A survey on public speaking was conducted by Brownlee & Associates that involved over 3,000 respondents with positions from President, Managing Director, Senior Directors, Employees in Sales, Marketing, R&D, Quality Control, I.T, Doctors, Scientists, and Lawyers. 

The objective was to identify the main causes as to why audience members disconnect and stop paying attention during presentations. 

During a series of weekly blogs, I will highlight a few of the specific areas of disconnect surveyed and offer practical coaching suggestions to help you keep your audience connected. Many of the suggestions provided will come from my book Loud and Clear: How to Prepare and Deliver Effective Business and Technical Presentations.

The results have been divided into two sections; The design of the presentation and the delivery of the presentation. 

The higher the percentage, the more the survey participants felt they would disconnect. Percentages ranged from 72%-99%.

The results of this survey make it clear that when the audience is bothered by areas in the design of the presentation that was done or was not done or certain delivery behaviors of the presenter exhibited during the presentation were not executed well, the result will be a disconnection between the audience and the presenter and their presentation which will affect the quality of the communication, the degree of impact and memorability of the activity as well as the achievement of the objectives of the presenter.


DESIGN: Survey results indicated that 72% agreed that they would disconnect if… The presentation is too long or the presenter does not finish in the time permitted.

My coaching suggestion: Audiences will feel a presentation is too long when the main ideas have been presented along with the supporting information and the presenter continues to ramble on. Think about how you feel when you know it’s time for the presenter to wrap up…and they don’t!  Here’s how to keep your audience from disconnecting from you.

Know your total presentation time. This will include your talking time, Q&A if applicable, and time for other factors such as needing to start late, spend more time in making a point, and other unplanned interruptions.

Remember your talking time does not include your Q&A. Time your rehearsal. You may need to edit when you take into consideration that live presentations will usually take longer than rehearsed presentations. 

In my book Loud and Clear: How to Prepare and Deliver Effective Business and Technical Presentations, an outline is provided that will keep you on track. Begin with the total time at the bottom of the outline and then begin to write in a schedule.

Here’s an example:

Say your presentation is 40 minutes and started at 1:00 pm.

Your outline would look like this:

1 pm Opening

1:05 Main Idea #1 with supporting information

1:15 Main Idea #2 with supporting information

1:25 Main Idea #3 with supporting information

1:35 Closing

1:40 Stop talking

Have a timer in your line of sight to keep tabs on your timing. This way during your live presentation, you’ll be able to easily tell whether you’re keeping to your time limit. If you find yourself falling behind schedule you will need to edit on the fly to stay within your time limit. 

So, the next time you’re in the audience and the presenter is still speaking when the ending time has come and gone, you’ll know how to make sure this will never happen to you.


#PresentationSkills  #VirtualPublicSpeaking #PublicSpeakingCoach


For more information on this and other topics on effective public speaking, please contact me at or through my website:

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A father was talking with his young son. The son asked his father, “What are your dreams for me?” His father’s response, “There’s an old proverb that when children are born, they’re born with their fists closed because that’s where they keep all their gifts. As you grow your hands start to unfold because you’re learning to release all your gifts to the world. And so, for the rest of your life, I want to see you live your life with your hands unfolded.”

What gifts are you still holding in your hands? If a fear of speaking in public is holding you back from sharing your gifts, I can help you unfold your hands and fearlessly share your gifts with the world.


Please contact me at: or through my website:







A professional speaking colleague and friend Gordon Hill  recently sent me Story Gordon’s Success Model. This is an excerpt from his shared model:


We’re on a quest, we seek success

To live our bliss, to feel the zest

That flow within as our true self

Engaging what is on our shelf.


After reading this, my thoughts drifted to my purpose and passion, helping others build relationships through effective #communication. I wondered what was on my shelf that I’m not engaging with. 

Which led me to ask the same of you.

What’s on your shelf that you’re not engaging with and using to help you build trusting relationships through effective #communication?

Is it…

Knowing how to address and overcome your #fear of speaking but not engaging it?

Knowing there is a simple process to designing and delivering an effective presentation but not engaging it?

Knowing how to identify a person’s communication style, but forgetting to engage this knowledge so that you can have a better understanding of how to build a relationship?

Knowing the importance of being able to attend to and effectively engage your ability to identify #non-verbal communication signals?

Knowing the steps to #empathetic listening, but forgetting to engage them especially during challenging conversations resulting in the possibility of escalating the challenge?

What’s left on your shelf waiting for you to engage? If you’d like to learn more about these communication skills or engage them more effectively, I can help. Please contact me at: or through my website:

Remember, it’s not what you learn, but how you use it.






This is not an opinion on to wear or not to wear a mask. Instead, I invite you to think about this. 

As if we don’t have enough already, we now have another factor that has the potential for our communication with others to break down. 

Have you noticed, at times, it’s more difficult for people to communicate when wearing masks? How about you? Muffled speech, unable to read all the facial expressions, and just can’t hear the speaker requiring them to repeat. Frustrating! In addition, think about those that have hearing and auditory processing issues. It can greatly impact their ability to understand you causing increased frustration and even embarrassment. Many people with hearing issues use lip reading to help them understand.

Pulling from my speech pathologist background, I recommend 3 things to discourage communication breakdowns and encourage communication connections:

  • Increase the loudness of your voice to accommodate the filter of the mask.
  • Speak clearly. 
  • If you’re a fast talker, slow down. 


Be kind, be considerate, and be safe.






In a recent discussion with my husband he responded “I know what you said.” And my response was “But did you hear what I said?”

