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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 ways. Understanding all five contributing factors may help you understand your own attitude toward experiences and other people. (more…)
It’s no secret 2020 was a challenging year in many ways. As most of us look forward to putting this year behind us, many companies may be gearing up for new year hiring as new budgets come into play in early 2021.
This brings up the relatively new idea of a video cover letter. What is a VCL, you ask? It’s just like it sounds, it’s you, talking about you and your skills, and is sent to a hiring authority at a company you wish to work for along with your CV or resume.
What are the upsides of a VCL? From a speech coach’s point of view, there are benefits and risks. For example, if you say that you have excellent communication skills, your VCL should make those evident. A warm smile, a clearly-worded, and articulate script should also be evident. Having a great voice tone, eye contact with the camera, and good posture as well as fresh, clean clothes all can carry the day. (more…)
As we all continue to adapt to our remote workplace in 2021, coaches find that our clients confide worries and challenges about virtual meetings to us.
So, meeting leaders, here are easy ways to enhance your team’s morale and productivity :
- Give them a break. Some team members feel like it’s a luxury to visit their own bathroom or grab a yogurt, as close as they may be. Encourage 15-minute breaks every ninety minutes or two hours and discourage back to back meetings. Speaking of meetings…
- Make it easy to ask questions. Team members miss informal chatter, laughs, and learning from others just by hanging out. One financial analyst shared that he avoids asking his manager a simple question since it seems “so formal” to schedule a call.
- Remember that fun builds trust. Make time for rituals and some crazy moments. Getting those positive hormones going is bonding—and bonding builds morale. Back in November, I asked a bank CIO to share the highlight of his past week. The enthusiasm in his voice and body language was better than ever when he shared that he organized a Halloween costume contest. This C- Suite Dracula had forty team members enter with just a day’s notice.
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?”
Thirty years in this business has shown me that a powerful and useful tool is gesticulating. Use your hands and body to emphasize and clarify the verbal messaging.
When you talk, you are communicating via two channels: audio and video. Verbally delivering credible information is not enough. The key is to align those audio and video components by focusing on your non-verbal messaging.
Here are the top three gestures to project non-verbal confidence:
- Keep one body part on the table as much as possible. Best is your forearm at an angle. It conveys that you are approachable and attentive, which is crucial when building trust.
- Maintain “face contact.” In American business culture, eye contact is a necessary ingredient for establishing trust. A great way to practice this tool is to look at your listener anywhere between the bridge of the nose and forehead to ensure they feel acknowledged and validated.
- People also listen with their eyes. so use slow, purposeful gestures. When making a point in a meeting, use an expressive gesture. For example, expand your hands away from each other while commenting, “we’ve seen a lot of growth.” You can even practice this when you’re ordering at your favorite coffee shop. How would you describe “no milk, two sugars?” Try it and see how perfect they’ll make your drink every time.
Studies show that loneliness is becoming an increasingly common physical and mental health concern for which remote workers are acutely at risk. With coronavirus forcing employees into 100% work from home (WFH) guidelines, and in some cases, complete shelter in place restrictions, workplace loneliness is at an all-time high.
Understandably, employees who are used to seeing each other every day are especially feeling this disconnect. And, with coffee shops and restaurants closed, remote employees who were always 100% remote no longer have their routines those routines.
Employees converting to a remote role are afraid that they won’t get the social stimulation they need to stay motivated and engaged at work. Working from home can lead to endless distractions. Work productivity can be sluggish and fragmented. At most companies, the work they did has slipped away, or they are unable to generate new sales or profits. All of this adds up to be a strain and a sense of isolation.
As an Executive Communication Coach who specializes in Effective Remote Communication at The Speech Improvement Company, I am offering a few of our newest tips to help conquer remote work loneliness during the coronavirus pandemic.
