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Author: Laurie Schloff

28 May Build REAL Relationships in Virtual Meetings

Yesterday, my client, a VP in financial services, said it was a waste of time to go to his office. No one was there, and besides, the majority of meetings he led were remote. He shared that in the “olden days,” bonds were formed by walking around, schmoozing at your desk, or shockingly, even having lunch together! Technology had changed things forever, and it was up to us to create new strategies for connection in a remote world.
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27 Feb How to Get Your Listeners to Participate

Make your presentation 3 times more memorable

A Chinese proverb says, “Tell me something, I’ll forget; show me, I’ll remember; involve me, I’ll understand.” 

According to recent studies, when people participate in a presentation, the material becomes at least three times more memorable for them than if they merely listened to a lecture. 

Sometimes you risk losing listeners altogether if you don’t go out of your way to involve members.

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06 Dec Am I supposed to be a mind reader?

Jeff and Nina were at a Christmas party all of the thirty seconds when Nina whispered in Jeff’s ear, “I think Joan [one of the women in Jeff’s office] is getting divorced.” Jeff thought Nina was nuts, but a week later Joan herself told him that she had separated from her husband. When Jeff asked his mystical wife how she knew, Nina said, “Easy. She looked relaxed, had a great new haircut, and was playing with her wedding ring.” For centuries, women’s interpersonal discernment has been acknowledged as “women’s intuition.” Now researchers have confirmed females’ superior skill in interpreting gestures, posture, and facial expression from fifth grade through adulthood. Since men in traditionally female professions like teaching and nursing excel in mood reading too, it’s not due to chromosomes but to socialization in pleasing others and practice in adjusting to others’ moods.
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08 Nov Improving Your Speech Patterns

Working as a speech coach, one of the successful techniques I use to help people speak clearly is to figure out where there may be snags in their speech patterns. Here are two of the most common. 1. Are you dropping 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 taping 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.
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20 Aug Why doesn’t she appreciate my advice?

In Nan and Billy’s house it goes like this:

Nan: I wish I could find a cause to get into, maybe volunteering or just doing something worth-while.

Billy: So call the College Club – I heard they need help, and the hospital gift shop might be looking for    volunteers.

 Nan: Forget it, you don’t even know what I’m interested in.

Billy: Geez! Why bring it up if you don’t want my opinion?

Billy means well, and his ideas might be valid, but Nan finds his approach annoying. In giving advice you anoint yourself as an authority, and if no one asked for it, you come across as know-it-all. More important, like many women, Nan is
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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.
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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.
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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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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.
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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?
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24 Jan How Do I Break Into a Group of People Talking?

[vc_row row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern" css_animation=""][vc_column][vc_column_text]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.
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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.
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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."
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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".
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