“We do not listen to understand…we listen to reply.”

I read this quote on Linkedin, and it is worth repeating.

Are you guilty of this?  You hear the beginning of a question and assume you know where the rest of the question is headed. You stop listening and – in your mind – you start formulating the answer.

When we do this, we are missing a HUGE opportunity to deepen our connection with our audience.

How do you achieve understanding?

Here’s one technique you can use.

Let’s say someone makes a statement with limited details:  “I am concerned about FY2022.”

Instead of jumping to your response, seek understanding by saying, “Tell me a little more about your specific concerns.”

You deepen your connection by giving that person the attention s/he deserves.

By saying, “Tell me more,”  you are demonstrating that you are truly seeking understanding.

Project confidence

As I am participating in Zoom meetings, I am seeing a variety of postures;  some are too relaxed and some are downright sloppy.

If you are presenting salient information to a client, your staff or an executive team, you must make a conscious effort to look confident and in control.

To do this, be mindful that your posture manifests confidence.

Watch Andrew Cuomo.  His posture reflects the message and says to me, “I am in command.”



Supporters were worried about former VP Joe Biden’s performance during the earlier debates.

As he was answering many of the questions, he looked stressed, he sounded rushed, and in these intense moments, he appeared as if he was experiencing “senior moments” as his old childhood nemesis…stuttering…. seemed to resurface.

The more he rushed to cram in his talking points within the allotted time,  the more he was prone to stumble or choose the wrong word.  And, as he was going so fast, he neglected to breathe.  This added to his frantic delivery style.

Take a look at this debate.  You can see examples of what I talked about in two places at  .25 – .53, when addressing Mike Bloomberg and 5:40 – 6:24 on Climate change.


His voice sounded strained.  That’s because he was speaking in the upper level of vocal range.

When anyone appears frantic, it dilutes confidence and command. (Command is the very strength he needs to project as a Presidential candidate.)

In Joe’s case,  he also diluted his primary strength –  the ability to connect to people with his heart.


Take a look at Joe Biden at a town hall meeting in South Carolina on CNN.  What a difference!  (This particularly touching message with Reverend Anthony Thompson starts around 7:11.)

He is taking his time.  This, in turn, allows him to add meaningful pauses, giving him ample time to take a supportive breath.  As a result of this calmer delivery style, his voice is more conversational and his heart-felt connection with his audience…shines.

There is a lesson for all of us in Joe Biden’s delivery.

When presenting, regardless of the pressure, and no matter the fear that you are feeling being in the spotlight, adopting a conversational tone, and inserting longer pauses so that you take a supportive breath will help you appear calmer, more conversational and in control.


We all have been impacted by COVID-19 and are doing our best to keep ourselves, co-workers and families safe.

In light of this, I bet you and your organizations are conducting more meetings, interviews and presentations on your favorite video platform.

Effectively communicating remains central to the message being heard and cannot be underestimated.

You probably have come to realize that online communicating is a different animal than an in-person meeting.  Many of the body language skills come into play, but on a different scale.

Do you and your team know how to make those adjustments?

Vocal delivery takes a front seat

Similar to my many years in the Television News industry as a talent coach (anchors can only be seen from your waist up),  your vocal delivery becomes the critical body language skill.  Striking the right pitch and tone, practicing deliberate enunciation and reducing speed are more critical than ever.

Practice with your friends, family and co-workers, get feedback…..and hang in there.


The stories were sticky; but everything else was forgettable.

I saw Nina Totenberg speak.  (She is a correspondent for National Public Radio focusing primarily on the activities and politics of the Supreme Court of the United States.)

I was very disappointed with her delivery.  She read from a script for one hour.

You would think that someone with her experience, who has covered SCOTUS for many years, that she could speak without notes.

What stood out for me were the stories.

I even remember them now.

She told a story about Sandra Day O’Connor passing a note to a fellow justice advising him that his hearing aid was buzzing.

Then, there was the time when Justice Scalia had to nudge his colleague to wake him up as they were hearing a case.

What if Ms. Totenberg had made her whole speech a series of stories?

People remember stories.  They stick.

I want you to consider during your next presentation to insert a relevant story which illustrates your point.

It will be the highlight and what people will remember.