authentic communication

There are many ways to show you care, and I care about the crew at Interact. We are a special bunch full of awesome people, come see what it’s all about! Happy Valentine’s Day!

David Tepper made waves as the unabashed new owner of the Carolina Panthers this season. Despite his billionaire status, he’s a blue-collar guy and it shows.

“There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice.” Michelle Obama’s story makes our list of Authentic Moments of 2018.

“Our mission is simple, and our visions are unbeatable.” An update on the inspiring students affected by the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, FL. Their eloquence in a time of crisis tops our list of Authentic Moments of 2018.

For 18 days, the world was captivated by 12 soccer players and their coach trapped in the Tham Luang cave in Thailand. The story of their rescue makes our list of Top Authentic Moments of 2018.

Charlotte has some great media personalities. One individual in particular shines bright for our Authentic Moments of 2018 series, (TEDx speaker and founder of Molly’s Kids) Molly Grantham.

Words matter. Words make a difference. Words create change. Brian Dawkins NFL Hall of Fame speech addressing his struggles with depression, and how it helped others makes our list of Authentic Moments of 2018.

“Failure is the highest octane fuel your life can run on. You gotta learn to make failure your fuel.” -Abby Wambach commencement speech at Bernard College, 2018. Abby makes an entry in our Authentic Moments of 2018 series.

Rev. Graham preached for over seven decades across America and internationally. His message was one of friendliness, openness and authenticity.

Christian Wilkins success in college football will not be his defining moment. Instead, his character shining so very authentically by his actions overcoming life’s hurdles and helping those around him with a smile will.

“When love is the way, then no child will go to bed hungry in this world ever again.” – Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon at the wedding of Megan & Harry’s Royal Wedding it makes our list of Authentic Moments in 2018.

A reflection of George H.W Bush genuine, authentic gestures is easy to find in his legacy. From his commitment to service, family, and those he esteemed.

Kathy Izard, author of The Hundred Story Home, was our featured speaker at Interact’s Thankful Morning and our Interaction Hero series.

Resist the dark draw of podiums. They seduce us to staying hidden and blocked from the vulnerability. Connect with the audience. Step away!

We always talk with the speakers we coach about the importance of delivery. Looking at Ohio State’s Urban Meyer incident gives us a moment to look at the message, it’s substance and delivery.

Beyonce has evolved before us and takes time to show her authentic self through the lens of a mother and strong woman that she is.

Everyone is subject to nervous energy when speaking. Your adrenaline can kick up the electricity in the room when you channel it using these 8 steps.

Welcome to our new series in highlighting moments of true authenticity. Today we look at NFL Hall of Famer Brian Dawkins with his recent raw and powerful speech he gave about his trials with depression and supporters who have seen him through it.

Anticipation is a feeling that has many interpretations depending on what you perceive as the outcome, fearful, anxious, nervous, excited, or even the blended nervous-excitement. Here are some tips our in-house adventurer uses to change the frame of his, one jump at a time.

Being a great interviewer is part art, part science. The best in the business have certain similarities and skills we all can learn from. And you can apply their tips to your own interview situations.

Tamela Rich shares some suggestions for planning an authentic vacation for you and yours. They follow her motto to “Pack Light, Travel Slow, Connect Deep.”

By giving up and not taking vacations we’re giving up well-being and quality-of-life benefits. Explore what they are, why we do it, and ways to build vacation awareness.

Most graduation speakers pull from their experience and life lessons to celebrate and issue a new challenge to graduates. Here are a few highlights from this year’s lineup that peaked Susie’s interest and won her approval.

No brand or company is infallible, but when it “hits the fan,” how you respond can make or break your brand. Companies that walk the talk and respond in an authentic manner can emerge even stronger. The Starbucks response is a case study.

This time of year we pause to remember the men and women who have died while serving our country. And those who came home, like Bill, pause to mark a moment of grace.

With over ten years in the Grinnell Water Works Building, I am still amazed at the impact the building has people. Clients always ask about its history

Whether it’s closing a deal or getting in front of the senior leaders, here are 7 ways that will help you land your next project.

Congressional hearings can make or break scenarios. I’m reminded of the disasters of the Enron hearings and the MLB steroid hearings. This was not that. Other leaders (and the teams that support them) would be wise to take a page from the Facebook preparation when they face crises of trust and accountability.

I am in awe of many things. The renewal of my dogwood. The passion and nobility in all of us. Time for a look at the cycle of it all and how we move forward.

The students of Stoneman Douglas found their voices to call for change. Young people, articulate, passionate, and thoughtful—finding their voices in tragedy and using their story to try to change the world. You can find your story at any age.

Too often people overlook the importance of vocal quality in their communication–which doesn’t make sense when we are using it to read your passion, confidence, sincerity, natural authority and commitment. Find out how why verbal quality is so important and 7 ways to make it stronger.

Don’t get caught with “tone deaf” messaging. Avoid media responses created in the bubble of your company or organization without appropriate thought to your customers and constituencies and how they may view your response. During a time of crisis take the pulse of the people who matter most.

When you stand to begin your presentation, the attention in the room is high—Perhaps as high as it ever will be. If you want to keep it and have a memorable presentation you need to build for the attention dip. Ready to learn how?

Everyone gets “out of shape” from time to time when it comes to first impressions. As a reminder, here are ten mistakes to avoid if you have hopes of taking a new relationship further.

When planning the roll out of a new initiative or project update, consider these seven secret weapons that will ignite engagement in the Q & A session!

We stand at the doorway to a New Year. This is the perfect time to set your intention about being extraordinary in 2018, and forging a plan to make it happen. Before we sail on and into January, we wanted to connect you and your teams to a new lineup of programs at Interact Studio, created with you in mind.

Consider working on a form of self-expression in 2018 that could change your life. That self-expression is Authentic Speaking, which is to speak not from who you think you should be, but from who you really are. Listen to billionaire Warren Buffett’s advice to a class of business students back in 2009.

The Interact Team loves our furry friends and joined a crowd of 500 devoted animal lovers for the 9th Annual Ties & Tails Gala benefiting the Humane Society of Charlotte.

