In Conversation with Christine Berg 928 1024 Lisa

In Conversation with Christine Berg

In Conversation with Christine Berg

Christine is a designated Linklater Voice coach. She has trained, professional speakers, including film television and theater actors. Christine is the founder of shine creative coaching. At shine Christine encourages authenticity, as opposed to perfection. Part of her mission is to encourage her clients to share their unique selves through their voices in the boardroom on stage and in life as part of a powerful and revolutionary act.

LW: I have been dying to ask you this question for a few years now. We went to graduate school together and I have been wanting to get her on the show for months, and she’s finally agreed. And so now I can finally ask her questions. My first one is, I want to know why you were attracted to the Linklater Voice work and what did it give you in your own training before you started coaching others?

CB: That’s a great question. I mean there’s a lot of approaches to working with voice and all of them, have beautiful strengths and unique approaches that I think are very worthwhile. But for me, the Linkletter work is so specific and rigorous in terms of its approach to the body and really centers a voice as coming from the body and through the body as a primary way of accessing the person’s power and resonance. I love the way that the progression unfolds and that each thing builds on the next. I love that. I can take people through a long arc, if they’re an actor and training that we can do several years where it all just kind of builds on each other till they get to the that place where they have like a huge facility with classical texts and all of those things. But I also love that you can pick parts of the progression to apply to people that are not actors and get great success with that as well. So, you know, that’s why I wanted to do it. And of course the fact that at the time that I did it Kristin Linklater herself was still doing the teacher training and I really wanted to work with Kristen.

LW: Yes. I hear that, she was groundbreaking and her work will carry on forever because of that, because it is so strong. And so, so there’s a couple things to unpack in what you said, but I would like to know since you’ve become a coach, and you’ve been working on yourself, rigorously, as a coach, as you’ve been simultaneously coaching, others, how have you evolved her teachings to make them your own or have you?

CB: I think that’s a really good question and I would say in a way, It depends on the context. So if I’m teaching a class, teaching them the Linkletter method, then I’m very specific with that. That’s in fact, what we’re doing, but if I’m teaching a class where I kind of make up what we’re doing, and I’m following my own interest and we’re exploring say, public speaking or poetry or audition work. Then I have a little bit more freedom to start bringing myself into it. And one of the things that I’ve been really exploring lately is the world of imagery and how I can bring images from my own life that are very close and personal to me that are dear to my heart and offer those up as food for the participants imagination. And in that way, I’m using my images to bring her technique to life and I would say that that’s personal and unique to me.

LW: And when it comes to imagery work, I’m imagining that you’re teaching some storytelling technique outside of the theater training. Is that correct, or no?

CB: Yes, I do. I work a lot with digital agencies and with the creatives and client facing people within that those kinds of organizations and often. There’s a great deal of Storytelling because they work with bringing a brand story to life or potentially a product story to life. And so, you know, in the same way that we teach actors to really let their voices and their bodies share and be transparent to the feeling of the experience. They want to create. I do that with my non-actors too and I find it gives them something active and fun to do during their presentations, which I think it’s a very freeing and fun for the people involved.

LW: What about people who are a little bit shy higher or a little bit more frightened and that’s one of the reasons they’ve maybe sought you out. How did you work with them a little bit differently to kind of help them overcome some blocks or to become more comfortable. Is there anything you want to say to that?

CB: Yeah, that’s a really good question, you know, because as you well know, fear of public speaking is rampant. A lot of people feel that. And I’m really honest with my with people, that work with me that, you know, I get nervous too when I speak in public, so I don’t believe that the goal is to eradicate nerves. For me. The goal is to connect to why you’re giving the talk or why you need to speak. So that what you have to say is more important than the nerves that you might feel. I work with people on their mindset to try and help them be in the right frame of mind to go ahead and bring their courage and their voices to what they have to say. Anyway, even if they have nerves and then we also work through the body to try and slow down the heart rate, slow down the breathing, feel the feet on the floor. So that some of the symptoms of the nerves aren’t felt as strongly.

For full interview:

In Conversation with Dex Hunter-Torricke 1024 1024 Lisa

In Conversation with Dex Hunter-Torricke

In Conversation with Dex Hunter-Torricke

LW: Today’s guest is Dex Hunter-Torricke, he is the head of communications for the oversight board, the independent body established in 2020 to make binding decisions on Facebook and Instagram’s most challenging content issues. During his career Dex has served in a string of high-profile roles across the tech and policy worlds, including as head of communications for SpaceX, head of executive Communications for Facebook including four years as a speechwriter for Mark Zuckerberg and as Google’s first executive speechwriter where he supported Eric Schmidt, and Larry Page Dex is a New York Times bestselling Ghostwriter and frequent public speaker on technology issues. Welcome.

DEX: Hi Lisa, good to be here.

LW: My first question here, can you run us through your process of developing content for someone else?

