Monthly Archives: June 2020

Jun 30

Collective Unconsciousness

By Celeste DeCamps | General

I know we're all feeling isolated and divided these days, but I believe we are more connected than we realize. Our collective unconsciousness is alive and more reliable than ever. We may be far from our caveman days, but the knowledge we share keeps us together. I believe in the age of technology; we are finding out, faster than ever before, how closely tied we are to each other.

In the restaurant business, you never know when unexpected customers seem to come out of the blue on what's usually a slow Tuesday night. I've had this happen and can't explain why the sudden appearance of so many people. Other restaurant owners have described the same scene and said short of consulting tea leaves that it's impossible to figure out.

What happens to our collective unconsciousness that makes everyone go out one night and not another? How did everyone decide that in a pandemic, toilet paper was the necessity? Why did everyone decide to make banana bread in quarantine? If I could crack this code, I'd be a billionaire.

Over the years, I've read accounts of two or more people who would come up with the same idea or storyline, yet they all lived on different sides of the world. They've never met and had completely different lifestyles. Each one believing that their thoughts were original and unique. I'm sure it's happened to you. You've come up with an excellent idea for a new toy that will be a hit with kids. Before you can get your patent, somebody has already put it on the market.

There are several studies of twins who were separated at birth and grew up to have the same interests and careers. They'll have the same taste in dress, haircuts, and even spouses. It's as if they were never apart.
It's easy to say that those are simply coincidences, but I believe there's more to it. I think the energy field that surrounds us also connects us.

Psychologist Carl Jung first developed the term collective unconscious. It explains how our mind is full of ideas and memories that we're not consciously aware of. Jung theorized that we are the sum of our ancestors' thoughts and experiences. We carry innate instincts that have developed over many generations. Without having any experience with animals, young children instinctively know which animals are safe to pet and which aren't. It's this culmination of knowledge that helps us to continue to progress and evolve.

I've been talking to many people who are feeling anxious and depressed. I tell them that they're not alone. We're all nervous about what the future holds. Feeling powerless leads us to fear and uncertainty. The only solace I can offer is that we're in this together. We need to look out for each other and be a sounding board when the anxiety starts to take over. We can help relieve the stress by talking, laughing, and crying with our friends and family. We can meditate together and breathe in hope. We are a collective, and we unconsciously are linked as one.

Now, will someone please help me eat all of this banana bread? 

Jun 22

What Does It Mean to Be Yourself?

By Celeste DeCamps | General

I had to be someone else to understand how to be myself.
I had to be someone else to understand how to be myself.

I was working with a gentleman who wanted feedback on his podcast. While he was explaining his concerns, I noticed that he sounded animated and enthusiastic. He kept my attention. I wasn't sure what he was worried about until I watched his segment. When he turned the camera on, he became stiff and sounded like an announcer. He didn't come across personable. It didn't match the man I had been talking to. When I spoke to him about his change in demeanor, he admitted that he had worked in radio for many years. He said he didn't know how to come across as himself when he's "on." It's something that he's struggled with. He's not sure if he can be himself.

I can relate. It was always more comfortable for me to be somebody else. When I was a disc jockey on the radio, I had two different personalities. One was the rock n' roll goddess of heavy metal, and the other was the sexy, soft queen of jazz. I impersonated film icon Mae West for a few events. It was a blast being this woman. It didn't matter what I said, as long as I spoke and acted like her, people loved me. I felt confident and secure. The only problem was, I wasn't Mae West. It was tough, but I knew I had to learn how to be myself.

A funny thing happened when I was researching Mae West. I found that it took her many years to become the star Mae West. She was always reinventing herself. She had her share of failures, but she was fearless. She learned from her setbacks and became stronger for it.

I started to realize that being yourself was how we perceived the world, and that perception would grow and change as we got older. The more experiences we have and the more we challenge ourselves is what makes us who we are. I had to trust that I had something to offer to others. I had to stop pretending and start believing that I was someone who had interesting things to say. The more I began to share my opinions and thoughts, the easier it became for me to speak my truth.

The advice to be yourself is easy to say, but one of the hardest things to do. Learning to be comfortable and feel self-assured is a journey. I had to be someone else to understand how to be myself.

When we're on stage or meeting people for the first time, we want to make a great impression. We want to be ourselves. People can tell if we're trying to be something we're not. My suggestion is preparation. Practice what you want to say ahead of time. Remember to relax and breathe. Don't be afraid of pausing or taking a moment to gather your thoughts. Learn to be in the moment and listen carefully, whether you're taking a question from the audience or the person you're meeting.

Record yourself. Listen and watch how you're coming across. Show it to family and friends and ask for their constructive criticisms. Living in a world of technology gives us unique opportunities, and we must be our authentic selves. We develop trust in our business and personal relationships when people feel comfortable with us.

The advice I gave the gentleman, before his next podcast, was to practice his presentation as if he were in a room with his friends. I told him to pick one friend who would relate to his particular topic. Think about how the person would react, what questions they may have, and how you would keep them engaged. Putting ourselves in another person's place gets us out of our heads. We become more concerned about their feelings and thoughts. The information we want to give is for their benefit. It takes the pressure off and helps us to relax. We become more comfortable in our skin and can be ourselves. The next broadcast he did, he was conversational, engaging, and more important, he was himself. 