Sincerity shows up in the way you look, move and sound–not what you say. Your behavior and message need to sync up if you want people to trust you.

What is vulnerability showcased our 2nd interactive chat. See our discussion and discourse surround this topic from trust to team building. Vulnerability matters.

Follow this advice and you will join the ranks of mediocre presenters who default to PowerPoint instead of putting their heart into their communication.

When it’s time to stand up and speak, do you feel a surge of creepy, cold adrenaline? Of course you do. Here are 8 tips for making public speaking easier.

For years I’ve been dancing with the creative spirit that gives me some amazing moments, and then takes flight to leave me swinging in the wind, without a thought in my head. Let’s explore ways we can get you going again, easily.

We seem to have forgotten our power. Take a step back to remember how to connect with others with basic skills we all have.

Writing a book is a journey of both the mind and the soul. We venture forth and travel deep from our emotions to bring out something wonderful. See the behind the scenes to my latest book and tips you can put to good use.

This Fall join us for Your Authentic Speaking Style! Strength-based coaching to shift your perception and change the way you think about your own influence.

Authenticity! Welcome to the first recap of a #BeAuthentic Chat. We had some fantastic participation and hope to see you in our next one! Now let’s dive into what it is to be authentic!

We hamstring ourselves thinking we need detail oriented slides because “that’s how it’s always done.” Presentations can be so much more, let us show you how.

Research shows that a team will take on the mood of its leader. Consider that if you’re beating yourself up, your team will follow suit. Break the habit with these 7 steps.

Resilience is not a simple formula any more than hardships are all the same. Approach life’s challenges with these tips to help you move forward.

Vulnerability builds trust in others, but it also provides you with the relief that comes with the freedom to be human. Here are 6 ways you can practice.

5 tips for building a better human connection; learn the power to deepen the moment, inspire change and build trust.

It can seem that being persuasive is a natural gift, like charisma or good looks, but I assure you, just like everything else, it can be learned. After 20+ years helping people with persuasive messaging, I have boiled it down into a few simple models that anyone can use to hone their message.

Find out how to keep team members engaged, productive and growing no matter how spread out or what size an organization is.

Becoming a new leader can be both exciting and overwhelming. Suddenly you are responsible for a whole new set of skills and what is often referred to as "Executive Presence." Instead of enjoying the distinction of being a "high-potential," and measuring success through your own performance, you now need to connect with, influence and inspire

Deliberate practice stretches you to have cognitive access to information while making a meaningful connection. Put these six steps to practice!

Stories from fellow TEDx Speakers; meet Charles Hunt a man who created a very different story for his life, what he calls “rewiring your DNA.”

Before setting goals or making resolutions, as part of the strategic planning process, respond to these five questions.

Every great story has a beginning. Every great relationship, collaboration, start-up, risk, and accomplishment. Every great year has a beginning. What will be yours?

There are no boring topics, only boring presenters. The audience counts on you to make your presentation interesting; using these presentation tips.

I have a 1966 baseball card that has Mickey Mantle on it. It’s a collector’s item. It may look like a baseball card to you. To me, it’s a bridge to a shared past.

Preparing a toast (or not preparing) can be a bit, well, daunting. How can we be funny, charming, witty, and memorable? Amber will show you 5 easy tips!

With so much at stake in the new year now is the time to book a class at Interact that will help you achieve your authentic voice.

In theory, a business is a simple thing. There are only two ways to make a business better. Increase revenues or decrease costs. However, the devil is in the details, the story. Stories answer questions like: What does our work mean to us and why?

Amber Lineback is a nominee for the ATHENA Leadership Award® – honoring women who have achieved the highest level of professional excellence.

Practiced with intention, gratitude is more than just a moment of feeling good. Read how simple sharing with friends is an act of gratitude.

Lack of leadership in other parts of the company says volumes about what’s not working. Here are 5 tips for overcoming roadblocks in leadership communication.

It’s easy to get off track but don’t let presentation issues get you. Follow these four tips to keep your cool and stay focused.

When you must introduce a speaker on short notice, these five tips will help you do so in a memorable fashion.

Stories help us communicate meaning beyond the actual words we say. They allow the listener to engage in the communication process—without saying a word.

Bad meetings are the No. 1 offender when it comes to squandering face-to-face time that should be energizing but what if employees looked forward to them?

You can engage with your audience easier by remembering these seven principles.

I’ve seen the hundreds of corporate presentations as a freelance videographer. Avoid the common mistakes to help build trust and buy-in from your audience.

The process of becoming is ubiquitous in life, there is no escaping. You may be able to delay portions of becoming, but life is always asking us to rise to the challenge.

While it can be helpful in decision making, data is dry. Strong leaders use the data as a foundation, and then they wrap a compelling picture around it.

Most of us have never been encouraged to light up brains through our expressive interpretation of business initiatives – Now is the time!

Life itself is expression. Holding back becomes a language and no matter how much we tell ourselves we’re being professional, there’s nothing attractive about a blank face.

As much as I loved my faithful PowerPoint, it was dead. Forever. The good news is was beginning to recognize when I was about to bore people beyond measure.

In today’s ever-changing, diverse workplace, versatility is likely the single most important tool that you can have in your personal communication arsenal.

What risks are you willing to take to make your speaking more powerful and inspiring? How are YOU going to achieve your next breakthrough performance?

We’re not born with the gift of natural influence. It’s a skill you have to nurture and develop overtime. Use these simple 7 tips to grow yours.

Telling your Hero’s Journey can be a gift to others. To share with others what your life has taught you (to empower them) is the essence of generosity.

Use these 9 tips for effective pausing to help manage the adrenaline that hits you before or during any high-stakes presentation.

Storytelling is perhaps the most important instrument that a speaker can utilize when assembling a connection to others. Guest post by Quentin Williams.

One of the areas where communication breaks down most often is during the Q&A portion at the end of your meetings.

As you begin to harvest these influences, more and more will occur to you. The important thing is that they are meaningful markers in your story.

What’s in a story? Life lessons, funny anecdotes?  Travels and takeaways? The story of your life is not about your vacation or even the bio you’ve written for work.  It is the value that comes from your experience and the essence of what your life has taught you. Everyone has something important to say and everyone

Susan Jedrzejewsk at the McColl Center for Art + Innovation invited me to participate in a storytelling panel this week.

