Too often we stumble from one year to the next, hoping for the best but without a vision the future. With a vision we have an end-state goal that has the power to motivate substantial change in our lives, careers and businesses.
Recently we’ve been holding Visioning Sessions with our longer-term clients. Stepping back and connecting with the bigger picture of our lives is a useful exercise at anytime, but particularly as the year ends. One client is considering divesting some parts of her highly successful business, finally ready to take her foot off the accelerator. Another is looking to leave his corporate job to fully embrace his dreams, after inching away slowly for the last few years. Another is on a tear to complete a long to-do list before the end of the year in order to focus on her new vision for 2017.
We’ve also recently launched a ‘Clarity Package’ for new clients. In just three sessions our clients are gaining insights and moving forward from a place of clarity. One client is preparing for a difficult conversation with her boss to redefine her role and negotiate a pay raise. She’ll either stay or go, either way 2017 will be a different. Another client is looking for clarity around staying in her current job or launching her own enterprise. Still another is evaluating volunteer and part-time opportunities. Several others are renewing their job searches, making progress with more optimism having discovered the Saboteurs that have been stubbornly holding them back. In all cases, by discovering their values, purpose and inner strengths these clients are connecting to their bigger visions and they’re moving forward with purpose.Check out this blog post for one in-depth client story.
So, what’s next for your life, career or business? What do you want more of or less of? Where are you feeling stuck or out of balance? What will you carry over from 2016 as a work-in-progress, and what needs to be completed in the remaining days of the year?!
To gain clarity for yourself as you head into 2017, or to offer this package as a gift to a partner, colleague, relative or friend, contact us today!
Today I completed a three session clarity package with a client looking to make changes to her career and life heading into 2017.
The client had quit her career in public policy work nine years ago, early in her career, to take on the family business. It was a decision she felt pressured into making. Recently, she’s been missing the intellectual challenges and the sense of ‘making a difference’ that accompanied her work in human rights. To prepare for an upcoming shift she delegated a number of day-to-day tasks to a management company. But, she’s not looking to leave the family business fully yet, as it will provide her with a good income while she navigates what comes next.
In our initial consultation we did an exercise to provide more context for her desired changes. What surfaced is that her health is a concern and needs to be factored into to her thinking. It’s always useful to get the bigger picture going into any coaching engagement. Sometimes a client may want to make a change in one area but other parts of their life may not be lined up to support them.
In our first full session we uncovered her values. Advocacy, community, learning, connecting, making a difference, and her recent marriage were all important. It turned out that several of her values were being honored in her current work but some scored low in the assessment. Through discovery and scoring we got an honest snapshot of her current situation.
Some of the proposed actions that came out of this session turned out to be premature. At the start of our second session the client indicated that she needed to do more self discovery and research about potential opportunities before moving into action. In short, she needed to slow things down. Her timeframe shifted from being a few months to at least six months, and she now realized that there would be fewer hours in the week to give to a different type of work (5-10 hours rather than 20 hours). Often, our Saboteurs — or inner critic voices — awaken when we’re looking to make changes in our lives, and they can put lead boots on us that slow down progress. However, with this client I sensed a re-frame, that rather than a big shift in her career she was looking to pursue her passions more incrementally.
So, next we shifted to her role and purpose. She came up with the phrase ‘change agent’ in one of the visualizations, and that resonated with her both professionally and personally.
Our final session started with some positive updates. After connecting with friends and relatives she had signed up for an orientation class around learning a new technical skill, specifically a computer programming language. She’d also connected with an online nonprofit matching service where she could offer her professional services for a few hours at a time. These were two ways she could honor her values more fully. She saw potential obstacles around prioritizing her new goals versus family, but she also felt a high level of commitment to fulfilling them.
The focus of the third session was to create a vision for 2017. I asked my client to provide a headline for the year ahead: “Restructuring and reinvention – in that order!” she replied. By putting structures and systems in place within her existing business she would be creating more freedom and space for reinvention. And, by digging into personal finances, estate planning and home improvements she would be honoring her relationship with her new spouse.
Ultimately, she completed the Clarity Package with specific goals for 2017:
“I am clear that I want to get my house in order in 2017. I’m clear that I want to learn something in technology. I’m clear that I want to give back, and that I want to learn more about myself.”
The next step is to follow up with some assessment tools to help her with discovery around her personal strengths and blind spots.
