Communications Leadership Success Secrets

The Art of Apology

Have you ever hurt someone’s feelings but been oblivious at the time? Perhaps you said something teasing that was interpreted as mean-spirited.

By the time we reach adulthood, most of us have done or said a lot of things that require apologies. But making a heart-felt apology that helps pave the way for better relations requires skill and a mature, deliberate intent.

In this time of reflection, do you feel you need to apologize to someone? If so, perhaps you could benefit from a few pointers before you talk to the person. Even if nothing comes to mind right now that you need to apologize for, check these steps to make your future apologies meaningful:

  1. Acknowledge that you’ve done or said something hurtful. In correcting any mistake, the first step to an apology is to recognize – even to admit privately – that you’ve done something that has caused hurt or emotional pain.
  • Sometimes, people let us know they’re feeling injured by lashing out. Others withdraw and become quiet.

    • Gently asking questions is a great way to begin to discover what’s going on. With sensitivity, try inquiring with your friend or loved one if they’re upset about something in particular. If you think you may know what the issue is, mention it with an empathetic tone. Sometimes I’ve seen the sincere phrase of “Help me understand…” opens up hearts to share. People have told me that approach let them feel that I truly wanted to hear their thoughts and listen sincerely. (After all, they are laying their heart out, so it’s best to handle with care.)

    • Remember that they have a right to decline telling you. If you’ve asked kindly once or twice, and they haven’t engaged with you, let them know that you’d be happy to talk, if or when they become ready. Letting them know you will be there for them often communicates worlds of thoughtfulness and genuine concern.
  • Then, give them some space. While they process their feelings, think back on your words and actions. That inner reflection may lead to you understanding how you may have been wrong or out of line. (It’s possible, right?) Looking objectively as you can (imagine being up in the air looking down at the ordeal), maybe you will easily see what your part was in the situation. When you can clearly articulate the role you played, then you’re ready to make an apology.
  • Find just the right words. Next, consider how to phrase your apology. If you’re sincere about feeling sorry, those words will come to you pretty easily. Ask yourself, “What do I want to say?”

Sorry seems to be the hardest word.

– Elton John

  • Finding the right words has two goals. The first is to convey the remorse you feel regarding your actions or words. The second and often-ignored goal is to promise not to repeat your hurtful behavior or comments going forward.

    • In your apology, avoid giving a reason or excuse for your actions. Those who make excuses for their hurtful behaviors look as if they’re trying to defend themselves, and this is not the time for that. In fact, I’ve seen that giving excuses (or even reasons) may never have a place in the apology. Your apology is about the pain caused to them, not about your reasons for your actions.
  • Skillfully communicate your apology. At this point, you’re ready to verbally communicate your feelings.

    • Apologies are best done in person. Choose a comfortable setting where you will not be interrupted. Make eye contact and tell the person you have something important to address with them. During this time we’re in of self-isolation, try to get face time or screen time with them. If you can only arrange a phone call, at least do that. Trust me, you will be the bigger person for taking that step. Know that only texting an apology will nearly always feel flat. As long as we’re going across that bridge of making things right, let’s do the right thing with the right approach.

    • State your apology using appropriate voice tones. Avoid long, drawn out apologies. Make it short and sincere. Convey your honesty with your tone. Joking usually has no place in an apology – not at the beginning, middle or the end. In fact, it is unnecessary and unwelcome.

    • Prepare for any response your friend might have. Of paramount importance is to listen to any comments or questions from your friend about your prior actions. Take each statement seriously without being dismissive of a single one. If they are said, they are important.

    • In the event your friend makes angry comments toward you or further questions your motives in what you originally said or did, listen carefully and recognize that any angry words are most likely the result of hurt feelings. Your best response? Repeat your apology with sincerity.

Making things right is like cleaning out a wound: you have to clean out all of the infection or risk the wound re-infecting the body.

