We had the good fortune of connecting with Lisa Braithwaite and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lisa, what role has risk played in your life or career?
As an entrepreneur, risk-taking is part of my makeup. But it feels more like seeing possibilities, being okay with making mistakes, and trying again. Every day that I go “hunting and gathering” to make a living, there’s always a risk I’ll fail and have to get a job! As a speaker and trainer, there’s always a risk of failing miserably – and publicly – at expressing myself effectively. And because of the need for visibility and credibility-building, there’s always a risk that people just won’t like me! I’m willing to take the risks because I’m also resilient, and I know how to recover from setbacks.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I’m on a mission to help purpose-driven business and nonprofit leaders build visibility, credibility, and awareness for their work through engaging presentations, a mindset of service, and #speakingupforchange. I want them to know that they can create meaningful, memorable, and persuasive presentations by ditching perfection and creating connection with their audiences.
I’m against stagey, canned, unprepared, or one-sided communication that glorifies the speaker and ignores the audience’s needs and their lifetime of knowledge and experience. Instead, I teach my community how to deliver authentic, aligned, collaborative, and FUN presentations using relevant, practical, and useful content, that activates the audience’s emotional engagement and moves them into action. In the beginning, I just wanted to help people feel comfortable on stage.
In fact, the idea for my business came from someone who saw me give a presentation and wanted to know how to do what I was doing! My background was in theater and I had a master’s degree in education, and it all just made sense for me to teach the thing that I loved and had been doing for a long time. Over time, my ideas evolved, as ideas do. I didn’t see it at first, but my blog very quickly took a turn away from presentation basics toward serving and engaging the audience and embracing authenticity as a speaker.
When I decided I wanted to write a book and I went through my blog looking for content, it really hit me that my focus and core teachings revolved around the fact that we’re humans speaking to humans. We just want to connect and be emotionally engaged.
My book came out in 2017, and it’s called “Presenting for Humans: Insights for Speakers on Ditching Perfection and Creating Connection.” Now my ideas have evolved further, as the world has seen so much upheaval over the past few years, and I started seeing how speaking to engage becomes even more powerful when we’re speaking up for change. I began to teach how to speak out and speak up, using your message to help transform your neighborhood, your city, your state, or the world!
One thing I’ve learned is that it’s important to stay in touch with current events and current affairs, because even though we may have a timeless message, we still need to connect our message with what’s important to people in the moment. I had been teaching (in person and online) how to deliver webinars for years, although that presentation had gotten a bit stale. When we realized last year that our speaking and teaching was going to have to go online, I dug up that presentation, refreshed it, and started teaching on how to “Go Virtual.” Five days before California went into lockdown, I was already delivering this presentation!
And now I’m teaching about micro-presentations (under five minutes) because the virtual world is prompting event organizers to fit more speakers into an hour. We have to stay in touch with what’s happening around us, both within our industries and outside of them, because that’s how we know what people will need next (sometimes before they even know they need it!). My biggest challenge is always trying to figure out what people need and want next regarding public speaking training and coaching!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m going to suggest a side trip to Ojai! (After everyone is vaccinated, please.) You’re going to want to set aside a day for hiking one or more of the beautiful trails in Ojai, down in the river preserve, or up in the foothills. You’ll also want to visit Meditation Mount, with its contemplative International Garden of Peace, and views of the entire Ojai Valley. At least two days should be spent wandering around the downtown area, as the food and drink are plentiful, as well as the shopping. Off the beaten path is Tipple and Ramble, an outdoor venue with cheese and charcuterie platters, excellent wine and beer, and a cool laid-back Ojai vibe.
On the other end of town, in Meiners Oaks, is Deer Lodge, originally a biker stop and Ojai’s oldest restaurant and tavern, which offers up rustic farm-to-table meals. Spend a couple of hours strolling around after your lunch, because you’re going to want to browse Bookends bookstore, located in a renovated church, enid and edgar vintage clothing, and pick up some dessert at Farmer and the Cook. Back downtown, Ojai Vineyard is a must-stop for wine tasting (and friend-making!).
If you’re lucky enough to stop by when Charlie is working, you will never want to leave! Stop at Danski for one-of-a-kind women’s artsy fashion. You never know what is going to be hiding on the densely-packed racks full of colors and textures from designers around the world! One more highly-recommended shop is FiG Curated Living. They have unique home & garden decor, textiles, ceramics, glassware, bags, locally made jewelry, candles, and more. And grab a locally-made jun kombucha or an acai bowl at Revel. Seasonal kombucha flavors include the iconic local pixie tangerine and blackberry lavender. I could go on. There’s SO much to do, eat and drink in Ojai! Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shoutout to Women’s Economic Ventures, a women’s entrepreneurship and empowerment organization that helped me develop the skills I needed to start my business. I graduated from their self-employment training in 2004 and I’m still a very active volunteer and consultant for them. They’ve done so much for entrepreneurs in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties and they’ve created a community of strong, savvy and resilient business owners. https://www.wevonline.org/