The late Dr. Paula Borkum Becker was one of the most influential women in the speech communication industry. As co-founder of The Speech Improvement Company, she was an expert at helping businessmen and women worldwide to improve their communication skills. Her work in the 1960’s laid the foundation for what would later become executive coaching. Her strong business skill assisted her as she built TSIC in the 1960’s with her husband Dr. Dennis Becker, during a time when women were not as accepted as business owners or experts. She was a valuable member of the TSIC team, and is dearly missed by her clients and staff. Her name and legacy live on as an influential figure in the speech communication world.
Dr. Becker was legally blind since birth and struggled with her sight her entire life. That impairment did not stop her. She was always considered a rebel. As a Jewish women, she married outside her faith during a time when that was not acceptable. She raised a family of 4 kids while teaching hearing impaired children and starting a business to help executives through what she called “coaching”. Although in 1964 the concept of coaching was only heard of in sports, she managed to convince leaders of countries, royalty, leaders of companies from around the world to come to The Speech Improvement Company for improvement. Her vision was to help people through better communication.
Dr. Becker’s undergraduate degree was in Speech Pathology, Audiology and Speech Communication. Her Master’s degree was in Business Communication and Administration, and her Ph.D. degree was in Business Communication. She introduced the concepts of speech pathology into the business world in the form of coaching business executives to strengthen the quality of their speech. This background served her well as she developed the accent reduction program, used by corporate professionals around the Globe. People from around the world would travel to the headquarters of TSIC located in Brookline, MA to sit and work with Dr. Becker. In 2012, the town of Brookline Massachusetts declared The Speech Improvement Company, officially the oldest speech coaching and training firm in the United States.
Her many areas of expertise included accent reduction, executive presentation coaching, leadership and management communication, business English, communicating technical data to non-technical listeners, and interpersonal skills development. Her coaching and consulting was especially helpful to her international clients whose native languages were not English. She was also the author of TSIC’s award winning and historical accent reduction program, used to help people around the world to strengthen business English.
Dr. Becker authored several books, including Communicating Through Signing, a unique book on non-verbal communication, as well as a manual on how to prepare and conduct corporate breakfast seminars. She was a major contributor to the book No Fear of Speaking. She authored the book entitled Speaking Skills for Business Careers, a number one college text, as well as two training books, Powerful Presentations and Customer Service and The Telephone. In her book No Fear of Speaking, which is a researched based book to learn how to control the fear of public speaking, she discusses how all speaking is public. Public speaking is not simply the act of speaking on a stage, but rather the act of converting thoughts into speech, and therefore making those thoughts public. This notion is the foundation of learning to control the fear of public speaking. Dr. Becker put forth that if we only think of public speaking as the formal 1 to many speech, we do a disservice to all those who suffer in silence when experiencing fear in other speaking situations. Her work on the topic has spanned the globe and become the cornerstone in learning to control the fear of speaking globally.
Dr. Becker’s keen business acumen has ensured the firm’s survival for 50 years, making it the oldest speech coaching and training firm in the United States. Over the decades, Dr. Becker and the team at TSIC have helped millions around the world! She was a valuable member of the TSIC team, and is dearly missed by her clients and staff. Her name and legacy live on as an influential figure in the speech communication world.