Allison Shapira’s Blog

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Sometimes your most important speaking situations will happen over the phone. You could be talking to a hiring manager, a prospective client, or someone with the ability to open doors for you.

How do you use your public speaking skills to make a powerful impression by phone?

Here are 8 critical tips, taken them from my new book Speak with Impact: How to Command the Room and Influence Others, which comes out in October with HarperCollins Leadership.

  1. Prepare your content. Prepare in advance for your call by asking yourself The 3 Questions (Who is your audience? What is your goal? Why you?). Outline your remarks; this keeps you from rambling and losing your train of thought.
  2. Turn off distractions. Because no one can see you, you’ll be tempted to multitask while on the phone. Unfortunately, we can hear that in your voice. Turn off your notifications and focus on either a neutral sight or look at your notes for the call.
  3. Stand up. Think about how you normally take a call – slumped over at your desk. When you stand up, you increase your energy level and sound more interested.
  4. Smile. The act of smiling not only makes you sound warmer and more confident, it literally makes you feel better.
  5. Breathe. Practicing deep breathing will both calm your nerves before the call and also make your voice sound more resonant and confident. Follow the steps I outline in my Harvard Business Review article.
  6. Use your hands. You naturally use your hands when you talk. Even if no one can see them, gesture with them during the call and the energy will come through over the phone.
  7. Slow down. Over the phone, you have a tendency to rush through your words. Take the time to enunciate clearly and concisely.
    Pause for questions. Since you can’t read someone’s body language over the phone, pause frequently to ask the other person a question. This makes the conversation more interactive.

Try these out the next time you have an important phone call. Using these tips, you can make just as powerful an impression over the phone as you do in person.

 

Every year on the 4th of July in the United States, I pause to appreciate the First Amendment to the Constitution, especially the protection of freedom of speech. My team and I help people build their public speaking skills so they can find the courage to speak up on behalf of the issues they care about, at work or in their community. No matter your political leaning, your voice needs to be heard.

This year, I’m reflecting on another courageous act: listening. 

We often listen in order to respond and not to understand. We may be thinking of the next thing to say or reflecting on what we have already said; we are not focusing on the person speaking. This happens in 1:1 phone conversations when you say, “m-hmm-hm without really reacting to what the other person said. It also happens in presentations when we lecture at our audience instead of engaging them in conversation.

Active listening can:

  • Help us learn: When we hear someone else’s perspective, it helps us more fully understand the subject.
  • Build stronger relationships: When we listen to others, they feel validated. Listening is a critical way to build trust.
Here is a framework for listening to others:
  • Ask: Before a speech, presentation, meeting, or conversation, think of open-ended and objective questions you can ask your audience that encourage thoughtful answers, such as: “How have you dealt with this?” Or “Can you help me understand your views on…”
  • Focus: Once you ask a question, focus on the person’s answer. Take notes if necessary, which signals that you care enough about the information to remember it.
  • Summarize and probe: Summarize what the other person said, such as “What I hear you saying is this…can you tell me more?” This shows that you are looking to understand not just what they said, but what they meant.
  • Pause and breathe: Once you’ve heard someone else’s views, reflect on them before responding. Our natural tendency is to reject something we don’t agree with; give yourself time to consider their view.

Listening comes from a place of respect for others and a belief that everyone has something valuable to say. You don’t have to agree with them to listen and learn from them.

I’m proud that our company is dedicated to helping people find their voice and their courage to speak. Now more than ever, our country needs courageous leaders to use their voice. Let’s also find the courage to listen to one another.

-Allison Shapira and the Global Public Speaking team

 

We are proud to announce a new referral program:

Pause, Reflect, Refer.

Here’s how it works:

• PAUSE and breathe in the middle of your busy day
• REFLECT on how our workshops or speaking tips have helped you speak with confidence and the impact it has had on your work.
• REFER us to someone in your network. We’d be honored for a personal introduction.

We welcome introductions to organizations investing in the professional development of their teammates and associations planning conferences for their members.

