Chapter 4

Listening and Speaking
Telephone Skills
Presentation & Public Speaking
Letters, Memos & Reports

Listening and Speaking
The word communication comes from the root word "common". Communication, then, means using a common language that is easily understood by your audience.
We spend about 70% of our wakening hours communicating through speaking, listening, watching and reading. Yet many people still say that they are too busy to learn to be an effective communicator. They say they are too busy keeping up with their work, family and social life to take courses in speaking, writing and other forms of communication.
If we spend about 70% of our time communicating should not we learn how to do it effectively so that our communication time is not wasted?
It has been said that we typically hear or read only about 20% of the information communicated to us and that we forget about 80% of that within 24 hours. That means that we must communicate clearly, briefly and repeat important information often or else most people will only get about 4% of the information we want them to have. Surely we must learn to help people remember and use more than that 4%.
Definition: For the purpose of this material we will concentrate on speaking and listening, mostly in one-to-one conversations. Written communication and public speaking are covered in other sections.
Speaking clearly is critical to the effectiveness of all of us. For example, if someone else needs to follow your spoken instructions but they do not clearly understand what you have asked them to do, you have wasted your time. Speaking clearly also helps you develop a rapport with other people. What you SAY is as important as what you DO NOT SAY. Imagine all the costly errors made because verbal communications were unclear.
People like to know where they stand with you. Therefore, a clear communication style is the foundation for good working relationships whether with your boss, co-workers, your family and your friends and in healthcare, with patients and families.
To give you an example of not using a common language read the following paragraph. This paragraph is a "modern" version of another text. See if you can interpret what is said. Does this look like any memo or letter you have read lately?
It is imperative in the post-modern, multi-cultural society of the late twentieth century to comprehend fully, and in great detail, the nature of the human species in varying multi-level situations. It is through an interdisciplinary approach to the psychosocial aspirations, ambitions and resultant behaviors that we develop a clear understanding of their individualistic psyche, and thereby, fully integrate with them in a harmonious, resonant lifestyle.
Would you believe that it actually means:
The better you know people, the more you will understand them, and the more you will like them.
Georges P. Vanier
Using common language is not speaking down to people. Winston Churchill told us to use short, old words to speak best. If communication is all about understanding each other then we should not have to have a dictionary with us when we talk to people. The foundation of effective, speaking and listening includes:
Meeting the needs of the other people.
Understanding the similarities and differences between you.
Interpreting their body language and finding out if your interpretation is right.
Speaking in a clear, common language.
Remember: you have been speaking for all but a few early years in your life. This material is designed to help improve your communication skills and build on your strengths. This material is not designed to force you to completely change how you speak with others. The techniques are presented to you so that you can choose those techniques or ideas that work best for you.
Exercise #1
How Do You Communicate Now?
Each speaking situation includes several factors. We are all more comfortable speaking in some situations than in others. This will depend on how these factors present themselves in a given situation. Each situation includes some of these factors:
People  How many there are, who has informal or formal power, do you like them, do you need to talk to them or do they need to talk to you?
Content  What are you talking about? Is it personal, professional, instructional, anxiety provoking, discipline, complimentary, serious, light-hearted, formal or informal?
Setting  Where are you speaking? Are you alone with the person or in a crowd? Is it in your home, at work or during a recreational activity?
Role  Do you play the role of listener, advisor, parent, child, leader, follower, boss, staff, friend or interested stranger?
Now that you understand some of the factors involved when you speak with someone, answer the following questions to help you decide what your communication strengths are right now, and how you might like to communicate differently in the future?
1.	Under which circumstances are you most comfortable speaking now? Why? For example, speaking with friends about personal issues, talking about sports or weather, speaking with colleagues about your work, discussing politics with your family, counseling patients, giving information, etc.
2.	Under which circumstances are you least comfortable? Why?
3.	Based on your first two answers, what are your strengths as a communicator? For example, are you best at giving instructions, talking about your family, listening to people's problems, giving people advice, talking to clients, discussing work with your boss?