Jun 16

What To Do When You Draw A Blank

By Celeste DeCamps | General

Quote: "I don't consider myself an artist, but when it comes to drawing blanks, I'm the best."

I'm standing in front of my high school class. The assignment is simple. Get up and tell everyone what you did over the summer. That year I was in a drum and bugle corps. We preformed and competed in different states. For the first time, I had an exciting story to tell. I was sure I knew exactly what I was going to say. The first couple of sentences came out strong. I was confident I was going to get through this anxiety-producing, exercise. Instead, my mind became empty. I hadn't a clue as to what I wanted to say next. It's as if all the words just floated away. I felt the heat rise in my face, and my palms began to sweat. The teacher was trying to encourage me to continue, but when my tears created a small puddle at my feet, he let me sit down.

I was so embarrassed. I was sure that public speaking was never going to be easy for me. It turns out, all I needed was a sense of commitment and a bit of masochism. In time, I was able to get over my fear of talking in front of a group of people. I learned how to be prepared and find the words before they disappeared.

Working with people to develop their communication skills, I quickly learned that I was not the only one who experienced their brain switching off. It's a fear that keeps us from delivering a presentation or sales pitch. I've found ways to minimize the chance of drawing a blank. When the rare time it does happen, and I'm at a loss, I know how to keep moving on.

Being prepared is an essential tool. Know your message inside and out. When I put my research together, I will go over it several times. I memorize vital points. Visualization helps with this because I turn my main ideas into pictures. For example, if I want to explain breathing techniques, I will envision my belly filling up like a balloon. It reminds me to describe the diaphragm. When I'm recounting an event, I "see" the place and the people involved. It helps me stay on track. Don't worry that you don't say every word that you practiced. It's more important that you developed a beginning, a middle, and an end. Your ideas are organized and easy to follow. Practice in front of your friends and family and listen to their feedback and advice.

Taking slow, measured breaths before my speech helps me to relax. Feeling anxious or nervous leaves us open to losing our place during our talk. Focused breathing puts us in the here and now. It's that kind of mindfulness that will keep us in the moment. We won't be distracted. Instead, we'll feel grounded.

Pause. Yes, take a beat. Dynamics help keep an audience engaged. When we stop for a second or two, we allow the audience to take in our words. It also gives us a chance to find our place if we have a momentary lapse. If you can't find the exact wording in your script, don't worry. Trust that you know your material. If it comes out a little different than what you practiced, it's okay. The only person who will know is you. Your guests will think you gave them a short time to digest your fantastic content. You'll appear confident and in command of your speech.

Let go of the idea of being perfect. It's too much pressure. Work on the presentation, and it'll flow. If you enjoy what you're talking about, your passion and enthusiasm will transfer to your listeners. Take your time, maintain eye contact, and smile. Unless, of course, you're talking about something sad, like humiliating yourself in front of your classmates. Okay, it's a little funny now. 

Jun 09

What’s Wrong (and Right) about Filler Words?

By Celeste DeCamps | General

I had to attend meetings twice a month when I worked in sales. Our suppliers would present their new products to educate us and hope to garner excitement. For the most part, they were dull and uninteresting. It was apparent that they spent very little time preparing their talk. To keep awake, I would make a checkmark every time they used a particular filler word. I would end up with about twenty or thirty "Ahs" and "Ums," and that would be only the first presenter. I would also make a list of "buzz" words that always showed up at these events. The winners were; "sexy," "fun," "take it to the next level," and our favorite, "think outside the box." It was a missed opportunity to inspire a group of salespeople to want to represent their product.

"So," "Like," "Well," "You Know," "Right?" are just a few examples of filler words. Most of us are guilty of using these place holders while we try to remember what we want to say next. We will use an "ah" or an "um" to let others know we have not finished our thought. Most of the time, these words go unnoticed. When it's excessive, it makes a person come across as unprepared and nervous. It will also make the audience feel anxious.

Ending our sentences with a "you know?" or "right?" as we're speaking is a way to make sure the other person is listening to us. We want to see a nod of their head in agreement. The problem with using these filler words too much is we'll come across as insecure. It will seem as if we need constant validation of our ideas. If we're making eye contact with the person we're speaking to, we should be able to tell that they are paying attention and understanding our point of view.

So, let me tell you about the time I had to take a knife away from a biker.

Why do we begin our stories with the word, "so?" I believe it's our way to enter into the conversation. It's a form of raising our hand and taking our turn to speak. If every sentence starts with "so." It becomes a crutch and weakens the impact of our message.

To be a more effective communicator, we must be aware of our use of these speed bumps. Here are three tips to help you smooth out any hint of hesitation when you speak.

