Effective Coaching

Coaches should tailor their style to match situational expectations

20190317_120113Although Effective Coaching may very well be the best path a speaker can take in becoming a better speaker quicker, there is a belief held by some experts that not all speakers are coachable. Without a doubt, I believe that with a better understanding of our different Communication Styles and with Effective Coaching, both speaker and coach can come to realize that all speakers are coachable. Yes, even those who choose to take the scenic or Columbus route to their destination.

When both speakers and coaches understand their different Communication Styles and are willing to work with each other honestly, the results can be rewarding for both speaker and coach. Communication Styles are often situational; however, good coaches will determine how to improve relationships by mastering and adapting their application of Communication Styles based on situations. Coaches should tailor their style to match situational expectations. Both speaker and coach must also identify their preferred style of communication very early in their collaboration to decide if their styles may affect the building of a trusted relationship in the future.

Speakers should be able to identify and understand their primary style of communication from their everyday interactions with colleagues, friends, and family. How a person is known to be from daily interactions with others, cannot be magically changed by coaching or by them stepping unto a speaking platform. Who or what you are all about will be revealed when you step in front of an audience.

You know best if your everyday style of communication leads to positive or negative reactions when interacting in creative groups at work, in personal or family relationships. Coaching can help speakers decide if their current style may be a problem or is valid based on feedback and outcomes or if they should consider adopting a new style of communication. Selecting a different style is not an easy fix. Styles can change with time, practice, and Effective Coaching, however, both speaker and coach must be prepared to answer the following questions as they begin that journey.

  • When might the speaker want to adjust their communication style?
  • How can an understanding of their communication style improve their interactions with others?
  • How does their preferred communication style impact others as listeners?
  • How can the speaker tailor their communication style to match situational expectations?

When working with speakers, coaches can achieve positive results if both speaker and coach are also mindful of the following. Direct Communicators prefer their coach to get to the point quickly and succinctly. Avoid over-explaining or repeating yourself. Focus on solutions and only provide details when asked. Initiating Communicators value interacting with others and sharing stories. Allow them time for socializing by creating a friendly, non-threatening environment. Provide time to express feelings and opinions.

Supportive Communicators appreciate a calm, steady approach. Earn trust by providing plenty of reassurance. When seeking their opinions and ideas, encourage them to express their concerns, and allow time to make decisions. Analytical Communicators like facts and figures. They prefer information presented in an organized manner. Be prepared to answer questions. Be patient while they think through and process new information.

Effective Coaching requires the building of an ongoing trusted relationship between speaker and coach. Anyone can provide feedback, but it takes Effective Coaching to elevate a speaker to their next level and beyond. Good coaches can see blind spots and potential that can change a speaker or a speech from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

Let those who choose to be like Columbus be a Columbus. It is all part of the journey. Let them go out and test their feedback. With those experiences, they too will learn, it takes an Effective Coach and Effective Coaching to see the unseen, to think the unthinkable and to try the untried with confidence. And, I do believe that when both coach and speaker realize the value of understanding different Communication Styles and the priceless value of Effective Coaching, they too will come to believe that with honesty, time and patience, all speakers are indeed coachable.

Project Pathways ECL2_2

Learning from the Champions

Be a sponge, compete to become a better speaker !!!

20160514_162508The following is a summary of some of the excellent advice I received over the years from past World Champions of Public Speaking (WCPS). Their wisdom has helped me tremendously with competing and coaching. To quote David Brooks the 1990 WCPS, “I have a speech that can win the World Championship of Public Speaking, (WCPS) but I am not sure it is good enough to win at the club level.”

While that statement may provoke a chuckle, truer words have never been spoken. We all know what can happen if you bring a knife to a gunfight or vice versa. Speakers should be aware of the level at which they are competing and the expectations of their audience and the expected panel of judges. I suggest taking the time to modify your presentation for each level of competition. Observe what works by attending competitions at different levels.  Develop and practice your delivery formula for a WCPS speech. Mine is five laughs, a least ten chuckles, and one belly-full. 

