free World.  This software helps companies track the supply chain of their products and see where human trafficking might be occurring.  Knowing that slaves are being used to create your products is going to hurt, but once  you know,  you can use your newfound knowledge to encourage your suppliers to stop using slaves, and/or make it clear that you are not willing to do business under these circumstances and choose other suppliers.  

6.  Talk About It

Angie Conn

Angie Conn

And finally, if  you love public speaking and “come alive” in front of an audience, you can speak about human trafficking, educating people about what it looks like and encouraging them to find their place in the movement.  You can give presentations at your place of worship, to local organizations like the Lion’s or Soroptimist Club, in universities, at private businesses, at corporate events and at conferences focused on related issues. And when you need some help putting together your presentation, send me a message.  I know a good coach. :)

I hope this post has opened your eyes to the many ways that you can make a difference in the life of a person being trafficked.  There are many more...just ask Google. :) And if you found this information helpful, hit one of the share buttons so your friends can get involved as well.

I’ll close with a saying that I love:

 If not us, who? If not now, when?

Change the World with This Special Speech Structure

Today in my “learn from the best” series I’ll be breaking down Nancy Duarte’s well-known talk about the structure behind some of the best known speeches in modern times. Here's a little clue -  it’s not “3 main points,” nor is it the basic story arc.  For best results, watch it here first and then read on to find out just what this structure looks like.  I’ll start by summarizing Duarte’s talk and then highlighting the take aways  you won't want to miss. 

The Summary


Duarte begins by asserting that an idea communicated effectively has the power to change the world, and that the most effective way of communicating this idea is by telling a story.  She notes that a story can actually create a physiological effect in our audience, for example, people might get goosebumps, or move to the edge of their seat. In contrast, a presentation often leaves our audience limp.


Duarte wanted to find out why. So she did a lot of research over several years, from Aristotle to Joseph Campbell to a German dramatist named Gustav Freytag, who created the classic story arc.  She discovered that unlike bad presentations, the best speeches have a particular shape, or structure.  This structure is the basis of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, Steve Jobs iphone launch speech in 2007, and the Gettysburg address, as well as many others.

If you want to encourage, inspire or motivate your audience into action, this is the speech structure for you! Here's a little clue - it’s not “3 main points,” nor is it the basic story arc. Keep reading to find out how Dr. Martin Luther King, Steve Jobs and others successfully used this structure and how you, too, can incorporate it into your presentations. #speech #publicspeaking #presentation #speechcoach #powerpoint #keynote #conference #motivation #inspiration

Above, you can see the structure that Duarte discovered.  At the beginning, the speaker describes the status quo, and then compares it with her idea of “what could be”, emphasizing the difference between the two.  In the middle of the speech, the speaker toggles back and forth between more vivid description of the status quo and more details of what the future looks like with that idea in place.  During this middle section, the speaker makes a point to demonstrate how unappealing the status quo is, especially in comparison to the incredibly bright future ahead. The toggling helps to break down any possible resistance to the idea. At the end of the speech, the speaker gives a call to action, encouraging the audience to adopt her idea, because in doing so, they will help to usher in that great future that she described. 

During the rest of the TED talk, Duarte demonstrates in detail how both Steve Jobs and Martin Luther King used this style, while also including techniques such as modeling what they want their audience to feel and rhetorical devices such as repetition and metaphor.

Duarte begins her closing in a classic way, by circling back to her original point, that ideas which are communicated well can change the world.  And then she surprises us all by getting really personal.  She tells a mini life story that demonstrates how she herself overcame hardship, believing that she was born for something big, for her own world changing moment. (This part makes me cry every time I watch it.)  And she encourages her audience to change their world and create the future they want to see.

The Take Aways

Wow!  What a great talk.  Here’s what you don’t want to miss….

1. Use this structure for a motivational/inspirational talk.

If you want to encourage, inspire or motivate your audience into action, this is the speech structure for you! Here's a little clue - it’s not “3 main points,” nor is it the basic story arc. Keep reading to find out how Dr. Martin Luther King, Steve Jobs and others successfully used this structure and how you, too, can incorporate it into your presentations. #speech #publicspeaking #presentation #speechcoach #powerpoint #keynote #conference #motivation #inspiration

This format works great for encouraging people to take action around one big idea.  Begin by talking about the status quo, focusing on how bad it is, and then describe the future, when your idea has been adopted, focusing on how great that future will be. Toggle between these two ideas in the middle of your speech, and end on a “high” by urging your audience to accept your idea and live that wonderful future for themselves. It’s simple, genius and effective, all at the same time.   Remember, you don't have to give equal time each time you talk about the status quo or the better future. You can reduce the time between each toggle (as Nancy demonstrates in King's speech) to create a heightened level of excitement.

