367: How to Project Vocal Confidence with Allison Shapira

By November 7, 2018Podcasts

 

 

Speech coach and ex-opera singer Allison Shapira teaches tips and tricks for better projecting your voice.

You’ll Learn:

  1. How you’re likely breathing wrong and what to do about it
  2. Three ways the power of your voice is reduced
  3. The key things most people neglect when preparing for a speech

About Allison

Allison is the CEO/Founder of Global Public Speaking LLC. A former opera singer and TEDx speaker, she teaches at the Harvard Kennedy School and offers keynote speeches, workshops, and executive coaching for Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and nonprofits around the world.

Allison works with global brands as a highly-rated speaker, trainer, and executive coach. She also travels around the world teaching leadership communication to help women leaders grow their business, run for office, or launch a nonprofit. She holds a master’s in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School, is a member of the National Speakers Association, and is an internationally-renowned singer/songwriter who uses music as a way to help others find their voice and their courage to speak. She speaks Italian and Hebrew and has studied 8 other languages.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Allison Shapira Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Allison, thanks so much for joining us here on the How To Be Awesome At Your Job podcast.

Allison Shapira

It’s great to be here. Thanks, Pete.

Pete Mockaitis

Well, I was so excited to dig into your wisdom, but I want to start a little bit with your background in singing opera. How did this come about and how did you transition from this to what you’re doing now?

Allison Shapira

I have been singing opera since I was 12. I always loved singing, and at 12 years old my parents arranged for me to have voice lessons. And it just so happens that the teacher was a classically-trained teacher, and that one teacher influenced my musical trajectory. And so, I always wanted to sing opera growing up, but then when I got to college I lost my passion for it. And I talk about this in the book. I was told that I wasn’t quite good enough for an operatic career. And so, it wasn’t until I started working in diplomacy that I realized everything I learned as a singer made me a very good speaker and coach. And that’s how I made that transition.

Pete Mockaitis

Excellent. Could you give us an example of one key learning from singing that carries over into the speaking / coaching?

Allison Shapira

One key element that carries over is the importance of breathing. So, as opera singers, we know it’s critical to learn how to breathe, and then project our voice in a way that commands the room. As speakers, we know it’s important, but no one ever teaches us how to do it. So as a singer, I actually had this great training in vocal production that helped me project my voice when speaking, as well as singing. So that was an incredible advantage that I had as a public speaker when I already knew how to play with and project my voice.

Pete Mockaitis

Oh, excellent. And so, could you orient us a little bit to your company, Global Public Speaking and your latest book, Speak with Impact?

Allison Shapira

I would love to. Global Public Speaking is a communication training firm that I found and we’ve since grown to a team of six people. And we teach public speaking and presentation skills through one-on-one coaching, group workshops, and then I give keynote speeches on the importance of finding your voice and your courage to speak. And that’s very much in line with what my new book is about – Speak with Impact: How to Command the Room and Influence Others. It’s a guide to the busy professional moving up in their career who wants to use their voice as a way to exercise leadership. How do they need to communicate with confidence and authenticity, so that they can have a powerful impact on others? That’s the premise of the book.

Pete Mockaitis

I dig it. So, we talk about a powerful impact on others. Could you maybe orient us a bit to what is the “Why” behind this, or the difference that it makes in one’s life when you’re speaking is impactful versus not so impactful?

Allison Shapira

It has a number of benefits, and to give you an example, I do a lot of programs in-house for companies, where I’ll work with teams and top talent or emerging leaders. And we’re focused primarily on professional speaking. So as you walk into a room to lead a meeting as opposed to simply be part of the meeting, how does your communication need to change? Because the more senior you become, the more people are looking to you for guidance.
So we focus on the professional components of speaking, but I’ll often get emails from clients I’ve worked with who say, “You know, just a couple of weeks ago I spoke up on behalf of my kids’ school because they were going to change the school, and there was a lot of media coverage. And so, using the communication training that we worked on for my job, I was actually able to make a persuasive case to save our kids’ school.” It’s an amazing experience to see. We use these skills for a professional purpose, but they have an incredible social impact as well.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay. So, could you maybe orient us then, what are some of the main differentiators between a voice that is highly impactful versus one that isn’t?

