Commentary

18 Aug Man vs Beast

[vc_row 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" css_animation=""][vc_column][vc_column_text]What a tragedy in Charlottesville.  From a speech coaching perspective, this is yet he recent another indication that our species has not entirely evolved to the point where we can talk and listen to one another. It was Aristotle...

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24 Jul How you can add real value to your business

[vc_row 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" css_animation=""][vc_column][vc_column_text]One of the biggest challenges in business is how to create 'value'.  Boyd Stough of Espy Revenue recently interviewed me about this issue for a new installment of his business podcasts.  In our conversation, we talked extensively about...

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19 Jul Screen Calls Appropriately

[vc_row 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" css_animation=""][vc_column][vc_column_text]When screening calls, you take an incoming call and try to find out who is calling and what the caller wants.  Screening is most commonly done by a receptionist who needs to direct calls, and by secretaries and...

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10 Jul Why are you so fearful of public speaking?

[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]I spend a lot of time reading articles from magazines, newspapers, and blogs whose authors proclaim they have the solutions for the fear of public speaking. The reality is there is no solution to that fear. As a person who has spoken for 25 years as well as coached others for the last ten, there will never come a time when you are cured. The fact is fear is a part of public speaking. You can be anxious because it is a new topic that you are speaking on, you didn’t prepare as well as you would have liked, or you really want the speech to go well, the reasons are endless. One of the root causes of this fear is always the same. We are not always afraid of giving the speech or really even what comes out of our mouths. For the most part, we are always concerned with what are listeners are thinking about us and the message. The underlying and all-pervasive reality is listeners contribute to our fear, and since speaking by ourselves is never going to get anyone anywhere it will always be with us. The question then becomes how do I deal with managing my fear of my listeners? Now don't get me wrong. I do not think we are afraid of our listeners because they exist. I doubt many of us look at the people in a board room or in an audience or even a client and think "Goodness, I am afraid of these human beings!" No, we are afraid of the judgement they will pass. Do they like us, our voice, the speech, and will they take the actions we are suggesting? So when dealing with the fear of public speaking, one must come to terms with not being able to control the listeners or what they are thinking. Using my extensive experience as well as research into listener psychology, I offer the following tips to help with that:
  1. People are more predictable than you think!

When we think of groups of people, whether our managers, listeners, or customers, they all share commonalities. All groups of people share common attributes we can consider as we prepare a speech. We share age ranges, gender, socioeconomic backgrounds, family make-up, race, sociopolitical background, etc. The more you know about who you are presenting to, the better. As you uncover this information, people become more

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02 Jul How To Be Heard In Meetings

[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]Ever notice that sometimes in meetings or conversation other professionals do not seem to take you seriously? You are trying to make a point but your listeners roll their eyes, look bored, or act fidgety. Do they wish...

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22 Jun Homonyms, Homophones, and Other Similar Words

[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]We had a lot of fun compiling this list of commonly misunderstood, misused, and misspelled English words. You may find some that are interesting, some surprising, and hopefully, some that are educational. Enjoy! - a - abjure                       To renounce adjure                       To command, as under oath accept                       To receive with consent except                       To exclude; to object (take exception to) acclamation            Loud expression of approval, praise, or assent acclimation             Acclimatization, especially under controlled (as laboratory) conditions adherence               Act of adhering adherents                Followers affect                         To have an influence on effect                         To make; to bring about aid                              Help aide                            Assistant all ready                   Set to go already                     Previously
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01 Jun I Hate the Way I Sound on Recordings

[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 my work with hundreds of clients, including professional speakers such as actors and radio announcers, I have met only a handful who like the sound of their own voice on a recording. Some people even refuse to...

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31 May Where did that attitude come from?

[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]A big part of communication is your 'attitude' which the dictionary defines as "a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person's behavior." Attitudes are developed in five major...

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16 May Good Communication Begins With Awareness

[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]Successful communication has little to do with simply trying to bring our message across, but it has everything to do in how we assess and adjust our communication to our respective communication partners. Communication is a two-way process. It needs an equal amount of skill...

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16 May Coaching Lessons from the NBA

[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]It’s the NBA playoff season and while watching my beloved Boston Celtics tear down another opponent, my attention was drawn to some insightful statements from basketball players on the importance of being ‘well coached.’ Because I’m in the coaching business, a...

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21 Apr The Hold Button Is Not a Weapon!

[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]Don't use the hold button to explode an obnoxious, annoying, or irritating caller into the never-never land of hold.  In fact, if you can avoid putting people on hold, that's even better.  Do you like being put on...

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19 Apr 8 Steps to Exceptional Customer Service

[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]Much has been written about the recent situation where United Airlines forcibly removed a passenger (David Dao, a 69 year-old doctor born in Vietnam and living in the U.S.) because they overbooked the flight. It raised questions about everything from passenger rights and the small print on your ticket, to outright discrimination against people of Asian descent. There was a lively discussion here at The Speech Improvement Company about service-oriented corporate culture, the attitudes of front-line employees, and if misaligned, how to fix it. Clearly, United Airlines needs to fix it. “Fly the friendly skies” stands in stark contrast with the image of a bloodied Dr. Dao. I recall one trip home from Japan on United Airlines in first-class. I was hanging out with a flight attendant, and she was complaining about other passengers to me. She said, “These passengers think they are so special. They expect everything, don’t they know this is no different than taking the subway?” I was astounded that she just compared a $15,000 plane ticket with a $1.25 subway fare. Here was a clear disconnect between the employee on the front lines and the marketing and sales departments who sell premium first-class tickets based on how great the service will be. Wow. Here are 8 things all companies, not just United, need to do in order to turn poor attitudes into exceptional customer service.
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16 Apr Happy World Voice Day!

My observance today included hydrating, and singing classic rock in the car during a long drive. World Voice Day is an annual, now-international event created to recognize and honor the importance of the human voice – “to share the excitement of voice science, pedagogy and the vocal arts”[1]. We use our voices to communicate from the very beginning of life, crying, laughing, and babbling before we can hold a crayon or even know a word of language. Voices carry emotion and information, speech and song. Voice is central to human identity and interaction throughout our lives, and especially important in my life and work.
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15 Apr Impressing Investors: Rules for the Roadshow

[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]Congratulations on bringing your innovative idea to the investor presentation stage. Now comes your next challenge--creating a winning presentation. Here are 8 key ideas for success:
  1. Develop the mindset of a ‘professional presenter’.
In addition to innovator, entrepreneur, CEO, CFO, or executive, your skills as a professional presenter/communicator are also being judged. Professional presenters know their words and delivery are being scrutinized. A $10,000,000 decision could rest on the right rhetoric! You are prepared, vigilant, and self-aware with your business acumen. Apply the same rigor to getting your presentation ready.
  1. Think theme.
What do you want investors, analysts, and interested listeners to remember about your firm? Tell them in fifteen words or less. A good idea is to focus on what sets you apart. Ex: ”Powerline meets the growing need for networked, efficient and easy-to-use audio conference systems."
  1. Get Organized.
We’re not talking about spring cleaning your office here. Devote time to packaging your message efficiently, prioritizing the points you want to make and developing a catchy and comfortable opening and closing. Importantly, troubleshoot the top ten questions you’re likely to be asked and outline how you’ll respond. The two biggest organizational mistakes: trying to include too much information and not spending enough time on what makes you viable and valuable in the marketplace.
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28 Mar Creating Muscle Memory

[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] 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'. ...

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