Topic selection is critical.  Speeches I like to call “high bread icebreakers” historically have been excellent choices. Personal stories with a twist can also produce excellent results when the speaker can show, they are passionate about the subject and can make and make a connection with their audience. Jim Key the 2003 WCPS, recommends that speakers must be clear about what they want their audience to think, feel, or do after they have heard your presentation. Lance Miller the 2005 WCPS, advises that you should try to be yourself. Your credibility is vital. The speaker should avoid sounding boastful or self-centered. A successful WCPS speech usually has universal appeal, a powerful message, and a call to action at the end. Don’t try to make yourself the hero or heroine. Leave that decision to the audience or judges.

Dr. Randy Harvey the 2004 WCPS knows what excites listeners brains. His “scarlet ribbon” method establishes and maintains a connection with audiences by weaving a single message through the entire speech like a scarlet ribbon. He shows plants subtle messages in the minds of the audience and judges to persuade them to favor him while delivering his message or lesson.   Randy demonstrated that method in his winning speech “Fat Dad” by also using colorful language, and the power of the spoken word as he made his case for – “the lesson is love”. Be reminded, that as a speaker,  when you are on the platform, you too are making your case or teaching a lesson.

Craig Valentine, the 1999 WCPS teaches, preparing and delivering a world champion quality speech is a process; a process has the power to make someone a better speaker. Craig emphasizes using the stage to make your point. Speakers should be aware that as they move forward from the club level platform to District level and on to the WCSP, everything suddenly becomes bigger. Whatever you can do as a speaker to help your audience follow the plot of your story should be incorporated into the presentation.

Then there is the “Magic Moment,” which David Brooks emphasizes all champion speeches must include. It is the moment which leaves an indelible imprint on the minds of audiences and judges. The message can be subtle. Your magic moment should have the effect of making your audience spontaneously recall your speech or message whenever they think of you, the moment or the title of your presentation. All of the editing and coaching the champions provided me over the years have been very helpful, however, perhaps the best advice and wisdom I have ever received from a World Champion, many moons ago was from Darren LaCroix my first coach, the 2001 WCPS – Be a sponge, compete to become a better speaker and not to win trophies – Stage time! – Stage time! Stage time.

Your Power Pause

Let your audience embrace your silence

20181207_093125Whether you’re presenting a speech at your club meeting, introducing a speaker at a social event or delivering a sales pitch, you will connect with your audience if you add silence before you begin speaking to your audience.  In the immortal words of William Shakespeare – “I stand in pause where I shall first begin.”

The power pause method has been the key to magnifying the messages of many great orators, however, stage silence before you begin your presentation should not be overdone. Your expressed purpose should be to make sure you have the undivided attention of your audience. Before you start, try locking your eyes on some of your listeners with a stare, as you silently review in your mind each word of your opening sentence. Make your Power Pause your final preparation before you begin to speak.

When you’re sure, you have your audience attention, it is wise to acknowledge that you now have their attention with a smile or perhaps a gentle nod. The Power Pause is the great equalizer. Whether you’re male or female, tall or short, dapper or grungy, an audience will lend you their ear if you take the time to make your audience stare back at you in hopeful anticipation, before you begin. Stand and steer with confidence as if to say, I am ready for you. Are you ready to listen to me?

The Power Pause is one of the keys to charisma – that special power some speakers have naturally or have developed. It is a power that makes them able to influence others and attract their attention and admiration. Audiences usually listen attentively to people they like and those who they admire. The Power Pause can also be your safety net also as you stare out into that audience for the first time from the platform. Let your audience embrace your silence. Take time to gather yourself, your thoughts, tame those butterflies as you begin to deliver what everyone present waited to hear with bated breath; your opening with a roar, or a whisper.

 

Controlling Your Fear on the Platform

Don’t fight the fear. Embrace it!