Allison Shapira

When we talk about voice, there are a lot of things that we do that reduce the power of our voice. It could be filler words like, “um”, “uh”, “you know”, “right”, “so”, and “just”, which is my personal pet peeve when we buffer everything with “just”. So that’s something that reduces the power of our words. And then, we also might use vocal fry, and I’m demonstrating by making my voice croaky. Or uptalk – when our voice goes up at the end of a sentence.
Now, interestingly enough, vocal fry, and uptalk and fillers – these are things that both men and women use. But what I’ve noticed is that when women use them, it disproportionately hurts us more. It holds us back more. So that’s an interesting distinction that I’ve observed. The antidote to all of those is using breathing, so that your voice can command the room, so that you speak with confidence as opposed to speaking in a questioning form. And that’s so important when you’re trying to convince someone to do something, whether you want them to adopt a course of action in your company, or save your school. The conviction in your voice has a huge impact on how you come across.

Pete Mockaitis

So, I’m intrigued by several of the things you said there. First, let’s get to the “How”. So, if you breathe right, you’re going to address a lot of these in one fell swoop. So, what does breathing right consist of and how do we do it?

Allison Shapira

I have a particular three-step technique that your listeners can see on my website, GlobalPublicSpeaking.com. So, there’s a place where they can learn that and practice that while actually watching me. But it comes from recognizing that as we breathe, there’s a way that we can breathe that lets us take in a nice full breath of air, and then exhale while speaking on the breath. And that’s a difficult concept for a lot of people to think of initially. But once they get the hang of it, it’s essentially exhaling while you’re speaking, so that your breath projects your words forward, as opposed to having them fall back into your throat. And that’s a particular technique that I have videos that walk people through.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay, interesting. Exhaling while you’re speaking. I’m thinking about it right now as I’m doing it.

Allison Shapira

You’re doing it as well. I can hear it. But a lot of people think they have to hold their breath while they’re speaking, but they should actually be exhaling while speaking.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay. And so, I think that I’m always exhaling when I’m speaking, because I’m running out of air and feel the need to take a breath. But is it a matter of degree, like exhale a little more than you think you should or you’re accustomed to?

Allison Shapira

It’s exhaling continuously, as opposed to holding it back and then trying to speak anyways. And it’s also about taking more frequent breaths. So, if you’re running out of breath at the end of the sentence, then perhaps you need to use shorter sentences, or take a breath at every punctuation mark.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay, that’s interesting. And I remember we had Roger Love on the show earlier, who’s a speech coach.

Allison Shapira

Oh, he’s great.

Pete Mockaitis

Oh yeah, absolutely. And so, he used the metaphor of, I think he called it “the squeaky hinge”, like you start off a sentence pretty strong, but then toward the end you’re running out of your air. And so it kind of sounds like this at the end. And I’m exaggerating, but I’ve even noticed it when I’m editing my openers and closers in the podcast. Sure enough, there is a shorter wave form in my digital audio program toward the end of that sentence. I’m doing it. Oops! Note to self – breathe more.

Allison Shapira

Exactly. And again, not just breathing more, but letting the breath continue even through the end of the sentence, as opposed to letting it trail off. What happens is you’re shutting off the air, but you’re still speaking. So, as long as you keep riding that breath and using that breath to complete a sentence, then you can avoid vocal fry.

Pete Mockaitis

I like that. This reminds me of, I guess, sports things. If you’re swinging a bat or a racket or doing a boxing punch – you want to follow through the motion all the way until it’s well past the point of impact, in terms of having a full, complete connection there.

Allison Shapira

Exactly. So, the follow through is critical.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay, very cool. So, the breathing solves a lot. And so, on the website, is there a particular link or a place to click to, or can we link that so we go right to the right spot with those videos?

Allison Shapira

I’ll make sure that I send you a specific link to that, so people can click on it and immediately see the breathing video that walks them through the three-step process.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay, that’s cool. So, I guess we’ve got the videos, but if we can maybe just take a moment. Could we just hear in brief, what is step one, step two, step three?

