Thursday, June 22, 2017

Assume and Doom! - 2 Ways Assumptions Doom your Communication.

You've heard the saying “When you assume it makes an “a**” out of “u” and ’me’. I don’t believe that’s always the case and I wouldn’t quite put it like that because I’m a classy chick, but I WILL tell you that when it comes to communication, many of us assume way more than we should. 

I work with clients on job interviews, elevator pitches, formal and informal presentations.  I’ve noticed that in all of these different types of communication, people assume that their listeners know way more than they actually do. Maybe in this day and age we’ve become so afraid of giving TMI (too much information) that we often end up leaving out important details. Assumptions that get in the way of communication come in two forms: Emotional Assumptions (assuming someone feels or will feel a certain way) and Logical Assumptions (assuming someone knows certain things). Here are examples of logical and emotional assumptions. Don’t let them doom your next communication.

Logical Assumption: Your listener understands what you do just cause you tell them your job title:
I can’t tell you how many times working with clients on job interviews or presentations, a person will give a job title or brief description and then assume that the listener will know everything they need to know. Most of us are so intimate with the minutia that goes into what it is that we do that we make the assumption that everyone else is equally familiar with it and therefore omit important details that can help your listener truly understand what it is you do. Yes, there is that occasional narcissist who is all too happy to bore you with a blow by blow account of how they watched paint dry but believe me, in face to face communication, those folks are rare.

Some of you may be thinking, “But surely for a job interview or a presentation for my peers, the listener should have some knowledge of what I do. Why would I have to go into detail?" The operative word here is “some knowledge." Yes, people may know in theory what a title like: Financial Consultant, Marketing Director or Human Resource Manager means. They may know you as the VP of whatever, BUT that doesn’t guarantee that they understand what it is that you actually do. The danger with giving too few details is that it forces your listener to dig into their memory and pull up their own assumptions. Some of those assumptions might be positive, some may be neutral and some may be a turn off. If the last financial consultant they met helped them amass a fortune, terrific. But what if the financial consultant that comes to mind is the one that ruined their grandmother’s estate?

Emotional Assumption: You know how your listener or audience feels about a topic.
Many times in preparing for a presentation, my clients will say things like,”I know you all want” “You must be tired of…” Whenever I hear those kinds of statements a little caution light goes on and I encourage a different word choice. For example: “I know some of you might want” or “Many of you may be tired of…” Why? Because most people hate being pigeon holed or having their thoughts and emotions lumped together with the thoughts and emotions of a large group that they may or may not know. It may be important to bring up negative assumptions that an audience may have about your topic, (it’s called getting the elephant out of the room) But it’s equally important not to categorically assume what people are thinking or feeling. Feel it out by using modal auxiliaries, (might, could, may etc) they’re not called the “polite” forms of speech for nothing.

Download a FREE chapter of my book Standing Ovation Presentations for tips on how you can better craft your message.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

SPEAK YOU Class - a Public Speaking Bootcamp. Huge Success!

 by Sarah Solomon, Social Media, Marketing, SpeakEtc.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of joining Robyn at her first ever Speak You event right here in NYC. During this 4-hour interactive workshop, Robyn dug deep into the world of effective communication, hitting all of its key elements including body language, vocal tone, content writing, eye contact, gesturing and much more.

Participants came from all different backgrounds including a former attorney who teaches Public Speaking; a New York Times accountant; a Military Vet who speaks on Veteran affairs; a Laughter Yoga teacher and more. Each participant had a unique vantage point and story which is what made the class so interesting.

They were all able to visualize, create and present their signature speech in front of each other and receive honest feedback on their presentation styles and left with a clear outline for their Signature Speech.

With Robyn's expertise and creative way of helping others discover their passion, these 8 strangers were able to own their stage with a new found confidence in their content. It was incredible to see how supportive everyone was and see the change in each persons presentation at the end. Empowering and transformative, Speak You was an incredible opportunity to network, learn, create and discover.

If you’re interested in finding out about the next Speak YOU experience - 
Email Robyn! and put SPEAK YOU in the subject line.

Want to get started on your own Signature Speech?  

