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Ditch Your Slides: Draw on the Power of Whiteboard Talks!

I went to a business meeting in a small conference room. The presenter whipped out a PowerPoint deck and started presenting at us.

It was odd. There was a whiteboard right behind him. Instead of presenting at us, we could have enjoyed a convivial and interactive whiteboard chat.

If you automatically think, “I must PowerPoint at people” instead of “I must reach people,” — it’s time to switch the default setting in your brain! Step away from your PowerPoint slides and embrace a blank canvas of possibilities!

Instead of PowerPoint, consider delivering a whiteboard talk (or chalk talk) for your next presentation. Here’s how a whiteboard talk can make a real impact:

1️⃣ Showcase Your Personality: A whiteboard talk allows you to showcase your genuine self. You foster a sense of connection and authenticity by speaking directly to your audience. It’s an opportunity to engage personally, capturing attention and building trust.

2️⃣ Amplify Engagement: Whiteboard talks invite active engagement from your audience. As you draw or write in real-time, it sparks curiosity and encourages participation. The dynamic experience breaks the presenter-audience barrier, fostering meaningful interaction and dialog.

3️⃣ Visual Storytelling: The simplicity of a whiteboard can be a powerful storytelling tool. Use it to visually illustrate your narrative, creating a transparent and memorable journey for your audience. Combining spoken words and visual cues enhances comprehension, making complex ideas more accessible and powerful.

4️⃣ Flexibility and Adaptability: Whiteboard talks provide the flexibility to adapt on the fly. You can adjust the pace, dive deeper into specific topics, and respond to real-time audience questions or insights. This adaptability creates a dynamic and tailored presentation experience that resonates with your listeners.

Presentations are not limited to slides alone. Reimagine the way you captivate your audience!

If it’s been a while since you delivered a chalk talk, it’s time to give it a whirl!

Laura Bergells teaches classes and workshops. Hire Laura.
Or you can take Laura’s communications and public speaking classes at LinkedIn Learning – Free to LinkedIn Premium Members!

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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! 


6 Ways Public Speaking Transforms You as a Person

Sometimes, students will ask to be excused from delivering an oral report. Many say they have chosen careers where they won’t be speaking to groups, ever — so why bother?

Wouldn’t a written report be better for them?

Of course not! When you use your voice, you have the potential to change the world! That’s the number one reason to learn and practice public speaking skills!

But if we put aside altruism and get all selfish for a second, let’s look at 6 things public speaking can do for YOU, as an individual who has no desire to speak in public whatsoever:

Public speaking help YOU because:

  • Public speaking builds your confidence. When you manage your fear of speaking in front of a group, you feel more empowered and self-assured. You can also get positive feedback from your audience, which can boost your self-esteem.
  • Public speaking improves your research and critical thinking skills. Preparing a speech requires finding credible sources, organizing your ideas, and presenting them logically. You’ll discover that oral arguments can often be far more persuasive than written ones!
  • Public speaking builds empathy. You’ll want to tailor your message to your audience. Audience research and reading the room lets you get out of your own head and into the hearts and minds of others.
  • Public speaking strengthens your oral communication skills. Speaking clearly, concisely, and effectively is a valuable skill that can help you in many situations, such as job interviews, meetings, presentations, and negotiations. 
  • Public speaking markets your business or career. Public speaking can help you showcase your expertise, network with others, and create new opportunities for yourself. 
  • Public speaking gives you a chance to meet others with similar interests. Public speaking can help you connect with people who share your passions, values, or hobbies.

As you can see, public speaking has life-changing benefits! It also allows you to use your powers of persuasion to counter weak arguments like “I shouldn’t do an oral report because I don’t plan on using my voice to bring positive change to myself or others!”

How else has public speaking helped you personally or professionally?

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! 

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Expressing Fears of Wild Boars, Roller Coasters, and Public Speaking

I was walking through the woods when a wild boar with red eyes and huge tusks stumbled out of the brush. He was panting furiously when he stopped to glare at me. We were about 8 feet away from each other.

I froze in my tracks.
He stared at me.
I stared at him.
He panted furiously.
I was as quiet and still as a rock.

After a minute, he snorted and dashed back into the brush. I stood there for another 5 minutes, not moving at all.


There are different ways we express fear, aren’t there?

When you’re on a roller coaster, you might start screaming as you make a drop. That’s your body’s way of saying, “Holy moly, what a thrilling experience!”

It’s a mix of adrenaline, excitement, and perhaps a touch of terror. Plus, screaming on a roller coaster is socially acceptable behavior. In fact, it’s almost expected!

When you face a menacing boar in the woods, it’s probably a good idea to freeze in your tracks and be as quiet as possible. They can easily outrun and tear you to pieces if you start screaming and running.