Without a doubt, making genuine, mature and adult apologies takes practice and skill. But if you follow the three steps above, you’ll be well on your way to putting your relationship back into good standing. And you’ll feel better about yourself too! Realizing that no one knows what tomorrow brings, making things right today with those we have hurt is not only the right thing to do, that very action will help us relieve a burden we have been carrying far too long.

Communications Leadership Success Secrets

How to Make Conversations Sparkle

If I have a problem (some would say I have many!), it would be that I can talk and talk and talk with anybody and you and you and you.

But I’ve found that knowing HOW to make lively conversation enriches your personal and professional life. For example, I have gotten to be friends with greeters, waiters and waitresses in several restaurants and security folks in multiple buildings throughout Manhattan. Why? I dunno. I just like striking up a conversation. I find people fascinating because each one has a story to tell. And oral communication plays a big part in how we learn about each other and draw closer together. Here are some methods for creating better dialogue.

Easy Methods for Improving Your Conversation Skills

  1. Spend plenty of time listening. What? It’s true. You may find you need to actually talk less. Balance the amount of time you spend talking and the time you spend listening. Give others a chance to contribute. Think of conversations like a volleyball game where you can’t play unless the ball volleys back and forth over the net. Same thing.
  2. Offer sincere compliments. If you can’t be genuine, don’t bother. But heartfelt compliments will warm up any exchange. Let people know you recognize their good qualities and the positive impact they make. My client and I once complimented a security man in midtown Manhattan about his expensive-looking gold watch. He beamed! We made a new friend and were greeted with a smile every time we returned over the years.
  3. Watch how others respond. Be self-aware and observant when you’re talking. Always read the audience. If people are fidgeting, looking away or yawning, it could be a sign to change subjects or draw your chat to a close. (That just happened to me on a 30-minute Zoom call. I saw the other person was looking at things on his desk and responding less, so I instantly knew nothing more that I would say would register well. Next step? Thank him for his time and wrap it up. No personal offense was taken by me; I realized it was just time to end the meeting.)
  4. Search out compatible people. Even if you’ve got some unusual interests and views, you can always find kindred spirits. Find a fellow music lover who will share their love for a top artist or an outdoors enthusiast to exchange adventure stories with.
  5. Provide background information. People will be more receptive to unfamiliar subjects if you start at the beginning. Growing up in the South, I learned people will also open up when you do. Fill in the facts so it’s easier to follow what you’re talking about. And listen to them for their top points. It’s magic.
  6. Open up your body language. A smile, friendly gestures and confident eye contact make you appear more likable and interesting. Stand up straight, pull your shoulders back and uncross your arms. In fact, stand as if a wire is holding you up from the crown of your head. Everything else will then fall into place and look natural.
  7. Speak clearly. Slow down and articulate your words. Everything sounds better when you avoid mumbling. Holding your head up automatically makes you sound more energetic and warm.
  8. Amp up your vocab. Increase your word power because the more expansive your vocabulary, the easier it is to select the precise words to convey your message. You’ll also make a better impression, sound more persuasive, garner more respect and likely earn more money. Simply put, you’ll AMAZE yourself. Best program I’ve found (with words we actually would use) is Executive Vocabulary (blue cover). Email me if you can’t find it. Definitely worth it.

