Gloria Lazar

Mar 262021
 
  • How important are presentation skills if I’m working on a remote platform like Zoom?

  • Other participants don’t expect a polished presentation on Zoom — or do they?

  • Can’t I just read my script on Zoom as if I were presenting in person?

Some of the concerns my clients have raised over the years have changed somewhat now that they’re using Zoom, but not as much as you might expect. For some individuals the discomfort — let’s be honest, the fear of public speaking — has lessened since they don’t have to present in front of a group gathered in a room. But for others, the computer screen has proven just as intimidating. In fact, the idea of many more attendees on a remote platform has become an even greater worry for some speakers.

Have the best practices for public speaking changed now that we are not physically present for presentations? Not at all. If anything, the stakes have been raised. The need to speak clearly, at a rate that allows for others to absorb the speaker’s message — simply translated, to speak slowly— using rhythm and melody for a natural voice and maintain eye contact are still critical elements for a great presentation.

How do you maintain eye contact if you’re looking into a computer screen? Quite simply by keeping your eyes focused on the computer’s camera: not off to the side or down at your notes. You still want to maintain “dialogue” even if you can’t see people in person — or you’re seeing little squares on the computer screen. In fact, there’s even more competition for your audience’s attention when they’re on Zoom —  dogs barking, children wandering into the room, phones ringing — all the distractions that wouldn’t exist in a conference room. So you have to be a polished speaker to keep their attention and deliver your message.

What about speaking from notes or reading a script? The same principles work: if you prefer speaking spontaneously — which doesn’t mean you make a presentation “without rehearsing” — you can certainly use your notes and look down or off to the side briefly to cue yourself. If a prepared text works better for you, it’s even more important on Zoom that you don’t keep your eyes glued to the paper.

My recommendation about reading from text is to minimize Zoom, center it at the top of your computer screen and open your document so your eyes are always facing forward. You can also download a teleprompter app and set the speed for a comfortable rate so you can read from the text. But this all takes practice. Finally, if you prefer to read from printed text, look up frequently and speak to your audience — just as you would if you were standing in front of them — or sitting at a conference table.

You’ll find many more helpful tips in past articles I’ve written: Capture Your Audience By Creating a Dialogue, The Two “P’s” for Effective Speaking, Capturing the Authentic Voice, and many others you can find on my Blog under the “Public Speaking” category.

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Check back soon for more articles on public speaking, communication, writing, speech pathology and  executive function skills.

Nov 102020
 

How to be safe and still receive services?

LazarSpeech transitioned to an entirely virtual platform on March 20, 2020. All sessions have been held on Zoom, occasionally on Skype or FaceTime if clients need a different online application. With a randomly generated meeting ID and embedded password, clients have a secure link — they simply click on the Zoom link they have received by email in advance.

Everyone remains safe and comfortable in their own homes.

How long Covid 19 will continue and we need to interact virtually is anyone’s guess, but for the time being, everyone can be safe and still have the services they need. 

LazarSpeech is accepting new clients for speech-language therapy, communications coaching, speechwriting and executive function skills development.

Email: info@lazarspeech.com/Phone: 914-631-5082

 

Jun 092020
 

We listen all the time: to the radio, television podcasts, especially to family and friends.

Isn’t listening the same for all these activities?

Listening to family, friends and business acquaintances is a very different process than listening to media sources. When we interact with others we establish a dialogue that is critical to a shared relationship. To make that interaction meaningful, we have to listen with more than our ears.

In a recent New York Times article, Pamela Soileau, a hospice nurse and chaplain is quoted as saying, “Words are important, but they are not everything. Sometimes it’s just your presence and your willingness to listen that speaks volumes.” 

You can read a past article on this website I wrote about listening with your eyes: how to connect with someone else besides using words. What You Mean Is In Your Eyes, Not Only In Your Words. The act of listening involves making an emotional contact with someone else, from the basic to the profound. We don’t always respond with words — sometimes words are not appropriate — but we need to interact so that a meaningful dialogue takes place.