Dex: Sure. And I like that, we started with that because I find whenever speech writers, get together, what’s your process? is sort of the code for saying hello, every speech writer…you know, recognizes just how important the process is and, you know, how integral that is to, you know, be able to do your job. Well, you know, it’s the old cliche. I don’t think there is one set process. There are things that I like to do and I think, you know, lend themselves to a good process. And I think, you know, the most important one is starting by listening deeply. And, you know, listening not just to the person you’re writing for but also, you know, being attuned, to the organization and the context in which that speech is going to be delivered.
But, you know, there’s not one right way to go about doing this. And, every speaker, every organization, every industry has very, very different processes and, speechwriters have to be able to adapt to changing circumstances. I do think that the one universal truth really is, you know, if you can listen deeply and, start by listening more than talking, gathering all the pieces of string you need to weave the speech together that often leads to a better outcome and it’s something that isn’t always done. Well, I find in a communications context, you know, a lot of speech writers, find themselves in the role somewhat accidentally, you know, they tend to come up through public relations or they come up through, government service, and they might do speech writing as 10% of their job which or 15% of their job and in the other parts of their job in the other 80% of the job, they might often find. They need to talk a lot and actually it’s knowing when to shut up. That’s often very, very important to being able to give a good speech.

LW: So, it sounds like what you’re saying is you’re in the room, you must have been listening, the listening part to the company, the organization and what not, and you’re really listening to what from the speaker? listening to what they want to say? what is their objective? What is the goal of this particular speech? What are the things you’re listening for?

Dex: Yeah, I mean you hit the nail on the head.

If you want to write for a thought leader and you want to meet them before the debate you have to really being able to understand the intellectual world view of the person you’re writing for. But what are the things that really drive the person that you’re writing for of? How do they see the world? You know, how do they see the issues that you’re going to be presenting your speech? You know, incredibly deeply? That’s the core…I’m making a good speech, the actual combination of words. That’s the easy part. That’s the piece that, you know, you can develop, I think much faster than actually coming up with great ideas, which then inform the content.

So, when I’m listening, I’m trying to get a sense of who’s this person and trying to build a relationship with that person. So that when they want to talk I at least have a starting point for understanding how they might see that.

LW: And then for those people that you have been working with or had worked with for years? I assume that there’s a beginning and then at a certain point you get into maybe a groove with them because you do get to know somebody.

Dex: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you know, that’s the example, I would give is Eric Schmidt, you know, Eric was the first person I wrote for when I came to Silicon Valley, you know, the beginning of 2011 and you know, I had previously been at the United Nations. I was writing for folks who were heads of state and heads of government your ambassadors, UN officials and the style of speaking, you know, in the Diplomatic World utterly unlike you know the tech industry, of course. One set of folks here, talks in very stilted language, you know, which is literally ripped from a diplomatic code. And, you know, the other is trying to come up with, thoughts that move the world and things that, you know, are more proactive, agendas about society. And with Eric, I wrote my first speech, much more informed by where I have come from here from my, um, experience. And he took one look at this and, you know, he was like, what the hell is this? And yeah, it was a complete disaster. I got incredibly embarrassed; I was very nervous. I was like, “oh my God, he hates my writing” and it took me two or three speeches before I got into the groove.

LW: That’s relatable to so many different Industries though, right? When we come into a space where we might be a little intimidated by the person. I’m not saying that you articulated that you were intimidated but you said you were nervous. When the person is a very well-established person or just somebody you don’t yet have rapport with it can make you nervous.

But everything is a journey. I mean, with Eric Schmidt, maybe you went home that day. After you felt. Oh God. He said this is terrible and you looked up his video of the first time he has a video of him public speaking. You thought? Well, at least it wasn’t that terrible.

I want to recap just a little bit for those people out there who might be in the same situation. You are listening, well, actively listening to the person and to the org, and then nailing the thoughts and nailing what their worldview is, or at least really understanding it. And then you’re going to go into writing…. I know I’m making the simplistic but it’s a 30-minute show, so you know.

Dex: Another point I make for anybody who’s struggling with this, the actual mechanics of writing a speech, they’re relatively fast, I mean, if you wanted to just write a 20-minute talk, now it’s 3,000 words, you know, speaking for about 150 words a minute, which the average, you know, you could easily nail that, you know, in less than an hour, but it will be complete rubbish. Unless you’ve actually taken the time to build that intellectual foundation to come up with great ideas and coming up with those ideas that takes time.

So before you rush to get a draft out on paper. You know, you want to really spend as much of the time as you can on those ideas. You know, a lot of folks, you know, when they’re writing for executives because they do get nervous and there are hierarchies involved. And so on, they think I’ve got two weeks to do this speech, I should get them a first draft. You know, the next couple of days to show that I’m really on the ball and that always struck me as not a good way to work. You know, you’ve got two weeks. You know take as much time as you can out of that process to you know, do something quality. If you take three or four days or you take a week you might have something that’s way better. And you’re going to be in a much stronger starting point before you start having to iterate with the speaker.