2. Know what your audience cares about and meet them there.

Steve Jobs talked about the difficulties of using old style smart phones, a problem every cell phone owner was acutely aware of.  They wanted an easier to use, more efficient phone, and Jobs delivered. Dr. King used and made reference to songs and Scriptures of resistance, resilience and overcoming that were especially meaningful to his audience.  These familiar, emotionally charged words inspired them to keep fighting for equality, in spite of the difficult path ahead. What does your audience care about? What songs, people, phrases and images will touch them?  Be sure to incorporate those important points of identity into your speech.

3. Don’t be afraid to get personal.


If you’re a nerd like me, it’s easy to get excited about Duarte’s discovery of this speech structure as an awesome presentation device in and of itself.  But stopping there would be missing her point, which is - go out, use this structure to communicate your great ideas, and change the world!  She concedes that being a world changer is not easy, and that we are prone to give up. That’s when she segues into the personal, describing her own life as an example of what it looks like to believe in yourself and overcome hardship.  So Duarte didn’t just share her idea of the speech structure, but by getting personal, and moving to a more emotional level, she inspired me (and probably a lot of others, too) to not give up on my own “big idea.”  

Try this structure during your next inspirational keynote or presentation and let us know how it goes! If you found this post helpful, hit one of the “share” buttons so it can help your friends, too.

And, if you want to use this structure but feel like you need some advice, schedule a session with me here. I’d love to help you make a difference!

How to Easily Animate Text in Keynote
Animate Text horiz.png

Today I’m going to show you how to make words “drop in” point by point next to a photo in Keynote*.  This is a classic, basic animation that you’ll want to have in your toolbox of skills.  But don’t let the word “animation” scare you! It’s easier than you might imagine. In fact, if this is your first ever animation, you’re gonna be thrilled!  (*Keynote is essentially the Mac version of Powerpoint.)

Getting Ready


You’ll want to start by finding an image that fits whatever point(s) you are making, and download it onto your computer.  I got my photo from for free, and it doesn’t even require attribution. (And I’m not even getting a perk for promoting them, lol.)  My slide is about body language to avoid, so I chose a guy looking nervous and touching his face.

You’ll also want to have at the ready whatever text you’re going to use.  A word or short phrase for each point is  best. Remember, less is more here.

Adding the Photo


In Keynote,  open a blank slide in the template you’ll be using for your presentation.  In the menu bar, go to “insert” and then “choose” and then click on the image you saved earlier.   Position it on the left or right side of the slide, centering it vertically. If necessary, change its size by clicking on the image and then using the little white boxes on the perimeter to reduce or enlarge it.  Don’t worry too much at this point about getting the placement and size perfect - you can always adjust it later.

Adding Your Text


Click on the “T” in the menu.  This will give you a text box. Move it outside of your photo and paste in your first word or phrase.  Repeat with the next phrase, moving them along the photo but not worrying yet about exact placement. Repeat until you have all of your points in their own box.


If you’d like to adjust the size of the font, click on “format” in your menu bar.  Then, click on the text and in the dialogue box to the right, click on “text” and font options will appear.  To change the font of all the phrases all at one time, click on one, hold down the command key, and click on the rest.  Now whatever change you make in the dialogue box will apply to all of your text.


As you can see, I increased the size of my text until it felt both balanced and easy to read.   I also moved my text boxes around, taking advantage of the green lines that pop up, to place them evenly around the photo.   If you want, you can add a text box with a title, as I did. 

Animating Your Text


Now let’s consider how we want the text to appear.  I’d like to start with just the “Don’t” phrase. I’d probably say a few words about how even though these seem like really obvious things you don't want to do when you're standing in front of a crowd, they are common mistakes made by inexperienced speakers, mostly because they're done unconsciously.  Unfortunately, they can be distracting and reduce your credibility, so a little consciousness raising is a good idea here.  I'd also probably be playing with my hair the whole time,  just to get the laugh when the "play with your hair" line” drops in, 'cause, you know, that's kinda funny.

So here are all of my text boxes:       Title text: DON’T

  1. touch your face a lot

  2. pace nervously

  3. clench or clasp your hands together

  4. fiddle with jewelry or clothing

  5. play with your hair


We’re not going to animate "Don't",  because I want it to be there from the start, so I didn't number that one.  But after "Don't"  I want #1- #5 to drop in one by one when I click the mouse.


I start by clicking on “animate” in the menu bar.  Now I click on the text of #1. In the “build-in” option, I click on “add effect”.  Then I choose “appear.” Can I make it "swoosh"  in dramatically? Yes. Do I want to? NO. Remember, we're going for clean and simple here, not bling.  After I click on "Appear" the dialogue box changes, and I see the settings for "Appear."  The order is 1, which is correct - it’s the first item I want dropping in. And the delivery style is “all at once” which means the whole phrase is going to pop in, all at one time.


Now I click on my next text box, which is #2, choose  “add an effect” , choose “appear, and leave the order and delivery style as is.   I repeat with the rest of my text boxes. The default is for the text to drop in “on click”, which is what you want.