4.	What areas of communication would you like to improve most as you go through this section: speaking, the tone in your voice, listening skills, summarizing what other people say, presenting information, etc.?
Basic Communication
The central principle of good communication is to act in the best interest of the person with whom you are talking. That is, try to put yourself in the other person's shoes. Imagine how they are feeling, what information they most need from you, and what is the best way to communicate with that particular person.
When you do communicate, keep some of the following goals in mind. The relationship you have with a person will determine how many of these rules apply in each situation. Try:
To reduce uncertainty
To help the person speak for themselves
To improve relationships
To be truthful
To limit your answers to questions rather than giving people too much information
When you achieve your communication goals you can expect some of the following results for both you and the person you are communicating with:
Less time spent communicating because you are a more effective communicator
Better comprehension of both the content and the other person's point of view
Less stress
Mutual support
Less fear and anxiety
Greater productivity
More control
Remember that communication means speaking in a common language. This will help you to choose your words carefully, to try and meet the needs of the person you are talking with, and to make your own points clearly, concisely and effectively. In clinical situations, health professionals must meet the additional challenge of choosing words that are readily understood by patients and families.
Basic Rules
We are always communicating. We cannot not communicate. Our body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice all communicate without a word being said. When we enter a room, people begin to make assumptions about who we are, what we think, how we will behave and what we will say. Body language is a powerful communication tool. People will believe what you say only if your body language says the same thing. For example, people will not believe you if you tell them how much you enjoy their company but your eyes are staring at the ceiling, your tone of voice is neutral and you have a bored expression on your face. Physicians who look busy and rushed will dissuade patients from sharing fears and asking questions, even though they do not intend to do so.
You may exchange words with someone without exchanging meaning. What you intend to say may not be what someone else hears. Therefore, it is your responsibility to make sure that the other person understood your intended meaning. If it is a very important point, ask them to repeat what you said in their own words. You can do the same to make sure you understand what someone has said to you. This is very important when communicating with patients and families.
With Whom Are You Communicating?
The most important part of communicating is knowing with whom you are talking. This does not mean that you should change what you say for every different person. It does mean that you must understand the similarities and differences of the various people with whom you talk. For example, people with different cultural backgrounds, education histories, or communication abilities than yours will require different communication techniques.
Doctors and all team members must learn to use “regular language” that the patient can understand. Obvious medical words like “hepatosplenomegaly” must be reduced to “large liver and spleen”. However, we must also be aware of less obvious language issues. For example, we say, “ your test results are negative” to report a good thing--the absence of pathology. However, negative means not good in our general language and can be misunderstood by lay people. I find it helpful to sometimes “step outside of myself” to see how my general language might sound to other people, particularly those who are stressed and ill.
Elizabeth Latimer
You cannot always find out about the similarities and differences of all the people with whom you talk. Therefore, you must recognize signs that your message is not getting across as you would like. (See "Body Language" section for tips.) Once you know there is a communication problem you can ask yourself some of the following questions to help you identify what the specific problem may be.
Do they already know something about the topic you are discussing? If people already know, or think they know, a lot about what you are saying they may get bored by the repetition and not listen to what you are saying.
Are they familiar with the jargon (words used in a specific profession) you are using?
Does their education help or hurt them in understanding what you are saying. For example, if you are speaking to someone who has many years of university education are they comfortable understanding non-academic speech? The reverse is also important. If you have had many years of education, can you speak a common language without sounding like you are talking down to people?
Is the age difference between you causing a communication problem? People of different ages sometimes have different assumptions about what is, and is not, important and appropriate to talk about.
Are cultural differences causing miscommunication? Again, people with different backgrounds may have different assumptions about what is, and is not, important and appropriate to discuss. They may also have different ways of saying the same things but may not understand each other's methods. What sounds like a joke to one person may sound like an insult to another. One person's tone of voice may sound normal to people of the same background but sound passive, condescending, arrogant or argumentative to someone of another background.
