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31 May The Best Choice

How many decisions do you make in a day?  Hundreds, maybe thousands, maybe many thousands…?

Some of them are life critical.  Some of them are thoughtless. Yet, each one of them helps to determine who you are, what kind of a life you will have, and the impression you make on others.
When it comes to the choices you make every day and the number of people who want to influence those choices, there is no shortage. The average person makes approrximately 35,000 decisions daily. So, I’m going to suggest that you make one more.  This one may have an effect of all of the others. It’s very simple. CHOOSE TO BE NICE.

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Dennis Becker
Dr. Dennis Becker
dennis@speechimprovement.com

29 May He/She Always Interrupts Me

Both sexes can perpetrate and suffer interruptions. Yet researchers in the art of communication have repeatedly found that from the age of three on, males tend to interrupt and females tend to pass the conversational ball. The right to interrupt or dominate a conversation often serves as an expression of superiority or status. Nevertheless, when women yield the floor to men, it is not so much a display of inferiority as an indication of the importance they attach to accommodating others in conversation.

Even conversationally accommodating people can come off as interlopers. Women like to overlap a speaker with words of encouragement, agreement, or a parallel situation. (“I know what you mean, Bill. My family also had to struggle to make ends meet.”) Though she intends to establish empathy, she may annoy a man who doesn’t value verbal displays of support. (“That wasn’t my point. Let me finish.”)

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Laurie Schloff
laurie@speechimprovement.com

21 May 3 Ways to Handle Difficult Questions Confidently 

Why do people ask difficult questions? 

  • They need the information 
  • They want attention from the group 
  • They want to look smart 
  • They use the questions to influence and persuade 
  • They want to intimidate 
  • Because it’s culturally appropriate 
  • They want to challenge the presenter 
  • They want to make the presenter look unprepared/foolish/dumb 
  • Questions are safer to ask than providing answers 
  • They want to be disruptive 
  • They want to change the subject 
  • They want to give their opinion indirectly 

 

Dealing with difficult questions: 

Questions are a normal part of most business meetings. It is also normal for questions to be somewhat confusing or unclear.  (more…)

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Robin Golinski
Robin Golinski
robin@speechimprovement.com

02 May Should I take fear of public speaking medication?

Thinking about fear of public speaking medication?  Consider these 5 points.

1. Medication can reduce the uncomfortable physiological signs of nervousness (heart rate increase, sweating, shakiness).

Three other approaches: learning effective presentation skills, controlling breathing, and developing helpful thinking patterns are proven non-medical strategies.

2. Beta  blockers, originally developed to control cardiac problems, are often effective and can usually be prescribed on an as needed basis.

Beta blockers inhibit the flow of adrenaline  in the body, reducing the physical symptoms of the stress response.  Your physician will help you decide whether medication is the best route for you, and can review any potential side effects.

(more…)

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Laurie Schloff
laurie@speechimprovement.com

24 Apr 3 Ways Storytelling Can be Effective in Business 

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.)  Building 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 bonding moment. 

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? If you want to be remembered: Try telling a short story about your business, tapping into specifically how what you do benefits humanity. 

3.)  Persuade –  Storytelling answers the question “Why?”  Telling a relatable and relevant story that answers what will happen if I do 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. Relationship building, making information stick and being able to convince others are three of the most common ways to use this skill. 

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Robin Golinski
Robin Golinski
robin@speechimprovement.com

16 Apr Speaking With Confidence at the JFK Library

To be a hi-impact leader in today’s financial healthcare industry requires confidence and grit. How do you hold your own in situations where there are clearly power politics? Financial folks are now more involved in giving presentations, speaking at meetings to clinicians, senior management, and colleagues. And it isn’t enough just to report the numbers and finances accurately, it’s equally important to communicate a high level of competence and confidence.
I was a coach on a mission working with this group of 200 female healthcare leaders.  My goal: to give tips tools, and strategies for how to raise your level of self-awareness, have a powerful networking introduction, project confidence beginning with a strong handshake, make sure every point made is easy for your listeners to follow, and show you have valuable insight.
It was great to motivate an audience of 200 women and see them peer-coaching each other, strengthening there self-awareness and confidence, and watching each move to their own next level of communication excellence.
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Monica
Monica Murphy
monica@speechimprovement.com

27 Mar When Students Become Teachers

When a tragedy happens there is a lot of talk.  Many people are highlighted, and many issues are discussed.  The Parkland School shooting is no exception to this.  Since the shooting we have seen politicians, pundits, analysts, and now students getting time to speak about the issues surrounding guns.

Interestingly, the conversation is in many ways being led by these students.  As a communication professional who has spent time as a secondary educator and researcher, I think there is something to be gleaned from this national discussion.