The famous saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” means that the nature of an individual’s personality and state of mind is projected onto the world. Going further, the observer creates what he or she sees. I love it when practical, time-honored wisdom is supported by science. Dr. Dustin Wood at Wake Forest

“I just have to do something,” Andrew said when he called, “I’ve hit bottom with avoiding invitations to speak publicly.”  Andrew was a highly respected attorney. When we met he explained that he had turned down an invitation from a colleague to speak at a prestigious event, giving the excuse that he would be out

If you are planning to give a high-stakes presentation, it should come as a relief that you are not the man or woman of the hour. If you want to make a meaningful and memorable connection, think of your audience as the hero—the lionheart whom you admire.  Of course, you cannot fake your admiration. We’ll

It was painful.  I watched my over-confident friend Chris ramble, fidget and clear his throat while running his first non-profit Board Meeting as president. “Ahhhmm. Uh, let’s see—let’s start with, well I guess we should cover agenda…” he hesitated.  This was a high-stakes opportunity to show up with credibility and command, and he was blowing

Are you a good listener? Chances are if you’re taking the time to read this, you at least want to get better. Celeste Headlee TEDxCreativeCoast presentation suggests that when it comes to having good conversation most of us, at times, fall short in the listening skills category. Her topic really strikes a chord with the

Have you ever been asked by a friend or colleague to be introduced to another friend or colleague? I have, and it’s an honor to connect great people with each other! I always wrestled with how to do it…until I received one from my friend and mentor, Lou Solomon. She was introducing me to the the

Have you ever met someone who felt they receive too much appreciation at work? Recently I was in a big box store — you probably know it: it’s the place I plan to run in to grab toothpaste and tube socks and leave with enough supplies to keep the entire state of Texas fed and

To practice authenticity, we need to understand what gets in the way. We’ve conducted research on the obstacles we’ve learned from coaching for 15+ years.

We are proud to announce that Interact has been awarded a 2015 Platinum MarCom Award for the “Your Authentic Style” workbook. Your Authentic Speaking Style™ is the centerpiece course at Interact Studio.  Participants tell us that they hesitate to write in the workbook because the graphics are so attractive. While we take credit for the content, this MarCom award wouldn’t

I have been shaped in part by uncomfortable moments of feedback, haven’t you?  I’ve had some help overcoming obstacles like procrastinating over the things I don’t enjoy and always being five minutes late because of straight talk from mentors along the way. Last week we talked about the reluctance of leaders to offer employees helpful, authentic feedback, despite

Here’s a puzzling paradox. Leaders are uncomfortable giving their employees feedback in the workplace. Yet people thrive with constructive feedback; positive or negative. At Interact Studio, we’ve watched top executives, emerging leaders, supervisors and front-line managers light up with coaching and feedback. They take notes with enthusiasm.  They double check for our meaning. They are hungry

The traditional context for “public speaking” is a speech versus a conversation, saying the right words and using a set of official rules that should be followed in order to do a good job.  Some of these “rules” are grounded in techniques that are helpful, no doubt. But how you stand and the way you

What have you been programmed to do in your life? What have you programmed yourself to do? We’ve all had the experience of driving to a familiar destination and not remembering the ride.  What about the way you greet people, check your cell phone, make a presentation or show up in relationships? The Grip of Programming

Bart is a good friend and client who called yesterday to say he had the post-holiday blues. He was struggling with the start of a New Year by setting big goals that made him feel small and anxious. Some were the same lofty goals he set last January. We’re living in the whitewater of change

Yoda said, “Do or not do.  There is no try.”  Whether you are giving your first presentation or another in a long series, don’t settle for the status quo. Don’t tell yourself there’s not enough time to do your best. These twelve tips will help you connect with your audience in ways that go beyond your

Clients preparing for a high-stakes presentation often ask us to help them deal with “butterflies” in their stomachs and other symptoms of adrenaline. Good news: the rush of adrenaline you feel does not mean you aren’t doing a good job. People generally don’t believe this until they see a video of themselves (which is why we

Where can you always hear natural vocal expression? From kids. Before the properness of adulthood, children are free to dance, sing, shriek and giggle. Their voices aren’t supposed to sound any particular way, they are simply wonderful instruments to be discovered. What happens? After being socialized, schooled, paid and promoted, we develop serious business voices

When we treat vendors and suppliers badly, it never comes back in our favor. When we treat them well, research shows that it yields big rewards. Playing hardball is for losers: a case study Earlier in my career I was in marketing for a large radio station.  My manager Rick and I were invited in

The pattern of human communication is established at the top. This is why executives must be strategic about building a sense of connectedness with virtual and satellite workers. Easier said than done. Management by email We joined with Harris Poll to conduct an online survey among 2,026 adults, 63% of whom had worked virtually. We learned that 55% of

At Interact, we’ve watched it happen for 15 years: When people stand in our studio and speak from the heart, there’s palpable trust and pure influence in the room. When they devote themselves to practice with coaching they grow quickly in the their ability to connect. When they go “all in” for a unique experience

In the early part of my career, I gave my share of presentations in scary board rooms, just hoping I was making sense. These high-stakes presentations can chill even the most senior executive to the bone. Many presenters hamstring themselves by thinking they have to use a lackluster slidedeck to show they really know what they’re talking

I’m a fan of a great interview—and I experienced one first hand, thanks to David Shriner-Cahn, host of the podcast Smashing The Plateau.  David is thoughtful and so interested in his guests—you could say he draws out the best insights his guests have on their topic. David invited me on the show to talk about my

We help clients craft a meaningful presentation—everything from a global sales presentation to an industry keynote—by emphasizing the need to connect with the audience and bring value to everyone who attends. Can this be done with a sales pitch? You bet. We often find that sales and business development professionals are on the cutting edge of this kind

At Interact Studio we’re often asked how to plan and deliver a great keynote or high stakes presentation. There are many ways to outline and organize your material, and indeed entire careers have been built on helping speakers do just that.   I have long been influenced by John Medina, author of Brain Rules: 12

When clients come to us with a data-based keynote or presentation we help them avoid data dumping. Here’s how to supplement data with story and meaning.