Watching Your Animation

Now for the fun part!  Click “play” in the menu bar.  You’ll see your photo and any text that you didn’t animate.  In my case, it's the word, “DON’T”. Press your space bar, or click on your mouse, and your first phrase will appear.  Click again, and your second text will appear, and so on. You did it!


With your animation complete, now it's time to practice!  Introduce your topic/the title of the slide, talk about it a little bit, and then click once and transition into your first point.  Say whatever you want to say about it, then click again and transition into your second point, and so on through the list.  This process works much better than simply presenting all the points all at one time because as soon as your audience has read the next point, their attention will be back on you, where you want it.  Another option if you're presenting to a smaller group or class is to have them guess what some of the "don'ts" are before you click on them.  This will keep them quite focused sine they'll be waiting to see if their guess shows up on the list.


So, you’ve just learned another way to avoid boring bullet points . If you found this post helpful, pin it, and help your friends out, too! 

And now, go forth, animate, speak, and change the world!  

How Better Body Language Can Improve Your Presentation

I was fascinated when I found this study about the importance of body language for public speakers and what a difference it can make in your presentation. Today I’m going to provide a quick summary of what the research showed, and then I’m going to give you some takeaways that you’ll want to keep in mind when delivering your next speech.

In this study volunteers were asked to rate TED speakers, and the researchers compared these ratings with specific “nonverbal and body language patterns” that they observed among the various speakers.  Here’s a summary of what they found:


Your audience is paying more attention to what they are seeing than the words they are hearing – so much so that even when the volunteers watched a TED speaker with the sound off, that speaker’s ratings did not change.


Using lots of hand gestures, smiling and “vocal variety”  all helped speakers’ ratings.


Ad libbing resulted in better ratings than sticking to a script.


Audiences formed their impression of speakers within the first 7 seconds.

Now, let's look at my 3 takeaways from these findings and ways you can use this information to be a better speaker.



If you’re someone who talks with their hands, laughs loudly and is very expressive in general, you’re already ahead of the game when it comes to delivering a talk.  Being expressive is a kind of charisma that is hard to resist. That’s why the volunteers in the study didn’t care if the sound was on or off - they were watching the speaker, and reading her face and body.  And an expressive person is much more interesting to watch than someone who is very subdued. So if you’re excited about your topic, don’t hold back!

In addition, the study showed that people who smiled a lot received higher ratings.  In my experience, when you smile at your audience, they smile back. It’s quite comforting.  It also makes everyone, including you, feel better. So smile...a lot. The research also showed that  “vocal variety” boosted ratings. Vocal variety refers to things like raising and lowering your voice and pausing for effect. Even yelling is permissible, assuming it’s appropriate in the context of your talk. (Go here to read a great example of this.)

 I’ve found that vocal variety is something that needs to be practiced. The tendency when we are on stage is to speed up, and often to become “smaller”, usually out of nervousness. But if you can slow down, control the pace and use your voice in very deliberate ways, it can greatly increase the impact of your words.



I understand that having all the words you want to say typed out neatly on a page provides a feeling of security.  And then memorizing all those beautiful words seems the smart thing to do...except it’s not. This study showed that your audience likes it better when you ad lib.  That’s why I recommend that you practice from an outline. An outline forces you to use your own “original” words every time. It helps you speak more naturally, because you aren’t trying to remember the specific words that you memorized.  

There’s a subtle energy shift that happens in your body when you are trying to remember what you memorized.  It’s as though you retreat into yourself ever so slightly, instead of moving outward and forward toward your audience.  But if you know what to say next because you can mentally picture the major parts of your speech like a chain of events, you’ll be able to stay connected to your audience and keep that energy flowing from you to them.

Getting comfortable speaking from an outline or short phrases takes practice.  However, once you get used to it, you’ll find there’s a kind of freedom in being able to simply talk about what you know.  



That last finding is worth quoting: “People had largely formed their opinion about a speaker based on the first several seconds.”  How many? Seven.  See those words in bold?  It took me about seven seconds to read them aloud.  That’s how long seven seconds is, and that’s how much time you have to make a good first impression.  It’s almost no time at all. So here’s what I suggest.

Show up BEFORE you stand up.  What I mean is, be that enthusiastic, smiling, powerful and in control “you” before you even get to the mic. Find a place where no one can see you.  Move around to both harness and shake off some of the nervous energy. Walk through your talk while in a “power pose”, both arms raised, to remind yourself that YOU are in control. Listen to a song that makes you feel 10 feet tall and bullet proof.   If possible, find friendly looking people in the audience to make eye contact with. And then, bring all of that excitement and energy to the stage. Because when you’re excited, your audience will be excited, too, and ready to hear what you’ve got to say.

Learn how body language affects your presentation, and what you can do about it. I’ve written a quick review of a fascinating research study for you, and then summed up the takeaways. See for yourself what you can do to have more of an impact through conscious body language. #speech #publicspeaking #presentation #speechcoach #powerpoint #keynote #conference #motivation #inspiration #bodylanguage

I’d like to finish up with one final point that I see as the best part of this research.  

