The Truth Talk to me

I use a process in my work that gets me to the core of any challenge, and leads to what I call an Essential Truth that – once formulated – informs everything else. So, what’s the Truth about Andrew Crighton and iPrimate? It’s HELP.

I’m at a place in my career where I’m exploring new horizons and breaking boundaries to help others… and help myself. I’ll tell you a lot more about it sometime, but, essentially, the new horizons have to do with VOCATION and the breaking boundaries has to do with LOCATION.

VOCATION means publishing… for a writer. And for this writer that means non-traditional publishing (you’re reading it). And it means content (you’re reading it). Whether my new horizons serve ME or YOU, they’re challenging and rewarding.

LOCATION is about flexibility. Kids have gone; home in the city less relevant. I still have one foot in Toronto, but I’m really living on the shores of Georgian Bay. Some people know I have a 1989 Volkswagen bus/camper in which I can go anywhere, anytime to write. And meet. And collaborate. But, mostly, breaking boundaries has to do with the Internet. I’m determined to get more clients/patrons/working relationships/ partners in other geographies, because we all really share the same geography, these days (you’re reading it).

So, it’s about VOCATION, LOCATION. And it’s about HELP.

May I?

Andrew Crighton, iPrimate
127 Kingswood Road
Toronto, Ontario m4e 3n4
416.356.4262

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March 8, 2012

CRITERION #1: POISE

How comfortable is your presentation for you?

How comfortable does it make your audience feel?

Comfy chair and mike

Poise is comprised of many things, but it might be generally referred to as that hard-to-put-your-finger-on quality called “stage presence”. In short, it’s very important to be present upon the stage as though you own it, and you have a right to be there.  You DO.  One of the first imperatives for making an effective presentation in front of an audience is that you must work toward looking comfortable on-stage – even if you aren’t.  Easy to say, but not so easy to do, right?  Well, the good news is that it is possible to appear comfortable in the eyes of your audience, even when you’re dying inside.

It’s rather intriguing that the word death comes into the discussion at this (early) point.  It’s well known, of course, that humankind’s most dreaded fear – greater even than the fear of death – is public speaking.  You’d think the Grim Reaper would be the scariest guy you’d ever want to meet… but apparently not.  So, perhaps it shouldn’t be any surprise when you hear a speaker remark after a difficult presentation “I died up there, tonight.  I just died.”  Looking out at an audience that looks back at you with just glum and mournful expressions on their faces truly is a near death experience… and, unlike the Big Sleep, you’ve got to get through it, climb out of the depths of despair once it’s (mercifully) over, and go on living.

A speaker that’s dying on-stage is a zombie.  Literally, he or she is the walking dead… a soulless body brought back to life again.  Well, that’s a little macabre, so let’s refer to a dictionary definition that describes a zombie as someone who lacks energy, enthusiasm, or the ability to think independently.

But… wait a minute… we’re kind of luxuriating in negative thinking aren’t we? Crighton’s Criteria are supposed to lift your spirits and make you positively embrace the public speaking opportunity.  Sure, those pesky fears exist but, in the words of the original Teddy bear, Theodore Roosevelt, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” What he’s talking about is the uncanny, subversive influence in our brains, which happily latches onto little dark spots it finds there, and blows them out of all proportion.  Teddy was a realist, who subscribed to the idea that obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take you eyes off your dreams.  If the rules of oxymoron will allow, he was a ‘practical dreamer’.  Perhaps he learned it from Eleanor, who said that “the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams’.

One thing’s for sure – they were both great public speakers!

It’s a tribute to the power of the mind that it’s capable of turning what is really a very benign situation into an experience fraught with peril. It’s rather like the fear of heights. Those of us, who are vertiginously challenged, have nothing to fear but fear itself.  We stand on a firm platform high above the ground, and our minds transform it into a precarious ledge. Common sense tells us that if the platform were three feet off the ground, we wouldn’t give it a second thought, but our mind sets the alarm bells ringing. And that’s just the way things work.

In the same way, the alarm bells go off when we contemplate standing up in front of a group of people. In reality, the situation is not perilous at all. They are just ordinary, everyday people with the same frailties and foibles that we all have. They all put their trousers on one leg at a time… just like you.  However, the mind turns them into ogres, giants, and ill-intentioned naysayers. They’re not… but that’s cold comfort when you get that unsettling feeling in the pit of your stomach.

Legend has it that Winston Churchill had his own special way of calming himself down before a speech. He played a little game within his imagination that helped him to see his audience in a non-threatening light. He scanned the group for a few seconds and tried to imagine them all sitting there in their underwear! Somehow, that seemed to defuse the situation. It works. Try it.

Poise. It’s essential to have it, because if you don’t, your discomfort will be communicated to the audience… and it will interfere with the reception of the message that you are trying to deliver. It may be comforting to know that even the best actors have “stage fright”, but they have learned how to appear comfortable on-stage, and how to channel their anxieties in order to add energy and intensity to the performance.