Many years ago I was asked to speak for a few minutes on the floor of a huge trade show. I was kicking off a silent auction for charity that was just one of the dozens of activities going on. I inquired about the mic and was told it was a handheld that worked well.

Recently a C-Suite level executive came to Interact Studio and told us about an unsuccessful talk he had given at an important meeting of his peers. When I asked him why he wasn’t satisfied with the outcome, he said “I got stuck behind the podium with my notes and before I knew it I was

People skills. Once you get to the boardroom, do you really need them? Sitting in a boardroom with your leadership team, you might be seduced into believing that you can drive change for employees while avoiding the pain of self-inventory. You might even imagine that your company’s problems are caused by everyone else. Perhaps you believe that

Think about the last time someone held the conference room, board room or ballroom in the palm of their hand and engaged listeners for the perfect amount of time—with a moment or two so real it was undeniable that something very different had just happened. How to determine the length of your presentation With so much to gain,

The most useful tool you have to practice and perfect your next high stakes presentation is likely sitting in your pocket (or pocketbook) right now. How’s this? One of the best ways to become a better public speaker is to record yourself on your mobile phone. When I go to the driving range, I record my golf swing while

Picture this. You’re in the spotlight, there’s a negative, unfriendly swell of shareholders, stakeholders and media people in the room, and the time comes for Q&A. You’re response to the first question is to look flushed and say, “Well, um, let’s see…” What do you do? At this point, it’s too late. Five ways to prepare for

“Just how I wanted to spend the day,” Sheila said, throwing her computer bag on the table, “in a public speaking class!“ “Good news,” I said. “You’re not here to practice public speaking. You’re here to practice making a connection with people.” Hecklers in the conference room Sheila was part of a product development team within a

  Listening is part of charisma. People who really listen are wonderful to be with—because they make us more interesting and full of life. Have you noticed that when you’re with someone who laughs at your jokes that you become funnier? Great listeners pull out your most positive, creative energy!  When I’m with my best friends I can

When you meet Jane McIntyre, you know instantly you’re with the real deal. She is admired for engineering the turnaround of the United Way of the Central Carolinas (UWCC ), one of the largest fund-raising agencies in the country. But it’s not her reputation that will impress you. She is a charming woman with a

Recently one of my coaching clients, Corey*, landed THE BIG PROMOTION he’d been seeking in his consulting firm. We’d been working on his skills, both in and out of the interviews, and his announcement was cause for celebration, complete with high-fives and happy dances. His new role as an I.T. executive was full of opportunity

At Interact, we coach a lot of clients through the process of developing and delivering keynote addresses. We use the term “storybite” to refer to language that pings the imagination and engages your audience beyond mere facts. Relevant quotes and anecdotes offer storybites that can warm up your communication when they are well placed and

When giving a keynote to or about your company, consider using your founder’s story. Brands and companies are stories that begin with the founder—or a group of founders—and an idea. This is why it makes sense to celebrate the contribution of outstanding employees, to officially launch a new product or service, or to commemorate a

We like to talk about innovation and new business models, but for many of my clients the old top-down, command-and-control way of managing people is still alive and well. In the fear-based workplace, short-term numbers are king, and when the numbers are off, leaders respond by applying pressure. They give pushy pep rallies and bear

Do you have a co-worker who is under-performing and it’s affecting the morale and results of the team? Or perhaps a prickly teammate who is savvy at completing tasks but leaves a path of bodies in her wake? If so, you’re not alone—nearly all of my clients have asked me at some point during our time together

As the founder of a firm that develops leaders like Fortune 500 CEOs, managers, entrepreneurs and their teams into strong communicators, you might be surprised to learn that I was a shy, military brat.  At home my father was a disciplinarian. At school in Great Britain, kids who were too talkative got called out. In response

Nearly one in three students report being bullied during the school year. Kids are called names, insulted, threatened, excluded and more—and the reasons reported most often are looks and body shape. Apparently I qualified. Growing up I was a tall, awkward kid with my family’s signature big nose and big teeth. I was a social

Leadership and influence are never perfected, only practiced. If you hold yourself separate as the one who has to “get it right” and have all the answers, you weaken your influence as a leader. The most influential person in the room has the confidence to say, “I don’t have all the answers—I’m interested in what

It’s also an easy trap for event planners to assume successful people are good speakers but there is absolutely no connection. I learned this in a painful way when I invited a brilliant entrepreneur to speak at Interact Studio to an audience of 25. “Jim” had built a great business and reinvented his brand successfully. He had been

My dad has a saying for everything. Sometimes it’s comical, sometimes it’s serious, but most time it’s both. Like this one: “Go do something you hate. It builds character.” While I resist the negative undercurrent of this message, I do admire the underlying principle: CHOOSE COURAGE. Choose courage over fear to make a positive change

At Interact Studio we talk about the “Lincoln Method,” which is to prepare more and speak less. Most people don’t prepare enough—and they speak too long. Any of us who have admired the Gettysburg Address of 1863 love the fact that is was so brief and so bold. Lincoln delivered the speech in less than

For months I had been uneasy at the office. I was being left out of important conversations and left alone in my work without much communication. My intuition told me something wasn’t right. In frustration I decided to force some feedback. I was overdue for a pay increase so I went to my boss, “Susan,”

Exactly how do you motivate your audience with a presentation or speech? You’ll find dozens of articles here on our website that give you ideas. Today I want to illustrate how not to do it. How not to motivate your audience Years ago I attended a radio group awards gala for excellence in ratings and revenue.

Your audience loves it when you pause during a speech or presentation. It accomplishes a great deal: It helps your audience stay with you Pausing gives you a couple of seconds to get your thoughts together so you know where you are going next You seem more in control when you add “purposeful pauses” Taking

Ben came to Interact Studio last year, wanting our help in preparing for an important interview. He had scripted answers to the most-asked interview questions, and asked us to help him practice. “First, tell me your story,“ I said. “My story? In what context?” he asked. At Interact, we ask people to tell their story by

Have you noticed?  When people clear the air they change the oxygen level in the room, making it easier for everyone to breathe. They earn the respect of others who become more open to their influence. With so much to gain, why don’t we do it more often? I believe that the fear of looking

These 8 tips will help keynote speakers infuse meaning into their speeches and leave the audience with an “upside.”

