Anna Soo Wildermuth

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Here I'll give you up to date tips on developing your personal and professional image to ensure your first impression will be your best impression. Also I will blog about current image and communication blunders. Feel free to join the discussion by leaving comments, and stay updated by subscribing to the RSS feed. Thanks for visiting my blog. – Anna

Change One Thing is a superb book that gives excellent advice to help jumpstart your engine." Stephen R. Covey, author, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

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Archive: Speaking Skills

Agree to disagree

coaching 2Today’s political environment is so charged that family members sometimes end up not talking to each other. Recently, I was riding in a car and the conversation turned challenging. I requested we not talk about politics unless we could agree to discuss by listening to each other’s point of view. We also agreed if we could not agree to disagree we should talk about other topics instead. If an agreement cannot be made to agree to disagree, then it is better not to discuss politics or any highly charged topic.

Can you hear me?

earMore and more folks today wear hearing aids. They are not just for the elderly any more.  Be sensitive to those who are using them. You don’t have speak loudly, just directly and succinctly. Speaking loudly makes it sometimes harder to hear. Do not act annoyed or impatient, instead, seek to understand. Wearing hearing aids can be very challenging for the new user.

Moderating a panel discussion

microphone-vectorGood moderators do their homework. First, they know the discussion contents. They know the panelists from interviewing them before the actual event. They have prepared an introduction of each of the them.

The time allotment for each answer is discussed with each panelist prior to the event. The moderator has the authority to monitor the time. Successful moderators create a safe environment for the panelists and simultaneously satisfy the audience that the promised content has been delivered.

Asking questions

26447en_USI_QuestionMarkOften, questions are asked in an intrusive manner during troublesome situations. The tone of voice is as culpable as words in creating a polarized environment as are gotcha questions. We see this in television interviews.

Clients with impressive technical skills sometimes act like bulls wandering in a china shop when asking questions. The message to others when this occurs is: I don’t want to work with you.

Start with what they do well and then ask how we can make the situation better to secure a successful result. When they offer what does not work begin to ask the “Why” question which, when answered truthfully, usually brings out a viable solution.

Accepting an award

award cup.magesAt a recent event, a client was the last person to accept an award. Unfortunately, the other award winners were funny and seemed to have either practiced their acceptance speeches or were adept at adjusting to statements by earlier award winners.

If I had been hired to coach the client on speaking in public especially when accepting an award, I would have mentioned the following critical elements for a winning acceptance speech:

1. Remember, 30 to 60 seconds is the shortest length of time and 90 seconds to two minutes the longest when accepting an award.
2. Differentiate yourself with your own personal story to tie into the thank you.
3. Be generous with crediting the folks who helped you win the award.
4. Inject a bit of humor. It goes a long way.
5. Practice in front a sounding board.

Following these guidelines will give you an 80% chance to give a memorable acceptance speech.

When is too much information a bad thing?

haircut disasterInformation overload is a killer because it can jumble the true issues. Setting a timeline and a process to gather data are the first critical steps to ensure enough data is gathered. Doing the early research to determine what and how much information is needed sets you on the right path to completion. The timeline of when the project or report is due also acts as a finish line. Duplicate and / overwhelming information will only complicate the end result.

For a successful message, begin with the end in mind

3637986782_Google20Talk_xlarge_answer_2_xlargeOften, folks presenting start with the details and eventually get to the point. However, presenters who begin with the end in mind and then wait for a reaction from the audience can discuss the supporting points based on that audience response, tend to deliver a more impactful message. They show their audience respect and allow them to ask better informed questions.

Zip the lip

no_talking1Social media has a life of its own. It is worse than gossip and can haunt those who traffic in it and anyone around them. Facebook and Twitter are platforms to express news and instant emotional reactions, good and bad.
People have even gotten fired for being caught up in loose comments made in the news by high powered folks. They thought if it was ok by those folks, then they could say it too. However, the reality is that some have power and freedom without repercussions and others face the wrath. If something is that important for you to express it in writing, write the words to yourself first and decide the way you want to handle it the next day.

Speaking at a Memorial

microphone-vectorI was recently reminded of a time I was asked to be the lead speaker at a memorial by my sister for her husband. Later, a friend mentioned how she enjoyed her husband’s service. The friend liked how each person who spoke shared a thoughtful insight and in some cases, a humorous story about her husband.

What is important in a memorial service is that the individual is brought to life in a unique way through the folks speaking. Make sure that speakers are given a brief guideline prior to speaking. Serving as a lead speaker at a memorial service is an honor. It is also a responsibility to the family to help coordinate the service.

Swimming with the sharks

sharksRecently, a well-known prime time news anchor tried to validate a point with a spokesperson by asking a question about a lie from the spokesperson’s team that appeared on the news. This anchor is known for integrity and has a knack for handling sensitive subjects with the guests on the show.

The spokesperson was a shark, a fast talker employing a high spin level skill at making observations and details sound like facts. The anchor, unfortunately, did not respond well even though he the truth was behind the question.

What I would recommend, is to ask the questions at least three times. Then, instead of doing the cha-cha with the guest, end the conversation on a high note by letting the other person to wallow in their own comments. Don’t swim with the sharks unless you possess some shark skills of your own!