A New Rule in My Classroom

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 July 2019 01:54 Written by Pam Chambers Saturday, 27 July 2019 09:01

I made a new rule in my classroom: If you need to use your phone during the break, please step outside. For all but the last month of the 30+ years I’ve been teaching public speaking, the 10-minute break would be filled with conversation, laughter, and movement.
But in the past month, break-time became silent-time as people instantly reached for their phones and remained in their seats with heads bent, silently scrolling through their e-mail.
This completely thwarted what MY breaks are meant to be: opportunities to build friendships, explore business endeavors, and enjoy rejuvenating camaraderie.
Do I have the right to keep people off their phones? No. But I do have the right to keep phone use out of my classroom, even during the break.
Last Friday I announced my new rule with a clear explanation about its origin and purpose. My students readily agreed, and during the break only two of ten briefly stepped outside. The rest behaved like the sociable people we truly are, when given half a chance.
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Stage Fright Can Easily Be Explained

Last Updated on Sunday, 12 February 2017 03:28 Written by Pam Chambers Sunday, 12 February 2017 03:28

Stage fright can easily be explained.

When you are seated at a conference table among your peers, you are equal to them, and part of them. From that physical position, it’s fairly easy to throw out a question, offer an opinion, or make a suggestion. But if you are required to “stand and deliver,” the equation changes. They are seated. You are standing. Thus, more is expected of you than when you were one of them. All eyes are on you and they may be watching in addition to listening. And, yes — sorry for the bad news — they are judging and evaluating.

A predatory lion, when stalking a herd of zebras, will asses which zebra it can most easily isolate. That isolated zebra is now as good as gone. When you stand to speak in the boardroom, Mother Nature may sense your fear and send adrenaline into your bloodstream so that you can fight or flee. But you will do neither. You’re too civilized to get into a brawl or run out of the room screaming.

Now, in addition to having judging eyes on you and being isolated from your peers, you also have to deal with the effects of having too much energy (adrenaline) in your body. This can cause head-to-toe trembling, a shaky voice, dried-up contact lenses, a blank mind, and utterances you can’t trust (or remember, once you sit down).

What’s the solution to stage fright? Speak often. Speak about what you know and love. Learn tips and tools for “what to do if . . .”

There’s an app for that. It’s called Pam Chambers. I can help. You can get my digital book, Life is a Presentation, for free by going to www.pamchambers.com. If you live in Hawaii, you can take my class or have one-on-one coaching. Even if you are far, far away, we can work together via video and You-Tube.

I am living proof that stage fright can be conquered.



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Two useful words for public speakers

Last Updated on Thursday, 30 July 2015 12:51 Written by Pam Chambers Monday, 22 July 2013 02:55

My public speaking students ask lots of good questions. I am amused by how often the most accurate answer is: “It depends.”

Q: The other day I was giving my committee report at the Board meeting. One of the Board members got up and headed for the door. What should I have done?

A: It depends. If this had been the Chairperson of the Board I might not have said anything, hoping that he or she would return promptly. It also depends on whether you needed a quorum in order to make decisions. Sometimes it’s OK to let people leave. Other times, it is not. It depends.

Q: Next week I will be giving a presentation on emerging global markets. I know that an expert will be in the audience. Should I call on that person, or should I hope he stays silent?

A: It depends. If you can trust that this expert won’t go on and on, I would find a way to use him. But if you can’t, I would ask him yes/no questions only and praise him generously for his presence.

Q: Pam, I heard you tell a story about employees who had to stay overtime to listen to you speak about customer service. They would be allowed to have a beer after you were finished speaking. You told us that you cut your talk short. Should you have done that?

A: It depends. Would I lose my audience if I spoke for 45 minutes? Yes. Would my client be satisfied if I spoke for only 30 minutes, and stuck around to mingle? In this case, yes.

In public speaking, as in many other activities, the answer to the question is, “It depends.” That’s when your wisdom is called forth!

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