Using Informative Speeches in the Workplace


Using Informative Speeches in the Workplace

An informative speech is exactly what it sounds like – a speech that delivers useful information to the audience. The goal of an informative speech isn’t to persuade anyone of anything – rather, you’re simply conveying necessary information. 

An informative speech at work can take many different forms. Perhaps your boss has tasked you with teaching everyone how to use a particular program. Maybe you work in HR and need to deliver the annual review of sexual harassment policies. Or maybe you need to brief your boss on the pitches that two different vendors gave you so that they can decide between them.

Whatever the case may be, delivering an informative speech can be a tricky challenge, because informative speeches often turn into dry lectures. Without an argument to be made, informative speeches must simply get across a set of facts, and finding an engaging and entertaining way to do that can be tough.

Fortunately, when it falls upon you to give an informative speech at work, there are a few things you can do to help liven up your presentation.

1. Keep it quick.

Don’t make your speech or presentation any longer than it needs to be. Get the points across quickly, and that’ll make it easier for everyone to retain the information – and for them to walk out of the room after the speech still liking you.

2. Incorporate a story.

If appropriate, drawing from your own experience to illustrate a fact or make a piece of information easier to digest will help engage your audience and keep their interest.

3. Use hand outs and visual aids.

If you know you have a lot of important information to get through, give everyone a hand out of the key points up front that they can take notes on. If someone zones out mid-speech, at least they’ll have your sheet to refer back to. 

And using a PowerPoint or Prezi is a great way to make dry information more exciting. You don’t want to go too crazy, but the occasional GIF or meme can go a long way to liven up an informational meeting.

4. Only share the need-to-know information.

There are exceptions to this rule – like when covering harassment policies – but in most cases, covering only what people really need to know will help everyone retain the important information. You may find the history of a particular company fascinating, but if your boss just wants to know about their product lines, that’s probably what you should focus on.

Uncommon Signs of Dyslexia

Uncommon Signs of Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a common learning disorder, but the early warning signs of dyslexia are much more varied and complex than most people realize. Dyslexia is often thought of as simply transposing letters, leading to difficulty reading or spelling. But dyslexia can take many different forms, including trouble with breaking words into syllables, fluency, and comprehension.

Less Well-Known Dyslexia Warning Signs

The most common sign of dyslexia is when a child who is otherwise academically capable has more difficulty reading than he or she should. But if you notice some of these other warning signs in your pre-school or elementary school aged child, it may be time to talk to a speech language pathologist (SLP) about dyslexia:

  • Difficulty paying attention in class/constant daydreaming.
  • Complaints of headaches, dizziness, or stomach aches while trying to read.
  • Apparent problems with vision despite normal eye exams.
  • Behavioral problems in class.
  • Strong performance in creative and physical activities but poor academic performance.
  • The omission of sounds or letters when reading or writing.
  • Persistent confusion with left and right.
  • A tendency to guess what word comes next instead of sounding it out while reading.
  • Low self-confidence or feeling “dumb.”
  • Difficulty telling time or counting specific objects.
  • Persistent ear infections.

If in fact your child is struggling with dyslexia, an SLP can be a great help. First and foremost, an experienced SLP can help your child understand just how common dyslexia is and that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. They have no reason to feel “dumb” – all dyslexia means is that they need a little extra help.

Next, an SLP can work with your child to find strategies that work for them to find their focus, unscramble letters, and make reading fun again – or for the first time. Reading is not only a fundamental skill; it should ideally also be a lifelong joy. The right SLP can help your child discover that joy and feel more confident in and out of the classroom.

To talk to an SLP in Chicago about speech therapy and dyslexia, give our office a call. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have, or to schedule a free consultation. 

5 Things You Should Do the Night Before a Presentation

Night Before a Presentation Tips

The big presentation is tomorrow. What should you do tonight to help ensure that everything goes smoothly? Here are our five tips for preparing for a presentation the night before: 

1. PracticeIf you haven’t already – and even if you have – it never hurts to run over your presentation one more time. Give the presentation to your spouse. To your friend. To the mirror. To your cat. Whatever will help you get the key points of your presentation down, do it.  

