An expert in career evolution, Lorraine Behnan gives leaders and employees the confidence and communication strategies to achieve their workplace and professional goals. She is known for her entertaining and energetic programs, which combine her skills as a long-time presentation coach for corporate executives and as a former actor with the famed Second City Comedy Revue.
What inspired you to want to be a speaker?
My passion for speaking started when I was 10 years old and I have my mother to thank for cultivating my interest. I would get reports cards that said, “Lorraine is a good student but tends to be talkative.” To harness this behaviour my mother wisely put me into public speaking contests. She was also my coach. We both won many awards. Public speaking lead to drama classes and theatre school which lead to becoming a professional actress. The skills were transferrable when I became a professional public speaker.
Any advice for aspiring speakers?
Know why you want to speak to people, and why the audience should listen to you. Observe many professional speakers at every opportunity. Continually evolve your ideas. Keep current.
What do you like to leave audiences with?
I aim to achieve three things:
- Introduce new ideas that are both inspirational and practical
- Validate their existing personal ideas or beliefs
How do you prepare before a talk? Any special rituals? A good luck talisman?
I have talismen— my late father and my late brother. I always call upon them before I speak, and thank them when it is over.
On a more earthly level, I warm up my voice and stretch my body just as an actor would prepare before a performance. I look in the mirror, I smile, and make a positive affirmation.
Do you have an especially memorable event you can tell us about
The greatest joys of being a speaker are the opportunities to experience many interesting people and places. I’d have to say topping my list of experiences is being in Iqaluit the night the Olympic flame came through town. The expectant spectators lined shoulder to shoulder, parka to parka, under the black arctic sky. The entertainers performed in 30 below temperature was a diverse combination of traditional and modern music and dance. Magical!
Any funny or embarrassing situations you found yourself in as a speaker?
Well it’s funny now, but wasn’t at the time. I was speaking in very large ballroom of a hotel and there was another function on the floor above me. I was in the middle of very amusing story which the audience was enjoying when suddenly joy to turned to horror as the chandeliers started to violently rattle and shake. The rock band above us had their speakers cranked to maximum volume creating the frightening tremors. You can imagine the event planners frantic exit to stop the music!
Is there a charitable cause that you feel passionate about? Why?
My charity is not dedicated to any one organization. Although I support many, I believe in daily charity–simple acts of kindness and giving that help people who are struggling with life challenges, be they big or small.
If you had to choose a new career, what would it be?
Desert island album?
I’d create my own playlist of eclectic music from country to pop.
Best subject in school?
English. I had a wonderful teacher, Arnold Connerty. He sometimes allowed us the option to perform the books and plays that were on the curriculum instead of writing essays.
Last book you read?
The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. Inferno will be next.
Last film you saw?
I’m more into mini-series lately. Just finished watching House of Cards. Can’t wait for season two.
I would substitute the word crush with admire. Maggie Smith, Judy Dench, and Helen Mirren. These enduring women are extremely talented, classy, and have elevated the art of acting on screen and on stage.