Gloria Lazar

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.

 

 

 

 

Sep 142018
 
  • How important can storytelling be if it’s not taught in school?

In a recent article in The New York Times by Frank Bruni entitled, “How to Get the Most Out of College,” he writes: 

“Every successful pitch for a new policy, new product or new company is essentially a story, with a shape and logic intended to stir its audience. So is every successful job interview. The best moment in a workplace meeting belongs to the colleague who tells the best story… take a course that exposes you to the structure of narrative and the art of persuasion.”

For many years, storytelling was the means of communicating the important events of a group of people and carrying on the traditions of a tribe, sect or culture.  The value of transmitting “oral history” was unquestioned as an essential skill for thousands of years.  With the invention of the printing press and the rise of reading literary, less emphasis has been placed on oral history.

But on a personal level, “telling one’s story” remains as important as “reading, writing and ‘rithmetic.”

  • If story telling is such a valuable skill, why isn’t it taught in school?

The old adage of going to school to learn “reading, writing and ‘rithmetic” has been translated into Common Core requirements during the last decade. While these remain critically important skills for students, the value of verbal expression has been lost in the drive for mandated educational goals and standardized assessment.

In today’s educational environment, teachers can be faulted for not teaching to a state-mandated curriculum that will be measured at various intervals by comprehensive testing. In some areas of the country teacher salaries and retention have become directly linked with testing results.

  • So where is the incentive and the time to implement storytelling skills in the school curriculum?

Few teachers or school districts will defy the current movement for accountability by allocating time for public speaking, learning to express oneself verbally and telling a personal story. Yet, clearly, this is a skill that will shape an individual’s future, as Frank Bruni emphasizes in his insightful article.

If schools cannot be relied on to teach storytelling skills, then it falls to families to foster these skills as much as possible. Find opportunities to share the stories of previous generations, as well as the daily incidents of life in your family.  Encourage everyone, even the youngest child, to share experiences and ideas, and give each person the time and opportunity to be the center of attention by “telling a story.”   

For adults who need to hone their storytelling skills, seek out opportunities to relate stories to friends and colleagues.  If you feel uncomfortable with this prospect, work with a professional who can help you shape a personal narrative and develop your speaking skills.   Being able to represent yourself may be the key to achieving your personal goals — as well as modeling those skills for your children.

Practice your skills by telling stories and equip your children for success by finding ways to help them become storytellers.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Jun 082018
 

Stuttering as a form of therapy has been successful for many famous actors.  See my interview to find out who they are and why it works.

See the full article here.

After his interview with Emily Blunt who speaks about her stuttering, Sandy Kenyon became intrigued about how dramatics can help stutterers. He reached out to me to explain the nature of stuttering and why it can be an effective therapy tool.  

In the interview Sandy and I discuss how Marilyn Monroe used her “sexy” voice as a form of breath control.  The key for many stutterers is breath control: specifically, “airflow technique” in conjunction with “easy onset” of breath. 

Many actors including James Earl Jones, Emily Blunt and Marilyn Monroe found relief for their stuttering through dramatics.  Being given a “role”, a new persona, allows them to become a person without a history of stuttering, as well as a written text they can mark for breaths, which is critical for stutterers.  An actor can rehearse these lines and achieve smooth, fluent speech.

Throughout more than 30 years of practice, I have worked with stutterers of all ages, children as well as adults,.  If you would like to see more articles I’ve written about stuttering click on these links:

http://lazarspeech.com/2013/05/08/the-kings-speech/

http://lazarspeech.com/2014/06/12/the-kings-speech-revisited/

http://lazarspeech.com/2015/08/24/are-ums-and-ahs-a-form-of-stuttering/

As a communications consultant, I also work with professionals to improve their speaking skills and become confident, effective speakers. You can find out about the range of my services by reading through my website. 

Call or email me to find out more about how I write a speech or coach you for a presentation — or improve your overall speaking skills.

Jun 062018
 

See my television interview tomorrow, June 7, 2018 at 4:20 PM with Sandy Kenyon, entertainment reporter, on Eyewitness News, WABC, Channel 7 in New York, where I discuss the nature of stuttering and how dramatics has helped famous actors deal with their stuttering.

 

May 212018
 

After childhood, what value lies in storytelling?

As adults, the willingness and ability to talk about one’s observations and experiences not only provides a way of keeping verbal skills sharp, but perhaps as importantly, becomes of means of emotional health.

As we grown older, many people hide their feelings and experiences out of embarrassment or concern about boring others.  The example of the person who “tells the same stories over and over again” inhibits many people from telling stories about themselves.  For those people, discussing current affairs or business interests becomes the pivot for conversation.  But they deprive themselves of the opportunity of expressing their own feelings and ideas — and important outlet for personal expression.

In some families, traditions exist that everyone, children and adults, tell a story at the dinner table or family gatherings.  Many skilled writers credit their success to the expectation that each person tell a story to the family at night.  Within families, the opportunity to tell one’s story can be a first step toward building self confidence and learning to bond with others. 

As we become older, we often relate to others by the stories we tell — if we use the opportunity — and solidify our connections to other people.  

As people age, the wisdom and experience they relate to their children, grandchildren, and those around them often comes through stories.  Personal history doesn’t have to be recorded formally in writing: we all have the opportunity to tell our stories and enrich the lives of others, as well as ourselves.

Tell a story and give yourself, and others, the joy that comes from using the unique talent we have as humans: connecting through ideas and words.

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

 

 

 

Apr 022018
 

Whether speaking or writing the following key points apply for effective business communications:

  • Tailor your message to your audience

If you’re trying to create a dialogue with another individual, consider the interests of the person you’re interacting with: are they receptive to what you have to say?  Do you need to capture their interest?  What expectations will they bring to your message?

  • Be clear and direct in your language

Choose your words carefully to carry your message.  Consider the different ways some words can be misunderstood: semantics matter!  If you mean to convey a humorous tone, make that clear by the words you use.  Avoid sarcasm which can easily be misunderstood and taken negatively.

  • Avoid slang

 Unless you intend to use a “breezy” tone,  utilize standard English words that will not be misunderstood, especially if you are conveying serious information.  In casual conversation slang expressions may be more appropriate, but generally not in business communication.

  • Use the technical vocabulary of your field

 If you want to be perceived as knowledgeable in a particular area, learn the terms specific to the field and use them appropriately in your message.  Avoid generic terms if you can use more specific vocabulary.

  • Avoid flowery, verbose language

Your audience will appreciate language that gets to the point and doesn’t waste time. Remove ambiguity that can occur with extra words or sentences that are vague or repetitive.

  • Always be socially appropriate

 Be gracious in your communications.  Thank people for their time and attention and make it sound like you mean it by choosing socially appropriate language.  Try to personalize your communication by avoiding overused (throwaway) phrases.

  • In face to face speech, match body language with your words

As specific as you may be with your words, be sure you “look” like what you are saying by showing appropriate affect in your facial expression, gestures and posture.  Body language conveys meaning all by itself and can enhance “what” you say.  How” you say it counts as well! 

Polished language in business communication creates successful interactions — the key to success!

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