communication and presentation skills

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Leadership + Communication: 3 steps to becoming a better leader

Leadership + Communication: 3 steps to becoming a better leader

Is it possible to be a good leader without being a good communicator? Here, we explore the connection between leadership and communication. 

At Bespoken, we are passionate about helping leaders improve professional communication skills. Over the past month, we’ve worked with leaders at AIGLinkedIn and AOL, and in the fields of tech, healthcare and finance. We frequently help leaders at Columbia Business School find their voice and own it. Across the board, it’s impossible to separate good leadership from effective communication skills. Yet, leaders often lack solid communication skills. For others, it can be the one trait preventing them from rising to a leadership role.

Research backs up the connection between leadership and communication. Businesses lose $37 billion per year because of employee misunderstanding. According to another study, the cumulative cost of communication barriers is $26,041 per employee. On the flip side, companies with leaders who are highly effective communicators report 47% higher total returns. And Best Buy found that for every percentage point it boosted employee engagement, individual stores reported a $100,000 annual increase in operating income.

In 2015, we contributed an article to Inc.com about leadership and presentation skills. Of course, how you present yourself as a leader is vital, but we believe that the ability to communicate effectively leads to true organizational growth and change.

Want to be a better leader? Communicate more effectively. Improving communication and presentation skills means changing lifelong behaviors. These changes don’t come overnight, but you will see an instant boost in communication skills by implementing these three tools:

Be Receptive 

Do you know that we spend 70-80% of our waking hours communicating?  We spend 45% of that time listening and yet, the average listener only remembers 25% of what is said. Bad listening leads to mistakes and employee dissatisfaction. Practice active listening: Pay attention, look at the person, ask questions and visualize what they are saying. Not only will you be able to act on the information more efficiently, but when someone feels heard they become more emotionally invested and are more likely to do good work.

Be Present

When someone needs your attention, give it to them. Even if your mind is racing with to-do’s, make yourself physically available by uncrossing your arms, standing (or sitting) up straight, and making eye contact. Bringing your whole self to a conversation will help you more clearly address the issue at hand and prevent other problems from arising.

Be Precise 

Being deliberate and clear in your communication is key. Before a huddle or difficult conversation, really think about what you want to say. Articulate your goal for the conversation in one sentence, then jot down notes and practice it once or twice to be sure the words you choose accurately reflect your goals for the conversation. Remove any grey areas by recording yourself to make sure your words cannot be misinterpreted or taken the wrong way. Adding a minute or two on the front end can save hours of backpedaling on the back end.

How to Master Public Speaking

How to Master Public Speaking

Last week, D.G. Watson got #BEspoken and showed you how to use meditation to overcome your fear of public speaking. Today, we’re sharing an infographic we received from Lydia Bailey, Content Coordinator over at Mastersprogramsguide.com. Lydia created this infographic to help advanced degree students develop versatile professional skills, and we think it’s fantastic. What do you think?

master-public-speaking

From Lydia:

“For a lot of people, public speaking is worse than a death sentence. This graphic helps to explain why public speaking is so scary to certain individuals and ways to get over it. The fear of public speaking is known as “glossophobia”. Many Americans report they fear it more than heights, flying, drowning, and small spaces. Some people fear it from having past traumatic experiences with public speaking, such as being made fun of in school. Extreme cases can even be selective mutism, preventing the person from speaking at all in certain situations. Selective mutism can also be a social anxiety disorder affecting 1 in 8 children. Much of the anxiety associated with public speaking can be changed by the way a person thinks about it. The speaker needs to accept that a poor attempt does not mean that every public speaking engagement will go badly.”


FOX_0187Bespoken co-founders Leah Bonvissuto and Jackie Miller channel years of professional theater experience into training people to be better communicators and powerful speakers. Our work is customized, on-your-feet and interactive, and designed to improve communication and presentation skills, confidence, presence and emotional intelligence. Rooted in powerful yet practical theater techniques, we provide personalized, in-the-moment feedback to optimize retention and growth. We believe everyone has an innate ability to communicate powerfully and purposefully.

Jackie Miller to Speak at New York University

Jackie Miller to Speak at New York University

Bespoken co-founder Jackie Miller is speaking on a panel about professional development at New York University on Wednesday April 13th. She’ll talk about how she’s using her Masters in Arts Politics degree in her work with Bespoken. Details below and register here. See you there!

Alumni / Grad Student Panel: Using Your Advanced Degree in a Unique Way

Date: 4/13/2016
Time: 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development
133 East 13th Street
Second Floor New York, NY  10003

Join NYU Alumni and Graduate Career Services for a networking event as fellow alumni share both their experience and “best practices” for utilizing their advanced degrees in a unique way. Light refreshments will be served.

Click here to register.


FOX_0187Bespoken co-founders Leah Bonvissuto and Jackie Miller channel years of professional theater experience into training people to be better communicators and powerful speakers. Our work is customized, on-your-feet and interactive, and designed to improve communication and presentation skills, confidence, presence and emotional intelligence. Rooted in powerful yet practical theater techniques, we provide personalized, in-the-moment feedback to optimize retention and growth. We believe everyone has an innate ability to communicate powerfully and purposefully.