In April and May, we were on retainer to prepare a CEO for an important milestone — giving his first commencement speech. It’s an honor for anyone to be asked to speak on such an important occasion and it’s out of the ordinary for a technology executive who more typically speaks about company products and strategies.
As we reviewed the executive’s on-camera performances at the start of the project — we could see that he was a passable speaker but he had some habits that kept him from being truly entertaining or inspiring. We set out to achieve three goals: a) to identify with the audience of graduates; b) to feel ‘within himself’ as he communicated from the heart; c) to create a vision about the world in front of them and the opportunities and challenges they face.
Up first was to develop a script that would connect with his audience of several thousand graduates. As expected, this took several iterations over many weeks. It needed to be personal, which meant we needed to keep digging and prodding. Finally we landed on the themes of embracing change, taking risks and learning from failure. It’s not easy for a successful executive to speak about their failures, especially when they’ve gone from being a self-made millionaire to being broke, all within 5 years, but as journalists we knew this would connect with his audience, and give him credibility.
Once the script was in good shape we started rehearsals. We first mirrored back what we were hearing — his speech was slow and fairly monotonous. This is always profound work, getting our clients to hear themselves the way we hear them. Once they can hear it, they’re motivated to find a better version of themselves. We also used a technique where we marked up his script, providing direction for emphasizing words, pauses, breaths. He found this very useful and became skilled at hitting his marks.
Finally, as we reached the last week, with graduation day in sight and with the core messaging in place, we took the script to some lighter places. Marilyn is a stand up comedian and she’s worked in Silicon Valley for decades, so that was a useful combination. Not all the jokes made it into the final draft but it helped the executive find his own path to some lighter moments.
As the executive spent time with the script in the final days before delivering the speech, he made it his own. This really helped him gear up for the big day. He had the words, he had the techniques, and he now he’d found the heart of what he wanted to communicate: that success and failure go together, that failure shouldn’t stop you from trying, that taking risks will lead to both success and failure and that we all learn from both.
The audience loved him and he soared in his presentation. We were thrilled to have helped shape it.
Recently we arrived at the office of a client to prepare her for an upcoming speech at a national sales convention. She is a regular client who has worked with us on many presentations over the last three years. We’ve developed a very good working relationship, and we were confident about how the session would go — we’d go through the deck, tweak the language and slides, then polish her presentation. This is the usual flow for our voice and presentation coaching.
But when we arrived our client was in an emotional turmoil because she found out that she may have been passed over for a promotion to VP. What we thought would be a good rehearsal turned out to be both an emotional roller coaster to navigate and a strategy session for making her case. First step, allowing her to vent and get her emotions out of the way. Then, we used a set of visual imagination techniques to get her clear on what she really wanted amidst the tight deadlines and the emotional stress.
From there, we engaged in a strategy session to help her prepare for her meeting that hour (!) with the human resources representative to discuss her job status We wanted her to understand that the HR person, while friendly with her, was not her confidante or best advocate. That meant: listen, stay calm, and let it be known that you are the best candidate for the VP position.
We left her that day knowing that she felt less hurt and more confident, which gave her courage and fortitude to face this difficult interaction. We had no idea what the outcome would be but we knew we’d coached her through her moment of crisis to a place where she was able to own her accomplishments and ask confidently for the promotion she’d worked long and hard to achieve.
The next week we heard from our client that she’d met with the CEO and team and, as she expressed it, “got her stripes.” She thanked us for our real-time “multifaceted assistance” towards getting her VP promotion. As coaches we have to be ready for anything, but it’s key to build a strong foundation with clients so that when the unexpected occurs we have the tools and rapport to have an impact no matter what circumstances we walk into.
Voice & Presentation Coach Marilyn Pittman and Executive Producer Marianne Wilman were the coaches at this session
Recently we worked with a client, Ronda, who was interested in an updated headshot. I’d met Ronda during professional coach training during which I’d personally coached her on re-awakening her creativity. She’d previously been an actress and a singer but has for many years been working very long hours in Learning and Development at a Fortune 500 company. It’s a job she’s great at, but she was ready to re-capture her inner creativity and project her more theatrical side back out into the world.
In the pre-shoot call with our photographer Stefanie Atkinson and hair & makeup pro Sarah E. Hyde we discussed the feel for the image. Ronda’s keywords for the shoot were “inviting”, “magnetic”, and “twinkle”.
Here’s Ronda, before and now:
So, what’s the real difference here? Ronda looks great in both the before and after images!