One of my coaching clients, whom I’ll call Donna, came to me at the peak of frustration. Her organization was moving to a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, and her team was lagging behind others in using it. I asked her what she had already done to foster adoption of the new CRM tool,

In our workshops at Interact, we invite people to pair up and participate in a listening exercise. Once the conversation gets going, we cue the listening-partner to turn away and begin to text a message from their smart phone. This demonstrates a great deal about the art of engaged communications. Speaking-partners tell us  “I forgot

Have you ever been in a meeting that derailed so badly that you felt frustrated, anxious, or (gulp) apathetic about the outcome? Or perhaps a more relevant (and shocking!) question is: How often have you been in that type of meeting? Let’s explore 5 steps to get a meeting back on track Step 1: Know

My theme song was recorded way back in 1929 by the late, great Louis Armstrong. You know the lyrics: “When you’re smilin’, when you’re smilin’ …The whole world smiles with you…” Growing up as an ugly duckling (or at least feeling like one) I struggled to fit in. My sweet mother consoled me time and time

This article was originally published in Duke Energy’s Leadership Development Network newsletter by Greg Efthimiou. “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” So said Benjamin Franklin. Similar quotes are attributed to visionaries like Henry Ford and Warren Buffett. It’s a thought that’s likely occurring to

One of the most common questions I hear is this: what should I do with my hands when I speak? And I have good news for you, the answer is easier than you might think. Picture the last time you saw a compelling speaker—it may have been during a TED story, a keynote address, or

Without trust, very little gets accomplished, especially in today’s lean organizations, where people with seniority are often required to work for “their juniors” on projects. Without a culture of kindness, bruised egos can lead to a hostile workplace. It seems simple enough, but learning how to promote kindness in your office can be tricky, mostly because there

Last week I wrote about preparing for your next big presentation a full month BEFORE you take the podium.  Today’s post picks up from the point that you’ve thanked the person who introduced you at the podium. Your opening lines Here, the attention in the room is high. Don’t rush to speak. Once you arrive at the front

There is a saying, “If you want to give a brilliant talk, open and close well and don’t screw it up in between.” It stretches things a bit, but the saying offers more practical wisdom than you might think.  Consider the “serial position” in psychology, which says that when given a list of information and

Recall, if you will, the very best meeting you’ve ever attended.  The kind of meeting that you left feeling both “YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS” (with an emphatic fist pump) and saying “I can’t wait to do this again soon!”  Go ahead and picture it – I’ll wait.  Now, what percentage of your meetings would you say give you

Please join us for “Your Authentic Speaking Style™” (YASS) in 2015. YASS is the acclaimed learning experience at Interact Studio. Since 2000, entrepreneurs, artists, civic leaders and executives from Fortune 500 firms have attended the course that is called transformational. What to expect at Your Authentic Speaking Style YASS is an on-camera experience and an

Taking a stand for yourself or others feels risky. But the importance of risk lies in who you become as a result of the experience—a trusted leader who can influence the future. What a ropes course taught me about risk taking One summer I helped facilitate a Leadership Retreat in the Appalachian Mountains of North

Imagine traveling through life with a network of smart, enthusiastic peers who are completely engaged in living a large, successful and happy life—never settling for less—and always showing you the way to stretch and go for it. What would happen? You would live a large, successful and happy life. What I learned about networking from

The American painter Robert Henri said, “It’s a wrong idea that a master is a finished person.” I would add that people who see themselves as “finished” often lack executive presence. Coaching and development is not enough Coaching and development cannot fortify just anyone with the kind of presence we long for in our leaders.

The number one reason I am asked to work with individual executives is to help them make the transition from transactional relationships to forging real human connections—to develop executive presence.  The “high potential” leader Most of these people have followed a similar track. They were identified as “high potentials” for their analytical talent, operations efficiency

One of the most powerful visual tools we have to teach powerful presentation skills is the Slinky Dog. I know what you’re thinking, “What on Earth can this toy dog teach me about being a better communicator??!” Plain and simple, the Slinky Dog represents The Pause. Think of the Slinky Dog when you speak The

Today the large enterprise has people scattered across the globe—but the success of any culture rests on relationship and human engagement. Influential leaders find ways to stay “close” to employees, no matter what size organization they lead. Here are seven ways to stay in touch 1. Get Real. If your company communication has become so over-engineered

Think about all the formal learning experiences (aka “classes”) you’ve ever led—how often did you facilitate instead of train and make learning stick? The goal is fully-engaged participants, but how do you do that? How often did you try to tell the students everything they’d ever need to know about the topic—otherwise known, as my

A coaching client, Thomas*, recently came to me for some help. He’d just been identified by his organization as a “high potential,” and he had been enrolled in their leadership development program. What an honor! Reshaping a boring, dry and un-inspiring event And then reality hit. They expected him to facilitate a four-hour course on

Have you ever attended a meeting that meandered, led to more confusion, and ultimately led to another meeting to tie up the loose ends from the first, unsuccessful one? Me, too. Would you like to learn how to lead a meeting and leave the attendees wanting more? Of course you would! Meetings Are Expensive Years

Researchers believe that the earliest spoken language was Mayan, which was around seven thousand years ago. Imagine, in 70 centuries we’ve progressed to: “…and I was like, really?” Whether you are leading a team meeting, presenting to a prospective client or delivering a keynote speech to a global audience, verbal mistakes will undermine your credibility

Sometimes when we present—a keynote, report, or any presentation—what we are doing physically with our bodies speaks louder than our words. Body language tells us a great deal, yet we often forget about it when it is our turn to speak. I understand why this; we are often so caught up with what we are going

I am the Queen of Blind Dates. As a single 32-year-old woman who grew up in the Bible Belt with the majority of my friends marrying off at 22 and 23 years old, my friends feel like it is their God-given duty to set me up with a single, decent, well-deserving man. Well, not always

You just completed a presentation. And with the hope of encouraging some good discussion, you ask “Are there any questions?”—only to have the sound of your voice replaced by an awkward pause, dead air, and chirping crickets! In that moment of silent panic your mind races. Are these people really that stupid? I just did

I believe everyone has a topic they are uniquely qualified to speak about—and chances are, you are closer to it than you realize. You will find it somewhere at the intersection of four elements: 1. Unique Ability. “I am really good at…” 2. Passion. “The thing that makes my life and work meaningful is…” 3.