Are there socioeconomic differences between the communicators? People from different economic backgrounds may have assumptions about each other that may, or may not, be right. You must find out if these assumptions are helping or hurting your communication together.
Does the other person have different values? For example, do they believe that a particular political party or religion is better than someone else's? Do their views on capital punishment, gender differences, nationalism, etc., help or hurt communication with other people?
Body Language: Is Your Body Saying the Same Thing as Your Words?
Body language is simply how other people interpret your posture, hand movements, head tilt, and other body movements. For example, if you tell people that you are enjoying your conversation with them very much, but you are slouching, staring into space and playing with a pen in your hand, they may interpret that your body language is not saying the same thing as your words. They may doubt your sincerity.
Body language is not a science. You cannot read a book and assume that you can understand everyone's body language. There are personal and cultural differences that must be understood. For example, a person standing with their arms crossed in front of them may appear authoritarian or arrogant when they really are only cold and crossing their arms to help keep themselves warm. In North America we often show our children's height by raising our flat hand to about the same height as our child. In some Latin American countries showing a child's height this way is offensive and rude. They raise their hands to the same height but the palm is not flat (as North Americans do) but pointing forward.
Although no single book can teach you all about body language, you can work at learning some of the basics. Watch people in shopping malls, on television shows, in foreign films and watch the similarities they have in expressing joy, anger, anxiety, happiness. Their facial features will be quite similar. Then look for differences in how men and women move their bodies, their hand gestures, and how they sit. Watch how people from different cultural, economic and educational backgrounds move, stand or sit. Watch the similarities and differences between children; children with adults; and adult children with their senior parents. Go to your local library and pick up a few books on body language (also called nonverbal communication) to look at pictures and diagrams of similarities and differences in body language.
The key to understanding body language is to watch other people, decide what you think their body language is telling you and find out if you are right. You may often be right but you will also be wrong sometimes. Do not make assumptions about people until you know if your assumptions are right.
Body Language
According to Ray L. Birdwhistell, when we communicate with another person 35% of the communication comes from the words and 65% comes from how we speak (e.g., pitch, tone, voice quality), movements, gestures and how we handle space between us.
Mixed Messages
If we only watched people's body language to understand what they were trying to tell us (no talking) we might get some very mixed messages. For example, they may slouch in a chair while showing lots of dynamic hand movements. We might interpret the first position (slouching) as showing little interest in the conversation. The hand movements might show great interest. What in fact might be happening is that this person likes to slouch for comfort and their dynamic hand movements are how they almost always speak. Again, the key here is to find out if what you think their body language is saying to you is right.

If I had a nickel for every time someone has interpreted my body language incorrectly, I would be a rich woman. Consider this. My spinal injuries make sitting and moving my head difficult. In lectures and at conferences I usually try to sit at the back of the room so I can see everyone and keep my spine straight at the same time. This is often interpreted as my lack of willingness to participate. Some presenters ask me to sit near the front and when I say “no thank you”, this is seen as my resistance rather than my not wanting to explain my disability to everyone. I have had to explain my circumstances to the teacher at the break if they are struggling with my body language. I have even had teachers think that I am disagreeing with them when I am having a bad pain day and my face is showing the strain. Body language is a language but we do not speak with the same tongue.
Michèle Chaban
We have looked at the importance of understanding people's body language, finding out if our assumptions are correct and understanding that people may give unintentional mixed messages through their body language.
Now, let us look at some general body language positions and gestures from which we can suggest some possible messages being given. The more you understand different types of body language the more you will rely on more than one position or gesture to understand the person. To truly use body language effectively you must be able to combine many parts of body language to help you confirm your assumptions.
Note: We are not saying which body language is preferable. We are giving some general guidelines as to what is considered appropriate or inappropriate body language as seen by a majority of people. The first two sections look at the emotions of nervousness and paying attention while the following ones look at some specific gestures.
Little or no eye contact
Tugging at their clothes
Sweaty palms, forehead and around lips
Repetitive gestures such as: tapping their foot, hands in pocket jingling coins noisily, playing with their hair, drumming their fingers in rhythm on a table, their lap or on a book, playing with a pen, paper clip, scrap paper in their hands.