More Challenging Methods for Improving Your Conversation Skills

  1. Cherish others. People will be more receptive to anything you’ve got to say if they sense you take a sincere (key word!) interest in them and want to help them. Remind yourself of all YOU have to be grateful for. Look for opportunities to extend positive feelings you hold about your loved ones to a broader circle of acquaintances. Pay it forward. Live the Abundance Mentality (see Covey’s definition) and watch great things come your way.
  2. Nourish your self-esteem. Know that you matter and you have worthwhile things to contribute. Remind yourself of your accomplishments and take strategic risks when it comes to speaking your mind.
  3. Express your emotions. Be honest with yourself about your true feelings so you can talk about them in a constructive manner. This is another blessing from being raised in the candid South in a large family run by an Italian mother. We shared feelings. And we learned that discussing conflicts directly and tactfully prevents them from building up. Your example may give others the freedom to disclose more, too.
  4. Focus on the present moment. Engage fully in what you’re doing. My kids have taught me to live in the moment and focus on the now. When you’re with others, set aside distractions (phones, devices) so you can give people your full attention. (In fact, more than once, I’ve had coworkers texting IN meetings WITH clients sitting RIGHT ACROSS the table from them. It was disconcerting to everyone, rude to the client – who’s paying the bills – and ultra-obvious to everyone…except the texter.)
  5. Lead a meaningful life. Commit yourself to lifelong learning, use your leisure time well and do good for others. One of my mentors, Bruce Jensen, told me that in grad school, he would even make the most of the minutes waiting at the bus stop for his ride. Amazing dedication. And someone who is constantly learning, creating and inspiring. Be like that and, trust me, you’ll be at that level, too. Along the way, you’ll even have more to talk about.
  6. Practice consistently. Like everything else, conversation skills improve the more you use them. Brush up on small talk with the cashier at the store, other customers at the café, food servers and the mail carrier. Those small tasks will better prepare for your next job interview or for having dinner with your growing network of associates.

Some of these suggestions are easy to use and others will require significant effort. They’re all worthwhile, though. Making conversations sparkle will help you to share more of yourself with others, deepen your friendships and make the world around you richer with memories.

Communications Leadership Success Secrets

How to Lead With Courage

There she was: an intern standing at the front of the room with senior executives and the company chairman – all agency team members for the venerable Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ad account. She reported her research findings, but the chairman, whose second love was Jackson Hole, said, “That’s not right” and set the record straight. We all agreed because he was, after all, the chairman who lived and breathed everything Jackson Hole long before any of us were on the team.

Everyone agreed, that is, except the intern – who was STILL in college! She countered, “Well, actually that IS right because I just spoke with them yesterday and they said…”

WOW! A showdown. Intern vs. Chairman. I braced myself.

Then Bob (chairman) said, “Oh, okay. I didn’t know that. You have more current information than I have.” Credit to Bob. But CREDIT to the INTERN!!

Twenty-plus years later, I still remember that incident and still work with that intern who advanced to senior positions, landed clients on the Today Show, etc., and is balancing her own PR firm demands with home-schooling kids during the pandemic.

Can you lead with courage? Can you lead with courage as a junior person in front of a roomful of senior execs? YES!

When we think of leaders, we might be tempted to think of courageous and heroic figures. The leader is the person at the vanguard of the army, leading the charge and taking the brunt of any enemy attacks. That’s what it means to be a leader in comic books and films after all.

Of course, this is not the reality for most of us. Most people will be managers and successful leaders, where there is very little gunfire or charging.

But that doesn’t mean you can rest. It is still very important to be courageous and heroic. It’s just that this courage will take a different form.

Leading Through Action

The best leaders are action-takers, like the intern. When we lead through action, we set a positive example for our team and inspire them to take action. In this way, we avoid one of the worst traits any leader can possess: hypocrisy.

Few things will inspire dissent in your ranks as quickly as being seen as hypocritical.

Nobody likes being asked to do things because they feel that their boss is simply unwilling or even afraid to do it themselves. You are in charge and with that comes responsibility. Giving the worst jobs to your team and not taking part in them yourself is an abuse of your power.


Leading through action also means being decisive. It means being able to quickly make a decision and be willing to commit to that action. It means doing the homework and knowing your stuff.

Many lesser leaders make the mistake of deferring or avoiding decision-making. Their fear is that they’ll make the wrong decision and lose the respect of their staff. Their fear is they will disagree with the chairman or senior leaders and be relegated lower.

Just the opposite is likely to happen (if you do it politely…like Mama taught).

Being indecisive is worse than making an unwise or incorrect decision. Why? Because being indecisive makes a person seem weak and uncertain. And while taking action might sometimes result in a negative outcome, I’ve seen where delaying a decision has only ever had negative consequences.

Conversely, it’s nearly always inspiring to see someone who makes quick decisions, doesn’t doubt themselves and speaks up. Decisiveness also builds confidence in your team members.