You may be saying; “What’s the difference between those two responses?” I invite you to think again! A listener can think they know what the speaker said but the only way to confirm is through paraphrasing back to the speaker.  Paraphrasing or giving feedback is a critical skill in active listening. When paraphrasing is eliminated in a crucial conversation, it may mean the difference between a conversation that ends with conflict or one that ends with connection. It only takes a moment to initiate paraphrasing to ensure you’re making the communication connection and closing the communication loop.






This story was posted on a social media site. It captured my attention. I hope it captures yours as well.  

A participant from Thailand said she had a gift for me.  It was a very tiny box…about half the size of my smartphone.  Inside were three beautifully-painted figurines.  “Can you tell me about these?” I asked.  She said, “They represent health, wealth, and prosperity…but none of them has anything to do with money.  Health means a good spirit and a long life…wealth means an abundance of friends and experiences…prosperity means the chance to share your heart and knowledge with others.

If you’re holding back from sharing your heart and knowledge with others because of fear or just feeling uncomfortable with public speaking, I can help. Let’s talk. 

Learn more: or email me at






Could these be challenges that you, too, will face?

For the first time in history, oral arguments were presented to the Supreme Court via teleconferencing.

As a public speaking coach, I continually tell my clients, “The messenger must match the message.” But what if you can’t see how your audience is reacting to your message? How will you change or modify your information based on the reactions of your audience if you can’t see them? I call this the absorb-project balance. When presenting, speakers need to absorb the non-verbal communication signals the audience is giving them and project back in a way that takes that into consideration creating a connection vs. a disconnection with their audience.

Take a look at how attorneys grappled with this

Here are the concerns of a couple of attorneys that presented.  

“One difference will be the inability to read the body language from the court,” says Ian Heath Gershengorn, a Jenner & Block partner who will argue May 11 for a criminal defendant in McGirt v. Oklahoma, the case involving the Indian reservation status of a large part of the state. “So much of being responsive to the justices’ questions is reading the non-verbal feedback. A big piece of that feedback is gone, and that will be tricky.”

Here’s another expressed concern that also deals specifically with non-verbal communication-how to dress.

While some advocates arguing in Zoom video sessions have been chided for not observing normal dress codes or for inappropriate backgrounds, the telephone-only status of the upcoming Supreme Court arguments have prompted anxiety-inducing questions of their own.

First, should advocates stand up, as they would in court?

“Whether I’ll stand or sit, I think I will play around with that” in his moot courts, says Gershengorn, adding that those practice sessions will be conducted online.

And what to wear? Martinez says he may don a lucky sweater.

“I am perhaps not going to be as dressed up as I normally would be,” he says.

Gershengorn says he has received dress suggestions from colleagues that range from pajamas to the full morning coat and related attire he wore in court as a deputy U.S. solicitor general and acting solicitor general under President Barack Obama.

“I suspect it will be jeans and a T-shirt,” he says. “I want to be as relaxed as I can be.”

 How do you determine body language and non-verbal communication when you can’t see someone and how do you dress when presenting when they can’t see you? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Please add your comments on this post or email me at






In my over 30 years as a speech-language pathologist, my motto has been: Communication IS the Human Connection. I’m now putting on my speech pathologist hat with the following observation. 

Since smartphones have become a way of life, I have noticed face to face communication with children taking second place to communicating with our face toward the phone and not facing the child. 

In a recent post in my ASHA (American Speech and Hearing Association) journal, ASHA president Theresa Rodgers makes the following observation.

Parents who are preoccupied with their cellphones may be hindering their children’s development.

 “When parents or caregivers spend too much turning away from their kids and toward technology, the foundation for a child’s communication skills is weakened. Experts in my field of speech and language development are already seeing the impacts on children who have missed out on hours of essential, real-life face time, such as limited communication and social skills.”

“What might seem like innocuous scrolling could be the new secondhand smoke-a personal habit that could endanger their children’s health and development in ways we don’t yet fully understand.”

I’m hoping that now with home isolation in place, it may be easier for you to become aware of the times when your child tries to engage you in conversation and you respond while looking at your phone and not directing your attention to them. Let’s show our children what true connecting communication looks like.

Take care and be well.


Public speaking and business communication skills are the skills SmarTalkers can provide to you through our coaching and training opportunities. Visit our website or contact Wendy Warman: for more information.







This gesture is known everywhere in the world. It is universal.

This gesture is rarely, if ever, misunderstood.

This gesture scientists believe, actually releases chemicals called endorphins into your system that create a feeling of mild euphoria.

When you travel around the world, this gesture may help you slip out of the most difficult situations.

What is it? I’m sure you guessed it. A smile!


During this time of self-quarantine, when I do need to venture out wearing a face protector, what I discovered was how much I missed the ability to interact with people in the stores with a smile. The cashier that continues to be upbeat even though days are challenging. The person that helps me find something in the store. the person that lets me move ahead of them because they have more groceries than I do. I’m smiling at them, but do they know that?


So I’ve decided to pay close attention and use two ways that I can make a smiling connection if only for a moment.  I believe we can hear a smile in someone’s voice, so I’m making a special effort to have a voice that smiles. Our eyes can also show a smile. When we smile, our eyes light up. 


How about you? Are you feeling the challenge in making smiling connections when wearing your face protector? Or have you ever thought about it? We need all the positive connections we can give and receive during these challenging times.


Communication is a human connection. Even though our face may be partially covered, let’s connect with others with our smile, voice, and eyes.


Be safe, be kind, and smile,