14 Sep ALL TOGETHER NOW: TAKE A DEEP BREATH

by Laurie Schloff/Senior Coaching Partner


World peace is getting harder to imagine.  It seems that there’s a daily news headliner about losing it.

Kanye West just jumped on the stage and grabbed the microphone from Taylor Swift in the middle of her acceptance speech at the Video Music Awards to announce who HE thought should have won.

Come on Kanye, a lot of us are bonkers about Beyonce too, but somehow we learned it’s just not nice to grab awards away from winners at ceremonies.

On September 12, Serena Williams told the judges at the 2009 U.S Open that she didn’t like their call. “You can take this (expletive) ball and stuff it down your (expletive) throat.”

What separates the dignified from the sore loser?  Keeping your cool and grace.  Forget tennis for now, Serena and head directly to Anger Management Class.

And don’t forget that fiery moment one week ago.  President Obama is giving his healthcare address and Representative Joseph Wilson of South Carolina blurts out “You lie!” when Obama asserted that illegal immigrants wouldn’t receive government covered healthcare.

Did you catch Joe Biden shaking his head with a how did we get to this level of disrespect look?

Reasonable American citizens of both parties agree with the Vice President that it’s rude to interrupt a presidential speech and to insult even worse.

We need to keep our eye on the scary bonding between  irrational citizens who are overtaking town halls, hosting mad tea parties and flipping their lids when the Prez gives a pep talk to the kiddos.

It’s just not good for a society when anger becomes contagious. Venom is too easily spread online and on the airwaves and it’s worrisome.  No matter what your politics, let’s get behind President Obama’s call for civil discussion and a calm manner.

Let’s hear your thoughts

Read More

27 Aug Communication Lessons from the life of Senator Edward Kennedy

by Senior Coaching Partner Laurie Schloff

It is difficult to say goodbye to such a larger than life communicator as Senator Edward Kennedy. When greatness passes away from our midst, yet lingers in our consciousness, our team pauses to ask, “What did we learn about greatness and communication from this man? What lessons can we pass along to our families, clients and ourselves?” Here are three to ponder:

1. Focus on Others, Not Yourself.

Tribute after tribute describes Senator Kennedy literally showing up in a friend or citizen’s time of need. Recently, Mayor Tom Menino of Boston had knee surgery. His first phone call upon arriving home was from Senator Kennedy. “Why are you worried about me?” asked the mayor. “I’m worried about you!” You don’t need to be a large and famous man to have a large heart.

2.Be Dynamic and Emotional.

Senator Kennedy had a loud, over the top style, different than the poetic strength of Bobby or the poise of JFK. He hugged and patted. He was effusive at eulogies (and he gave far too many of them) and persuasive even to those who disagreed with him. John McCain said “If you want something done in the Senate, call Teddy.” Like many speakers, he was best with the passionate delivery of memorable lines like these from his 1980 political convention after losing the nomination to Jimmy Carter: “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die”

3. Be Resilient.

Perhaps more than anyone else, Senator Kennedy taught us that we have to work on being resilient in order to deal with life’s cruel blows and frequent letdowns. Recently, I came across a young woman who was devastated to learn that her boss thought her follow through on projects was inadequate and she was having trouble coping emotionally. Get over it! We must work as hard as possible to develop emotional muscle without becoming a tough person, to achieve as we grieve. Let your cause, your passion, the lessons you’ve learned from your losses keep you going strong until the day you die.

Read More

Remembering Senator Edward Kennedy

by Dr. Dennis Becker, CEO, The Speech Improvement Company

When Robert Kennedy was murdered, like a lot of people, I was devastated. To me, he represented the most hope for bridging the gap between the haves and the have-nots in our society. Of course, I was particularly impassioned by his fight for the civil rights issue. He had the ability to both reach out and to point the way at the same tie. His communication prowess was an inspiration to me and my work as a Communication Coach.

At that time, I was also President of the New England Speech Association. On behalf of the association and as a citizen, I wrote a letter of condolence to Bobby’s brother, Edward (Ted) Kennedy. I’m certain that he received many, many such letters. To my amazement I received a personal reply from Teddy (as we all came to know him). It was a warm letter, thanking me for my expression and and encouraging me to carry on what his brother (s) stood for. He signed it in ink, Edward Kennedy.

He and his brothers John and Robert will always be a living example of why and how important it is for all of us to learn to speak and listen to others, especially those who are different and less fortunate than ourselves. I will continue, in my life, to carry their example of good communication.

Here are some inspiring words Ted spoke at his brother Robert’s funeral in 1968, which so resonate today:

“That is the way he lived. That is what he leaves us.