LW: I just want to acknowledge that might be the easy part for somebody else. It might not and so we might not be on the same page here, we might, but I want to say that when I have to write a talk for myself, for instance, I see the blank page and nothing happens.

Now if you give me, if you give me Hamlet, I can cut Hamlet down to 35 minutes and make it a great production. If you give me a speech…which many people do who hire me, I can cut and reshape it and all that. That’s not a problem. But when I’m going to write for myself, suddenly my skills completely out of the window. I don’t know how I don’t have a process that works for me and so I want to speak a little bit about that, you know, maybe and again I’m asking not you can answer in a general way like well for most people, this is how they seem to do it but I also want to know for you when you’re writing for yourself. What is unique about it?

Dex: Yeah, I think you’re right. I think people often find it more difficult to write for themselves. I definitely don’t think it’s a question of words. I do think it’s ideas. Is, you know, views of the world that’s tough because you’re having to present things that are deeply personal to you. It’s always much easier to present other people’s ideas because those are necessarily as personal as at your own.

Full interview:


Caroline Goyder: London’s Most Sought After Public Speaking Coach 900 900 Lisa

Caroline Goyder: London’s Most Sought After Public Speaking Coach

In Conversation with Caroline Goyder: London’s Most Sought After Public Speaking Coach

LW: Today’s guest is Caroline Goyder. She is one of London’s most prestigious public speaking coach has she served as professor of voice and speech for over a decade at the Royal Central School of speech and drama. She is authored three books; Gravitas, Star Qualities and Find Your Voice released in January 2020. Her 2014 tedx talk “the surprising secret to speaking with confidence” has been viewed over 8.3 million times. She is often making media appearances and has been featured in dozens of national magazines. It is an honor to have you here today. Welcome Caroline!

CG: Oh, it’s an honor to be here Lisa. Thank you for having me. Absolutely. You know, this is a special treat.

LW: So I want to know right away what types of clients seek you out typically or is there a typical?

CG: Gosh, well, yes, it’s funny. So tiny bit of backstory. I fell into this work because when I left University and arrived at drama school, they said you’re in your head and I had to get out of my head and into my body, which is something we can probably unpick more. I tend to work with people who have done very well in their lives because they’re good at the thinking stuff. And suddenly find that they have to communicate on a bigger scale and often that means getting the more into their body. So I am the classic teach what you need teacher, that’s me.

LW: As far as getting I want to touch on what you just said getting out of your head and into your body just because that’s something that in drama school I heard as well not just towards me but other people and I’m wondering if it’s the same has the same meaning in London as it does in California for us. It means anticipating of the next thought you’re about to express or being too much in your head thinking things through and that kind of thing. Is that what you meant by that?

CG: Yes, I mean, I think it covers a multitude of sins. It means that to me and I think it also means which I think you said actually that thing of working out the world through your brain solely when we can kind of get stuck in a story that we tell ourselves. Whereas when we are reading the world through our senses kind of feeling our way through the world actually often we get true of feedback and for me, I think It really means being tuned in to my senses my breath. My body are not just me working out the world through the narrow confines of my brain. So I think we are broadly on the same page on that.

LW: And so when you have a client that comes to you and maybe you know with this type of work. Are you teaching them breathing technique resonance articulation techniques?

CG: Yes, I mean I think like you because I know you’ve got an Alexander Technique background. I think it all starts with finding a sense of ease and presence and fluidity in the body and my belief with voices that when you find that a lot of the other things start to untangle, so I tend to start with you know, say this I’m learning. I’m always learning this myself to I feel like I’m a perpetual student. But I’m always unpicking with students in my classes how they hold themselves how they breathe and then how that feeds into how they voice themselves.

LW: When you have a client come to you and you start to spot that they have some false beliefs about themselves. They come in and they might say “I’m a bad speaker” or “I know I can never be good at this” or things like that. I consider that a false belief. I don’t know how you would articulate those things. But do you get those clients? And if so, do you address it?

CG: Oh, yes and belief is huge, isn’t it? So when someone tells me I hate public speaking. I’m a terrible speaker. What I would want to model is where in their life they do feel confident. So I had a lovely client who actually works in the management side of theater. I won’t name him or where he works. And he was getting very nervous about a big Public Presentation. And so we looked at where he feels himself and confident and he feels himself and confident with his team. So we modeled the breadth of those meetings and the presence of those meetings and then kind of transferred the file to these big public visible presentations. I think when someone models out their own success in their own life, and they transfer it. Often those beliefs start to dissolve because they’re locked in a past you that isn’t really true anymore.