How is decisiveness a mark of courage?

Simply put, it means that you’re willing to accept the responsibility that comes with the role of being a leader. Being a leader doesn’t mean telling others what to do and it certainly doesn’t mean getting to take all the credit.

Being a leader means taking responsibility for the team.

It means protecting them so they can do their best work. It means making decisions and being willing to deal with the consequences. It’s only when we don’t want to look bad that we avoid making decisions… and that is ultimately a mark of cowardice.


Finally, being a courageous leader means that you take your lumps when things do go sour. If you make a mistake, it’s important to not only own up to it, but also to stay calm and collected when you’re reprimanded by your own superiors, or when the organization risks collapsing.

Likewise, it’s absolutely crucial to remain calm in a crisis. That means setting a good example when things seem to be going wrong for the team. Prevent your team from going into a panic. I’ve often asked, “What kind of a captain do you want in charge of the ship caught in a storm? Be that captain.”

Stay calm and you’ll be able to address difficult issues in the most clear-thinking way.

How to Be the Hero They Need

Where does all this courage and stoicism come from? How can you acquire it if you don’t possess it naturally? Does it mean trying to act tough?

Not at all.

Being a truly great leader comes from having the right priorities. It means forgetting yourself and, instead, focusing on the goals of your group/team/company and the happiness that very team that makes it all happen. When you do that, it’s easy to be a courageous leader.

Communications Creativity Ideas Leadership Success Secrets

Be the First in the Room to Say . . .

I want you to be the person in the conversation who says, “So I have this idea…” because I’ve seen the excitement that very statement generates in conversations and in finding solutions.

Sound fun? Sound ominous?

I’ve found we all face times when we want to be more creative, when we wish we had something to share that adds value.

Photo: Arunodhai Vinod

If you’re looking for ways to re-energize your creative side during these times of working/living remotely, here are four simple activities to get your creative energy flowing and release the artist within.

Express Yourself

What type of personality do you have? Are you able to express that personality freely with others? If not, tackle one of these projects and let your personality shine!

  • Decorate your place, or at least one room, the way you like it. It doesn’t matter what anyone else tells you, just decorate your room your way. You will be amazed when you unleash your own self-expression.
  • Dress the way you want. If tackling your place is too big of a job, then take a look at your wardrobe. Dress how you want to dress. Trust yourself and trust your instincts. You are dressing for you, not the world. Don’t worry; you can express yourself while still being professional for the team at work.
  • Dare to be fanatical. In Search of Excellence author Tom Peters (big fan) said, “Most corporations fail to tolerate the creative fanatic who has been the driving force behind most major innovations.” I hope that gives courage to aspire to a higher level.

You have to find ways in everything you do to allow creativity to flow through you. This can be as simple as the way you sign an email, send a card, the way you dress or the place you choose to live.

Change Your Routine

If you’re stuck in a rut, do things that take you out of your normal routine. (This is one of the most energizing things I love doing to stir creative thoughts!) It doesn’t really matter how stimulating your work or home life is, when you step out of your normal routine for some “me time,” you’ll open your mind to new ideas and thoughts.

How can you step out of the norm?

  1. Read a book you wouldn’t usually pick up;
  2. Watch a movie you wouldn’t typically choose;
  3. Talk to a total stranger you think looks interesting;
  4. Go shopping at a store you have never been to. (You don’t have to buy anything, just browse if you like); or
  5. Reach out to a friend you haven’t seen forever.

Notice Your Surroundings

Another simple activity to increase your creativity is to pay attention to your surroundings. You may think that is absolutely ridiculous – after all, you see the same things and people every day, and you probably even drive the same route to and from work, too. But take a few moments and actually observe your surroundings. See things the way they are and not the way you think they are.

  • Take a different route home from work. Discover shortcuts or new neighborhoods.
  • Sit on a park bench or at the mall and people watch. Think of stories for each person or couple that you see.
  • Have you ever really paid attention to the people you see every week? Take notice. Don’t stalk or stare but pay attention. You just may find that other people can be quite the source of inspiration for creativity.