1. Bet on the weather. This idea is fun and costs nothing to roll out. To be clear, gambling at most places of work is illegal, so it’s best to keep this a light and fun activity with no actual money at stake. (Think a March Madness type pool but renamed March Sadness!) Perhaps the winner can gather donations to their favorite charity or bragging rights for six months. Maybe they get a paid day off on their birthday. Any prize helps it feel more exciting. To bet on the weather, it can be elaborate or straightforward. Commit to a few cities to bet on, commit to how you will bet – by temperature, by an icon on an app, by weather activity (rain, thunder, fog, partly sunny), or any parameter you like. This could be a one-time event on a Friday afternoon meeting or a weekly event. Even with prizes that have no monetary value, you are creating a new sense of fun and friendly competition.
2. Set up a remote lunch meeting with a surprise guest. Have one person on the team volunteer to bring in a special guest to a lunchtime meeting – their pet, child, friend, neighbor, or anyone who would be willing to pop on the video call for a few minutes. If they can access the meeting link remotely, anyone in the world can be your Surprise Guest, like your parents or spin class instructor and, is a fantastic way to get to know your team members and shake up the monotony of meetings.
3. Plan a company-wide talent show on a Friday afternoon. Invite anyone and everyone who would like to take part – your spouse, partner, dog, bunny, child, or yourself. Let family members in your home tune in as well. After all the performances are complete, use a poll or chat feature to determine the top three winners of the talent show. Winners will receive a prize with no monetary value like a royal background on the next four video calls, or a crown mailed to them that was handmade by a fellow team member.
4. Send a handwritten letter to a team member. When permission has been given, list all team members’ names and home addresses alphabetically in an Excel document. Everyone writes a handwritten letter to the person under them on the list. If this is not appropriate in your organization because home addresses are private, handwrite the letter, take a picture of it, and send it electronically via email or IM. While the idea of pen pals has long been forgotten, the concept of receiving a handwritten note is still a lot of fun.
5. Host a weekly live edition of “Lifestyles of the Bored and Quarantined.” Have one team member walk around their house for 10 minutes before a team call to give their team a virtual tour. What they share is up to them, but ideas include pets, plants, kids, favorite rooms of the house, the backyard, or wildlife. These meetings are a fantastic no-cost way to get to know each other more and create stronger remote team bonds.
These WFH ideas are fresh off the press and just in time for the continued social isolation and mandatory work from home policies. We expect all team meetings will be remote meetings for at least a few more weeks, possibly much longer. Use these tips to combat loneliness, strengthen your remote team bond, and have a sense of playfulness during this time of fear and the unknown. Remember, you can depend on your team to help get you through these times, even if you are not in the same office, city, or country.
While this post offers fun and playful ideas, remote work loneliness can be serious and upsetting. We encourage you to talk to someone about it – a boss, teammate, spouse, or friend online. When you open up and share what you’re feeling, you give someone the chance to support you, and, in return, you hear how others might be feeling as well. Once you’ve talked to someone about your feelings, you can more effectively support each other and get the emotional support you need to keep plugging away.
Facial coverings and masks can make it difficult for some people to communicate. People who often rely on facial cues may not understand you when your face is covered, or your voice is muffled. As an Executive Coach, I have seen how it can be hard to talk to neighbors, friends, co-workers, and family while wearing a mask.
When you are wearing a face-covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, be aware that you may inadvertently create a situation where another person may no longer understand you. Remember, how you communicate is just as important as what you communicate.
Here are five tips for communicating when using face coverings and masks:
1.Use Active Body Language
Body language, hand gestures, and posture are most important. Your non-verbal cues should reflect the tone and theme of your content. Nod when appropriate to acknowledge you are listening and understanding.Focus on
2. Eye Contact
Use your eyes and eyebrows. Good eye contact is critical. Let your eyebrows tell the story. Happiness can be seen by raised eyebrows, raised cheeks, and crow’s feet. Eyebrows pinched together can sometimes convey anger or frustration, so remember that your eyebrows are part of your eye contact when wearing a mask.
