Tuesday, December 15, 2015

VIP (Very Important Presentation) Day!

A couple of weeks ago I met for four hours with a client to help her put together a presentation she's been struggling with. She had tons of great stuff in her head (and in MANY various PowerPoint iterations)  Been there?

The first hour was spent getting everything out of her head and onto flip charts (see photo) Then we reorder the information until we had a cohesive outline:  Attention Getter, Introduction, 3 sections of the body and conclusion.

From there we fleshed out bits and pieces of what more could go into each section and added that to the flip charts. We also pasted up parts from the PowerPoint she'd already had. By the end of our four hours, I had typed up a rough draft of her speech on PowerPoint slides so that she can work on them on her own -  fleshing out more and adding design elements. As part of her VIP  package, we will have one more hour together to walk through the presentation and polish any non-verbal skills (body language and vocal tone) and anything else that needs work.
It was a fun day and the time flew by. My client was grateful to have feedback and insight to help her create a complete, cohesive presentation out of all her great ideas and information. 
An athlete or musician may have all the raw material to excel in their field but a talented coach knows how to bring out the best in them and help them shine and succeed. I love doing a similar thing  for my clients.  

Monday, December 7, 2015

It Feels Good to DO GOOD!

A few weeks ago I was walking down a busy NYC street near my house and two people at two different times stopped me and asked for directions. I knew exactly where they were trying to get to and guided them on their way. Afterward, it stuck me how “high” I felt. I could literally feel the endorphin (feel-good hormone) flooding through my brain. I smiled broadly, walked a little taller and felt this incredible sense of pride just because I was able to tell a tourist where Union Square was!

That made me think about what it must feel like to help people on a regular basis. I guess I was particularly sensitive to “do-good” feelings because in the past few months the universe has been sending a lot of opportunities my way that involve non-profit organizations. I signed a contract to work for the Girls Scouts USA, been asked to speak at a meetup group for Nonprofit Executive Directors (NED), do a keynote address for National Philanthropy Day in Hudson, NY and work with a large accounting firm that is focusing on consulting for non-profits.
There’s so much bad news being shared all the time. I want to:
  1. a) Focus on individuals and organizations who are committed to doing good.
  2. b) Stress how important it is for those who are “doing good”, to polish their presentation and communication skills so that those good deeds are heard loud and clear. 
Think about it, What good would it have done the people on the street if I knew exactly where Union Square was but was unable to:

1) convey through my presence and body language that I was trustworthy
2) convey in my vocal tone and facial expression that I was confident in my answer. And
3) Explain and describe how to get there in a way that they could understand.

Okay so helping someone find their way around NYC is not going to change the world but some of the projects that the 10 Girls Scouts I worked with just might. And if you’re interested in helping anyone, be it in the corporate world or in the nonprofit world, please realize that sometimes it’s important to get better at speaking well so you can do even more good.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Do you have a Signature Speech?

I'm honored that a colleague at a recent presentation of mine had these great take-aways and wanted to share them in writing. Here's what Whitney had to say:
I went to a networking event recently where the speaker addressed an important topic, “creating your signature speech”.  The event was aimed at women entrepreneurs so it made sense since many of them speak as part of their work or would like to speak more in order to build a bigger following.  I fall into the category of exploring speaking as part of building my business following and would love to be paid to speak so learning about writing that signature speech is a great start.

The speaker was Robyn Hatcher, who is passionate about teaching individuals how to transform their process of communication so that they can express themselves effectively and powerfully.  She is an author and communication skills expert and Founder of SpeakEtc., a boutique communication and presentation-skills training company.

Robyn walked us through what it would take to write a signature speech and I found the information clear-cut and direct.  The outline was easy to follow and it made sense since everything can essentially be broken down into steps if you have a clear objective. At the end, we left with enough information about the hows and whys that I felt excited to give it a try.

