“Developing excellent communication skills is absolutely essential to effective leadership. The leader must be able to share knowledge and ideas to transmit a sense of urgency and enthusiasm to others. If a leader can’t get a message across clearly and motivate others to act on it, then having a message doesn’t even matter.” -Gilbert Amelio, Former President and CEO of National Semiconductor Corp.


“You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.” -Lee Iacocca






What’s the common thread between these two quotes?  CONNECTION! We find, in both quotes, the necessity of being able to get your message and ideas across to others in a clear, concise, and understandable way.  

Many times, I find my clients are experts in their field but are unable to get their expertise across to their audiences.

15% of your success is from your knowledge.

85% comes from your ability to effectively communicate your knowledge.

Taken from the Audience Analysis Audit in my book Loud and Clear: How to Prepare and Deliver Effective Business and Technical Presentations, here are a few questions for you to consider about your audience before your next presentation to make sure you CONNECT!


  • What are the benefits of your information to your audience? Every audience member is hooked up to the radio station WIIFM. What’s In It For Me.
  • What is their level of understanding of the types of information you will be sharing? This will shape the way you present your information to make your connection.
  • What is their knowledge of the subject? Too much or too little information= no connection.
  • What are their opinions about your subject? Dispel resistance, if any, upfront. Let them know you’ve done your homework!
  • How willing are the members of your audience to accept the ideas you will present? Get them on board as quickly as possible.
  • What are the desired emotional effects you want your audience to feel both during and immediately following your presentation? People “buy” on emotion.
  • How are you going to involve your audience during your presentation? If you tell me, I’ll listen; If you show me, I’ll pay attention; If you involve me I’ll learn!


By answering these questions, you’ll be on track with key information to help you design a presentation that connects with your audience. These questions may be applied to an audience of any size…even one. Take good care of your audience and you will get the results you want!


Here’s to presentations that connect!

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Have you ever thought about the value of using good listening skills to decrease the need for do-overs, increase your productivity, or save you and others valuable time while using texts or emails? Have you ever interpreted a text or email one way only to find out that’s not what the writer wanted?

Continue reading “Listen to Your Texts and Emails”

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I asked participants attending my Effective Presentations course to make a list of things public speakers do that turn them off and what captures and keeps their attention.

Here’s the list. Think about the last time you made a presentation. How would you score?


  • Giving away your authority to your audience
  • Rambling
  • Not speaking clearly
  • Not speaking loud enough to be heard
  • Reading their notes
  • Too many “ahhs” and “umms”
  • Monotone voice
  • Not being prepared
  • Spending too much time one topic
  • Going off on tangents
  • Outdated information
  • Self-absorbed



  • Professional appearance
  • Confidence without arrogance
  • Lively and animated
  • A message with a purpose
  • Engaging
  • Good eye contact
  • Organized
  • Authentic
  • Prepared
  • Good voice projection

How did you do? If you, your employees or team members are falling short of being the most professional and dynamic speakers possible, contact me. I’d love the opportunity to help!

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How often are you asked, “What do you do?” Are you prepared to answer in a clear, concise, and compelling way? Or do you say, “I’m a ____________.” End of conversation. Creating your elevator pitch will take time to get it right. I think of a quote from Mark Twain, “Give me three weeks to prepare for an impromptu speech.”

Here are six steps to consider, keeping in mind that your approach will vary, depending on your goal.

  1. Determine Your Goal

Do you want to promote a product that you sell?, Do you want to promote your business or the organization you work for to potential new clients? Or do you need to pitch to a hiring manager of a company you’d love to work for during a networking meeting?

  1. Briefly explain what you do. For example, when I’m asked what I do, and I’m wearing my speech therapist’s hat, my response used to be, “I’m a speech therapist.” In order to keep from getting the usual response, “Oh that’s interesting.”, end of the conversation, I have now come up with the phrase, “I change brains!” referencing my work with people who have had some type of brain injury. Since changing to this approach, I will get a puzzled look and quickly be asked for clarification, which creates an opportunity for discussion. That’s the key! You want them to ask for more information about what you do.

Ask yourself this question, “What do I want my listener to remember most about me and what I do? Your pitch has to excite you first. People will remember your enthusiasm when presenting your pitch.