Do you have regular meetings that inspire more agony than action? Do you find yourself and others checking out even though you’re all in the same room or on the same conference call line? Keep reading to learn how to blow up a boring meeting—and give yourself and others the gift of a return on

Sometimes less really is more. In the first few years of my career I paid little attention to pausing for rich conversation, let alone rest or reflection. I thought my best performance came from living on the ragged edge. I ran wide open on adrenaline 24/7—chasing the next deadline. I thought managing time meant doing

Miscommunication is a part of life, but saying the same thing in a louder and louder voice will not remedy the situation. And while participating in a circular argument may feel like everyone is speaking different languages, yelling won’t translate your argument, either! Families always teach us a lot about life, even when we’re grown. Here’s what I learned

Being the newest member of a team isn’t easy but being a new employee in a brand new position the company has created, can be especially intimidating. That is exactly what happened to me when I came on board as Interact’s Project Coordinator; a role they had never had before but something they desperately needed.

There seems to be a ton of attention focused on the topic of Executive Presence lately. I can hardly pick up a trade journal or visit a social media site without someone saying something about it. A simple Google search turns up over 92 million hits on the topic. As if 92 million is not enough, here

Coach Taveniere was my biology teacher in high school. I loved his class not only because I was interested in biology—but because he was interested in me. Coach respected his students by asking questions and listening thoughtfully. He pulled  from us a special understanding of biology through our own experiences. I remember him saying, “I’m

Sprez-za-tu-ra (sprāt-sä-tü-rä) is an Italian word used to describe someone doing their craft so well that it looks effortless. If you’ve ever seen James Taylor perform live, now that is someone making music in a sprezzatura way. If you’re going for perfection, you’re not in the sprezzatura spirit Sprezzatura was described to me as a combination

The last company I worked for was very corporate and every employee had to go through “Speed of Trust”training. Seek first to understand—before trying to solve—problems There were 7 steps in the course but the one I remember the most and apply in my personal and work life is “seek first to understand, then to

Have you ever been to a concert for an artist whose music you already owned?   Me too.  Many times. So the question becomes this: Why? We gladly “over-pay” for concerts for good reasons From a purely logical and financial perspective, it doesn’t make much sense.  We easily pay north of $100 (more if we

One of the top questions we hear is, “How do I make impact and have influence on conference calls?” The next time you have a high-stakes conference call, try this formula: 1. Build support before the call. Instead of presenting for the first time on the call, have a couple of conversations with people who

Data by itself does not connect with people.  It’s the relevance to them that makes it meaningful and memorable!

Being defensive is the quickest way to blow your image as a leader.

As kids we heard the old adage, “Winners never quit.” But it turns out that innovators actually try to quit quicker so they can hatch the next magnificent idea.

Let’s get together. I’ll call you.” We may not mean to, but we say things and don’t follow up. Between what you say and do, which will people believe?

You will have more influence if you let people complete their thought and finish asking their question.

We all like to talk about communicating more creatively.  But talking about it isn’t the way to innovative.  You have to stop–and go “on receive.”  

Oh boy, the pressure to deliver a great elevator speech is everywhere. Want in on a secret about those elevator encounters? It’s not about getting your words just right.  It’s about being present, listening and asking a great question.

Congratulations to our good friends and clients Valaida Fullwood and Charles Thomas on their inspiring performance at TEDx.

This is the third in a three-part series on natural presence and charisma, which are not reserved for the lucky few with a special gene.  They are the result of self-awareness, emotional intelligence and the discipline of practice. Give team members appreciation but do more than pass out “atta-boys.”  Be specific about their contribution by saying, “Here’s

http://youtu.be/EGHF1AfjCgo

First rule of thumb is to reframe the idea of networking. Relax.  Don’t try too hard, nod your head too much or constantly push by interjecting “mm-hmm.”  These tics make us feel hurried.  Settle into the social grace of focusing, listening and asking a couple of intelligent questions. Make statements. Some of us have the habit of intonation that turns up

Most of us live in a speed trap. We stay in our minds, thinking about all we have to get done by the end of the day. As a result, we’ve become un-original in what we say. What gives our words power is to pause. Think about what you want to say. Ask a question. Before you

The basic unit of communications, relationships and life itself is the conversation. The quality of the conversations relates directly to the quality of your life. The attention you give to those in conversation empowers the other person to communicate fully. The quality of the conversation requires that you will be transparent and fully engaged, that you

Take time to craft a powerful open and close.

Just a couple of seconds to pause helps you take command of your communications. Talking non-stop creates stress for listeners. The pause helps us think about what you just said and to really take it in. The pause projects confidence and takes all those crazy non-words out of our messages. Take back your power by

You will gain the trust of your friends, family, colleagues and team when you practice imperfection.

Communications are too important (and expensive) to waste on bad meetings and conference calls. Meetings that drain the life out of your people cost time,  money and energy. The fabric of your organization’s communication culture is found in your everyday meetings and conference calls. Spend the time to plan a meeting makeover that might include

Non-words include “um, uh, like, uh, and so” clutter our conversations. Before you can get rid of the non-words and verbal clutter you must notice them. Don’t use non-words to bridge from one thought to another. Instead of using non-words, just take a pause. Demonstrate that you have command of your thoughts by replacing non-words with pauses.

People cannot establish trust in you if they cannot connect with your eyes.

People misunderstand storytelling; they believe stories will lose the audience. Not true. Stories don’t have to be long with a complex narrative. They don’t have to be campfire stories.  A story can be less than a minute long. Use a quote, metaphor, anecdote or “story bite” to help us understand your message as you craft

Natural presence and charisma are not reserved for the lucky few with a special gene.  They are the result of self-awareness, emotional intelligence and the discipline of practice. Build your physical confidence.  Presence cannot happen amid restless shifting, fidgeting and pacing.  Presence requires a degree of intentionality and owning your space.  If you haven’t developed the habit of standing tall and

Headline, Subject Line, Pick Up line, here’s how to craft whatever kind of line you need. Patrick McLean is an award-winning writer, friend and guest blogger at Interact. To learn more about Patrick, visit his helpful website.