LW: because my background is also in Psychology… I don’t go into psychoanalysis heavy psychoanalysis or therapy with a client. I absolutely don’t want to do that but I come through that lens a little bit when I see somebody is really struggling and I also do try to get them into their body anything else that you use or advice you would like to give somebody who’s listening right now who is feeling a little bit stuck because “I’ll never be the speaker my brother is or my father was” or “my boss is” or these kinds of false beliefs … any piece of advice you’d like to send out to our listeners in this area?

CG: I would say to you that it is very habitual that you know, the patterns that we have around speaking are just learned behaviors. And if you want to learn to speak, well really the first thing to do is a bit Alexander in a way in that Alexander noticed that he had a pattern that wasn’t serving him and started to unpack it. I’d say to you if you can bear it get yourself on camera. Record your voice and with a really generous supportive spirit as if you were listening to a friend speaking. Give yourself a few things that you want to celebrate and then start to think what do I want to refine and often? It’s things like I’m speaking too fast or I’m saying I’m or my voice isn’t rich enough. And just start with the things that you can practice yourself and then seek out someone like Lisa seek out a drama school seek out an online course because there’s so much good stuff online now and start to unpick the habits that maybe you can’t unpick on your own and if you do that over a period of about, you know, six months to a year. It’s amazing how your voice your speech can change and I’m always really keen to say to people you can be your own coach.

Full Interview:

Dr. Susannah Baldwin: “Women, Language & Power” 984 1024 Lisa

Dr. Susannah Baldwin: “Women, Language & Power”

Dr. Susannah Baldwin: “Women, Language & Power”

In Conversation with Dr. Baldwin from LWS Podcast Episode 6

LW: I want to start a little bit with your background tell us how you ended up specializing in language and empowerment.

Dr. Baldwin: Well, it’s sort of found its way to me. But this is this is how it happened. I’m a clinical psychologist by training. I spent 10 years working in a consulting firm focus on leadership development. I realized communication was a really underappreciated skill for leaders. So I went out and spent a chunk of years doing executive speech coaching. And when I opened my coaching practice about 11 years ago, my title became really important. I’m a leadership and Communications coach and that title opened the floodgates for women coming into my practice. I got woman after woman after woman all coming with similar issues and they all centered around communication and those issues were important enough to be holding women back from advancing into leadership levels. And so let me give you a flavor for what those issues sounded like…”she doesn’t speak up enough. She’s not assertive enough. She doesn’t come across with authority. She’s not visible enough across the organization. She’s not comfortable with conflict. She just basically doesn’t have an executive presence in whereas she could be influential and effective at a leadership level.” So having seen this again and again and again in client after client, I realized this was not some fatal flaw of women or any one woman. It really had a lot to do with how we are conditioned as women and particularly the way women speak that made me develop go on to develop my workshop on “women language and power.”

LW: What I see is that it does sometimes occur a little bit more with people from different cultures or different ethnic backgrounds, and I’m wondering in your research and in your time as a coach. What part do you think that plays in the way women either hold themselves back in meetings or become nervous giving presentations or just become submissive around men in the workplace?

Dr Baldwin: Yeah, I wouldn’t say it’s submissive around men. I might say submissive in general or conforming to what the biases are around their particular ethnicity and I would say that women of color in particular test what we’re talking about suffer from having double bias one the biases people have about women and how they should act and speak and then they have a whole other level of bias against about how a black woman should speak or an Asian woman.

LW: What are some good concrete examples of that just so we can get on the same page. Where women will hold themselves back…maybe want to say something in an assertive way, but it’s coming across in a very passive way or in a very gentle way when they’re very entitled to just give their opinion or to say what they need to say.

Dr. Baldwin: Yeah, that’s what I call “bubble wrapping.” You know, where we take the sharp edges off our assertions the impulse to make an assertion and maybe one that’s really strong and assertive maybe even aggressive and we sort of wrap it to soften it. For example, I deserve a promotion that might be the direct assertion but women will show up by saying when do you think it might be possible for me to get a promotion? Those are two different types of assert statements one lines up with the goal. I think I deserve a promotion. The other is a veiled.

LW: What’s your typical program look like for one-on-one?

Dr. Baldwin: Typically I work in three to six months chunks because if you’re really serious about changing your behavior, it takes time because it takes a lot not only practice to learn what you’re doing, but do it enough to where it becomes comfortable and a habit a new habit 3 to 6 months.


In Conversation with Dr. Deborah Tannen 1024 630 Lisa

In Conversation with Dr. Deborah Tannen

In Conversation with Dr. Deborah Tannen
PART 1 of my Interview with Dr. Deborah Tannen, America’s Most Respected Linguist

LW: So we’re going to cover a couple of areas including your new book. But first I’d like to introduce my listeners to your research in conversational analysis. So let’s start there. If you don’t mind, can you tell us what conversational analysis is?


Dr. Tannen: Yes, it’s a subfield of linguistics, which is the scientific study of language and those of us who study conversation record conversation. Transcribe it, break it down into its all its component parts so words but also rhythms of speech the intonation patterns the pausing length of pause where those pauses come directness in directness. All these many, many, many different ways that you can say what you mean and we study that and for people in my sub-discipline the question then is how is that affecting both the conversation but also the relationships that people are creating.