When you introduce us to someone in your network, we will send you one of our new “Pause and Breathe” thermoses. Please email our Business Manager Meghan Gonzalez for questions, to brainstorm ideas, or to receive our referral template.

We truly thank each and every one of you who have allowed us to help thousands of men and women around the world, and we look forward to helping your network.

 

One of my favorite quotes by the Dalai Lama is: “Sometimes one creates a dynamic impression by saying something, and sometimes one creates as significant an impression by remaining silent.”

Pausing is one of the most powerful tools you have when you speak. When we get nervous, we tend to rush through our words which, unfortunately, makes us look nervous. By pausing, we can feel and appear more comfortable and confident in front of an audience.

By pausing, you can accomplish a number of things:

• You listen to your audience. How are they reacting to your words? Do they need time to catch up? Do they have questions?
• You listen to yourself. Many people find that when they pause and slow down their pace of speech, they are able to find exactly the right words. As result, they use less filler words like um’s and ah’s.
• You calm yourself down. When you pause and breathe, you counteract the fight or flight response that makes you want to run off stage. You stay present and focused.

How do you pause?

The mantra we use in all of our workshops at Global Public Speaking is “Pause and Breathe.” You do that by physically closing your mouth and breathing in through your nose. By closing your mouth, you prevent fillers from coming out and you also breathe more efficiently.

Where do you pause?

The most powerful places to pause and breathe include:

• Before you walk into a room. It calms you down and centers you; check out our video “5 ways to calm your nerves before a speech.”
• Before you start your speech or presentation. Pause, look out at the audience and smile, and then begin. It makes you look purposeful and prepared.
• Before and after your main points. Most people rush through the critical pieces of their presentation which buries the most important information. Pause and breathe before and after your main points and you will frame them up for the audience.
• At every sentence. I normally recommend breathing at every punctuation mark but, at the very least, breathe at the end of every sentence.
• Right after your last sentence. Most people finish their presentation with a quick, shallow “thank you” and then quickly get away from the spotlight. Finish your last thought, pause and look at the audience, and you’ll ensure your message hits home. If you say “thank you,” do so thoughtfully while looking right at your audience.

Pause and breathe is something you can do at a meeting as well. It gives you time to read the room an absorb what others are saying, and it lets you decide when it’s better to listen as opposed to speak up.

By learning the power of the pause, you become more thoughtful, more purposeful, and as a result, more impactful every time you communicate.

 

Recently, I sat through a conference and decided to focus not on the speakers but on the audience. I observed their reactions to the speakers and looked for both positive and negative signs.

Communication is a two-way street. You’re not speaking at your audience but with your audience, and they are responding in different ways. Here are some reactions to look for.

Positive reactions

When the audience reacts positively to your speech, you can feel it. There’s an energy or electricity in the room; sometimes you’ll even forget about time. Here are some signs:
• Making eye contact
• Nodding heads (in an American culture)
• Laughing/smiling in the right places
• Asking questions/making comments
• Taking notes

Usually, these positive reactions happen when you’ve taken the time to frame your message in a way that is relevant and urgent for your audience. They also happen when you care about your message and deliver it in with energy, conviction, and confidence.

Negative reactions

I always caution people to not get carried away when the audience seems disengaged. Sometimes, it could be because of your presentation. However, it’s often due to outside circumstances such as a problem at home a cold room. Here are some signs:
• Looking at their phone or digital device
• Defensive body language (arms crossed, frowning expression)
• Head resting in their hands
• Not making eye contact with you
• Falling asleep

When do these negative reactions happen? Sometimes your speech or presentation is at the end of a long day. Sometimes the audience has heard endless lectures with no audience engagement. It happens when you don’t take the time to present material in a way that’s relevant to them, or you yourself are bored with low energy.

