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.


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




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.

Nov 122015
  • Isn’t communication more efficient through email, text messaging, voice mail and automated phone systems?
  • In our technological age, aren’t we wasting time by speaking to one another?

While email, text messages and social media have broken down barriers of geography and time, they have created an illusion that face-to-face communication has lost relevance.  As a global society, we run the risk of losing the skills to articulate our thoughts in spoken language if we place greater importance on technology over verbal interaction.

In the 21st century, the value of the spoken word, both for information as well as a learning tool, has been eclipsed by various forms of technology.  The need to speak to another person, to gather information and to learn, seems to have taken a back seat to the concept of efficiency.

In his excellent book, In Defense of a Liberal Education, Fareed Zakaria speaks about “a related method of learning through the ages… pure conversation.”  He quotes A. Whitney Griswold, former president of Yale: ‘Conversation is the oldest form of instruction of the human race… a great creative art.’

Zakaria adds the words of the scientist and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead: ‘outside of the book-knowledge which is necessary to our professional training, I think I got most of my development from the good conversation to which I have always had the luck to have access.’

Throughout the history of the United States, as well as well as abroad, coffee houses, taverns, even sewing circles have provided a venue for conversation and debate.  Would the United States exist without the word-of-mouth news and exchanges that encouraged revolution?  The verbal skills to express oneself, argue beliefs and present a personal point of view remain critical tools for everyone.

Many individuals contact me for speech coaching because they lack the skills and confidence to create a verbal statement of their work or their personal views.  Successful professional and social interaction continues to be a mainstay of our modern society.  Whether interviewing for college, a  job, even meeting new people, the ability to converse smoothly still counts.

But without practice by actually speaking to one another, these skills may not  develop or reach a higher level  of sophistication.  While contracting information into 140 character text messages–sound bites with abbreviations–may be efficient, we should not devalue the long history of personal, spoken interaction.  The ability to tell a story and to verbalize one’s thoughts remains a skill that still has relevance and importance in our technologically-driven society.  What we perceive as mere conversation can provide the means for significant learning and personal enrichment.


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

May 282014

Here are clips from my radio interview on Peter Moses’ radio show on WVOX 1460 AM,  Monday, March 24, 2014 at 3 P.M.  Learn how to be a more effective speaker and give a great interview.

Mar 102014

Interview on WVOX.6.10.13


Tune into Peter Moses’ radio show on WVOX, 1460 AM,  Monday, March 24 at 3 P.M.  We’ll be talking about my work as a speech and communications coach as well as other aspects of my practice as a speech-language pathologist.

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

Sep 042013

“Speak up, speak clearly.”  Sounds like a mother’s or a teacher’s reminder. Growing up, most people hear these words of advice.  Speaking in front of a class, an audience, interviewing for a job, meeting new people  — these are just a few situations in which speech counts.  Not speaking too softly, not mumbling or rushing your speech seem to be the keys to being a successful speaker.  Indeed, they can be considered as  cornerstones for effective speech.

But what’s behind the idea of speaking clearly? Surprisingly perhaps, the individuals we consider good speakers all share the virtue of what used to be called good “elocution,” a term one rarely hears now.  The basis of elocution is pronouncing the sounds of the English language with “standard sounds; that is, speech without articulation errors. Good articulation develops in childhood and needs to continue throughout the adult years.

Doesn’t everybody learn to imitate what they hear when they’re young?  The majority of people learn to articulate the sounds of our language in their early years.  But not everyone.  Frequent ear infections, colds, enlarged tonsils and adenoids are just a few of the reasons that speech skills may not develop uniformly. Children who don’t pronounce the standard sounds of English by the time they’re five or six years old may need speech therapy to learn to speak properly.  When these problems aren’t addressed or solved in the early years, the same speech patterns continue into adulthood and become one of the key reasons why some adults don’t “speak clearly.”  And if they realize they don’t “speak clearly” they may not be confident in “speaking up.”

Can articulation be remediated at any age?  While it’s certainly easier to change a speaking pattern at a younger age, adults can modify their speech at any age.  With children, the process usually works best in a play context in therapy supported by home practice with parents.  Older individuals can make these changes as well, sometimes with less difficulty because they recognize the problem and bring self motivation to the process.

What about the other keys to speaking up and speaking clearly?  The basis for all good speech rests on pronouncing the sounds of our language in the same way as everyone else in society. Once the fundamental issue of proper articulation is resolved, the other factors critical for effective speech can be addressed.

I’ve written about some of these other important elements in previous blog articles:  “The ‘Um’ ‘Ah’ Problem”  and “The Two ‘P’s’ for Effective Speaking“.   You might like to read further on the question of how to speak clearly.


Check back next week for more thoughts on speech and language, communications, and executive functioning.