Umission: supporting you having a wonderful life

What an honor to have been selected as Umission’s Person of the Week.

Here’s to freedom,


“Solutionaries” — an excellent subject presented with naturalness, freedom and focus

Here is a TED talk that’s got everything good going for it:

I love the way Zoe expresses her passion for her subject with calm clarity, vision, humor, originality and assurance.

What else keeps you watching her presentation?

Until next time,


Is this you?

I hope not. But if it is, take heart. There is a way to quiet your mind, calm your nerves, settle your body, control your message and (I’m not kidding) be yourself when you are in front of an audience. Did I mention that you can actually ENJOY the experience, too?

My 5-week Free Your Talents class, “Presentation Skills for Professionals” still has some spaces available. I hope you’ll enroll right now. Here are the details:

Thursday evenings, 5:30 to 8:30 pm, beginning May 10, 2012. Lord Camden Inn, Camden, Maine. Value: $650. Regular price: $350. Spring Special: $250. A $50 deposit holds your place in this fun, stretching, informative, practical, freeing class. Now’s the time, friends. Take this class. Write or call:; 207-230-0272.

You can change the way you feel about being in front of a group. Save money, time and energy by practicing the principles I will teach you in class. 

Learn to be yourself while people are watching.

Yours in freedom and clarity,


Why the papers wouldn’t stick

This weekend I’m performing as Narrator for a collection of Australian folk tales to be performed by a group of children. To make the outside of my script look cheerful, I took a glue stick and attached several colorful pieces of artwork to the front and back of the paper folder holding my script. Throughout tonight’s dress rehearsal, the glued artwork kept falling off the cover. I’d had the foresight to take the little glue stick along to the theatre, just in case a touch-up was called for, so I’d slather on some more. Smart, huh? However, the same problem kept recurring.

Imagine my surprise to hear these words from my 8-year-old daughter after rehearsal: “Mom, I’ve been trying to tell you: that’s not a glue stick; it’s sunscreen.”

No matter how careful, diligent and thorough you are, if you’re not focussed on and present with your task in the moment, all your cleverness will be in vain. For a presentation, you might do great research, practice your talk over and over, and find the perfect suit to wear the day you present. But if you didn’t note the correct date and time, or weren’t paying attention when you were told who your audience would be, you might find yourself wondering why in the world no one showed up — or why the wrong people did.

Pay attention. One moment at a time.

Here’s to glue sticks!




‎”Finally, in conclusion, let me say just this.”

This quotation from Peter Sellers makes me laugh.

This type of ending to a presentation does not.

When you are ready to wrap up your talk, do it. Avoid prolonging it with statements like, “Without further ado,” “To make a long story short,” or even “In conclusion.” Why not? They have become trite fillers, fall-back remarks that can take away from the naturalness and sincerity of your message. They seem to indicate, “I don’t know what else to say now, so I’ll just say this.” Find a fresh way to let your listeners know that you are nearing the end, and then go there.

Restating your main points is helpful to your audience, a brief recap of what you’ve given them. You can say something like, “Let’s go over those points one more time,” or something else that indicates the conclusion is imminent. Giving them something to do (sometimes referred to as the “call to action”) will help you leave on a strong note.

Then, when you’ve stopped talking, stand still and be quiet for a thoughtful moment. Just as an Olympic gymnast sticks the landing upon completing a routine, you, too, can take a few seconds to stay connected with what you’ve offered. This allows your listeners to ponder what you’ve just said. It keeps them focussed not on YOU, but on your message to THEM. This is the best way to end your presentation.

Here’s to poised completion,


Communication is a Contact Sport

Standing before an audience, you can choose to connect with your listeners, truly to contact them rather than just talk at them. “But they’re all LOOKING at me!” Well, yes, they are. Why? Because you have something to give, to share. You have an idea that will educate, enlighten, entertain or encourage. Perhaps you’re there to awaken them to a new view, inspire them to take action, encourage their efforts. You might have to inform them of bad news, or to comfort them during a difficult situation. Whatever your purpose, it’s your job to touch them in some way. Communication is a contact sport.

How to reach them? Realize that this is not all about you. It’s about them, their desires, their needs. Care about them. Learn about them ahead of time. If you can, visit with some of them in the minutes before you step up to present; find out about their lives, their interests, why they’re there. This contact, when genuine, is felt. It makes you human! It helps them hear you.

At the risk of sounding like a old Hallmark greeting card: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”


Who determines how well you perform in front of a group?

“I’m fine talking to people I work with; they already know my flaws so it’s no big deal if they see me goof up. It’s when I’m in front of strangers that I freak out.”

“Give me a group of people I don’t know; they’ll never see me again so I don’t really care. Make me speak to coworkers and I fall apart; they’ll hammer me!”

“I don’t mind talking to an audience of under a hundred people; once it gets over 100, I’m a nervous wreck.”

“Big crowds don’t bother me; hey, I can’t even see who’s out there. But if there are only 10 or 20 listeners, I get all fidgety, sweat like crazy and can’t remember what I want to say.”

On it goes. People can be amazed that other folks don’t share their specific worries regarding audiences. It all boils down to this question: “Do your listeners actually determine whether or not you can feel at ease, clear-minded and capable?”

(Answer: They don’t.)



The center of the universe?

Some years ago, half-way through day two of a three-day seminar, a student suddenly let out a hushed “Ohhhhh!” I asked if she’d like to share her discovery. (She’d felt terribly uncomfortable and awkward getting up to speak until then, and it wasn’t clear whether or not she was going to shed that fear within the next day and half.) “I just realized,” she told us, with great awe, “I am not the center of everyone else’s universe!!”

It came as a revelation, a marvel, a joy and, above all, an enormous relief. Although I had made this very statement numerous times, she had to see it for herself, as the truth. The next time she rose and walked to the front of the classroom to speak, she carried herself differently. Her body was relaxed, upright, calm, assured. Her hands were restful, not jittery or clinging to one another. Her face was open, joyful, ready. Her voice rang with grateful clarity, without tentativeness or apology. Nothing got in her way; her presentation nourished us all. We finally got to see and hear her as she really was: lovely and free.

So, friends, do you suppose you are the center of everyone else’s universe?