Archive for the ‘Craig Senior’ Category

Just Be Yourself

“Just be yourself!”

I often hear these words of encouragement from well-intentioned people suggesting how others could improve their public speaking. “Just be yourself.”

I always wondered what these words meant. “Just be myself.”

Who else would I be? I can’t be you. I can try to be you, or your neighbour, but I would eventually return to being me. I have no choice but to be me. It isn’t something I can vote on, but how does my being me relate to speaking in public? What if I was shy and usually spoke in quiet, whispery tones and rarely met eyes with others. What does being myself mean and is it helpful in public speaking?

Instead of depending on only my opinion for this answer, I asked the opinions of other speakers and speech coaches. The question was, “What does, ‘Be yourself,’ mean to you? To be or not be oneself, what would one do?”

Here are their answers.  (more…)


I’m a Star… Or at Least in One!

Not sure if having an article written about you in a community newspaper makes you a star, but this week a few friends and colleagues were surprised to open the “Orleans Star,” look at a picture and say, “Hey, I know that guy! That’s Craig Senior!”

This is my first hometown article. I had a few speaker-from-away articles, but none at home. The well-written article by reporter Laura Cummings describes my winning the Toastmasters District 61 Table Topics Contest for the fourth time, a how I got into public speaking, and what I hope to do with it. After covering the basic story, the interview turned into another form of Table Topics:

  • How has public speaking helped you?
  • How can it help others?
  • What are your top tips for public speaking?

To find out my answers you will have to read… oops, my phone is ringing. Could be a prospect looking for a presentation! Just a sec… I’ll be right back…


“Hello, My Name is C-C-C-Craig”


Let’s go back, back to your early teen years, maybe 13, 14 or 15 which are, in fact, your early teen years.  Do you remember the first time you fell in love?  When you saw the most beautiful girl or guy walk past you in school.  Music seemed to play from the walls as they walked by in slow motion.  Ah, total bliss.  You desperately summoned the courage to say, “Hi.”  You walked up bravely, ready to deliver eloquent words of introduction, but instead you stammered, stuttered and stumbled over your words.  Perhaps you dribbled, spit or sprayed on them.  Perhaps you fled in silence into the fantasy world of distant adoration.  With each failed attempt to communicate, you felt yourself growing smaller and smaller. 


If you remember the kind of nervousness you felt with your first romance (and for some of you that was just last week) then you understand what it feels like for those of us who stutter.  Even the simple act of answering the phone can create such fear that when the phone rang I would suggest, “That must be for you.  You answer it.”  Worse, the phone rang and I was alone… [ring] alone… [ring] just the phone and me [ring] alone. (more…)

Record Your Speeches!

I recently overcame the fear of recording myself speaking. Over the years, people recorded me on stage and didn’t give it a second thought, but I found it very difficult or impossible to record myself. Because it was difficult, I had to do it!

What a revelation! Why did I wait so many years?!


In recording myself I heard many stumblings and hesitations, jokes that didn’t work, and a slow, plodding cadence that detracted from a natural flow of sounds and ideas. At the time I thought it was great and I was so clever. I was irritating.

The next time I spoke, I intended to be smooth… and I was… more. There wasn’t  a need for remedial training or 20 pushups. I just needed to focus some intention. I didn’t focus my intention on the technical characteristics of speech, but on how I felt as I spoke. I could break it down to the characteristics of voice, but it isn’t as helpful as focussing on how I felt and the voice that results from that feeling. With practice, that intention will improve until it becomes intuitive, until I am no longer aware of its presence – it is just how I speak.

T.J. Walker, Chairman, Executive Producer and Host of Speaking Channel TV kindly sent me a wonderful idea: “…videotape them [someone learning to speak in public] secretly while they are just having a conversation. Then videotape them while they are giving a speech. Most people will see that their natural ‘being themselves’ mode of speaking is drastically superior and will then use that as their role model.”

Record yourself. Then identify something you would like to improve. Focus your intention, focus your feelings, and let me know what you notice. How fast did you improve?

“What’s Next?” Keynote for EDC Toastmasters 10th Anniversary

In 1997, while working at SHL Systemhouse, David McCaw sponsored the Qualicum Toastmasters Club at the Qualicum Business Centre on Baseline Road in Ottawa (okay, Nepean). I mentored the club for six months.

The hard driving, hard playing high tech industry and highly supportive management team made this a fun club where everyone had fun growing to their potential in public speaking.

Craig and Louise Legault-Hatem at EDC Toastmasters 2007-11-2910 years later, with the commitment of amazing charter members Louise Legault-Hatem and Derek Horne, and the leg-up help from Jen Empey, the Club moved to the Export Development Corporation, and was rechristened EDC Toastmasters.

On 2007-11-29, I shared a few moments in the form of a keynote speech at their 10 anniversary party. It was a fun, free-flowing keynote with a simple, meaningful message for them.

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Angelic Evening

Angels move among us. As a self-proclaimed pragmatic philosopher, my official position on all things unseen is that I simply do not know. To insist that nothing exists beyond the physical seems as blindly faith-bound as believing that something does exist.

Recently, I experienced angels, real angels, angels I could touch. My great friend and best-selling author, Peggy McColl of connected me with The Angel Consultants. They needed a master of ceremonies for a special evening event and Peggy labelled me, “The Guy.” Peg contacted me, told me about the event. It sounded a little weird, so I naturally said, “Yes!”


Toastmasters Table Topics Champ (x4)!

Craig Senior Wins District 61 Table Topics 2007

I won the Toastmasters District 61 Table Topics Contest in Mont Tremblant, Quebec on 2007-11-19. In the Table Topics contest, competitors leave the room. One at a time, we return, wait at the back of the room, receive a question, walk to the stage, and speak for one to two minutes. The speeches are improvised! The only preparation time we get is the time it takes to walk to the front of the room.

The topic was “Anger management is self-explanatory; define what compulsive happiness means to you.” For me, compulsive happiness is not ear-to-ear smiling that accompanies perky perpetual partying. It is that middle space of quiet contentment and self-assurance between life’s highs and lows. Happiness is a decision.

Happiness is looking into the kind eyes of 350 people, watching them respond in our time together, watching them nod agreement or confirmation, watching and hearing them laugh. Being onstage is one of life’s great pleasures.

I’m also fortunate to have won this contest four times: 1999, 2001, 2003, and 2007.  The other times, I was pleased to see some wonderful speakers and friends bring home the big shiny trophy! It’s fun to give others a high five, way to go!

Now for the International Speech and Evaluation contests in 2008. Time to prepare…

Stuttering to Speaking

craig1.jpgIn 1994, I stuttered so bad, I had trouble saying my name. A gyrating, “C-C-C-Craig” was usually all I could muster. A co-worker introduced me to the Toastmasters program. I knew that public speaking was a good thing no matter what and I HAD to do it. It became my mission.

Along the way, I took many courses, read many books, and took EVERY opportunity I could find to speak.  I learned some things and created new distinctions that helped simplify speaking for me. I shared these ideas with others and people found them helpful. Eventually, people started to beg me to share these ideas with more and more people.

Thirteen years later, today, I decided that this would become my new life mission – helping others to do what I do, to speak in public with power and passion. I do not know where this will lead me, so please come along as we discover together.