What Do You Do?
When I'm asked what I do on short forms, it's not always easy to find an appropriate title from a drop-down menu.
Likewise, it's not a simple explanation when meeting and talking with new people and curious prospects, so... I'll start right here!
"Speech coach" doesn't really answer the question. In my practice, I work in a unique way, and what's addressed isn't just "presentation skills." I work with people who want to develop their voices and communication styles more fully and authentically, both in their professional and personal lives. For professionals, individual communication style and behaviors are explored, not only for presenting, but when speaking in many contexts, including 1:1 with co-workers, leading or contributing to meetings, and when speaking with clients. We examine the unique relationship the person has to their voice and to their professional and personal identities. In the workplace, the challenge is in helping an individual bring the best of their authentic selves into their professional role, and to play it superbly. We also address complex and challenging issues that arise when diverse groups of individuals work together.
I am a lover of voice and language, with singing and some acting background, and I'm also a speech/language therapist and have a background in linguistics. The courses I've taken in group and organizational psychology, leadership development, coaching, and other related areas also inform my work and approach.
Sometimes I help people develop their voice when writing-emails and reports, and, I also work very frequently with non-native English speakers to develop greater comfort and mastery in communicating in English. This is a passion of mine, as I have learned so much from the wonderful clients from allover the world who I have had the privilege to work with over the years.
I often work with groups in culturally diverse environments to function and communicate more effectively, through increasing awareness and understanding of differing communication styles. Very frequently, the messages focused on in diversity training don't really sink in for people until situations become real. When environments are competitive and people have their own agendas, their radar isn't typically tuned in to trying to understand another group member's style. Sometimes an individual's talents and perspective are missed or not considered, for lack of awareness from the group. As we know, the more knowledgable and sensitive a leader or group is to differing communication styles, the better equipped they are to develop a uniquely powerful and effective team.
It's often not neat and tidy business. For example, on a few occasions I was asked to work with women basically because their voices were deemed "annoying" or distracting. While it is worthwhile for women to develop strong, empowered voices, it's also important to know how to tread about an issue tactfully so that no one is hurt or offended, and so everyone learns and benefits.
It's hard to put all this stuff in one title, like "speech coach," but this begins to scratch the surface. I'll try to do more of the same in future blogs.
In the meantime, Let me know (in the message space) what your experiences are, as an individual team member or leader: What are your pain points? What are your greatest communication challenges at work? How do you deal with them? I'd love to learn from you and share your responses with others in a new blog.