Sarah says that in the ‘Before’ image Ronda doesn’t look professional, “it looks more like she’s just had a cocktail with friends!” Ronda’s hair is flat, her lips are shiny. In the ‘Now’ image we’ve smoothed out her hair and gone with a modern looking blowout. In terms of makeup, Ronda looks clean, fresh and dewy. Sarah enhanced Ronda’s best feature, her eyes, framing and defining them but not overpowering them and she went with a matte lipstick. With her mouth closed Ronda is more serious, and she looks friendly, warm and approachable. “There’s more depth and self confidence in the new image,” Sarah says.
Stefanie notes that the lighting in the ‘Before’ image is flat and the image has been taken with a flash: “There’s glare on her lip, nose and face and there are bars behind her head. It’s not a professional image,” Stefanie says. “There’s dimensionality, depth and warmth in the ‘Now’ image. The eye goes directly to her, and it feels like she’s really looking at me.” The cleaner background, softer lighting and hair & makeup also accentuate Ronda’s beauty.
So, how did we do? “I feel like you captured the real me…it is so reflective of me, both inside and outside,” says Ronda.
It’s easy to lose oneself in the business world, so go further with your next image and re-capture the essence of you. For a headshot consultation with the Screen Presence team contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And finally, here’s another image from the shoot that Ronda (and her posse) just adore:
This post was created by Screen Presence president and executive coach Marianne Wilman.
Working with one of our clients recently, we discovered how much help some women executives need in branding, or even rebranding, themselves inside the company. She is a senior-level marketing manager at a Fortune 500 company. She is an accomplished executive, but not an extrovert, particularly, nor a natural performer.
It all started a year ago when her performance at a national sales meeting was flat and her boss asked her to improve. We started with her behavior in small internal meetings and discovered she was looking at her phone instead of paying attention! So we addressed that as we learned more about her insecurities and habits.
Then we discovered that one of her peers was a bit of a bully inside these meetings, and she wasn’t always in command of her part because of it. We worked with her to give her better body language and vocal skills to fend off his interruptions. It worked, but changing someone’s way of presenting and holding court is a process.
We kept working with her to solidify the shift. Our next steps involved an all-day marketing event inside the company that she led. We coached her on content, voice, movement, and appearance. She reported to us that she still got nervous in the beginning and went too fast. But there was progress.
Next, we are working with her on a national sales meeting presentation. She’s understandably nervous because of her shortcomings the previous year, but, after rewriting the PowerPoint to make it more conversational and easier to remember, she is getting to know the material. I have her rehearsing lines just like you would for a play. Practice may not make perfect, but the more you practice, the more confident you feel.
We are committed to her success and will even be at the tech rehearsal the night before to ensure that she’s bringing her best self to the meeting.
Voice & presentation coach Marilyn Pittman & executive producer Marianne Wilman were the Business Presence coaches at this training.
Recently we spent two days training members of a high-profile online fashion media team. The mission was to polish the skills of a group of 11 team members responsible for producing most of the content. The two-day training included on-camera work and red carpet interviewing, voice-over tracking for video packages, and representing the brand in media appearances.
We started with voice work. Many in the group, especially the younger women, needed better chops —breathing, projection, diction, emphasis, rhythm. We directed the team through copy, identifying individual weaknesses and fixing them. One person needed help with breathing and diction, another with pacing, another with what words to emphasize. Working in the same room allowed everybody to learn from each other.
The group was mixed in experience. Those with little experience tended to be tight, so we used an exercise that required them to read the copy as if they were drunk. The exercise is designed to help them stop trying to perform perfectly and loosen up, be playful. You can’t find the right value for the words unless you explore. It’s an acting technique that really works for voice-over because the take right after the silly drunk one is usually so much more authentic and conversational.
We also used an opposite exercise of softly whispering for someone who needed to not project. This enabled her to soften the volume and add more breath so the voice quality became warmer, lower, more intimate, and less nasal.
Next we explored on-camera interviewing. Many of the editors regularly host interviews with well known fashion designers and experts. In reviewing the video content there was a tendency to speak quickly, to swallow words, to giggle or show inexperience through their body language. We focused here on nerves, prep, facial expression and voice projection. You’re on camera so you need to learn facial expressions, such as getting a feel for how much is too much and whether your eyebrows are out of control? As we trained the team on interviewing techniques they became more relaxed and confident, more at ease with their guest and more focused on asking short, open-ended questions.
There are specific challenges to talking to stars on the red carpet on camera. The environment is loud but you can’t just yell. How do you relax before it all begins? Prep is essential to pulling off a live event with confidence — know your subjects and have scripted short questions that elicit good responses.