The goal is to know the material backward and forward so that you DON’T have to memorize every last word. If you know the material, you can speak conversationally about it and answer off the cuff questions – which you should encourage your spouse or neighbor (or cat) to ask you. But if you’re instead memorizing the exact words you want to say, your presentation will come across as wooden or overly rehearsed. 

2. Eat a healthy dinnerEat foods that are familiar to your stomach and that you know won’t cause any gastrointestinal distress tomorrow. Don’t drink, save for perhaps one beer or a glass of wine with your meal. And remember to hydrate. 

3. Stop practicingEspecially as you get closer to your bedtime, put your presentation aside and let your mind relax. Watch a favorite show or play a game. You don’t want to be thinking about your presentation right before you go to bed, because then you’ll start fixating and won’t be able to sleep. 

4. Pick out your presentation outfitYou don’t want to give yourself added stress in the morning when you realize the suit you were planning to wear is still at the cleaners. Choose your clothes – right down to your socks and/or jewelry – and actually set them out so that you know everything is clean and ready to go. 

5. Get lots of rest, and set lots of alarmsTo help ensure that you can sleep soundly, set a few extra alarms for yourself in the morning. That way you won’t wake up every five minutes worrying that you’ve overslept. If possible, set them on a few different devices on the off chance that you accidentally leave one device on silent. 

6. Rock itOnce you’ve done all your preparation, the only thing left to do is to trust yourself and go into the presentation with confidence.And if confidence isn’t something that comes naturally to you, you can always try executive speech coaching. A Chicago speech coach can help you refine your presentation, bolster your speaking skills, and deliver your speech with gusto. To learn more, give our office a call today. 

Overcoming Hoarseness with Speech Therapy

Hoarseness and Voice Therapy

If you’ve ever cheered your heart out at a sporting event or spent an evening belting out your favorite songs at karaoke, you’ve probably been hoarse the next day. “Hoarseness” is a term used to describe a voice that is raspy, breathy, strained, has irregular changes in volume or pitch, or some combination thereof. Hoarseness is a symptom that can result from a wide range of causes, some of which are short term – like yelling too loud at a concert – or long term. 

When hoarseness is a persistent problem, it can be the result of laryngitis, lesions to the vocal cords, or polyps or cysts on the vocal cords. All of those problems are more likely to arise if you’re a person who uses your voice more than the average person on a daily basis.For example, teachers, people who work at loud job sites like construction workers, and tour guides can all be susceptible to voice and vocal cord issues. Hoarseness can also affect high-energy children and children with louder than average voices. 

If hoarseness occurs regularly and goes untreated, it can make the damage to vocal cords worse, sometimes requiring surgery to correct. But with the help of voice therapy, many children and adults can reduce their hoarseness naturally. 

Voice therapy and speech therapy are related, and a trained speech language pathologist can help with both. Voice therapy involves teaching the person who is dealing with voice issues how to lessen or eliminate harmful vocal behaviors like shouting and whispering. It also involves learning exercises for properly warming up the vocal cords and using them in a way that makes it easier to be understood without resorting to harmful voice behaviors. Often, a few sessions a week for four to eight weeks can be enough time to help correct harmful behaviors and learn new vocal habits that will protect your vocal cords. 

To learn more about voice therapy or to set up a consultation with an SLP in Chicago, give our office a call. The right Chicago SLP can help you identify the root issues that might be causing your or your child’s hoarseness and can help ensure that you don’t do long-term damage to your vocal cords. 

9 Ways You Can Make Your Speech Memorable

Make Your Speech Memorable

Giving memorable speeches isn’t rocket science. There are several things you can do to help ensure that your speeches are engaging, impactful, and memorable.  

But! Knowing what will help and actually putting that advice into practice are two different things. For example, if we were to tell you to “be funnier,” that isn’t exactly helpful.  

With that in mind, here are nine of our most practical tips for giving engaging speeches AND advice on how to put our tips into practice. 

1. Give your speech structure.Take the time to plan out what you want to say, and organize the information you need to get across into a beginning, middle and end. This sounds self-explanatory, but you’d be amazed how many rambling speeches we’ve heard. You want to present your thesis, offer evidence to support it, counter any potential arguments, and finish by summarizing your main points. 

