Commentary

19 Oct Are you having conflict and disagreement at work?

Are you having conflict and disagreement at work?
Then, follow the advice of the thought leader….and get off the keyboard!

A Japanese client from a well-known American-owned private equity firm in Tokyo recently worked on persuasion for my coaching efforts. We ended up analyzing a Ted Talk from Julia Dhar, a noted Australian speaker on debate, conflict, and persuasion. (more…)

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20 Jul What Continued Zoom Fatigue and the COVID Delta Variant Means for You and Your Team 

Zoom communication training

If you’re like me, you’ve experienced heavy Zoom fatiguein the last 16 months. During this ongoing pandemic, it’s earned its slang term, right alongside “Quarantine” (the drink you make with whatever you can find in your fridge or freezer), “Blursday” (an unspecified day because of lockdown’s disorientating effect on time), “zoom bombing”(hijacking a Zoom video call). “WFH” (working from home) and “quaranteams”(online teams created during lockdown).   (more…)

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6 Jul Paraprosdokians

We love paraprosdokians, figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected.

  1. Where there’s a will, I want to be in it.
  2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you, but it’s still on my list.
  3. Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
  4. If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.
  5. War does not determine who is right – only who is left.
  6. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  7. They begin the evening news with ‘Good Evening,’ then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.
  8. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.
  9. I thought I wanted a career. Turns out, I just wanted pay checks.
  10. In filling out an application, where it says, ‘In case of emergency, notify:’ I put “DOCTOR.”
  11. I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
  12. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street…with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.
  13. Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.
  14. A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.
  15. You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
  16. Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.
  17. There’s a fine line between cuddling and…holding someone down so they can’t get away.
  18. I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not so sure.
  19. You’re never too old to learn something stupid.
  20. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.
  21. Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.
  22. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
  23. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
  24. I’m supposed to respect my elders, but now it’s getting harder and harder for me to find one.
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30 Jun Executive presence: what is it, why do you need it, and how do you build it?

During these last 467 days, we’ve had to make significant adjustments to the way we convey our presence and confidence. As we moved into a virtual world, executive presence was created, focusing on how we look and sound on camera.  So, the question is, how do we build a relationship with somebody that you’re only meeting from the waist up? How do you establish that executive presence in a way that can build trust and rapport?  In this medium, accepting its limitations and advantages, one aspect of projecting executive presence is the ability to inspire confidence. This means inspiring confidence in our peers as capable and reliable colleagues. In our junior folks, it’s inspiring confidence as a leader that they want to follow. And, importantly among senior leaders, inspiring confidence instills that you have the potential for great achievements.  (more…)

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15 Jun Are some organizations shirking their responsibilities regarding public speaking coaching and professional development opportunities?

As a speech coach, I readily admit that it is hard for me to remain unbiased about the question above. ALL of us, speech coaches included, should be on a never-ending quest to improve our public speaking, presentation skills, and ability to connect with listeners virtually and in person.

That is a utopian view, I know. Based in our Kerala, India office, I do see a disturbing trend about the support and development of speakers and presenters. Simply put, some companies seem to be pushing employees to accept conference speaking opportunities but don’t seem to be willing to foot the bill for their coaching and professional development. (more…)

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9 Jun Become a Better Speaker in 30 Minutes

I want to share some advice based on my experience coaching over 200 conference speakers, moderators, and panelists to prepare for their upcoming presentations. Some of the conference speakers I’ve helped just took an initial, free consultation, which is great, others wanted additional, in-depth help for a particularly important event. Some have become valued clients and friends. Regardless of seniority (C-level executives, managers, or individual contributors) or industry such as financial services, fintech, healthcare, biotech, manufacturing, and retail, a few common truths have emerged:

Value – Delivering a message that truly provides value sounds obvious but is difficult without the right focus. Most clients I work with believe they are providing value. Often, that’s not the case. You should explicitly state what the value is to your listeners at the beginning of your presentation. In fact, it should be one clear sentence that says, “this is important to you because…” Also, remember value is not what you think is worthwhile, it’s putting yourself in your listeners’ shoes and deciding what would be valuable to them.