Use Your Imagination

If you have a favorite poem or story you loved as a kid, start writing that story, but make the changes you always thought should be there. What were Jack and Jill really doing on their way up the hill? If they were fetching a pail of water, what was the water for? You don’t have to re-invent the wheel, simply make the everyday your own.

Increasing your creativity starts in small, simple ways. Your life is filled with opportunities for you to test your creative energies, but it’s up to you to take action! And to have fun discovering the wealth of ideas within. With that, it will be easy to be the first person in the room to say, “So I have this idea.”

Communications Ideas Leadership Success Secrets

Become an Influencer to Lift Another Higher

Who have been the three most influential people in your life? I bet those people came to mind fairly quickly to you.

Can you name the traits that each of them had that got them into that category in your life?

If you are part of this tribe of readers, who are constantly working to improve yourself (like I am), I want to give a fun challenge: Become an influencer in another person’s life. I’m not talking about the social media influencer. Rather, this is about the good, old-fashioned one-on-one influencer that has a deep effect on another for the better.

Influence is one of the most motivating factors in decision making. When you have a major decision to make, what are the influences that drive you to a final decision?

It’s normal to base any big decisions you make on how it will affect your loved ones. In essence, you could say that those closest to you have a lot of influence on the decisions you make in life.

Influence is the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something.

So, how do you become influential so you can produce your desired effects on the actions, behaviors and opinions of others? Let’s go through some simple strategies now.

Lead by Example

The best way to influence someone is in your own behavior. This can go both ways – good or bad. If you want to influence someone to be positive and do well, you’ll need to be a living example of the behavior you expect.

In your workplace, be someone that others would want to model. That means you should strive to be on time, work diligently and avoid gossiping about others.

Also, be aware of how you spend your time at work. Are you spending it wisely or are you “milking the clock?” If you expect your co-workers or employees to make the most of their time at work, you should be doing the same.

People are led by example and will likely do whatever others around them are doing. If you’re a leader, then you’re the example they’ll follow. Remember, you can exert influence over others by becoming a positive example to model.

Communication is a Key Factor in Influencing

What you say and how you say it is of utmost importance when influencing others.

If you’re condescending or condemning in your speech, others will see you as haughty, arrogant and egotistical. Most likely, they’ll steer away from you. However, when you’re uplifting, encouraging and genuine, others tend to listen and heed what you say.

One way to speak in an encouraging tone is to use your voice as if you’re at dinner with your in-laws. You most likely wouldn’t be harsh or rude when speaking to them; nor would you speak down to them with a condescending tone. You’d use a calm tone of voice and speak pleasantly.

Think of it as using your “salt and pepper” voice. When you ask someone to pass the salt and pepper, are you rude, demanding or harsh? Not likely. You’re probably soft spoken, with a lilt in your voice, which influences the person to immediately pass the salt and pepper to you.

Be Authoritative, Not an Authoritarian

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should lack confidence when you speak, it simply means you are authoritative and not an authoritarian—that you speak with confidence rather than arrogance.

If you want to be an influence in the workplace, you’ll want to lead by example and speak with an encouraging, yet confident tone. In doing so, becoming a powerful influence can prove to be a beneficial and successful experience.

Communications Leadership Success Secrets

7 Attributes Great Leaders Share

Leadership is a daunting task, and theories abound about how to best lead others. Regardless, you can imagine great leaders share attributes. With the right blend of attributes, you can thrive within any leadership system. Having trained and led over 100 professionals in a span of years, I’ve seen firsthand that it’s possible to develop these characteristics with study, effort and an ample dose of enthusiasm.

Ideas are easy, but it’s the consistent execution that’s challenging. Big ideas require multiple people to bring them to life, and leadership is all about getting everyone on the same page and moving them in the same direction.