I believe this study shows that when it comes to public speaking,  it’s a good thing to be yourself. It’s good to speak naturally and ad lib as necessary.  It’s great to smile when you’re happy and to enjoy yourself on stage. And it’s wonderful to use your whole body - your hands, your face, your voice.

I used to worry that my facial expressions were too extreme, that I opened my mouth too wide when I laughed, that I talked too loud when I got excited, and that at times I looked ridiculous  because of how intensely I express myself. (You can guess which one is me in this picture, lol.)  Finally I came to terms with the fact that this is me - this is simply who I am. If you’re like me, the good news today is that this expressiveness is great for public speaking! So go out there and be your big self....your audience will love you for it.  If you found this post helpful, use of the share buttons to the right, so it can help your friends, too!

And finally, if you need some feedback on your own body lanuage and delivery, go here to schedule a session with me. If you’ve already got a video of yourself speaking, I can use that to give you feedback as well - just go here.

How I Changed Careers and Started Over

Today I’d like to introduce myself by relating the series of events that led me to change careers, going from being a long time ESL teacher and freelance writer to my current work as a speech coach specializing in training human trafficking survivors and their allies.

Ever since I can remember I've been particularly disturbed by the plight of homeless people, refugees and those “hidden” sufferers, like prisoners, who are largely unseen but nevertheless quite numerous.  I’d imagine their misery and wonder why other people weren’t as bothered by it as I was, and wonder why these social problems still existed in the face of “big religion(s).” I wondered why I didn’t do more.  But between these times of wondering, life continued. I married, had children, a home, and all the accompanying responsibilities. In some respects, I became the person that I had vowed I would never be – one so invested and consumed by presumed every day needs that my dreams of working in a refugee camp or serving poor communities never materialized.  

Life continued to go on, my children grew up and one day I found myself single and, much to my surprise, actually quite free to make a new start.  I had another chance to go after those dreams that I had abandoned so long ago. I began investigating a new career. Eventually, I took the plunge and made some big changes.  I quit my day job as an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher at a nearby university. I downsized and went paperless. I made a conscious decision to try to live minimally and accumulate less. I moved to the beach, a long time dream, and I even became vegan. During this time, I kept asking myself, what is it that I really want to do?  What would feel meaningful to me?


My focus returned once again to the displaced, marginalized, and poor.  I watched the commercials and imagined life without clean water flowing freely from the tap, and wondered what it would be like to be a woman who needed to devote hours every day to carrying buckets to a well, waiting in line, carrying those heavy buckets back home, and doing it all over again that night.  And the next day. And the next. Clean, easily accessible water. It seemed a good cause, one that affects women and girls disproportionally. I thought about it a lot. 

I also listened to great songs performed by international musicians and produced by the wonderful organization Playing for Change.  They use music as a means to educate and transform children’s lives.  As a teacher, mom, and music fanatic, I was transfixed, excited, and ready to jump on board.  But I kept reading and looking, somehow knowing that I hadn’t yet found exactly what I was looking for.


Then in May of 2016, I sat on a flight from Dallas to Boston, trying to hide the fact that I was weeping.  I had been reading the book Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, and when I got to the chapter about sex trafficking, I just couldn’t help myself.  Although this certainly wasn’t the first time I’ve considered becoming involved in the anti-trafficking field, this was the moment when I felt a resolve that I had never experienced before.   This was the moment when I thought to myself. This is it.  This is what I need to do.

So I began educating myself about all the fields related to this kind of work.  I read everything I could get my hands on about human trafficking. I learned about non-profits and researched social marketing.  I took online courses on storytelling and social enterprise. And I began thinking about how I wanted to fit into the bigger picture.   For a long time I felt like Noah, telling my friends for what seemed like forever that I was building a boat (you want to do what?) and it was going to take me, uh...somewhere...somewhere good, lol. I felt like I was swimming through muddy water; I had a vague sense of where I was trying to go but not at all sure if/when I was going to arrive.

I finally realized that what I really wanted to do was speech coaching.  I consider speech my “roots”   - I participated in many speech competitions in high school and got my undergraduate degree in Speech Communication.  I've also taught many speech classes, and they were among my favorites.  It’s a field I’ve always loved. I knew I could do it. I could be good at it, even. I could make a difference by helping others. That’s all I really ever wanted to do.

The problem was, I’d never had the courage to start my own speech coaching business.  I didn’t see myself as an entrepreneur. I found the financial aspect terribly intimidating.  But I realized that the only thing holding me back was my own fear. For a long time I had this quote by Sheryl  Sandberg written on my chalk board:  "What would you do if you weren’t afraid?" I hated the idea that I would have a speech coaching business if I wasn’t afraid.  I hated the idea that my fears about “putting myself out there” were stopping me from doing what I really, really wanted to do. So finally I pulled the plug. I had my website built and started working to promote my business as a speech coach.

