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12 Jan Powering Up with the TEDx Speakers

Congrats to our TEDx Chandigarh, India clients and all who value spreading ideas to change the world, one talk at a time.

We are delighted to add to the brilliance and talents of TEDx Chandigarh.  Chandigarh is known as the Silicon Valley of India, and the conference theme on January 15th is Dream, Ideate, Create!

How do we help seasoned speakers?  We take them to the next level—developing a high impact talk, timing and pacing and best practices in oral and nonverbal delivery.

All this while helping each speaker be as authentic as possible.

Back here in the U.S., many of our clients are creating TED talks. Congrats to all of you!  It takes courage to put yourself and your ideas out there!

Laurie Schloff is an Executive Communication Coach at The Speech Improvement Company
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11 Jan “We Waste A Lot of Time at Our Meetings”

You have plenty of company.  According to numerous surveys, most businesspeople view meetings as boring, un-productive, and a waste of time.  (In one poll, 43 percent of executives admitted to having dozed off at a meeting at least once.)  Some view meetings as downright unbearable.  Is it possible to leave a meeting feeling refreshed, with a heightened sense of teamwork, and ready to take constructive action?  Use this diagnostic test and follow up with the necessary cure.  There can be more to look forward to than danish and coffee. (more…)

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9 Jan Developing Practical American English Skills

An article by Sacha Pfeiffer in The Boston Globe entitled “For more firms, teaching English is in business plan” discusses an innovative benefit that at least 35 Massachusetts companies are providing their employees who are non-native English speakers – free classes to develop their English communication skills.

This caught my attention as an educator, coach, and clinician dedicated to the development of people’s communication potential. As a student of linguistics at Northeastern University years ago, I had the privilege to volunteer with S.H.A.R.E., a program provided for service workers on campus to develop practical American English skills. Besides a chance to make use of some high school Spanish, it was a rewarding opportunity to bridge differences, develop my coaching skills, and serve my school community.

Today, whether you’re a businessperson, academic, or merely a conscious global citizen, the ability to connect, understand, and collaborate with people and groups of different language and cultural backgrounds is as important as ever to your success.

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3 Jan A Performance Gone Wrong

I am sure you have either seen or heard about Mariah Carey’s disasterous New Year’s Eve performance on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Eve with Ryan Seacrest.  Moments after it happened, social media had labeled it a train wreck, an end of her career, a lip syncing gone horribly wrong, etc.

How did Mariah Carey and her folks handle the situation?  Well, I guess it depends on who you ask.

Mariah Carey’s tweet showed us acceptance of what happened and a desire to move on.  A statement from Mariah Carey’ s manager came out two days after the performance explaining exactly what had occurred.  Unfortunately, social media had already made and communicated their assumptions.

Whatever the reasons for Mariah Carey’s disappointing performance, waiting more than 24 hours to give an explanation of her side is way too late.  We would have recommended that a statement of explanation be made immediately.  Ten years ago, two or three days seemed acceptable.  Today with the presences of social media, two days is more like two weeks.  FaceBook, Twitter, Instragram and other forms of social media make news relevant at the exact time the news is occurring.

Remember, “Everything Communicates!”  So not giving an explanation or statement, communicates a message. Don’t let social media decide your fate, get an explanation/statement out as soon as possible.

Kristen Curran-Faller is an Executive Communication Coach and COO for The Speech Improvement Company.

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2 Jan A Winning Strategy

I came across an interesting Business Insider article entitled, The 10 best retail companies to work for in 2017, according to employees. It cited Glassdoor’s Employees’ Choice Awards. I expected that pay, benefits and advancement opportunities were the tops reasons why these companies were selected. I was happy to see other, key reasons that were common threads between these companies, most notably great management teams; positive and friendly work environments; and holiday and social gatherings. It’s interesting to note three of the reasons involve communication. Communication from management and between co-workers both help create a winning, positive work environment. We tell clients “Everything Communicates!” and we teach how managers need to consistently communicate sincerity with their tone, non-verbals, and word choices.  

While things such as money and benefits will always be important to employees, it is a breath of fresh air to see other reasons why companies such as Apple, Wegman’s Food Markets, Bain, Trader Joe’s and Forrester made the Employees’ Choice Awards.

Kristen Curran-Faller is an Executive Communication Coach and COO for The Speech Improvement Company.

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28 Dec Conference Confidence – A Valuable Guide for Conference Speakers

People and organizations invest valuable time, money, and effort into producing and attending conferences. But the truth is that all the slides, videos, lighting, staging, and materials are just support tools for the most valuable asset of a conference:  the speakers.

Drawing from our 50-year history as presentation coaches and consultants, we developed a guide that offers important advice to ensure presenters connect with listeners authentically and speak with confidence.

It’s free, and you can download it right now.

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26 Dec Bloomberg Ranks Massachusetts #1

A recent article in The Boston Globe entitled Massachusetts Again Beats California as Most Innovative in US is reason for some hometown pride.

We work with a lot of tech companies, both established and startups including many in software and health sciences, so we train and coach some truly innovative people. From this vantage point, we see this creativity first-hand alongside the people who fund, build, and drive our local innovation economy. It’s great to have them collectively recognized by an authoritative source as the best in the nation. (more…)

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19 Dec Are You a Fast Talker?

æHave people ever said to you “Hey slow down, you talk too fast!” Wonder what they are referring to?  Being from the Northeast, we hear this comment quite often. When thinking about controlling your communication style, it’s helpful to peel back one more layer and look at what makes up someone’s speed of speaking.

