Articles & News

17 May When English is not your first language, use P.A.R. to make sure you are understood and are speaking clearly. 

Around the world, at this very minute, tens of millions of people are taking classes at language schools; some are using YouTube to learn to speak and listen, and of course, many are learning in their grade schools, high schools, and universities. Many of these people will be required in their careers to use English, so they are often very serious in their approach to learning.  (more…)

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27 Apr Strengthening Relationships with Appreciation 

Everyone wants to be appreciated. People want to feel and know they matter. Unfortunately, our culture in the business world leans more towards critique than appreciation and competition more than support. Knowing how to share authentic appreciation is an invaluable skill for strengthening relationships.

Here are four tips that help: 

Be Prompt - Its best to share appreciation immediately, if possible. If you wait too long, you are likely to overanalyze, script yourself, and lose authenticity. The more delay, the less authenticity. Another risk with delay is the person you are appreciating may not remember the action/event details, and therefore, your appreciation wont have its intended impact.  (more…)

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21 Apr Three Ways to Keep Yourself From Rambling 

If you find yourself “getting into the weeds” by using long sentences when sharing information or opinions….You might be a rambler!

If your friends and colleagues dread hearing you speak…. You might be a rambler!

If your clients, customers, or direct reports seem uncomfortable when you talk.…You might be a rambler!

If you find your neighbors or even family members keep avoiding your talks…. You might be a rambler!

Many of our clients are brilliant and interesting people. Even if you are all these things…You might be a rambler! (more…)

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7 Apr Three Approaches to Better Presentations

Whether it’s a team effort or a one-person responsibility, a presentation can make or break a contract or client relationship. This brief article gives you three critical elements required for preparing a successful presentation.

If you provide a product or a service, there is truth in the old adage that “products don’t sell, people do.” Certainly, there are isolated exceptions, but person-to-person contact is invaluable for most businesses. In this framework, the business presentation holds a unique and critical place. It is an essential part of the public relations, marketing, and sales for any company, large or small.

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3 Apr The Structure of the Mind

Psychologist Jeff Thomas and I agree on the structure of the mind. The mind and the difference between the brain and the mind have been the focus of conjecture, controversy, and intellectual consternation for many centuries.

It is generally accepted that the brain is the repository of the things and stuff that we are exposed to during our lifetime. There may not yet be general acceptance of what exactly gets stored, where in the brain it is stored, or how it is retained, but we can accept that the brain takes in and holds the information from our life experiences. In addition, it’s possible to actually see the brain. We can measure it, weigh it, touch it, and know for sure that there is such a thing as the brain.

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24 Mar Zoom, the Pope, and a Lesson Learned

I read an interesting article in The Atlantic based on a recent speech by the Pope. He reflected on the importance of face-to-face communication in a world that has gone online.  He said: 

“Text mediums deprive us of cues like facial expressions, posture, and vocal inflections. As a result, they are especially ill-suited to figuring out what people who aren’t adept at writing believe or intend to express….To interact with people in person is to see how complicated most of us are.” 

While the article’s author analyzes this through the lens of what makes a good journalist, the lesson is important for all of us who are on Zoom a lot. 

Read the article here. 

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3 Mar Getting your Message Across: Strategies for Conveying Technical and Complex Information 

Communication excellence, speaking clearly and conveying ideas with impact, is highly associated with career and organizational success.

Yet, healthcare and technology leaders face a major challenge: simplifying complex and technical information so that others “get it,” buy-in, and take action for best results.

Here are some truths about transmitting knowledge  and influencing others outside your field:

  • Knowing your topic does not equal speaking clearly about your topic.
  • Your listeners likely don’t care about your topic as much as you do-sorry!
  • Anytime you speak, whether one on one or to a crowd,  in person or virtual, in a formal or informal setting, you are a “presenter.”
  • Preparation, not Desperation: Strategize and plan, no matter how knowledgeable you are. 

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23 Feb Vocal Variety and Its Role in Virtual Presenting  

Now that virtual presenting is here is stay, keep in mind that your oral delivery is more important than ever. Our colleagues, clients, and anyone else who is listening at home or in their office are most likely multitasking. Some of us have two monitors that allow us to be watching/listening and doing multiple tasks simultaneously. Since a few of your listeners may not be directly looking at the screen, your voice is what captures their attention. Therefore, I am coaching clients to incorporate “vocal variety.” Vocal variety is when you choose a specific word or phrase to add vocal emphasis to convey a meaning. A very easy way to add vocal variety is to increase your volume. (more…)

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10 Feb Answering Off the Cuff

#1 Thinking on your feet 

When I meet potential clients, their needs span many areas, but I want to talk about one I find almost everywhere I go.  “How can I be better at speaking off the cuff?”  Easy!  Well, honestly, it is easy, but to explain how it’s easy, let’s talk about what you are asking for.

Speaking off the cuff, thinking on your feet, or any other way you describe it, comes from the idea of speaking with limited notes in a time crunch.  You don’t get to take a lot of time to fully plan a response. You must deliver at that moment!  So, the way you can be ready for anything is to prepare ahead of time. 