Not long after that I went to a trafficking conference and felt both validated and energized.  I listened as many presenters with impressive expertise gave “ok” or “good enough” presentations.  The potential for high impact was there, but most speakers were not able to deliver what I would consider a great talk, presumably because they lacked the proper training. I saw that there was a tremendous need for what I’m good at, and I knew I was on the right track.

Since then I’ve been working hard to let trafficking survivors and their allies know that I’m here to help.  I’ve begun coaching individual speakers and it’s been immensely gratifying. I’m learning new skills to stay current and thus provide more value to my clients.  I’m also learning how to promote my business on social media, and becoming bolder about getting in touch with strangers to talk about my services. Little by little, I’m moving forward.  It’s an exciting time.

Many articles like these end with impressive evidence of “success” , e.g., clients now numbering in the thousands, or interviews with famous people.  I’ll be honest. I’m not there yet. I’m not anywhere close. But that’s ok, because little by little, I’m making a difference doing what I’m good at. That’s reward enough.

Follow These Six Steps to Organize Your Presentation

If you struggle with knowing where to put what in your presentations, this post is for you!  Today we'll be focusing on the "body" of your speech - the main part between your introduction and your conclusion.    I’m going to show you how to go from one big list of ideas to a presentation that's organized clearly and logically .  Let’s get started!


For you visual people, the goal  is to take you and your presentation ideas from the hopeless piles on the left to the beautiful ducks in a row on the right.


Step #1 -  Brainstorm.

The initial brainstorm.

The initial brainstorm.

Aka, the brain dump. Make a list of every idea that you have about your topic.

It doesn’t need to be numbered, and it doesn’t need to be written in complete sentences.   If you’re not sure about an idea, put it down anyway. Now is not the time for editing; now is the time for dumping.  I suggest using a word processing program (as opposed to a handwritten list) because you’ll be moving your ideas around later on.

I’ve included an example of this whole process in the dark blue boxes that follow using a hypothetical presentation about forgiveness (including fictitious names and examples to protect the guilty, lol).  Here you can see my initial brainstorm.

Step #2 - Group Similar Items

Grouping items and naming each group.

Grouping items and naming each group.

Go through your list and group items that seem to go together and/or address more or less the same aspect of your topic.  

If you’re not sure if an item is in the right place, put a question mark next to it. I added a few notes as I went along to help me clarify the ideas.  Now name each group, identifying what it’s generally about.  See the example to the right for how this looks with my list.

Step #3 - Clarify Your Core Message


Now that you’ve listed all of your ideas and grouped them, it’s easier to think about what you want your main message to be.  Of course, you may have known that from the start, but let’s say that you didn’t. Imagine that as I look at my groupings, I keep thinking about how important forgiveness is for your health, both mental and emotional.  Perhaps to me, that’s the most important part of the whole list. So I decide that my core message (not to be confused with the title of my speech) is going to be “Forgiveness is essential for good mental and emotional health.”

I know, that sounds kind of dry.  Don’t worry - we can always work on eloquence later.  Right now we are just trying to get organized.

But what if, as you look at these groups, you see it differently, and you think that the most important idea is about forgiveness being an ongoing process? That works too!  Your core message could be something like “How to Move Through the Process of Forgiveness.”

I’m sure you could come up with other core messages for this same material - it all depends on what’s important to you.  Go ahead and write your core message at the top of your list now.

Stating your core message at the top.

Stating your core message at the top.

Step #4 - Edit Your Supporting Points


Think of your core message as bread, and your supporting points as the ingredients.  Flour is going to move you closer toward bread. So is a liquid, like water or milk, as is a little salt.  Now, you might really like mango jam. In fact, it might be your favorite food in the whole world. But you don’t want to put mango jam in, because jam is not going to get you to bread.  In fact, jam will be weird.

With that in mind, read your core message again.  Now look through all of your supporting points. Does every single one somehow support, or “go with” your core message?  Looking at my list,  in my first group, although “feeling better” doesn’t speak to the process, my experience of forgiving Jude was indeed a process, so I decide to keep this point.  But the point about my sisters doesn’t fit here, even though I’ve worked on/around this issue for a long time, because it’s not about the process of me forgiving them. So I’m going to cut that.


In group #2,  my story of forgiving Linda is a great example of the process when it’s hard, so I'll keep that.    And, I love my wagon story - it’s thrilling and gross and I could have died! (Remember folks, fictitious :) .  But alas, it’s jam - it’s not really about the process of forgiving my brother Craig at all - it's really much more about the accident. So I’m gonna cut that, too.

In group #3, everything fits, so I’m going to leave it as is.

Editing your points.

Editing your points.