My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.

Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will someday come to pass for all the world.

As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him:

“Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.”

Read More

14 Aug DON’T GET ME STARTED ON HEALTHCARE AND LANGUAGE

by Monica Murphy.

As a Communication Coach, I know that one of the best ways to move someone is through the language you choose to convey your message. Use the “appropriate “ language and you can persuade almost anyone to a certain response.

The Healthcare reform bill is falling in to a battle that is being fought with language of interpretation. It is really based on language more than fact. In fact, many Americans do not even know the details. They have heard and seen phrases that move them like:

“Death panel, cut off your rights, government wins, tax dollars pay for abortion, socialism”. These phrases evoke an emotional response. The associated press put out an article this morning citing that many of the town hall protesters were folks who have never been politically active. This can create a unified emotion of distrust in the government. Whether it is right or wrong, carefully chosen language can motivate in a powerful way.

Aristotle pointed out language can be used in three modes of persuasion: Ethos, persuading through the use of credibility, Pathos, persuading through the use of emotion, and Logos, persuading through the use of logic.

What we can expect to see now are more media pieces that use Logos, or logic to explain what these proposed healthcare reforms actually are. Chief Medical correspondent Dr. Timothy Johnson has been on air Fact Checking the reform bill. The network uses his ethos, or credibility to establish him as a trustworthy resource. He then uses Logos language, phrases like “ medicare has existed since 1965, advanced care planning provision, private and public options..” This logical language will help de-escalate the emotional reaction and allow the public to review the facts and make their own choices. The associated press ran an article this morning using the positive side of pathos language in referring to Glenn Beck’s 9-12 Project: which seeks to unify Americans around nine values such as honesty, hope and sincerity and 12 principles, including, “I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable.” The words “unify, honesty, hope, sincerity.. all emotionally charged words.

Language plays a key role in how we feel when receiving a message. A good communicator must choose their words wisely when speaking. They must consider their listeners. A good communicator will ask themselves: How do I want my listeners to feel and what do I want them to believe after they hear me speak? As communication coaches, we ask our clients this question as one of the starting points to delivering a successful message.

Read More

6 Aug How To Know If You Need a Communication Coach

by Laurie Schloff, Senior Coaching Partner

Our coaching team at The Speech Improvement Company was delighted to hear that Google CEO Eric Schmidt knows the value of having a good coach. We’ve often been asked how to determine when engaging a communication/presentation coach is a good idea. So, here are five good reasons for working with an expert in communication:

1. You’re in a more visible positon than ever and you know your communicaiton prowess will be scrutinized.
2. You want to overcome a fear of speaking to groups and find your avoidance of speaking situations troubling.
3. You want to learn techniques for conveying more confidence and impact
4. You know you’d be more successful if you had more communication polish
5. You’re already a good communicator, but want to be GREAT.

Read More

4 Aug Why Do People Fear Speaking?

by Dr. Dennis Becker

“This question presupposes what to most of society is a given. Speaking to groups is a scary proposition. In fact, it is one of the most prominent fears of all humans. Each survey that is taken places it in the top three, almost every single time. It would be interesting for you to ask a few friends if they feel nervous or fearful about speaking before groups. I’m sure you’ll get mixed replies, of course. One thing you’ll notice, even from those who express little or no fear, is a caution. You will hear statements like ‘It depends on who’s in the group,’ and ‘Well, only some groups.’

It’s not uncommon to hear of career opportunities that have been passed by because they require ‘public speaking.’ It’s not only anxiety about groups. It is also common to find that the anxiety extends to certain types of individuals such as those in positions of authority, or people who are more senior, or, perhaps, people who have different cultures, etc. The fear can be triggered by many things.

So, how do we help people to control that fear? I am not using the term ‘overcome’ to describe the outcome. The very word ‘overcome’ can be too compelling. It can put too much pressure on sufferers to eliminate the fear. So, we strive to gain control over it. This is not a capitulation. It is a recognition that each person will go as far as is needed to regain control over the experience of speaking to groups.

As Speech Coaches for The Speech Improvement Company, we bring 45 years of experience to this effort. We recognize that there are two popular methods for ‘treating’ fear of speaking. They are Visualization and Cognitive Restructuring. Over the years, we have utilized each of these. However, by far we have found most positive results with the Skills approach. That is, we help clients identify and understand exactly what it is that triggers the fear. Then we introduce specific skills to fill any void in the ability to combat that trigger. This process eventually leads to the elimination of the fear inducing triggers. It has been very successful.”

Read More