The next day, I was sitting in the library and decided to take a crack using the outline to get a draft of my signature speech done.  Within an hour or so, I had a rough draft and I felt pretty good.  Of course, it needs to be flushed out, but it’s a start and that’s exciting.  It was easy to have the steps to follow to show me how to get started.

Many of us may have much more than one signature speech in our repertoire but it felt good to use the outline and try to write that first one.  One of the biggest take aways from the talk was to have something clear to teach – you want to leave people with the idea that at the end of your talk they will walk away changed or with new information. 

While I don’t have immediate plans to speak, it is a goal of mine for a number of reasons.  One, I think it’s good to do something that has a teaching component.  I taught for a few years in the NYC public school system and I think teaching is so important.  I am often inspired by information gleaned from a talk.  I feel if you have been lucky enough to receive an education, it is best to share the information not squander it.

Two, I think it’s good to challenge yourself to speak in front of groups. It helps you improve your communication skills as well as your courage.  It’s not easy to be yourself with many eyeballs on you at once but it’s a very worthy goal and one I have worked on for many years.  And Three, the more you speak in front of people, the more potential customers you are reaching. If done correctly, your speech will give them an understanding of who you are and what you can do for them.  That’s a big win.  In my case, I am a writer and entrepreneur so can see how speaking would support both of these endeavors.

So I’d like to encourage you to learn more about writing your own signature speech. It will help you think about what you have to say and teach you how to say it clearly.  In my case, using Robyn’s guidelines proved easier than I had thought.  So go ahead, give it a try.  What do you have to say?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Not Your Mama's Girls Scouts

For many of us, myself included, it’s easy to forget that an organization like the Girl Scouts still exists. My personal experience with Girl Scouts ended when, as a Brownie, I went to sleep-away camp where my mother was a counselor. When I found out I had to share a tent with other girls I didn’t know, I refused and slept in my mother’s tent. That was the end of my Girl Scout days. (For those of you who don’t know, my nickname at that time of my life WAS "SHY"!)
So a few months ago when I was referred to the Girl Scouts USA organization to help 10 of their girls prepare presentations for an upcoming conference, I was intrigued.  I was informed that these 10 girls had been selected to be recognized as National Young Women of Distinction. They had been selected from thousands of girls across the country who had created Gold Award “Take Action” Projects. According to the GIRL SCOUTS USA website:
To earn her Gold Award, a Girl Scout Senior or Ambassador (These are Girl Scouts age 16-19) designs and helms a “Take Action” project that: 

  • She is passionate about—in thought, deed, and action
  • Incorporates organizational, leadership, and networking skills 
  • Fulfills a need within her community (whether local or global) 
  • Creates change that has the potential to be ongoing 
Okay, being my NY jaded self, I had no idea what to expect with these projects: Quilt making for the homeless? But boy was I blown away when I read about what these girls had created: 
  • A traveling mini-van that brings education, food, and hygiene to homeless street children in the Philippines.
  • A martial arts program taught to a girl’s school in India so that they could gain confidence and feel safer dealing with what’s called “Eve-Shaming”: 
  • A heavily researched documentary on Human Trafficking AND another heavily researched documentary on Child Pornography;

Friday, July 17, 2015

Dare to Share Your Story!

For a long time when I talked about my business, I was reluctant to tell people my whole story. I would leave out the part about being an actress and screenwriter. I had the idea that it would make me seem "flaky" and a less serious business owner. But most times when I let it "slip," I found that it really resonated with people. In retrospect, it seems like a no brainer to talk about how my acting and writing skills help make me a better communication skills trainer but at the time, I was clearly not in love with my whole story. I was holding on to some shame about my path. Are you doing that?

Not telling your whole story to your prospects, clients or associates can be like asking them to start watching a movie from the middle. It feels confusing and less engaging. They may not know why it feels that way but deep down inside you do. 

I'm not suggesting you "overshare" some things may be best left unsaid, but I am suggesting that you dig deep into your past experiences for what you may think is a piece of coal and figure out a way to polish it into a diamond. That's one of the things I love doing with clients.

