important-soft-skills-smartalkers-speaking-coach-florida

 
 
You might be surprised. Read on.

In the July 26, 2019 edition of the Tampa Bay Business Journal, one headline read,
Research: “Soft Skills’ Emerge As Most Critical Among Successful SMBS.

The article goes on to state that the Small & Medium Business Trends Report analyzed responses from 2,000+ small and medium-sized business owners and leaders. The second highest soft skill characteristic for running a successful business was People and Communication skills.

How would you rate you and/or your company in these skills?

People and communication skills are the primary skills SmarTalkers can provide through our coaching and training opportunities. Contact Wendy Warman at wendy@smartalkers.com for more information.

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man-moon-fear-vs-worry-smartalkers-speaking-coach-florida

 
 
In a recent interview celebrating 50 years since man’s first walk on the moon, astronaut Michael Collins stated, “I wasn’t scared but worried.” Those words gave me pause as many of my clients will engage my coaching services to help them overcome their fear of speaking in public. So I questioned, is there a difference between the statements, “I have a fear of speaking”, and “I worry about speaking?”

Here’s a thought… In a post by Meredith Bell, she offers the following:

Among the many useful insights, I took away from Gavin de Becker’s book, The Gift of Fear, one of the most profound was a deeper appreciation for the distinction between worry and fear. Until reading the final chapter, I had not pondered the difference. But the author not only defines them clearly, but he also points out why one is harmful and the other can be life-saving.

Gavin de Becker is one of the most sought-after, highly respected experts on security issues in the world. His firm protects people who are at risk, and his clients include celebrities, governments, and large corporations. He knows what he’s talking about, and his book is filled with stories – some startling, some chilling, and all true – that will remain embedded in my brain for years to come.

According to de Becker, people too often associate the word fear with other words like worry, panic, and anxiety. But they are not the same. While the latter emotions are voluntary, genuine fear is involuntary. It’s a survival signal wired in us that sounds only in the presence of danger and is intended to be very brief. The problem is that “unwarranted fear has assumed a power over us that it holds over no other creature on earth.”

On the other hand, worry is a choice. When we allow ourselves to become preoccupied with what might happen, there are clear downsides: “It interrupts clear thinking, wastes time, and shortens life.”

So based on the above, should we change the focus to “I have a worry about public speaking”? Or is the “unwarranted fear” mentioned above?

Your thoughts?

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crafting-presentation-song-smartalkers-speaking-coach-florida
 
 
A new summer program called Songland caught my attention when I watched how three superstar professional musicians use their individual areas of expertise to help unknown songwriters hoping for a break into stardom get their song chosen to record for global release. As stated in the press release for the show:

“The panel assesses the lyrics, arrangement, rhythm, melody, and message and discusses ways to adapt the songs to fit the style, taste, and ability of the guest artist. In the studio, the producer and songwriter will then work to customize the song for the guest artist. By episode’s end, the artist will select a song to record for a global release.”

Wow, I thought! This is what I do for my clients in crafting and delivering their presentations.

Here are the similarities:
The songwriter is the expert because they wrote the song.
My client is an expert because they know their topic.

The songwriter needs to know their audience, in this case, they need to adapt their song to fit the style, taste, and ability of the guest artist. My client needs to perform an in-depth audience analysis audit in order to ensure it is crafted to meet the needs and wants of the audience.

The songwriter needs to present it in a way that connects with the guest artist through the music, words, and overall color of the song, including the rate/pace of the words, the tone of the song, and the feeling the song evokes.

For example, if the song is being pitched for a movie like The Fast and The Furious, which was the focus of one of the guest artists, it needed to be fast-paced, with a catchy rhythm, and an overall powerful tone. When pitched to John Legend, a more mellow singer-songwriter, the performance needed to have a soft, sweet and low-key tone.

This is the same for my clients. They need to identify and practice, through their body language and tone of voice, the ability to ensure their presentation matches their message and the style of their audience.

If the content of the presentation has excitement to it, the presenter needs to show this emotion through gestures and vocal expressions including, loudness variations, a more rapid pace and a variety of vocal inflections.

If the content has a more serious nature to it, the presenter needs to tone down gestures and voice attributes, including loudness, pace and pitch variations.

The takeaway is this: whether you’re crafting a song or a presentation, you must know who your audience is and create the emotion and content that connects with them in order to be successful.

Remember, every audience is tuned into the radio station WIIFM, What’s In It For Me!

If you’d like more information about how you can be a successful crafter and presenter of your message, I’d welcome the opportunity to speak with you. Contact me for a free consultation.

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mind-flush-smartalkers-speaking-coach-florida


In a recent training session I conducted for human resource professionals, one of the most important takeaways voiced at the end of the training was to remember to use the mind flush technique.

Have you ever had a disagreement with a colleague or difficult conversation or situation, personal or professional, take place prior to going into an important meeting? A meeting where it will be absolutely necessary for you to be an active listener and participant, however, due to the challenging situation that is foremost in your mind, it will be difficult for you to let go to be present in the meeting? That’s where the mind flush technique comes into play.

Immediately before entering the meeting, go to a quiet place, breathe deeply, and flush away the challenging situation that is monopolizing your mind. As soon as your thoughts go back to it, acknowledge it and let it go, at least until your meeting is over. This way you’ll be present and in an active listening state that will let the speaker know you are present.

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connecting-audience-smartalkers-speaking-coach-florida

 

 “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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listen-texts-emails-smartalkers-speaking-coach-florida

 

 

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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elevator-speech-smartalkers-speaking-coach-florida

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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good listener speaking public coach smartalkers florida

 

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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hard skills soft skills public speaking coach smartalkers florida

 

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. wendy@smartalkers.com

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people say hear communication smartalkers speaking coach florida

 

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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