#4.  . . hmmm. This doesn’t seem to be about a process at all. It’s a great point.  But it really doesn’t get me closer to my core message,  which is: “How to Move Through the Process of Forgiveness.”  Sadly, it is jam, too, so I have to cut that whole section.  (It happens.)

Now what about those last two lines with the question marks?  I think that  “it's hard to love people that you haven't forgiven them” is part of good emotional health, which I just cut, so it’s gotta go.  And the last one about the bad teaching - it could go in #2, but when I think about it now, it feels negative and unhelpful, so I’m going to cut it as well.  So what you see to the right  is what I have after my edits.

Step #5 - Put everything in order.

I’m down to three main points.  Now I need to think about the order.  It makes more sense to me to talk about the different approaches first, and then talk about what moving through looks like after that.  So I decide to rearrange my points. Here again, you might prefer a different order. The last list below is my final order.

Keep in mind that in a straightforward “how to” presentation like this one, whatever order increases clarity and understanding is fine. However, in speeches where you need to persuade your audience, you’ll want to be much more strategic about your order, aka structure. Go here for an example of a speech structure that works well in this case. Or go here for an article that describes many different structures.

Ordering your points.

Ordering your points.

Step #6 - Check for Balance

It's time to make sure that you are explaining each point sufficiently.  To me, #2 feels a little thin, so I might add another concrete example that looks different from the Jude story but that still shows the process.  I’d also probably add some kind of graphic that demonstrates having to revisit particular issues with the same person.


Finishing up...

If you've gotten this far, you've completed the lion's share of the organizational work!  Now all you have to do is add an introduction (guided by the same principal of “does it get me to bread?”), transitions and a conclusion, and you’ll have the basic content of your speech. 

From there you’ll want to work on the details of all of your supporting points. You may also want to change the order of some of those points within each main point, which is fine.

With practice, this process will become easier and easier.  If you’re struggling right now with the organization of a particular presentation, go here to get some help.  It’s what I do. :)

How to Find Amazing Images for Your Presentation
asia-asian-bride-936225 as is new.jpg

Images are a basic element of good presentations, and yet, unless you know where to look, finding what you want can be frustrating, time-consuming and at worst, impossible.  Today I’ll be sharing some of my favorite sites filled with free images, explaining terms like “royalty free”, and showing you how photo credits work.

Free Image Websites

Juicy stuff first!  Here are my “go to” sites.  (And no, not getting paid for any of these endorsements :) .)



According to their website, Unsplash has over 300,000 images.  They are all free, and they are beautiful. You don’t have to sign up or join anything.  There’s a row of general search categories at the top of the page, and a row of related tags under each photo, both of which will help you find what you’re looking for if you’re not sure how to search.

Unsplash makes it easy to give photo credit, which I will discuss in more detail below. When you download a photo, a window will pop that gives you two options. Choose #1  - simply copy the line that includes the photographers name and the word “unsplash” and add it to your photo, as I’ve done in the bottom right hand corner of this photo.   (See below for detailed directions on how to do this).

The downside to is that ethnic minorities and the LGBTQ+ community are underrepresented.  So, for example, if you type in “woman”, most are Caucasian. However, you can type in “Latina woman” or “Black woman” with much better results.  But, if you type in, e.g. “gay wedding” or “same sex wedding” almost nothing comes up. So if you’re looking for diversity, you may not find it.



Pexels is another great site.  It’s very much like Unsplash, with all the same pro’s and con’s, but with fewer photos - 40,000 as of this writing.  Check it out.

For photo credit, you are given option #1 from above:  simply copy the line that includes the photographers username and the word “Pexels” and add it to your photo, as I’ve done below.

You can also donate to the photographer via Paypal.



I have something of a love-hate relationship with Gratisography, lol.  “Gratis” means “free” in Spanish, my second language, so I like that. And they have a lot of really goofy, absurd and unusual photos.  If you’re looking for a little comic relief, this is the place! They also have a lot of “normal” photos, but not near as many as the above sites.

My complaint is the rather misleading interface.  The search button at the top of the page actually takes you to Shutterstock, which are images that you have to buy.  Second, if you type in a word that doesn’t have any relevant photos, Shutterstock images come up, and again, unless you’re paying close attention (and not getting excited about a cool image that just appeared), you’re back at Shutterstock.  Sure enough, Gratisography has “teamed up with Shutterstock to provide you access to millions of images.”  

To download, you’ll need to open the photo and save it to your computer.  For photo credit, no suggestion is given, but if you like, you can add the word “Gratisography” to the photo, as shown below.

So, Gratisography is not quite the seamless experience as Unsplash or Pixels,  but with such a large variety of unique and often hilarious images for free, you can’t really complain.

3.  Wikimedia Commons


Wikimedia Commons is a whole different animal.  It works like Wikipedia in that anyone can add to and/or edit it.  As such, it’s huge - containing over 1 million files! - and is available in multiple languages.  You can also find audio clips and videos here, which I will discuss in a later post. As you might imagine, it’s a little more complicated to use, but worth the effort if you’re looking for something very specific.

