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03 Dec Three Lawyers and an Actuary

This week I had the privilege of coaching three lawyers and one actuary — bright people indeed who were preparing to speak at various conferences.  Three of them needed help structuring their presentations. One executive was having trouble relating to his listeners. Yet they all expressed concern over the thing that holds so many people back. If you guessed they all suffer from the fear of speaking, you’re right. There are two types of comments I heard: Physiological: They mentioned faces turning red, shaky hands, and the fact that they struggled to focus.
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19 Nov Is Conversation Dead?

By no means is it shocking to say that teenagers live on their cell phones. As a GenXer, I grew up as a teen that spent hours talking on the telephone. (The thing attached to the wall that had a cord.) I can still hear my mother yelling, “GET OFF THE PHONE NOW! Someone may be trying to call.” Yes, I used a phone to talk. That is no longer the case today. I find my teens watching videos and movies, playing video games, checking the weather, checking social media, and texting. I am the ONLY one that actually calls them to talk. As a parent and a communications coach, I have asked myself, “What has happened to the art of conversation?”
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12 Nov Your Spoken Word Is Not Enough 

When preparing for a presentation, you start by thinking "What do I want to say?" The focus is on ourselves. How will it go? What is best? Think bigger. As a communication coach, I tell my clients all the time "I'm going to tell you something important: it's not about you.” It's about your listener. How one successfully reaches a communication goal is by thinking about what tools will help you effectively get your message across. That means choosing the method that best resonates with your listener. Ask yourself "What tools will help us get from here to there?"
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07 Nov How Word Choice Affects Email Tone

It is universally common to hate email, no matter your industry. Emails offer many forms of indignities; too long, too vague, too much content, forwarded conversations, reply all's, and rapid response expectation. As a coach, I help professionals master all forms of communication, including digital communication. This article will help uncover how poor word choice can create a disconnect with your recipient and negatively affect the tone. The three examples below highlight how easy it is to use the wrong words that create a challenging tone. I'll share the most common offenders when it comes to word choice, and provide alternatives for a more productive result.
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04 Nov How to present as a team

Team presentations are difficult. They are even more so when there is $10 to $50 million in funding on the line. The presentation sets the tone for the next year or years of your business. So, getting it wrong, messing up, or not presenting as a cohesive unit is not an option. The pressure is high, and the stress over getting it wrong is higher. When we coach teams, who are looking for that essential round of VC funding, we find that one of the keys to relieving the pressure is working on the transition between different sections of the presentation and various members of the team. There are three steps to good transitions between people:
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28 Oct Practice Strategies for a Biotech CEO: Demystified

One of the statements most often spoken by anyone faced with a big investor presentation is “I need to practice.” For life science start-up CEOs and leadership teams, this is in many cases, a topic of conversation. “I need to practice.” “We need to practice.” “We need to schedule practice.” “This presentation is critical because it influences our funding.” It is common to think practice is easy, but it is not. It is not easy to schedule; it is not easy to do as a team; it is not easy ... period. While this is good for people like me because it is part of what we offer, it is time to demystify practice. I will outline five best practices of practice…so you can practice better! Strategize and write The first step to good practice is to take the time to purposefully consider, structure, and write what is going to be said. The biggest problem for most people is they believe their “story” is easy to tell and easy to understand. It is not. Without consideration and strategic writing, your message will be confusing to listeners. Remember, the goal is to write something that is for your listeners, NOT you.
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21 Oct There Are Only Three Ways for a CEO to Persuade Someone (Part 3)

Welcome to our three-part series that gives biotech CEOs and executive decision-makers the tools to advise, influence, and persuade listeners. After working with numerous Life Science and Biotech clients, we've observed that many biotech executives are ill-prepared for delivering their companies essential messagesduring a formal presentation. This blog post, based on our extensive research, explains that there are only three ways to persuade someone of something. If you missed Part 1 or Part 2, be sure to catch up first before you read this post. This post, Part 3, explains the third and final persuasion tool when you need to convince someone to do, think, say, or approve.
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07 Oct What’s Your Theme?

Technical and business presentations can be difficult for both speakers and listeners. Using a theme sentence will be very helpful. A theme is the most important idea or bit of information that you want your listeners to take away. If they forget everything else, what is the one thing you want them to remember? That is your theme.
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07 Oct How to Convince Your Boss to Pay for Presentation Training

Today's motivated and driven employees know they need continual training to keep up with and thrive within a competitive and fast-paced corporate world.  That training may require an approval process, whether it's a boss, decision-maker, or others. In Brendon Burchard's book High-Performance Habits, he explains in Habit Four, "Get Insanely Good at Key Skills (Progressive Mastery). Determine the five major skills you need to develop over the next three years to grow into the person you hope to become. Then set out to develop those skills with obsessive focus. The most important thing is to always be developing the critical skills to your future success." Effective communication and soft skills are at the top of the list in most industries on desired traits of top performers. In Jeb Blount's book Fanatical Prospecting, he explains that when it comes to personal branding, there is no better methodology than speaking in public. He shares, "Public speaking is a powerful method for meeting people and developing business relationships because it creates an environment where prospects seek you out." 
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05 Oct Team Meetings:  What Google can learn from Communication Coaches

In the communication field, there is a lot of  buzz about Google’s Project Aristotle, a meticulous, in-depth study of what differentiates high-functioning team meetings from others. With all due respect for the yearlong study of over one hundred Google teams, we communication coaches have been helping teams and leaders foster productive meetings for years! Google’s key findings, which we back with our experiences 100%, reveal that high-performing teams:
  • Support an atmosphere of psychological safety and comfort;
  • Enable equal participation from all group members over time;
  • Show sensitivity to nuances of non-verbal behavior and tone, and often share personal as well as professional information.
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19 Sep Practice Strategies for a Biotech CEO Demystified

One of the statements most often spoken by anyone faced with a big presentation is “I need to practice.” For life science startup CEOs and leadership teams, this is in many cases, a topic of conversation. “I need to practice.” “We need to practice.” “We need to schedule practice.” “This presentation is critical because it influences our funding.” It is common to think practice is easy, but it is not. It is not easy to schedule; it is not easy to do as a team; it is not easy ... period. While this is good for people like me because it is part of what we offer, it is time to demystify practice. I will outline five best practices of practice…so you can practice better! Strategize and write The first step to good practice is to take the time to purposefully consider, structure, and write what is going to be said. The biggest problem for most people is they believe their “story” is easy to tell and easy to understand. It is not. Without consideration and strategic writing, your message will be confusing to listeners. Remember, the goal is to write something that is for your listeners, NOT you. Readout loud and consider One of the most significant issues with most presentations is that the nonverbal presentation is not considered. Before you practice your presentation, you should read it out loud to yourself and others. Consider how you want to sound. What needs emphasis? What is important? How do you want to say that? Make notes of these things in your presentation. Nonverbal communication is not something that happens; it requires planning as well when communication is essential. Schedule and commit to a realistic time
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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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