5 of Our Top Tips for Connecting with Your Audience

Know Your Audience Tips

The audience is everything when it comes to work presentations. You’re not giving the presentation for yourself, but for your audience. Thus, it’s incredibly important to make sure that any presentation you give is designed to meet the needs of the people you’re presenting to, whether you want them to buy into a new idea, invest in a project, or come around to your way of thinking.

Here are five of the top lessons we teach our Chicago executive speech coaching clients about how to connect with your audience during a presentation:

Know your audience.

This is paramount. You need to tailor the presentation to the audience, and in order to do that you need to know who you’re presenting to. Will this presentation be heard by novices or will it be heard by leading experts? Are you talking to students or board members? Colleagues or your boss? Whatever the case, the presentation should reflect the audience.

Be personal.

Audiences are drawn in by story. Your presentation should tell a story, which means it should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. One of the most effective ways to begin any presentation is with a personal anecdote that ties into the material and can be referred back to throughout the presentation, creating a unifying structure. Just remember, your anecdote should be tailored to the audience. A story about your college days might be appropriate for some audiences, but not others.

Be on-point with data.

Avoid superlatives and instead back up your statements with real data. You don’t want to inundate or bore your audience with too many numbers, but a few carefully chosen stats can help solidify your points and convince your audience. Remember to site your sources, either in materials that you hand out, verbally, or on your presentation slides.

Engage multiple senses.

Remember that not everyone absorbs information the same way. Your presentation should be visual and auditory at the very least. Try to make it tactile, too, by bringing in a prototype of your product, for example. Or make it tasty with a treat that you can work into the theme of your presentation. (Who wouldn’t love a presentation that comes with a free cupcake?)

Add humor, as appropriate.

Again, know your audience. But in many cases, humor can be a wonderful way to hold onto your audience’s attention. When injecting humor, it’s also important to know yourself. Don’t try to tell jokes if that’s not your thing. Use humor that shows your personality, whether that’s dry and sarcastic or a bit off the wall. Just make sure that the humor adds to the presentation rather than detracting from it.

For more tips or to speak with a Chicago executive speech coach, contact us today

What is Selective Mutism and How is it Treated by SLPs?

Selective Mutism and SLPs

Formerly known as elective mutism, selective mutism is an anxiety disorder that can occur in children, usually around the age of three or four. When a child suffers from selective mutism, they are so afraid to speak in public settings that they clam up and are unable to speak, even though they are able to communicate clearly at home with family and friends.

Selective mutism is not considered a communication disorder but an anxiety disorder. It’s not that children who deal with this condition are unable to talk, but rather that they are unable to speak in certain settings, like at school or in front of unfamiliar adults. Selective mutism is not the same thing as being shy. It is normal for a child who has just started school to be nervous and quiet for the first few weeks. But if the child seems paralyzed by fear and unable to speak for more than a month, they may be dealing with selective mutism.

No clear cause of selective mutism has been identified. Children who struggle with selective mutism usually don’t have other speaking disorders and are communicative – perhaps even outgoing – in settings where they feel comfortable. While not a requirement, many children with selective mutism have a parent who also dealt with severe anxiety in childhood.

If the condition is allowed to continue without any intervention, a child with selective mutism is likely to suffer academically and socially. He or she will have a hard time making friends, getting help when needed from adults, and feeling comfortable in school and other group settings.

Fortunately, speech language pathologists can help.

Treatment of selective mutism should start with cognitive behavioral therapy. An SLP will try to work with your child on his or her terms, moving slowly and not forcing any big changes. The goal is to provide positive reinforcement and help diminish the anxiety felt in social settings. The SLP does this by working with your child consistently in real-life settings, offering tools that boost confidence and help your child find his or her voice. An SLP can also work with you – the parent -- to help you better understand your child’s needs and build their confidence.

The most important thing to remember with selective mutism is that your child isn’t being quiet out of defiance, and putting pressure on them to speak will only make the matter worse. Children who deal with selective mutism sometimes seems like they shut down in public. Our goal is to help them turn the light back on.

To learn more or to schedule an appointment with a speech language pathologist in Chicago, give our office a call. The right Chicago speech language pathologist could help you and your child work through a wide range of child communication disorders. Contact our team to learn more! 

