All ‘Speaking Events’ Posts

15 jun

Living a Life of Passion and Purpose

BarbaraWaxmanWe govern our lives with rules, lists, checks and balances; yet many of us don’t apply that same principle of discipline to laying out a path for our own personal journey, particularly when our definition of meaningful work may have changed along the span of midlife.

In a recent landmark U.S. study on the sense of happiness, the essential element was not wealth, losing those last ten pounds or the number of friends. Those that self-identified as happiest all had lives that they felt ‘had purpose’. Whether this is a calling, a faith or a mission, a life with purpose is attainable by everyone.

For this reason, I wanted to share with my friends here that I will be holding a small workshop, “Living a Life of Passion and Purpose,” this Friday, June 17 in Kentfield (Marin), California, from 9:00 – 3:30 p.m. One past participant called it “a spa day for the soul.”

Who will benefit? Anyone with a desire to recalibrate their life, within their means and capabilities, to be one enriched and guided by a sense of purpose. Anyone looking for a renewed enthusiasm they can bring to work or their home life.

Anyone who wants to be more conscious and deliberate in his or her life choices, and to align those goals with their true values.

What you’ll take away is a reference frame for selecting the aspects and elements necessary for you to feel you are living with passion and purpose. Get to know the stranger and best friend who is you. Leave with a roadmap for making choices aligned with your values.

The retreat cost is $295, and lunch and materials will be provided.

For more information, or to enroll, send me an email at

I hope you’ll be able to join me, as I would look forward to seeing you there.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Barbara Waxman on June 15th, 2011 in Speaking Events | No comments Read related posts in

19 may

The Nine Principles of Change

KripaluSeptember 10–12, 2010 Friday–Sunday

The Nine Principles of Change: How to Make or Face Any Life Change with Optimism

Ariane de Bonvoisin

Adapting to change is the most important life skill you can learn. This transformative workshop with Ariane de Bonvoisin, best-selling author of The First 30 Days, is designed to help you deal with all of life’s changes—big and small, personal and professional. Change is the one constant in life, and you can learn to be resistance-free so you can handle the tough changes that come your way and pursue the changes you’ve always dreamed of.

If you want to breathe new light into your life, come discover

• The nine principles of change
• The beliefs of a “change optimist”
• How to find your “change muscle”
• Ways to recognize and overcome your “change demons,” those negative emotions that
hold you back
• How to create your change support team
• Your spiritual essence and how you can walk the spiritual path as you go through life

You will leave the workshop with a sense of peace, hope, and strength. The wisdom and skills you acquire this weekend will accompany you for the rest of your life.

Ariane de Bonvoisin, MBA, is the founder and CEO of First30Days, a New York-based media company focused on guiding people through all types of personal and professional life changes. She is author of the best-selling book, The First 30 Days: Your Guide to Making Any Change Easier. A “change optimist” who loves inspiring people to make the changes they’ve always wished they could make, Ariane has held jobs in business, music, publishing, the internet, venture capital, television, and the nonprofit world.

Posted by First 30 Days on May 19th, 2010 in Ariane, Speaking Events | No comments

23 feb

We Always Teach What We Need to Learn

SaskiaShakinLet me be frank: I have mixed feelings about getting up in public to speak before large groups. This should come as no surprise since the fear of public speaking tops almost everyone’s list—surpassing death itself! As Jerry Seinfeld puts it, “If you were invited to give a eulogy at a funeral, you’d rather be the guy in the casket than the one at the podium!”

But what may come as a surprise is that for almost 30 years I have made a handsome living from coaching others to speak in public—before large groups and small; before juries deliberating complex issues; in Congress; at shareholders meetings; and with clients giving keynote speeches.

My career has surprised me: I never imagined I’d have landed in the Boardrooms of corporate America, nor the courtrooms where major cases were being hashed out, nor in limousines coaching CEO’s en route to a flight, nor in airplanes, posh hotels, and on expense accounts.

The work was demanding and exhilarating. The high fees I’ve commanded, the accolades, the prestige, and the perks made my work fun and gratifying. So why, then, would I rather avoid doing the very thing I coach others in? Because staying behind the scenes was my comfort zone. Stepping out meant stepping up!

I am reminded here of a line from Woody Allen’s classic Annie Hall: “Those who can do, do; those who can’t do, teach; and those who can’t teach, teach gym!”

For years, I preferred to help others hone their message, find their passion, and convey their joy (or at least, their information). But now, it has all come home to roost, for I am on a different path, having completed a book on the subject called, More Than Words Can Say: The Making of Inspired Speakers. It is now my turn to do the lecture circuit, market my book, speak before groups, and sell, sell, sell!

For years, I dreaded the thought. I avoided it and even vowed that I’d never write a book. I kept that pledge for well over 20 years, happy to be running seminars, coaching brilliant clients to open their hearts & minds, proud as a mother hen when her children succeeded, and content to remain behind the scenes.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I never went before an audience. I had my fair share of presentations, keynote speeches of my own, and informal talks. But the thought of appearing before a huge audience, one I did not know, and speaking about my book, made me feel like a used-car salesman in a tacky, plaid suit, hawking his wares.