Recently, a client of mine was struggling with feeling authentic about delivering her "elevator pitch." She hated doing it because it sounded so... you know, "pitchy." She took all my developing a perfect pitch advice and came up with perfectly clear verbiage around what she does and how she can help individuals but it still sounded inauthentic and inconsistent with who she is. That's when I realized that there was something in her "backstory" that she was leaving out and which made her the perfect person to be doing what she is doing. Once we put that in, she sounded so much more authentic, engaging and credible. And she was more at ease telling her story to people than she could ever be trying to sell her services.

The next week I met with two clients who had the exact same issue! We are working to get them to let their stories shine! 

What's your story? If you're sitting on what you think is a stocking full of coal, contact me. I guarantee I can figure out a way to make that "coal" shine like a diamond.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Is your wardrobe keeping up?

I asked my friend and colleague, Fashion Stylist Tania Sterl to write something about Spring Training for your wardrobe.  Here’s what she had to say. Enjoy!

First and most importantly-get clear on your goals and desires and so you can dress with intention. 
Think about dressing for the next level.  

  • Who do you want to meet/impress/do business with?
  • What opportunities are you seeking to attract?
  • What important events must you dress for?
  • What is your next income goal?
Dressing with intention draws others towards you - magnetizes them.

Often I tell my clients, not only should that coat, suit, shirt or dress be something you "love" - instinctively without doubt. It should actually scare you a little bit - cause you to wonder - "Am I worthy of this amazing power purse (or briefcase)?" Yes you are!

That's dressing for the next level.

When you take risks you grow. And taking small risks with your clothing can help you grow as well. And it just might be what will help take you to the next level.

Friday, April 10, 2015


Is everyone coachable?  I often get asked a variation of this question. So I’ve been giving it some thought. By now I’ve worked with probably over a thousand clients. I’ve only had two who I felt did not make significant changes after working with me. In one instance, it was because the person really didn’t want to change and in the second instance, the person really did want to change but had a hard time implementing my suggestions. Maybe I was the wrong coach for them. Maybe the timing was wrong. I know through my studies in Brain Science that our brain can develop new habits so, why is it easier for some people to change than others?

Recently, I’ve been working with several clients who after less than two hours have made tremendous leaps in their presentation content, engagement factor and delivery. It might be easy to pat myself on the back and call myself a miracle worker (okay, maybe I did that for a minute) But then I sat back and analyzed the situation. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

NYWICI Cocktails & Conversations: Babies, Boomers, Multiculturals

Wondering how to market across generations?

I recently had the pleasure of moderating this entertaining and informative panel of wonderful, wise and witty women: Anne Shoket, (Millineal expert former Editor-in-chief SEVENTEEN) Lucinda Martinez, (VP HBO) Lesley Jane Seymour (Editor-in-chief MORE magazine) Take a look at this beautifully edited snippet of the event.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Dealing with F.L.O.P.S – (Fear & Loathing of Public Speaking)

 by Sarah Solomon
 It’s an often acknowledged fact that the fear of Public Speaking ranks higher than death on the list of people’s worst fears, inspiring Jerry Seinfeld’s joke – “At a funeral most people would rather be in the casket then delivering the Eulogy.”  So where does FLOPS come from and how can we get over it? Some social psychologists think it stems from the primal fear of being humiliated in front of our “tribe.” From an evolutionary standpoint public humiliation could be fatal because it carries the risk of being thrown out of the tribe and forced to fend for yourself. Other people believe that FLOPS stems from a specific  trauma around speaking in public. Wherever FLOPS comes from, there are many encouraging stories of how people have overcome their fears. Here’s an account of how my assistant Sarah Solomon overcame hers. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

I will never forget the first day of my COM 1010 class when my professor handed out the syllabus and for some strange reason I was certain we wouldn’t have to give any speeches