Friday, April 28, 2017

Sharing Your Story - 3 Women who Embraced Their Albatross & How You Can Too

by Robyn Hatcher

I often talk about how important it is to share your personal story or - Embrace your Albatross as I called it in my recent Keynote Speech.

As a member of New York Women in Communications (NYWICI) -  an organization of professional women in media and communications, I’ve attended recent events recently with incredible speakers who demonstrate the power of sharing your story.

One event was with the amazing Madonna Badger, founder and chief Creative Officer at Badger & Winters, an advertising, branding and design agency.

Madonna began her presentation about how women are portrayed in advertising by asking for her slides to be turned off. Before she began her formal presentation, she wanted to share how she’d been struggling emotionally around the recent death of her ex-husband. She went on to relate her life-altering experience of losing her parents and three daughters in a fire from which she was able to escape. You could have heard a pin drop. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Analogies: Your Best Friend

by Narmeen Iqbal & Robyn Hatcher

According to, an analogy is: “a form of reasoning in which one thing is inferred to be similar to another thing in a certain respect, on the basis of the known similarity between the things in other respects”.

 According to Robyn Hatcher, Owner CEO of Speaketc, “Analogies are your best friend” especially when giving presentations and in communicating with people. Analogies help listeners grasp the concept or an idea much easier. It also helps listeners mentally visualize the connection between one form of reasoning by interpreting it through another form of reasoning resulting in a lucid understanding.

Here is an excellent example of the use of analogy by a MarketingProfessor at Indian Institute of Management (IIM). I compares marketing concepts to meeting a gorgeous girl at a party.  Like many effective analogies, this analogy uses a touch of humor.  It definitely made me laugh!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Digging for Communication Gold

I’m captivated every 2 years when the Olympics roll around. Winter or Summer, I’m hooked.  It’s such a testament to the human spirit and to our incredible potential.

I was struck by footage of Michael Phelps studying video of a previous race. It was amazing to me (and to the announcers) that someone who had already accrued 21 gold medals was still striving to study and improve themselves. How many of us can say the same?
One of my favorite Olympic commercials this year is this one for Dick’s Sporting Goods its tagline - “Gold… it’s in all of us. But only some have the strength to dig it out.” 

I guess you could call me a gold digger because one of the things I love about my work is the thrill I get helping to uncover the gold buried in others. How much of your gold have you unearthed?

3 ways to dig for the gold in you:
 ·         Go Prospecting:
o   Set aside some quiet time for yourself and think back on your eight-year old self. What did he/she dream about? What seemed vitally important to you then? Often, the raw material for your gold medal self, was forged around that time.
·         Start Mining:
o   Make a list of all the positive things anyone has ever said about you. Really give yourself time to think and reflect. We are always so quick to remember the negative things people say (Don’t beat yourself up about that. Our brains are actually wired that way) but keep digging until you can unearth as many positive things as you can remember. Write them down.
o    Also make a list of feedback you’ve gotten that was not that positive.
o   Then do some above ground research. Become hyper vigilant in looking for feedback you get on a daily basis. Including your own internal feedback. How comfortable are you in a particular situation? With a particular type of person? Delivering a particular type of communication?
·         Start Polishing:
o   Take the positive raw material you’ve unearthed about yourself - your purpose that you discovered from your core 8-year-old self and the positive qualities you’ve mined from positive feedback you’ve gotten. And with it…

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A Whiz Kid and a Villain Enter a Presidential Race... Communication Styles of our Candidates

“To effectively communicate we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” Anthony Robbins
When preparing to write my book on presentation skills, I developed my own communication style assessment tool called ActorTypes. Watching this year’s political drama unfold, it struck me that this is the first presidential battle in my lifetime that had such diametrically opposed ActorTypes running against each other. This race is a battle between a dyed in the wool Whiz Kid, and an unmitigated Villain. But for those of you who haven’t attended one of my workshops or presentations or read my book, Standing Ovation Presentations, let me explain what ActorTypes are. 
Having spent over 20 years as a professional actor and 10 years as a professional writer for TV and film, I realized that there are certain “types” that actors and their characters fall into – thus the term typecasting. As I began teaching public speaking and communication skills, I noticed that those types also appear in “real” people. After considering the characters I saw in both the scripts I auditioned for and the Daytime Drama shows I wrote for, I came up with nine common ActorTypes. They are based on 9 character types you see every day in movies and on TV; the Hero, Villain, Super Hero, Ingenue, Super Model, Comic, Whiz Kid, Buddy and Curmudgeon)

There are certain strengths each type possesses and of course certain weaknesses which I call Fatal Flaws. Here’s a brief description of the positive qualities associated with our current presidential candidates.