What do you do when you see negative signs? When I see the above negative reactions from a number of people during my speech (not just one person), I will include one of the following techniques:

• Open it up for questions. Pause and say, “Let me stop here for a moment. What questions do you have?”
• Ask the audience a question. I’ll say something like, “Let me stop here for a minute and ask you: who here has dealt with this topic? What did you do about it?”
• Groups of 2. I’ll ask the audience to pair up and talk through the pro’s and con’s of something we discussed in the speech.
• Summarize your main points. I’ll summarize what I’ve said so far to make sure the audience is with me.
• Tell a story. I’ll insert a relevant story that lets the audience sit back and listen.
• Table discussion. I’ll throw out a challenge and have people discuss the solution at their tables, then report back by table.

If you know the context of your speech in advance – room set-up, timing in the day, composition of the audience – then you can pre-plan those energizers throughout the speech.

Use the above indicators to read the room while you are speaking and be flexible enough to change your outline in response to your audience’s reaction. The result will be a more engaged speech and a more engaged audience.

 

One of the most common fears today is public speaking. And yet it is essential for many professionals when it comes to growing at your organization or in your career. I’ve spent countless hours practicing and delivering speeches myself. But I still wouldn’t call myself an expert. So here are my three fundamental public speaking tips that I don’t always hear from other coaches (outside of Global Public Speaking) but that I make sure to practice myself:

1.  Visualize success.  There is a reason this works so well for athletes.  You tend to accomplish what you first imagine—especially if you imagine your success in rich detail.  I try to do the following:

If possible, I visit the venue at least one day before my speech. I get comfortable with the setting and picture myself in control of the room.  I imagine a very smooth and energetic delivery, the rapt attention of my audience, and loud applause when I finish. This is about going beyond practicing my speech; I am practicing success.  And if I fully expect success, I go onto the stage with the confidence and energy to deliver.

2.  Practice before someone who is brutally honest.  I am careful in who I pick as my audience for practice sessions.  I want it to be someone with experience in public speaking and whose instinct is not to be a mere cheerleader. Quite the opposite: I need a completely candid critique from someone who won’t worry about “offending” me.  I can’t afford to miss opportunities to improve—especially since my “real” audience won’t be concerned with protecting my ego! I consider this a form of bullet-proofing the speech before the moment arrives when I “go live.”

3.  Meet and greet before your speech.  Some speakers, especially if they suffer from anxieties about public speaking, want to find a quiet corner before their presentation and sit alone studying their speech over and over. I find it is far better if I put my speech to one side (since I’ve already practiced it thoroughly, right!) and mingle with members of the audience. This accomplishes several things for me. I limber up my voice by chatting with people; I learn more about my audience (which can help me position certain points more effectively, and may also suggest a nice impromptu comment or anecdote), and I quell anxiety through the reassurance that it’s a group of likable people who are not there to judge me but to learn from what I have to say.
 

“I have no problem speaking in public when I’m an expert in my field. But if I’m speaking to an audience that knows more than me, I’m constantly second-guessing myself.”

Many of our clients struggle with this issue. For those of you in sales, how can you come across as a trusted advisor to your clients when they know more about their industry than you do? For all of us, at some point in our career, we will address an audience that has more knowledge of or experience with an issue than we do.

I’m reminded of an event I went to about book publishing. The speaker said, “If you’re holding back from writing a book because you think someone has already written about the topic, don’t hold back. There is no topic that hasn’t already been covered. Your differentiator is your unique perspective on the topic.” I never forgot that idea, especially now that I’m writing a book on public speaking!

Here are seven tips for speaking to an expert audience.

1. Do your research. Learn more about the audience’s perspectives and challenges by doing research and interviewing other experts. Continue to learn and build your knowledge. This helps you get a better sense of where your unique perspective lies.

2. Prepare your own unique insight. Some of the most innovative ideas come from outside our industry or sector. Think about your experience in other areas and identify a unique insight that your audience wouldn’t have known.

3. Share personal examples. Bring in relevant anecdotes or stories that highlight your background. Using the phrase “in my experience” builds your credibility and authority.

I remember working with a young woman from Egypt who was uncomfortable speaking in public. Due to her age, she couldn’t understand how anyone would ever want to listen to her speak. I said to her, “You have lived through a revolution. You have more credibility than someone with a Ph.D. in the subject.” Own your experience.