Caution: Some of the body language listed above can mean other things as well. Tugging at clothes, tapping one's foot, playing with their hair can also mean they are bored. Little or no eye contact can also be a cultural preference of the person who may consider it rude to look directly at a person of authority or consider it a gesture of great respect not to look directly at the person.
Paying Attention
Looking directly at the person (eye contact)
Leaning toward them
Nodding their head in agreement
Smiling or laughing at appropriate moments
Taking notes
Tipping one's head to the side
Scratching one's chin.
Caution: Some of this body language can also mean other things. Scratching one's chin can mean you are thinking about the person's comments or that you have an itch. Leaning toward them can show interest or that your lower back hurts. Smiling can mean agreement or that you are daydreaming about something else.
Hand Gestures
Open hand usually implies an openness or acceptance of the other person's views.
Closed hand often implies lack of acceptance, anger, or frustration.
Forming fingers of both hands into a "steeple" implies leadership, knowledge or agreeing with someone else.
A hand formed in a fist is seen as aggressive or defensive.
Arm Positions
Crossed arms are often seen as aggressive, defensive or angry. Open arms are seen as more accepting, even welcoming of other people. Keep in mind that people often cross their arms for warmth or when they are anxious as well.
Leg Positions
In Europe crossing your leg with the ankle resting just above your other leg's knee is considered aggressive. In North America this leg position is seen as "manly" and assertive. Both cultures tend to see crossing legs at the knee as the more acceptable position for women.
Body Positions
Standing straight and comfortably shows leadership, assertiveness and confidence. Standing too straight implies a military stance that may be seen as aggressive. Slouching is more often seen as passive, uncomfortable or disrespectful.
Placing a chair, desk or other object between you and the other person can be seen as being defensive, authoritarian (as in a health care facility/team meeting or job interview) or patronizing. In the doctor-patient relationship, the placement of the desk between the two may limit necessary communication.
Turning your body away from someone can be seen as dismissing them, disagreeing with them or not bothering to show any respect. This is often used in movies to show total disrespect while also showing no fear that the person will attack you.
Facing a person directly, as opposed to standing slightly to their side, may be seen as aggressive body language. This is especially true if the situation is already stressful or tense.
A space between people is often a cultural difference. In Latin American cultures it is often very common to see people standing close together and even touching each other's shoulders, back or arm. In British cultures it is more common to see people standing farther apart and not touching each other very often (or at all). These differences often lead to conflict as people see the physical distance between them as too aggressive or too defensive.
Note: a safe distance is usually an arm's length apart. As you get to know the other person better that distance may become larger or smaller depending on each other's comfort zones.
Your Voice
The third element to communication (after what you say and your body language) is how you use your voice. How loud you speak, the tone of voice, your accent, and how fast you speak are all things that people use to infer meaning from your words. Some people believe they can tell if someone is lying by the tone in their voice. Unfortunately, they are often wrong. Cultural and educational differences often explain why we misunderstand people. For example, people who speak English as their first language, include a broad range of accents -- some slower, some faster, some with different syllable emphasis, some often seen as needing "correction" by others. 
We tend to see our voice as a very personal part of ourselves. However, with knowledge and insight, we may identify some aspects of our voice that can be changed to help us communicate more effectively.
Tape yourself. Evaluate strengths and weaknesses and decide which you can, or want to, improve.
Pick one thing at a time that you would like to change about your voice. Do not try to become another person. Just build on your strengths and reduce your voice weaknesses.
Remember that your weaknesses will return when you are tired or stressed. If you know this about yourself then you can minimize the effects when you are tired or stressed.
Some areas for possible change include:
Women and men tend to trust a lower pitched voice. This sexist perception that high-pitched voices are less serious crosses many cultural lines. It is unfair but common. Part of the reason for this perception is due to the modern media age of the 20th century. When radio and television were first introduced the frequencies that transmitted voices worked best for low frequency voices (mostly men). High-pitched voices could not be transmitted through the airwaves. Therefore, for most people born before the 1960s, their news and other radio/television came from men. Add to that the fact that men were often the political leaders (remember Roosevelt's fireside chats) and we can understand some of the reasons why women and men have learned to prefer low pitched voices.
