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General Blog

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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07 Oct Know Your Listeners

Knowing your listeners is key to preparing an effective presentation. Nothing puts listeners into a speaker’s pocket better than a speech that zeroes in on their specific needs. Your listeners will be more likely to respond positively if they feel that your research has helped you prepare specifically for them. Answers to the following 10 questions will provide you with most of the information you need to know about your listeners before you speak. This will help you target your message, focus and streamline your presentation, customize materials, and reduce your anxiety.
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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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16 Jul Communicate 34x More Effectively

I often caution people on their use of email. Of course it's fast and convenient, but an important message or request may be diluted for that very reason: you chose a fast, convenient (for you) method to deliver it. If being heard is important, a phone call...

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19 Jun How to Maintain Eye Contact When Speaking

Eye contact is generally considered to be the most important visual re-enforcer a speaker has. Listeners like to be looked at. This is particularly true in persuasive business speaking. The American business culture relies heavily on the "look 'em straight in the eye" approach.
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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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24 May Future Generations

Angst surrounding communication is universal. Speaking formally before large groups can cause great anxiety, so much so, even the most accomplished professionals often shy away from attempting to try it. But how about one-on-one conversations and speaking with those closest to us? As we approach the third decade of the new millennium, do you see effective communication increasing or waning? Are our “circles of support” growing or do we reach out to a more limited group of family, friends, and neighbors?
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