Allison Shapira

Sure. Well, step one is finding the right posture. And I teach people how to stand tall with their feet flat on the floor so that they’re in the best position to take in breath. And then the second step is breathing in, in a way that avoids using their chest to breathe, but rather breathes into their stomach and abdomen as if they had a balloon in their stomach that’s filling with air as they breathe in. And then the third step is exhaling and speaking on the breath, as we discussed, and practicing that exhalation while speaking. So, that’s the three-step process in a nutshell.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay, cool. And then I also want to turn to some of the points you made about the vocal pauses. There’s one. That was for demonstration purposes, Allison.

Allison Shapira

Of course it was.

Pete Mockaitis

I’m intrigued – you said the word “just” in particular is a pet peeve of yours. Let’s hear your rant, so any “just” users can shape up.

Allison Shapira

If you think about the word “just”, what does it mean? “I just think”, “I just want to say.” It’s almost as if you’re asking permission to speak up; as if you’re saying, “Don’t worry, I won’t take a long time. I just want to say this one thing.” And I believe each of us has something incredibly powerful to say on behalf of ourselves or on behalf of others. And when we say “just”, we apologize for whatever it is that we say next, as opposed to owning what we believe in, owning our right to say it, which is why I don’t like using the word “just”.
I have a friend who teaches American sign language, and I asked her once, “What do you sign when someone says ‘just’?” And her sign is shrugging her shoulders. So think about that. Next time you want to use the word “just”, would you shrug your shoulders with whatever you say next, or would you stand tall and declare it proudly? And if the answer is the latter, than lose the “just”.

Pete Mockaitis

This reminds me I’ve got a joke with my buddy Connor. I noticed that someone had a vocal pattern of putting “so” at the end of their sentences; it had a similar effect. And for example, he might say, “Hey, so do you guys want to get some appetizers? So, or…” It’s an “or” a “so”. It’s like, “So, I was just thinking maybe we could get some appetizers.” And I thought it was just so funny when you put an “or” or a “so” or a “just” in there; the impact it has. So, we like to joke if you were to say something really powerful followed by an “or” like, “Are you guys inspired by my vision, or…” It’s just sort of…

Allison Shapira

Can you imagine speaking up at work and saying, “This is a critical issue that we all have to be paying attention to? So, um, yeah.”?

Pete Mockaitis

Yeah, I like that. And you know what? The one that gets me, and this shows up a lot in my coaching, is when people say the word “obviously”. I think that’s more of a crutch for themselves, like, “Okay, maybe the thing I just said isn’t super insightful and is readily apparent, so I want to give myself a little bit of cover, so you don’t think that I think that I’m saying something brilliantly insightful when I know they’re not, so I’m covering it.” I think that’s kind of what’s going on subconsciously, but when I hear “obviously” I think it’s just an unnecessary risk you’re taking. So, if it was not obvious to the person that you said it to, then they’re going to be a little ticked, like, “Oh, I’m sorry I’m not as smart as you, apparently.”

Allison Shapira

Exactly, exactly. “Obviously”, “actually”, “basically”, used once or twice, there’s nothing wrong with it, but if you start to use them consistently throughout your speech or even during a meeting, then I believe they have a negative effect on your listeners.

Pete Mockaitis

Right. And I think that “basically” can sometimes be helpful when we’re having a good summary sentence, like, “Basically we’re trying to reduce the customer …” “Exactly, yes. Thank you for summarizing or paraphrasing what I just said.” It’s helpful there, but it definitely finds its way in a lot of places where it doesn’t quite belong. Well, cool. So, thank you for talking about some of the voice differentiators there. Now, when it comes to actually preparing for a speech or presentation, you’ve laid out a few key questions that you recommend it’s important to think through in advance.

