Writer Wednesday Welcomes Catherine (Cat) Larose!

Cat has come my way through the fantabulous Wow! Women on Writing blog tour. I love them. If you’re not familiar with their awesome blog, please stop and check them out. Cat has graciously offered to blog for us today on public speaking. I am so thankful for this because I try to push myself to speak and I do, but mostly as my mouth is speaking, my brain is screaming “You are such a DORK!” LOL

Ten Tips for Being a Great Speaker – or, Dear God, Please Don’t Let Me Sound Stupid

I sell color for a living to paint companies around the world. By that, I mean those little paint chips (swatches) and color fans you often see in home improvement retailers that help you select your paint colors. As such, I’m often called upon to make all kinds of presentations on a variety of topics: Color Trends, Market Trends, Color Psychology, and sales proposals. Sometimes it’s a one-on-one situation, and other times it can be before groups of varying size. I’ve been making these presentations for over 20 years, and no matter how often I do them, I still get stage fright.

Call it ritual, call it superstition, or call it what it really is: a plea for help, but before every presentation, I always make the same request: Dear God, Please don’t let me sound stupid. And while that little prayer always makes me feel better, I know that if I’m to make a good presentation the power lies within me.

What follows are some tips that I use to reduce stage fright and help me feel more relaxed before an audience. I don’t think I’ll ever eliminate my stage fright completely, in fact, I don’t think I want to because a little adrenaline is a good thing. It keeps you sharp.

  1. Know your subject. If you aren’t prepared, you know it, you increase your anxiety levels, and that shows. Very few people can “wing it.” I prefer to know what I’m going to say before I say it. It saves me from making gaffes.
  2. Rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse. It’s so important that I’ve said it three times. It’s important to hear the sound of your own voice, to stutter, stammer and lose your train of thought before an imaginary audience. Once you do that, it’s out of your system and you won’t have to worry about that happening before your live audience.
  3. Get the audience on your side. If you have an opportunity to meet a few people before your presentation or speech, then you are no longer talking to “strangers.” It’s a lot easier to talk to people you know. Focus on these familiar faces during your early remarks and, as your confidence increases, branch out to the rest of the audience.
  4. Start with a little humor whenever possible. Try and link it to your topic. I sometimes start by saying, “It’s a small world, just don’t try to paint it.” Or something more generic. “A public speaking guru once told me, that if you tell your audience that you’re a little nervous, you’ll feel less so.” Pause to let it sink in. And then in a deadpan voice, say, “He lied.” That usually elicits a chuckle and creates empathy.
  5. Keep calm. If there’s a podium, place your hands lightly on it for balance. Fidgeting is a distraction.
  6. Breathe. (This should have been number one!) It’s here only because I usually begin to breathe only after I’ve started. Try and remember to take a deep breath before you start.
  7. Smile. It’s like yawning: it’s contagious.
  8. Make eye contact. Move your gaze around the room. To make everyone feel included, cast wide glances at areas of the room because you can’t make eye contact with everyone.
  9. Take command of the room. In informal presentations, where everyone is sitting down, always make sure to stand up. What you have to say is important and you want people to focus.
  10. Relax. You can’t make a mistake. If you leave something out, finish early or add things, no one will know but you.

About the Author:

Catherine is one part hot blooded Latin and one part wild eyed Celt. She’s the oldest of seven children raised in a large Irish/Italian family – Catholic, of course. But family and friends think of her as the gypsy. She’s spent her life studying, living, and working all over the place.  Cat is forever destined to wander incessantly as a person currently without country(CWC), or with no fixed address(NFA). Blessing or curse? Grandma V had her pegged long before she ever left Clevleand, Ohio when she gave her red-headed Italian granddaughter this advice , “All you need is a place to hang your hat.”