LW: I saw some of your lectures where you mention Conversational Style and what influences conversational style. Can you speak to that just for a minute? I think one of the things you talk about is the big five.

Dr. Tannen: Yes, absolutely. So this is my own take on it. I talked about conversational style as all the different ways that we say what we mean. So there are some specifics about the patterns. The fundamental idea is this when we talk to people we assume that they must mean what we would mean if we said the same thing in the same way in the same context if they have a similar conversation. Then chances are they will understand what we meant as we meant it and we will probably get the right impression of them. They will get the right impression of us. But if people have a different conversational style than the impression they get and what they think we meant and what they think we’re doing could be very different so influences the big five would be gender that maybe the one of the biggest ones in it’s one that I’ve read about quite a lot, but also ethnic background regional background class and age. So one of the major studies that I did was comparing speakers from New York of Jewish background. So you got both ethnicity and region with speakers from California of not Jewish, but various mixed backgrounds, and then also someone from London.

LW: You said we can go deeper into conversational analysis. Was there something that you wanted specifically to touch upon?


Dr. Tannen: Well, I would love to give some specific examples. So one of my favorites because this was one of the things I found in my original study is the simple difference when you speak to someone you have to decide when their turn is done and it’s your turn to begin and we have a number of ways that we judge that whether we think they’ve made their point. That would be one their intonation pattern and if it goes down that would be another but we also listen for a pause if they stopped long enough for us to think. Okay, they’re done. There are very slight we’re talking maybe fractions of a second or maybe numbers of seconds difference in in how long a pause people tend to think is normal between churns. And again, it could vary by Place New York versus California versus the Midwest versus New England and of course different countries also will affect this. So anytime true people speak that have a slightly different sense of how long a pause is normal between turns the one who is expecting the shorter pause will think that the other one has nothing more to say or is turning over the floor while that person may still be waiting for what they think is the normal amount of pause and the effect can be that the one who thinks this normal amount of pause has come and gone and they’re nice person and they want to make sure that this is a good conversation that it doesn’t run down. They will take the floor and they might do that again. And then again and the effect is that the person who’s waiting for that longer pause never gets the floor because the length of pause they think is normal never comes. So this tiny little difference linguistic difference how long a pause you think is normal can create massive disruption in the conversation and especially important. Lead to negative evaluations of the other person. You don’t give me a chance to speak. You just want to hear yourself talk or you have nothing to say. Why don’t you do your part in this conversation? Or maybe you don’t like me and that’s why you don’t want to contribute to the conversation and you even see these kinds of frustrations between close friends between lovers between people who live together people who are married to each other.

Because these assumptions are so automatic. I feel interrupted you must have intended to interrupt me. And then sometimes it really can just be traced to this difference in conversational style. And then I can go on and say once a person is aware of this they can make adjustments those of us who are expecting a short pause and we realized that the person were talking to hasn’t spoken much we can force ourselves to wait. Maybe count to seven past the time you think they have nothing to say and see if they begin speaking or if you’re having trouble getting the floor. You can push yourself to begin speaking before it feels natural to do so and so many people that I have talked to on having a consciousness raised in this way. Tell me that that often solves a problem.

LW: Yeah, you know, it’s an interesting thing, I don’t study Linguistics, but I am coach. I coach people on how to have more effective conversations in the workplace. And certainly I coach quite a lot of public speaking. The word “pacing” and the word “pausing” comes up in public speaking quite a bit and but in a different way than it is here. However, I have noticed quite a lot of my foreign-born Founders and foreign-born Executives come to the United States and this issue of pausing is really difficult for them because they don’t catch when that pause is going to come and when it’s going to be their turn in an environment where it’s not just one-on-one. It’s in a room full of people that are all competing to be heard. And so I’m asked that question at least once a week.

Dr. Tannen: You know, Lisa, how do I tell when I can really interject without being rude and it’s something that we have to work on.

LW: I’m wondering just because you mentioned America Americans did you do some study beyond the United States on that and noticed any difference?

Dr. Tannen: I have not done it in the same principled way of analyzing, you know recording conversation transcribing it timing the pauses. I haven’t but in just observation and the work of colleagues who have done that. It seems clear that many of the cultures of many Asian cultures one person actually grad student of mine study this. Pauses in a meetings among Japanese employees and Executives and she actually recorded a comment Applause of 18 seconds. And when she would speak about this she would tie in 18 seconds and most Americans at that point were jumping out of their seats. Yeah, and then then then there are other cultures who I think Mediterranean. German is one is really where there would be much there would be a shorter pause and I should say too that there are some conversational styles where you don’t want a pause and this is often the case with people from New York City. It isn’t only Eastern European background New Yorkers. But New York is a many backgrounds Italians Irish, maybe as well where you simply start to wind down as a signal to the other person. I’m recycling what I’m saying. So that’s your signal that I’m really done and there are so many things that go along with this in the my initial study. If someone starts speaking before you really were ready or you’re trying to get the floor and no one is stopping. You don’t give up you just try again and if they don’t pick it up, then you try again and there was one example where someone was trying to get the floor to say something and there was it was a big group and people weren’t stopping he tried seven times and he was one of the New Yorkers the Californian would never do that. They try once it’s not picked up they give up I think of this as an economy. It’s an economic system. It’s a balance.

