I know I’ve definitely run into my fair share of writers block trying to keep this blog going and I always come up with mental blocks as a trainer and coach when I’m trying to come up with fresh ideas to convey my messages. I usually get around these blocks by either going for along bike ride, or looking for inspiration somewhere. In today’s guest post, Lisa Braithwaite, a successful public speaking coach, author of the blog Speak Schmeak, and fellow cycling fan, talks about the places she goes for her inspiration.
GUEST POST FROM LISA BRAITHWAITE:
As a speaker and trainer, I’m constantly trying to come up with ways to make my presentations more engaging and to get my message across to my audience. I may use the same basic structure for each presentation, but I’m always tweaking, customizing and making improvements on each one, and looking for good stories, quotes and analogies to bring my message to life.
You might find yourself with mental blocks from time to time when writing and creating, and the frustration can be all-consuming. In fact, that frustration probably sucks out your last little bit of inspiration by focusing all your energy on the black hole in your brain.
I thought I’d share some of the places I get inspiration for my blog posts and presentations, and maybe these ideas will inspire your inspiration!
1. Working out
I work out at a local community college track with killer stadium steps. I’ve also been training to throw discus for masters track meets, reviving the love of a sport I competed in during high school. My discus training has inspired several blog posts about holding yourself back, using practice to train your “muscle memory” for public speaking, and putting all the pieces together when you feel overwhelmed by details.
I’ve been inspired by people at the track who are completely out of shape, working their behinds off in search of fitness. You don’t get better at anything without working at it, public speaking included. I was even inspired once by a saying on a runner’s t-shirt to write a post on giving it all you’ve got as a speaker.
To take the workout analogies a step further, I love finding similarities between athletes and speakers. During the Olympic trials, I wrote about dealing with failure, trusting your gut, fighting misconceptions, and resting on your laurels.
Other athletic inspiration has come from track meets (psyching yourself up and self-pressure to perform), football (“leaving it on the field”), cycling (the fabulous metaphors of Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen during the Tour de France), and basketball (Pat Summitt’s 1,000 victories in relation to goals, vision and persistence).
I use athlete analogies in my presentations as well, for example, talking about adrenaline and the fact that elite athletes don’t feel pumped up and ready to compete if they don’t have that adrenaline rush and accompanying pre-performance anxiety.
I’ve written and spoken about actors who are afraid of public speaking, comedians who cleverly acknowledge when they bomb, and American Idol contestants learning to believe in themselves. I write about performers like Eddie Izzard, David Lee Roth and Rufus Wainwright being memorable, being original and staying focused. Entertainers have many lessons for speakers, and whether I’m watching TV or a live show, I’m always taking notes on how they connect with their audiences, how they prepare, and how they themselves are inspired.
I’ve always been fascinated by language, grammar and spelling, so when I come across examples that relate to public speaking and communication, I’m thrilled!
I talk about jargon, clichés, misused words, mispronounced words, and overused words. I’ve discussed metaphors, idioms, analogies, gibberish, and language that confuses rather than clarifies. Speakers need to communicate clearly, concisely and precisely, and paying attention to nerdy topics like these can help accomplish this goal. I read grammar and communication blogs for this inspiration, as well as watching and listening to speakers and performers and watching TV commercials!
These are just my most common areas of inspiration. I’m always noticing what’s going on around me and picking up ideas from what’s happening in my life, so mental blocks are actually quite rare.
I hope you’ll find some inspiration in *my* inspiration, and open your mind to the world around you when searching for topics for your presentations and your writing.
ABOUT LISA BRAITHWAITE
Lisa Braithwaite is a public speaking coach working with individuals and groups to build their skills and confidence as speakers. Her philosophy of public speaking is that it’s fun, it’s an awesome way to express yourself creatively, and that authenticity and passion are worth more than a thousand techniques. She is also the author of Speak Schmeak, a blog about speakers and public speaking.
Before launching her public speaking coaching business in 2005, she worked in the nonprofit sector in Santa Barbara for 16 years as an advocate, educator and trainer, creating and implementing programs, curricula, and training materials for nonprofit organizations. Her areas of expertise in the field of training and education have involved gender equity, domestic violence prevention, media literacy, adult learning principles, and communication skills development
In 1997, she co-founded Body Electric, an organization promoting sports, physical activity and gender equity for women and girls. In 2003, Lisa was honored for her work with Body Electric with the Louise Lowry Davis award, named for a pioneer in women’s sports.
Lisa received her B.A. in Theater from Pomona College and her M.A. in Education from UC Santa Barbara.