Aug 25

The Power of Self-Talk

By Celeste DeCamps | General

My mind is going a million miles a second to every worst case scenario that I can dream up. I need to actually be asleep and dreaming but my head has other ideas. I’m in a battle against myself and I’m losing. Staring at the clock and willing myself to sleep is an exercise in futility. The onslaught seems relentless. I’m either replaying past events of my biggest regrets or I’m envisioning a future that is so dismal that my life seems hopeless.

I am sure I’m the only one in the world that does this. Just in case I’m not, I did find ways to battle the beast inside me and win a good night’s sleep. It’s not perfect and negative thoughts still rear their ugly head, but I have a better handle on it.

I read a great book called “What To Say When You Talk To Your Self” by Shad Helmstetter, Ph.D. I highly recommend it if you want to change the bad opinion you have of yourself to a more positive one.

“Self-Talk is a way to override our past negative programming by erasing or replacing it with conscious, positive new directions. Self-Talk is a practical way to live our lives by active intent rather than by passive acceptance.” Shed Helmstetter, Ph.D.

We do have more control over our thoughts when we force ourselves to speak them out loud. It’s like holding a mirror up to our face and realizing our impending doom is not even close to being realistic. We need to get out of our heads and look at what’s really bothering us. I found writing down my concerns and worries helps me to see them in a better light. Am I trying to control things that are out of my control like an earthquake, a hurricane or tight fitting jeans? Ok, maybe the last one can be controlled by eating less cookies, but I’m sure the science is still out on that one. 

Many of the things we worry about never come to fruition. I find confiding in a friend about my fears does help in alleviating them. I get a sense of reassurance that comes when someone who cares about me lets me know that everything will work out. We all need that lifeline that connects us to each other. It’s a nice reminder to reach out to our family and friends when we are dealing with insecurities and self-doubt. 

One of the ways I’ve found to help me stop the negative voice in my head is to flip the script I’m telling myself. I go back through my day and find something to make me smile. Sometimes it’s just remembering a funny moment. My favorite memory is a recent conversation I had with my six year old nephew, Kent. He said, “Aunt Celeste how old are you?”

I said “I’m 56.”

 “56! Wow! You look like you can be in your 40’s”

“Thank you, I’ll take it”

“Yeah, I knew you’d like to hear that”

Yes, every time I think of this, it cracks me up. I love his sense of humor and it makes me happy. It also helps me relax and think of more fun times in my life. I feel a sense of gratitude and hope. I think about how soft and nice my pillow is and I fall asleep. That’s when I realize, all we really need is a fluffy pillow to help us sleep. 

Aug 06

Nobody Cares and That’s A Good Thing

By Celeste DeCamps | Uncategorized

I read the following a few years ago: When you take a group photo and you look at the picture, who do you look for first? Yes, you look for yourself. You want to know how you came out. You want to know if your eyes are open. It’s not that you are completely disinterested in seeing the whole group, but you want to make sure you look okay. 

That analogy stuck with me. Whenever I worry about how I came across at a networking event, or a social get together, I remember nobody really cares. They are at home going over the same concern. “How did I do? Did I get my thoughts out clearly. Did I make a fool of myself?” 

I’m not suggesting that nobody noticed you or you shouldn’t always try to make a good impression. What I’m saying is that we shouldn’t sweat the small details of an entire evening. We get so wrapped up in other people’s opinion of us that we lose sight of the reality; most of the time people never gave us a second thought. I can assure you that they are not at home thinking about all you said and did. Unless of course you got really drunk and broke a lamp. That’s a different story. Everyone will be talking about that. 

Social anxiety is difficult to control when you feel you are constantly being judged. The first question I would ask is “How much do you judge other people?” Many times our feelings of inadequacy are projected onto others. When we don’t feel good about ourselves we automatically believe others see our short comings as well. 

It’s human nature to form impressions of people that we are meeting. We cannot control what people are thinking of us and they can’t control what we are thinking of them. What we can do is be open to finding the best in people and hope that they are doing the same. 

