Start YOUR Evolution

evolvingWe’re always Evolving! 

Here are 5 ways I can help you revolutionize your communication.

In case you’ve ever wondered… What can Robyn and SpeakEtc. do for me?

Let me count the ways:

1)     Problem: You dread people asking: …and what do you do?” because you have a hard time explaining what you do in a way that doesn’t make their eyes glaze over or you feel like a used car salesman.

How I can help: In one or two one-on-one sessions, I can discover what sets you apart, match what you do with your unique communication style, what I call your “ActorType,” and help you create a pitch to be proud of Within the first 20 minutes of one session, I had a client call me a “genius” for transforming his generic jargon-filled elevator pitch into an engaging, individualized, intro-mercial for his marketing business which he can now fold into a conversation, use on his website, or pitch to investors or prospects.

2)     Problem: You have an important presentation coming up and its success could mean recognition and more business and revenue for you and/or your company but you’re lacking confidence and don’t know how to pull it all together.

How I can help: I work with you and your presentation at any stage. I can organize and polish your existing material; help you write compelling content from scratch and/or help you hone your delivery skills (body language and voice) so that your presentation is engaging and reflects your unique communication style.  Within 3-6 sessions, I’ve helped upwards of 20 individuals organize, write, tweak, and learn to deliver presentations on: Dating; Owning one’s beauty; running a business; socially responsible portfolio investing; investing in Master Limited Partnerships; Developing better fitness and health practices; bringing specialty foods to the U.S. market; Spiritual awakening in Peru; and many other fascinating topics. My clients have used these presentations at TedX conferences, for videos on their sites and other major and minor stages.

3)      Problem: Your job security and effectiveness is being compromised because you have difficulty expressing yourself successfully at work. Or your advancement at work is being hampered by your inability to show executive and leadership presence.

How I can help: By administering Everything DiSC assessments, I can provide customized 6 session packages of one-one-one executive coaching. This past year I have helped, Senior account executives, Vice-presidents; CEOs, sales associates; teachers; lawyers, and others, learn strategies to communicate more effectively with supervisors and colleagues and have helped them earn the respect and recognition they deserve. Jobs were saved, promotions won, confidence and effectiveness soared.

4)      Problem: YOUR communication is great but you’re in charge of a team or staff of individuals who would be much more successful if they had more confidence communicating with and presenting to clients and prospects.

How I can help: I can create customized workshops and training sessions for up to 20 participants. This past year, I’ve created and delivered training to several different companies in several different fields from global marketing teams; advertising agencies & legal teams; financial advisors; sales associates; & classroom teachers. I’ve helped companies  -“Stop presenting, start engaging; learn listening skills; improve team communication

5)      Problem: You have an interview coming up for the media, a new job, or graduate school.

How I can help: In 3-6 one-on-one coaching sessions, I will research specific interview questions, role-play, and videotape mock interviews. I can help you polish your body language, vocal tone, and your ability to think on your feet and give answers that show you at your best. In the past, I’ve coached young adults into their first jobs, helped a medical student win a coveted internship and helped entrepreneurs shine in front of the camera.

If you are ready to start your evolution, let’s chat!

Are You Trying Too Hard? Learn the Art of Wu Wei – Effortless Action

lifting weight

Ever watch a presentation or have a conversation and come away feeling like the person was trying way too hard?

I take a lot of exercise classes at my gym. Recently, we have had a few new teachers sub or introduce new classes. Once, I took a new dance-based class with a new fitness instructor and found myself NOT enjoying it at all! I felt like I had a perpetual inner scowl and I couldn’t figure out why. I love to dance! I started blaming myself. “Am I just being pissy because the teacher I wanted to be here wasn’t here?” “Am I being ageist”(She was young and I’m not) “Am I being arrogant cause I think I’m such a hot dancer?” or ”Do I just hate and resist anything new?” All of the above could have been true, but midway through the class, the communication skills coach in me wanted to figure out what other dynamic might be playing out here. Maybe it wasn’t all me.