“Complicated” essentially means there are many more ways to search than in the previous sites.  If you go to the link above, you’ll see what I mean. You’ll first see all the “subcategories” you can search by, e.g. century, continent, dimensions, and many more.  If you scroll down, you’ll see all the subjects you can search by.

So, for example, I can choose to search by “historical images.”  From there, I can further narrow my search “by country” and from there choose, e.g., Nepal.

Alternatively, you can simply type in what you’re looking for in the top right hand search box.  Type in “women” and you will be astounded at the variety of types of photos that come up, everything from line drawings to historical images to women from across the world.  Type in “Asian woman” and there’s a wider variety than on the previously mentioned sites.

The biggest downside is that many of the photos are not taken by professionals, so they’re not necessarily the greatest.  But in my opinion, what you loose in quality you gain in variety.

When you click on downloaded, you’ll be given several options.  The easiest way to go is simply click “full resolution” and then download the photo to your computer.  For photo credit, copy the “attribution” line and insert that into the photo.

Most of the photos on Wikipedia fall under what’s called a Creative Commons license, which means they are free:

  • to share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work

  • to remix – to adapt the work

        Under the following conditions:

  • attribution – You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work). [Although some Creative Commons licenses do not require attribution - it depends on the license.]

Why go through the trouble of giving photo credit?

One, because you are generally asked to do so when you get a photo for free on one of these sites.  Seems like a fair trade to me. Plus, it’s a way of acknowledging the effort and energy that went into that photo.  It’s a way of saying “thank you.” It’s good karma. If you wrote a book, you likely wouldn’t appreciate people quoting you without giving you credit.  It’s the same idea. I’m not always able to give photo credit, but when I can, I do. Besides, learning how to write text on a photo is a handy skill to have.

If you’re working on a Mac, it takes less than a minute.  Open the photo in Preview, go to Tools, Annotate, Text, and in the Text box paste in the line you copied earlier.  You may need to change the font color so that it shows up better on the photo. I usually stick with either black or white.  If you’d like, you can reduce the font size. Then drag it to a corner and save.

In Powerpoint, insert a photo, click back on the home tab, click “text” in the ribbon above.  Click on “arrange” to bring the text box to the front and type in the credit. Adjust the font to a small size and change the font color to white if the black doesn’t show up.   To move the box to a corner where it’s not intrusive, click inside the bordering box, and then click on one of the edges with the 4 point star that comes up, and drag the box to where you want it.

In Windows, you can follow the directions here.  

What about “royalty free” photos?

Unfortunately, royalty free does not always mean that you can get the photo for free.  Sometimes It means that once you buy it, you can use it for pretty much anything without paying royalties, i.e., more charges depending on how it’s used.   Whether you have to make that initial payment seems to depend on the site where you find it.

Time well spent....

Dedicate some time to becoming familiar with these websites and the technical aspects of using images.  It’ll be well worth the effort and save you a lot of frustration in the long run. If you found these links helpful, hit a share button and make life easier for your friends.

And, if you have a slide deck that you’d like to get some feedback on, go here and we’ll get right to work.

How to Inspire Your Audience In Dark Times
photo by janko ferlic on unsplash

photo by janko ferlic on unsplash


Valarie Kaur is my new hero.   In six minutes, she managed to deliver a rousing speech that made me want to cheer and cry at the same time.  Today I’m going to “unpack” Valarie’s talk and help you understand the techniques she used to create an extraordinary speech.   Have a look at the video and then let’s continue....

Valarie began by being transparent.  She told the story of her grandfather, who had been thrown in jail when he tried to immigrate to America because he looked “foreign.”  Then she brought it even closer to home and discussed her fear of raising her young son, “a brown boy”, in an age of hate and racial violence here in the U.S.  She lets us see her emotion around this topic - we hear the quavering in her voice and see the pain on her face.


Note that she doesn’t need to “act” sad, or angry - she simply lets us see her true feelings as they are happening.  Her transparency brings down our defenses and makes us more likely to embrace her message as opposed to resist it.

She continues with vivid description and a metaphor.  Because Valarie has chosen her words carefully, we can easily imagine her grandfather “languishing” in his “dark and dank cell” and the care in which her son “ceremoniously” sets out milk and cookies for Santa Clause.  We get angry about racism right along with her when she describes how “black bodies are still seen as criminal” and “indigenous bodies are still seen as savage.” We see and feel because she’s taken the time to paint a picture with her words.


She also uses a guiding metaphor,the birth process.  She mentions again the darkness of our times, the darkness of her grandfather’s cell, and then in a moment of poetic brilliance, asks “What if this darkness is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb?”  That line brings down the house! Why? First, it ties everything together, even down to the mention of her son’s birth. Second, it has repetition, rhythm and rhyme - simply put, it sounds great.  And finally, it’s a phrase so vivid and positive that we are instantly moved from despair to hope.  This leads me to my next point.

