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31 Jul What?!? No PowerPoint?

Three different speech coaching clients have told me how they are planning to follow the steps of Amazon and do away with PowerPoint in their senior executive meetings. Fortunately, I was able to stop this colossal mistake before it was too late.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not unaware of the torture and mis-communication that can happen when PowerPoint is used.  I agree and support that certain types of meetings are best conducted without it. But to toss it out completely, as a blanket absolute, is just lazy and poor judgement.  It’s also helpful to know that I’m a minimalist when it comes to the use of slides, so I’m not a PowerPoint pusher.

Because use of visual aids done poorly can render meetings a waste of time, I’m agreeing with Jeff Bezos. Why should any of us spend an hour or more to meet where there is no productive communication, no one being persuasive, no one able to successfully share ideas, so we walk away with no information?

(more…)

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Dr. Ethan Becker
Dr. Ethan Becker
ethan@speechimprovement.com

24 Jul The Transformational Effect of Live Storytelling 

The ability to speak with impact directly correlates with one’s salary. As an Executive Communication Coach, I have helped many nervous professionals hone their speaking skills in order to advance their careers. Typically, the coaching and training focuses on content organization and delivery skills for maximum effectiveness.    

I love communication so much that it is not just my day job, but also my hobby. I’m a storyteller and participate in story slams. These are events where regular people tell a personal, true story to a crowd, based on the theme of the night. Many of them have never used a microphone before and some require coaxing by their friends to tell. (more…)

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Robin Golinski
Robin Golinski
robin@speechimprovement.com

10 Jul I’m always more interested in talking than he is

Welcome to the one way conversation club. Though plenty of men turn somersaults to get conversational action going with their mates, more often women end up exasperated with silent partners. It’s not that women bore men – watch a man salivate over her every syllable on a long-awaited first date. Rather, whereas women tend to need a daily dose of conversational closeness, men value just being together and doing things together, even mundane activities like eating quietly side by side. For guys, verbal interaction is one part, and not necessarily the most important part, of the whole relationship picture. This frustrates women who judge closeness by the number of words exchanged per evening. If wives and girlfriends had their druthers, the time couples spend in conversation would surely rise from its measly weekly average of nineteen – yes, nineteen – minutes.

To defuse conversational frustration –

  1. Don’t let it get to you. In a fundamentally sound relationship, conversational reluctance doesn’t mean rejection. Recognize that for you, conversation is a form of coupling, while for him talk may be just words.

  2. Stop taking the initiative in verbal interactions. Change your conversational patterns and watch what happens. If you’re generally the driving force for dinner talk, try holding back. There’s a fifty-fifty chance that silence will stimulate your taciturn partner’s vocal cords. Maura seemed to stump husband Cal with the question, “How was your day?” which she asked every night like clockwork while they were lounging around before dinner. Three days into Maura’s assignment of not prompting conversation, Cal did a surprising thing. He said, “Don’t you care about how my day went?” Managing to restrain her eagerness to hear, Maura responded casually, “Oh yes, how was it?” He talked about ten times longer than his usual “All right” or “Nothing special.”

  3. Bring up the subject of your conversational needs. When both you and he are in a decent mood, be direct without blaming. Let your partner know what’s important to you. “I know you like a lot of quiet. I need to talk everyday to touch base and feel close.”

  4. Once you have discussed your different needs, explore some middle ground. For example, set up a regular talking time. Nothing formal, just a time like dinner or before bedtime that you agree to devote to catching up with each other for five or ten minutes. You’ll know the connecting time is coming, and he’ll know it will end at some point. Not conversational heaven but a good couples compromise.

  5. Don’t be conversationally monogamous . Having other people in your life to chat with besides your mate lessens the pressure on both of you. When Maura came home dying to complain about her boss and found Cal engulfed into a video game, she learned to call up her chum Kathryn instead.

  6. If all else fails, talk to yourself. Self-gratification can be a great tension release.
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Laurie Schloff
laurie@speechimprovement.com

28 Jun Where Should I Look When I’m Speaking to a Group?

If you view the listeners as piranhas, you’ll grab any chance to avoid looking them in the eye.  Lisa, a friendly, charming woman who had just been elected president of a large national church group, was dreading her first talk to the state leaders in her organization.  She asked me if it was OK to aim her speech at the clock in the back of the church she’d be speaking in.  “Surely,” I suggested, “you can find a face in the audience more friendly than the one on the clock.

In order to see people in your audience for what they are – people – master the eye-contact techniques I taught Lisa. Your listeners will see you as warmer, more influential, and well-versed in the art of communication.

Warm up.  Get the good feeling of relating well to your audience by making small talk with several individuals before your talk begins.  Then when all eyes are on you, you won’t be confronting a mass of strangers.

Follow the “Rule of Three.”  If you’re new at public speaking, pick three specific people to focus on – one in the middle, one on the right, and one on the left of the room.  These audience members will be your eye-contact landmarks as you scan the room. Be careful, though, not to look at any one person for more than about five seconds.  It’s creepy being stared at by the speaker!

Do the one-minute scan.  Include everyone in your audience by scanning the people in the room about once a minute while you’re talking.  You will have a tendency to focus more attention on the folks directly in front of you.  That’s all right, but be sure you don’t ignore those to your right and left.

Learn the art of “nose contact.”  If you are speaking to a small audience (three to thirty people), it’s not necessary to look right into their eyes.  Just glance at the center of a listener’s face (usually his nose).  It’ll suffice.

 

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Laurie Schloff
laurie@speechimprovement.com

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.

(more…)

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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.”)

(more…)

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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