Once, I was being interviewed after I gave a speech and I was asked what my favorite quote was. I said Oscar Wilde’s  “Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about.”

I explained that it summed up my feelings of never taking myself too seriously.  I will make mistakes and not always say the right thing. My hope is to never intentionally hurt someone’s feelings. People may not remember everything I said or did, but they will remember how I made them feel. They will remember if I listened to them and cared about what they shared with me. 

Whenever you are beating yourself up over how you may have come across at an event, stop and think about this instead: Did you insult someone? Did you just talk about yourself and not ask how the other person is doing? Did you have too much to drink and were obnoxious? If you did any of this, you can redeem yourself by apologizing. Otherwise, think about the people you talked and laughed with. Take a mental picture and realize you had fun. Save that as your memory. I hope you kept your eyes open.

Jul 30

Get Up and Fail

By Celeste DeCamps | Uncategorized

There are only two types of speakers in the world. 1.Nervous and 2. Liars Mark Twain

No one likes to fail. We definitely don’t want to embarrass ourselves in front of someone, or especially a group of people. Who in their right mind would voluntarily get up and give a speech for an audience? Why would we put ourselves through the agony of knowing that there’s a really good chance we will bomb?

At some point in our lives, we will need to step up and take that chance. 

Whether it’s an oral report for school, the toast at our friend’s wedding or a nerve-racking presentation for work, there’s a good chance of screwing up.

Let’s talk about failure. I’m sure every one of us can conjure up at least one memory of a time we messed up—yet somehow we survived. If we could really die of embarrassment, I would’ve died many times. Looking back, I realized that my failures were all lessons I needed to learn. I wouldn’t change any of them, because those experiences made me a better speaker. I approach every opportunity to present to a group of people as invaluable stage time. 

Just like anything else done well, effective public speaking takes practice. The more opportunities we take to refine our speeches, the more chances we have to create impactful messages. We all learn from each other, and the only way we can do that is to communicate and share our experiences. 

When we take a look back at our lives and see how far we’ve come, we’ll realize something important: All those failures, all those cringe-worthy moments, left us with life lessons that inevitably led us to our successes. It’s that knowledge we need to share with each other. You never know who in your audience needs to hear that message that day. 

Keeping ourselves safe from embarrassment will keep us from growing and really knowing our potential. I love Friedrich Nietzsche’s quote “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” Yes, we may fall flat on our faces, but we will get up and be better than ever. Let’s give ourselves permission to fail. We may never know where that will lead us until we do. 

Jul 24

The Power of a Good Story

By Celeste DeCamps | Uncategorized

Fire Breathing Dragon
Fire Breathing Dragon

Four words that will get everyone’s attention: Once Upon A Time. Those four words have the power to ignite our imagination and get us excited for an adventure. We have been telling stories from the very beginning- Stories that have been passed down from generation to generation. Stories teach, inspire, and motivate us.

The one question I hear many times, as a motivational speaker, is “How do I present my ideas and keep everyone’s attention?” The simple answer is:  Tell them a good story. 

I believe the best stories are true personal stories. Let’s face it; facts are always stranger than fiction. Yes, once when I was bellydancing a monkey did grab my foot and started sucking on my toe, and yes I did take a knife away from a big biker dude and yes, I was almost eaten by a shark.  

I found that telling personal stories connects us to each other. It teaches us compassion and empathy. It gets our message across in an emotional way that stays with us. 

We are all hardwired to want to hear other people’s stories. That’s how we get to know each other. That’s how we learn from each other. That’s how we know to stay away from the crazy person who seemed normal until they started talking. 

Researcher Paul Zak presented his findings in a paper called Empathy, Neurochemistry and the Dramatic Arc:  How Stories Shape Our Brains. He took blood samples from people before and after they watched an emotional story. Two primary emotions that were elicited was distress and empathy. The brain produced two interesting chemicals: cortisol which is released when we are feeling distressed and focuses our attention, and  oxytocin, which triggers our emotion of care, connection and empathy.