Leadership requires attributes you can adopt. Photo by fauxels

Consider developing these qualities that enhance leadership ability:

  1. Communication. I deliberately named my company Candid Communications because I’ve seen the value of open, forthright and candid communications. To effectively communicate your vision to the others in your group, you must be willing to be open, to listen to new ideas and to provide perspective required for others to do their best. Communication skills are paramount to all leaders.
    • If you’re looking for a single skill to enhance, communication is a great place to start.
  1. Confidence. Confident people inspire confidence in others. When your team sees your confidence, they believe you know what you’re doing, where you’re going and how to get there. Confidence is contagious and elevates morale. No one else will be confident if you’re not.
    • Even when facing setbacks, keep morale high by dealing with it confidently.
  2. Trustworthiness. One of the most important attributes of a great leader is character. People need to trust someone before they will follow them. This is accomplished through honesty, walking the talk and showing respect. Keep your word and follow through.
    • It’s challenging for a team to accomplish anything without trust.
  3. Enthusiasm. I mentioned this earlier, but be enthusiastic about the task at hand, your position and the opportunity to lead. You have to act as though no one will exceed your level of enthusiasm. Demonstrate the type of enthusiasm you’d like to see in your team members. Let everyone know you believe in your mission and its importance.
    • Because we’re all human, know that sometimes a break is in order to recharge enthusiasm, which can fade under a never-ending workload.
  4. Steadiness. All leaders face obstacles and times of uncertainty. But great leaders weather these situations and demonstrate the steadiness necessary to keep the rest of the team focused. These are the times your team will look to you for strength. Be positive. Be confident. Be a rock.
    • It’s natural to have doubts. It’s not effective to share them. If you need someone to talk to, reach out to your spouse, partner or best friend. Keep all negativity out of the workplace.
  5. Focus. It’s easy to become distracted, especially when things go awry. I’ve seen the best path is to ignore the noise and stick to relevant facts. Avoid looking too far ahead (that can paralyze progress, too). Deal with the current situation and maintain your commitment.
    • Focus can begin to creep in when projects drag for an extended period of time. Return to your mission statement, values and goals frequently to keep your focus fresh.
  6. Flexibility. Nearly anyone can hold the course, but only great leaders can change course without tipping over the ship. Be open-minded enough to find the elegant solution to the challenges that arise. A few course corrections are the rule rather than the exception.
    • Avoid confusing steadfastness with stubbornness. It’s important to realize when it’s time to make some changes.

Regardless of the leadership strategy guiding your company, these attributes can serve you well. They can help you become an admired leader. Why? Because great leaders have developed many of the same attributes. Learning to demonstrate these attributes will enhance your leadership abilities and increase your power and influence at work.

Even with all the enthusiasm you can muster, leadership skills can’t be learned and developed in a day. But bringing an idea into the marketplace requires a leader, so make yourself the obvious choice.

Creativity Ideas Leadership Success Secrets

9 Ways to Rekindle Your Creativity

We’re past the 14th week of quarantining and, frankly, a lot of us are getting a little stir crazy. Which is exactly why it’s time to let the creative genius inside of all of us (since we were kids) to rekindle your creativity.

For starters, harnessing your ingenuity will make your life more meaningful and enjoyable. Why is creativity so important and more innovation and inspiration into daily activities should have the biggest welcome mat you can find? Check these 5 points.

How Creativity Enriches Your Life

  • Experience More Joy. Creativity flourishes when you think positively. Find your passions and cultivate them. Embrace challenges with curiosity. Observe the conditions that help you get “in the zone.”

  • Improve Your Physical Health. Studies show creativity exercises are an effective way to relieve stress and boost our immune system. (Can there be a better reason?) Those who think resourcefully also cope better with aging and experience fewer declines in their cognitive functions.

  • Strengthen Your Relationships. A sense of imagination can even enhance your personal relationships. Break out of the same old conflicts by searching for common ground. Look at challenging situations from the other person’s perspective and try out a different response.

  • Perform Better at Work – Even Remotely. Collaboration is integral to the creative process. Help create a more cooperative atmosphere where colleagues complement each other’s strengths rather than compete against them.

  • Be All You Can Be. We all have some form of creative genius. Enjoy the pleasure of developing your own gifts. With persistence and an open mind, you’ll expand your skills for responding to all kinds of challenges. More skills means more marketability.