A technique to help lower your pitch includes breathing deeply so that your vocal cords use air from your stomach rather than just from your throat area. Also, I find that singing songs at a lower key than normal before I give a talk or speech helps to lower my pitch over all. Remember that fear raises your pitch so concentrate on some relaxation exercises before speaking in stressful situations.
Harry van Bommel
The tone of your voice also shows whether you are angry or happy, sad or excited. It is different from pitch in that it indicates mood. To have your emotions clearly understood, aim your voice at the person you are speaking to rather than to the floor, to your notes or up in the air. 
Changing the volume of your voice every so often makes listening easier. If you are excited about a point, speak a little louder. If you want to dramatize a point or make people listen more carefully, speak softly.
People tend to breathe at the same speed that you talk to them. If you speed up or slow down your rate of speech you will affect the rate at which the person breathes. Change your rate of speech to get different reactions from the people with whom you are talking.
Speak Clearly
Let people hear the end of your words. Watch their body language to see if they understand what you are saying. If you are not sure, ask them.
Often when people are nervous they end their sentences as if they were questions. They voice goes up at the end of the sentence and gives the impression that they are not confident in what they are saying. Tape your voice to see if you do this with your sentences.
"Uhms, You Know, Eh, Cool"
Most of us use fill-in words or sounds when we are trying to say something. You will probably never stop using them completely. Therefore, concentrate on reducing the number of times you use them. Think before you speak and your sentences will come out clearly with less fill-in words. Some people swear repeatedly when they talk. 
Many people have other aspects of their voice that are not amenable to change. These may include regional or national accents, physical aspects of speech, stuttering or lisps. Remember that speech is only one way in which we communicate. You may wish to concentrate on other components of communication.
Because of my disabilities, I have trouble with my voice. It is very soft and often is simply not there. This is not great for someone who is invited around the world to give lectures on death and dying. People expect that the speaker should have a strong booming voice. I think that they have a right to expect this, yet I cannot deliver it. My strength is in what I say, not in the voice I say it in. What I find is that when I identify my limits to my audience they tend to listen more attentively and thereby compensate for my inability. 
Michèle Chaban
Your goal is to become a more effective communicator, not a perfect one.
Where You Communicate
Where you speak with people is sometimes as important as the body language you use. When people come to your home or workplace they make assumptions about you by looking at your environment. You do the same thing when you go to their homes or workplace. You need to understand your environment and the type of assumptions people may make about you. This is especially true if you are negotiating something important with someone or if you are someone's supervisor. If you meet in your area they will make assumptions about you that may, or may not, be true. If you meet in their area you will do the same.
In practical terms this means that when you visit someone in their area you naturally look to see what kind of pictures, paintings, posters hang on their walls. You look at nearby trophies, certificates. You check to see if the place is neat or not, what types of books or objects they keep and more. All these things say something about the person. Just like body language, the environment you live, work and play in says something about you as well.
What does your environment say about you? What did you wish it said versus what you think other people may actually conclude? What can you do differently?
A messy desk conveys a strong message. I can recall two professionals that I needed to see several years ago, both of whom had large and shifting piles of paper on their desks and the floors of their offices. This made me feel very uncomfortable as I wondered how my issues and the work they were doing for me could possibly be kept separate from the mess. I also wondered how far behind they were and whether they could complete the task. All in all, I lost confidence in them and went to someone else.
Elizabeth Latimer
Exercise #2
Your Environment
Take a look around you at your work, in your home and the places where you often speak to people. Describe your environment in some detail. Look at your environment from the perspective of other people coming to visit you there. What assumptions are they making about you? Which assumptions are right? Which may be wrong? Check your descriptions with people you trust to see how accurate you are.