Storytelling can change our behavior by changing our brain chemistry. To quot Zak: “By knowing someone’s story-where they came from, what they do, and who you might know in common, relationships with strangers are formed.”

The opposite was true when participants were asked to watch a video where there was no story.  People started to let their minds wander. There wasn’t anything happening to keep their attention. 

We have all experienced this. A presentation that is devoid of any emotion, just an explanation of facts and statistics. Our minds would dissolve into day dreaming just to keep us awake. I am sure most of you have experienced that. I think if someone is going to show a powerpoint presentation they should also pass pillows out to the audience. 

I think our greatest fear in public speaking is that we will be boring. Here’s a few tips that I’ve learned that I think will help take away that fear. 

There is a universal story structure. It comes in three parts. Beginning, Middle and End.

The biggest component is the battle between good and evil. The struggle and success against tremendous obstacles. 

The beginning: The  main character, who sets out on an adventure. 

The middle: They face daunting, sometimes frightening, challenges like a fire breathing dragon.

The ending: Our hero learns to defeat the dragon, understands the lesson that they have been taught and comes away with the success of those efforts.

Use descriptive words that helps our mind see the people and envision the scene they are in. 

Give details. Give us an idea of why you are telling this story. We want to know where the story is taking place. We want to know what you are thinking and feeling.  We want to know how the story will end.

Three parts to a story:

1. The hero of the story is your message.

2. The fire breathing dragon is your challenge. 

3. What the hero learned is your call to action.

We all have experiences of facing challenges that shaped our perception of the world. There’s a very good chance that someone in the audience needs to hear your message. This is our chance to help someone who is looking for answers or reassurance that they are on the right track. This is our chance to connect with each other. We all come from different places and different backgrounds but our stories are universal. 

Take that leap of faith and tell us the story that inspired you. The story that helped  you turn a corner and put you in a new direction. Tell us about your fire breathing dragon.

