Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Five Business Lessons I've Learned from Reality TV!

Reality TV has been the bane of existence for most actors and television writers since it first infiltrated prime-time television. And since I have spent 30-plus years as a professional actor and 15-plus as a TV/film writer I should rightly resent the onslaught of reality TV for taking away job opportunities from people like me. BUT,… I have to confess. I love watching shows like American Idol, Next Food Network Star, So You Think You can Dance, Project Runway and The Voice, because the communication trainer and coach part of me learns so much from them!  

Those shows illustrate, support and re-enforce so many of the things that I teach, train and write about. And for entrepreneurs and business owners,I'd like to point out some important lessons these competition shows can teach us.

First, let me point out the similarities as I see them. In the very early phase of your business, you probably had to win over a friend, a family member or an investor and convince them of the validity of your product or service. That would be like the initial auditions reality contestants have to go through. In the next phase of your business, you may have to sell your concept to a larger investor, partner, bank, and of course your prospects & customers. In this phase you need to show not only that you have a good concept, but that that concept can make a larger group of people happy and profitable. That’s like the phase where the reality contestants have to impress the larger TV voting audience (and the show’s producers) that they have what it takes to impress, entertain and encourage audiences to tune in.  Then, as time goes by, you, like the reality contestants, have to prove that you are not a one trick pony, that you have “Star Power” and will be able to sustain the audiences/clients interest week after week, month after month, year after year. How DO they do it??

Here are FIVE business lessons I've learned from watching reality television that might help catapult YOUR business to super-stardom.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Standing Ovation Presentations in!

Work in Progress
Work in Progress            
Career talk for women                
ForbesWoman 11/19/2013   

Ten Career And Self-Help Books For Your Holiday Gift List

In my line of work as an executive coach and corporate trainer, I read a LOT of career and self-help books. Here are 10 of my favorites from this year:
Forget A Mentor, Get A Sponsor: The New Way To Fast-Track Your Career by Sylvia Ann Hewlett
For the corporate climber, this is the best career book of the year. Hewlett manages to be candid but still encouraging, mixing just the right amount of hard research and accessible anecdotes.

Suitcase Entrepreneur by Natalie SissonFor the entrepreneur (and the traditional employee who wants more efficient systems!), this is a must-read. Sisson, a fellow Forbes contributor, specializes in location-independent businesses and shares her best hacks for how to launch, grow and build an online business, while traveling the world.

Standing Ovation Presentations by Robyn HatcherAre you a Hero, Buddy, Sex Symbol, Curmudgeon…? Hatcher teaches presentation skills by breaking down people into 9 Actor Types. One of her exercises even uses monologues from famous movies. This is a helpful how-to book on an important skill that still manages to be light and entertaining.

Read full article 

9/05/2013 @ 5:14PM |613 views

Get Your Celebrity Fix And Career Advice In 3 Fun Reads

Robyn Hatcher is founder and principal of SpeakEtc, a boutique communication and presentation-skills training company based in NYC. She’s also a former actress and writer for two daytime dramas. In her new book, Standing Ovation Presentations (Motivational Press, 2013), Hatcher shares a thorough overview of communication and presentation best practices, told in a unique framework of 9 ActorTypes (e.g., Hero, Ingenue, Villain, Comic, Whiz Kid, Super Hero, Sex Symbol, Buddy, and Salty Veteran/ Curmudgeon). I’m the Villain type, and the book has given me some great ideas!
Hatcher’s book is a great example of a super fun read that also provides valuable career advice. The communication tips are excellent. There is an exhaustively detailed section on how to structure a presentation. Hatcher also covers verbal and non-verbal strategies. At the same time, there are entertainment analogies woven throughout, and there is even an exercise based on monologues from famous movies. You won’t feel like you’re reading a dry training manual even though you’re getting great training tips.

See full article:

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Five Communication Disconnects & How to Solve Them


The art of communication is the language of leadership. James C. Humes

No question about it, communication is an art. No matter how skilled or knowledgeable you are, if your communication skills are subpar, your leadership and management skills will be too.

Communication encompasses a broad spectrum: there's email, memos, reports, phone, video conferencing and what I'd like to focus on here, the old-fashioned face-to-face.

I work with many individuals who are brilliant at what they do but become baffled by the fact that their direct reports don't understand them or that their superiors are not recognizing them for promotions.

Here are five of the most common communication disconnects I see in the individuals I coach.