As a Speaker Coach, I break speed into two categories: rate and pace. Rate refers to the speed in which a person puts words together.  It literally refers to the amount of words per minute.  The average rate of speech in a business presentation will range from 150-180 words per minute. Think about listening to a commercial and often, at the end there is a voice quickly giving you all the fine print details at a rate you can hardly follow. They are speaking at approximately 300 words per minute. Much too fast for the average listener! (more…)

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15 Dec What Is Communication Style Coaching?

In his book Style, Sir Walter Alexander Raleigh (1522 – 1618) described language as having a “chameleon-like” quality. Sir Walter’s book is an exhaustive study of the origin, popularity, and decline of the word style. Regarding style, he said, “Good style is the greatest of revealers – it lays bare the soul.” You must be comfortable with your style. You live and work in the real world. It is not theater. Your listeners, unlike the audience in a theater, do not suspend reality. They take what you give them as you. What and how you communicate is what others use to assess and describe you. What and how you communicate reveals much of who you are in real life.

The ability to be natural, to be who you are, and not to be phony, is most people’s goal, especially those in leadership and management positions. Those positions carry enough responsibility in their own ways. It is far too challenging to also be worried about being something that you have to fake or that is not comfortable for you. Not only can it be uncomfortable, but it can also be downright discomforting to try and match a particular leadership or management style that has been dictated or described in a textbook. (more…)

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7 Dec Everything Communicates!

As an Executive Communication Coach, my job is to remind clients that when presenting, everything communicates – how you look, how you sound and what you do with your body. Mary Lou Andre, a nationally recognized wardrobe, dress code and corporate image consultant, got me thinking about this after reading her excellent article: Is Hosiery History? 

Her advice on this business appropriate accessory reinforces how important clothing is in communicating respect for yourself and others.  (more…)

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5 Dec Pun Intended

Since we’re all about words, we really enjoy it when people have fun with them. Like these puns below. Some are really funny, some are simply clever, and some will make you groan. You’ve been warned.

  1. No matter how much you push the envelope, it’ll still be stationery.
  2. If you don’t pay your exorcist you get repossessed.
  3. I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. I just can’t put it down.
  4. I didn’t like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.
  5. Did you hear about the crossed-eyed teacher who lost her job because she couldn’t control her pupils?
  6. When you get a bladder infection, urine trouble.
  7. When chemists die, they barium.
  8. I stayed up all night to see where the sun went, and then it dawned on me.
  9. I changed my iPod’s name to Titanic. It’s syncing now.
  10. England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool.
  11. Haunted French pancakes give me the crepes.
  12. This girl today said she recognized me from the Vegetarians Club, but I’d swear I’ve never met herbivore
  13. I know a guy who’s addicted to brake fluid, but he says he can stop any time.
  14. A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.
  15. When the smog lifts in Los Angeles U.C.L.A.
  16. The batteries were given out free of charge.
  17. A dentist and a manicurist married. They fought tooth and nail.
  18. A will is a dead giveaway.
  19. With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.
  20. A boiled egg is hard to beat.
  21. When you’ve seen one shopping center you’ve seen a mall.
  22. Police were summoned to a daycare center where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.
  23. Did you hear about the fellow whose entire left side was cut off? He’s all right now.
  24. A bicycle can’t stand alone; it’s just two tired.
  25. The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine is now fully recovered.
  26. He had a photographic memory which was never developed.
  27. When she saw her first strands of grey hair she thought she’d dye.
  28. Acupuncture is a jab well done. That’s the point of it.
  29. Those who get too big for their pants will be totally exposed in the end.
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26 Nov Break a Leg?!?

Since we do a lot of training for public speaking, many of our clients find themselves in front of people on a stage. We got to thinking whether wishing them success by saying “break a leg” was an appropriate use of the term. That got us wondering where did that expression come from, and why is it used for performances, primarily among actors, musicians and dancers?

It certainly plays on the superstition that wishing someone well before going out on stage will somehow jinx them, so you hope for the opposite by wishing them bad luck. And while the exact origin is unclear, there are a number of theories for the story behind it: (more…)

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8 Nov I Say “um” Too Much

Vocalized pauses or fillers, including um, uh, ah, and their close relatives like, you know, and OK? are some of the most common concerns brought to a speech coach.  We don’t um want to uh get too um picky here, since 1 to 3 percent of everyone’s speech normally contains hesitations, and folks like Ted Kennedy have spoken successfully in public life despite long aah pauses.  However, a bad case of um-itis makes you annoying to listen to.  So why do so many of us um along in life?  Most often, vocalized pauses function as a way to fill up space as we formulate the next thought.  Though old habits take some time to break, it is possible to banish the ums and ahs forever. (more…)

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3 Nov Helping Startups Startup at MassChallenge

One of the reasons Boston is the best place to start a company (take THAT Silicon Valley) is because of organizations like MassChallenge (www.masschallenge.org) who bill themselves as “the most startup-friendly accelerator…no equity and not-for-profit, we are obsessed with helping entrepreneurs across all industries.”

And their stats are impressive: 835 startups accelerated, 6,500 jobs created, $1.1 billion in outside funding raised. Currently across all their locations, they have 326 young companies taking advantage of all they have to offer.

They turned to The Speech Improvement Company to help their entrepreneurs be better communicators. Two of our experienced coaches, Dinneen Grably and Tori Hollingworth (more…)

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