24 Jul Rewind: Professor Gates meets Sgt. Crowley

If only everyone had obeyed our SOS Stop-Observe-Strategize Principle, one esteemed Harvard professor and one well regarded police sargeant in Cambridge Massachuseetts would be sleeping better tonight.

So to the both of you, think mind over mouth next time.

1. Sgt. Crowley: Couldn’t you have used your astute observation
skills to surmise that the well dressed, articulate and arrogant fella
was likely a Harvard man? Could you have made nice?

2. Professor Gates, yes you just returned from China and couldn’t get
into your own house but you’ve been controlling your demeanor for good
results your whole life.

Could you have told yourself “this is really not my day” and come up with a way to humor the stone faced officer? How about finding out more about what job he had turned up at your home to do, then proudly shown your ID?

Ok no one, black or white, likes to show identification at their own house, but the officer would have called it a day and you would have had the time for tea and jet lag recovery

3. Hey guys, you are both supposedly experts in racial profiling.
Shouldn’t this have led to a bond not a breakdown?

Imagine a rewind:
Gates: Here’s my ID. I’m head of African American Studies here at Harvard–just got back from China

Crowley: Sorry Professor, this isn’t your day is it? Sorry for the inconvenience but we got a call and there’s been quite a few burglaries lately. Well I’m off to the police academy to teach.

Gates: Really, what do you teach?

CrowleY: Ethics and avoiding racial profiling

Gates: Terrific… that’s my expertise too. well keep up the good work. And thanks for watching out for the neighborhood. And keep being cool before you use those handcuffs on some dude.
Crowley: No problem professor. Remember your keys next time.

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Katie Ackerley
katie@speechimprovement.com

22 Jul Boston tweet-up in August

Following the great success and interest in our first Social Media seminar, I am planning to organize a tweet-up in the first half of August.

Please get in touch with me by email or leave a message below, and suggest topics of discussion as well as preferred day/time.

Wahyd Vannoni
Director of New Media / Coach

http://speechimprovement.com/pages/wahyd_vannoni.php

The Speech Improvement Company, Inc.

1614 Beacon Street
Brookline, MA 02446
USA

Phone: +1 617-739-3330
Fax: +1 617-232-9430

http://www.speechimprovement.com

Connect: http://www.linkedin.com/in/vannoni

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Katie Ackerley
katie@speechimprovement.com

20 Jul How Obama Talks: Why Obama Needs a Teleprompter

Commentary by Laurie Schloff

“When Obama’s telempromter screen shattered abruptly at a White House press briefing last week, the audience held its collective breath.

Obama’s communication strength lies in his ability to deliver a prepared, pre-written speech, not to ad lib, “wing it” or be impromptu. Communication coaches observe that this difference in skill depending on context is not unusual at all. In fact, John McCain (remember him?) was way more smooth when responding to on-the-spot questions than
reading off a teleprompter.

Luckily for Obama, there was an additional teleprompter screen at his briefing and he continued on with his usual grace.”

Question: What do you like or not like about the way Obama speaks?

Next Obama Talk: What’s he doing with his hands?

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Katie Ackerley
katie@speechimprovement.com

16 Jul “If I can’t play my way, I QUIT!”

Sarah Palin’s resignation speech, given a few weeks ago in her hometown of Wasilla, Alaska, caught the attention of many people across the country, including our TSIC Coaches. The speech was met with mixed reviews from various news sources, so we decided to give our analysis. Here’s what Dr. Dennis Becker thought:

“From my perspective, the most “telling” part of her rambling speech was the part she seemed to emphasize and relish in the most – the Sarah “Barracuda” basketball analogy. In that portion, she compared herself to the point guard in basketball.  She proclaimed the role of decision maker and initiator of action for the team. Her inflection and emphasis were sincere, I thought. She was actually excited by the prospect of being in that role, again. However, as I listened to that portion, knowing the role of point guard, and reflecting on her past roles, it brought me to a conclusion.

I believe that her past successes as a prom queen, basketball star, college tv personality, popular and articulate Mom, attractive female (and remember, we’re talking Wasilla, Alaska – so, everything is relative), all gave her the PTA platform. Her position as the outspoken one in this group, like in any group, gave her the platform for City Council, and even the platform for Governor. So, as a “communicator,” recognizing all her attributes, she was able to progress on her “popularity and personality.”

Last year at this time, the Republicans recognized that their candidate was a bit too old, a poor speaker, and needed help. Palin knew how to be popular, she was articulate, she had some achievements, etc., etc. So…”HERE’S SARAH!!”

Then, of course, she/we learned that popularity and personality were not enough, hence cries of “You’re not in Wasilla anymore, Sarah”.

Now, back to the question at hand – her speech. I think that what we heard was what could be expected of a popular kid who is used to getting her own way and being fawned over, and is then suddenly rejected soundly. Going home, she is met with only mild acceptance. Her own legislature is way over-balanced against her. So, what does a popular kid do when she gets dragged away from the only spot she’s ever known? She says “Fine! If I can’t play my way, and you don’t accept me, I QUIT.”

