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.

 

 

 

 

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 252017
 

“The eyes are the window of the soul.” Old English proverb.

Beyond the power of words, the way you speak conveys what you mean.  In the face to face conversations between human beings, the eyes and facial expression transmit at least half of the message.  A person’s eyes communicate interest, care, anger, distrust, sincerity and a host of other mental states.

In the age of email and texts, so much of the potential for direct human exchange has been diluted.  The opportunity of establishing dialogue between individuals diminishes when so much interaction takes places electronically.  While opportunity may diminish, the importance does not.

Why is it important to establish dialogue?

When people speak to each other face to face, an expectation exists that one person wants to convey information and establish rapport.  From the mundane activities of daily life to professional interactions, speaking effectively to someone else requires establishing a direct connection to an individual, a dialogue.

How important are the eyes in dialogue?

When we speak with someone our first instinct is to look at the other person’s eyes.  Interest, mood, trustworthiness are some of the key features signaled by an individual’s eyes.  Maintaining eye contact remains one of the universal fundamentals in establishing a relationship, whether meeting someone for the first time, interviewing for a job, or making a presentation.

What else besides the eyes is important? 

We convey information about ourselves through facial expressions, body language and vocal features.  How we say our words communicates almost as much as what we say.  People expect to be “spoken to, not at.”  Sometimes more meaning is conveyed in face to face interactions by how someone speaks, rather than the words spoken.

Can we lose the ability to speak to other people?

As a society, can we evolve to becoming poor communicators? With limited practice and opportunity, many teenagers and young adults today are less comfortable and capable of speaking with others, especially adults. 

In my practice I have worked with students who think they interact well with their peers but have little skill in interviewing for jobs or presenting themselves in an articulate, mature manner.  The first skill they need to learn is the importance of looking at another individual in order to create dialogue.

When we speak to people, if we want to express truth, sincerity and concern, we need to remember that we speak through the eyes as much as the mouth.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Mar 152017
 
  • Do you feel uncomfortable speaking in public?

  • Do you wonder if people will listen to what you have to say?

  • Do you think you need to have an unusual or unique life to talk about yourself?

More people than you can imagine will answer “Yes” to all the questions posed above — though they may not admit it out loud. Believing that you need to have a “charmed” life to tell a story about yourself is to deny the uniqueness we all possess.  Every person has their own story to tell, their own lens they use to see the world.  

But being a good storyteller doesn’t always involve relating your own story.  Indeed, many of the stories that capture our fancy beginning in childhood involve imagination, as well as observation.  The stories we witness that don’t necessarily involve ourselves, as well as those we create about others — these are all part of the storyteller’s raw material.

The essential skill to being a good storyteller involves creating a “dialogue” with other people.  Looking directly at your audience (of one or many) and using the importance presentation skills of voice, gesture, and body language will make your story appealing.

As children we know the  words, “Once upon a time” signal the beginning of a story.  But to capture our attention, these words need to be accompanied by the intonation, rhythm and rate that conveys a natural speaking voice.

One of the critical features of storytelling is the investment in the story by the storyteller.  A good storyteller conveys conviction:  the storyteller believes the story and wants to take you on a journey.  From “spinning a yarn” to “this is the absolute truth,” the stories that capture us are told in a way that invites us to listen and believe.

So why is storytelling so important?

Whether you’re pitching yourself in an interview, selling a product, or giving a presentation about your research, engaging the audience is the key to effectiveness.  

If you practice the art of storytelling you will approach any speaking situation as a moment to capture other people’s attention and involve them in what you say.

The answers to the questions posed at the beginning of this article can become “no” if you approach your speaking as “telling a story.”  You’re no longer the public speaker standing in front of an audience but a storyteller evoking the interest of everyone who has loved a good story since childhood.

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

Dec 152016
 
  • Do children outgrow difficulties with inattention, focus & hyperactivity?
  • Is medication the cure for these problems in childhood?

When a child is diagnosed with inattention, distractibility, with or without hyperactivity,  parents are often faced with a series of concerns.  Will these problems interfere with academic performance?  Will medication help?  Is another treatment needed besides medicine?

The answer to all 3 questions is yes, but in differing degrees.  