Surprisingly it has nothing to do with the Second Amendment.  What we gain from these students is how communication does not tell us what to do but instead tells us what we should think about doing.

Cameron Kasky, a student from Parkland said “I’ve seen this happen countless times.  And what happens is we get two weeks in the news, we get a bundle of thoughts and prayers, everybody sends flowers, and then it’s over, and then people forget.”  That is the point.  We forget and move on.

What Cameron highlights is that we should educate ourselves in order to agree or disagree with what we hear.  The fact is effective communication on any issue hinges on knowledge.  How can you competently discuss something or separate emotional appeals from logic without knowledge?  The answer is you cannot.

I challenge you to take ten minutes, learn about something important to you beyond just the talk.  Then our communication can stop being hyperbolic and rhetorical and turn to real substantive discussions.  If young high school students can do it, I know we all can, and it would lead to better businesses, better leaders, better decisions, and a more informed populace.  Wouldn’t that be wonderful!

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Dr. Ian Turnipseed
Dr. Ian Turnipseed
ian@speechimprovement.com

13 Mar Fixing Two Very Common Snags in Speech Patterns

Are you dropping your volume at the end of sentences?

It is normal to soften your volume at the end of a thought, but don’t trail your sentences into oblivion.  Assess your volume by recording yourself and checking to make sure you can hear the last words of your sentences. Practice speaking or reading aloud with conscious attention on lessening the decibel drop. Use these practice sentences:

“Let’s meet in the lobby of the downtown Marriott.”

“Sarah James was finally promoted to regional manager.”

In these examples, if you don’t keep your volume up, you’ll be swallowing your main point.

Are you jumbling words together? (more…)

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Laurie Schloff
laurie@speechimprovement.com

08 Mar What Does It Mean To Be A High Level Communicator?

In meetings today, getting talk time can be a challenge. Often there are levels of seniority and cultures that do not promote just anyone jumping in to speak. So when you speak, you must make sure you make a comment that will have some teeth in it. One that will resonate with the rest of the team and ideally one that will leave them feeling you contributed something of value. After all, you are at the meeting for a reason: what you think and contribute is valued by your colleagues.

I coach my clients to answer the following question: “What does it mean to be a high level communicator?”

Here are the three key aspects: (more…)

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Monica
Monica Murphy
monica@speechimprovement.com

14 Feb Hate Speech in the Workplace: A Manager’s Guide

Hate speech can hurt your employees… and your bottom line.

It’s an almost sure bet that people in your organization, and maybe on your team, are hearing, reading, and actively discussing the issues both in and outside of the workplace. And, unfortunately, some may be engaging in it.

We put together a free, helpful guide for dealing with these troublesome situations. It’s an 11-page pdf that covers:

  • When to Act
  • Hate Speech vs. Free Speech
  • Recognizing Hate Speech
  • Two Ways to Respond
  • When You Don’t Hear the Hate Speech Directly
  • What if the Hate-speaker is in a Position Above You?

 

Download here

 

 

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Jeff Turner
Jeff Turner
jturner@speechimprovement.com

09 Feb How To Control The Impression You Make On Others

In this day and age, we each have the ability to shape and direct our communication to create a “personal brand.” Communication-style coaching is the path to creating the way you want others to think of you. I help executives do this by choosing the “style words” that define their own personal style, something that they can vary depending on the listener.

Ideally I recommend choosing two words. The first is a word from a business perspective: smart, knowledgeable, intelligent, credible, authoritative. The second word is a behavioral or “human” word: friendly, approachable, personable, engaging, dynamic, charismatic. Sometimes, we suggest a third word: confident.

For communication-style coaching to be successful, it’s important to choose style words that you believe in, and are comfortable for you.

“With respect to style words, the one that has resonated with me the most over the years is ‘approachable’. That might not sound like much, but the distinction between being ‘friendly’ and being ‘approachable’, to me at any rate, is that when you’re approachable, you’ve (internally, at least) established a level of seniority/accomplishment – you’re happy to share your knowledge/wisdom/what have you, but not just because you’re a nice person. I think about that mostly from the everyday communication. I really encourage junior people to participate on panels, etc., whenever possible, even if it’s not a marquee event, to get that practice, so when the big moments come, you are better prepared.“                                                                                                    – Managing Director, National hedge fund

(more…)

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Monica
Monica Murphy
monica@speechimprovement.com

24 Jan How Do I Break Into a Group of People Talking?

Go easy on your expectations here. A group of people who have been chatting awhile have already put energy into establishing a conversational rhythm. So when a newcomer appears, the group minimizes having to adjust or backtrack by politely but slowly easing in a new conversational contender. If you have concluded that breaking into a conversational group can be difficult, you’re right. But the cause usually is not rudeness, just a desire to continue a momentum that is satisfying.

