Sep 302022
 

My coaching client Hakki Akdeniz, whose TED talk has been viewed more than 2 million times, has received a 2022 Carnegie Foundation Award for “Great Immigrants, Great Americans.”  

Recently I had the privilege of coaching Hakki for his TED talk in which he tells the inspiring story of his journey as a 21 year old penniless, homeless, Turkish immigrant in NYC to successful entrepreneur, philanthropist and advocate for the homeless. Twenty years ago Hakki came to the United States speaking no English, $240 in his pocket and the promise of a job that never materialized. With courage and indominable drive, he has achieved the immigrant dream yet embraces the principle of “giving back.”

Click here to watch Hakki’s TED talk:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7GEMjXjxqc

Jul 272022
 

Recently I had the privilege of coaching Hakki Akdeniz for his TED talk in which he tells the inspiring story of his journey as a 21 year old penniless, homeless, Turkish immigrant in NYC to successful entrepreneur, philanthropist and advocate for the homeless. Twenty years ago Hakki came to the United States speaking no English, $240 in his pocket and the promise of a job that never materialized. With courage and indominable drive, he has achieved the immigrant dream yet embraces the principle of “giving back.”

Click here to watch Hakki’s TED talk:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7GEMjXjxqc

Mar 232022
 
  • James Earl Jones, the voice of Darth Vader in Star Wars stutters?

Yes, you’re reading this correctly! This 91 year old award-winning actor is a lifelong stutterer.

According to The New York Times, the Shubert Organization will name the Cort Theater, a landmark 110-year-old house located on West 48th Street, after Jones, a two-time competitive Tony Award winner who, over six decades, has appeared in 21 Broadway shows. Jones received a Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2017.

  • How can an actor who stutters perform on Broadway?

According to Jones, early in his career when he appeared in Sunrise at Campobello he had a line — ‘Mrs. Roosevelt, supper is served” — that he struggled to deliver because of a speech disorder. “I almost didn’t make it through because I’m a stutterer. But it became a lot of fun eventually.”

James Earl Jones joins a series of successful actors who have stuttered, including the glamorous icon, Marilyn Monroe, and recently Emily Blunt, who in an interview with Sandy Kenyon, the entertainment reporter on WABC-TV NY, Channel 7’s Eyewitness News, explained that she was advised to pursue drama as a way to treat her childhood stuttering disorder. At the time she was publicizing her movie A Quiet Place, (which has been followed by “A Quiet Place II”). Her performances in both films garnered her major awards nominations.

You can learn more about why acting helps stutterers speak fluently by watching my interview with Sandy Kenyon on Eyewitness News on my homepage http://lazarspeech.com/2018/06/08/interview/

You can read about stuttering and fluent speech in the articles on my website, including https://lazarspeech.com/2013/05/08/the-kings-speech/https://lazarspeech.com/2015/08/24/are-ums-and-ahs-a-form-of-stuttering/, and numerous others I’ve written. Just click the category on the Blog or Publications headers on my website homepage 

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

 

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

 

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.

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.

 

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.