Jul 08

What Doesn’t Kill You

By Celeste DeCamps | Uncategorized

I love reading a good story that I can escape into. I enjoy movies for the same reason.  Disney always has beautiful animations and can really bring a story to life.  What I don’t like is that many of their stories start with the premise that someone, usually a parent, has to die. 
Cinderella and Snow White lose their mothers and then their dads make terrible choices of a new wife.  To make matters worse, the dads die too. Both young girls are left with jealous, horrible stepmothers. Snow White’s stepmom wants to have her killed because she may be prettier than her. 
In The Lion King, Simba’s father is killed by wildebeests right in front of him. Luckily, Simba gets over it by singing Hakuna Matada which means No Worries. He just saw his dad killed but it’s all ok now because we just heard a happy song.
In Frozen, both parents die. In Finding Nemo, the father loses his wife, and all of his children except one, who gets lost. The most traumatic by far, is Bambi. Bambi is just a baby deer when his mother gets shot. I am still not over it. 
Are you feeling uplifted yet? 
Why do these movies, meant for children, have to be so disturbing? I’m pretty sure you can get children interested in a fun story and keep them entertained without a murder taking place.
I resent the stories that prey on children’s darkest fear, which is losing their parents. 
I don’t believe that children should have to face that reality when they just want to be transported to a fantasy world. I still feel that way as an adult. 
I understand that in telling a good story there should be conflict, tragedy, overcoming a dark past filled with bad decisions. I wouldn’t have any good stories if I didn’t make some pretty bad decisions. 
We all want the happy ending that comes from a long, hard journey that is full of redemption, soul searching and finding love. 
Why bring all of this up? I was talking to Wen, a friend of mine, and she gave me a nice compliment. She said that my speeches always make her smile. She said that I never tell sad stories. I said “Yes, that’s true. It’s by choice.” Now, if you know Wen, you can’t get away with an answer like that. She wants to know why. Why make that choice? 
I don’t think I ever put into words why I wouldn’t tell a sad story. I have said that I prefer to tell stories to make people laugh but never really explained why I won’t tell a sad story from my past.
Wen said It takes courage to open up in front of an audience and tell of painful, sometimes heartbreaking experiences. I agree. I would never tell someone not to tell their story. If they think it’s important to share it, by all means, they should do so.  
I have a different perspective on it. I think I can tell inspiring stories without talking about the pain behind them. I believe my message is still impactful. I would rather make people laugh than cry. 
I also feel that if I were to tell my sad stories, there would be two different reactions. I believe some would hear my story and think, “Wow! That’s very upsetting, I feel sorry for Celeste.” (Thank you for that). I also believe that others would think, “That’s not such a sad story, I have much sadder stories.” 
Everyone has a story. It’s those stories that shape us and make us who we are today. I don’t ignore the past. I acknowledge it, especially if I think that my past hurts are affecting my decision making today. I just have to remember to drink my coffee black, without cream, without sugar, and without bourbon and all will be fine. 
At one time or another we are all faced with challenges. I like the motto “What Doesn’t Kill Us Makes Us Stronger.” Thank you, Nietzsche. I like to remind myself of that from time to time. We are all stronger than we think. 
I know that there is an emotional hook that many speakers use in hopes that the audience will feel compassion. It’s a way to engage the listener to wanting to know how the story ends. I don’t disagree with that method. 
I am talking about my own personal belief of exposing a wound and how I treated it. I don’t feel the need to start my story there. 
I believe in silver linings and sometimes they’re hard to find. I’ll admit even I couldn’t find the bright side to some events in my past. I had to face the fact some things are not in my control. “What Doesn’t Kill Us Makes Us Stronger.”
My hope is that I can inspire people to believe in themselves even when they are dealing with tragedy. For me, having a sense of humor, even in my darkest times, kept me believing in myself. This Should Definitely Kill Me, No? Carry on. 
I will always go for a comedy over a tragic filled movie. That’s how I approach any ideas I want to present. 
We are bombarded everyday with terrible news because of our access to the world in the age of technology. We need comic relief.  
I like hearing comedians take on the current political climate. It’s a real art to be able to make people laugh in the face of possible nuclear destruction. 
My goal in delivering speeches is to guide and entertain. I think we all deal with stress, anxiety and depression. There’s a lot of sadness in this world. I want to be someone who makes others feel happy and encouraged right from the beginning to the very end.
I believe we can deliver our messages of hope without talking about a time of hopelessness. I think we can inspire without talking about a time of great fear. I believe all of us standing here today are all a testament of “What Doesn’t Kill Us Make Us Stronger.” 
Sometimes we need permission to sit in our playpen and be unhappy. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact it’s quite healthy. Eventually, we need to get back to doing our lives. 
I know the cure for me is watching or listening to something funny. To get me out of my head, and focus on the silly side of life. It helps put things into perspective. 
We need to be in the habit of checking in with ourselves. When doom and gloom are threatening to take over, take a moment and breathe.  Make a funny face, do a silly walk or think of someone or something that will brighten your mood. 
When I was a little girl, I was under my mother’s feet a lot. I probably thought I was helping. One day a friend of my mother’s stopped by. She looked at me and said, “Well, hello. What is your name?” Innocently, I replied, “Shit Celeste”.  I heard that so much, I thought that was my name. My poor mother was so embarrassed.
To this day, when I find I’m beating myself up I can hear myself say, “Shit, Celeste.” I end up laughing. 
We should all be able to laugh at ourselves. It makes us instantly feel better. 
I think messages that want the audience feeling better about themselves should be fun. Messages about trying our best to find success should make us smile. Messages that inspire us to take chances should make us laugh.
I’m happy to report that no one was harmed in the making of this article. Today everyone lives. Take that Disney!
Jul 08

Why Should I Smile?