3. Adjust Your Voice Tone
Your tone of voice includes your inflection, rate, and pace, which can be equally as impactful as your speaking words. Articulate loudly and clearly, without shouting.
4. Look at Alternatives
If using a mask is a serious barrier to speaking and having others understand you, consider a face shield or a see-through face mask.
5. Send a Post-Conversation Summary
Consider using a written recap of the conversation, so nothing is lost. This could mean a quick recap email, a text, a short PowerPoint deck, or a formal document that summarizes what you shared.
As we begin to wrap up 2020, let’s keep masks on and spirits up. We can do this. Thanks for helping to keep everyone safe.
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) Build Rapport – Experiences are unique; however, emotions are universal. Telling a short, interesting personal story allows the listener to tap into the same emotion as the teller, creating a memorable rapport. The effectiveness depends upon expressing the relevant emotion in the story.
2) Increase Retention – How often have you been in a networking situation and found it difficult to remember someone’s name and business 30 seconds after she or he said it? Try telling a short story about your business, tapping into precisely how what you do benefits humanity. Focusing on how you benefit humanity will resonate with your listener, whom we assume is a human.
3) Persuade – Storytelling answers the question, “Why?” Telling a relatable and relevant story that answers what will happen if I do or don’t do something can be very persuasive. The listener can imagine him/herself in real-time and feel the consequences of the choice at hand when the story is told well.
There are countless ways to use storytelling as a communication tool in business. You may have noticed that relevance is the thread that runs through all three. Use storytelling to demonstrate the relevance to your listener, if you can’t do that, you should not be talking. Relationship building, making information stick, and convincing others are three of the most common ways to use this skill.
Now, in the midst of this pandemic, if you need to adjust your business narrative, how should you do that? If your business is to continue, your constituents need to know that your company is still strong and has been able to adapt to changing times. Here is food for thought and some direction for your consideration as you address this issue.
Begin by understanding that framing the story is essential. You should always answer three questions as you build your narrative:
- Where are your listeners/constituents naturally on the topic that you need to address?
- Where do you need them to be to consider the value of your message?
- What story, information, etc. can you use at the beginning, and throughout your narrative to facilitate that?
Take the time to answer these simple questions, and you will be in a significantly better position to effectively and strategically address the important issues in your narrative. These answers will also help support your need to motivate, influence, and lead in this unprecedented time.
Inquiring Communication Coach: What do you like about Zooming?
I conducted a non-scientific poll of my business clients to learn:
Top 10 Things Professionals Like About Zoom
- You can wear your PJ bottoms (just watch the camera shot).
- You can look at yourself all day, for better or worse.
- You don’t have to smell fish cooking in the microwave.
- You get to use your own bathroom.
- You can squeeze your stress ball without anyone knowing.
- You get to see an occasional baby, kid, cat, dog, or gerbil.
- You may get to hug someone between meetings—Awww!
- You can wear your most comfy decade old shoes.
- You can make coffee your way.
- Write anything YOU like (if you do) about Zooming in the comments below.
90-minute, online, interactive workshop
Thinking on Your Feet
Thursday, May 21, 2020
1:00 PM – 2:30 PM EDT
$99 per seat
THINKING ON YOUR FEET is always a strong indicator of confidence and competence. Next to controlling nervousness, it’s our most requested training topic!
Two things will happen during this 90-minute workshop:
First, you will learn specific techniques that will help you strengthen your ability to think on your feet and express your thoughts with clarity and confidence. We will teach and demonstrate these techniques in a simple and practical manner.
Second, you will practice the techniques in breakout groups. The number of participants will be limited to ensure that every participant will have ample opportunity to practice.
Yes, we are doing all this online! It promises to be an enjoyable and productive learning experience…and you’re invited!