Many times we’re unsure how to respond the “right” way to a friend or colleague who expresses a loss or bad news. What words do we use? Is there another way to convey our feelings? Yes, we can nod, sigh or show understanding through our eyes. During the pandemic, this face-to-face dialogue may have to depend on Zoom or another online platform.  If we can’t see each other, there are phone calls, a time-tested form of communication, where the most basic of words, ” yes, uh huh, I understand”  or an exhalation can fill the need for listening and responding.

The key to “listening well” is inviting someone to share their thoughts and giving them time to express themselves. It means making sure they know you are present, even if you have never experienced their situation. When you fully engage in listening, it’s likely the other person will be there for you at another time when you need an open ear.

Dialogue is listening and responding, giving and receiving.

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Check back for more articles on communication, speech pathology, writing and executive function skills.

Mar 272020
 

In these difficult times we can still use words to keep us together without touching

 

Words separate human beings from every other species. It’s a gift from nature we can use in these difficult times to gather and share information, comfort, reassure one another, and continue the social interactions so necessary for the mind and soul.

Reach out to your family members, friends, neighbors, congregants with calls, emails, online video chats and even letters — to their credit, postal workers and mail carriers are still working to keep our country running.

Let’s use our words to keep us strong and nourish each person’s spirit.

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Check back soon for more articles on communication, speech pathology, writing and execution function skills.

Jan 132020
 

If you’ve ever felt you were the only one fearful about making a presentation, be assured, you’re not alone.  In fact, you have most of the world agonizing with you.  

For many people deciding what to say, how to say it, then standing up in front of others is like confronting a fire-eating dragon.

  • The fear of speaking in public, “glossophobia” affects at least 75% of the population.

  • A 2012 research study showed that participants feared “speaking before a group” more than “death.”

In an earlier article I wrote about stage fright or “performance anxiety” among famous individuals.  Can Stage Fright Be Good For You?

The great ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov and Ella Fitzgerald suffered from stage fright but forced themselves to go on with the show.  Sometimes notable performers find other ways to continue their careers: the actor Daniel Day Lewis left the stage during the middle of a performance and never returned. He dealt with his stage fright by continuing his acting career solely in the movies.  A fairly extreme solution for a famous actor!

  • Some performers prefer to call it shyness, not stage fright.

Carly Simon took off six years from live performance.  But when asked about her decision, she declined to call it stage fright and defined it as “shyness.”  Being center stage, exposed to criticism, may be the underlying reason for what we refer to stage fright.

  • So how can this be overcome by the average person who doesn’t necessarily have to perform in front of a large audience?

Changing one’s thinking about public speaking as “exposure” is a starting point.  Giving a presentation, report or making a toast is not a performance.  If you have prepared sufficiently and most importantly have rehearsed — out loud — in front of a coach or trusted friend/colleague, it’s not a performance. You’re presenting your research or experience to individuals who probably want to hear what you say.  

The best way to slay the dragon of stage fright is to focus on your task, not whether you’re inherently shy or afraid of the audience’s disapproval. Planning, practice and professional coaching are the tools to make you successful — and success creates confidence!

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Check back soon for more articles on public speaking, communications, speech pathology and executive function.

 

 

Oct 082019
 
  • Do people really want to hear my story?

  • Do I want to relate personal details to strangers?

Whether you’re an executive presenting your sales pitch, a college graduate interviewing for your first job, or a high school student speaking with an admissions officer, your personal narrative can be the key to reaching your goals.  Telling someone else about why you believe in your work, what you seek to achieve, or why you’re the best candidate connects you to your audience in a powerful way.

Yes, other people do want to know why you’ve chosen to work in a specific field, why you want to attend a particular college, or why you have a service or skill that you’re promoting.  We all have a fascination with the details of people’s lives, primarily so we can learn and sometimes identify with other people.

At a recent Democratic presidential debate, the candidates were asked to describe a setback in their professional lives.  Vice President Biden chose to speak about the accident that killed his wife and young daughter and seriously injured his son.  He took a bold step in relating this critical event in his life because it shaped everything personally and professionally that followed.  Sworn in as a senator sitting at his injured son’s bedside in the hospital, he undertook the most challenging job of his life while in mourning.  The odds were certainly against him when he became a member of Congress as a grief-stricken husband and father.  Yet he prevailed and the rest is history.  While some media individuals criticized his choice of this personal event rather than a professional incident during the debate, no one could deny the power of his personal narrative with viewers.