Allison Shapira

Definitely. There are three questions that I recommend people ask before any speech or presentation, or even if they’re preparing to walk into a meeting and think they might speak up. And these three questions are critical for helping you determine what you want to say, why you want to say it, and how to say it. The first question is, “Who is your audience?” Who are you talking to? Which helps you understand how they’re going to feel about what it is you have to say, and that helps you choose your argumentation. It helps you choose your structure, your stories, your data. So putting yourself in the audience’s shoes helps you craft something in a language that they’re going to want to hear.
The second question is, “What’s your goal?” And every speech is an opportunity to influence people’s behavior to change the way they think or act, which is an incredible opportunity. So, be purposeful in advance of your speech or presentation in thinking, “What do I want people to do?” And if appropriate, put in a call to action, a very clear call to action at the beginning or at the end of your remarks. So, those first two questions – “Who is your audience?” and “What’s your goal?” are fairly straightforward. These are questions many of us would ask ourselves before a speaking situation.
The third question is the most important and the least obvious. And the third question is, “Why you?” And by that I mean, why do you care about what you’re talking about? Because a lot of times people will be reading something off of their company’s website, or they’ll be using language that doesn’t feel authentic to them, and as a result the speech falls flat. But when you ask, “Why you? Why do you care? Why is this important to you?”, then you tap into a much deeper, more authentic sense of purpose about why this issue is critical.
And if you’re nervous about speaking up, then asking “Why you?” gives you the confidence that what you have to say is important, and you’re reframing it as not being about you, but about your message and about your audience. “Why you?” also makes sure that the language you use is authentic, because it will tap into personal stories or experiences that help you relate to the content and therefore help you relate to your audience. So, in my experience the “Why you?” is that creativity booster that also boosts our confidence as well.

Pete Mockaitis

Excellent, okay. And so, I think that sometimes, there’s a really strong, powerful “Why? Why you?”. I’ve seen my child, you know… There, I said “you know”. [laugh] This must happen to you all the time.

Allison Shapira

I’m not counting, it’s okay.

Pete Mockaitis

You see, I could say for instance… I’ll give you the speech because I know what it’s like to have a child choking on a bottle repeatedly, and you’re terrified in that moment that it could result in a trip to the hospital, or him turning blue, for example. That’s a dramatic thing. We’ve learned some things about how to bottle-feed a baby who’s choking a lot, and I could share those and that’s powerful from an emotional perspective. But other times, I think in a business context it’s lower stakes or maybe less interesting, in terms of… I guess I’m thinking about the revenue growth at a company. And I guess if you’re the owner or the sales director, getting commissions and bonuses based on that, that can be highly exciting. But if you’re kind of in the middle of things, it may be less. How do you dig into a richer “Why?” when on the surface it might feel a little bit shallow?

Allison Shapira

Well, there’s always a deeper “Why?” there. It always goes more than just – and I’m using “just” intentionally in this situation – it goes beyond, “So that I can make money or to increase shareholder value.” That’s not what necessarily get us out of bed in the morning. It’s to have an impact. It’s to provide an environment that people actually want to come to work in. And in the book I quote one of my clients who I worked with, where I said, “Why is helping clients important to you?” She said, “It just is.” I said, “Why?” And she said, “Well, because service is important to me.” I said, “Why?” And she said, “Well, my parents taught that to me growing up”. And I said, “Tell me more.” And she said, “Well, my parents were small business owners and every single day I saw them get up and put others’ needs before themselves, and it had an incredibly powerful impact on me. And now every day I get up thinking about how I can help my clients.”

Pete Mockaitis

I like that, yes.

Allison Shapira

That’s a powerful story. It’s professional, but it’s also personal. And if I were a small business owner and that person were pitching me, I would think, “Wow, this person understands me. I can trust this person.” So, that’s an example of how you can use “Why you?” in a professional setting with a very powerful impact.

Pete Mockaitis

I like that. So then the “Why?”, I guess you could articulate that a few ways. It’s like you’re honoring your parents’ memory or example or values. This is who I am, and who I am as a part of a bigger thing with my family and ancestors. And so, I hear you, yes. That’s excellent. Very much appreciated. So, that’s the beginning part.

Allison Shapira

And it’s something everyone can use as well.

Pete Mockaitis

Sure.

Allison Shapira

Please go ahead.