Here’s an example that was shared with me. “ I recently developed this pitch for a networking event to promote my company. “My company writes mobile device applications for other businesses.” Pretty boring, right? So I changed it to this. “My company develops mobile applications that businesses use to train their staff remotely. This results in a big increase in efficiency for an organization’s managers.” Quite a difference! This pitch is more interesting and shows the value that this company brings to its clients.

  1. Communicate your USP-Unique Selling Proposition. What makes you and your company different from others that do what you do? What is unique about it? When working with clients on developing their elevator pitch, I find this is the most difficult question to answer, but well worth the effort. When I’m promoting SmarTalkers, my public speaking training and coaching business, I’ll promote the fact that I’m a certified speech pathologist, which many public speaking coaches are not, and that I’ve co-authored a book on public speaking skills that has sold over a quarter of a million copies.

4. What is your USP?

If appropriate, engage with a question. Open-ended questions (questions that can’t be answered with a “yes” or “no”) are advisable to involve them in conversation. For example: I might ask, “How does your company prepare employees who have to give presentations?”

5. Put it all together

When you have completed each section of your pitch, put it all together. Read it out loud and time it. Your pitch should be no longer than 20-30 seconds. If it’s too long, you’ll risk losing the person’s interest or monopolizing the conversation.

  1. Practice

Practice makes permanent! Practice your pitch on friends and colleagues. Listen to their constructive feedback. Always share what your goal is before you present so they’ll understand where you’re coming from. Body language and tone of voice will also play a very important part in creating interest.

In summary, your elevator pitch needs to be a brief, persuasive speech that will create interest in what you and your organization do. You can also create one to create interest in a project, idea, or product.

What’s your elevator pitch? I’d love to hear from you!

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Here are some common mistakes that TED (TED Talks) advises its speakers to avoid:

  1. Take a really long time to explain what your talk is about.
  2. Speak slowly and dramatically. Why talk when you can orate?
  3. Make sure you subtly let everyone know how important you are.
  4. Refer to your book repeatedly. Even better, quote yourself from it.
  5. Cram your slides with numerous text bullet points and multiple fonts.
  6. Use lots of unexplained technical jargon to make yourself sound smart.
  7. Speak at great length about the history of your organization and its glorious achievements.
  8. Don’t bother rehearing to check how long your talk is running.
  9. Sound as if you’re reciting your talk from memory.
  10. Never ever make eye contact with anyone in the audience.
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During important conversations, in order to absorb what others are saying, you must be an active listener first.

You need to pay close attention to the speaker’s ideas, concerns, arguments or frustrations before thinking of your response.

Active listening allows you to take the speaker’s perspective, not yours into account. When you hear the other person’s perspective, only then can you take the information, analyze it and respond in a way that lets the speaker know you have a clear understanding of what was said and an effective conversation can continue to take place.

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A study that surveyed nine years of employee hiring and firing at Google showed that over that time, the company found that most of the firings were of people equipped with sufficient hard skills, such as business and technical knowledge, and that those with a good command of soft skills tended to stay and be promoted.

How are your communication soft skills including active listening, public speaking, and assertiveness skills?

Could you benefit from individual coaching in these areas? Let’s connect and see how I can help.

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You can come into a conversation with a clear message, but the person receiving your message will hear it through their filters, including their emotions, preconceptions, prejudices and pre-existing beliefs.

How your words are understood is strongly influenced by the experiences and biases of the listener.

When a mutual understanding of a conversation is important, the only way you can be sure your message is received the way you intended, is to ask the listener to paraphrase what they heard you say.

Merely asking close-ended questions such as, “Does this make sense?” or “Are you clear with the next steps?” allows the listener to answer “yes” when in reality their response is channeled through their filters or the way they heard it resulting in the strong possibility of a misunderstanding. It only takes a minute for clarification, with costly consequences of time and money if not taken.

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LinkedIn identified the soft skills companies need most. Regardless of industry, communication ranked as #2.

Communication skills allow people to work together more efficiently and effectively because they understand each other.

Would improving your soft skills possibly lead to a promotion, make you feel more comfortable speaking up in difficult conversations, or help you feel more comfortable giving a speech? Let’s connect and see how I can help.

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