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15 Feb The Owl in the Oak

There has been a plethora of communication about President Trump’s communication.  We are , indeed, experiencing a new kind of communication from the office and the person who holds the Presidency of the United States.  In recent days, the attention and commentary has shifted from everyone’s ability to LISTEN, in addition to the ability to talk.  It stirred in me a bit of wisdom that I would like to share with you in hopes that it will help the overall communication that must take place between and among the citizenry and POTUS.  Think about this:

                                         There was an old owl that lived in an oak,
                                         The more he listened, the less he spoke.
                                         The less he spoke the more he heard.
                                         We can all learn from that old bird.
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08 Feb Do I Need to Tell a Joke in a Presentation?

Yes, go ahead and tell a joke if all of the following apply:

  • You can immediately tie in the joke with the larger theme for the presentation.
  • Your joke is simple and short – audiences can’t remember more than three types of guys meeting Saint Peter at Heaven’s gate.
  • Your jokes won’t offend men, women, children, Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Seventh-Day Adventists; Republicans, Democrats, Independents; cat, dog, fish, or bird lovers; people who don’t like jokes; and so forth.
  • You like telling jokes and not just for speeches.
  • Not only that, you’re good at telling jokes, especially for speeches.

Otherwise, don’t tell a joke. (more…)

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07 Feb Lessons on better speaking from the Super Bowl

I love it when after a major game, people who have little to no experience with the NFL or professional athletes, do the Monday morning quarterbacking and proclaim the connections to business.

Certainly, professional sports can serve as a cool way to learn about leadership and teamwork, but you’ve got to take it in context plus remember that many people are not sports fans. Some may wear the hats and jerseys, nod their heads, smile and cheer, but if you ask them how many innings there are in the quarter, they will answer a basket is worth 2 points.

So, what are some meaningful lessons and how can sports fans and non-sports fans alike learn them?

As professional speech coaches, we’ve worked with pro-athletes, their coaches, and senior team executives in several major leagues. From that perspective, looking through the lens of communication, we do get to hear firsthand how these executives, coaches, and professional athletes think. (more…)

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05 Feb How do you help someone who suffers from fear of speaking?

Nervousness associated with public speaking is extremely debilitating for so many people.  It is a real fear and needs to be addressed.  It’s easy for colleagues, friends and family to say, “You’ll be great. Stop worrying.”  or “You need to get over it.”  But many times these well-intentioned words of encouragement do more harm than good.   (more…)
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16 Jan MLK Day: King’s Speech

“Let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King”
–James Taylor, “Shed A Little Light”

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have turned 88 this weekend. A pivotal figure in American history, he is revered as an exceptional public speaker whose ideas and language helped effect real change in the world.

King was human and imperfect. He shot pool and was a fan of Star Trek. Concerns raised about plagiarism and his private life may have merit. He faced criticism from fellow activists and many others. I mention this to underscore that the power of words that he harnessed is not reserved just for perfect, mythical figures, but available to all of us mortals with hopes and fears.

As a child in school I was conscious of MLK for a few reasons. His work in the struggle for civil rights was a point of emphasis in the curriculum. And, our adjacent mid-January birthdays meant I often enjoyed a long birthday weekend. Only later did I learn of King’s connections to Boston, or begin to grasp his significance as a communicator. (more…)

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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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09 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.

(more…)

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03 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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02 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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