Have questions about a blog post?  Email the author directly.  We love hearing from people.

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

 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail
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…)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail
Read More
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…)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail
Read More
Laurie Schloff
laurie@speechimprovement.com

18 Jan Americans vote on the most annoying word

The most annoying word or phrase in America is…

Not one speech coach could guess it. And 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.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail
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.

Speaking clearly with vocal variety is the skill of emphasizing certain words to convey meaning and emotions so that those words “jump out” at the listener. In the mechanics of speech, 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…)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail
Read More
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 speech coaching client that I have assisted in gaining control over their anxiety. In my past 25 years as communications coach, I have found that fear of speaking 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 bad 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 to overcome fear of speaking. 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.

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

28 Nov Sales Management Tips

 

This interview with Laurie Schloff originally appeared on Sales Management Services website and was written by Suzanne Pailing

 

More Listening Tips and the Importance of Communication Skills in Selling

To succeed in a sales position of any type, you must be a proficient listener. This comes more easily to some reps than others. To help salespeople continue to develop this ability, sales leaders should run listening exercises during staff meetings, recommend books and articles on the subject, monitor sales calls and offer targeted coaching.

Becoming a better listener takes practice, practice, practice.

For more tips on this all important skill, I turned to Laurie Schloff, a career communication coach and author of “Smart Speaking,” who works for the Speech Improvement Company in Brookline, Massachusetts. Laurie’s clients include Fidelity Investments, The TJX Companies, and Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Laurie generously shared her advice about listening.

Talking / Listening Ratio

Laurie often gets asks how much reps should talk on a sales call? She says, “Every customer is different. Some prospects talk your head off, while others speak less. During the first meeting it should be no more than 50/50 (rep/customer), ideally 25/75. In subsequent meetings the ratio may shift, but always be aware of attending to your customers needs and reactions.”

(more…)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail
Read More
Laurie Schloff
laurie@speechimprovement.com

17 Nov How to Deal With FEAR in 4 Steps

1. Fear, and often fear of speaking, ignites an immediate flight or freeze response in your body.

First you need to calm down both your nervous system and body response in order to think clearly.

Here’s a focused deep breathing exer

cise that is extremely helpful. Research has shown it instantly moves the brain’s reaction to calmness even in highly stressful situations. This creates the space you need to make decisions and take proper actions. It is recommended to train with this simple exercise during times when you’re not stressed so you remember it in difficult ones. Your body’s response will come much faster when it is ingrained in your habits.

Here’s the breathing exercise: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/simple-priceless-tool-st-wilkinson?trk=mp-reader-card

2. Fear is a lifesaver and signals that things are off.

Consciously remind yourself: It is extremely rare to be in a potentially lethal situation as long as you breathe, are safe and not threatened. You will be ok in that very moment of fear – you’ll get it sorted out!

3. Fear is an important signal that things need to be taken care of asap.

Take massive action – learn and grow as you face and tackle your situation STEP BY STEP – remember that you only have to make it through the next five minutes, and then the next…. and so on.

You might not always be able to change the external situations you fear at that very moment, but you can change how you react to them. Then plan further action and change your thinking from victim to victor.

4. Take charge of your own situation and rise above the challenge.

Seek help, knowledge, and support where needed – asking for help is a strength, not a weakness.

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”  -Jack Canfield

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail
Sharesz T. Wilkinson
Sharesz T. Wilkinson
shareszt@speechimprovement.com

14 Nov What to do when your mind goes blank on stage

This article by Laurie Schloff originally appeared on SpeakerHub

 

What will happen if you go blank on stage? Knowing the answer will help overcome fear of speaking.

Obviously, you will be struck by a lightning bolt and no one will ever talk to you again.

Seriously, even experienced speakers have moments when they look at the audience with a frozen stare and wonder:

Who are these people?

What am I doing here?

And what on earth am I supposed to be talking about?

The trick to managing your stress is to accept these uncomfortable moments and launch into “Blank-out Recovery”.

(more…)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail
Read More
Laurie Schloff
laurie@speechimprovement.com

27 Oct Beta Testing

An article this week on StatNews.com, a sister site of BostonGlobe.com, reported on a California startup’s plan to broadly market the medication propranolol as a quality-of-life aid, including to reduce nervousness associated with public speaking.

Companies looking to innovate and disrupt will continue to explore new solutions to old problems, and vice versa. But this particular idea causes me concern as a speech professional. (more…)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail
Read More
admin
mrussell@ottodetroit.com

26 Oct Podcast: The Only 3 Ways to Convince Anybody of Anything

Being persuasive is the topic most often requested by our clients. We train people all over the world – Fortune 500 executives, managers in companies of all sizes, entrepreneurs, politicians, athletes, and educators – who tell us again and again: they want to be more convincing.

In this 24-minute podcast, our founder, Dr. Dennis Becker, explores the three “modes for persuading”. And while it’s hard to believe, there are indeed only three. Originally taught centuries ago by Aristotle, they have stood the test of time and are as relevant and important today as they were back then.

Listen, learn, and you too can master these timeless techniques to be more persuasive on the job, at home, or anywhere.

Listen to the podcast here.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail
Dennis Becker
Dr. Dennis Becker
dennis@speechimprovement.com

23 Oct I Hate Small Talk

Is small talk really so small? Chitchat about unimportant matters provides warm-up time for more meaningful interaction. During small talk, shifts in several dimensions of interaction can occur-from discomfort to comfort, mistrust to trust, im­personal topics to personal ones. Then talkers turn to their real business.

Jay, an intense engineer who wanted to meet his soulmate, refused to make small talk. He insisted, “I like to walk up to a woman and say, ‘I’ve been divorced three times, and I finally know myself well enough to sustain a close relationship.'” Unfortunately, he turned off more women than he turned on with his direct approach.