Layoff initiatives bring out the worse in almost everyone. Here’s a story of  one of my clients, “John,”  a leader whose style is to inspire and pump up the employees with octane attitude. When John had to make the difficult decision to layoff several employees, he was met with fearful resentment. Even the employees who were staying blamed

As part of the learning experience at Interact Studio, we often ask clients to bring an item that reminds them of a meaningful moment—one that relates to their identity. One of my favorite items was a 1966 Mickey Mantle baseball card brought by an attorney named Mark. He shared that the card was given to

Lincoln is looming in our minds larger than ever after the release of Steven Spielberg’s latest film.  For many of us, Lincoln will now have the noble face of Daniel Day-Lewis who plays the United States’ 16th president in his final months in office. “Lincoln” begins with a scene from 1865 in which Lincoln is

One definition of “respect” is an act of giving particular attention. Are you checking your texts during conversations? Taking calls and other interruptions? Your attention is the one thing your friends and family can’t get anywhere else.

When an over-polished, unsigned holiday card with a computerized address label arrives in the mail, it’s a let down. When one of those glitzy cookie towers is delivered at your door, you know from past experience that most of it will go uneaten, so you begin to think of re-gifting. When someone pops a coffee mug filled

Research has given us overwhelming evidence that when trust is high within a team and organization, the dividend is a performance multiplier. Trust is a catalyst through which employees offer ideas, use each other as resources, and learn together. Without trust people assume self-protective, defensive postures that inhibit learning and performance. A. K. Mishra defines

Human beings are courageous and resilient.  We can deal with almost anything as long as we do not become disconnected from other human beings.  There is mounting research that proves we need and thrive in positive, human interaction.  Research from more than half a century ago found that a lack of human interaction can damage

Your face says everything about your attitude, too. Research shows that we trust your sincerity by reading your expression, body language and tone of voice.

There is a costly drain on the energy and resources of businesses that run bad, boring conference calls.  They don’t have to be that way.  There are some practical things you can do with your next call to improve engagement. Check out our Interact Teleconference Survival Kit.  Feel free to download and share.        

Watch out for lazy language. “I feel like we might win.” We make a commitment that, “hopefully I’ll be there.” We connect everything with filler:  “um, you know, like I’m not happy about it.” We use misplaced modesty:  “I really don’t like talking about myself.” We apologize: “This is probably a dumb question.” Show up

It’s easy to forget how powerful silence can be.  We are all so busy we talk on cell phones as we walk to and from the car. It is so noisy all of the time, and there’s something being said all of the time. Pausing for a second or two of silence is a deceptively easy act,

Your posture sends a message. Standing tall with shoulders back generates positive energy that supports wellness and allows you to open your heart to others. On the other hand, closed postures–slouching, sagging, leaning away, self-wrapping, head hanging, tense hands, tense jaw and turning away–carry negative energy. Notice your postures throughout the day. When you notice you are

Dr. Albert Rothenberg is known for a pioneering investigation into the essence of creativity.  He studied the milestone contributions of 58 famous scientists and artists, including Einstein, Picasso and Mozart. The recipe for breakthroughs He found that they shared a common pattern: ALL breakthroughs occurred when “two or more opposites were conceived simultaneously, existing side by side

According to Woody Allen, 85% of success in life is about showing up. Rate yourself from 1 to 5 (1 being lowest) on the following tenets of Showing Up. 1.  Getting face-to-face for important conversations. 2.  Practicing committed listening. 3.  Living life intentionally, fully awake and aware of the moments in which you connect with others.

There are many moments worth stopping for in life.  It’s easier to glance at the person before averting our eyes and moving by.  To engage, we have to stop.   We have to look and listen — and invest a moment of our time. When we delude ourselves by thinking that we don’t have time to

 When you step up to the front of a room, you have an opportunity to stop. Too often when we take the front of the room, we launch right into talking without really seeing who’s in the room—without connecting. We talk non-stop through the entire presentation. Yet it is the fearless, intentional pause that captures the

by Lou Solomon, dated April 26, 2012 Humans are not the only ones with something unique to say.  I just got back from the Bahamas, where I made a friend named Sasha, a bottlenose dolphin rescued from an aquarium damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Sasha’s trainer Gary cued her several times to make her signature whistle.  It

Today over 70% of business professionals feel the meetings they attend are a waste of time. Thoughtless meetings drain your organization of time, money and productivity. Here’s what to fix that with a “meeting revolution.” Start with a casual and anonymous survey Change begins with measurement. Send out a casual survey for anonymous input on your

Did you know that clients who are overwhelmed with information will delay or hesitate to make decisions? How much information are you packing into your presentation?

by Lou Solomon, dated February 5, 2012 The cover story for February 6 issue of TIME Magazine is a great read.  The article, by Bryan Walsh, draws on research from a new book by Susan Cain called Quiet, suggests that as a society, we have a love affair with extroversion that may not be healthy and

Chinese proverbs are a resource for finding an interesting way to open your next presentation.  They offer wonderful metaphors—and they are loaded with imagery, humor, wisdom and inspiration. Try working some of these into your next presentation. When the wind rises, some people build walls. Others build windmills. After three days without reading, talk becomes flavorless.