20190425_185242Most speakers are conscious of the fact that the fear of public speaking-bug can strike at any time when they are on the platform. But with time and experience, when they begin to accept that all speaking in public is, in fact, public speaking the platform becomes less intimidating. Whether you are on or off the platform, it doesn’t matter. To be successful, speakers must learn to utilize the normal tension and nervousness associated with speaking in public. Don’t fight the fear. Embrace it. Tension can give speakers energy. It can make speakers more alert and make the difference between a compelling presentation and one that is dull and lifeless.

The act of speaking and proper breathing play a vital role in the process of reducing tension.  As you talk and discover that your audience accepts and understand what you are saying, your nervousness will dissipate. Physiologically, your body is using up the excess adrenaline it generated. Speaking aloud and moving with purpose reduces fear. Use body language to help you channel your energy as you show and tell your story. Be alive when you are on the platform, and your audience will respond positively to you and the topic you are presenting,

Topic selection and subject mastery are critical for your success. Select topics with which you are familiar and passionate about. Choose topics that will easily let you take your mind off yourself. Speech anxiety sometimes arises because of self-centeredness. Avoid being more concerned with your appearance and performance. Instead, focus on your audience and subject matter. Think more about introducing the subject and purpose of your talk rather than just starting your speech. Open with a statement that is simple, easy to say and engages your audience.  Choose statements that allow you to get to the point of your speech quickly and clearly.

Audience and situation analysis is also critical. The more you know about your audience and their expectations, the less you should have to fear. As you speak, feed off the positive non-verbal responses, you are receiving. The more you speak in public, the more you will become confident and be able to relax when you are on the platform. Speaking several times in front of the same group can help you reduce your fear; however, speakers should try to step out of their familiar surroundings to explore speaking in front of unfamiliar groups whenever possible. Over time and with repetition of the public speaking experience, you will realize and develop your own strategies for controlling your fear when you are on the platform

A Toastmasters Life

Join Toastmasters and present with confidence

20190317_122306JOIN TOASTMASTERS AND PRESENT WITH CONFIDENCE: That was the headline in the Navy’s Center Newsletter – The headlined that attracted Helen Blanchard to Toastmasters. She would later reveal those words literally leaped off the page at her as she had just taken on a new assignment – a position typically reserved for men.

And so began Helen Blanchard’s Toastmasters Journey – which would lead her to become the first woman president of Toastmasters International.  The year was 1970.  Helen’s new assignment with the – United States Navy Research and Development Center in San Diego California – was to travel to offshore test sites to train the engineers to use a uniform method of analyzing and reporting the technical data they collected.  That headline – “Join Toastmasters and present with confidence” Helen knew was just what she needed; however, when she read the fine print, observed one minor detail – The article and invitation entitled “Men on the Move” was limited to men only – Yes! men only!.

The contact person for the program was a name Helen was familiar with – Bob Bolam. She called up Bob to ask for more information. He politely explained that Toastmasters was an all-male organization – Women did not join Toastmasters, they joined Toastmistresses – The same type of organization but one exclusively for women. Bob even suggested the possibility of Helen starting a Toastmistresses Club at the Center. Although Helen, was well aware that she was walking in a highly technical man’s world without the background of an engineering degree and that presentation training would be a boost to her confidence, decided to move on when she was unable to find Toastmistresses who shared her passion for presenting with confidence and to also “be on the move”.

Three weeks later, Helen got a call from Bob to informed her that the members of Center Toastmasters had unanimously voted to admit her to their club. Bob reminded the members, that the club met on Federal land, on Federal time and that Helen was a Federal employee. As such, her membership could not be denied. At first, Helen was a bit reluctant to attend their meeting, however, Bob assured her that their decision was unanimous and that she would be welcomed to the club with open arms. Ten of the fifteen members of the club were present at her first meeting. Once Helen saw the program in action, she wanted to join and formally applied from membership on June 2, 1970, under the non-gender-specific name of H Blanchard.