2. Keep it brief.If you want to be a memorable speaker, don’t give your audience too much to remember. Stick to the main point that you want to make, and don’t veer too far from it. Shorter is almost always better. 

3. Speak at your audience’s level.The fastest way to bore an audience is by explaining things to them they already know. Likewise, the fastest way to lose an audience is to speak over their heads. Understand who it is you’re speaking to and what information they’re coming in with, and start from there. 

4. Use humor and drama as appropriate.Again, this is an area where knowing your audience and your subject matter is key. If you have sobering statistics to share, don’t shy away from sharing them with gravitas. And if you know your audience will respond to humor, look for ways to keep things light. That might mean incorporating funny memes into your slides, turning to YouTube for a funny – but also appropriate – clip, or engaging the audience in some way. 

5. Include facts and figures.Talking in generalities won’t help anyone. Your audience wants to learn something from you, whether you’re giving a graduation speech or a sales pitch. Make sure you teach them something of substance and value. 

6. Bring a handout.Especially if your presentation is statistic-heavy, you should never expect your audience to take notes. Instead, put together a sheet with the key things they need to know. That way they’ll have something to take notes on, and even if they don’t, they’ll walk away with the pertinent information. 

7. Read the room.Interacting with the audience may not always be appropriate or needed, but you should always keep an eye on how the audience is reacting to you. Comedians sometimes do this when they tell a story that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere – they’ll interrupt themselves and say, “I can feel you pulling away from me, but this is going to pay off, I promise.” The joke always gets a laugh while also reassuring the crowd that the speaker is paying attention. 

8. End with the call to action.If you want your audience to act, give them a reason and a way to do so at the end of your presentation. 

9. Leave time for questions.Being ready, willing, and enthusiastic about taking questions will help your audience get more of what they want out of you and give you opportunities to clarify points that may have been missed or misunderstood.And if all else fails, give us a call to learn about our executive speech coaching services in Chicago. 

What is a Speech Sound Disorder?

Speech Sound Disorder

A foundational part of learning how to speak is learning how to form the sounds used in language. Certain sounds are easier to form and come earlier, such as the “M” and “D” sounds in “mama” and “dada” – two very common first words. Other sounds are more difficult to create, like “Z,” “S,” and “Th.” Most children struggle with a variety of speech sounds for a few years, and most are able to articulate the majority of speech sounds by age four. By age eight, most children have mastered all of the sounds of speech. 

But for some children, certain speech sound milestones take longer to achieve. When children have trouble making certain sounds and being understood when they speak past the age of four, that could indicate a speech sound disorder. 

The important thing to keep in mind is that every child develops differently. If you suspect that your child may have a speech sound disorder, the first thing to do is set a doctor’s appointment. At your child’s regular checkups, your pediatrician should monitor your child’s verbal development, but it’s important to advocate for your child if your pediatrician doesn’t inquire about your child’s speech. (This can be a particular problem if your child is shy and doesn’t speak up at the doctor’s office.) 

When pediatricians suspect speech sound disorders among children, they order a hearing test. This is because your child may not have trouble articulating herself at all but rather may have trouble hearing how particular words are supposed to sound. 

If hearing issues are ruled out, the next step is to look at other possible causes. Again, it may simply be that your child needs a little more time to develop, or she may have a strong accent (depending upon where you live). Other possible reasons for children speech sound disorders include developmental disabilities; physical abnormalities of the lips, tongue, or nose; or disorders that affect the nerves involved in speech. 

If your child has a speech sound disorder, a speech language pathologist can help. A qualified SLP can work with your child using play therapy to work on the sounds she has trouble with and practice techniques that may help her speak more clearly. 

To learn more about speech sound disorders, read over these resources from ASHA and Stanford Children’s Health, or give our office a call. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have or to set up a free consultation. 

Overcoming the Fear of Speaking During Meetings

Fear of Speaking

You’re sitting in a meeting, and someone makes a point that you strongly disagree with. You want to speak up, but they’re still talking, and then someone else jumps in. The further along the conversation gets, the more your nerves creep in. Your moment has passed, and now you feel like you can’t say what you wanted to say, because the group has moved on. And even if you got the chance, your voice would shake.