9 Techniques for Sparking Your Creativity

  1. Brainstorm. Generating ideas is usually the first step in the creative process. Put aside any judgments and just let the options flow. Now’s your chance to get zany and experimental.

  2. Incubate. Before inspiration hits, there’s usually a quiet time while we digest our ideas.
    • Help your unconscious mind along by taking a quiet walk or a relaxing shower. Routine tasks like washing dishes can also trigger insights. Think about a dilemma right before bed, and you may wake up with a solution. This happens to me all the time, but it’s taken a discipline and belief that it will happen for it to happen.

  3. Take Action. Make a plan for how to implement your ideas. Regard every attempt as a learning experience even if the immediate results fail to pan out. Remember, successful people succeed because they take more risks.

  4. Lighten Up. Free up your fertile mind.
    • Some gentle aerobics and stretches will relax your body.
    • Meditation or soft music can dispel anxieties or boredom.
    • Humor is a very powerful tool for lowering inhibitions and seeing things more vividly.

  5. Change Your Routine. Any adjustment to your usual way of doing things can help you take a fresh look at life. Take an alternate route to work or visit a cafe on the other side of town. Expand your horizons by looking for ways to experience novelty all the time.

  6. Observe Details. On the other hand, you can re-invent the most familiar aspects of your life by viewing them from a fresh angle. Think about how your kitchen would appear to an alien from space.

  7. Ignore the Clock. Get up early so you can savor the luxury of open-ended time. Forget about deadlines for a bit. Instead, focus on the present moment instead of thinking about the next task you have scheduled. Feel what it’s like to be free from hurrying. Try to remember that sensation as you start your day.

  8. Get a Hobby. Make the most of your leisure time with creative outlets that incorporate your passions. You may delight in watercolors. Or maybe you really get a kick out of working on cars.

  9. Seek Inspiration. Surround yourself with whatever you find invigorating. Visit art museums or go camping. Spend more time playing with your kids and getting caught up in their excitement each time they see something new.

Today is the time transform your life into a Work of Art by tapping into your creative side. Once you discover and develop your passions, you’ll be on your way to feeling more accomplished and fulfilled. With that, I promise you each day will become a wonderful adventure.

Communications Ideas Leadership Success Secrets Video Conferencing

Online Public Speaking Fear: How to Overcome It & Soar

If you find yourself afraid of an upcoming online meeting where you need to speak up, you’re not alone. This is a natural tendency borne from the common fear of public speaking. In fact, the fear of public speaking is one of the top fears today, but you can still do something about it.

You hear over and over again that practice makes perfect, and this also applies to public speaking. Any sort of public speaking – even when you speak out in your group of friends online or in Zoom meetings – can ease you into the unexpected public speaking role.

Here are some actions you can take to reduce any fear of public speaking:

  1. Be prepared. In most public speaking situations, you can use notes. Make sure you organize your notes long before the meeting and break them down into an organized list where you highlight two or three key talking points. (That’s the secret: Just start with three key points.) If you can’t use notes, simply make it a point to practice your speech until you feel comfortable saying it in front of others. You might still have some fear, but being well prepared can definitely combat this feeling.
  1. Don’t expect perfection. It’s important not to expect that your contribution will be perfect. In fact, chances are your audience doesn’t expect perfection either. They understand that everyone makes mistakes and they, themselves, may be afraid of public speaking. You might skip over a part of your talk or stutter a little, and these are all natural human mistakes.
  1. Speak in small groups. If you’re uncomfortable speaking in front of a large group, then start small. Practice on small groups and ask for feedback afterwards. You can have a confidential feedback form, or you can just ask participants what they thought of your speech. In fact, pretend every group is a small group even if they are huge in numbers.
  1. Have a backup plan. It’s always advisable to have a backup plan in life situations; public speaking is no exception. Think about what you might want to say if you get stuck. If your mind goes blank, take a deep breath and start your backup plan. Chances are you’ll find yourself back on track before you know it.
  1. Relax. It’s important to get yourself into the right mindset before you have to speak. Consider starting a ritual that you find relaxing in order to keep your mind off of your fears. You could breathe deeply for a minute, meditate or do a crossword puzzle. Whatever it is, just choose an activity that helps you relax.