Now, let’s focus on how we express fear of public speaking. When you’re up there, facing a sea of faces, it’s a different environment than facing a wild boar or a roller coaster. You’re not soaring through the air at high speeds or staring down an animal that could easily tear you to bits.

Instead, when you’re on stage, you’re baring your soul through the power of expression. Your fear of public speaking is undoubtedly genuine, but screaming or freezing on stage might not be the best approach to captivate your audience!

Screaming is excellent for roller coasters. It won’t get you any attention. It’s socially acceptable and part of the fun!

Freezing is great for facing wild boars. It can prevent you from injury or death.

But neither freezing nor screaming are great ways to express yourself when standing in front of an audience! Instead, we rely on other forms of communication, like speaking clearly, using body language, and engaging in storytelling.

The good news is that you can manage your fear of public speaking with breath and body work. With practice, you can improve your presence. Public speaking is a skill that can be learned, honed, and refined over time.

So, let’s work on our stage presence, shall we? And if you ever find yourself screaming on stage, we might need to reevaluate your delivery techniques!


Laura Bergells teaches classes and workshops. Hire Laura.

Or you can take Laura’s communications and public speaking classes at LinkedIn Learning – Free to LinkedIn Premium Members! 

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How is Public Speaking Like Your Dog?

Public speaking and your adorable dog may seem unrelated, but they actually share six commonalities:

  1. Attention: Both public speaking and your dog can capture and hold people’s attention. When delivering a speech effectively, a speaker can engage and keep the audience interested. Similarly, a cute dog attracts attention and affection from people due to its endearing appearance and playful nature.
  2. Emotional Connection: Public speaking and your lovable dog can create emotional connections with their respective audiences. A skilled speaker can evoke emotions through words and delivery, such as empathy, excitement, or inspiration. Likewise, a good dog can elicit positive emotions, joy, and affection from people, leading to a strong emotional bond.
  3. Nonverbal Communication: While public speaking relies heavily on verbal communication, nonverbal cues also play a crucial role. Effective speakers use body language, facial expressions, and gestures to enhance their message and connect with the audience. Similarly, a friendly dog communicates through nonverbal cues such as wagging its tail, making eye contact, or using body language to convey emotions and intentions.
  4. Positive Influence: Both public speaking and a dog have the potential to create a positive impact on people’s lives. A persuasive and motivational speech can inspire individuals, spark change, or offer valuable insights. Similarly, spending time with a dog can uplift your mood, reduce stress, and promote a sense of happiness and well-being.
  5. Memorability: Memorable experiences are often associated with public speaking and our pets. A powerful speech can stick in people’s minds, resonating with them long after it’s delivered. Similarly, your dog can leave lasting impressions, as people tend to remember their interactions and the happiness they experienced in your dog’s presence.
  6. Forgiveness: When a speaker fumbles a word or two, the audience easily forgives them because they bring so much value. Similarly, when your dog makes little mistakes around the house, you quickly forgive them and move on.

While public speaking and a dog may have different contexts and purposes, they both possess qualities that make them captivating, emotionally engaging, and memorable to the people who encounter them.

How else is public speaking like a good dog?

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! 

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Speak As If You Were on a Roller Coaster!

“Speak as if you were on a roller coaster.”

Like riding a roller coaster, your speech needs to have its ups and downs, moments of excitement, and moments of calmness.

By incorporating variation in your tone, pitch, and pacing, you can engage your audience and keep them entertained throughout your presentation.

This technique adds energy to your delivery and helps you capture and maintain your listeners’ attention.

Remember, public speaking is a journey, so buckle up and take your audience on an exhilarating ride!


Laura Bergells is a business communication coach. You can her public speaking foundations video course on LinkedIn Learning. It’s FREE until June 12, 2023.

The course is in English, with Italian subtitles, for extra fun! It’s a wild ride, so buckle up!

Here’s the link:

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Class v. Workshop: What’s the difference?

A class is where you learn facts and theories.
A workshop is where you learn skills and practices.

A class is where you get grades and certificates.
A workshop is where you get feedback and stickers.

A class is where you have homework and exams.
A workshop is where you have projects and presentations.

A class is where you have classmates and friends.
A workshop is where you have colleagues and enemies.

And finally,

A class is where you sit and listen to a teacher who knows everything and tells you what to do.

A workshop is where you sit and listen to a facilitator who knows nothing and asks you what to do!

Laura Bergells teaches classes and workshops. Hire Laura.

Or you can take Laura’s communications and public speaking classes at LinkedIn Learning.  – Free to LinkedIn Premium Members! 

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How to Repurpose Content for Maximum Impact: The Power of the Story Arc

How can you tell one story across different channels without losing its essence or impact?