Summer Time Activities that Can Improve Your Child’s Speech

improve your child's speech

Summer is a wonderful time to connect with your whole family and enjoy vacations, picnics, and trips to the beach. But summer can also be a difficult time for parents who are used to having the support of a Chicago speech language pathologist and various teachers at their children’s school. If your child is dealing with a speech or language disorder, it can be tough planning fun for the family while also keeping their communication difficulties in mind and giving them the attention that they need.

Fortunately, there are a lot of simple ways that you can incorporate speech/communication activities into your summer fun. Here are a few examples:

On a road trip…

Try playing simple car games with your kids like “I spy.” Identify objects in the world around them by color, shape, or size, and have them guess what you’re looking at. If you’re able to plan ahead, you can also print out a page of things that are commonly seen on road trips and have your children look for each item.

At the movies…

Heading to the movies isn’t something you want to do every day, but every now and then it can be a fun treat. Look for theaters that have parent-and-me showtimes where the lights remain dimmed rather than off and the sound is turned down. Since you don’t have to worry about talking during the film, ask your child what they see on screen, and have a conversation with them after the show about what they liked and how they felt. Ask them to describe their favorite scenes or characters.

At home…

Break out the books and read. If you don’t have many books at home that your children like, head to your local library and pick out the books they seem drawn to. Remember that your child might like hearing the stories of some books but prefer looking at the pictures in others. Books like Animalia, for example, are great for reading through, learning the alphabet, or pointing at and identifying different animals and objects. Keep a few books in the car, as well, so your child can flip through them during long rides.

And remember that you don’t have to go it alone. If you’re looking for a speech language pathologist in Chicago who can work with your child during the summer, we’re always here to help. Call our office today to learn more about our services, to schedule a consultation, or to learn what to look for in a qualified SLP in Chicago. 

Summer is a Great Time to Set Communication Goals

set communication goals

From Memorial Day until Labor Day, most offices tend to go into summer mode. People take their vacations. Crunch time has passed, and the next crunch time won’t arrive for a few months. During this work lull, you may find that you have time to focus on special projects for the first time in a long time. Maybe you have a side project at the office that you’ve been eager to work on, or perhaps you’ve been meaning to go back and review past projects to learn from your mistakes. Whatever is on your agenda this summer, remember to schedule some time to focus on yourself.

Personal development goals are difficult to make a priority when deadlines loom and deliverables must be sent. That’s why it’s so important to take every opportunity you get to work on your professional development. If this summer is a slow period at work for you, enjoy the break, but also make the most of it by doing something that will make you better and happier at your job. That could include taking a course to learn a new skill, seeking out management training, or possibly investing in executive speech coaching.

Granted, summer is a time for fun, and the prospect of working on public speaking and presentation skills may sound like torture to some people, but that’s exactly why it’s so important.

If giving a presentation or speech at work is something that fills you with dread, executive speech coaching can help you overcome that fear, making your work-life that much better and improving your chances for long-term career success.

In our Chicago executive speech coaching sessions, you can work one-on-one with a non-judgmental, professional coach who will help you:

  • speak more clearly and confidently
  • communicate more effectively with the people you manage and/or your superiors
  • give you tools and resources for staying calm and poised
  • help you better organize and present your presentations 

By learning how to keep an audience engaged, how to tailor presentations to different audiences, and how to speak with enthusiasm and sincerity, an executive speech coach can help you take your career to the next level.

If you work in the Chicago area, give our office a call. Whether you want an unbiased assessment of your current speaking skills or need help crafting a specific presentation, a Chicago executive speech coach can help you achieve your personal development goals this summer.

 

Some Warning Signs of Swallowing Disorders Among Children

Child Swallowing Disorder

As adults, we think of eating as a perfectly routine process. It’s all too easy to forget that taking a bite of food, chewing it, and swallowing it actually takes about fifty pairs of muscles and multiple nerves to accomplish. The difficulties that arise when the ability to swallow becomes impaired can be seen most readily in people who have suffered strokes or otherwise lost muscular function in their mouths.

But what about children?

