Professional speech coach Ita Olsen believes that our ability to communicate is the single pivotal skill that can get us what we need out of life. She has dedicated her career to help us all become powerful, influential and persuasive speakers.
Ita is one of the world’s leading authorities on speech and human communications and founder of Convey Clearly. She has worked with top executives, radio hosts, entertainers and performers, authored two books. Ita blogs and tweets regularly and has been featured in the media – from The Today Show to the Wall Street Journal. She is motivational, wise and expert at her craft.
So, who better to talk to about the power of communications?
Hi Ita! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. You’ve had, and continue to have, an incredible career as a professional speech coach. Can you talk about why you believe that, “How you sound and the way that you speak can be the key to professional success”?
Our ability to communicate our message gets us what we need out of life. We get advanced degrees and then when we go on the interview we don’t come across as genius as we are. We lose sleep over presentations, interviews, first dates. People who can speak well can get ahead much easier than those who don’t.
When do you need to communicate your message most? When the outcome of the situation matters – that’s key right there. When you need people to follow your call-to-action! What are your calls-to-action? “Think I’m smart!” “Think I’m funny!” “Think I’m your ideal candidate!” “I’m not a fraud!!” “Buy my widget!” “Hire my firm!” We speak for a reason. Why not up your odds of getting what you need out of life?
We practice and try to improve on so many things, but it seems that our communications skills are lost in the mix. I am hoping the LikeSo app can help, but why do think this is so?
It takes a lot of courage to stand up and speak. I tell everybody to go for it anyway. Sadly, and to no one’s advantage, there’s a stigma attached to not being a perfect communicator. We feel embarrassed. That’s why many of us are in denial about the way we come across during meetings, interviews, presentations, etc. But nobody performs as well in important situations as well as they do in very comfortable ones.
When we understand that 1. No one is a perfect communicator and 2. Anyone who’s good has worked on it, then we can realize that improvements can and should be made.
If it’s all about practice, should our education system work speech communications more into the curriculum?
Like any other skill, to develop great speech, you must learn and practice. Not only are we not born with amazing communication skills but our school systems does not prioritize teaching communication skills. We don’t teach children how to introduce themselves, how to make small talk, how to sell themselves, how to persuade others easily, how to be concise and powerful communicators. Then we get to college and have to make a presentation, and we are less than outstanding.
I implore teachers and parents to praise children when they discuss their ideas. When a child answers a question wrong tell them, “Great answer!” Say that. Say: “Great answer! I love the way you think! I was referring to _____, but your answer was good, too.” Provide the children with many more opportunities to express themselves.
It is my contention that tethered to our smartphones, and with our heads down texting, we are losing the opportunity to have face-to-face, articulate conversations. Do you think that texting and social media is affecting our communications skills?
Let’s look at it both ways: Yes, people need experience communicating with others. I adore speaking with others, sometimes an exchange with a stranger at the deli just makes my day. Face-to-face communications (over skype counts!) are the best way to get what you need out of life.
But perhaps texting is training people to be more concise. That’s so necessary and we often tend to be too wordy and use run-on sentences during the important conversations (with bosses, prospects, venture capital folks, etc.) That’s one of the big problems that bosses report about their employees.
Q: Is there anything that you would like to share about Convey Clearly and your experience and advice as a professional communications coach?
I teach people to be super relaxed and comfortable during all communicative situations. I teach them to use a credible, authoritative yet warm voice in all milieus of their lives. My clients are smart people who strive to do better & better – and I love what I do.
Thank you so much Ita!