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?


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.


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


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!


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




Feb 152018
  • Good speakers are born that way.

  • Being shy will prevent you from being a confident speaker.

  • You need to have a theatrical flair to capture an audience’s attention

If you believe any of these statements, you’ll be relieved to know that these are merely generalizations. 

Being able to translate one’s thoughts into words and then speak phrases and sentences in a way that communicates effectively with other people is actually an astounding skill that only humans possess.  While birds may sing and dolphins emit sounds to their peers, only humans have the range and fluency we know as verbal communication.

But with this unique skill comes a range of abilities based on genes, nurture and practice.  Some individuals are truly gifted, captivating speakers: Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Martin Luther King are known for their extraordinary speaking skills.  But for most people, early nurturing in storytelling families, practice in school and coaching are the keys to becoming a good speaker.

Can inherently shy individuals become good speakers?  There’s no reason people can’t prepare their thoughts and practice a presentation or the dialogue they can use when called upon to speak. Jessica Chastain, Lady Gaga, James Lipton, to name a few, consider themselves “shy” or “introverted” by nature. But that hasn’t stopped them from rising to the top of their professions as actor, singer, interviewer.

Practice in storytelling, even at the earliest ages, primes children to express their thoughts and experiences.  Even as adults, we enjoy a speaker who tells a story using natural speech melody, expression and body language.

You can achieve confidence as a speaker by learning the tools of “dialogue” to capture the interest of another person or many people and make any speaking situation a “give and take” process.

Too many people view public speaking as theater, yet most trained actors and accomplished speakers will tell you they learned the techniques of speaking in public despite their shyness, and in some cases, articulation or fluency difficulties. Consider this little known fact: Marilyn Monroe’s breathy voice was her technique for coping with a stuttering disorder.

Young children can be nurtured to become good speakers in their families and in school, while teenagers and adults can develop the “art” of speaking and gain confidence by coaching and practice.  

Great speakers are taught, not necessarily born that way!


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


Jun 012017
  • Isn’t listening easier than speaking?

  • Aren’t listening and paying attention the same?

Most people will answer “yes” to these two questions.  But listening is actually more complicated than most people realize and in some ways, as difficult a process as expressing yourself.

While you must be paying attention in order to “listen” there are actually two types of listening: active vs. passive listening.

  • What is the difference between active and passive listening?

Passive listening involves acknowledging that another person is talking and following the speaker’s line of reasoning.  What’s missing are two critical steps that transform “passive” listening to “active” listening: assimilation and accommodation.

Assimilation is the process of hearing information and comparing it to your own knowledge, the first key to making the transition to active listening.  The next critical step is accommodation acting on the information by responding to it in some way, which might be finding an example from your own experience that illustrates what is being presented.

For the student in class this can mean listening to the teacher, copying notes from the slide or blackboard, acknowledging an understanding (assimilation), then adding a personal observation to the teacher’s idea, either by jotting it to his/her notes or sharing in the discussion (accommodation.)  The process of accommodation extends the student’s thinking beyond what has already been written or spoken.

In an interview this can be illustrated by listening to the interviewer’s question, understanding the question (assimilation), then taking into account the other person’s point of view and deviating from the response you had prepared to answer a specific question (accommodation.)  The prepared, personal “elevator” speech that does not address the topic or question posed can destroy your chances of being hired, making a sale or achieving a promotion. 

If you answered “yes” to the two questions at the beginning of this article you may be practicing “passive” rather than “active” listening.  If your interactions with others involves more of your own speaking, you may be employing only assimilation by following your own line of thought rather than going to the next step, accommodation.  Transforming what you expect to say to actually responding to the other speaker’s words or questions requires “active” listening.

Consider how much this can affect you in your personal as well as your professional life.  Problems of miscommunication between individuals frequently occurs because one person is employing “passive” listening only, not thoroughly engaging with what someone else has said.  This can be illustrated with the famous words, “I thought you said…” The problem of not assimilating and accommodating another speaker’s words and ideas often lies at the bottom of misunderstanding between individuals.  “Active” listening opens up stronger lines of understanding and communicating.

Being an “active” listener can be the key to success in school, business and personal life.


Check back soon for more articles on communications, speech pathology, writing and executive function skills


Jul 052016

Interview on WVOX.6.10.13Hear a clip from my latest radio on Peter Moses’ show, “Eye on Westchester” and learn tips on how to be an effective speaker.

Mar 242016

Interview on WVOX.6.10.13

Tune into “Westchester Eye On The Radio” with Peter Moses, WVOX, 1460 AM, Monday, March 28, 2016 @ 3 PM to hear my interview.  We’ll be speaking about my work as a speaking and writing coach, speech writer and speech pathologist in Westchester and the metropolitan NY area.

I’ll be taking questions from listeners so feel free to call into the program.

Jan 252016

“If only…”

Life is full of “if only” statements — wishes and regrets in hindsight.  Possessing the skills and confidence to present in front of an audience, give a report, or succeed in an interview remains high on the “if only” list of many people.

