Coaching crisis public speaking

Unlocking the Power of Paralipsis: Say More by Not-Saying It

Decades ago, my community decided to ban teaching contraception in grade nine sex ed classes.

My sex ed teacher was a pretty crafty guy, though. He used a clever rhetorical device called paralipsis to teach us the necessary material.

Paralipsis allows you to bring attention to something by pretending to ignore or omit it. In the case of my sex ed teacher, he started his class by saying,

“You probably heard this, but a new law says I’m no longer allowed to teach contraception. For example, I can no longer tell you about condoms, the pill, diaphragms, vasectomies, and….”

And then, he would tell us how he couldn’t explain what each was, how they were used, or their effectiveness rates. Naturally, we eagerly took notes on everything he wasn’t saying!

Paralipsis can be an extraordinarily effective technique for gaining and keeping the audience’s attention! Here’s how it works:

1️⃣ Creating intrigue and curiosity: Paralipsis piques interest and captivates your audience by hinting at something without directly stating it. It creates an air of mystery and intrigue, making them lean in and actively listen to uncover the implied message.

2️⃣ Addressing sensitive topics: Paralipsis can be valuable when broaching sensitive or controversial subjects. You can acknowledge the issue indirectly, acknowledging its existence and even dare to dive deeper into it. This approach allows you to navigate tricky waters while still recognizing the importance of the subject matter.

3️⃣ Sparking audience engagement: Using paralipsis strategically invites your audience to actively participate in deciphering the hidden message. Your audience is encouraged to fill in the gaps. This fosters engagement and creates a more interactive presentation experience.

Paralipsis is a delicate art. Use it sparingly and purposefully to amplify your message. It’s a powerful way to say more by saying less, leaving a lasting impression on your audience.

Heck, I remember my teacher’s message, and it’s been DECADES.


Laura Bergells teaches public speaking and business communication classes and workshops. Hire Laura.

Take Laura’s communications and public speaking classes at LinkedIn Learning.  – Free to LinkedIn Premium Members! 

Coaching communication crisis web meetings

Practice flags, bridges, and hooks

Flags, Bridges, and Hooks

You’ll want to practice your flags, bridges, and hooks. They can help you as you present on camera or go into media interviews.

Flags, bridges, and hooks help make a media interview conversational. They also help you answer tough questions and make a stronger impact.

🚩 Flagging statements signal you’re about to say something important. Think of someone planting a flag: it captures attention.

Flag examples:

🚩 If you remember one thing: remember this…
🚩 This is the key takeaway…
🚩 It all comes down to this….

Flagging Statements

🌉 Bridging statements signal you’re about to transition into another subject. Think of crossing a bridge: you’re going from one area to another.

Bridge examples:

🌉 Let’s turn our attention to…
🌉 Another area of interest is…
🌉 Let’s look at…

Bridging Statements

🦈 Hooking statements inspire your audience to ask follow up questions. Think of dangling tempting bait that lures the interviewer into asking questions you want them to ask.

Hook examples:

🐠 That’s just one easy method to…
🐠 There’s yet another way to get even better results.
🐠 I recommend a totally new approach.

Hooking Statements

Of course, there are other examples of flagging, bridging, and hooking statements. 🦈

Be prepared. Drill your tough questions, and practice your flags, bridges, and hooks before your next media interview or online, on-camera appearance.


Laura Bergells is a professional story finder. She writes, coaches, teaches, and speaks. Check out her online courses at LinkedIn Learning.

🔥🔥🔥 Laura also teaches “Presenting On Camera” – a live, interactive group class for sales and training professionals who need to shift from in-person to on-camera presentations. Call to inquire about availability and rates.

Coaching communication crisis video web meetings

Try the Turkey Tail Technique in your next Zoom Meeting

Turkey Tail Technique for on camera presentations

You need to maintain eye contact with a reporter or interviewer during an on-camera appearance. And yet, you need to cover your main talking points. And stick to an agenda and stay on time.

And you don’t want to have wandering or shifty eyes while you’re talking on-camera! What to do, what to do? How can you look at the camera and still keep focused on your main talking points?

Try using what I call ‘THE TURKEY TAIL TECHNIQUE.”

In the Turkey Tail, you put each agenda item or main talking point on one post it note. Stick the post it notes across your laptop or monitor. Fan the post it notes out like a Turkey Tail!

That way, you can subtly and evenly glance at your agenda items without having wild or wandering eyes. You can maintain good eye contact with the camera, and still keep on top of your agenda and main talking points.

Try the Turkey Tail Technique in your next Zoom interview or Zoom meeting


Laura Bergells is a professional story finder. She writes, coaches, teaches, and speaks. Check out her online courses at LinkedIn Learning.