The answer to the second question: do you want to share your personal story?  You’re the storyteller and you have the right to share whatever is comfortable.  Your goal is connection, not catharsis.  The specifics you choose should have a direct link to the context; for example, why you’re a good candidate for a job based on your personal experience.

A case study:

A client recently asked me to write a personal narrative she could weave into a presentation of her organization’s investment approach.  She chose to work in this field because of her family’s immigration  and success in this country: their careful investment strategy allowed them to accumulate enough money to support them in retirement.  She wove this narrative very successfully into her presentation using her personal history as the basis for her confidence in her team’s product.

You control the narrative so rest assured, no one compels you to reveal personal details you’d prefer to keep to yourself.  But using your own story to connect to others is one of the most powerful, effective tools to reach your audience and create your success.  Use it and empower yourself!

You may want to read more articles on my blog related to this area:  Learn To Tell Your StoryBe Happier and Healthier By Telling Stories Throughout Your Life

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Check back soon for more articles on effective speaking, speech writing, cognitive function and speech pathology.

Jun 062019
 

Why write my essay now?  It’s summer!

What rising high school senior hasn’t asked this question at the end of the highly pressured junior year?  Completing high level courses, perhaps AP or honors, taking ACT or SAT tests, visiting colleges… add in a sport or school play, community service:  this has been a busy year.

Can’t I take a break?

Of course, a breather is important and should be part of a college-bound student’s summer.  Spending some time with friends and enjoying a break from schoolwork are necessary to recharge a student’s batteries.

But targeting the brainstorming, organization and writing of the Comm App essay and the supplemental essays should be part of a rising senior’s summer activities, — even if it’s done under a beach umbrella with a cold soda.

As I mentioned in two previous articles (see below) the essay on the Common Application can make a critical difference in a student being admitted to college:  college admissions officers do read these essays.  This is an opportunity to stand out and become a singular individual, much more than grades, standardized test scores and extracurricular activities.  A student who reveals his/her thoughts, beliefs or personal history in an essay becomes more than the numbers on a transcript.

Crafting a personal essay in a thoughtful, creative way takes time:  time for reflection, brainstorming, writing and careful editing.  Trying to cram the Comm App essay and the supplemental essays into the fall of senior year will likely add pressure to a generally hectic time.

The age-old adage “the early bird gets the worm” really applies in this situation.  Completing the major essay and supplements during the summer frees up the fall for college visits, early admissions or rolling admissions — and can make the critical difference for a student finding a place in a college of his/her choice.

Write the essays this summer and increase your odds — maybe even win the jackpot!

Do College Admissions Officers Really Read the Common Application Essay?

Finding the “Authentic” Voice in a College Admissions Essay

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Check back soon for new articles on writing, speech coaching, executive function skills and speech pathology.

Mar 112019
 

Create a Dialogue

If I’m giving a presentation, why do I need to create a dialogue with my audience?

When you make a presentation — to one or 500 people — you want to capture their attention and engage them so they see your point of view.  If you’re simply speaking “at them,” it’s likely you will not gain their full attention and communicate your ideas. 

A dialogue is an interactive process where the speaker engages with an audience and creates a “give-and-take” exchange so the audience genuinely responds, a process where the speaker’s words and ideas spark interest, provoke questions and elicit an internal reaction from members of the audience.  

Does dialogue naturally occur in an interview?

The obvious context for a dialogue is an interview or a one-to-one discussion. But in my work as a speech coach, I find that many people miss the opportunity to create a truly interactive exchange with another person.  Understanding another person’s point of view, interests, and objectives is critical for creating a meaningful context to connect.  

For example: Why should you be hired for a particular job?  The answer is not simply because you would like the job.  If you prepare in advance to understand the company’s structure, goals, and clients, you’ll have a chance to be specific about your credentials.  But in every interview, listening is critical.  Allow the interviewer to tell you about what the company needs, the specifics of the job so you can describe your skills and experience for this position: “why you’ll be an asset to this company.”

How can I create a dialogue with more than one person?