I prefer the term  “joining a group” rather than “breaking in” because your attitude needs to be adaptive, not aggressive. The degree to which the group resists an outsider depends on the intimacy shared by the conversers, their previous bonding as a group, and the group’s perception of your status relative to theirs. For example, a college student walking over to a group of professors who are conversing will most likely get a brief, polite response, then a buzz-off signal as the profs continue to talk shop.

(more…)

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Laurie Schloff
laurie@speechimprovement.com

18 Jan Americans vote on the most annoying word

The most annoying word or phrase in America is…

We can’t tell you just yet. But the results are in on this year’s closely-watched Marist Poll. If you’re not familiar with it, their website states “The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, home of The Marist Poll, is a survey research center at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York which regularly measures public opinion at the local, state, and national level.”

They are often cited on CNN, FOX, CBS, NBC, ABC, and their affiliates around the country, Politico, Real Clear Politics, the National Journal’s “The Hotline,” Hot Air, and The Huffington Post.

So let’s get back to “that word”. Whatever.

That’s it. Whatever. It’s been voted the most annoying word for nine years in a row, but the number two most-annoying word or phrase “fake news” is catching up.

To find out more about the survey and the runners-up, click here.

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Jeff Turner
Jeff Turner
jturner@speechimprovement.com

28 Dec Don’t Sound Boring Use “Vocal Variety”

Despite the twenty hours Luanne spent preparing for each lecture to her nursing class, her students consistently rated her as dull. Jacob, a mechanical engineer with innovative ideas and brilliant designs, could not keep any audience interested in his presentations. Luanne and Jacob suffered from the bane of being boring, perhaps the worst curse that can afflict a speaker.

Though you might think people like Luanne and Jacob were born boring, the truth is they just never learned certain speech habits that most of us pick up naturally. In working with hundreds of tiresome talkers, I have found that training in simple techniques of vocal variety usually does the trick.

Vocal variety is the skill of emphasizing certain words to convey meaning and emotions so that those words “jump out” at the listener. It is the vocal equivalent of a colorful gesture. The following tips will pull you – and the audience – out of the dull-drums.

Pitch change. Change your pitch (usually upward) on an important word or syllable. Practice these sentences with a higher pitch on the word indicated, noticing that you have the power to change the meaning as you change the pitch.

 1. “She’s wearing a RED dress.” (Not green)

 2. “SHE’S wearing a red dress.” (That woman is)

 3. “She’s WEARING a red dress.” (As opposed to carrying or eating it)

Grab your phone or tablet and record yourself. Listen to make sure that the meaning really does stand out.

(more…)

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Laurie Schloff
laurie@speechimprovement.com

18 Dec Why do I have such anxiety with public speaking?

This is a question, I have been asked by almost every client that I have assisted in gaining control over their anxiety. In my past 25 years as communications coach, I have found that this anxiety stems from a few places. Now that is not to say that every person has had a uniquely unpleasant situation that helped to create the anxiety. What I am suggesting is that while situations are unique to that person, I find that the three places that the anxiety stems from are:

1. Having little to no experience with speaking publicly. You may be someone who has been creating the magic behind the scenes and have grown accustomed to that but now you are asked to be in the spotlight sharing what you know.

2. You may have had a not so great public speaking experience somewhere in your past. Negative experiences seem to linger quite a while. We seem to forget all the good experiences but those not so great ones remain forever. It’s not uncommon for an adult to remember a situation from 20-30 years ago. Clearly the individual has moved on from the negative experience, it is not forgotten and has let a mark.

3. You might be a person who has managed the nervousness and learned how to control it but something happened and a presentation did not go well. Some folks rely on their public speaking ability vs actually preparing and practicing. These folks thought they could “wing it” and they didn’t put a whole lot into preparing or practicing their presentation. Well, somewhere along the way, usually during the presentation, they realize that they aren’t prepared and what they thought would sound great, doesn’t sound so great.

All three of these situations boil down to being evaluated. No one loves being judged or evaluated.  We didn’t like it as children and we really dislike it as adults. As adults, we logically know that we cannot control what our listeners think or feel about us but that doesn’t stop us from worrying and stressing about it.

No matter what the cause of your public speaking anxiety, you need to gain control over it. The longer you wait to exert your control, the harder it becomes. I did not say impossible, just harder.  If you suffer from presentation anxiety, seek out assistance now.  You have the ability to control your presentation anxiety.

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Kristen Curran-Faller
Kristen Curran-Faller
kristen@speechimprovement.com