I reflected back on the fact that a few weeks ago, I’d taken the same class with a new teacher and loved her within two seconds. So instead of judging my feelings, I began to question where they might be coming from. As I watched the teacher smiling broadly and trying to encourage us to smile and pose and enjoy ourselves, I realized that she was trying too hard. She was trying to “make” us enjoy what we were doing instead of enjoying it herself and trusting that because she enjoys it, that enjoyment will infect us. Afterward, I spoke to a gym buddy who had also taken the class and she had concluded the same thing.

I decided to write a blog post about the difference between trying too hard and “just being” and then… low and behold, the next day, a friend of mine (I hadn’t spoken to her about this at all) happened to mention an article she’d read in the New York Times that she thought I would find interesting. It was called – A Meditation on the Art of Not Trying (John Tierney, 12/15/2014) and it specifically addresses what I had concluded! Amazing! So instead of having to write this whole post from scratch, I get to use Mr. Tierney’s article to support my ideas! Thanks, John wherever you are!

The article references the work of Dr. Edward Slingerland, a professor of Asian studies at the University of British Columbia and author of the book: Trying Not to Try: The Art and Science of Spontaneity. Dr. Slingerland talks about a concept called, wu wei, the Chinese term for “effortless action” – (Pronounced ooo-way) There are differing theories about how to attain Wu Wei. There is one theory that goes that once you work really hard at something, you will eventually get to the point where you can perform that “something” effortlessly – similar to when people talk about athletes practicing a skill so that in the throes of the game they can perform without thinking. The other theory is that our gifts are innate and we need to relax and allow them to emerge. There are actual ancient text that speak about this type of Wu Wei:

“[…] it wasn’t enough just to be a sensible, law-abiding citizen, and it wasn’t even enough to dutifully strive to be virtuous. You had to demonstrate that your virtue was so intrinsic that it came to you effortlessly. These texts tell aspiring politicians that they must have an instinctive sense of their duties to their superiors: If you try to be filial, this not true filiality; if you try to be obedient, this is not true obedience.”

You can read Mr. Tierney’s article or Dr. Slingerland’s book to find out more about these different theories on attaining Wu Wei and where they originated.

 
I believe that you can attain Wu Wei both ways – by practicing a skill and then learning to let it go and by relaxing, going inward and then learning to let it out. In fact, this topic has been part of my latest obsession. I wrote a blog post and spoke on the radio show, What Women Want about the Impostor Syndrome – the fact that we tend to feel like impostors once we are successful because we have forgotten or we ignore the “intrinsic qualities” we have inside us that have contributed to our success. So in essence, in our efforts to strive for “effortless action” we often negate or forget our instinctive sense of our “duties.” Whether those duties are to be virtuous as referenced in the ancient text or whether those duties are to be successful, effective leaders or successful contributive human beings as in the case of those with the Impostor Syndrome.

The New York Times article goes on to say: “You cannot try, but you also cannot not try. Chinese philosophers were genuinely on to something,says Jonathan Schooler, a psychologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Particularly when one has developed proficiency in an area, it is often better to simply go with the flow. Paralysis through analysis and overthinking are very real pitfalls that the art of wu wei was designed to avoid.”

 
As a mother to a professional baseball pitcher, I know that all too well. Once my son starts to think too much about the pitch he’s about to throw he’s in trouble AND once he totally forgets his innate gifts and training he’s in trouble.

 
My gym buddy had said after our class with the new teacher – “I just didn’t like her.” And it was true. There was no real reason not to like her but we didn’t. That may be because as Mr. Tierney’s article explains: “However wu wei is attained, there’s no debate about the charismatic effect it creates. It conveys an authenticity that makes you attractive, whether you’re addressing a crowd or talking to one person. The way to impress someone on a first date is to not seem too desperate to impress.”

 
The teacher who I had liked within two seconds, had achieved Wu Wei. She authentically loved what she did and trusted that we would too. What this newer teacher had done was let her desperation to impress, or in this case, I think it was her determination to impress, get in the way of any authenticity she had.

Again from the Times article “Some people, like politicians and salespeople, can get pretty good at faking spontaneity, but we’re constantly looking for ways to expose them. We put presidential candidates through marathon campaigns looking for that one spontaneous moment that reveals their “true” character.”