Swallowing is a process that we all have to learn as babies, and for most children, the process moves along without too much difficulty. But when children have difficulty with swallowing, it may not be clear to parents what the root issue is. For example, a parent might simply think that they have a picky eater on their hands. This can be a dangerous assumption to make, because leaving a swallowing disorder undiagnosed in a child can eventually lead to serious health and behavioral problems.

May is Better Speech and Hearing Month, which makes it the perfect time to go over the warning signs of child swallowing disorders that parents should keep an eye out for. If you notice one or more of these warning signs in your baby or toddler, it’s time to schedule an assessment with a Chicago speech language pathologist.

Warning Signs of Child Swallowing Disorders

Your child:

  • arches his/her back or stiffens while eating
  • cries or fusses while eating
  • falls asleep during meals
  • has difficulty breast feeding
  • has difficulty breathing while eating or drinking
  • refuses to eat or drink
  • eats only soft foods
  • eats only crunchy foods
  • takes an extended amount of time to eat
  • drools excessively
  • appears to have difficulty chewing
  • coughs, gags, or gets stuffy during meals
  • has a gurgly, breathy, or hoarse voice during or after eating
  • spits up or throws up frequently
  • isn’t gaining weight or growing

How an SLP Can Help

Scheduling an assessment with a speech language pathologist in Chicago if you notice one or more of these warning signs is an important first step. Your SLP can examine your child’s throat, watch them eat, and conduct special tests to determine what swallowing disorders and speech disorders, if any, might be present.

Swallowing disorders in children can be caused by developmental delays like autism, head and neck problems, and other physical conditions. Once you know what you’re dealing with, your SLP can help you create an intervention plan customized to your child. In some cases, swallowing disorders can be completely reversed. In others, medical interventions can address the problem. And in other cases, an SLP can help your child employ strategies to make eating and drinking more comfortable. 

Child Communication Disorders Often Go Undetected

Child Communication Disorders

No parent wants to face the possibility that their child might be struggling with a disorder of some kind. We all want to believe that our children are perfectly happy and healthy and always will be. That fear shared by all parents often contributes to the late diagnosis of communication disorders in children, which are among the most common disabilities children face. Nationwide, 11% of children age 3-6 have a speech, language, or swallowing disorder and almost 15% of school-age children have some level of hearing loss.

The great news is, with proper intervention, many child communication disorders can be substantially diminished, completely reversed, or even prevented. But early intervention is key. The sooner a speech language pathologist can assess a child and begin therapy, the better.

So this month – which is Better Hearing & Speech Month – take the all-important first step of setting up an appointment with a speech language pathologist.

The Dangers of Waiting

If a communication disorder goes undiagnosed, it can have a number of negative effects on your child’s academic success and quality of life. Some possible consequences of speech and language disorders include:

  • Diminished comprehension skills
  • Difficulty reading and writing at grade level
  • Strained social interactions or difficulty making friends
  • Behavioral problems stemming from frustration

Warning Signs to Looks For

In most cases, you can schedule an assessment with a speech language pathologist in Chicago for free, so there’s literally no down-side. If you notice a few of these warning signs in your child at the noted ages, it may be time to schedule an appointment.

Common Signs of Language Disorders 

  • Child does not smile or interact with others (six weeks and older)
  • Child does not babble (4–7 months)
  • Child makes only a few sounds or gestures (7–12 months)
  • Child shows no sign of understanding what others say (7 months–2 years)
  • Child says fewer than five words (12–18 months)
  • Words are not easily understood (18 months–2 years)
  • Child doesn’t put words together to make sentences (1.5–3 years)
  • Child has trouble playing and talking with other children (2–3 years)
  • Child has trouble with early reading and writing skills (2½–3 years) 

 

Common Signs of Speech Sound Disorders

  • Child says p, b, m, h, and w incorrectly in words (1–2 years)
  • Child says k, g, f, t, d, and n incorrectly in words (2–3 years)
  • Child produces speech that is unclear, even to familiar people (2–3 years)
  • Signs of Stuttering
  • Repeats first sounds of words
  • Speech breaks while trying to say a word
  • Stretched out sounds
  • Frustration when trying to get words out 