Does this sound familiar?

We as a society have a tendency to fixate on public speaking anxiety related to giving a speech or a presentation, but finding the nerve to speak up during a meeting can be just as daunting. Whether you worry that your ideas won’t be received well, you feel stifled by a roomful of strong personalities, or you worry about how to assert yourself without being rude or unprofessional, here are some tips to help you find your voice and speak your peace in your next big meeting:

Find a mantra that helps boost your confidence.

It may sound silly, but a comforting mantra can go a long way towards settling nerves and helping you find your confidence. Ten minutes before your next meeting, stand in a strong pose, take a few deep breaths, and repeat to yourself, “Your ideas are valuable. Your thoughts deserve to be heard.” Or whatever self-written mantra you find most helpful.

Write notes.If someone makes a point that you want to comment on, but it isn’t a good time for you to raise your comment, write it down. Having your question written will help you keep it clear in your head and give you a bit of a crutch when the time comes for you to raise your hand and speak up.

Be firm, but polite.Every meeting is a bit different, so know the room. But in many cases, if you speak up at the same time as someone else, or if someone else begins to speak over you, a simple, “Excuse me, John, but if I could just make one point…” can be very effective. Unless the other person is incredibly rude, they should cede the floor to you and give you your chance to speak. Just be sure that if you talk at the same time as someone else, you take a moment to acknowledge them before carrying on. Then by all means, carry on.

Remind yourself that you have responsibility.You not speaking up has consequences. Maybe the consequences are for your team, or maybe they’re for customers who you know will be negatively impacted by a poor decision. Whatever the case may be, you’re rarely just speaking for yourself in a work environment, so think about the people who are counting on you to speak up and let that be a source of encouragement for you.Remind yourself that it gets easier with time.

This advice is no fun to hear, but it’s true – the more you speak up in meetings, the easier it will become to speak up in meetings.

Work with an executive speech coach.If these tips don’t cut it for you, it may be time to turn to the assistance of a Chicago speech coach. An executive speech coach can help you speak more clearly, more impactfully, and more confidently. Give our office a call to learn more. 

5 Things to Look for in an SLP

Finding a SLP

With the new school year beginning soon, you may be on the hunt for a speech language pathologist (SLP). Working with a great SLP can help your child communicate their thoughts and needs more clearly, help them socialize with more comfort, and improve their ability to get the most out of their time in school.

Assuming that you’re considering a few different SLPs who are all experienced and certified, how do you go about choosing the right one for you and your child? Here are five tips to help you decide:

1. Pick an SLP who can work with your child in your preferred setting.You may prefer the privacy and distraction-free environment of a clinic for your child’s speech and language sessions. Or you might prefer the convenience or added comfort for your child of having an SLP come to your home. Make sure that the SLP you choose is ready and eager to meet you and your child on your own terms.

2. Choose someone kind.Be sure that the person you choose is a genuinely kind and patient person who takes joy out of working with children. If they often seem flustered or overly stern, they may not be the person to help your child.

3. Choose someone your child likes. This may seem like a no-brainer, but in your hurry to choose an SLP, you may forget to actually introduce your child to your favorite candidates and see who they like best. If your child develops a genuine connection with someone or feels more comfortable with one SLP over another, that can have a huge impact on how well they progress with their speech and language goals.

4. Choose a good listener.You know your child better than anyone. You should be able to talk to your SLP about the behaviors or speech issues that you have observed in your child and feel that you have their full attention and understanding.

5. Choose a good communicator.If your SLP doesn’t bother to fill you in on what they’ve been working on with your child, things you should be watching for, or ways that you can help with your child’s therapy between sessions, that’s a problem. You need an SLP who encourages you to be an active participant in your child’s development.

Finding a SLP for your child isn’t always easy, but hopefully we can make it easier. Give our office a call to schedule a consultation with a highly experienced SLP in Chicago. 

