August 16, 2022
by Hacker Valley Studio
Anne Ricketts, Founder & Principal of Lighthouse Communications, brings her techniques for public speaking and presenting to the show to help Chris and Ron unpack unhelpful mindsets around storytelling and unhealthy speaking habits. Covering the basics from filler words to hand gestures, eye contact to working the camera, Anne explains the role storytelling plays in the way people communicate at the office, out in public in their free time, virtually on Zoom, and even onstage at events like TEDx.
[00:00] Why Anne became a communication coach
[05:16] How COVID impacted public speaking and presentations
[12:57] Why you shouldn’t stop hand gesturing
[18:38] How to stop saying “um”, “like,” “so,” and other filler words
[22:45] What makes storytelling an essential career communication tool
Thank you to our sponsors Axonius and AttackIQ for bringing this episode to life!
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Why was communication coaching your chosen profession?
Anne wasn’t always a communication coach, but she’s always been passionate about helping others speak. In fact, prior to 2013, Anne taught English as a second language to a variety of people, first in Italy, then in San Francisco. When Anne founded Lighthouse Communications, her goal was to help everyone, English speaking or not, communicate efficiently and confidently. Speaking skills and storytelling talent can open up a world of opportunities for anyone, and Anne is excited that she can help others unlock their potential everyday.
“I really like helping people because there's so many small things you can do to look more confident, like the way you stand or projecting your voice. If you look more confident, you start to feel more confident.”
In the past two years, because of the pandemic, what have been the ways that you've seen communication coaching change?
With so few events and courses happening in-person, Anne had to shift her mindset around coaching and her advice she gives to clients. Virtual presentation unlocked a new world of communication, but comes with new rules and a learning curve. Thankfully, Anne has learned to love the world of virtual and believes that when professionals give their all to connecting with their audience, amazing communication can still occur, even from long distances away.
“Normally, when teaching a class, you can see if someone's struggling or confused, you can walk over and connect with them. Everything was happening so fast in the Zoom room, I personally felt like I started from scratch.”
How could someone who isn't the biggest fan of small talk reset and reframe small talk in a way that's valuable for them?
Networking and communicating can feel like a chore, especially when small talk is involved. Anne believes that small talk, as awkward and boring as it may be, allows professionals an amazing opportunity to practice connecting with others on a small scale and hone their listening and storytelling skills. Ask curious questions to connect with others during small talk moments, and don’t fear the occasional awkwardness that comes with meeting someone new.
“If you want to be good at small talk, it's just being curious. Asking questions like, ‘Hey, what's that in your background?,’ or in person, ‘Tell me more about yourself. Oh, interesting. Where did you go to school?’ Asking specific follow up questions and just being curious.”
What advice would you have for anyone that has impactful details to share, but doesn't really know how to make it into a story?
Storytelling is one of the most valuable skills a professional can learn, according to Anne. Stories allow us an opportunity to connect with others emotionally and mentally, and can even inspire someone to action with the power of simple words. Anne’s biggest advice around the art of storytelling is to practice. Listen to the stories others tell, build your experiences around a framework that feels personally right to you, and practice, practice, practice.
“What makes for a good story is tension, emotion. We want to know what was going through your head during that security hack, what was the reaction, what was at stake, and that's not necessarily, on an everyday basis, how we're trained to speak at work.”
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