The Audience Can Be Scary

The audience is the whole reason you’re afraid to make your speech, but it helps to know that they’re not scary. Look at them as actually being on your side. Keep a positive attitude because chances are good that the audience wants you to succeed in your speech.

In the end, it’s important to remember that even if you do mess up, it’s not the end of the world. As long as you’ve prepared yourself well enough and have a backup plan in place, you’ll be able to pick yourself back up if you trip up anywhere in your speech.

After your presentation, it’s important to take notes and critique yourself on how it went. I debrief with 3 simple questions:

  1. What did I do that I liked?
  2. What did I do that I didn’t like?
  3. If I had to do it all over again, what would I do differently?

Applying the answers from those disarming questions – in that order – has helped me improve tremendously over the years. It has helped me assess situations long after the emotion of the event has passed.

Whether it’s online or in-person, as you continue to practice your public speaking skills, you’ll get better and more comfortable in time. Just go all in!

For coaching, connect at

Communications Ideas Leadership Success Secrets Video Conferencing

How to Become an Effective Listener Online

Effective communication is one of the keys to success, and when you’re good at it, people notice. During our days of Zoom/Skype meetings, it becomes an even more critical skill to master so we stay in the game.

Most people think that strengthening communication skills involves developing persuasive speech and conversational skills, but what you may not realize is just how important effective listening can be.

Without an effective listener, none of your conversational skills would matter. This is because your points – no matter how clear – still wouldn’t be heard or understood.

Remember that listening is a full 50% of the communication effort so it’s worth your time to develop this precious skill, too.

Here are some techniques to build your listening skills:

  1. Fight the urge to speak. Sometimes when you’re engaged in a heated conversation, you start to concentrate on what you’re going to say next. You may even be tempted to open your mouth before the other person is finished. Make the extra effort to keep your lips sealed until they’re through talking. And learn the art of volley in online meeting conversations.
    • While they’re speaking, don’t worry about what you’re going to say or how you’re going to say it. Instead, focus on the words and body language of the other person.
  1. Look interested. Your nonverbal communication skills are important while you’re listening. If you’re looking disinterested and uncaring, the person trying to communicate with you will likely pick up on these subtle hints. Looking off-camera is obvious to everyone on the video meeting. In fact, the presenter may be flustered or less likely to share their thoughts. Makes sense, right?
    • Engage with the person talking. Make eye contact with the pinhole camera, and nod your head or smile. Let your conversation partner know that their points are coming across to you.
  1. Repeat the highlights. One way to literally tell your conversation partner that they’re effectively communicating is to simply restate their points. You can repeat key phrases in an affirming tone. You can even give them a quick summary of what they just said in your own words.
    • Avoid sharing your opinions when repeating their concepts or ideas. At this point, you simply want to communicate that you’ve completely understood their meaning.  
  1. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask your conversation partner to elaborate on what they’re saying. If you need further information, ask for it. The important thing is that you understand what they’re trying to get across.
  1. Be patient. It’s also important to maintain patience, especially when working with people who may be shy or may not have the ability to communicate very well. If you’re not patient, you may end the conversation prematurely or scare off your conversation partner.
  1. Follow your partner’s lead. Being an effective listener doesn’t mean that your only job is to listen. You can certainly add to the conversation, too. At the same time, you don’t want to overpower the conversation. Add your input when they ask for it or when they’ve finished their point.

Remember that practice makes perfect. After you’ve had an important conversation, ask yourself what you remember from the conversation. Write down the details if necessary. Did you allow the other person to do most of the talking?

When you fight the urge to dominate conversations, you’ll be able to truly hear what people have to say!

For more tips on effective communication, email me at I have tons of more information to help you excel, impress, earn more and lead.