4. Find information that is not publicly available. In your research, seek out statistics or background information that is not easily available online. Don’t quote the same studies that everyone else is quoting, look for things that people couldn’t easily find.

5. Make it a discussion, not a lecture. Instead of simply presenting to the audience, make it an interactive discussion. When I’m speaking to communication experts, I mention that they will learn as much from each other as they will learn from me. Instead of dictating solutions, I ask them, “What has worked for you?”

6. Turn questions back to the audience. If someone asks a question you don’t know the answer to, turn it back to the audience and say, “Who here has faced this in the past? How have you handled this?”

7. Ask “Why You?” to build confidence. Before any speech or presentation, I always recommend people ask themselves the 3 Questions: Who is your audience? What is your goal? Why You: Why do you care about your subject?Answering Why You? reminds you of your interest in or passion for this subject which fuels your sense of purpose.

When you walk into a speech or presentation with a mindset of learning and collaborating, you make the conversation much more productive. You validate the expertise of the audience members and start to build a relationship of trust.

 

One of the best ways to practice your public speaking skills is by speaking up in a meeting. Many of our clients say that if you’re in the room for a meeting, you are expected to add your voice to the conversation. But if you’re in front of high-stakes clients or senior leaders, speaking up can be nerve-wracking.

See the 5 tips below to help you feel comfortable and confident when speaking up. Check out more of these tips in the full article here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the best ways to practice your public speaking skills is by speaking up in a meeting. Many of our clients say that if you’re in the room for a meeting, you are expected to add your voice to the conversation. But if you’re in front of high-stakes clients or senior leaders, speaking up can be nerve-wracking.

Here are some tips to help you feel comfortable and confident when speaking up:

Come prepared to speak. One executive we work was deathly afraid of public speaking early in her career, so she decided to come to every single meeting prepared with a comment she would make or a question she would ask. She is now an incredibly confident speaker and the head of her organization.

Ask the 3 Questions in advance (Who is your audience, what is your goal, why you?). Come up with 2-3 points you could make or questions you could ask. Don’t write a script, just bring bullet points. Run those questions/comments by a coworker in advance to make sure they move the discussion forward.

Ask the meeting head in advance. If you’re afraid you won’t be able to jump into the conversation, let the person leading the meeting know you’d like to make a point. Ask them to call on you during the meeting so you can confidently respond.

Be fully present and listen to others. It’s easy to get distracted thinking about what you’re going to say and not listen to what’s actually being said in the meeting. Stay present and you will hear a chance to jump in. You’ll also get a chance to redirect the conversation if it’s going off-topic.

Use deep breathingIf you’re nervous about speaking up, deep breathing will both calm you down and give your voice resonance so that when you do speak, your voice is strong and confident.

Wait for a pause in the conversation. Many meetings will move rapidly and you might not know when to jump in. If someone has been rambling, wait for them to take a breath and then use our next suggestion.

Compliment and build. When you have to interrupt someone, one way to soften the impact is to compliment what they’ve just said. If Steve has been rambling off topic and you sense others in the meeting are getting impatient, you can jump in with something like, “I appreciate Steve’s perspective and I’d like to come back to something we said earlier.”

Be clear and concise. Once you do have the floor, make sure your comments are clear and to the point. Make one main point and provide one main example using the PREP framework. If you start to ramble, you lose your credibility and authority as a speaker. That’s why we recommend preparing in advance.

Get rid of minimizers and fillers. When jumping into a conversation, a transition word like “so” or “well” can be helpful up front. However, keep those fillers to a minimum or they will distract others. Also get rid of minimizers like, “I may be way off base here, but…” If you do need to hedge your comments, say something like,  “We may want to consider…” which hedges your language but doesn’t diminish your idea.

Smile on the phone. If you’re speaking up on the phone, make sure you physically smile before you speak. Over the phone, your voice can come across more harshly than you intend. A smile literally makes you sound more confident and warmer which is particularly helpful if you’re interrupting someone.

