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Business Communication Skills for Women: UNapologize

Business Communication Skills for Women: UNapologize

Last week, Bespoken co-founder Leah Bonvissuto co-hosted a Twitter chat with New York Women in Communications, Inc. (follow them @NYWICI) to give women tips and tools to UNapologize, and other communication and presentation skills. You tuned in with questions and comments about the challenges of effective communication in a male-driven workplace and we hope the chat gave you more ownership over how you communicate. If you missed it, check out the recap here, and here are some takeaways:

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FOX_0187Inspired to help people own their voice and be heard, Bespoken was founded in 2014 by Leah Bonvissuto and Jackie Miller. Friends who met in acting school a decade before, Leah and Jackie channel years of professional theater experience into developing techniques to help people speak their story with power and precision.

Bespoken co-founder Leah Bonvissuto was recently profiled for WENYC, the city initiative supporting the success of women entrepreneurs. Click here to read what she has to say about helping women speak up and be heard!


Leah Bonvissuto cofounded her business, Bespoken, with Jackie Miller two years ago, and has since given women entrepreneurs the tool set to own their voice in any circumstance and throughout their entrepreneurial journey. Bespoken consists of one-on-one and small group training sessions and workshops that help individuals become better communicators and public speakers. Bonvissuto believes “there are no bad speakers and good speakers, only bad experiences and good experiences.”

Her workshops and sessions are proactive and literally ‘on-your-feet.’ Each activity ends with participants presenting themselves and their business in the form of an introduction, a pitch, and so forth. Participants then receive in-the-moment feedback and tips such as physical techniques to overcome nerves. Bonvissuto attributes her background in theater and collaborative demeanor to her entrepreneurial journey and to what makes her business stand out from others. Leah Bonvissuto’s work seeks to end the confidence gap between men and women, and she believes “ownership of your voice is the only way true change can be instituted.”

What makes a great leader? It has something to do with a unique ability to see the world outside of yourself — to seek feedback, collaborate with those around you and see the bigger picture. Molly Reynolds is a great leader — we first met Molly when Bespoken co-founder Leah Bonvissuto directed a reading of her musical in NYMF. She is sharp, super smart, and a truly genuine voice. We were thrilled to contribute our tips on how great leaders own the room to this article Molly wrote on Here’s our tips for beating nerves and owning the room when speaking in public:

Do some self-sleuthing

Identify what makes your leadership style unique and acknowledge what throws you off your game: are you confident in front of large crowds, but shrink in front of smaller groups? Dissect negative past experiences as well as positive ones–take notes, dig for clues and seek feedback from trusted sources.

Embrace your #onlyness

What is that thing that only you can bring to the table? Flesh out not only why you do what you do, but also what you do differently than anyone else. Create a shortlist of words to pull from on-the-go that authentically represent your vision.

Find your voice

Anyone can learn to speak powerfully and purposefully–actors have been practicing how to speak with clarity and distinction for thousands of years. Take a class or work with a coach to learn how to be open and responsive, especially when the stakes are high.

Go back to your roots

Combat nerves in the moment by breathing deep and focusing on the physical–especially your feet. Your shoes should make you feel grounded. If those ballet flats aren’t making you feel powerful it might be time for some retail market research!

Embrace discomfort

Seek out opportunities to practice being uncomfortable–think of it as a muscle. Rehearse your speech while maintaining direct eye contact with a trusted friend. It may feel scary at first (so start small and in a safe environment!) but with practice and patience you can improve your discomfort tolerance.

And speaking of practice…

If you only run through it in hushed tones in your office, imagine how different it will feel when you need to fill that 500-seat hall. Seize any opportunity to practice full out (or in the actual space if possible) to minimize the unexpected and unfamiliar.

Keep it conversational

No one can follow your lead if they don’t know where you’re going. Establish communication that is direct, clear and compassionate. Even presentations can be framed in a conversational tone.

Seek feedback constantly

Understand the impression you’re making. Don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions. Asking “Is that clear?” for example, will show that you are open and proactive, and it will make your team feel validated and heard.

Connect with your audience

Picture someone who will be in the room and think: How do I want to make them feel? The simple act of putting yourself in their shoes takes you out of your own head and into the space around you, helping you form more meaningful connections.

A matter of time

Owning the room doesn’t come easy or overnight. Be patient with yourself and practice in a safe space to build your confidence before venturing into the outside world.

Leah Bonvissuto on DirectorSpeak

Leah Bonvissuto on DirectorSpeak

Co-founder Leah Bonvissuto directed Butcher Holler Here We Come!, a unique theatrical event produced by Aztec Economy. It’s been touring the country for 2.5 years but is finally making it’s New York premiere opening July 24th 2015. The 50-minute immersive show, lit entirely by headlamp, tracks five coal miners immediately following a cave collapse. Click here to read an interview with Leah about the show and here to buy tickets for this limited engagement.