As she was traveling the world, Cat managed to acquire a husband. A rather beige husband. Not a good match considering the fact that Cat sells color for a living. What does that mean? When you go to a home improvement store  and to choose a paint color, those little color chips are made by Cat’s company. They produce color chips for the automotive industry, cosmetic industry and of course your local home improvement center.  While in Paris on business, Cat decided that life was too short to be beige. Her memoir is a record of her escape from the beige tinge of her marriage to the wild colors of singlehood.

Any Color But Beige: Living Life in Color

After years of living a beige existence, Cat Larose, international color marketing expert, finally added a little color to her own life. All it took was a Paris sunset and a little red suitcase.

Everyone wanted Cat’s life. She had a handsome husband, a stylish home and a fascinating career as an international color marketing consultant. Work took Cat to some of the world’s most beautiful cities but something was missing: ironically, it was color. One day she found herself in Paris watching a sunset and, in a moment of clarity, she caught a glimpse of her sepia-toned future.

When Cat got home, she did what she’d longed to do for years. She decided to paint her bedroom a magnificent Bordeaux red and put an end to her beige existence and her marriage. That was the beginning of a new life.

Any Color but Beige
is a bright, funny, genuine account of one woman’s search for love in the deep end of the dating pool. None of the self-help books prepared Cat for the often funny, occasionally puzzling, sometimes sad but always colorful dating adventures with an international cast of frogs, princes and players. Cat makes the classic female mistake of thinking that love is a life preserver. Until one day she learns to swim.

Author’s Websites:

Catherine Larose’s book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9vh0IkE3YU&feature=related

Catherine Larose’s blog:

http://cafegirlchronicles.wordpress.com

Be sure to leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of Any Color But Beige! (print copy for US/Canada addresses or e-book for any address) and for you book clubbers…

On Monday,December 19 at the end of her WOW Blog Tour, Cat Larose will be awarding a special Color-tastic Book Club Prize ! The prize includes 10 copies of her memoir Any Color But Beige, a guide on how your book club can enjoy Any Color But Beige, a virtual visit from Cat Larose, and several other surprises. If you want to enter this contest just leave a comment after this post with the words “Book Club Contest” in the message. You can enter to win both the individual contest for one copy of Any Color But Beige and the Book Club Contest but you have to leave two different comments. Don’t forget to tell everyone who belongs to your Book Club to enter the contest!

7 comments to Writer Wednesday Welcomes Catherine (Cat) Larose!

  • Any advice for if you freeze up during a talk? What if you forget what you want to say next?

  • Thank you for these tips. I think number 2 is the hardest. I remember speaking in front of a group of ladies at a luncheon. I knew the subject matter and all but I didn’t rehearse because I don’t care for the sound of my voice. Dumb. I’m learning…

  • Jodi,

    There are a couple of things if you freeze up…

    If you can remember the last thing you said, you can repeat it for emphasis and say that’s why you’re doing it.

    This will give you time to glance at your notes and pick up where you left off.

    Do a totally different segue to relate to the audience, By the way, if there’s anything in this presentation that you want more information on I’ll be happy to answer questions at the end of the presentation.

    These are pretty generic. It gets you back talking saying something intelligent and gives your confidence a boost to get you back on track.

    Grace – one thing I know for sure, my voice sounds totally different to others than it does to myself. You might be too hard on yourself. Or you can practice by lowering your voice an octave. If the message is good, the speaker is likeable and your voice doesn’t sound like nails on a chalk board. You should be just fine

    Colorfully yours,
    Cat

  • Julie

    Thanks Cat, for the clear ‘n fast advice. It’s been a treat to follow your blog tour and to introduce you to several friends through the web, so they can also follow you this week.

  • Hi Julie,

    I appreciate the opportunity to post on your blog. The blog tour has an added bonus for me as I have now discovered several great new blogs that I never would have known existed.

    Once I get to a proper internet connection I will be subscribing. Internet is a bit slow here at the hotel.

    Cat

  • Great advice ! I think we are all so hard on ourselves. Thanks Cat, for reinforcing just to be ourselves and relax.

  • cat

    Thanks Joanne – You’ve added one more tip to my list: Be Yourself. It’s the most important.

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