Signs of Voice Disorders 

  • A hoarse or breathy voice
  • A nasal-sounding voice
  • Signs of Hearing Loss
  • Shows a lack of attention to sounds (birth–1 year)
  • Does not respond when you call their name (7 months–1 year)
  • Does not follow simple directions (1–2 years)
  • Shows delays in speech and language development (birth–3 years)
  • Pulls or scratches at their ears
  • Has difficulty achieving academically, especially in reading and math
  • Is socially isolated and unhappy at school
  • Has persistent ear discomfort after exposure to loud noise

 

Of course, children develop at different rates, and boys tend to be slower to communicate than girls. That said, if you’re concerned, don’t set those concerns aside. Take the step to schedule an assessment with a Chicago speech language pathologist. You just might make your little one’s childhood happier and healthier. 

The Role of Visual Aids during Presentations

Visuals during Business Presentation

There are four types of learners: visual, auditory, kinesthetic (movement), and tactile. Some people can hear a lecture and remember every word. Other people pick things up much more effectively if they’re able to see a graphic, a picture, or a chart. Getting people moving around or touching materials during a presentation is rarely a good option, but you should always be able to reach both the auditory and visual learners.

The more senses that you can engage during a presentation, the more effectively you’ll reach your audience. While your spoken content, organization, and tone of voice are all important, visual aids are also a key component of a memorable and compelling presentation.

A picture is truly worth a thousand words. When your audience both hears your point and sees a visual representation of what you’re talking about, you more or less double the odds that they will retain the information. Visual aids also ensure that you’re not the presenter who just reads every word off of their PowerPoint slides.

That said, you don’t want to get caught up in gimmicks when giving a presentation. If you spend all of your time adding sound effects, video transitions, and funny images to your presentation, your audience might get caught up in the optics and lose track of the content. As in most things in life, balance is key.

Here are a few ways that you can effectively incorporate visual aids in your next presentation: 

  • Find a stock image or two that lets you depict a core metaphor or theme from your presentation.
  • Turn any data from your presentation into a visual chart.
  • Set PowerPoint aside and try a more stylish and visual presentation tool like Prezi.
  • Get things started with a short video clip from YouTube. Keep any clips to 30 seconds or less, ideally, and be sure to cue the video to start at the correct point. 

Keep in mind that any visual aid used in your presentation should add to the content, not detract from it. It should serve a purpose.

To learn more about how to effectively use visual aids, contact us about our Chicago executive speech coaching. An executive speech coach can help you move your career forward by giving you the skills and confidence to deliver effective, organized, and well-spoken presentations. Whether you have an upcoming meeting with a big investor or need to prepare for a salary negotiation with your boss, give us a call to learn more about our Chicago presentation training. 

What Happens During a Curriculum Based Language Intervention?

curriculum based language intervention

Children are eligible for in-school speech language therapy when they have a diagnosed speech orlanguage disorder that has an adverse effect on their educational performance. But when a child is pulled out of class to work with a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP), they miss out on what’s happening in the classroom, and that can put them even further behind.Experienced SLPs have solved this problem by utilizing curriculum-based language interventions.

With a curriculum-based intervention, your child’s SLP takes the actual curriculum that your child is working on in their classroom and bases speech therapy sessions around that schoolwork. This way, the child gets to learn the same things that their classmates learn, but the material is adapted for them by their SLP so that they can break it down, understand it, and tackle the material in a way that helps them address their particular speech or language disorder.

A curriculum-based language intervention requires proper assessment by an SLP and customized therapies, but the content of those therapies should remain rooted in the child’s schoolwork. This allows the student to get the personal attention they need from an SLP without feeling separate or different from their classmates.

Other benefits of curriculum-based language interventions include the following: 

  • Teachers, staff, and SLPs can share a common vocabulary with regards to their students’ education.
  • Transitions from the classroom setting to the speech therapy session and back again are easier for everyone – no one has to feel like they missed out or were left behind.
  • Skills and knowledge learned in the classroom get reinforced in a new setting.

One of the worst feelings for a child is the feeling that they don’t fit in. Using a curriculum-based approach for speech and language therapy helps address this problem. It lets children who need it receive special attention without making them feel separate from their peers. It puts everyone on the same page.