Business people have the habit of saying, “I don’t like talking about myself,” which just misplaced modesty. We could use a little of you in your communication. Here’s how to give your communications some color The last time you laughed so hard you cried Something your granddad used to say A scene in nature that took

  “The best thing for being sad is to learn something.  That is the only thing that never fails, the only thing the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust and never dream of regretting.”  –Merlin to Author in The Once and Future King by T.H. White Learning something

by Lou Solomon, dated August 29, 2011 Watching the coverage of Irene stomping up the East Coast this past weekend, I noticed several interviews with locals and old-timers who told stories about all the storms they had survived.  They began talking about Irene—but inevitably they slipped into stories about the others:   Floyd, Bertha, Fran, Bonnie, Hanna

 If you want to impact your business in a meaningful way, all you need is a willingness to hear feedback. Ask the people on your team the following questions: 1) If you could change one thing about the communication within our team, what would it be? 2) Do you feel you have enough opportunity to

“Then read a book and write one at the same time.  No, multitasking is really just rapid attention-switching.  It takes us a second or two to engage in the new situation.  The sum total of attention is actually decreased as we multi-task.  Slicing your attention is less like slicing potatoes than like slicing plums:  you

by Lou Solomon, dated Monday, May 30, 2011 My friend Eddie Link is a storyteller and a passionate historian.   He told me this story about a 74-year-old veteran, a 7-year-old little girl and forgiveness at Pearl Harbor. In 1994 Link decided to take his entire family—his wife and three sons—to Hawaii.  When he began the initial

by Lou Solomon, dated May 2, 2011 Billy Crystal got his start as a stand-up comic doing very good impersonations of people like Muhammad Ali and sportscaster Howard Cosell. One night in the summer of 1974, Crystal was performing at Catch a Rising Star in New York.  Jack Rollins, one of the most sought-after managers

by Lou Solomon, dated April 6, 2011 There is a picture of me and Alan Jackson in my office.  He has a big smile on his face and I look rather sheepish. I met Alan in the late ’80’s, when he was just a lanky young man from Georgia working in the mail room at The

You have probably heard the phrase, often repeated as a Chinese proverb:  “May you live in interesting times.” But “interesting times” cut both ways: for good and for bad. And all of us are living through the most interesting times for business communications since the invention of the printing press. Why? Because anyone and everyone can spread their message by

I was spring cleaning this weekend when I came across an old book, Ten Steps to High Self-Esteem. Flipping through the pages, I had to laugh. Chapter One: How to Feel Great About Yourself. Right there in just 38 pages. The American love affair with self-esteem Americans have had a love affair with the self-esteem and self-help industry for

by Lou Solomon, dated February 8, 2011 Deep within the experience of being human is the fear of not being good enough.  If we have the misfortune of being labeled as inferior in any way, we can take it as proof and run with it for years, never suspecting it’s all a big lie. I

Do patients sue physicians because they make mistakes? Maybe not. Dr. Wendy Levinson is an international expert in the field of physician-patient relationships.  Amid the rising number of malpractice suits, Levinson looked at why some doctors who make mistakes get sued and others don’t. She found that patients sued doctors they didn’t like, and didn’t sue doctors

by Lou Solomon dated January 11, 2011 Mind-reading is the human practice of inferring the intentions of others.  We can actually get pretty good at this in our personal relationships. We take in all the non-verbal clues along with everything we know about a person, and mind-read.  We know when something is wrong with a

You cannot be uninteresting–and be a leader.  An expert, perhaps.  A leader, no.  How do you become interesting?  Follow the morsels of life that are meaningful to you–your own interests–and reach people through your own engagement: How history was written versus what really happened Unique family stories Lines from your favorite authors Lyrics from your favorite singer Historical

A guest post by Tommy Tomlinson, Staff Writer, The Charlotte Observer, republished here on December 24, 2010 The best Christmas gift I ever got is one I don’t remember. My mom still tells the story. I was 3 years old or thereabouts. Weeks before Christmas, my dad picked out the perfect present – a train

by Lou Solomon dated December 19, 2010 Recently I heard Hugh McColl, Jr. speak with candor about growing up in Bennettsville, South Carolina, his career successes and his mistakes. Those of us in the audience listened and laughed as though we were in the company of a dear friend. Extraordinary people have way of appealing

Great communicators are able to be effective in a simple and personalized way.We’re all familiar with those vehicle-activated signs that clock us as we drive by. In a study conducted in England last year, the signs didn’t just tell drivers their speed. They showed them a smiley face or a sad face, depending on whether

Recently a young woman came through one of our courses at Interact Studio and shared a story about the Rubik’s Cube. She said that as a teenager she had been so frustrated with the puzzle that she spent hours carefully peeling off every little sticker to make each side of the cube solid. We all laughed with her because

Researchers have always known that attitude, connection and positive energy mattered in business.  But since we have cancelled out years of conversation about these things by calling them “touchy-feely,” serious scholars haven’t wanted to deal with them. Now it’s a science.  In the Human Dynamics Lab of MIT, they are studying engaged people who create success for themselves and their organizations.  These

by Lou Solomon dated September 1, 2010 We have a relative in the Mimic Octopus, which is found off the coast of Indonesia.  It can contort its body and arms andchange color to mimic more several different species, including sea snakes, stingrays and jellyfish.  This animal is so intelligent that when a dangerous creature is close by, it can impersonate the predator of

Dr. Will Sparks is director of the master’s program in organizational development and leadership initiative at the McColl School of Business at Queens University of Charlotte. Will’s current research focuses on leadership and team development, succession planning, and change management.  He has worked with a variety of organizations, including the U.S. Navy, Transamerica, GlaxoSmithKline, Anheuser-Busch, the Bank

 Molly Barker, MSW is a visionary and four-time Hawaii Ironman triathlete. Molly began running at the age of 15 – an age when she found herself stuck in the “girl box”, where only girls who were a certain size with a certain beauty were popular; where girls who wanted to fit in had to mold their

Last summer I helped facilitate a Leadership Retreat at the Blowing Rock Conference Center in North Carolina. Below the Center in a small valley there stands a structure that resembles a pirate ship. As you make your way to a clearing in that valley and round a bend of trees, the structure rises up before

Rahman Khan is host of “GoodWorks with Rahman Khan” on PBS station WTVI.  He is the founder of GoodWorks Media Group, and the Director of Diversity Recruitment Strategy for Time Warner Cable. When he speaks about “Frames of Reference,” Rahman provides his listeners with an understanding of how perceptions are impacted by frames of reference:  gender,

 Dick Handshaw is a pioneer in the e-learning field, with more than 30 years of experience as a learning and performance improvement professional. Dick began his career after graduate school at Indiana University in 1979. Dick created one of the very first applications of computer-based software simulation and interactive video to be used outside of a