Find allies. Especially if you are frequently interrupted during meetings, find allies in the room who can build you up. Someone could interrupt the interruptor by saying, “Hold on, let’s hear what she has to say,” or compliment and build on what you said earlier.

Be strategic about when you speak. Finally, remember to speak judiciously. If you constantly speak up without giving others an opportunity to do so, you monopolize the meeting time and reduce your credibility and authority. Give others a chance to speak just as you would want a chance.

Use these tools in an upcoming meeting and you will be able to practice your speaking skills every single day. Let us know how it goes!

 

Exactly 5 years ago, I moved to Washington, DC to launch Global Public Speaking after 10+ years in the Boston area.

At first, I ran the business from my kitchen and then moved into a co-working space as soon as the business was profitable. A few years later, I hired an assistant, Meghan Gonzalez, who very quickly proved herself a capable Business Manager. We moved into our own office in DC and brought on (remotely) Britt Stockert to manage operations and social media.

The response to our work has been overwhelmingly positive: client success stories have turned into enthusiastic referrals and we now have an incredible list of clients and partners, from multinational banks like Bank of America Merrill Lynch to global nonprofits like Vital Voices Global Partnership to federal agencies like the US Patent and Trademark Office.

This increased demand has led us to seek out some of the best trainers in the country to join our team and allow us to help more clients with more services.

We proudly welcome to our team Bill Beaman, Casey Carpenter, and John Watkis as our GPS Trainers and Britt Stockert as our new Operations Manager! 

With expertise in media training, sales leadership, and speechwriting in addition to demonstrated success in public speaking and presentation skills, we are thrilled to start 2018 with a team of expert trainers/coaches and skilled administrative staff. Please click here to get to know them or read their quick bios below!

In addition, I’ve just signed a book contract with AMACOM, the publishing arm of the American Management Association, to write The Leader’s Voice: A Handbook for Public Speaking and Presentation Skills. With an anticipated release in late 2018, it will be a practical guide for the busy professional.

As you finalize your 2018 learning and development plans, please reach out to us if we can help you or your colleagues speak with confidence and authenticity in speeches, presentations, and everyday conversations. Our newly expanded team offers executive coaching, group workshops, and keynote speeches.

Thank you for your trust and your partnership over the past 5 years and for your commitment to helping people find their voice and their courage to speak. We cannot wait to work with you again and welcome your continued referrals.

In the meantime, we wish you a happy holiday season and a healthy new year.

Click here for tips on keeping your voice healthy and strong through the holidays!

 


New Additions to the GPS Team

To learn more about our new team members, click here

 

Bill Beaman comes to Global Public Speaking with decades of accomplishment in international journalism and extensive experience as a public speaking coach and media trainer. Bill has worked with clients at the highest level—from CEOs to government officials to Supreme Court plaintiffs—to assist them with critical messaging. He also teaches Strategic Communication and Public Speaking at American University.

Casey Carpenter comes to Global Public Speaking with an impressive background as a professional speaker, coach, and mentor with an expertise in sales, leadership, and confidence.  An introverted, shy, and highly sensitive wallflower turned dynamic business-builder, Casey knows that anyone can improve their skills with the right training and the right mentor. An accomplished speaker, she is a national board member of the National Speakers Association.


John Watkis joins Global Public Speaking with a strong background in speechwriting and stage performance. John is an international speaker, speechwriter, and public speaking coach. In addition to delivering keynote speeches and workshops in six countries and on three continents, he has written speeches for corporations, government officials, non-profits, professional speakers, and hall of fame athletes. He was the first Canadian-born actor to play “Mufasa” in the Disney musical, “The Lion King.” 


Britt Stockert, our new Operations Manager, joins our team from the other Washington…state, that is. Britt is an entrepreneur groupie/apprentice with more than a decade of experience in marketing, sales, and business development. In addition to her time in the United States Air Force, she has spent most of her career helping smart, creative people get their innovative ideas off the ground.