 1)      Muddled Messages:

Time is money and most people don't like to waste time sifting through an avalanche of words to figure out what you are really trying to say. I always tell my clients to figure out their bottom line in any important communication. For any message you need to relay, ask yourself this question: “If my listener remembers just one thing, what do I want them to remember.” That “one thing” is your bottom line or core message.  You can then shape the rest of the communication around that bottom line. (I suggest using a mind map) It also helps to use specific language in your communication to reinforce your message. For example

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Visible Woman: Author/Speaker Guru Robyn Hatcher

Originally Published on Style Goes Strong: 
(Sadly this site no longer exists so I've given this article a home here)
By Gerit Quealy Published Jun 24, 2013
I often hear the lament that women over a certain age feel invisible. But there are a lot of women out there showing up, doing their thing, and making their mark in highly visible ways.
Case in point: Author and speaker coach Robyn Hatcher. She gave us some great advice on how important your voice is to your personal style. She's been coaching others on how to best present themselves for over a dozen years as a voice, speech, and presentation coach at SpeakEtc.
And she just distilled her accumulated wisdom into a new book, Standing OvationPresentations, which helps you identify your personal speaking style and hone it to perfection.
Hatcher has a section in her book called the Wardrobe Department, which addresses issues of style for speaking in public (American's #1 fear!). But we asked 10 questions about her personal style which you might find easily adaptable to your own.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Chain-talking - Hazardous to Communication Health!

Do you ever find yourself stuck in a “conversation” with someone who is technically delivering a monologue? Have you ever tried to join a conversation or discussion that is being hijacked by one speaker? I call those individuals Chain-talkers and they can be hazardous to healthy communication.  Chain-talkers are people who talk nonstop with absolutely no awareness of whether listeners have any interest in what he or she is saying? People who somehow don’t need to take a breath and move so quickly between sentences that you can’t find a place to interrupt. Raise your hand if you know what I'm talking about.

The other day I attended a full-day symposium on communication. There was an interesting keynote address by a marketing/communication VP for a major organization. I very much appreciated her message since she spoke about how important it is for companies to lead with their value - a message I try to always express in my workshops and with my clients. She also spoke about the importance of story and how communication is enhanced by the telling of interesting personal, relatable stories. One of her final tidbits was advice on keeping your message brief.

 After her presentation, there was a break and several people crowded around her to ask an additional question or express their appreciation for her message. Because I really appreciated her message and respected her organization, I joined that group. As I approached, I saw that there was a gentleman engaging the speaker in a story or anecdote. I stood among seven other people waiting for an opportunity to connect with the speaker. Two minutes went by. The man continued to ramble on. Another two to three minutes went by. The speaker began to exhibit body language cues that would indicate to most people that she was anxious to move on. Her body and feet were pointing away from this gentleman. She broke eye-contact with the man and made eye-contact with me and several other people waiting. He jabbered on. She touched his elbow in a way that indicated that she was amused but ready to end the connection. And still the man spoke on.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

PROOF: It's Never Too Late to Change!

Is there a change you've been resisting?

I’ve had some proud moments in my life - after all I have a son who was a Yale student athlete drafted by the Cincinnati Reds - but my most recent session with a client is right up there among one of my proudest moments.

A firm in the financial industry engaged me two years ago to give a presentation for their staff and to work one on one with some of their employees on communication skills.  They are a successful firm that handles billion dollar accounts. However, it was founded several years ago with a crunchy granola, mom and pop type sensibility. As they’ve gotten more and more successful, they have seen the need to up level all of their skills - communication being one of them. I did a group Communication Elevation workshop and one-on-one executive coaching sessions with several of their employees and was able to implement some immediate changes. However, one of the tasks I was given was extremely challenging and at times I thought it was going to be impossible.

I was asked to coach one of their senior employees, I’ll call him Alex. Alex is very bright and knowledgeable about the business. However, he has a regional accent with some related grammar issues. In addition, he tends to be what I call a “chain talker”- someone who rarely comes up for air and therefore dumps way too much information on unsuspecting listeners. I knew that I could give him tips and techniques to deal with his chain talking but the accent and grammar issues seemed daunting. After all, this was a 40-something year-old successful businessman and the issues mostly only surfaced when he was under stress. Fortunately, Alex was not someone who denied he had these issues. He was very receptive to feedback. But that doesn’t mean the normal resistance to change didn’t crop up. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What I Wish I Learned in College

by Sarah Solomon,
Robyn Hatcher leading workshop at Asian Women in Business
My name is Sarah Solomon and I am Robyn Hatcher’s new assistant/marketing intern. I graduated from Baruch College last year with a degree in Marketing and have been with SpeakEtc. since October 2012. Mostly what I do is manage all of the social media marketing that takes place. I now also assist Robyn at some of her speaking events. A few weeks ago I sat in on one of Robyn’s presentations for the first time. I was so amazed at how much I enjoyed the event that I decided to share my experience with you all.