Before You Negotiate Anything 1024 576 Lisa

Before You Negotiate Anything

This year has been about negotiations. We are negotiating contracts, mortgages, rent reductions, haircuts, and even how we dine at restaurants just name a few. We see states negotiating for ventilators, congress negotiating stimulus packages and countries negotiating travel bans. You, likely, have already had to negotiate something this year or are about to. The types of negotiation you are making can have a huge impact on you and your family’s wellbeing. Now is not the time to be off your game.

For the high stakes negotiations, here are my top three “must haves” before sitting at the table.


Research whatever it is you are negotiating and research who you are negotiating with. By looking at who the other person is you can likely gather what they want, both personally and professionally from the conversation. This knowledge will help you prepare your strategy. Do not judge them or make assumptions. This is different from understanding them. The key is to understand what they want and why they want it. In addition to researching you can also ask advice from someone you trust who has negotiated with the adversary before or has made a similar negotiation and won.


Be crystal clear regarding what you want and what you are willing to settle for. This clarity is especially helpful when negotiating a raise or contract. You may want a $20k raise but you could settle for $10k and more vacation time. Whatever your numbers are, do not show you are willing to take less than you are asking until the end of the negotiation. Force them to talk you down even though you know you’ll agree. This strategy is important. Let the other person feel they have done a great job negotiating. Not only will they enjoy the conversation, they will respect you for holding out and likely feel they owe you.

Emotional Strength:

You have nothing to lose. Adopt this attitude. Be willing to walk away.  If you are not getting anywhere or the other party thinks they have more negotiating power – walk. Never show any emotional attachment. If you allow the other person see that you are emotionally attached to the outcome, you lose your power. Suddenly they will be in control of the conversation and therefore in control of the outcomes. Show a willingness to walk away and no emotional attachment. A neutral, I-have-nothing-to-lose attitude will surprise and throw off your opponent, thus comfortably handing you control of the conversation.

In the end, remember a negotiation is simply a process aimed at reaching an agreement between two parties. You want to be armed with as much information as possible, be clear on what you do and don’t want, and operate from a place of strength.

Navigating Difficult Conversations 275 183 Lisa

Navigating Difficult Conversations

Navigating Difficult Conversations

Whether it’s a professional or personal conversation, one of this year’s biggest challenges has been navigating difficult conversations. For some of us living in homes with people who have opposing viewpoints, it’s become part of daily life.

Unlike ordinary conversations, difficult conversations are much more likely to hijack our internal sense of peace and create feelings of panic or anger. While these intense emotions take hold, we fall into the trap of building a wall when we are hoping to build a bridge. We may even find that our conversation has become unproductive or explosive in just a few minutes.

So what can we do to ensure our sense of calm doesn’t get hijacked and we stay in bridge building mode?

Think through what matters most to you in the conversation. Set intentions and achievable goals. Some important goals could be to keep the conversation pleasant, find common ground, listen and acknowledge the other person’s viewpoint. These are all things you can control. Setting intentions or goals that are outside of your control will likely lead to panic if the conversation doesn’t go well. Acknowledging how your body responds to fear or anger can help you stay calm. Perhaps when things get challenging your heart races, back stiffens, you find breathing more difficult and so on. Prepare physically by doing some slow deep breathing. Keep your eyes open and imagine the breath is going into your belly and back. Shake your hands vigorously to release excess tension.

Emotion in the Conversation
You must stay in your own emotional state without taking on the other person’s. If the other person becomes angry or emotional, stay neutral. If you need to defuse the situation, say less and listen more. The more neutral you are, the more likely your friend or colleague will come down from being carried away by emotion.

Know When to End
This one can be especially tricky if you don’t know the person well. You may be surprised to find they are triggered easily, and the conversation has gone down a rabbit hole quick. Try ending it by asking a question. “Perhaps, we should take a break and reconvene tomorrow?” This will buy you time to rethink your strategy based on their response.

What to avoid
Do not use condescending tones or language. That is a surefire way to increase tension and put your partner on the defense. Stay on topic and do not let your partner change the subject. If they resist staying on topic you may need to end the conversation. You’ll also need to avoid letting your ego take over. The desire to “win” or control the outcome may be human but not productive.

