Communication Skills Blog from world class speech coaches

10 Mar Running Effective Remote Team Meetings

To curb the spread of coronavirus, organizations are encouraging employees around the globe to work remotely. Setting clear guidelines for how, when, and why teams operate remotely helps form cohesion. How do you create a collaborative agenda with remote meeting attendees, allowing all remote team members to remain engaged during team conference calls? This blog post offers tips based on our experience training companies on how to communicate effectively when using digital platforms and how to collaborate and manage remotely.

Admit it, when there is no video aspect to a conference call, it’s not unusual for employees to hit mute, (or not), and do a variety of tasks during phone conferences and remote team meetings, such as checking and composing email, scrolling Twitter, eating a sandwich, and (gasp) going to the bathroom?! (more…)

Read More

12 Feb How to Be a Good Listener In Groups

Intuitively, we all know that many speakers are nervous when presenting. Yet, when attending a meeting or conference, we rarely think about how we, as  listeners, can help the  speaker  be more comfortable. Though most of my team’s time is spent focusing on coaching speakers to be more confident and effective, as a listener,  you  can help as well. 

Here are five practical tips for being a great listener in a group setting:

  1. Provide non-verbal feedback. Speakers are sensitive to listeners’ facial expressions and posture. It helps to grin, show facial interest, smile if appropriate, and use a slight forward lean. 
  2. Get cozier.  Have you noticed that the front row at a meeting or conference is often empty or sparsely populated? Speakers benefit from feeling connected to their listeners, soin a large group, be brave and sit as near to the speaker as possible.  
  3. Ask questions.  It is uncomfortable when the presenter asks if there are any questions and then…crickets!  Yes, it can take courage on your part to speak up. But, knowing that you are helping the speaker feel better may get you going.  
  4. Avoid distracting behaviors.  Presenters notice everything because they can SEE everything from their vantage point.  Know that you are not invisible and avoid talking to colleagues, fiddling with papers, or your handbag. If you need to cough more than several times, best to move into the hallway. 
  5. Approach the speaker afterward. Whether it’s a small group meeting or a large conference, presenters feel uplifted when they know their information or style is appreciated. Offer a sincere compliment if you can. Conversation with the presenter is a boost to networking too! 
Read More

3 Feb Communication Skills for Women Leaders

Without being stereotypical about it, there are some communication characteristics that may be more familiar to women in leadership roles than will resonate with men in similar roles. We see many millennials, of both genders, struggling with these traits as well. But that’s an article for another day! Here a few reminders.

Examples include:

  • Placing a question mark at the end of sentences (uptalk)
  • Apologizing when there is no need
  • Diminishing their value by using tentative words such as  little  or  just  while describing accomplishments

(more…)

Read More

19 Jan Strategically Authentic Communication 

To be successful in business communication, you must be authentic. Authenticity, though, is not magic. It is strategic. For any communication you have, here are three steps you can follow to be strategically authentic. 

– Better understand your listeners. The best advice I give to clients is to remember that it’s not about you; it’s about the listeners, so before you speak, ask yourself:

  • To whom are you speaking? What is their title? 
  • How much time do they have for you? 
  • What is your goal for the conversation? What do you think are the roadblocks to getting to your goal? 
  • How does your listener listen – do they want to get to the point or get all the information?  

(more…)

Read More

7 Jan Three Nuanced Ways to Communicate Confidence

What people want most from communication coaching is the ability to appear, sound, and be confident. We all know when we see a confident communicator and when we don’t. Sometimes a speaker will say they felt confident but they are not perceived that way. Sometimes people will be very self-deprecating about their confidence, and their listeners didn’t see that at all. We are always trying to close the gap between self-perception and reality.

It’s important to remember confidence is a  transient condition  even though everyone talks about it as a concrete destination. ALL speakers have felt their confidence come and go. (more…)

Read More

17 Dec The Skills You Need to be AGILE

 

There is a difference between being an agile HR department and being an AGILE HR department. The ideal, of course, is being an agile AGILE HR department. This is especially true as AGILE becomes a way of doing business in more and more companies. The emphasis in AGILE is on speed and accuracy. At the Bank of Montreal, where AGILE has become popular, the Chief Transformation Officer, Lynne Rogers, says that “speed is the new business currency.”

(more…)

Read More

10 Dec If you don’t put in the work, your communication cannot improve

Have you ever heard of the often-quoted business statement “anything worth doing is worth doing badly”?  Whether you have or have not, the question you should ask is, what is this quotation saying to us as professional.

The quote is urging us to do. Very inspirational and successful people generally speak statements like this. People, we want to emulate. The problem is that statements like this don’t reflect the years of work that went into developing the authenticity to say these statements. If Steve Jobs took a risk, it’s genius. If a middle manager with little to no experience or history at Apple takes that same risk, what a mistake!  My concern for businesspeople everywhere – if we follow statements like that, we assume success.

Let us listen to Thomas Edison when he said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” This especially applies to our communication skills.  It is not something people are just good at, it’s not impossible to improve, and it’s not something that is a soft skill.

Everyone needs communication today to advance in business. You must establish relationships, be persuasive and motivational, be situational in leadership, show initiative, and acknowledge that communication is the cornerstone of your job. Essentially, to be successful at communication, also known as the cornerstone of your job, you must put in the effort to develop the skill, practice it, and nurture it to see success. Don’t just do it badly and expect results.

 

Read More

3 Dec Three Lawyers and an Actuary

This week I had the privilege of coaching three lawyers and one actuary — bright people indeed who were preparing to speak at various conferences.

Three of them needed help structuring their presentations. One executive was having trouble relating to his listeners. Yet they all expressed concern over the thing that holds so many people back.

If you guessed they all suffer from the fear of speaking, you’re right.

There are two types of comments I heard:

Physiological: They mentioned faces turning red, shaky hands, and the fact that they struggled to focus. (more…)

Read More

19 Nov Is Conversation Dead?

By no means is it shocking to say that teenagers live on their cell phones. As a GenXer, I grew up as a teen that spent hours talking on the telephone. (The thing attached to the wall that had a cord.) I can still hear my mother yelling, “GET OFF THE PHONE NOW! Someone may be trying to call.” Yes, I used a phone to talk. That is no longer the case today. I find my teens watching videos and movies, playing video games, checking the weather, checking social media, and texting. I am the ONLY one that actually calls them to talk. As a parent and a communications coach, I have asked myself, “What has happened to the art of conversation?”

(more…)

Read More

12 Nov Your Spoken Word Is Not Enough 

When preparing for a presentation, you start by thinking “What do I want to say?” The focus is on ourselves. How will it go? What is best?

Think bigger. As a communication coach, I tell my clients all the time “I’m going to tell you something important: it’s not about you.”

It’s about your listener. How one successfully reaches a communication goal is by thinking about what tools will help you effectively get your message across. That means choosing the method that best resonates with your listener. Ask yourself “What tools will help us get from here to there?”

(more…)

Read More