How to Make Your Peace With Small Talk

  1. Appreciate small talk as a normal, necessary stage before a more meaningful exchange. Without small talk your style of interaction will seem rude or cold.
  2. Use small talk time to convey warmth and interest in your conversational partner. The content of what you are saying matters little. If someone makes an inane remark, it’s fine to make an equally insipid comment to get the dance of conversa­tion going. Make eye contact, wear a warm, involved expres­sion, and nod your head to show interest.
  3. After introductions, think about what you have in com­mon with the other person to decide what to say. You will even have certain things in common with strangers. At a beach party, for example, there are the physical surroundings, the host and guests, the food, the music, and yes, the weather. Try a simple comment:

“Incredible day!”

“Have some avocado dip-it’s scrumptious.”

or  a question:

“Who’s winning in volleyball?”

“Are you another longtime friend of Patsy’s?”

4.  The small-talk phase is usually short. In business there should be a maximum of five minutes before getting to your real purpose. Allow the same amount of time in social situa­tions before turning to the really interesting stuff. Whenever you’re feeling frustrated with the degree of small talk, use a transition such as:

“So what exactly is your role at ZYX?”

“I’m really glad you invited me here to discuss your marketing plan.”

(You wouldn’t normally make such comments first thing.)

Remember: Don’t worry about being clever. Just enter into the game of conversation, starting with the little moves necessary to get the game rolling smoothly.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail
Laurie Schloff
laurie@speechimprovement.com

04 Oct Overcoming 5 Hurdles That Prevent Success

In my experience, there are 5 hurdles that stand to prevent you from being successful. I’ve delved into each below.

  1. Fear

ISSUE: Fear of failure, of not living up to expectations – your own and those of others, the fear of not being good enough, the fear of being ridiculed or singled out in your community, having to go the way alone, the fear of failing, of losing everything, and there are so many more.

Fear is a nagging, physical, nervous sensation that eats you up, doesn’t let you sleep, keeps you up at night or greets you first thing in the morning, inhibiting clear thinking.

SOLUTION: First thing in the morning, jolt your body into action when you wake up: do 10 push-ups coming straight out of bed. Not 5, not 50, just 10. This will set you up for a great day ahead as your body gets all the right triggers to get going.

In your morning routine, take 5 minutes to focus on what you DO want, not what you don’t want as so many do. 

Write it physically down on a piece of paper every single day – and keep that paper with you during the day as a reminder (not on your phone, computer, tablet etc – on a piece of paper in your handwriting). Your mind and body will shift gears from fear to determination.

Do this every single day. For how long? Every.Single.Day. This is your personal GPS keeping you on track. Try it, it works. (more…)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail
Read More
Sharesz T. Wilkinson
Sharesz T. Wilkinson
shareszt@speechimprovement.com

26 Sep Tradeshow Voice

Have you ever lost your voice at a tradeshow?

We’ve all been there. It’s day 3 of the show, your staff is complaining of aching feet and backs, overall body energy is down, yet there are still 2 more days left to go in the show. Their voices are starting to crack, coughing more often, clearing thoughts, or worse – voices become horse! How do you keep your staff from getting that trade show voice?

Your voice is your tool, and as with any tool, you need to maintain it if you want it to function well. When you are at a tradeshow, the people you meet and speak with have an average of 2 minutes to judge you and your company. They look at a few things, such as what your booth looks like, how you are dressed, what are you selling, what you are saying and most importantly how you are saying it?

There are 3 tips you should follow to ensure that you and your staff maintain a strong, clear, and confident tradeshow voice.

(more…)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail
Read More
Dr. Ethan Becker
Dr. Ethan Becker
ethan@speechimprovement.com

19 Sep People Complain That I’m Too Loud

Most of us instinctively do a good job of setting our volume so that it takes into account the distance between ourselves and listeners, the amount of background noise, and the degree to which we want to broadcast our message.

One client who was known as “The Megaphone” in his office, didn’t do so well at this. Ernie came to see me when he realized that col­leagues were requesting the cubicle farthest from his. One pal complained that he could hear Ernie’s  conversations  better than his own. Ernie got the message “loud and clear” that his excessive volume was an office nuisance. He was receptive to working on his problem, though he was a little bit puzzled. He considered himself the quietest one in his family of five brothers.

To Adjust Your Volume Control

  1. Test it out. Since poor ability to monitor and control volume could be an effect of hearing loss, rule out this possibility first via an audiological screening. Consult your family doctor, an ear, nose, and throat specialist, or an audiologist to schedule a hearing test.
  2. Tune in. If your hearing is normal, ask a colleague or friend to help you discover your best conversational volume by signaling when your decibel level becomes deafening. Bring a tape recorder to a meeting and note how your volume com­ pares to that of others.
  3. Try it on. Contrast different volumes by saying words and phrases at various settings: softer than average, average, loud, and very loud. Single words: “Why, now, go, bye.” Phrases: “Is this loud? I can control my volume.” Remember that your “soft” may be everyone else’s “normal,” and so on. Your goal is to begin to develop a sensitivity to the range of volumes and an internal sense that lets you know when it’s time  to  tone down.
  4. Take it around. Use your new, softer volume in routine situations, such as answering the telephone, greeting people, making a request. Notice people’s reactions. If your listeners used to cringe and now you get no reaction, that’s an excellent sign.

 

For advanced volume control, choose one five-minute situa­tion a day in which to monitor your volume. You’ll then be ready to use volume monitoring in the most stressful situations: when you’re angry, emotional, or caught off guard.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail
Laurie Schloff
laurie@speechimprovement.com