🔥🔥🔥 Laura also teaches “Presenting On Camera” – a live, interactive group class for sales and training professionals who need to shift from in-person to on-camera presentations. Call to inquire about availability and rates.


communication crisis Education fun Presentation public speaking web meetings

Zoom Meetings: Prevent BATS IN THE CAVE with 2 simple tips

I’ve been in quite a few Zoom web meetings lately, and I’ve seen a lot of BATS IN THE CAVE, if you know what I mean.

If you don’t know what I mean by BATS IN THE CAVE — it’s when someone is using the camera on their laptop and I can look straight up their nose during the meeting.

Really, BATS IN THE CAVE is not a good look on anyone!

If you use a laptop for web meetings, I’ll give you two tips to help you get rid of that BATS IN THE CAVE look.

1. Get a stack of books. Raise your laptop up so your eyes are level with the camera.

2. Get a sticky note. Attach it to your monitor with an arrow or a smiley face, reminding you to look up and SMILE.

It’s the simple things. You can MacGyver this and still look like a polished professional.


Laura Bergells is a professional story finder. She writes, coaches, teaches, and speaks. Check out her online courses at LinkedIn Learning.

If you’re a LinkedIn Premium or member, these courses are free! If you’re not a member, you can either become a member or buy each of these classes à la carte.

crisis video

5 Common Crisis Response Mistakes

5 crisis response mistakes

Let’s explore 5 common crisis communication response mistakes… and what to do instead.

I’ve seen all five of these mistakes play out in the media recently. How about you?

1. Don’t ignore warning signs: conduct routine threat assessments.

2. Don’t cover up: take responsibility.

3. Don’t speculate: verify and confirm facts.

4. Don’t say “No Comment” or “I Don’t Know” : drill tough questions

5. Don’t appoint an outside spokesperson: train internal spokespeople.

How many of these mistakes have you seen play out in the media recently?

Consider this: I teach crisis communication on LinkedIn Learning.

The full course is one hour. It’s a great resource for leaders (and students!) to view together to plan for crisis response.

Check it out. It’s free for LinkedIn Premium members. I get paid when you take the course! >>>

communication crisis video

The four near enemies of noble emotions

Let’s UNMASK four near enemies. A near enemy is a WICKED emotion that comes disguised as a NOBLE emotion.

Near enemies can be more dangerous than far enemies. That’s because far enemies are easy to spot.

For example, hate is the far enemy of love. Or sadness can be a far enemy of joy. Since it’s easy to detect a far enemy, you know what you’re dealing with.

But near enemies are tricky. They pose as noble emotions while destroying the noble emotion. Near enemies are so good at disguising themselves, you might even mistake a near enemy for a noble emotion.

These dangerous four enemies can TRICK others…and they can even TRICK you.

😟 Pity can look like Compassion.

😍 Codependence can look like Love.

😑Indifference can look like Equanimity.

😂 Exuberance can look like Sympathetic Joy.

Beware the 4 near enemies! Unmask them!

Practice self-awareness. Gain emotional intelligence.

Laura Bergells is a professional story finder. She writes, coaches, teaches, and speaks. Check out her online courses at LinkedIn Learning.

If you’re a LinkedIn Premium or member, these courses are free! If you’re not a member, you can either become a member or buy each of these classes à la carte.

Coaching communication crisis public speaking

Answering Q&A questions and the path to wisdom…

Ah, Q&A. The “question and answer” portion of your presentation, where anything can happen!

Instead of dealing with a Q&A hog, let’s say someone in your audience asks you a brilliant question. It’s timely and topical! It’s directly related to your content! At this point, your answer can fall into three categories.

1. Hey, I know all about that!

2. I don’t know, but I can find out.

3. I don’t know.

Each category comes with its own set of challenges. Let’s explore each.

  1. I know all about that! On its face, this category seems easy to answer, but it’s not. In a Q&A, you’ll need to be brief. You must curb any tendency to give a comprehensive, long-winded answer. Being brief can be difficult when you know something thoroughly. Deliver a concise and concrete answer, then move on to the next question.
  2. I don’t know, but I can find out. Category two is a little easier. Your answer can be something like, “I don’t know, but I know I can find out. Give me your contact information, and I can get the answer to you after the presentation.” Move to the next question or closing, then follow up with the questioner when you said you would.
  3. I don’t know. Category three should be the easiest of all. It contains 3 of the 4 short statements that lead to wisdom. You can say one to three of them, as appropriate. Practice saying this out loud, every day.

    “I’m sorry. I don’t know. Does anyone else know?”