I think her speech was the representation of “sour grapes,” with no particular goal in mind other than to say “Na, na, na, na, I’m still Sarah, and you’re not. I’m going to play someplace else.” She came across oddly like Stuart Smalley (Al Franken’s character on Saturday Night Live), who claims “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and by golly, people like me.”  I hear it in the inflection, the tremulous voice, the speed, the anxious tone, and the overconfident, self righteous style that accompanied her somewhat pointless speech.  

Frankly,  I feel bad for her.”

You can find a video and transcript of Palin’s speech here.

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Katie Ackerley
katie@speechimprovement.com

08 Jul Catching Up With the Coaches – Laurie Schloff

The Coaches at The Speech Improvement Company are constantly working with new clients and launching new projects.

Laurie Schloff

Laurie Schloff

This week, we sat down with Senior Coaching Partner Laurie Schloff to find out more about what she is currently working on.

Laurie’s main focus at the moment is continuing her successful collaboration with the Healthcare Business Women’s Association. She and two other TSIC Coaches, Nancy Goldberg and Lau Lapides, have developed a series of workshops called The Leadership Success Series.

>Laurie, tell us more about this series

“The series involves six workshops aimed at helping female leaders enhance their communication skills. In these workshops, we cover topics like Speaking for Success, Effective Presentation Skills, and Top Teamwork. Our latest workshop, called Masterful Meetings, will be presented on September 17th.

The series has been very successful. In fact, it recently won an award called the Global HBA President’s Award for Innovation. We received it not only for designing a unique program, but also for drawing a high level of participation from the HBA membership.”

>How did you become involved with this organization?

“I had been speaking with Dennis O’Brien, PsyD, an organizational psychologist with RHR International, who told me about the HBA’s need for our services. He put me in contact with them, and it was smooth sailing from there.”

Another exciting program that Laurie is planning is her Effective Presentations Certificate Program on July 30th and 31st. The program is designed for business professionals who need to be more comfortable, effective presenters.

>What does the certificate mean?

“This is a 2-day program. It is a small, group-oriented, informal program but it is also very intensive. We award the certificate of attendance to all the participants in appreciation of their courage and efforts throughout the program. The certificate can be very useful for demonstrating continued career development and strength in the area of presenting.”

In addition to these programs, Laurie is also in the planning stages of a new book entitled “Speech Gems.”

>What are Speech Gems?

“Over the course of my career, I’ve created numerous sayings about speaking. I call these sayings my “Speech Gems.” Clients have told me how useful and inspirational these quotations are, and that I should write a book about them. I have experience writing, and I decided it would be a fun project to take on. I’m hoping to complete it this year.”

Laurie is also the author of Smart Speaking and He and She Talk (Plume Publishing).

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Katie Ackerley
katie@speechimprovement.com

26 Jun Global Healthcare Leader Visits TSIC program

Laurie Schloff and Nancy Goldberg, TSIC coaches greeted the Global CEO of the Healthcare Business Women’s Association, Laurie Cooke, at their recent workshop held at Perkin Elmer in Waltham Ma.

Ms. Cooked joined participants learning how to Speak for Success, part of an award winning Leadership Success Series Sponsored by the organization.

Coach Schloff heads up a team designed to build leadership communication
skills in the healthcare industry

For more information about these programs , contact
laurie@speechimprovement.com

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Katie Ackerley
katie@speechimprovement.com

16 Jun Meet Emmett Patton, our new intern

Speech Improvement Inc is delighted to have Emmett Patton as our intern for the summer.

Emmett studies psychology and linguistics at Boston University and is a singer in an acappella group called “The Dear Abbeys“.

> Emmett, why did you chose these majors?

Understanding people’s behaviors and the biological and environmental factors that contribute to those behaviors has always been fascinating to me. I’m also very interested in language – how it develops, and the ways in which it can be used in social interactions to influence people’s behaviors. Combining these studies has been an interesting endeavor. The Speech Improvement Company seems to be a very good platform for observing these phenomena.

> How did your passion for music develop?

My passion for music developed as a result of being surrounded by musicians my whole life. My parents were in a band together when they were younger – my mom was the lead singer and my dad played bass. They encouraged my brother and I to learn to play instruments as kids. My brother picked up the guitar and I learned the piano. There was always someone playing music in my house growing up. It wasn’t until high school, though, that I started singing. I joined the choir in my junior year, and then when I got to college I decided to join an acapella group.

> Who are the Dear Abbeys?

The Dear Abbeys are the only all-male acapella group at Boston University. We were founded in 1992, and we perform in and around Boston throughout the school year. We hold auditions every year for new guys to replace the guys who graduate, so the group is constantly changing.

We’re named after the wife of the Dean of Students at BU, who used to work in the Student Activities Office. The founders of the group didn’t have a name in mind when they went to her office to create the group, so they asked her what her name was. She said “Abbey,” so we became the Dear Abbeys.