Whiz Kid: Believes Knowledge is power!

  • Has a failsafe memory for facts
  • Loves doing research
  • Is dependable and responsible
  • Is organized and exacting (who else would date notes left for a child)

Villain: Loves to be hated

  • Has a quick wit and a sharp tongue
  • Has an answer for everything; likes to have the last word
  • Has own type of charisma that can make people uncomfortable
  • Compels an audience to pay attention

Now let’s look at the Fatal Flaws of these two types.
Whiz Kid:

  • Can come off as cold and unemotional
  • Doesn’t pick up social cues easily
  • Stresses facts over feelings
  • Can be dismissed as being boring

  • Can be alienating and hurt people’s feeling
  • Won’t admit when wrong or doesn’t know something
  • Arrogance can turn people off
  • Can be all bravado and no substance

So how do these two match up? Who will be the victor? I think it depends on how successful they are at mitigating or covering up some of their fatal flaws. 

During her last presidential run, Hillary’s Whiz Kid ran against Obama’s Buddy/Hero. That’s an almost impossible match up for a Whiz Kid to win. During that election, she tried to mask her Whiz Kid qualities by taking on the qualities of a Super Hero. That backfired because, turns out Americans don’t really like female Super Heroes. Surprise! So we turned her into a Villain.

After reading and listening to stories by people who know or have met her, I believe Hillary actually has quite a bit of the Buddy ActorType in her (Most of us are more than one type) but her strong Whiz Kid qualities somehow make her feel that it’s “illogical” (to quote the quintessential Whiz Kid, Mr. Spock.) to show her Buddy qualities during such an important job interview. But I’m really hoping that she sees the light.

I’ve worked with many Whiz Kid clients helping them prepare for job interviews. They often withhold valuable information about themselves because they assume it’s obvious. After all, it’s on their resumes. Why do they need to talk about it? Or they think, why do I need to show my personality, I’m applying for a serious job. 

One of my favorite quotes is one I recently came across by Dale Carnegie. He said. “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic but creatures of emotion.” Something all Whiz Kids need to remember.

In order for us to trust, like and know a person, that person must touch our emotions. Villains are very good at touching and triggering emotions. Whiz Kids not so much. My advice to Hillary - talk to us in stories. Use metaphors, analogies and vivid language to help us see what you see. I enjoyed Hillary acceptance speech. I thought it was one of her best speeches yet. However, she can and should be better. 

I heard Chelsea speak about her grandmother at a fundraising event earlier this year. It was heartfelt and moving and touched everyone present. She painted a very vivid picture of a strong resilient woman who’d triumphed under tremendous hardships. When Hillary referenced her mother in her acceptance speech, it was one sentence spoken fairly quickly. When she mentioned her own bad times, she flew over the words, with a smile no less. She didn’t “experience” them. I want her to let us know how she feels. Contrary to some popular beliefs, there is a place for feelings in the workplace and in presidential elections. I know it could be opening a can of worms but I’d even love for her to bring in how she felt during all the Bill/Monica et al. scandals. I don’t need to be all up in her personal business but I would like to hear her once just acknowledge that pain. 

Having a Villain ActorType is normally not a bad thing. It can be very powerful. I coach my clients who embody those qualities to use them wisely and judiciously. I work with them to polish and mitigate any fatal flaws that may hinder their effectiveness. 

There are people who love to brandish the words “real” and “authentic” when it comes to politicians and personalities. But as I wrote in another post, what’s the point of being “authentic” if your “authentic” is ultimately not effective. Our Villain candidate is doing very little to mitigate his fatal flaws and he is being hailed for being real and authentic. Will the blatant flaunting of his fatal flaws continue to be effective? We’ll have to wait and see. 

If you’d like to know your ActorType, you can take my quick ActorType quiz here.