We also discovered hidden talents and creativity in several people. One gal really shined when she talked about the company. Another stood out as having a gift as a trend spotter and an ability to communicate her process. We were able to address all levels at once, polishing up the pros, while giving the junior people the skill sets they need to move forward.
Plus we had a blast. We jammed creatively, worked hard on the techniques and identified all kinds of strengths and weaknesses. And, we left them with recordings of their training that will serve them well as their careers progress.
Voice & presentation coach Marilyn Pittman & executive producer Marianne Wilman were the Business Presence coaches at this training.
Why is it that once we get started speaking or presenting, we don’t know when to stop or how to pause? Because we’re afraid we might forget what we’re saying or that the audience will think we’ve lost our place. But pausing actually helps us listen. Constant sound makes us tune out. So if you want to make someone listen to you? Stop talking!
Here are 3 good reasons to use the pause:
A short pause–a half second or second–jerks the rhythm and can help the speaker stay focused on content.
Pauses helps the listener or audience keep up with the content so we stay interested.
Just listen to any great music and you’ll notice that it stops and starts. It’s in the pauses that we listen most acutely. Speaking is the same. We need to pause to be effective. But when we’re nervous or even just excited, we can tend to do what I call ‘motoring,’ which is when we rattle off the content without finessing the pacing. Learning to finesse the pacing adds to your brand as a powerful presenter.
In working with a Business Presence client recently, I actually had to say “stop” and “start” to inhibit the ‘motoring.’ It forced the client to take a breath and think of the next beat, or idea. While it felt unnatural at the time, when the client listened back to herself she realized the actual pause wasn’t that long and how it would help keep her audience engaged.
So practice putting pauses in your presentations so we can pay attention and enjoy what you’re saying.
This post was created by Screen Presence voice and presentation coach Marilyn Pittman
With cameras and TV studios mostly shooting in HD (high definition), the heavy, theatrical makeup often used for TV appearances in the past is no longer appropriate. HD exposes far more detail than standard definition cameras, which means that makeup texture shows up on screen if not applied carefully.
Here’s how to present a more natural look for your HD camera appearance:
Avoid a caked-on look by using a finely milled translucent powder, such as Make Up For Ever.
It’s easy to look pale with HD cameras. A slightly darker shade of foundation will help you look less washed out. Again, using a foundation made for HD will provide lighter coverage while still masking imperfections.
Be sure to apply makeup to the neck area and blend well. You want to avoid a line around the bottom of the face where the makeup ends. A two-tone look for the face and neck is not what you’re going for!
Product and application matter a lot when it comes to HD, and it’s worth investing in an HD makeup kit if you’re going to be on-camera regularly. Many people will feel more confident with a makeup artist to help them prepare. Finally, if you’re not sure whether your appearance will be shot in HD or SD ask the producer. Your video appearance is likely to live on in easily searchable online archives, so make sure you’re showing up as your best on-camera self!
Screen Presence hair and makeup stylist Sarah Hyde provided the content for this post
The good news about applying eye makeup for your on-camera appearance is that it doesn’t need to be very different from your everyday eye makeup. However, if you generally don’t wear eye makeup, be sure to apply some for the camera. Your eyes are an important part of how people see you through the lens. They help your face come to life.
Whether you prefer a more natural or a made-up look, the goal is to frame and define the eyes. Lining the eyes will bring out definition and make the eyes pop. Here are some guidelines for defining the lash line:
If your eyes are close set, add liner to the outer edge to make them appear wider. If your eyes are far set — defined as the space between your eyes being bigger than the length of one eye — add liner all the way to the inner corner.
Although liner can be challenging to apply, there are many eyelining pens that can make the job easier. Thinner lines along the lash make for a natural look; a stronger lash line will really frame the eye. In both cases add a dark brown or black mascara to finish the look.
If you really can’t deal with liner, cheat by adding a dark eyeshadow along the lash line.
Other eye makeup tips:
Avoid make up that glimmers. Neutral colors and matte finishes will work best to draw the viewer in rather than reflecting light and attention away from the eyes.
Use a primer or base to prevent makeup from smudging under the heat of the camera lights.
Remember the basic color rules: lighter colors will make your eyes look bigger, darker colors will be more intense.
Finally, have eye drops to hand to remove any red eye on shoot day.
Screen Presence hair and makeup stylist Sarah Hyde provided the content for this post.