Helen’s first speech, her “Ice Breaker” was scheduled right away.  She had two weeks of preparation as the club met bimonthly.  Her evaluator’s comment by her own admission was that she had great potential but used so many “ahs” and “uhms” he decided to stop counting mid-speech.  Several weeks later, her application was returned to the club’s VPM – Vice President Membership – for a first name. The challenge was now to find a male name starting with the letter H. She was racking her brains – Herman … Harry … Harold – or perhaps even Henry? Who Knew!!

One member of the club suggested the club find her a name. That became the Table Topic of the day. Since Helen had already done her Ice Breaker, the members used some of the information she revealed about herself to choose her male name. The winner was Joe Dobbs. He wove a beautiful story around her maiden name – Pallas suggesting there would be no better name for Helen – referring to her as “Helen of Troy and the Trojan horse” – than Homer!  She agreed and that name remained with Helen until November 1971 when Toastmasters International informed the club they could accept female members.

In August 1973, the policy officially changed to permit any club to amend their bylaws to allow women in its membership. Fifteen years later, Helen Blanchard would become the first female President of Toastmasters International.  Wow – What a Toastmaster’s life! Helen Blanchard died at age 86 on May 31, 2013. I met Helen when I was the District 4 Governor in 2009 -2010 and will always remember these words of encouragement I received from her: Enjoy life’s Journey – Yours and Mine!

Clarity is Key to Good Communication

Great speaking comes from having a clear focus on your message

20181207_093125It is often said that clarity is the key to good communication and public speaking. Public speaking is a skill everyone has to embrace at some time or another; however, over time as speakers, we come to realize that “all speaking is public speaking”. Every day, we communicate requests, opinions, and ideas with family, friends, and associates. The more we exchange communication, the more it becomes evident that communication is not only what you said, but also what the listener thinks you said or is saying.

The following are a few concepts anyone can start practicing today, to become a more effective communicator. These principles can be career-enhancing when practiced daily. They can unleash a whole new perspective in the way you communicate. Speakers can also start applying them to presentations, conversations and your communications with family, friends, and colleagues. They will also significantly improve how you respond in your daily interactions with others. They will help you develop who you are as a communicator.

One of the first requirements of good communication is, getting people to listen to you. How to get audiences to stop, look at you and listen is a question all speakers must try to resolve. Before a speaker utters their first words, they should make sure they have the complete attention of their audience. The challenge then becomes how to hold that attention. Begin with a voice inflection that commands your listener’s attention. Also, use appropriate body language to let your listener know you are ready to establish a line of communication.

If one of the parties tune out or disconnects, it is like having a bad phone connection. Communication is over. While still connected, you should envisage how you are going to hold your audience’s attention. A good strategy is to strive to be entertaining while you are informing or being informed. Listen before you interject. Go with the flow.  If you can entertain and inform at the same time, the flow of information between the speaker and listener will be greatly enhanced.

Great speaking comes from having a clear focus on your message. Quips; witty communication will often keep the conversation alive and memorable.  Well placed quips will often have the effect of an echo long after you and your listeners have disconnected. When used in speeches, quips can bring clarify your message.  Give your messages a voice. Make your audience stop, look at you and listen to you while you entertain and inform. And the day will come when you be respected not only as a good speaker but also as a great communicator.

Your Power Pause

Let your audience embrace your silence.

20181207_093125Whether you’re presenting a speech at your club meeting, introducing a speaker at a social event or delivering a sales pitch, you will always connect with your audience if you stage some silence before you speak.  In the immortal words of William Shakespeare – “I stand in pause where I shall first begin.”

The power pause method has been the key to magnifying the messages of many great orators, however, stage silence before you begin your presentation should not be overdone. Your expressed purpose should be to make sure you have the undivided attention of your audience. Before you start, try locking your eyes on each of your listeners with a stare, as you silently review in your mind each word of your opening sentence. Make your Power Pause your final preparation before you begin to speak.

When you’re sure, you have your audience attention, it is wise to acknowledge that you now have their attention with a smile or perhaps a gentle nod. The Power Pause is the great equalizer. Whether you’re male or female, tall or short, dapper or grungy, an audience will lend you their ear if you take the time to make your audience stare back at you in hopeful anticipation, before you begin. Stand and steer with confidence as if to say I am ready for you. Are you ready to listen to me.