It can be so frustrating! You want to repurpose that story, but each platform has different requirements and audiences!

The answer is to start with the arc! Create a story arc to adapt your story to different formats, lengths, and audiences.

What’s a story arc?

A story arc is a structure with a beginning, a middle, and an end. It’s called an “arc” because it has a rising and falling action. The arc follows a clear progression of building up events and emotions and then winding them down toward the end.

The story arc can help you craft a compelling and coherent narrative that can be easily modified for different channels and audiences. For example, you can use the same story arc to create a blog post, a social media post, a video, or a podcast episode. You can also adjust the length of your story depending on how much time and attention you have from your audience.

How to create a story arc:

To create a story arc, you need to identify four elements:

  1. The Hook: Grab Your Audience’s Attention

    The hook is an opening sentence or paragraph that grabs your audience’s attention and makes them curious about your story. It should introduce the main topic, problem, or question that your story will address.

    For this blog post, the hook is the first line.
    “How can you tell one story across different channels without losing its essence or impact?”

  2. The Challenge: Create Tension and Emotion

    The challenge is the main obstacle or conflict you or your protagonist faced in your story. It should show what was at stake, why it mattered, and how it emotionally affected you or your protagonist.

    For this blog post, the challenge is “It can be so frustrating! You want to repurpose that story, but each platform has different requirements and audiences!”

  3. The Solution: Show How You Overcome the Obstacle

    The solution is the outcome or resolution of your challenge. It should show how you or your protagonist overcame the obstacle, what you learned, and how you changed.

    For this blog post, the solution is:

    “The answer is to start with the arc! You’ll want to create a story arc that you can adapt your story to different formats, lengths, and audiences.”

  4. The Takeaway: Share Your Main Point or Message

    The takeaway is the main message you want your audience to remember from your story. It should relate to your purpose, audience, and channel and include a call to action if applicable.

    For this post, a solution might be “Start with the arc!”

Use the Story Arc as Your Building Blocks

Once you have these elements, you can use them as building blocks to create different versions of your story for different platforms. Let’s use this blog post as an example:

  1. The Hook: Use it to create a headline or an Instagram caption

    I riffed on the hook to create the headline for this blog post. I might also use it for an Instagram caption or a Twitter post.

    Blog Title: “How to Repurpose Your Stories for Maximum Impact: The Power of the Story Arc”

  2. The Challenge: Use it as a video/podcast teaser

    If I was going to create a YouTube video teaser or a podcast episode, I might start by riffing on the challenge.

    Video Intro: “You want to repurpose one story across a variety of platforms, but dang it! Each platform has different requirements and audiences! What are you supposed to do?”

  3. Solution: Use it as a case study, LinkedIn post, or presentation

    If I was creating this blog as a case study or an instructional presentation, I might go straight to the solution:

    “To repurpose content that you can easily adapt to different platforms, start by creating a story arc. Here’s how…”

  4. Takeaway: Great for titles, rallying cries, and tweets

    I can always use a takeaway as a conclusion, a call to action or a rallying cry. I might even do a simple tweet on Twitter.

    “Want to repurpose content more easily? Start with the arc! Here’s how:”

By creating a story arc, you can more easily repurpose your stories for multiple platforms without losing their essence or impact. You can also create a consistent brand message across different channels and audiences, which can help you build your authority and reputation online.

I think you can see how this blog post is going to end! I’ll give you a final rallying cry for repurposing content:

Start with the arc!

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! 


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How You Can Learn to Be Authentic by Pretending to Be Someone Else

Speaking on a stage isn’t the same as chatting with your friends on the phone. Duh.

On stage, you’re standing up straight, using broad gestures, and commanding the room with a well-structured narrative. If you’re good at it, you’ve probably even rehearsed. (Please tell me you’ve rehearsed!)

But when you’re on the phone with a friend, you’re slouched on your couch, curled under a blanket, and breezing through half-baked plans and ideas. And there’s no rehearsal at all.

Just Be Yourself and Act Natural??? Whaaaat???

And yet, some public speaking coaches will tell you the key to public speaking is to “just be yourself.” Oe “just act natural. Or “just be authentic.”

Whaaaa? Obviously, this advice isn’t specific enough to be helpful!

For many, being on stage in front of a roomful of people and commanding their attention isn’t a “natural” situation!

Public speaking requires many skills we don’t use in everyday conversations! Before speaking in public, we structure, format, design, and write. We rehearse our words, content, voices, and gestures. These planning, performance, and rehearsing skills don’t necessarily come naturally!

Curling up on the couch in yoga pants comes naturally to me. Standing up in front of a roomful of strangers in a business suit? Not so much!