To learn more about the benefits of curriculum-based language interventions, or to find a talented SLP to work in your school, give our office a call. A Chicago speech language pathologist can help your students or your child communicate more clearly, be understood, feel less frustrated, and feel more confident. To schedule a consultation or to hire a part- or full-time school speech language pathologist in Chicago, contact us today

Enhance Your Presentation by Creating a Solid Outline

Outline for Presentation

One of the biggest mistakes that you can make when planning a presentation is to simply start planning what you want to say without creating an outline first. An outline is an incredibly helpful presentation tool that can help keep your presentation focused, to the point, and engaging.

Before you begin your outline, think about the topic you’re presenting on and the audience that you’ll be presenting to. Think about what knowledge they already have of the subject, if any – you don’t want to give a beginner explanation to a group of experts, or vice versa. Then think about a central theme or image that will help you organize your presentation. For example, using a metaphor throughout your presentation can be a helpful way to reinforce your points and keep people engaged.

When you start building your outline, write it down. Create a bullet point for each idea that you want to cover, and put them in an order that makes sense. The structure of your outline doesn’t need to follow a specific model, but it’s often helpful to think about presentations in three parts. You can think of these parts as the beginning, middle, and end. That might sound overly simplistic, but you’d be amazed how many bad presentations fail to fit this structure. 

Another way to think of these three parts is the problem, the solution, and the results. You want to give the most time to the solution (about half of the presentation), and equal time to the problem and the results. Without an outline, you might spend all of your time on the problem and not leave enough time for the solution, or you might forget to mention the results entirely. An outline helps you keep balance and organization.

Here are a few other things to keep in mind with your outline:

  • It should include call outs to any photos, graphics, or charts that you want to include in your presentation so that you know where those elements fit in.
  • Your outline isn’t the same thing as your presentation. You shouldn’t write down every word that you plan to say. It’s much better to remain conversational and flexible during your presentation.
  • If you present a theme at the beginning of your outline, remember to tie it back in at the end.For more help with your presentation skills, consider an executive speech coach. The right coach can help you improve not just the content of your presentations but also your speaking voice, body language, self-confidence, and engagement with your audience. Chicago presentation training is an investment in yourself and your career. Learn more by giving our office a call and inquiring about a free consultation for our Chicago executive speech coaching. 

Addressing Behavior Feeding Difficulties

Behavior Feeding Difficulties

If you’re having difficulty at meal times with your baby, toddler, or child, it may be time to schedule an appointment with a speech language pathologist (SLP). SLPs are experts when it comes to the muscles and mechanics involved in eating and swallowing. They are also experts on behaviors associated with everything oral, and that includes feeding.

If your child refuses to eat her peas, that’s not something to call an expert about. But if your child refuses to eat a wide range of foods or seems to have difficulty swallowing or chewing, an SLP can help.

Many feeding issues found in children are sensory. Your child might be over-responsive or under-responsive to different sensations involved with feeding, including the appearance, temperature, taste, smell, or texture of their food. If your child exhibits fear, anxiety, or distress at meal times, you might be dealing with a sensory issue that causes a behavioral response. These are problems that an SLP can help you evaluate and address.

Some behavior feeding difficulties are the result of underlying medical problems like muscle control issues, atypical anatomy, or other medical issues. Other behavior difficulties related to feeding are learned behaviors. For example, a bad burn could cause a child to become scared of all hot foods. The first step in either case should be a consultation with an SLP.

An SLP who works with feeding issues can help you discover the root of the problem, whether it’s a swallowing issue, a sensory challenge, or a response to a past eating trauma (like a burn or a choking incident). Once the issue is identified, your SLP can help you come up with an appropriate course of action, which could include a referral to a medical doctor, an occupational therapist, or a dietician. It could also include working with both you and your child to identify patterns at mealtimes and create habits that reinforce positive behaviors. In the case of picky eating, for example, shifting the power away from the child and back to the parent is an important part of the process.

To learn more about behavioral feeding issues or to schedule a consultation with a Chicago speech language pathologist, give our office a call. A free consultation with a speech language pathologist in Chicago will empower you with knowledge and help you find the best path to move forward.