Final Thoughts
With all conversations where risk is involved, knowing how to handle yourself when a conversation gets heated is key. Mental and physical preparation helps ground you in your intentions, increases your control over your physiological responses, and sets a foundation for staying engaged in a way that aligns with your intentions. Once you are deep in the conversation, stay on topic, listen and keep breathing. Remember, you cannot control another person’s responses, only your own.

Lisa Wentz 7/29/20

Voice & Speech Training Is Crucial for Successful Meetings During Quarantine 609 800 Lisa

Voice & Speech Training Is Crucial for Successful Meetings During Quarantine

Voice & Speech Training for Successful Meetings During Quarantine

First, let’s start by defining what voice and speech training is. Voice and speech training was originally developed for stage actors to achieve the following:
to reduce mental and physical tension which interferes with breathing and speaking while performing; to help actors develop a strong, grounded voice and presence on stage; and finally, to develop stamina of articulatory muscles (lips, tongue, and jaw) for clarity. The need for this training may perhaps seem obvious from the point-of-view of a cast of actors performing Hamlet eight shows a week.

What doesn’t seem obvious is that the same training is essential for business professionals in meetings for several hours a day and anyone in a leadership position. Here’s why . . .

Breathing: Reduce tension and focus your mind

The fastest and most effective way to shed excess tension and focus your thoughts on delivery is to warm up with breathing exercises. I recommend using long deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose and out through the mouth. When you breathe out, make the sound of a long, sustained S. Six to eight slow deep breaths 30 minutes before your speech is ideal. While in your meeting, continue to breathe deeply between thoughts and during pauses.

Try to remember excess tension is nothing more than wasted energy. The energy you could be using to articulate your message or persuade and inspire your team is not easily accessed when experiencing mental and physical tension. In voice and speech training, we start with the understanding that humans function as a whole and can only fundamentally change as a whole. In other words, the mental tension and physical tension co-exist together and must be addressed simultaneously. By reducing tension and learning to economize our energy output we can create a stronger presence.

Resonance: Developing your voice

Who doesn’t want to speak with optimum resonance? A fully resonant voice not only projects confidence, it’s easier for your audience to listen to. Being in several meetings a day gets tiring. Particularly if you are in virtual meetings. Think of how you feel when you listen to a stressed or worn out voice. Likely, it causes you to feel tired or stressed yourself. The answer to this problem is two-fold: we must learn to breathe to support our vocal stamina and speak slowly with more pauses.

Articulation: Speaking clearly to be heard and understood

At this stage in my career, I have worked with clients from 37 countries. I have helped my clients raise A, B, and C rounds, sell million-dollar projects and speak to media on camera in high pressure interviews. ESL speakers have a special understanding of the importance of good articulation of language.

However, articulation training is not for ESL speakers alone. Increasing the clarity of your speech with articulation exercises right before a meeting or each morning before work increases the positive impact you have on others. Having taken the time to carefully craft your delivery relaxes your listeners. They do not have to strain to understand you or fear missing out on something you have said. I cannot emphasize enough how crucial this piece is for virtual meetings where the sound quality of the platform itself may be working against you.

Moving forward

As you apply the above exercises and advice, remember these three areas are meant to refuel your energy. The added benefits are the increased power of your presence, a richer vocal quality, and articulate messaging, which enables a more successful meeting for you and your colleagues or team members.

Public Speaking Coaching & Sales Enablement 1024 588 Lisa

Public Speaking Coaching & Sales Enablement

Why a Public Speaking Coach Is Essential to Sales Enablement

When we think of public speaking training, most of us imagine preparing for a conference, an all-hands meeting or TED Talk. And although training and preparation for these arenas are vital, these are not the only places public speaking skills can make or break your performance.

Here are a few areas a public speaking coach can help with, whether you are in front of a decision-maker, buyer, or board of directors:

Managing Nerves
A well-trained coach knows exactly how to help you identify the thoughts that trigger stage fright. Even in its most mild form, stage fright causes an adrenaline rush which makes appearing confident and on message very difficult. After identifying what thoughts cause your nerves to go haywire, you must have a system in place to eradicate this—before it takes hold and causes you to be thrown off your game.

When Natural Charisma Is Not Enough
Many salespeople rely too heavily on their natural charm and personable approach. What happens when you are faced with a decision-maker whose blank stares and impenetrable demeanor give you nothing to work off of to create the rapport you are so used to having? Are you thrown off and flustered? Do you give up? Your mindset is everything in these moments. A great public speaking coach likely has drama training under her belt and can help you enter any meeting with achievable goals and objectives you can meet regardless of whether or not you feel rapport is being built.

How To Be Clear and Concise
Even the most experienced sales teams I’ve worked with in San Francisco and Silicon Valley struggle with how much information to give in a presentation or pitch. I will ask my clients: “What does the buyer need to know to help them make their decision?” Stick to the bare bones and do not get bogged down with details. If they want you to elaborate, they will ask questions.