The Power Pause is one of the keys to charisma – that special power some speakers have naturally or develop. A power that makes them able to influence others and attract their attention and admiration. Audiences usually listen attentively to people they like and those who they admire. The Power Pause can also be your safety net also as you stare out into that audience for the first time from the platform. Let your audience embrace your silence. Take time to gather yourself, your thoughts, tame those butterflies as you begin to deliver what everyone present waited with bated breath to hear; your opening with a roar or a whisper.

 

Conflict – Wit – Wisdom & Humor

“Each one takes what he doesn’t have.”

GandhiOne of the best skills all speakers must develop is the art of being quick, witty and polite. Without a doubt, one of the best ways to defuse conflict is with wisdom, wit, and humor. Wisdom comes with time. However, humor and wit take practice. Mahatma Gandhi was a leader who also used wisdom, humor, and wit effectively to defuse conflicts. He was a lawyer, activist, and politician who became the leader of the nationalist movement against the British rule of India. Here is an example of his wit, his wisdom, and his humor.

When Gandhi was studying law at the University College of London, a professor by the name of Peters disliked him intensely simply because Gandhi never lowered his head when addressing him as he expected. There were always “arguments” and confrontations. 

One day Mr. Peters was having lunch at the University dining room when Gandhi came along with his tray and sat next to him.  The professor said, “Mr. Gandhi, do you understand that a pig and a bird do not sit together to eat.  “Gandhi looked at him as a parent would, to a rude child and calmly replied, “You do not have to worry, professor, I’ll fly away,” and Gandhi went and sat at another table.

Peters, red with rage, decided to take revenge on Gandhi’s next test paper, but Gandhi responded brilliantly to all questions. Unhappy and frustrated, Mr. Peters asked him the following question:  “Mr. Gandhi ! if you were walking down the street and found a package. And within that package was a bag of wisdom, and another bag with a lot of money, which one would you take?

Without hesitating, Gandhi responded, “Why of course, the one with the money.”  Mr. Peters, smiling sarcastically, said:  “I, in your place, would have taken the wisdom.”  Gandhi shrugged indifferently and responded, “Each one takes what he doesn’t have.”

Mr. Peters, by this time, was fit to be tied.  So great was his anger, he wrote on Gandhi’s exam sheet the word “idiot” and handed it back to him.  Gandhi took the exam sheet and sat down at his desk, trying hard to remain calm while he contemplated his next move.  A few minutes later, Gandhi got up, went to the professor and said in a dignified but sarcastically polite tone “Mr. Peters, you autographed my sheet, but you did not give me the grade.”

It is my hope that the next time you find yourself dealing with a Mr. Peters, you too will remember Mahatma Gandhi who was the master of wit and wisdom.

 

 

 
 

My Pathways DTM Journey

Change is good when you go first

20181215I joined Toastmasters in March of 1997 and received my first DTM in July 2007 under the original education program. In 2017 we had the rollout of Pathways in our District 4.  I achieved my second DTM award in November 2018 after meeting all the Pathways requirements for a second DTM   Why did I undertake a second DTM? Because it was time for change.

In 2009 to 2010 when I served as the District Governor for District 4, I learned about the new educational program under development to modernize the Toastmasters learning experience. I was excited. The Toastmasters organization started in October of 1924 and was incorporated in 1932.  Since then, the world of Communication and Leadership has changed tremendously. I too believed it was time for change, and it was time to change with the changes.