Pete Mockaitis

So that’s kind of how to think about things at the beginning of putting together a speech or presentation. How about when you’re getting toward the end, when you’re doing some of the polishing and perfecting? You’ve identified there are a few steps that many people overlook, they just neglect, but they shouldn’t. What are those things?

Allison Shapira

The biggest step that most people overlook, and shouldn’t, is reading your speech or presentation out loud. A lot of people will jot it down, they’ll look at it on the paper, they’ll read it in their head, especially if they’re using slides. They simply look through the slides and think, “Okay, I’m ready.” But writing for the ear and writing for the eye are two different things. And it’s only when you read something out loud that you can listen to it critically and think, “Does this sound good? Does this sound like how I normally speak? Is it easy to pronounce?” Because if you stumble over a word in practice, you’re going to stumble over the word in the actual presentation. So reading it out loud is critical, and that’s also a way that you can start to remember it more easily.
And I don’t recommend that people memorize their speech or presentation, but it should be comfortable enough that if your piece of paper with your notes on it falls to the floor, you still know where you’re going next. And then another thing that I recommend people do in the practice phase is to reduce their speech to simply the key bullet points, a phrase or two, an outline – and that’s what they should bring with them to the speech or presentation. A lot of times I’ll see people get up to speak, and they have full sentences written out, double-sided, in tiny print with no white space. It’s impossible to find your place in the middle of a speech. So I recommend printing out simply the outline with key phrases or words, not full sentences, and practicing giving the speech or presentation from those bullet points so that they feel comfortable and know where to look when they forget what they’re going to say.

Pete Mockaitis

Yes, I like that. Very nice. And so then when it comes to actually delivering the speech, you’ve got some thoughts when it comes to some movements and gestures that bring it to life. What are those?

Allison Shapira

I talk about three different movements – eye contact, body language, and voice. And with eye contact, I always recommend that people speak to one person at a time. So instead of scanning the room, trying to read everyone at the same time, pick someone in the room and deliver a full sentence to them or a full thought, and then look at somebody else and speak to them for a full thought. And then you’re not speaking with 100 people. You’re simply looking at one person at a time and you get a number of people in your gaze as you do that, but you focus on one person at a time. And that really calms people down. So that’s what I recommend with eye contact.
With body language, I talk about every movement being purposeful. We’re all aware of the nervous body language that people tend to use – nervous movements like wringing your hands, playing with your hair or your rings. And men and women do this, and it’s something that demonstrates to the audience that you’re nervous. So I like to practice my body language in advance, and practice different hand gestures that reinforce my messages, or practice walking around during transitions and then pausing to make a point. And then I pause and make eye contact with someone to make a point. So those are some ways in which you can incorporate more purposeful body language into your presentations.
And then the third – movement – is not technically a movement at all, but it’s the movement with your voice. So your vocal variety, whether your voice goes up or it goes down, or your energy level gets high or gets lower. So being able to play with that conversational tone is so important. A lot of times we stand up and all of the energy and life drains out of our voice because we get nervous, so our breathing constricts, which is what we were talking about earlier.
So when you’re able to pause and breathe, and take those nice deep breaths and project your voice, then you can make your voice much more conversational. And I don’t want people to use a different speaking voice in front of the room than they do when they’re offstage. I simply want them to bring their best voice on stage, as opposed to their most nervous voice. So those are the three different movements that I talk about in the book – eye contact, body language, and voice.

Pete Mockaitis

And I’d love to get your take when it comes to these matters. To what extent do you think about this from a perspective of, “Okay, in this sentence, I will use this hand gesture”, as opposed to thinking about the underlying emotion? And I guess I’m thinking about, you might call it “method acting”, in terms of, “Okay, I’m really going there emotionally, and thus naturally my voice and my hands are going to do those things because they correspond to the associated emotion”, versus, “Ah, make sure to widely spread your arms in this moment.” I guess I see pros and cons to both approaches and I worry; I think maybe that if I overdo it in terms of listing out this gesture at this phrase, then it could come across as a little bit like, “You’re just sort of doing a show, Pete. You don’t actually feel these things.” So I don’t know. What’s your take on that one?