The above passage also supports my latest vendetta against the phrase: “Fake it till you make it.” Nobody likes a fake and nobody wants to trust someone “faking it.” I believe in the concept behind the phrase which is that sometimes we need to adopt values we may not think we have to help us feel successful. I just don’t like the idea of using the word “fake.” I believe it’s more important to convey the concept of trusting and/or uncovering our intrinsic qualities and letting them help us feel successful. So instead, I encourage people to adopt the phrase “Own it while you hone it.”

Mr. Tierney quotes Dr. Slingerland who says: “Our culture is very good at pushing people to work hard or acquire particular technical skills, But in many domains, actual success requires the ability to transcend our training and relax completely into what we are doing, or simply forget ourselves as agents.”

I will never forget very early in my teaching career when I was teaching at a city university here in New York, one of my students wrote in an evaluation after a class that I thought had been expertly taught. “Robyn, you are a great teacher but I don’t think you need to try so hard.” I was stunned! At first, I didn’t really know what she was talking about. I was hurt and I wanted to be angry and insulted but I couldn’t be. I instinctively knew that this was a good thing. What she was actually saying was, I see your intrinsic qualities and I want you to own them and trust them. I took that comment to heart and now, many years later, I am so thrilled that the feedback I most consistently get is more along the lines of: “You are so authentic” You make me feel so comfortable” “You are engaging” “I can tell you really believe in and love what you do.” That’s when I know that I’m being an agent of my skills and practicing the art of Wu Wei.

For me, Wu Wei comes about with a combination of:

  1. Knowing that you have obtained proficiency in the area you’re talking about.
  2.  Trusting that you are connected to your deepest truest authentic self and
  3. Being committed to helping the person(s) you’re speaking with for the sole purpose of enriching their lives.

That third part, not mentioned in the article, is extremely important, in my opinion, for those of us in business and leadership positions. These three parts of finding Wu Wei; Proficiency, authenticity, and generosity, is what I strive to bring out in the clients I work with and the companies I train.

So… let’s all stop trying so hard and become conscious of practicing Effortless Action – Wu Wei. If you need help, give me a call.

COACHABILITY!

Coachiing Equipment

Is everyone coachable?  I often get asked a variation of this question. So I’ve been giving it some thought. By now I’ve worked with probably over a thousand clients. I’ve only had two who I felt did not make significant changes after working with me. In one instance, it was because the person really didn’t want to change, and in the second instance, the person really did want to change but had a hard time implementing my suggestions. Maybe I was the wrong coach for them. Maybe the timing was wrong. I know through my studies in Brain Science that our brain can develop new habits so why is it easier for some people to change than others?

Recently, I’ve been working with several clients who after less than two hours have made tremendous leaps in their presentation content, engagement factor, and delivery. It might be easy to pat myself on the back and call myself a miracle worker (okay, maybe I did that for a minute). But then I sat back and analyzed the situation.

Five of these clients were men working for the same company. So while working with the fifth gentleman and witnessing his quick progress, I mentioned to him how impressed I was that he and all of his colleagues made such significant changes so quickly. He told me that it was part of the company culture to be open to feedback and hungry for learning. He told me that the CEO models this and hires for that quality. I was thoroughly impressed. In the past few weeks I’d used the Chinese proverb “The Fish rots from the head down” to describe the problem with another organization I was working for. But here is proof that the opposite is also true. “The fish flourishes from the head down”

So that made me look at and categorize what goes into being coachable.

Willingness to Trust: The individuals in this organization were told that they would receive coaching on presentations skills. I do not know how much information they received about me or my company beforehand, but one day, I show up in their office with a video camera, asking them a bunch of questions about their presentations, videoing the way they are currently presenting and then, to quote one of my clients, “ripping them apart” (not completely true by the way. I gave him what I call my “compassionately frank” feedback on the engagement factor of his current presentation.)