But why is “I’m sorry. I don’t know. Does anyone else know?” so difficult for so many presenters to say? I suspect it’s because they feel because if they are leading a discussion, they simply MUST know everything about it., or at least appear to.

But remember, you’re only leading the discussion. You’re not monopolizing it. You’re not expected to know everything. And no one likes a know-it-all.

Consider the four statements that lead to wisdom:

  1. “I don’t know” is one of the four statements that leads to wisdom. Practice saying it every day. It can help ease any discomfort you may feel when tempted to pontificate on a subject you know nothing about. Audiences will appreciate your honesty and simplicity. It’s refreshing.
  2. “I need help” is the second statement that leads to wisdom. Ask for help when you need it. “Does anybody else know?” might yield a helpful response from your audience or allies. If no one else answers, you might feel inspired to smile and say, “It looks like I’m not alone in not knowing the answer to your question!”
  3. “I’m sorry” is the third statement that leads to wisdom. You may or may not feel inclined to preface your “I don’t know” with “I’m sorry”. If you’re not sorry, don’t say you are. If you are, do so.
  4. Fittingly, “I was wrong” is the fourth statement that leads to wisdom. And it’s the one statement you won’t have to say during your presentation if you answer difficult questions truthfully and concisely.

Outside of Q&A, practice saying the four statements that lead to wisdom:

  1. I don’t know.
  2. I’m sorry.
  3. I was wrong.
  4. I need help.

Get comfortable saying these phrases. If you want to be happy and wise, you’ll be saying them a lot in a lifetime! Beyond wisdom, you’ll gain empathy and understanding through regularly saying these phrases.

Good luck on your next Q&A!

For your consideration: I go over responding to difficult questions in more detail in my Crisis Communications course at LinkedIn Learning. It’s under the section: “Developing Statements”.

Check it out here:

Coaching communication crisis Presentation public speaking

Team Presentations: what position will you be playing?

Team Presentation 4 roles

So, you’ll be presenting as a team. Super!

Make sure you know what position you’ll be playing.

One of the biggest mistakes I see in team presentations is when one person on the team is speaking — and the others on the team don’t exactly know what to do with their bodies.

Just because you’re speaking doesn’t mean you’re not presenting.”

Know your role in the team presentation:

💡Are you the team leader – acting as an MC or visionary?

🖊Are you the closer or subject matter expert?

🙌Are you supporting your team by being an ally?

👁Are you observing the body language of the audience and looking for unspoken questions?

When you know what role or position you’re playing, you’re more likely to really present as a team — instead of a rag-tag collection of individuals.

Get into a huddle before you present as a team. Know your position.

Support each other while you present. Go team!

Laura Bergells is a professional story finder. She writes, coaches, teaches, and speaks. Check out her online courses at LinkedIn Learning.

If you’re a LinkedIn Premium or member, these courses are free! If you’re not a member, you can either become a member or buy each of these classes à la carte.

Coaching communication crisis Education video

Don’t let cold hands stop you from writing: try Voice Typing

Sometimes, voice typing can come in handy for really unexpected reasons!

It’s October 1, and it’s freezing. My poor fingers are now cramped from typing in a cold room all morning.

Google Voice Typing to the rescue! I’ll open up Google Docs, activate voice typing, and talk through a first draft. 

Google Voice Typing within Google Docs comes to the rescue of cold, cramped hands!

I can always go back in and edit this first draft with my fingers later. But for right now, I’ve got deadlines to meet. I can’t let cold hands stop me from writing!

There are three other great reasons to use voice typing instead of finger typing for a first draft:

  1. You talk faster than you type. With voice typing, you can increase your total word count.
  2. You shut off your internal editor. When you talk, you resist the temptation to edit yourself as you’re talking.
  3. You reduce distractions. You’re not goofing around on social media or opening up another tab on your browser. You’re talking.

I find myself using voice typing a lot now. I get 97% accuracy with no special equipment. I just use the mic that comes with my $320 laptop.

No big whoop. In the olden days, you needed a special microphone and pricey software. Now, you can probably just use equipment you have on hand.

Voice recognition is getting better all the time. It makes sense.

Think about how many of those Google Home devices have been in use over the past year. Or how many times people use their Android devices to say “OK, Google” — then use their voices to issue a command.

Google is drawing on an enormous amount of data to be able to understand a wide variety of voices. I expect Google’s accuracy will only get better over time.

Cortana and Alexa and Siri? If they work for you, great. But they don’t work for me.

In my experience, Cortana, Alexa, and Siri are far slower and less accurate than Google. And this makes sense: these services aren’t drawing from the vast amount of voice data that Google continues to collect.

If you haven’t checked out voice typing in a while, give it another try. You may find that it works better than you ever expected!

(And as the weather gets colder, I’ll probably use voice typing even more.)