Recently, Robyn was asked to speak at Columbia University to the Organizational Psychology Professional Development Group, a group of young individuals studying to become future Human Resources professionals and trainers, about the “Rules of Engagement.” Robyn spoke about ways to make presentations more engaging and effective and gave useful tips on how to answer difficult questions, involve the audience and use gestures successfully. By the end, I was not only surprised at how entertaining and informative it was but I found myself strangely wanting more! Which has NEVER happened to me at any presentation I have been to in the past.

As a recent college graduate, I have sat through my fair share of speaking events and can honestly say that I am not a huge fan of them. Mainly because majority of the presentations that I have been to lacked personality, which made them seem like they would last forever. What I loved most about Robyn’s presentation was how she managed to keep everyone focused and entertained at the same time. I came into the event not as Robyn’s intern, but instead put myself back in the mindset of a college student who needed help with how she presented in class. Some of the tips she gave out were things I have never heard before and about half way through the workshop I began wondering “why didn’t I know about all of this sooner?”  Simple things such as gesturing from your elbows down, keeping your hands open and facing up and how to answer a difficult question that you do not know the answer to, were all tricks I now wish I had known during my college career.

For me, the highlight of the night was when Robyn spoke about “WIIFT” (What’s In It For Them).  “WIIFT” is about appealing to your audience as soon as you begin presenting. It is more about connecting with the audience emotionally and letting them know how what you are about to say is relevant and necessary to them. I realized this is something a lot of us forget to do when we present. We become so wrapped up in all the facts and making sure we touch all the important points that we forget about how the audience feels while listening to us. I know for a fact that if a speaker dives right into his speech without making any form of a connection with me, I will begin to start tuning him out immediately and only listen for the important parts.

Robyn’s phrase “Stop presenting, start engaging” should become the #1 rule for all public speaking situations. Whether it is a class presentation or a speech in front of 10,000 people, you have to make your audience WANT to listen to what you have to say. The only way to do this is to connect with them emotionally. The tips Robyn spoke about are definitely things I will use in the future and I am positive everyone that was in that room that night will too. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Confidence Rx - Give Your Confidence a Boost

10 Ways to Give Your Confidence a Shot in the Arm

Recently I had the honor of having one of my Articles published on I'm sharing it below. Enjoy! Take my advice and call me in the morning.

We've all heard the expression "You never get a second chance to make a first impression." But did you know it can take up to 12 visits to undo a negative first impression? Whether you're trying to impress an employer, a client, a prospect or a first date, it's important to project confidence and presence.
Both confidence and presence are communicated from the inside out and the outside in. So it's important to learn how to project confidence from the outside – through your body language and vocal tone and from the inside – by discovering and celebrating your signature strengths (the strengths that make you special.)
Here are 5 inner and 5 outer ways to ramp up your confidence and presence.
For Inner Confidence:
  1. Do a thorough self-examination. Many of us have trouble separating our strengths from our job descriptions and if we don't have a "real job" we have a very hard time owning the qualities that make us special. Here's one way to help you uncover your signature strengths:
    • On a piece of paper, brainstorm a list of all the jobs you've ever had including volunteer positions, motherhood and life partnering. Add to that list any activity you've ever participated in: chess, athletics, debate, gardening. Then add any committees, boards or clubs you've been a member or officer of – ie. church group, PTA, community organization. (FYI.  I honed the majority of my leadership skills as PTA president and as a leader in a religious organization.)
    • Then take another piece of paper and list all the strengths and skills you had to use or learn in the jobs or activities on your list. This can include qualities you used during challenges as well as triumphs. Do you rely on your creativity, your honesty, humor, optimism, analytic skills? (If this is hard for you to do on your own, enlist a trusted friend or a circle of friends to give you a list of three positive qualities that they see in you.)
    • Are there qualities you wish you had that haven't made the list? Write those down too
    • 2. Invest in yourself – To polish any skills that need strengthening or to help develop any quality or skill you would like to add, find a coach, trainer, class, or workshop that can help you cultivate or elevate those skills. Most women are terrific at supporting and encouraging others, but will resist investing time or money on supporting and encouraging their own growth. Know that it's never too late to learn or improve on a skill or strength. And also know that you're worth the investment. If coaching or training is not your thing, take a dance, acting or improvisation class, sing Karaoke, paint, draw, sculpt, write! Research shows that when we do something creative (even if creativity isn't one of our top strengths) one of our dominant strengths will jump out to guide us through. Don't worry about being perfect, these new activities will help you bring out and express your signature strengths.
    • For the other 8 remedies click here.