Openness to feedback: of course, they did not all go gently into that good change. There were the usual excuses and “Yes, buts”: ‘I have an accent’, I like being informal and casual’, ‘don’t want to be a “presenter” “I like just hanging in the back and letting the slides do the work.” (???!!!) However, once I explained that an accent does not mean you have to be monotone. That there is a difference between being casual and uninteresting. And that sometimes too casual translates into not caring and arrogance. And that NO, it is not okay to hang in the back of the room while doing a presentation–they listened–really listened and did not push back.

Courage to try something new: In less than an hour, I gave these gentlemen, new ways to use their voice, new ways to sit and stand, new ways to start their presentations, new content to add to their presentations and slides, slides and habits that needed to be cut and destroyed, and new order for the information in their slides. And in each and every case, by the end of the two hours, they had implemented and tried on all of what I gave them, resulting in before and after videos the likes of which I rarely see.

So before you run out and hire a coach for yourself, make sure you exhibit these three qualities: Trust, Openness, and Courage. And if you are the head of any organization, team or company before you throw money away on coaching and training make sure you are modeling, hiring for, and valuing these qualities in your employees.

If you are ready to make your own changes, view my coaching programs here.

Dare to Share Your Story!

share your story phrase - isolated text in vintage letterpress wood type
For a long time when I talked about my business, I was reluctant to tell people my whole story. I would leave out the part about being an actress and screenwriter. I had the idea that it would make me seem “flaky” and a less serious business owner. But most times when I let it “slip,” I found that it really resonated with people. In retrospect, it seems like a no brainer to talk about how my acting and writing skills help make me a better communication skills trainer but at the time, I was clearly not in love with my whole story. I was holding on to some shame about my path. Are you doing that?
Not telling your whole story to your prospects, clients, or associates can be like asking them to start watching a movie from the middle. It feels confusing and less engaging. They may not know why it feels that way but deep down inside you do.
I’m not suggesting you “overshare” some things may be best left unsaid, but I am suggesting that you dig deep into your past experiences for what you may think is a piece of coal and figure out a way to polish it into a diamond. That’s one of the things I love doing with clients.
Recently, a client of mine was struggling with feeling authentic about delivering her “elevator pitch.” She hated doing it because it sounded so… you know, “pitchy.” She took all my developing perfect pitch advice, and she came up with perfectly clear verbiage around what she does and how she can help individuals–but it still sounded inauthentic and inconsistent with who she is. That’s when I realized that there was something in her “backstory” that she was leaving out which made her the perfect person to be doing what she is doing. Once we put that in, she sounded so much more authentic, engaging, and credible. And she was more at ease telling her story to people than she could ever be trying to sell her services.
The next week I met with two clients who had the exact same issue! We are working to get them to let their stories shine!
What’s your story? If you’re sitting on what you think is a stocking full of coal, contact me. I guarantee I can figure out a way to make that “coal” shine like a diamond.

Do you have a Signature Speech?

I’m honored that a colleague at a presentation of mine had these great take-aways and wanted to share them in writing. Here’s what Whitney had to say:
I went to a networking event recently where the speaker addressed an important topic, “creating your signature speech”. The event was aimed at women entrepreneurs so it made sense since many of them speak as part of their work or would like to speak more in order to build a bigger following. I fall into the category of exploring speaking as part of building my business following and would love to be paid to speak so learning about writing that signature speech is a great start.

The speaker was Robyn Hatcher, who is passionate about teaching individuals how to transform their process of communication so that they can express themselves effectively and powerfully. She is an author and communication skills expert and Founder of SpeakEtc., a boutique communication, and presentation skills training company.

Robyn walked us through what it would take to write a signature speech and I found the information clear-cut and direct. The outline was easy to follow and it made sense since everything can essentially be broken down into steps if you have a clear objective. At the end, we left with enough information about the hows and whys that I felt excited to give it a try.

The next day, I was sitting in the library and decided to take a crack using the outline to get a draft of my signature speech done. Within an hour or so, I had a rough draft and I felt pretty good. Of course, it needs to be flushed out, but it’s a start and that’s exciting. It was easy to have the steps to follow to show me how to get started.