Are you a voice typing fan? Why or why not?

Laura Bergells is a writer and instructor. Check out her online courses at LinkedIn Learning.  You can also find Laura on Twitter and at YouTube.

Laura Bergells writes, coaches, and teaches. Check out her online courses at LinkedIn Learning.  You can also find Laura on Twitter and at YouTube.

Signup for LinkedIn Learning

Coaching communication crisis Education public speaking

Face it: you need to fake it. Authenticity is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Authenticity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. To show our care and compassion for others, we often need to put aside our feelings.

There are higher truths that need to be served. Ask a mother whose child has fallen off a swing set. The child is bleeding and crying.

Does the mother give in to her worst fears? Does she start weeping and screaming? Nope.

“You’ll be OK, sweetie. We’re going to take a quick ride to the emergency room! Won’t that be exciting!”

In business, we often find ourselves in situations where we need to be brave. We need to show confidence we don’t feel.

Let me share three situations where this can happen:

  1. A novice speaker feels terrified. She’s never stood in front of a group of professionals before. She has wonderful knowledge to share, but she has butterflies. 🦋 She feels so nervous, she’s scared she might throw up.

  2. A seasoned pro feels confident. He’s stood in front of groups a zillion times before. Minutes before a critical speech, however; he learns of a grave personal tragedy. 💔 Heartbroken, he feels like bursting into tears.

  3. A mid-career pro is on stage, wowing the audience. Suddenly, an alarm sounds. A flurry of text alerts go off, advising everyone in the room of a weather emergency. 🌪️The on-stage performer is so afraid, she feels like fleeing.

When “being authentic and keepin’ it real” means puking, crying, and/or running away — you’ll want to consider other options. If you feel afraid: it’s 100% OK to muster up courage and instead show confidence.

A one minute video, where I offer a little pep talk to a nervous speaker…

If you’re standing in front of an audience, you’re in a leadership position. Your fear can spread like a contagion. For the good of your audience, you can’t risk starting a panic by acting on your worst fears.

You need to show courage. You need to be brave.

It you want to be self-deprecating, you can call your real bravery ‘fake it ’til you make it’. That’s cool. I get it. I think it’s a shame, though…

Social pressure forces you to re-frame your “real bravery” as “fake confidence”.

…but I see you. When you say ‘fake it ’til you make it’ – I know who you really are. You’re my favorite kind of person.

You’re brave. When you feel scared, but carry on with confidence – that’s almost the dictionary definition of courage.


So let’s say you’re faking confidence…does this mean you’re an impostor? In a word, no.

I know social pressure can be a monster, though. You’ve probably heard voices say “fake” anything is wrong and bad.

Social conditioning may have laid a vicious head trip on you. It’s an ugly voice telling you any display of confidence needs to be “real” not “fake”. It’s this dreadful and simplistic notion of:

“fake always bad; real always good!”

News flash: sometimes, real confidence can be a real disaster. Further, a wellspring of heartfelt self-assurance is not likely to magically radiate out of a real expert who is suddenly thrust into a completely unfamiliar situation.

It’s why experts practice and drill. It’s why we rehearse and edit. It’s why we put ourselves in new and challenging situations.

We need to develop more than a shallow “just be authentic” form of self awareness. How can you “just be yourself” if you don’t really know yourself… or how you might act in unfamiliar situation? How do you work with authentic “fight or flight” instincts that might not serve you well?

Thoughtful, introspective people choose continuous learning. They’ll often pick an environment like a classroom or workshop to build experience, knowledge, and confidence.

Smart people don’t sit around and hope for confidence to magically appear when they need it the most. They go out of their way to develop and nurture it with training and practice.

Consider these three learning scenarios where almost everything is fake:

  1. In beginning public speaking classes, we practice physical exercises in a friendly environment. When we work on techniques and gain experience speaking in front of others; we start to feel less afraid. 🦋
  2. In speech workshops, speakers receive feedback. They may decide to tweak their content structure and word choices before going public. Editing and coaching often improves messaging.  ❤️
  3. In crisis communication sessions, we drill on worst case scenarios that have yet to happen. We role play to be mentally, physically, and emotionally prepared to face tough challenges. 🌪️

In each case, we’re not being 100% authentic. The classroom is a simulation, not reality. Through learning, we build confidence.

When you’re navigating through difficult and complex issues, be aware of nuance. Instead of a clinging to simple gut-level truisms; consider serving a higher truth.


Laura Bergells is a writer, teacher, and a #LinkedInLearning author. Check out her courses on Crisis Communication and Public Speaking. New this month: Establishing Credibility as a Speaker.

You can find Laura on Twitter and at YouTube.