How to Become More Articulate: 4 Tips from Our Team

Become More Articulate

Trouble with proper articulation can take many forms in adults. You might have an injury, a dental issue, or another physical issue that makes it harder for you to pronounce certain sounds. English might be your second language. You might have a hearing problem that affects your speech. Or you may get anxious when speaking publicly and find that your pronunciation suffers the more nervous you get. While none of these situations are your fault nor should speaking differently be held against you in any way, the unfortunate fact of the matter is that if you can’t be clearly understood in the office, that’s going to limit your ability to succeed.

Fortunately, there are several methods that you can use to become more articulate over time. Here are a few simple strategies that our executive speech coaches have found helpful with their clients.

1. Slow down

One of the simplest and best ways to speak more clearly is to slow down. Rushing causes words to blend together. When you take a little more time and remember to breathe, your mouth has more time to form sounds properly, and whoever’s listening to you has more chances to keep up with what you’re saying.

2. Be concise

If you know that you have a tendency to ramble when you get nervous, or if you tend to lose people during long explanations, look for opportunities to shorten your responses and be more direct with your words. You can also combine this advice with tip one and take a short pause to collect your thoughts before speaking. Speaking in a slow and measured way has a tendency to make people lean in and want to know what you’ll say next. Watch videos of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg or President Barack Obama – they both take their time when speaking and choose their words carefully.

3. Practice tongue twisters

You can easily find all sorts of tongue twisters online that can help build make your mouth and tongue stronger and more dexterous. Practice makes perfect.

4. Use proper grammar

We’re not saying that you need to use proper grammar all the time. Most people speak one way to their kids, another way to their spouses, another to their friends, and another to their co-workers. It’s perfectly normal to do so. But if you work in an environment where you’re expected to communicate with a wide range of people, you need to be able to effectively use proper grammar, so practice as much as you can.

If you’re having trouble articulating your thoughts, are dealing with an injury, or simply find public speaking terrifying, executive speech coaching could be the right next step for you. Give our office a call to set up a free consultation with a Chicago speech coach. 

Easy Speech Therapy Activities to do at Home this Summer

Speech Therapy Activities

Parents with school-age children tend to view summer a bit differently than the rest of the world. Where many see summer as a time for fun in the sun, parents see summer as that expensive time of year when they need to figure out day camps or temporary child care for three months. For parents of children who receive extra services in school like speech therapy, summer can also be a time of desperately trying to fill the gap.

We understand just how difficult it can be to keep your child’s speech therapy going at home without the help of a school SLP. That’s why we put together this list of at home speech activities that you can enjoy with your child on a daily basis.

Our best advice with any of these speech activities is to schedule them into your day. If you and your child get into a habit of doing speech activities when it’s convenient or when you think of it, speech therapy will quickly fall by the wayside. So figure out a time that works for you and your child and make speech therapy a priority.

Now, without further ado, here are some of our favorite, simple, summertime speech therapy activities:

1. Flashlight Tag

Write the words that your child is working on down on sheets of construction paper. Tape the words up around your home, then turn the lights off. Your child will have a great time searching the home with their flashlight to find the words. Practice saying each one out loud as it’s found, and when you’ve found them all, move them to new locations and start again! This activity is particularly great on those extra hot days when you need to escape the heat and stay inside.

2. Eye Spy

This classic game is a great one to play in the car. Look for things in the world around you, then give a clue – for example, “I spy something red.” Have your child ask questions to figure out what the object might be. Be sure to look for objects that utilize sounds your child is working on. This game is also great for practicing turn-taking, following directions, and critical thinking.

3. Recite Nursery Rhymes

Many classic nursery rhymes double as tongue-twisters, which can be great for practicing particular sounds or articulation. They’re also a lot of fun. Find a book of nursery rhymes you like and practice saying the rhymes out loud with your child.

4. Chalk!

Chalk is a wonderful toy to play with during the summer whether you’re two or seventy-two. You can come up with plenty of speech therapy activities using chalk. Create your own speech therapy hopscotch challenge, or simply practice writing out speech words. You can also play Pictionary with chalk and have your child guess which practice word you’re attempting to draw.We’d also like to remind you that you don’t have to go it alone over the summers. A Chicago SLP can come to your home as often as needed to work with your child and engage them in constructive play therapy. If you’re worried about backsliding or simply want to keep building on the progress your child made during the school year, give our office a call to find an SLP in Chicago who’s right for your family.