So, I had to coach myself. And my coaching always starts with awareness—self-awareness (the hardest kind to come by). But there I met resistance. Resistance is the dance partner of awareness. They waltz around, sometimes one leading, sometimes the other. And when resistance had stepped on the toes of awareness once too many times, awareness finally waltzed off alone.

Dancing solo is most liberating. No one else pushing you where you don’t wish to go. No one else’s agenda is besting your own. When my own awareness found its voice, I realized that speaking with others holds no fear for me. One-on-one is my medium.

Total strangers are constantly confiding in me. New acquaintances appear to be old friends. Old friends share deep parts of themselves that they share with very few others.

Small groups hold no fright either. I have been running seminars for almost 30 years. I have been in classrooms with 6 – 200. My seminars get consistently rave reviews and in some firms have had waiting lists of two years. So, you might ask, what’s your problem? Why do you resist larger audiences? After all, you know what it takes to charm, seduce, embrace, inform, and inspire? You’ve seen clients transform from boring to sparkling all the time. You’ve been there, yourself! What’s up?

Here’s the deal (and I think this applies to most people): Speaking to one or to a small group is real. You see them; they see you. You can tell if they’re listening, if they’re alive, awake, with you, against you, daydreaming, etc. You can read their body language. You can meet their eyes. You are real. You’re talking—not performing.

But when the room gets large, when the lights go down, when you are in a spotlight that says “perform,” the real you gets as shy as a nervous kitten. You loose your self-confidence. You imagine all manner of horrors. You are certain they’ll see through you and not be taken in by your façade. And you’d be right!

As long as the real you is hiding behind a façade, you cannot feel at home at the podium.

You must strip: not your clothes, but your mask. You may assume that your mask is protecting you, but in reality, it is obscuring your light. And your light is what must shine for others to be engaged when you speak.

You must reveal yourself, share your private thoughts, expose your vulnerabilities, be honest with yourself and, thus, with your audience.

The greatest awareness I gained about myself is that I am not a performer: I am, though, a very good communicator. The difference is where I am shining the spotlight of my mind. When it is directed at me, I am ripe for self-consciousness; when it is directed at another, I am open to real communion. I stop asking “how am I doing,” and move to, “Are you with me.” I stop worrying about, “Will they like me,” and start considering, “What can I offer them.”

I now know from testing the waters with individual readers and with small groups, that the book I’ve written is transformational. It is meant to take your fear of public speaking and turn it into your forte. It is aimed at all speakers—in any setting—for whom authenticity and connection are paramount. Readers tell me it has changed forever the way they look at getting up in public. It has changed the way they speak to their spouses … the way they speak to their children. It has, indeed, changed their relationship with themselves.

I could not be more pleased. And I am glad to say that although I may still feel butterflies at the prospect of standing before a large group, I have taught those butterflies to fly in formation. I also figure that if Pavarotti was always nervous before every performance, I can be too.

The difference now is that I do not see it as a performance; I see my role as a sharer. I am in the spotlight to share my passion, my insights, and my pleasure. And when I share, I am engaged in an interchange . . . I am not there all alone. My listeners are up there with me; they just happen to be a few feet away. And I’ve learned to make friends with the spotlight.

The spotlight is there to illuminate me until my own light can shine on its own.

By Saskia Shakin
Author, More Than Words Can Say: The Making of Inspired Speakers

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Saskia Shakin on February 23rd, 2010 in Speaking Events | 3 comments Read related posts in ,

08 dec

Then and Now: Public Speaking in the Media Age

SaskiaShakinOnce upon a time, in the distant past, people did what they were trained to do:

Dancers danced, authors wrote, lawyers argued, doctors doctored, corporate heads led, and everyone lived happily ever after in their neat little niche. End of story!

But times have changed. Now, it seems, everyone at one time or another will be called upon to speak about their work, about their product, service, idea, or vision. What was once reserved for the talented few has become commonplace. From homemakers to lawmakers, from leaders to leading ladies, from talking heads to corporate heads, all must face an audience at some point in their lives.

And most dread this prospect. I mean really dread it. It is an often-quoted fact that public speaking ranks above death in the list of people’s fears. I get it . . . I know. I used to be among the ranks of those who would rather dig ditches than get up in front of an audience. You may be wondering what changed in my life to make this fear vanish.

Well, first of all, it did not vanish. It faded away gradually as I was forced to get up in front of groups to share an innovative teaching technique that was unique, lots of fun, and something I passionately believed in. I forgot my natural reserve. I threw myself into the moment.

I set it up so that I wasn’t lecturing, I was conversing with the audience. Then I understood that directing a conversation felt natural, whereas giving a speech did not. And so I decided that whenever I would get up in public, I would not give a (dreaded) speech, I would simply hold a conversation.

