Commentary

26 Sep Learning to Listen

Hearing and listening are not the same process.  Hearing is the physical act of sound striking the eardrum.  Listening is differentiating among those sounds. Hearing is an involuntary and reflective act.  Listening is a voluntary and initiative act.  As you read these words, you are hearing sounds in the room or outside the building.  You are probably hearing an air-conditioning system or a furnace, or voices in the hallway. Perhaps you are hearing street traffic or an airplane.  Hearing these sounds simply means that the sounds are striking your eardrum.  It’s not until you focus on these sounds that you are actually listening to them.  Now that we’ve mentioned them, do you hear the sounds around you?  Are you listening to them?  In a business environment, you will hear many sounds that could demand your attention.
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20 Aug Why doesn’t she appreciate my advice?

In Nan and Billy’s house it goes like this:

Nan: I wish I could find a cause to get into, maybe volunteering or just doing something worth-while.

Billy: So call the College Club – I heard they need help, and the hospital gift shop might be looking for    volunteers.

 Nan: Forget it, you don’t even know what I’m interested in.

Billy: Geez! Why bring it up if you don’t want my opinion?

Billy means well, and his ideas might be valid, but Nan finds his approach annoying. In giving advice you anoint yourself as an authority, and if no one asked for it, you come across as know-it-all. More important, like many women, Nan is
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31 Jul What?!? No PowerPoint?

Three different speech coaching clients have told me how they are planning to follow the steps of Amazon and do away with PowerPoint in their senior executive meetings. Fortunately, I was able to stop this colossal mistake before it was too late. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not unaware of the torture and mis-communication that can happen when PowerPoint is used.  I agree and support that certain types of meetings are best conducted without it. But to toss it out completely, as a blanket absolute, is just lazy and poor judgement.  It's also helpful to know that I'm a minimalist when it comes to the use of slides, so I'm not a PowerPoint pusher. Because use of visual aids done poorly can render meetings a waste of time, I’m agreeing with Jeff Bezos. Why should any of us spend an hour or more to meet where there is no productive communication, no one being persuasive, no one able to successfully share ideas, so we walk away with no information?
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24 Jul The Transformational Effect of Live Storytelling 

The ability to speak with impact directly correlates with one’s salary. As an Executive Communication Coach, I have helped many nervous professionals hone their speaking skills in order to advance their careers. Typically, the coaching and training focuses on content organization and delivery skills for maximum effectiveness.     I love communication so much that it is not just my day job, but also my hobby. I’m a storyteller and participate in story slams. These are events where regular people tell a personal, true story to a crowd, based on the theme of the night. Many of them have never used a microphone before and some require coaxing by their friends to tell.
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31 May The Best Choice

How many decisions do you make in a day?  Hundreds, maybe thousands, maybe many thousands…?
Some of them are life critical.  Some of them are thoughtless. Yet, each one of them helps to determine who you are, what kind of a life you will have, and the impression you make on others.
When it comes to the choices you make every day and the number of people who want to influence those choices, there is no shortage. The average person makes approrximately 35,000 decisions daily. So, I’m going to suggest that you make one more.  This one may have an effect of all of the others. It’s very simple. CHOOSE TO BE NICE.
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29 May He/She Always Interrupts Me

Both sexes can perpetrate and suffer interruptions. Yet researchers in the art of communication have repeatedly found that from the age of three on, males tend to interrupt and females tend to pass the conversational ball. The right to interrupt or dominate a conversation often serves as an expression of superiority or status. Nevertheless, when women yield the floor to men, it is not so much a display of inferiority as an indication of the importance they attach to accommodating others in conversation. Even conversationally accommodating people can come off as interlopers. Women like to overlap a speaker with words of encouragement, agreement, or a parallel situation. (“I know what you mean, Bill. My family also had to struggle to make ends meet.”) Though she intends to establish empathy, she may annoy a man who doesn’t value verbal displays of support. (“That wasn’t my point. Let me finish.”)
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21 May 3 Ways to Handle Difficult Questions Confidently 

Why do people ask difficult questions? 
  • They need the information 
  • They want attention from the group 
  • They want to look smart 
  • They use the questions to influence and persuade 
  • They want to intimidate 
  • Because it’s culturally appropriate 
  • They want to challenge the presenter 
  • They want to make the presenter look unprepared/foolish/dumb 
  • Questions are safer to ask than providing answers 
  • They want to be disruptive 
  • They want to change the subject 
  • They want to give their opinion indirectly 
  Dealing with difficult questions:  Questions are a normal part of most business meetings. It is also normal for questions to be somewhat confusing or unclear. 
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02 May Should I take fear of public speaking medication?

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_column_text]Thinking about fear of public speaking medication?  Consider these 5 points. 1. Medication can reduce the uncomfortable physiological signs of nervousness (heart rate increase, sweating, shakiness). Three other approaches: learning effective presentation skills, controlling breathing, and developing helpful thinking patterns are proven non-medical strategies. 2. Beta  blockers, originally developed to control cardiac problems, are often effective and can usually be prescribed on an as needed basis. Beta blockers inhibit the flow of adrenaline  in the body, reducing the physical symptoms of the stress response.  Your physician will help you decide whether medication is the best route for you, and can review any potential side effects.
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24 Apr 3 Ways Storytelling Can be Effective in Business 

Storytelling is an advanced communication tool that can build rapport, increase retention and powerfully persuade.  Capturing, structuring and delivering relevant stories is an invaluable skill in business.  1.)  Building Rapport - Experiences are unique; however, emotions are universal.  Telling a short, interesting, personal story allows the...

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16 Apr Speaking With Confidence at the JFK Library

To be a hi-impact leader in today’s financial healthcare industry requires confidence and grit. How do you hold your own in situations where there are clearly power politics? Financial folks are now more involved in giving presentations, speaking at meetings to clinicians, senior management, and...

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27 Mar When Students Become Teachers

When a tragedy happens there is a lot of talk.  Many people are highlighted, and many issues are discussed.  The Parkland School shooting is no exception to this.  Since the shooting we have seen politicians, pundits, analysts, and now students getting time to speak about...

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13 Mar Fixing Two Very Common Snags in Speech Patterns

Are you dropping your volume at the end of sentences? It is normal to soften your volume at the end of a thought, but don’t trail your sentences into oblivion.  Assess your volume by recording yourself and checking to make sure you can hear the last words of your sentences. Practice speaking or reading aloud with conscious attention on lessening the decibel drop. Use these practice sentences:

“Let’s meet in the lobby of the downtown Marriott.”

“Sarah James was finally promoted to regional manager.”

In these examples, if you don’t keep your volume up, you’ll be swallowing your main point. Are you jumbling words together?
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08 Mar What Does It Mean To Be A High Level Communicator?

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_column_text]In meetings today, getting talk time can be a challenge. Often there are levels of seniority and cultures that do not promote just anyone jumping in to speak. So when you speak, you must make sure you make a comment that will have some teeth in it. One that will resonate with the rest of the team and ideally one that will leave them feeling you contributed something of value. After all, you are at the meeting for a reason: what you think and contribute is valued by your colleagues. I coach my clients to answer the following question: "What does it mean to be a high level communicator?" Here are the three key aspects:
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