Now, I know most of you are busy, so no, this doesn’t take a ton of time. But, maybe 5 minutes before you go into a meeting, have a conversation, or walk the floor at a conference (hopefully, at some point in the future), you need to prepare! 

How? Recognize that any time you are asked a business question or offer an opinion, you are relying on the business knowledge you already have.  So, answering the question isn’t difficult.  The difficult part comes in knowing what to answer and then preparing the context.  So, let’s look at that. 

 

#2 Answering the right question 

You may be asked general questions, hyper-specific questions, or just strange questions. In those situations, use one of these answering techniques: 

A question of clarification: Ask them a question in which you offer them two options for your response 

“So when you are talking about (the topic), are you asking me about (A) or (B)?” 

Paraphrase: Ask them if you are hearing them correctly  by paraphrasing the question they are asking in a way that makes more sense to you.

“If I understand the question, you are essentially asking me about (your paraphrased understanding)?” 

Admit and redirect: Sometimes, you don’t know the answer or it’s not topical, or requires a long answer. So admit that, and then redirect your response to something that might be pertinent to everyone. 

“You know, I don’t know (or that’s a great question I would like to talk to you about after, etc.), but what I do know is….” 

In each of these situations, you are using a simple technique to make sure your answer is spot on and valuable. In addition, using these techniques will give you more time to think and organize your response. 

 

#3 Including the context

As you give someone the answer to their question or offer an opinion, you want to include some context for the answer, or the listener is likely to interpret it however they want. 

You want to control the context!  I recommend starting an example notebook or a notebook with thoughts about context or setting in which questions may be asked. Then, think of concrete examples that show how your response works in context. This gives your listeners a clear understanding of what you mean and how it applies to the topic or question. 

The reason to prepare ahead of time is that you are re-orienting your knowledge into something more useful. It takes 5 minutes, and in that time, you are now more prepared for many of the questions you might be asked. 

So, today I shared with you a little about how to prepare for the “unpreparable.” You can do it! Please take five minutes, think about the questions or opinions you might have to respond to, how do you clarify what they want, and how do you make sure they understand it the way you mean it? If you do that, you will be in a great place. 

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26 Jan Random Reasons Clients Like Virtual Meetings 

As a communication coach working with  hundreds of clients virtually, I’ve asked, “Why do you  prefer Zoom to a real room?”

Here are my fave fun replies.  Add your virtual virtue in the comments below. 

  1. I can eat garlic bread and smelly cheese on a break 
  2. I only have to wash the front part of my hair 
  3. I can wear my  shirt with a hole on the back collar 
  4. I am all alone in the bathroom. 
  5. I pound out three emails in thirty- minutes, and no one knows 
  6. I look ten years younger with my ring light-yes! 
  7. I can emit natural body noises without shame. 
  8. I get to wear my cuddly red polka dot pajama bottoms 
  9. I learned to speak without moving my lips to people in my house 
  10. Your contribution? 

 

 

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17 Jan How to Be A Listener-Centric Communicator

The concept of adapting your content and delivery to WHO you are speaking is a worthy objective. However, being able to do it in a poignant and meaningful manner can be an advanced skill, and it will take your workplace communication to the next level.

This article will provide a quick overview of one way in which we help our clients adapt to their listeners. The concept is called Patterns of Reasoning. The normal human brain capacity allows us to function with two basic patterns of reasoning; we use these patterns as the structure for our thoughts and speech. No one is completely one or the other.

 

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11 Jan Choosing a High Quality Speech Coach

If you are looking for a communication coach to help you with your effectiveness as a communicator, I urge you to check out the new book published by Rutledge. It’s called The Handbook of Communication Training. It features 50 different communication professionals, experts, professors, and practitioners from around the United States who have come together to agree that the best communication coaching and learning happens when your coach has been trained and shows prowess in these seven best practices. They are: (more…)

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15 Dec Can You Learn Presentation and Public Speaking Skills in an Online Course?

Clients often tell us about an online course they found, or their company has provided, on Public Speaking and Presentation Skills. Then, they ask us what we think of it.

There are two primary considerations:

1. Yes, you can learn some communication skills alone and online.

2. The skills you need must be compatible with online learning.

Number two explains the potential challenges with learning communication skills online. (more…)

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26 Nov Why Doesn’t a Power Pose Work for Me? 

Dating back as far as the 1950s, psychologists have connected the idea of your physical position with confidence. For example, people associated the psychology of “walking tall”  with confidence.  Over the decades, the concept evolved. In addition, movies, television, and social media have projected what confidence looks like.  So it’s not much of a surprise when language like “power pose” and “Wonderwoman pose “ have gained new attention to the idea that your physical stance can impact confidence.  (more…)

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22 Nov Don’t Talk Too Much! 

If you are a person who tends to give others too much information or go down rabbit holes of multiple topics, you will benefit by mastering an awareness of how much content you can deliver in 60 seconds. In addition, organizing your thoughts and practicing the delivery as a Subject Matter Expert will help you engage your listeners and make a memorable impact.  (more…)

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