You may think I’m quibbling; you may think the distinction is unimportant; you may think that just being in front of an audience would give most people hives. But I’m here to tell you that performance anxiety does not take place simply because we’re on a stage, or in front of a room.

Performance anxiety takes place in our mind! If we perceive our audience as our judges, then we develop knocking knees and sweaty palms. But if we perceive our audience as our friends who have gathered to cheer us and admire us, and if we perceive ourselves as having valuable thoughts, feelings, ideas to share, our anxiety can’t find room at the table. We’re too busy with our enthusiasm. We’re too busy having a good time. We’re too busy being real to worry about how we’re being perceived.

I’m here also to tell you that how you feel at the podium—joyous, enthused, sincere, knowledgeable—is how you’ll be perceived by those listening. What you project is what you get back. How you see the world is how the world sees you.

What made my own dread of standing up in public fade away was a change of mind and a change of heart. It wasn’t learning tips and tricks, although those can be helpful. But tips & tricks are only band-aids on a spiritual wound.

The fear of speaking in public is not a material fear, like the fear of meeting a bear in the woods. It is a spiritual fear—internal, not external. And so the cure must also be spiritual.

We may gain confidence from learning tips and tricks about speaking in public, but in-depth confidence is to be found only within us. When we examine our motives, when we fish around in our hearts for true meaning, when we unearth our own voice, then we command the stage with presence—a presence born from knowing who we are and why we are there. Then we claim our power. Anything less is window dressing.

So the moral of the tale is simple: Before you work on a speech, you must work on yourself. You must have a talk with your mind before you talk to anyone not living inside your head. You must explore what you love best, what really turns you on, why it is of value to anyone else, and how you can make it a story they’ll never forget.

And contrary to the advice you may hear from others, you are not on the podium primarily to engage the audience. The audience’s pleasure is always a by-product of you engaging yourself. For if you are not having fun, no one else can. Audiences start to doze off not when you are boring them but when you are boring yourself!

The truth is never boring. No one is dull when they are revealing what they hold dear. And even a sleepy audience will come alive when you do!

By Saskia Shakin, author, More Than Words Can Say: The Making of Inspired Speakers.

Posted by Saskia Shakin on December 8th, 2009 in New Directions, Speaking Events | 2 comments Read related posts in

10 may

Going Down to Florida!

So I was asked to do the keynote at the Florida Conference for Women on May 12th. I’ve just finished writing my speech and am super excited to be going down to Orlando to speak to over 5000 women! Plus, I am leading a workshop called Tools for Change–for anyone who wants a fresh start, a new beginning, who needs some courage to get going and change something in her life. It’s last minute if you haven’t booked the trip yet. But, hey, why not, spontaneity is a great thing. Here is the link.

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Posted by Ariane de Bonvoisin on May 10th, 2009 in Speaking Events | No comments Read related posts in

14 oct

The 24-Hour No Blame Challenge

I recently joined WebTalk Radio host Paul McLoughlin for a wide-ranging interview addressing the anxieties currently gripping the nation and how to navigate a host of changes.

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Posted by Ariane de Bonvoisin on October 14th, 2008 in Global/Social Change, Speaking Events | No comments Read related posts in

05 oct

Three Rules for Change

It’s been an eventful last few days. At the Pennsylvania Governors Conference for Women, Elizabeth Edwards, the keynote speaker had to cancel last minute for health reasons. I was asked to step in and take the main stage in front of 6,000 people. If that’s not stretching your change muscle, I don’t know what is…it reminded me of what Eleanor Roosevelt once said–”you learn by living.” You gain strength, courage and confidence by every expierence in which you really stop to look fear in the face.

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Posted by Ariane de Bonvoisin on October 5th, 2008 in Speaking Events | No comments Read related posts in

01 oct

Overwhelmed by Change?

I’m on my way to the Pennsylvania Governor’s Conference for Women, where I’ll be speaking on a panel on “Second Acts and New Beginnings.” These are things I know well, and get asked about often. In fact, I recently got asked the following question via email from one of our members:

“What do you do when there are so many things that have to change (health, income, house, relationship status) that you get overwhelmed?”

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Posted by Ariane de Bonvoisin on October 1st, 2008 in Speaking Events | No comments Read related posts in

06 aug

Tales from Seattle…and More

One of the most amazing things about being an author is the opportunity to visit new people in new places. I’ve always loved Amazon and wondered what the company was like. All I knew is what most people know-it is based in Seattle (a beautiful city I’d never been to, actually) and that it’s one of the fastest growing companies out there!

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Posted by First 30 Days on August 6th, 2008 in Speaking Events | No comments Read related posts in

29 may

Travel Update

Thanks to all of you who have sent emails about the book and how much you’re enjoying it! It’s making all the airline miles I’ve racked up in these few weeks worthwhile.

Being home for a few days is nice, and before I head out again I’ll be at East West Living tonight at 7:00 for a book signing and talk in the Cafe. If you’re in the New York City area, please do stop in and say hello!

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Posted by First 30 Days on May 29th, 2008 in Speaking Events | No comments