Allison Shapira

I’m so glad that you’ve brought that up, because it is a real consideration. And I certainly don’t want people to feel like they’re acting out their speech or presentation. The idea is, natural body language doesn’t always come naturally, which is funny to say, but absolutely accurate, because in the moment we’re nervous, we’re thinking about so many things. So it can be helpful to practice in front of a mirror or videotape ourselves on a device or a phone, and try out different hand gestures. Try things out to see what matches the words we’re using and what feels natural. And by virtue of practicing it, it starts to become natural, and then when you get in front of the audience, you pause and breathe, you focus on your message. And whatever gestures you make will flow naturally as a result of that practice. But you’re right, it’s a fine balance between having it be too scripted versus more authentic. But the more you practice, the more authentic it becomes.

Pete Mockaitis

Excellent. Well now, tell me – anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and talk about some of your favorite things?

Allison Shapira

One thing that I’d like to make clear is that public speaking doesn’t just happen when you stand up onstage in front of a group of people with a microphone and a spotlight on you. Public speaking is something that happens every single day. Speaking up on a conference call, speaking up in a meeting, asking a question at a conference, even if you’re not on the panel; interviewing, pitching, speaking to clients, speaking to leadership. All of these are examples of public speaking.
So once people recognize a) that public speaking happens every single day, and b) to some of your earliest questions, that it’s critical to how we come across to others, to how we can effectively build relationships – then all of a sudden it becomes so important that we learn and become comfortable with this skill, because it affects every aspect of our life – professional and personal, and makes us more impactful in whatever it is that we believe in. So, it’s important that people see public speaking as something that they do every single day.

Pete Mockaitis

Lovely, thank you. Well now, could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Allison Shapira

One of my favorite quotes is by a Persian poet, Hafiz, and I hope I pronounced his name correctly: “The words you speak become the house you live in.”

Pete Mockaitis

Thank you.

Allison Shapira

And I find that quote so powerful because it’s about the language that we use and the impact it has, not
just on others, but on ourselves. So it’s very important to choose the words that we use.

Pete Mockaitis

And how about a favorite study or experiment or a bit of research?

Allison Shapira

My favorite piece of research that I’ve read recently is about chewing gum and its impact on immediate word recall. So, there’s a couple of different studies, and I quote these in the book, talking about how chewing gum right before a speech or a test increases immediate word recall. It’s the chewing aspect that helps stimulate our brain and overcome that fight or flight response, so we can be more present and more analytically focused. The key element, of course, is to remember to spit the gum out before you get in front of an audience.

Pete Mockaitis

So now, what is “immediate word recall”? How do we define that?

Allison Shapira

Immediate word recall would be remembering what you’re supposed to say in your speech – remembering your first sentence, or remembering your main points, or in a test being able to remember what you just studied so that you can answer the questions correctly.

Pete Mockaitis

Wow, that is intriguing. And I guess the theory is that there’s a neuro pathway associated with the motion of a mouth and words, because we speak words, or how do they think that works?

Allison Shapira

It’s very interesting. And I’m not a neuroscientist, but from what I’ve read, when we get nervous, it’s the amygdala of our brain that’s overriding with that fight or flight response. And when that happens, our mind goes blank. We forget what we’re going to say because we’re preparing to run away from danger. But the act of chewing is something that stimulates – and I want to make sure I’m getting this right – it activates the prefrontal cortex, which is the more analytical part of the brain that helps us focus on what we want to say next.

Pete Mockaitis

Oh, cool. Thank you. And how about a favorite book?

Allison Shapira

Besides my own book? Favorite book. There are so many fantastic books. I just finished reading Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss. It is a negotiation book.

Pete Mockaitis

Oh, we’ve had him on the show.

Allison Shapira

Oh, you had him on the show. Fantastic!

Pete Mockaitis

That was a page turner. I’m sorry to interrupt. Tell the world why you loved it. I was a big fan of it myself.