By Celeste DeCamps | Uncategorized

I don’t like being told to smile. Maybe I just got some really bad news and don’t feel the need to be happy for you. Someone telling me to smile makes me want to physically hurt that person. No one wants to smile on command. It’s not a genuine smile and it certainly isn’t going to change anyone’s mood.
What will help to change your mood into a positive one? Smile. Here’s the difference, I want you to smile for yourself, not anyone else. 
Trust me, I’m not asking you to be happy 24/7. I want to give you a valuable tool to use when you need to make a great first impression, or need an energy boost. I want to help you feel good about yourself.
Fun facts: Did you know that babies in the womb smile? They also smile in their sleep. Babies born blind smile like sighted infants. In other words: we were born to smile.
Adults smile more than 20 times a day whereas children will smile 400 times a day. Why do we have to grow up? Maybe the key to feeling and being young, is to remember to smile more. 
Smiling brings numerous health benefits. The simple act of smiling will reduce your anxiety, lower blood pressure, and heart rate. Research has suggested smiling reduces your bodily and mental stress like a good night’s sleep does.
Dr. Isha Gupta, a neurologist from IGEA Brain and Spine explains that certain hormones, dopamine and serotonin, are released in our brains when we put on a happy face. “Dopamine increases our feelings of happiness. Serotonin release is associated with reduced stress.”
Just picturing yourself smiling will bring up positive memories. This is a great help when you are feeling nervous or tense. It gives you a chance to relax and calm any anxiety you are dealing with. 
Smiling is contagious. When someone smiles at us, we automatically smile back. It’s a wonderful exchange of positive energy. My friend Carolyn, who is a serial smiler, told me the following. One evening she walked out of her office and stood in front of the elevator. An elderly man was waiting there as well. She looked at him and flashed her pearly whites. The man looked at her and broke into a big grin. He said, “Thank you for that smile. I’ve gone all day without anyone even looking at me. Thank you for seeing me and giving me that gift.” The power of a simple smile can lift up our spirits and remind us to share our good thoughts. 
 Smile for yourself, smile for someone who needs some compassion and smile because it’s the fastest way to feel good. Or not, I’m not going to tell you what to do. 

May 20

What is an Elevator Pitch and Why Do I Need One?

By Celeste DeCamps | Uncategorized

Elevator Pitch
Elevator Pitch

Whether you’re looking for a job or attending a networking event, you should have a 30-second elevator pitch in your back pocket. This quick commercial, spotlighting you, is the best way to garner someone’s interest. The goal being, that the person you are meeting will want to know more about you and your service.

Here are 5 tips to think about when you are putting together your elevator pitch:

1.  Just the facts. Write down the answers to these questions: Who are you? What do you do? What benefits do you offer? Who is your ideal customer? It’s important to remember that as much as this is an introduction of yourself, it’s also a chance for you to show how you are going to make someone else’s life better. For example: Hi, I’m Celeste DeCamps. As a speech coach, I help people have more fun standing in front of an audience. I am always looking for people who need help delivering their message.”

2.  Be specific.You don’t have time to recite your whole resume. Write down your major accomplishments and your specific skill set. Look at your list and take out all unnecessary words. The best way to do this is to say it out loud. Grab a friend and go over it with her. You want to come across as yourself. Memorize your pitch but it needs to come across naturally. The more you practice, the more you fine tune, the more you will find your message coming across smoothly. You want to sound conversational and not like an infomercial. 

3. Write your headline.  When you feel that you have a solid 30-second commercial, try to make it 15-seconds. We don’t always have time to say everything we want. The best bet we have is to be able to say enough to get someone’s attention. Hopefully, that person will ask for your business card and inquire about your services. For example: “Hi, I’m Celeste DeCamps. I will help you deliver your message with confidence.”

4. Be confident. Before you meet someone, check your posture. Walk in the room with your head up and your shoulders back. When you shake the person’s hand, smile, and look him in the eyes. When you introduce yourself, be upbeat, and speak clearly. 

5.  Listen carefully. As much as you want to talk about yourself take time to hear what the other person is saying. The more you pay attention to what the other person’s wants and needs are, the better chance you have of addressing her concerns. When someone feels that they are genuinely being heard, the more she will want to engage with you. Connections and relationships can be formed fairly quickly when there’s respect for each other’s ideas. 

Working on an elevator pitch takes time and effort, but it’s worth it. It gives you the opportunity to promote yourself and gives people an insight into what you can offer. You never know who will meet that can give you the chance of a lifetime.