Many of us may have much more than one signature speech in our repertoire but it felt good to use the outline and try to write that first one. One of the biggest takeaways from the talk was to have something clear to teach – you want to leave people with the idea that at the end of your talk they will walk away changed or with new information.

While I don’t have immediate plans to speak, it is a goal of mine for a number of reasons. One, I think it’s good to do something that has a teaching component. I taught for a few years in the NYC public school system and I think teaching is so important. I am often inspired by information gleaned from a talk. I feel if you have been lucky enough to receive an education, it is best to share the information not squander it.

Two, I think it’s good to challenge yourself to speak in front of groups. It helps you improve your communication skills as well as your courage. It’s not easy to be yourself with many eyeballs on you at once but it’s a very worthy goal and one I have worked on for many years. And Three, the more you speak in front of people, the more potential customers you are reaching. If done correctly, your speech will give them an understanding of who you are and what you can do for them. That’s a big win. In my case, I am a writer and entrepreneur so can see how speaking would support both of these endeavors.

So I’d like to encourage you to learn more about writing your own signature speech. It will help you think about what you have to say and teach you how to say it clearly. In my case, using Robyn’s guidelines proved easier than I had thought. So go ahead, give it a try. What do you have to say? Inquiring minds want to know.

To learn more about writing your own signature speech, click here.

It Feels Good to DO GOOD!

do goodOnce, I was walking down a busy NYC street near my house and two people at two different times stopped me and asked for directions. I knew exactly where they were trying to get to and guided them on their way. Afterward, it struck me how “high” I felt. I could literally feel the endorphins (the feel-good hormone) flooding through my brain. I smiled broadly, walked a little taller, and felt this incredible sense of pride just because I was able to tell a tourist where Union Square was!

That made me think about what it must feel like to help people on a regular basis. I guess I was particularly sensitive to “do-good” feelings because at the time the universe had been sending a lot of opportunities my way that involve non-profit organizations. I signed a contract to work for the Girls Scouts USA, had been asked to speak at a meetup group for Nonprofit Executive Directors (NED), do a keynote address for National Philanthropy Day in Hudson, NY and work with a large accounting firm that was focusing on consulting for non-profits.
There’s so much bad news being shared all the time. I want to:

  1. a) Focus on individuals and organizations who are committed to doing good.
  2. b) Stress how important it is for those who are “doing good”, to polish their presentation and communication skills so that those good deeds are heard loud and clear.

Think about it, What good would it have done the people on the street if I knew exactly where Union Square was but was unable to:

1) convey through my presence and body language that I was trustworthy
2) convey in my vocal tone and facial expression that I was confident in my answer

AND

3) Explain and describe how to get there in a way that they could understand

Helping someone find their way around NYC is not going to change the world but some of the projects that the 10 Girls Scouts I worked with just might. And if you’re interested in helping anyone, be it in the corporate world or in the nonprofit world, please realize that sometimes it’s important to get better at speaking well so you can do even more good. Contact me for information on how to improve your skills and confidence.

VIP (Very Important Presentation) Day!

SIgnature Speech brainstorm

A couple of weeks ago I met for four hours with a client to help her put together a presentation she’s been struggling with. She had tons of great stuff in her head (and in MANY various PowerPoint iterations) Been there?

The first hour was spent getting everything out of her head and onto flip charts (see photo) Then we reorder the information until we had a cohesive outline: Attention Getter, Introduction, 3 sections of the body and conclusion.

From there we fleshed out bits and pieces of what more could go into each section and added that to the flip charts. We also pasted up parts from the PowerPoint she’d already had. By the end of our four hours, I had typed up a rough draft of her speech on PowerPoint slides so that she can work on them on her own – fleshing out more and adding design elements. As part of her VIP package, we will have one more hour together to walk through the presentation and polish any non-verbal skills (body language and vocal tone) and anything else that needs work.
It was a fun day and the time flew by. My client was grateful to have feedback and insight to help her create a complete, cohesive presentation out of all her great ideas and information.
An athlete or musician may have all the raw material to excel in their field but a talented coach knows how to bring out the best in them and help them shine and succeed. I love doing a similar thing for my clients.
Contact me to learn more about my one-on-one coaching.