what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better."
Sydney J. Harris, journalist and author
Before moving into training and coaching, I was an IT Consulting Engineer for 25-plus years. To this day, I have a left-brain bent. But I remember the experience that changed my perspective on what makes a powerful technical communicator (hint: it involves both hemispheres).
I was watching a very senior engineer at Cisco give a technical presentation. This engineer was so senior and well-regarded, he held a prestigious Fellow position at the high-tech company.
“The real power comes from a position of pride ... in who you are. When you have that, you become more effective in job interviews, showing up at meetings, and speaking up.”
— on embracing your introversion, by Susan Cain, author of "QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking"
“Focus more on learning than on succeeding. Instead of pretending that you understand something when you don’t, just raise your hand and ask a question.” Michelle Obama
Many of us shy away from asking questions, despite how invaluable they can be in clarifying and creating understanding.
We worry that we’ll ask the wrong question and be perceived as incompetent. Or we believe we already know the answer—whether it is right or wrong.
We've all been there: wanting to ask a question but are hesitant because we don't want to appear as if we don't understand. But that's why you should ask. If you have a question, more than likely, someone else has the same one.
Women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are no strangers to seeing paths blocked and doors shut because of gender bias. While women have made inroads into these fields, they’re still in the minority . . .
Just 33% of the world’s researchers are women and this under representation occurs worldwide. — Unesco Science Report 2021
Only 5% of leadership positions in the technology sector are held by women. — PriceWaterhouseCooper (PwC) UK
Minority women are still grossly underrepresented in the U.S. STEM workforce: 13% Asian, 9% Black, 8% Hispanic. — Pew Research Center 2021
Despite these dismal numbers I’m hopeful for change, for two reasons. First, I’m inspired by the amazing work being done by countless organizations and individuals for gender parity and drawing more women to STEM careers.
I love the message of confidence and hope from young women like this student at Carnegie Mellon Africa . . .
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”— George Bernard Shaw, dramatist & critic
Today we text, instant message, email, Slack, ping, present, Zoom, and occasionally meet in person, but how often do we really communicate—and do it well?
Yes, the technical skills you’ve worked so hard to hone are critical to your success, but more and more, companies are realizing that powerful communication skills are just as important.
Consider some recent research . . .
"What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say." —Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you’re preparing to make a presentation or give a talk, it’s likely you do what most people do: focus solely on your content. While what you have to say is definitely key, how you say it—through nonverbal “language”—is a lot more important than you might think.
As a matter of fact, there’s a lot of research out there that says anywhere from 50 to 90% of the impact you have on people is a result of nonverbal communication. Your posture, gestures, facial expressions, and the tone and cadence of your voice, play a huge role not only in getting your message across to an audience, but also, in engaging them, building trust, and increasing your credibility.
So, what can you do to bring your nonverbal delivery to the next level?
We’ve all been there: Sitting in a meeting and feeling hesitant or afraid to bring up an idea, ask a question, or (yikes!) disagree with a participant’s viewpoint. Or, as in my case, holding off on speaking up because my temperament is to listen and give myself time to process information before joining in (and that sometimes takes longer than the meeting allows!).
The next time the voice in your head says, “They’ll think my idea is stupid,” or “If I ask that question, someone might get upset,” think again. Your voice matters, and the world is not going to end if someone doesn’t like your idea or if another doesn’t like being disagreed with.
If there’s one thing the past two pandemic years have taught us, it’s to be grateful for what we have. Never to take our lives, our relationships, our life’s work, or our good fortune for granted.
Speaking of good fortune (and yes, a lot of creative, committed, heartfelt work), I’m beyond thrilled to share our latest news: PowerSpeaking, Inc. made the Silicon Valley Business Journal’s 2021 “100 Fastest-Growing Private Companies” list, ranking at number 38! The recognition was given to private companies that met or exceeded a certain earnings level for the years 2018 through 2020.
We couldn’t be more proud—and grateful.
“According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” Jerry Seinfeld
We hear you, Jerry. While most of the people we've trained in public speaking over the years wouldn't opt for death over the stage, "stagefright" is common. We often see the signs: trembling, shaky voice, nervous pacing, and sometimes, freezing into a stony silence from fear.