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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,

Wendy

 

 

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Recently I was contacted by a  colleague of mine complaining of almost losing her voice after teaching her classes virtually. I immediately put on my speech pathologist’s hat and suggested she may be pushing her voice too hard, increasing her loudness more than needed creating a fatigued voice. This is not unusual when we aren’t able to get the feedback on voice modulation as is possible during a classroom setting. 

Also, I suggested that a bit of anxiety may be playing into this as she had never used video to teach a class before. The anxiety she may be feeling will cause a tightening of her throat muscles which in turn would add to the vocal fatigue she was experiencing. 

In a follow-up email a week later she stated: “I took your advice about watching my projection, and it made all the difference.” She also switched to a more user-friendly video platform eliminating the stress she was feeling.

If you’re experiencing challenges with your voice with the new normal of teaching virtual classes, let’s talk. As a speech pathologist for over 30 years, I’ve coached business professionals on the use and care of the professional voice. Your voice is an instrument. Learn to play it well.

Be safe, be kind, be well,

Wendy

 

 

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For those that know me either through friendship, coaching, or training, all will agree that I’m passionate about authentic and connecting communication. Recently a good friend of mine gave me the book The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld. Yes, it’s a children’s book, but as described …with spare and poignant text. The Rabbit Listened is about helping others by giving them the gift of simply listening. 

I invite you to pick up a copy and keep it close by to remind you that most of the time when there is conflict, hurt, or despair people just want to be listened to. 

My New Year’s wish is that you will take the time to simply listen. You may be pleasantly surprised at the results.

If the skill of active listening is difficult for you, let’s talk. I’d welcome the opportunity to share my individual coaching program or training programs with you.

Public speaking and communication skills are the primary skills SmarTalkers can provide through our coaching and training opportunities. Visit our website www.smartalkers.com or contact Wendy Warman: wendy@smartalkers.com for more information.

 

 

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One of the most common concerns of my coaching clients involves how to effectively present to senior executives. Here are a few tips to help you the next time you have the opportunity.

 

  1. Summarize upfront: Say you’re given 30 minutes to present. When creating your opening statement, pretend your whole time slot got cut to 5 minutes. Lead with all the information your audience really cares about such as: high-level findings, conclusions, recommendations, call to action. State those points clearly and succinctly in your opening statement, then move on to supporting data, and material that’s peripherally relevant. 
  2. Set expectations:  Let the audience know you’ll be spending your first few minutes presenting your summary and the rest of the time on discussion.
  3. Create summary slides: When making your slide deck, place a short overview of key points at the front; the rest of your slides should serve as an appendix. Follow the 10% rule: If your appendix is 20 slides, create 2 summary slides. After you present the summary, let the group drive the conversation, and refer to appendix slides as relevant questions and comments come up. 
  4. Give them what they asked for: This time-pressed group of senior executives invited you to speak because they felt you could supply missing or valuable information on the topic. Answer that specific request directly and quickly.
  5. Rehearse: Run your talk and slides by a colleague who will serve as an honest coach. If possible, find someone who’s had success getting ideas adopted at the executive level.

 

Public speaking and communication skills are the primary skills SmarTalkers can provide through our coaching and training opportunities. 

Visit our website www.smartalkers.com or contact Wendy Warman wendy@smartalkers.com for more information.

 

 

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5 Essential Communication Skills Needed to Be a Good Communicator

 

For those of you who follow me on LinkedIn and Facebook, you know I’m passionately against communication skills being put into the category of soft skills. Here’s just another reason why communication skills are essential skills, not soft skills!

 A recent article from Inc. magazine stated Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, recognized the value of 1 “essential” job skill even before he had a name for his company. You guessed it!

Bezos was quoted as saying “Top-notch communication skills are essential.”

Bezos recognized very early that job candidates who were skilled in one area–like coding and engineering–would still fall short of their potential if they didn’t have the ability to communicate and collaborate with others.

Recently, LinkedIn surveyed 4,000 hiring professionals, with “leadership and communication” topping the list of must-have job requirements.

 

Here are 5 key communication skills that are essential for your success in the workplace:

Rate yourself on a scale of 1-5. 1 being the lowest and 5 the highest.

  1. Listening: not only to words being said but the message behind the words. Ensure the accuracy of what you’ve heard by asking clarifying questions or paraphrasing what you’ve heard.
  2. Nonverbal communication: effective eye contact, use of hand movements to match your message, and tone of voice to bring life to your message.
  3. Communicate with clarity, confidence, and conciseness: Confidently presenting your message that is clear and concise will ensure a successful communication encounter.

In an upcoming training session, I’ll be providing to a software development company, this was the most requested area to address as it relates to communicating one on one and to a group.

  1.     Empathy: Using phrases as simple as “I understand where you’re coming from” demonstrate that you have been listening to the other person and respect their opinions.

Even when you disagree with an employer, coworker, or employee, it is important for you to understand and respect their point of view.

  1.     Giving and receiving feedback: Giving well thought out feedback will result in a high return on your investment. People respond and are motivated by constructive feedback even if it’s not always positive but delivered in a way that’s respectful and truthful.

Similarly, you should be able to accept and even encourage, feedback from others. Listen to the feedback you are given, ask clarifying questions if you are unsure of the issue, and make efforts to implement the feedback.

 

Well, how did you do? If you scored 3 or lower, I’d welcome the opportunity to talk with you about ways to improve your communication skills…The essential skill.

 

Contact me through my website: www.smartalkers.com or email: wendy@smartalkers.com

You can also follow me on LinkedIn and Facebook for more tips on public speaking and communication skills.

 

Communication is not a soft skill; it’s an essential skill.

 

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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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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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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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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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 “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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