Try this One Wacky Rehearsal Exercise

So how do you “act natural” in a completely unnatural situation, like standing on a stage or staring into a camera? And you have to do unnatural things like write, plan, and rehearse?

The key is to find your authentic voice. And for many, that requires practice, too!

Here’s one wacky exercise to help you find your authentic voice. Of course, it’s totally contrarian, and it’s peculiar. But here goes:

💡 When you rehearse your next presentation, practice it in different accents or while impersonating other characters.

Will you look and sound ridiculous? Yes. Oh, yes. But this exercise can help you in four ways:

  1. Bring the levity. Do you hate rehearsing? Many people do, that’s why they avoid it. By bringing humor to the rehearsal process, you might find you enjoy practicing your speech. Especially if you rehearse it as if you were Beyoncé. That way, you won’t avoid it, you’ll look forward to it!
  2. Decrease the tension. Practicing your speech as if you were a pirate or Mr. Rogers still lets you focus on the content of your speech. You’re taking your topic seriously, but you’re taking yourself lightly. This can help you lighten up and loosen up.
  3. Express your emotions. Speaking as if you were Barney the Dinosaur or a space alien can help you break out of your usual speaking patterns. It lets you discover new ways of expressing your emotions. You can also find surprising in-the-moment insights about yourself you aren’t even aware of! 
  4. Find your own voice. And finally, the contrast between a 1920s gangster and your own character helps you identify the unique aspects of your vocal patterns. A surefire way to find your voice is to hear the contrasts when they come out of your mouth!

Weirdly, playing with voices that aren’t authentic to your character is the key to finding your authentic voice. That way, you can hear and feel the difference in a light-hearted way.

So the next time you have a speech or rehearsal, try practicing it as if you were your boss, Bart Simpson, Oprah Winfrey, or any other character you choose. Yes, it’s weird. But think how much fun it can be to talk like Spongebob Squarepants when someone tells you to “just” act natural and be yourself!

That’ll show ’em! 😀

Laura Bergells teaches public speaking and business communication classes and workshops. You can also book a private, one-on-one Zoom consultation here: Hire Laura.

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

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How to Unleash Your Inner Lion with Your Voice

Let’s compare Michigan and England. Michigan is made up of two peninsulas, while England is an island country. We’re both a bit cut off from the rest of our respective continents.

Geographically, Michigan and England are about the same size. But here’s a big difference. While Michigan has a population of around 10 million, England has around 56 million people!

I live in Michigan and have clients in England, and here’s something I’ve observed: my English clients seem naturally good at projecting their voices. I reckon they pretty much have to be if they want to be heard around the din of so many people on their little island!

And my English clients aren’t afraid of using a mic if they have to speak in public. Not at all! They’ll take all the vocal support they can get without hesitation.

But what about the people of my own state of Michigan? There are not a lot of people on these peninsulas to compete for attention on a day-to-day basis. We barely have to whisper to be heard!

People from Michigan tend to be more soft-spoken than people from England. And when it comes to public speaking, many Michigan people can be hesitant to even accept a mic. Many think it makes them sound too loud!

Here’s another difference between England and Michigan: the lion is the symbol of England. It represents strength, courage, and bravery: admirable qualities for a public speaker, to be sure! And let’s not forget that lion knows how to roar!

Michigan, however, has a moose and an elk on its flag. There’s also a Sasquatch. These are all shy and quiet creatures that try to go about their business unnoticed. The symbolism of Michigan inspires a more modest and coy approach to public speaking.

elk, moose, and sasquatch

And so I’ll often have to coach clients from Michigan to project their voices so they can be heard in a public setting. Soft voices don’t command respect in a packed meeting room. In many situations, a soft voice can’t even be heard!

Many of my Michigan clients blanch or even shudder when I tell them to take mic support. They think it makes them sound loud and insufferable instead of modern and confident.

For my Michigan clients with soft, unsure-sounding voices, I’ll ask them to ditch the Sasquatch and embrace the symbolism of England: the lion. We’ll try an exercise called the “lion roar.” I use this exercise to help leaders with weak voices project confidence.

Here’s how it works:

  • Stand up and inhale deeply
  •  Roar like a lion as loud and as long as you can
  •  Repeat it three times

That’s it!

The lion roar helps you open up your diaphragm, relax your vocal cords, drop your jaw, and release any tension or fear. It also boosts your energy and mood. Plus, it’s a great stress reliever.

If you have a soft voice and have trouble being heard, try it before your next presentation. Hear, see, and feel the difference.

You’ll sound more confident, enthusiastic, and authoritative. You’ll capture your audience’s attention, emotion, and interest. You’ll unleash your inner lion. 🦁

Laura Bergells teaches public speaking and business communication classes and workshops. You can also book a private, one-on-one Zoom consultation here: Hire Laura.

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