Yet, clients using virtual audio or video conferencing say that engaging all participants, holding attention, and controlling interruptions and overlapping speakers are significant challenges.
Make sure you are incorporating these five essentials in your virtual meetings:
Dr. Dennis Becker, founder of The Speech Improvement Company, spoke on March 16 at World Speech Day. The honor of representing North America was given to him in recognition of his stature as a worldwide expert in human communication.
World Speech Day is a day to celebrate speeches and speechmaking that change the world – socially, politically, in the arts, business, and religion. This is their fifth year and featured a Master Class of speakers from 120+ countries delivering speeches and taking questions from viewers and listeners. This year’s theme was Classical Rhetoric and its Effect on Contemporary Communication.
Dennis’ 15-minute live-streamed speech was entitled “Aristotle’s Patterns of Reasoning.” He took this 3,000-year-old content and showed its use and value in today’s world. Of course, his comfortable and “shirtsleeve” English style benefitted viewers and listeners across the globe.
30-minute recorded webinar
Communicating During Crisis
Navigating Essential Conversations
In these unprecedented times, your people are relying on your insight and direction. Effective communication is every leader’s best tool and using it appropriately is the key to moving business forward. Your employees, peers, vendors, partners, and others all need clear, concise, and useful information.
Our team of Executive Communication Coaches will be joined by renowned crisis expert Dr. Kevin Becker to give you a framework for essential management communication. During this webinar you will learn the three most important things that must be communicated during a time of crisis and proven techniques for putting it all in place immediately.
In recent years, the world has seen a number of significant large-scale disasters; some caused by nature and some caused by humans. For many, the words “disaster” or “crisis” evoke images of buildings in shambles, decimated communities, and families who are homeless and uncertain where their next meal will come from. Until recently, these disasters included only such events as tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and terrorist attacks. These days it is the coronavirus that is bringing us pictures of people wearing masks, being quarantined, schools closing, and so on. This current crisis has wreaked havoc with the stock market and the investments of millions of people. That alone is creating an economic crisis.
Indeed, the current financial crisis has been referred to as an “economic tsunami”. Undeniably, the current conditions have caused communities to come to a complete standstill. The trauma has been severe for many companies, and leaders worldwide have spoken in terms usually reserved for those occasions when a hurricane or earthquake has occurred. Rallying cries of hope and promises for “a full recovery” can be heard from leaders across the globe.
In the United States, since the disaster of 9/11, there has been significant research in the areas of Disaster Psychology and Human Communication which offer important insights into how people operate and what motivates them during times of crisis. For political leaders and business professionals, understanding some important disaster principles and practices can mean the difference between success and failure as the crisis and subsequent economic troubles unfold. (more…)
Managing Employees Remotely
Overcoming challenges in communication,
motivation, and employee engagement
The coronavirus is forcing many of us to work and manage remotely. With large numbers of employees working remotely for the first time and reading frightening headlines daily, managers have a whole new set of challenges to continue leading effectively.
Watch our webinar and you will learn:
- The key challenges to remote work
- Five important skills for effective remote collaboration
- How to motivate and engage employees
This is a unique opportunity to fine-tune your communication skills. You will learn proven strategies you can put to use immediately with any remote employee or team to keep them focused and productive.
This recorded webinar is for:
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…)
8 Mar Speaking Tips
The PPI consists of 10 questions to ask prior to the business presentation process. These 10 questions relate to listener analysis, and therefore your needs:
- Why am I speaking to these listeners?
- Why are they listening?
- What relationship do we have?
- What relationship do listener members have to each other?
- What do they know about this topic?
- What would they like to know?
- How will they use this information?
- What are they doing the day before I speak?
- What will they be doing the day after?
- What are the logistics of the event:time, location, room
description, temperature, seating, lighting, and sound?
The information you gather from these 10 questions will make the job of preparing a speech much easier. In addition, your listeners will be more likely to respond positively if they feel that your research has helped you prepare specifically for them.