Ask yourself these key questions:

  • Have you considered what will be of interest to this audience?
  • What can the audience learn/gain by your presentation?

Planning a presentation tailored to your audience is the first step in creating a dialogue:

  • Consider the time you have to present: include enough information to convey your ideas but don’t burden the listeners with more information than they can process.
  • Make it clear what they can gain from your presentation, your take-away points.
  • Plan your presentation for the allotted time and don’t include more than you’ll be able to say — so you won’t feel compelled to speak fast.
  • Look at your audience, make eye contact, watch your body language and speak in a natural voice.  

All of these critical features for making a great presentation can be found in articles on my website: see the Blog and Publications sections of my website and use the “Search” tool or choose from “Categories”.

Here are a few links on the subject, but you can find many more on my website: 

What You Mean Is In Your Eyes, Not Only In Your Words

Capturing the Authentic Voice

The Two “P’s” for Effective Speaking

Is It WHAT You Say or HOW You Say It?

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Check back soon for more articles on communications, effective speaking, writing, speech pathology and executive function.

 

 

Jan 182019
 

Technology has broken barriers in speech coaching and therapy

Not only has technology revolutionized the work environment for millions of executives, but it has also introduced alternatives for speech coaching, executive skills training and traditional speech language therapy.

In my practice I have incorporated remote therapy using Skype or FaceTime to help clients in all parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Westchester and Rockland counties, as well as other areas of the United States.  Technology has allowed me to assist clients in Israel and various countries in Europe. 

Virtual platforms have broken down the barriers for communication in revolutionary ways. Busy executives can now utilize my services from their home or office, rather than spending valuable time commuting to an appointment.  

Skype and FaceTime works well for adults and adolescents who have active lives and for whom travel makes coaching and therapy difficult or impossible.

My office in Tarrytown, New York still allows clients to meet in person — which may be preferable in some cases.  Phone conferences can augment face-to-face meetings as well.  

Whether you live in Soho, the east or west side of Manhattan, or as far away as Israel, you can access the services of an experienced speech-language pathologist, communications coach and speech writer.

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Check back soon for more articles on communication coaching, executive function, speech pathology and speech writing.

 

Nov 092018
 

Last summer PBS launched an initiative called THE GREAT AMERICAN READ,  a six month poll to find the novel most beloved by Americans.  They invited 7,200 people representing a geographical cross section of America to nominate their favorite novel.  The public was invited to cast their ballots for their most loved novel, perhaps one they have read and re-read.  Participants could vote for one book, once a day, as many times as they liked.

Four million votes were cast in a six-month period!

For the critics who say that “no one reads anymore”, or “technology has wiped out the readers in the world” the response to this project provides a boost to the reading community.

While it is true that technology, in particular the internet and social media, has captured the time and attention of millions of people worldwide, there still seem to be vast numbers of readers — of all ages!

And why books of fiction?

The books nominated may be works of a writer’s imagination but often they reflect the experiences and influences on a writer.  In many cases, they appear to be deeply autobiographical but written as fictional novels rather than straight memoir.

What need does reading fulfill?

Over and over again, the participants interviewed for the PBS series spoke about a book that described  their own world, characters they identified with and provided an outlet for their own questions, worries or fears.  The characters of these novels presented models, echoing these readers’ concerns, perhaps validating their own feelings or experience.

For some readers, a novel opens a world far different from their own. Through reading one can take a voyage to a distant part of the world, or understand how people from a different time and place interacted with the world and struggled through timeless problems.

What value does the reading experience provide?

Reading allows us to understand how other people think, feel and react, sometimes people very different from ourselves.  Yet the best books reveal universal truths about human behavior.  The obstacles, human errors, struggles and sometimes the happy endings, can give inspiration.

In a world with more challenges and questions than definite paths and answers, reading about people’s histories, failures and successes provides comfort as well as direction.  Don’t we all need hope?

If you loved reading as a child, or even if you didn’t, pick up half a dozen books at your library, download samples on your e-reader or browse in a local bookstore and perhaps you’ll find one that will change your thinking — maybe even change your life.

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Check back for more articles on communications, public speaking, speech pathology and executive function.