Nearly every individual, whether student or accomplished professional, tells me that preparation for speaking and presenting in public was never addressed during their regular school curriculum.  If that was the case in past decades, we can be sure that the current educational environment, with a stress on standardized testing, will not include time for class presentation, debate or activities devoted to improving speaking skills.

While most educators and certainly adults in professional fields involving personal interaction will endorse the importance of “speaking well,” this skill seems to be treated as a natural given that will develop organically, without explicit instruction or practice in a person’s education and early experience.  Perhaps this growth develops spontaneously for some people, the way some are natural athletes, but my experience as a communications coach has generally proven otherwise.

Just as sports teams and athletes have coaches, so too, the majority of public speakers have speaking coaches.  Actors utilize drama, voice and accent coaches, while politicians and other public speakers have numerous advisors and “coaches.”  Every candidate in a public forum has been assisted by a team that includes a speaking coach.  Some gifted orators stand out among the crowd — Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy in recent times.  A few are naturally gifted, but most have worked on developing their speaking skills. We applaud the ones who seem to speak particularly well, even if we don’t know exactly how they accomplish this task — and we recognize the ones who don’t, especially in spontaneous situations.

Is there hope that schools will incorporate speaking skills (or what used to be called “elocution”) as a necessary skill within the curriculum?  Based on the thrust toward fulfilling a mandate for what are considered “Common Core” requirements, it’s clear that instruction and practice for speaking well will not make it into the lesson plan.

But adolescents and adults can develop strong speaking skills and confidence as communicators by learning the critical principles for clear, well-articulated speech, as well as the tools for verbal expression.  Training at an early age as part of the educational curriculum would be the best time to develop these skills but if this isn’t possible, then intervention at any age is the key to developing the strategies and confidence to be an effective speaker.


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


Mar 162015
  • Some people seem able to answer a question or express an opinion effortlessly in an open forum.

Whether in a business meeting, lecture hall or classroom, it seems there are always individuals who can pose a question or make a comment smoothly, without hesitation.

  • Don’t they have the heart hammering, sweaty palms that many people experience when all eyes are on them? How do they appear so confident?

THE ANSWER:  They’re confident because they have the skills to express themselves.

  • Is this a natural skill for most people or one that’s learned?

For some, verbal fluency comes naturally, but for the majority these are skills nurtured by teachers and the opportunity to practice.  Years ago, schools and colleges used to require poetry recitation, class presentations and public speaking courses.  The goal of developing the skills needed for successful public speaking have been largely replaced by an emphasis on subject matter knowledge.  Strong verbal skills have been relegated to a less important status in our highly specialized, technology-driven society.

As a speech pathologist and public speaking coach, I see many professionals, as well as students, who dread making presentations, answering questions or offering a comment in public — and the most challenging situation —  interviewing for a job. 

The answer to the question about what is the key to public speaking effectiveness? Both confidence and skills.  But these are not mutually exclusive: verbal skills bolster confidence.  Acquiring the skills to express yourself can be learned and practiced so that you are confident and successful as a speaker, one-on-one, in a class, or a public venue.  Being able to describe your thoughts, your work, your expertise in a field is a life skill that enhances your professional value and provides an outlet for your accomplishments.


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


Dec 122014
  • Can improving your skills for public speaking make you a better writer?
  • Can improving your writing skills make you a better speaker?

Surprisingly, the answer to both of these questions is YES!

Leaving aside the vocal features and body language critical for public speakers (I’ve written about this topic in previous blog articles), the choice of material, organization and pacing of a presentation — the core of a speech — can be significantly improved by developing one’s writing abilities.  Surprisingly, the reverse is true as well. Becoming more proficient in one aspect of communication can impact positively on another.

The reciprocal gains from this process were tangibly demonstrated to me by a client I’ve been working with for the past year.  In fact, he suggested I write this article as a case study in the crossover effects of improved skills as a speaker and as a writer.

When I work with clients to improve their public speaking, I begin by emphasizing the need to consider the point of view in a speech.  Every presentation (even a report) should forward the speaker’s argument.  A presentation that captures and holds an audience’s attention contains a persuasive  viewpoint.  Good speakers never lose track of their goal and continually ask themselves, “What is the main idea I want to convey?”

Similarly, when writing an article, report, or letter of application, a good writer begins with a “thesis statement.”  As a writer you should be able to answer the question, “What is the theme of my writing — what do I want the reader to learn or understand?”  Following this theme (usually in the first paragraph), every paragraph that follows should be a notch that fits into the whole framework to complete the writer’s thesis, or in other words, the writer’s persuasive argument.

Too many speakers and writers lose this key perspective and never fully develop their speech or piece of writing.    What’s the result?  The audience loses interest and tunes out, while the reader either scans the rest of the piece or stops reading.  In either case, what you have to say or what you’ve written does not succeed.

In the process of working on my client’s presentation skills, the link between gaining proficiency in speaking and writing became evident to him.  I’m pleased to say that he’s received extremely positive reviews on his presentations and numerous invitations to write articles for publications within his field, both of which continue to advance his career.

Some good speakers, as well as good writers, may be born that way, but most of us have to work at perfecting those skills.  Luckily, this seems to be an interactive process!


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