  1. Be prepared. When you're making a presentation or introducing yourself to another person or group, practice what you'll say. Don't worry about being perfect. If a filler word finds its way into your speech, it's okay. The more groundwork you do, the less chance you will be "umming" and "ahhing" throughout your talk. 
  2. Breathe. Don't be afraid to pause and take a breath while your mind is looking for your next idea. Taking your time to gather your thoughts is more effective than filling the void with needless words. When you're the only person on stage, trust that no one plans to interrupt you. If you're having a conversation with another person or group and someone takes advantage of your break, relax. Let the person speak and then continue with, "as I was saying" or "thank you, for your input." Most people are anxious to join in and contribute, not meaning to be rude. 
  3. Practice mindfulness. You may be surprised by how many filler words you use when you slow down and pay attention to your own words. Better yet, ask your friends and family to listen for these little ticks in your speech. Recording yourself as you speak will give you a clear understanding of your speech patterns.

In our day-to-day interactions, we may not be as concerned with our "ahs" and "ums." Practicing to reduce our use of them will result in being a more fluid and confident speaker. Our passion and enthusiasm to talk about our ideas, products, or services will be more successful by eliminating unnecessary words or phrases. Our audience will appreciate a clear and concise presentation that keeps them interested. So, like, do you know what I mean? 

Jun 01

3 Simple Tips To Help You Be A More Engaging Speaker

By Celeste DeCamps | General

"Eye Contact is Important. Unless You Do it Too Long, then it Becomes Creepy."

"What do I do with my hands?" That's the question I get asked the most when it comes to public speaking. It's as if our brains seem to shut down when we have to speak in front of an audience. Why do we suddenly become so self-conscious that our natural body movements seem alien to us? I believe it's that fight or flight response we get when we are nervous. We know that the people in front of us are not going to attack us physically, but we are afraid of being attacked emotionally. Putting ourselves in the spotlight opens us up to judgment that we fear will be harsh. Read the comments made on Twitter and Facebook if you don't believe me. Worrying about what others will think of us makes us hyper-aware of everything we say and do, including our body gestures. 

I've seen people on stage rooted to the ground as if they were a statue. Their arms pinned at their sides, and their feet won't move. I've seen people pace the stage back and forth until it feels like we're watching a  tennis match. I've seen people talk about a tragedy with a nervous smile on their faces. Of course, they don't realize they're doing this. It all stems from feeling uncomfortable and tense. When we incorporate solid body gestures and movement in our presentations, we will deliver an impactful message. 

When we watch someone tell a story and put their whole body into it, we're not just listening. The story draws us in not only with words but with facial expressions, gestures, and body movements. A good speaker is a performer. Here are three key points that will make even the most anxious presenter more confident in delivering their speech. 

Facial expressions: 

Have you ever seen a speaker tell you a story with little or no facial expression? We're left wondering if the speaker is trying to be funny or not. Mixed signals happen when we're not showing the message on our faces. If you're not sure how you're coming across, try doing your speech in front of the mirror, videotape yourself, or, better yet, perform in front of family and friends. Ask for constructive criticism. The more you practice, the more confident you'll become. 

Here's what you need to know about eye contact. Try to imagine that you're at a party with your friends. You want them all to hear your story. As you speak, take your time and look people in the eye. Not for very long because then it becomes creepy. If you're making a point or getting to a punchline, pick one person and say the line to them. It will feel to the audience that you're speaking to them as well. Maintaining eye contact with people will help you gauge how well your message is received. 

Hand Gestures:

Gesturing helps to add to a story visually. It has to be a natural movement. If it seems forced, our message could come across as disingenuous. It's essential to keep from fidgeting with hair or jewelry. It becomes distracting and will take away from your talk. 

Hold your hands between the top of your chest to the bottom of your waist as you're speaking. You can steeple your hands together or clasp them in front of you. You can also let your arms hang loosely by your sides. When listing points, you can use your fingers to show the numbers.  Use a tiny bit gesture when you are talking about something small.  When emphasizing a vital point, clap your hands together. A grand gesture is when you have both of your hands apart and palms facing towards the audience. A "me" gesture is any time you bring your hands towards your heart or chest. A "we" gesture is when you open your arms as if you're wrapping everyone in a hug.

Whole Body Movement:

Using your body engages your audience and puts them in the story with you. It's essential to have good posture and radiate confidence, but don't be afraid to move with your narrative. For example, if you're explaining how you needed to be on your tiptoes to see out the window, replicate the action. Let the audience see you on your tiptoes looking out the window. Using your body to be a character in your story or to show activity creates dynamics. It's this type of level changes that keep your audience engaged. Move across the stage with purpose. Introducing a new idea or transitioning to the next part of your speech is an excellent time to walk to one side of the stage. When you walk to the front of the room, it creates intimacy. The opposite happens when you leave too much distance from you and the audience. People will feel disconnected from you, and they may not know why. If possible, walk into the audience. It's a great way to ask questions directly and get everyone involved. 

Eye contact, hand gestures, and movement all come together when you take the time to prepare. It's uncomfortable to be a statue and even more painful to watch someone be a statue. Remember to breathe and keep your neck and shoulders relaxed. Believe it or not, people want to hear what you have to say. They also respect the time and effort you put forth to give them an informative and engaging presentation. If you're genuinely passionate and enthusiastic about your speech, your audience will feel it too.