> What do you sing?

Next year will be my third year in the group, and my second year as President, but that makes no difference when it comes to choosing songs to perform. Every semester, we hold a “pitch session” to which everyone brings three songs that they want the group to perform. We listen to all of the songs, and after a long a complicated voting process, we end up taking between 4-6 new songs each semester. Basically, the songs we perform depend on the personal tastes of the members of the group, which change from year to year. In general, though, we usually do more contemporary, pop/rock type songs.

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Katie Ackerley
katie@speechimprovement.com

15 May “Making choices with language” by Debbie London

“I’m not trying to over-simplify things,” says London, “but communication is about making choices. We make choices with the language we use whether we’re being purposeful or not and those choices have effects.”

Debbie London

Debbie London

When asked if she could elaborate, London continued; “Perception is reality. How individuals recall and interpret a moment or a memory shapes the way s/he behaves. Language is the tool we use to shape those perceptions. If we use negative or derogatory terms to reference some one or some thing, we are inevitably going to behave in like manner. If, however, we think or talk about some one or some thing in glowing and positive terms, we’ll behave accordingly.”

Taking this outside the classroom and into the boardroom is what London has been applying recently; although, she started thinking about perception and reality as a college student. As a sophomore at Syracuse University, Debbie London was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. “There was very little literature written about living with MS at that time [1980’s], especially something that wasn’t written for the medical community, “There have got to be so many people who live a successful life in spite of having MS and in spite of the dooming and limited literature that currently exists,” recalls London.

That revelation led Debbie to writing a doctoral dissertation on language shaping reality. She talked with women who live with MS and discovered that they live successfully with MS largely because of the language they use. “Rarely will you hear someone with MS say, ’oh, poor me’, but more likely you will hear her or him say, ‘Yes, I have MS, and while I’m not happy about it, lots of people have problems.’”

Now when London works with clients, she uses a similar strategy. “If you think confidently, if you use confident and assertive verbal and nonverbal communication,” London says, ”others will perceive you as competent and confident. And perception is reality.”

Dr. Debbie London is an accomplished coach and consultant who brings a combination of international experience and understanding of human interaction to her clients. This is how her biography starts out on The Speech Improvement Company’s website. A former college professor of communication studies, Dr. London has a wide array of experiences on which to draw. When she uses those experiences to make a point with students or clients, the common thread is communication.

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Katie Ackerley
katie@speechimprovement.com

17 Apr Sales tips from Dikram Husseindjian

Dikram Husseindjian is a former VP of Sales at Apple Inc, Canada.

Dikram is now senior partner at Embrase a consulting firm in Montreal, QC. “For the past eight years he was National Sales Manager at Apple Canada, leading the sales team to top performance in revenue and profitability growth. Prior to joining the information technology sector, he spent 5 years in marketing and product management in the manufacturing sector for companies that include Honeywell, Bristol-Meyers and Hunter Douglas.”

He was invited by iNovia Capital and gave a one-hour long presentation on sales strategies.

One of the mistakes Dikram says sales representatives make, is that they keep the CEO of the company they are trying to sell to, involved throughout the sales process.

While Dikram says that a sales representative should start to enter as high as possible, including CEO level, he recommends that after this initial step, the CEO be not involved with details in the middle parts of the sales process. Instead, he should be called again in the closing stages of the process.

The sales process itself is composed of six steps:

Discovery -> Qualifying -> Evaluating -> Decision -> Purchase-> Deploy

Throughout this process, three key variables will have varying degrees of importance.

Solution Fit: critical at first but decreases in importance.

Price: important at the beginning and end of the process.

Risk: rises for the potential purchaser as time passes.

In short, sales is about strategy and formalising procedures rather than a series of improvisations.

Dikram Husseindjian is a partner at Embrase.com

Dikram Husseindjian is a partner at Embrase.com

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Katie Ackerley
katie@speechimprovement.com

16 Apr Hearts, minds, wallets

During this second day of presentations, Austin Hill, suggested a way for start-up companies to think about their pitches to investors.

HEARTS –> MINDS –> WALLETS

The key he says, is to first appeal to the “hearts” of the potential investors through a narrative that will get them excited about their service of product. Then you have to back the story with data and a concrete business plan to win theirs “minds”. If these are performed convincingly, they are the way to the money; or their “wallets”.

Incidentally, Austin doesn’t think start-up companies not to mention valuation at the end of their pitch. Instead, he suggests they say that there are different ways of valuing the company and that “we will be happy to discuss these in more details in a further meeting”.

What transpired from this second day is that start-up companies need to develop a narrative around their service or product but that they shouldn’t give away all that they have. Rather they should think about their pitch as “teasing” the VC’s into wanting more.

Wahyd, Austin Hill and Josko Bobanovic

Wahyd, Austin Hill and Josko Bobanovic

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Katie Ackerley
katie@speechimprovement.com