Allison Shapira

I have studied negotiation and I have taught negotiation in the past, and there are some fantastic classic books out there on the subject. What I love about Chris’s book is the practical component of it, and it’s something that I try to emulate in my own book. I want to make sure whatever people read, it has stories to back it up and they can immediately apply it to their work. And I was reading Chris’s book while I had a negotiation going on in my business. And so, I’m reading the book and I’m making notes in the pages and I’m changing my tactics and my strategy in the moment to positively influence the negotiation. So, what I love about the book – very readable, which I appreciate, very interesting in terms of stories, and then the immediately practical, applicable tips that I could use right away. So, many, many reasons why I love that book.

Pete Mockaitis

Absolutely. Its’s a winner. And I found myself doing it all the time, in terms of trying to elicit a “No”, and it works great, especially when people are hard to get on emails. I go, “Where did they go? Are you no longer interested in being a guest on the podcast?” “Oh no, no, no, no. I’m sorry, Pete. It’s just that things got busy. I’ll grab a time right now.” [laugh] It’s awesome. Cool. And how about a favorite tool?

Allison Shapira

Favorite tool? What kind of tool?

Pete Mockaitis

It could be a hardware – it could be a hammer or a drill. It could be a piece of software or app. It could be a thought framework or checklist. Something that you use that really comes in handy.

Allison Shapira

I am a big fan of Evernote. Have you ever used Evernote?

Pete Mockaitis

Oh yes, me too. Tell me more.

Allison Shapira

There’s a point in my life where there is before Evernote and there’s after Evernote. And Evernote has given me a single place to organize my music. I’ll write songs and store them in Evernote. My business – I will … checklists and save them there. I use Evernote to draft speeches and presentations. And the instant search ability is incredible; the tagging; and then it instantly syncs across all of my devices as well. And it’s password protected. So, as an organizing tool, Evernote literally runs my life.

Pete Mockaitis

Yeah, it’s a real treat. Just lately I got a piece of plywood to stick across my treadmill, and then a Bluetooth keyboard. And with an iPad or iPhone you can just rock and roll with Evernote in one place. And then it’s right to your computer next so you can modify it, or you can put it into Word or somewhere else if you’ve got to get some fancy formatting that works just right for other people. I too am quite the fan. I like how quickly it syncs as well. It’s like, “I just typed that minutes ago and you’re right there. Thank you.”

Allison Shapira

Exactly. And then you’re in a meeting and you simply pull up your phone and all your notes for that meeting are right there. It’s incredibly helpful.

Pete Mockaitis

Mm-hmm. And how about a favorite habit?

Allison Shapira

Favorite habit. I’m practicing gratitude every morning and every afternoon.

Pete Mockaitis

And is it identifying things you’re grateful for, or how do you practice it?

Allison Shapira

Identifying things that I’m grateful for that have happened recently. And then at the end of the day, what am I grateful for in this day? And I find that has a meaningful impact on how I feel when I go to work and how I feel when I go to bed.

Pete Mockaitis

And tell me, is there a particular nugget that you share with clients or in your book that really seems to connect – it gets highlighted, retweeted, shared often? Or an original for Allison that’s connecting for folk?

Allison Shapira

“Public speaking is a skill, not a talent.” I say that over and over again, and people really appreciate that because it means you don’t have to be born a good public speaker. It’s something everyone can learn. And I also like to say that public speaking is about finding your voice and your courage to speak.

Pete Mockaitis

Yeah. And if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Allison Shapira

I’d ask them to come find me on my website at GlobalPublicSpeaking.com. They can read more about the book, they can actually download a chapter of the book for free, and then they can watch a number of different videos with quick tips that I’ve recorded on public speaking. So, people will ask me a question and then I’ll answer the question in a one-minute video. And all of those videos you can find on my website at GlobalPublicSpeaking.com.

Pete Mockaitis

And do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

Allison Shapira

I would challenge people to come to every single meeting prepared with one point they’re going to make that will further the conversation. Recognizing that public speaking happens every single day, prepare for it in advance and have that one thought that you’re going to share. And it’s a way to have an impact without having to formally be on the agenda.

Pete Mockaitis

Beautiful. Well, Allison, this has been tons of fun. I wish you all the best of luck with your company Global Public Speaking, and the book Speak with Impact, and just all you’re up to!

Allison Shapira

Thank you, Pete. I appreciate it, and thanks for talking to me today.

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