Valarie brings hope.


In spite of all of the depressing and painful truths that Valarie has touched on, she helps the audience envision another way.  After suggesting that our darkness might be one of coming light, she uses repetition, another literary device, to drive home her point.  She asks a series of “what if” questions that inspire us to imagine that we might all be part of something bigger and that perhaps we are actually standing at the forefront of a great moment in history.

And then she references transition, that point in childbirth when the energy shifts, and suggests that perhaps our nation has been in transition.  Employing her birth metaphor one final time, she passionately entreats the audience to be brave, to push, to work, and to labor in love.  And if you are anything like me, that is the moment when you'll be cheering and crying at the same time.

This talk is an incredible example of what you can achieve with powerful words delivered well.

You can learn more about Valarie Kaur, her amazing work and the transformative speeches she gives here.  

If you know someone who could use a little inspiration, hit one of the share buttons below. And if you’d like to learn to create uplifting presentations like Valarie’s, go here to schedule a session with me.

Photo credits:

baby feet , chain with lock ,cemetery, man in turban , love sign

Make Simple Charts In a Hurry Using Canva
Want to liven up your presentation slides? Graphics help make boring data interesting and beautiful. Follow these steps to create great looking charts in Canva in no time! #speechcoach #powerpoint #keynote #slidedeck #presentation #images #speech #public speaking #motivation #inspiration #canva #graphics #charts #tips

As a speech coach, I’m a big promoter of using images in your slide deck.  Charts are a basic type of image that you’ll want to learn how to create, no matter what your topic.

Today I’ll be walking you through how to make simple, great looking charts quickly and easily using Canva. is my “go to” website for graphics of all kinds. (And I’m not being paid or reimbursed to say that!)  I’ve found it great for Facebook cover photos and posts, posters, resumes (yep!), desktop backgrounds and charts.  Even if playing around with graphics isn’t your “thing”, Canva is a free, easy to learn program that I highly recommend.

So if you haven’t already, head over to, open an account and let’s get started!

Step #1 Gather your data and decide what type of format will represent it best.

Canva provides three options:

bar charts: If you want to show the popularity/effectiveness/quality/frequency of something, especially when you are making a comparison, a bar chart is the way to go.  

pie charts:  These are a good way of showing percentages of something, especially if you have six items or less which add up to your whole.

line graphs: Use a line graph when you want to show a representation between two categories, e.g., a higher level of education leads to a lower level of poverty.

Step #2 Create a new design, using the type of graphic you decided on in Step #1.  

Go to  “Create a Design” and choose “Presentation”.  Within your new presentation, click on “Elements” in the left-hand menu bar and then “charts”.  From here, choose the type of chart you decided on. It will appear in the work space, where you can customize it.

Step #3 Add your data and a title.

Chart showing breakdown for  California Adults of Adverse Childdhood Experiences  (ACE’s)

Chart showing breakdown for California Adults of Adverse Childdhood Experiences (ACE’s)

Double click on any item number and a table will appear in which you can fill in your data. The only slightly challenging part here is that under “label” there’s a limit to the number of characters that will fit, so you might have to use abbreviations.  Remember, though,that you can always explain these during your talk.

When you’ve finished filling in your data, click the ‘T’ for the text option and add a title.   I suggest a catchy, memorable title versus one that fully explains your infographic, since, as with the abbreviations mentioned above, you’ll have a chance to go into more detail as you speak.

Also, you’ll probably want to move your chart down a little so that there’s more space for your title above.

Step #4 Edit your image.

If you click on your chart, you’ll notice that in the toolbar near the top of the page there’s a square box filled with the main color of your chart.  If you click on that box, other color options will come up.  It’s kind of hard to go wrong here as Canva itself comes up with complimentary colors based on the main color that you choose.  

There’s also the option to change the font of your text.  Click on your title and the toolbar will show you the name of your font and its size, both of which can be changed.  Click on the chart and you’ll be given the same change options for the text in your chart.

I strongly suggest going with a simple, easy to read font.  Your audience will thank you for it. :)

Step #5 Download and put it into your presentation.

When you’re satisfied with your chart, click on “download” at the top of the page and choose the PDF Standard option. Now you’re ready to put it in your slide deck!

If you’re using Powerpoint, click “Insert” in the toolbar, then “photo” and then “picture from file.”  In Keynote, go to “Insert” in the toolbar and click “choose”.   

Now find your download in your files, click on it, and it will be inserted into your presentation.

(Note: If you’ve created more than one chart and your PDF has multiple pages, Powerpoint will ask you which page you’d like to import.  In Keynote, open your PDF in Preview, in View click on Thumbnails, and then drag and drop the thumbnail of the chart you want directly into the Keynote page.)

You’re done!

And now you’ve got a great chart to spice up your slide deck. 

Hit one of the share buttons if you know someone else who would like to make cool charts!