Attention Deficit Disorder, with or without hyperactivity, is documented to interfere with learning.  Children who suffer from ADD but exhibit no hyperactivity may go undiagnosed for several years because they suffer quietly and often “fall off the radar” in a classroom where behavior problems claim more of the teacher’s attention.  Well-behaved students may look as if they’re focusing but may have problems following directions, making transitions in activities and switching between topics.

Medication to treat these problems needs to be a parental decision after consultation with professionals and often includes examination of a student’s cognitive functioning and language skills.  Many students have been helped by medication that reduces their distractibility.  However, in my experience medication alone is not the panacea that parents and students would like to believe.

The most effective way to treat ADD & ADHD is to raise the child or adolescent’s awareness of his thinking and focus, and provide strategies to re-direct attention to the task of the moment.  Becoming aware of one’s thinking is called “metacognition” and provides a critical tool for self regulation and self modification.  Metacognition remains a cornerstone to developing executive function skills, which are essential for organization, planning, prioritization and focus.  The current practice of “mindfulness” intersects with metacognition in the goal of “being in the moment” and reducing distractions.  Even young children can be taught to become aware of their distracting thoughts and refocus their thinking.  

Poor executive function skills resulting from ADD and ADHD can affect academic performance throughout formal schooling, including college and graduate school.  Unfortunately most children and teenagers don’t “grow” out of their problems with cognitive functioning.  The most successful ones either receive support services or therapy to develop the skills to keep themselves on task and focused.

Adults, whether diagnosed or not, can find these problems impacting on their careers throughout their lives, often resulting in unfilled potential and goals.  Medication can assist adults in focus and attention, but does not “cure” problems that result in poor organization, time management and distractibility.  At the adult level it remains essential (as for younger individuals) to develop metacognitive strategies and effective executive function skills.  Speech pathologists trained in this area are frequently the professionals who provide therapy to assist children and adults with ADD and ADHD.  Intervention at any age can make a profound change in a person’s life.

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

 

 

Nov 102016
 
  • Myth # 1:  It takes years to become an effective public speaker.
  • Myth # 2: Nobody else seems nervous when they make a presentation.
  • Myth # 3:  Most good speakers are born with the “gift of gab.”
  • Myth # 4: Being forced to stand up in front of others in a public speaking class will make you a better speaker.

These myths along with many others seemed fixed in most people’s minds but they’re not valid.

Consider this scenario:  You have to make a company presentation in two weeks.  You’ve written your material and organized your slides.  But when you stand up to rehearse, it doesn’t come out the way you imagine.  Panic sets in!  Is it too late?

Working with an experienced speech coach doesn’t have to be a long, arduous process.   Sometimes I need to help a client reshape a presentation by editing material to focus on key points.  At other times the material and slide presentations have been developed to suit the audience and time frame, so our work concentrates on presentation skills. While it usually takes several sessions to prep for an individual presentation, you should have some concrete tools to use after the first session. 

In some cases a speech coach helps a client deal with nervousness and fear of making a presentation.  It’s normal to have some anticipation before speaking in public; indeed, the spurt of adrenaline that occurs when we engage in a difficult task can be channeled to infuse your speaking with enthusiasm and energy.  But for those individuals who find themselves tongue-tied or hesitant because of nerves, the process of understanding the important features of effective speaking can be liberating.

Does a public speaking class where you take your turn making presentations reduce nervousness  and improve speaking skills?  I have worked with many individuals who have tried peer-based courses or cookie cutter approaches without any gains.  For most people an individualized program with an experienced speech coach makes the critical difference.

 Developing a plan based on your individual needs, learning the skills that apply to you, practicing your presentation and receiving pointed feedback from a professional can change your thinking about the myths that hold back many people from seeking out speaking opportunities.  In our competitive professional world, lacking the skills to speak effectively in a public forum limits your opportunities.

Even last minute coaching can make all the difference in your public speaking skills and professional advancement.  

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 102016
 

“Take a look at your child’s room, are there books, papers and electronics strewn across the desk?
And are there clothes on the floor, shoes strewn all about and the general makings of a danger zone. If so, what does this mean? If your middle school or high school student lives in a state of disarray, frequently forgetting papers or textbooks in the school locker, or the finished assignment on the kitchen table, disorganization might be indicative of a problem…”

[read more here: The Scattered Student (pdf): Healthy Family, Spring/Summer 2016]

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.