Connection – Connecting with the listeners is easier than you think. Most of my clients believe it’s an innate skill – either they are compelling or not. Not true! Being compelling begins with making sure you are talking to your listeners. If they want you to get to the point, be concise. If they want you to be detailed, start at the beginning and be sure to connect the dots. I often teach a bit about the basics of human reasoning and how communication needs to be inductive or deductive. In either case, I stress that when you speak, it’s not about you! You have important information to present, but if you don’t present it with their perspective in mind, you can forget about being compelling. In fact, it’s possible you won’t be heard at all.

Being Effective – Thinking on your feet and handling challenging questions or unwelcome surprises is an important skill. The good news is, it is easy when you’re well-prepared. You can be ready for the unexpected, whether it’s a last-minute change in the schedule, technical glitches, or dealing with a difficult person. Three steps to good preparate are: 1) have a method to think through upcoming interactions; 2) categorize and catalogue examples and experiences for use; and 3) make this a part of your daily life. When you anticipate and prepare for questions and concerns before you go onto a stage, turn on your camera, or walk into a meeting, you’ll know the right answers and you can focus on the context for your response. If you prepare properly, you will have a critical skill that all effective, persuasive speakers have mastered.

These are only three of the common topics I typically cover, even if it’s a single 30-minute session. Most conference speakers also benefit from tips on dealing with nervousness and practice strategies because like any skill, consistent practice is what gets you to the next level.

I want to help those in need and have learned that in just 30 minutes, we can together take significant steps to make you the best speaker you can be.

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18 May THE BASIS OF BIAS AND ATTITUDES 

Until the community of police and the communities of color are willing and able to get to the bottom of the biases and attitudes that control behavior, any change will be prolonged and painful.  Each person in these communities and others must understand that their behaviors, whether verbal or physical, come from a place in each of us, filled with the attitudes and beliefs that we carry everywhere we go.  There are no human exceptions to this fact.   It’s as simple as  A B C.  Attitudes Become Communication.  We all have them.  We all talk and act the way we do because of them.   Sometimes we are readily aware that what we are doing or saying comes from something we believe in.  Sometimes we are not overtly aware of why we say or do the things we do.   Until each of us can understand what attitudes we carry with us and where they come from, there will be no peace or understanding.  A detente will exist and will only erupt again and again. (more…)

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11 May The Rudest Things You Can Do During A Work Zoom Meeting 

I don’t consider myself a rude person, and I make great efforts at being polite, self-aware, and apolitical at work. But after reading this article, “The Rudest Things You Can Do During a Work Zoom Meeting,” you may realize, like I did, you’re a bit of a boor online. Fortunately I work with a bunch of great speech coaches here at The Speech Improvement Company, so there’s hope! Now that I’m enlightened, I’m reaching out to all those I’ve offended during my countless and often endless Zoom meetings: I plead ignorance and ask you to give me one more chance.


The Rudest Things You Can Do During A Work Zoom Meeting 

Caroline Bologna, HuffPost Work/Life 

Etiquette experts share faux pas to avoid in virtual meetings.  At this point in the COVID-19 pandemic, you’ve likely used Zoom, Google Hangouts, and other video communications platforms a fair amount. This technology has been particularly prevalent in professional settings as many of us continue to work from home. 

But despite all the Zoom experience we’ve gained over the past year, it’s still not uncommon to witness unprofessional or just plain rude behavior in video meetings. From gossiping in chat to appearing in PJs from bed, there’s a lot of room for improvement in the etiquette department. 

 <Read full article> 

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4 May The Real Reason Remote Workers Are More Productive

I read an interesting and informative blog post that’s generated a lot of discussions at The Speech Improvement Company.  

Asynchronous Communication: The Real Reason Remote Workers Are More Productive,” appears on the website of Doist, an up-and-coming maker of software-based productivity tools. 

The article delves into the productivity of remote workers and how different modes of communication affect it. It includes the following definitions:  (more…)

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