Use of Word Stress, Imagery and Pauses in Your Delivery
If you want a potential buyer to hang on your every word, be drawn in by your descriptions, and remember what you’ve said, these are the techniques you want to employ. A public speaking coach is used to creating, co-creating, editing, and directing scripts. We understand which words are the most impactful, where to pause to give the listener time to take in the message, and how use of imagery excites audiences. 

Imagine the opposite occurring: You are the buyer and the seller of a complicated product is speeding through the description without pausing. Or perhaps they are leasing a building with a beautiful view but skip the description of the scenic view that would greatly improve your chances of buying it. Or a seller uses minimal word stress so their delivery becomes monotone and you begin thinking about your next appointment.

In my coaching practice, I have found these are common mistakes and the solutions are often overlooked by sales professionals. A simple road map of where to pause and what words to stress can quickly lift your delivery from average to master public speaker with maximum impact.

To Sum Up

Not only do we want to make a sale, but we also want to feel we are at our best when we do it. We want to be calm, fully present, and impactful. This requires the similar training and tools that actors and public speakers use. Taking the time to develop your speaking skills is a must if you want to hit it out of the park every time. These are just a few of the reasons why a public speaking coach is essential to sales enablement.

Public Speaking: a step by step program to get you started! 1024 576 Lisa

Public Speaking: a step by step program to get you started!

Public Speaking: a step by step program to get you started!

“I’ve always wanted to do this. I finally decided to not hold myself back” I often hear this statement and many others like it spoken within the first few minutes of my private coaching sessions.

Public speaking can intimidate even the most extroverted personalities. It’s no wonder given it’s not something we are trained in and not faced with until we are required to deliver a speech — sometimes without much notice. Speaking in public is a broad topic that is not limited to professional speakers, speaking at team meetings, to a board of directors or other professional engagements but also at weddings, graduations and other social events.

If you are stepping out of your comfort zone to take the stage for any reason, here are some proven tips you can apply to reduce nerves and deliver with impact:

Acknowledge Nervousness: Ever notice that pretending something isn’t there makes it worse? I have. First step to a great speech is to embrace the fact that you may be nervous. Think of this as a good thing. You are feeling a racing heartbeat, sweaty palms and so on because you care. If you didn’t care about the outcome, I’d question whether you should be speaking in the first place.

Reduce Nerves and Focus: The fastest and most effective way to reduce nervousness, shed excess tension and focus your thoughts on delivery, is to warm up with breathing exercises. I recommend using long deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose out through the mouth. When you breathe out, make the sound of a long, sustained S. Six to eight slow deep breaths 30 minutes before your speech is ideal.

Create Rapport: Start with a warm vocal tone, eye contact and slowing down the rhythm of your speech. This will let the audience know you are talking to them, not at them.

Insert Pauses: If you are someone who uses filler words, like “actually” “so” or “uhm” consider pausing in those moments. The pauses allow the audience time to digest the information in your speech. It also allows you time to breath and focus. You can also use pauses strategically to get a point across. For instance, pausing after asking a question gives the audience time to think, and shows you are about their mental involvement in your speech.

Consider your purpose and setting: Adapt your speech to your specific audience and the venue. This will help you decide on the level of complicated information you need to share or determine your choice of words. You may be able to use specific “ice breakers” or humor depending on who’s in the audience and where and when it’s taking place.

Match tone to content: You can use different tones within the same speech to keep the audience engaged. Start with a warm and welcoming tone. Then, if you are delivering great news your tone could be happy ore excited. When delivering a problem try a somber but resilient quality. Higher energy is a way to create excitement, while quieting your tone creates thoughtfulness.

Body language: Nonverbal communication can help emphasize your message. You can use your hands when delivering verbal bullet points, such as a list of problems you are tackling. Avoid pacing and replace it with deliberate movement such as walking a few steps after you finish one section to start another. Additionally, allowing yourself to freely move while matching your movement to your content is a great way to dissipate nervous energy.

Prepare and Practice: Prepare so you have a clear road map to follow as you deliver your speech. As part of this preparation I suggest assigning objectives to each section. Think through what you want the audience to take with them. Practice on your feet, out loud with an audio recorder. You’ll have a better sense of flow and what content can be cut or added to make the speech more effective.

There are many wonderful resources where you can see the above techniques applied. TED talks, such as Bryan Stevenson’s Let’s Talk About an Injustice, is an excellent example of changing tone to match content and using body language to emphasize a point. Any of Barak Obama’s or Caesar Chavez’ speeches drive home the power of pausing. As you watch, remind yourself not to fall into the “compare and despair” trap. While we can learn much from speakers who have crafted their delivery with years of practice, it’s your job to sound like you and find your own authentic style. Be fearlessly authentic and you will always be interesting to watch.

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Lisa Wentz is a public speaking expert who coaches executives and managers from Fortune 500 companies and the non-profit sector. Her new book, Grace Under Pressure: A master class in public speaking (LID Publishing) is available now in the US.