One of the reasons I decided to get on the fast track to complete the requirements in Pathways, was to help me better understand the changes in the new program. I knew what old offered but was curious about the new. I signed up to be a Pathways Guide for District 4. After introducing the required ten clubs to the program, I decided to do the program myself, to see where Pathways will take me. I wanted to validate the full range of benefits the Pathways program promised. Some of those promises were:

• Customized learning tailored to personal and professional goals
• Early and frequent recognition of accomplishments
• Mobile access to educational materials
• Expanded video and digital content
• A self-paced, self-development journey

At one of my sessions to introduce Pathways, a fellow Toastmasters said to me, if the change is so good why don’t you go first. So I did. The two Paths I selected Presentation Mastery and Visionary Communication delivered on the promises. Once I did my icebreaker, I realized how important it was to develop a strategy to complete each project with full benefits.  While it was great to have the flexibility of working online, anytime, anywhere, I found it useful to have the downloaded copy of each project. I also opened a notepad window and made notes after launching each project. The notepad made it easy to cut and paste key points as I worked through a project. Finally, I would combine the guidelines from the worksheets with my notes to develop the required project for my presentations at club meetings.

The Pathways program is an evolution in the Toastmasters experience. It allows you to select and customize speeches on topics best suited for your personal and professional growth.  New projects like writing a compelling blog, creating a podcast and building a social media presence are dynamic projects, which were not available before the change to Pathways. Having done both programs, the old and the new, I believe the Toastmasters education program will help you build the core competencies required to be an effective communicator and effective leader.

To get started, you will find a wealth of valuable information on the Toastmasters Website. Another useful resource made available by a fellow Toastmasters Guide – Ken Braly from District 101 is available at http://kenb.com/pathways – Pathways will take you where ever you want to go if you embrace the change. This milestone in my Toastmasters journey made me realize that change is good when you go first.

Competitive Speaking

A great speech is spoken art.

20181206_145952Competitive speaking can put a speaker’s development on the fast track. To prepare for competitions, speakers must pay attention to those details often ignored. Here are a few of those details to consider as you prepare for your next speech to compete at the Club, Area, Division, District or International level of competition:

The true winners are not the ones who walk away with the trophy but those who win the hearts of their audiences.

Topic Selection: The topic you choose can decide your place in competitions. While you should select a topic you are passionate about, connecting with your audience should be your primary focus. Your presentation should not be all about you. It is should also have some universal appeal. The challenge is to establish a connection with your audience through personal stories, and real-life events spun into a unique, persuasive work of art. It should not be an act.  Simply put, a great speech is spoken art.

Avoid The Following: Recent events & stories overused by the Internet & News Media. Events with varied audience interest and opinions as well as topics too big to be delivered in 5 to 7 minutes. If after you have finished speaking your audience is left with many unanswered questions, you may want to ask yourself if this is a story I can deliver completely in the allotted time.

Study The Points Distribution As You Prepare Your Speech:  The points distribution is usually: Speech Development-Effectiveness-Speech Value – (Content – 50 Points) Physical-Voice-Manner-Manner (Delivery – 30 Points) Appropriateness-Correctness (Language – 20 Points).

Speech Purpose: The purpose of your speech should be clearly defined very early in your presentation. Are you speaking to Inform: Entertain: Persuade: Motivate.
Study the objectives of all ten speeches from the CC Manual. Focus on what do you want your audience to Think-Feel – Or Do after hearing your presentation.

Delivery: Don’t Tell Them–Show Them-Take Them
Be descriptive – Use word pictures to convey your message. A picture paints a … words.
Be concise but also be clear – Every unanswered question becomes a distraction.
Practice your personal stories and anecdotes so that they don’t sound rehearsed-Keep it real.

Timing: Write a 6-minute Speech and Deliver it in 7 – Find Your Speaking Rate.
Calculate your average speaking rate – Men average 125 Women 150. The average number of words in your speech should be between 700 to 750 words. Use single syllable words.

What is your Magic Moment: The moment in your speech that would make your presentation memorable. Every speech must have a magic moment, strategically placed for maximum impact.

A Call to Action:  Recall what you told your audience in the introduction and body of your presentation. Leave your audience with a call to action. Close the deal to leave your audience with a lasting impression. If at the end of your speech you left your audience has a burning desire to take some action, whether you take home a trophy or not, you will be a winner in the hearts of your audience.