28 Mar Creating Muscle Memory

When I work with clients on strengthening their communication effectiveness, I’m often asked, “How can I make these new tools come more naturally?”

I assure them that when they carve out time to practice they are creating ‘muscle memory’.  Muscle memory is something we often take for granted, yet it’s there and if harnessed, we can use it anytime to project confidence in doing any task.  Obvious examples include putting your car key into the ignition, zipping a jacket, brushing our teeth.  Any habit repeated dozens or hundreds of times creates muscle memory.

This muscle memory comes in a  3 part process: Level 1 is self awareness: “What am I doing that is working well and what areas do I need to develop?”  This is often the most challenging part of a learning process. If unsure, ask people you trust what they feel you do well and could strengthen. (more…)

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1 Mar Why Doesn’t Bill Belichick Smile?

In his TED talk, The Hidden Power of Smiling, Ron Gutman provides some insights into the proven value of smiling.

We are born smiling. Using 3D ultrasound, we can see developing babies smile in the womb. When born, they continue to smile. A smile is one of the most basic expressions of all humans and it is the fastest way to build trust and rapport during face-to-face interactions.

OK, so why doesn’t Bill Belichick smile? What would he be revealing? Especially with the Media, he knows how to be brief, be good, be gone. Yet he almost never seems happy. I believe this is his strategy. In fact, one study tracked him smiling only 7 times in 114 minutes of media footage!

“Even the simulation of an emotion tends to arouse it in our minds.” (more…)
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19 Dec Are You a Fast Talker?

æHave people ever said to you “Hey slow down, you talk too fast!” Wonder what they are referring to?  Being from the Northeast, we hear this comment quite often. When thinking about controlling your communication style, it’s helpful to peel back one more layer and look at what makes up someone’s speed of speaking.

As a Speaker Coach, I break speed into two categories: rate and pace. Rate refers to the speed in which a person puts words together.  It literally refers to the amount of words per minute.  The average rate of speech in a business presentation will range from 150-180 words per minute. Think about listening to a commercial and often, at the end there is a voice quickly giving you all the fine print details at a rate you can hardly follow. They are speaking at approximately 300 words per minute. Much too fast for the average listener! (more…)

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7 Dec Everything Communicates!

As an Executive Communication Coach, my job is to remind clients that when presenting, everything communicates – how you look, how you sound and what you do with your body. Mary Lou Andre, a nationally recognized wardrobe, dress code and corporate image consultant, got me thinking about this after reading her excellent article: Is Hosiery History? 

Her advice on this business appropriate accessory reinforces how important clothing is in communicating respect for yourself and others.  (more…)

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27 Oct Speak With Confidence and Remove All Doubt

In today’s fast-moving communication-driven world, messages are conveyed through many mediums. “Speaking with confidence” means avoiding tentative language. Non-concrete or tentative language in business shows a lack of self-confidence and will not deliver the strength of your intention to the listeners.

For example:

Non-concrete – “I hope I’ve given you a good overview of our team.”
Concrete – “This gives you a clear overview of our team.”

Non-concrete – “I guess I can deliver this talk confidently.”
Concrete – “I can deliver this talk confidently.”

Watch out for these words in your opening thoughts and phrases, particularly when speaking: I think, I hope, I guess, maybe, kind of, and sort of.

(more…)

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19 Jun What’s in it for listeners?

Prepare & Organize for Business Speaking       

Tell the listeners why they should listen to you talk about this topic.  Whether or not they ultimately agree with you, how do you expect them to benefit by listening?  Some benefits that you might mention as reasons why they should listen to you include:

 

  • Making their jobs easier.
  • Improving their health.
  • Relieving stress.
  • Stimulating creativity.
  • Providing security.
  • Increasing their income.

 

As a speaker, you should be able to tell at least one, and maybe more, good reasons why they should listen to you.  The intent is to give your listeners a clear understanding of why your ideas are valuable.  Many speakers find this the most difficult of all steps in the four-step outline.  Business speakers frequently say things like, “They know why this is important,” or “They invited me to speak, I’m sure they know the value of what I’m saying.”  This is a big mistake.  There will be times when listeners have no clear idea how your thoughts apply to them.  Perhaps their boss told them to attend.  Maybe they came with friends.  Maybe they came to make friends by networking.  In any case, you cannot hurt your cause by giving a short, direct, answer to their question, “What’s in it for me?”  After all, if you can’t think of a reason for them to listen, they probably can’t either.  If you can’t identify the reasons why people should listen to you speak on a certain topic, then why are you speaking to them at all?

 

Monica Murphy is a senior coaching partner with The Speech Improvement Company

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26 Jan Was The President Presidential?

By: Monica Murphy Senior Coaching Partner

As Speech Communication Coaches, we are regularly sought out for our communication critique. We focus on the delivery style and techniques by speakers.

The big question asked of us yesterday was , “Was Obama Presidential in his delivery of the State of the Union?”

So what is Presidential? It is subjective for certain, however, as Coaches we know that listeners describe a speaker as Presidential in their style by using the following criteria.

1.Confident posture and body language –
The President used hand gestures for impact and emphasis. His movements were slow and purposeful.

2. Use of facial expression to convey emotion-
We saw a serious determined face when talking about serious issues and a smile when using humor, for example, his reference to “crying over spilled milk”

3. Language that is inclusive-
Using words including American, Patriotic, We and Our. He did this well.

4. Voice tone that is strong and varied- Mr. Obama did this each time he said,“Put that in a Bill and I will sign it!”

5. Sentences that are short and easy to digest- Mr. Obama did this , however, particularly at the beginning of the speech, he tended to talk in phrases, which sounded too rehearsed and non – passionate. As the speech went along, he changed from approximately 5- 7 words per phrase to about 10-12 words per phrase. It was still a bit too rehearsed sounding and tended to lack the passion which the words expressed.

Obama’s combination of this criteria conveyed a decisive, deliberate and determined message. Going forward , if President Obama wants to be defined as Presidential, he must maintain a consistency in these areas.

We will be watching closely as the campaign unfolds and will comment in similar fashion.

Monica Murphy is a senior coaching partner with THE SPEECH IMPROVEMENT COMPANY INC. As a specialist in communication, she is well known in senior leadership circles. Monica has helped many strengthen their communication. Regular clients such as Bain Capitol and Ropes and Gray have enjoyed her expertise. More may be learned about Monica by clicking here

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