Active Listening
Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends that listen to us are the ones we move towards, and we want to sit in their radius, as though it did us good, like ultraviolet rays. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand. Ideas actually begin to grow in us and come to life. it makes people happy and free when they are listened to. When we listen to people there is an alternating current, and this recharges us so we never get tired of each other. We are constantly being recreated. I just listen with affection to anyone who talks to me, to be in their shoes when they talk.
Charles Moustakas
There is one quick way to know if you or someone else is listening well. If there is silence after someone has talked, then the other person(s) was probably listening. It is when there is no silence in a conversation that you know people are thinking and rehearsing their reply while the other person is still talking. We do this all the time. Active listeners listen, reflect in silence and then respond.
Harry van Bommel
The ability to listen brings power to communicators. Good listening skills give you control over the communication process. Active listening is not a natural process. It requires practice. Hearing and listening are not the same. You can hear a person's words without listening to their message or understanding their meaning. 
Physicians need to learn and develop a lot more in the area of listening skills. This is difficult for them, because the emphasis throughout medical training is on showing how much you know, usually by talking. Some physicians actually believe that patients will gain reassurance from hearing their doctor talk. Certainly this is true, but only after patients feel their doctor has attentively heard them. It makes patients and other team members very anxious if they feel that the doctor did not effectively listen to what they had to say.
Elizabeth Latimer
Some facts about listening:
People can hear at a speed three times faster than what is normally spoken. This means they often become bored or restless when listening for long periods of time. 70% of our time of our waking time is spent communicating. Of that time we spend about:
10% writing
15% reading
30% speaking
45 % listening
We only hear 20% of what is said. The rest is screened out or changed by our interests, needs, memory skills and perceptions.
It is not what you say that is important, but rather what people hear. It is our responsibility as communicators to ensure that other people understand what we have said and that we understand what other people say to us. We do that by asking people to repeat, using their own words, what we have said. For example, "How will you go about organizing the work for the project?" We do the same for them by repeating what they have said so they know when we understand them. For example, "You think that our meetings could be more productive if we meet weekly?"
Listening Skills
To be a good listener you must also act like a good listener. You can:
Maintain good eye contact but do not stare at the person. If you are uncomfortable looking at the person's eyes, look at the bridge of the person's nose. The person will not be able to tell the difference.
Be attentive. Lean forward at times if you are sitting or move forward if you are standing. Sit more beside a person rather than directly opposite them. This will respect the space between you and will appear less confrontational or intimidating.
Show empathy. Use facial expressions, nod and tilt your head slightly, laugh, and touch (when appropriate). Acknowledge what is said by summarizing and repeating to make sure you have understood. (This last point is often over used. Sometimes a person needs to talk without interruption, therefore, use only nonverbal cues.)
Ask open ended questions to encourage conversation i.e. Who, What, Where, When, Why, How versus Is, Will, Do, Would (which can be answered by Yes/No).
Use silence to permit people to think about their answer to you. Sometimes you may need to be quiet for up to 60  90 seconds after a question. This gives the other person time to decide if they trust you and how much they want to tell you. Resist the temptation of filling the silence with what you think they may want to say.
With patients, sit down whenever possible. Patients will read this as a sign that you are ready to listen. They will also perceive the time you spend with them as longer and more directed to their needs.
Be patient, relaxed: eyes, posture and attitude should show interest  focus all your attention on the person speaking. Do not use this conversation to work out some of your own concerns. Be there for the other person. Use a friend to talk to about your own ideas, worries and fears.
I listen a lot, I must say. I find I do better if I don't talk. I listen and I make time. I have stayed here late into the night listening to people who have a lot to say. Whether they just want some assurance or whether they have an idea they want to work through. I get excited by what they say even though I would like to go home when it's late.
Larry Lewis
Communication Skills Improvement
We have examined some basic communication skills. The following techniques will help you enhance your basic skills and help you to become an effective communicator.
Common Courtesies
Know the other person's name and help them remember yours.
Use words like "please, thank you and I'm sorry" often to show respect and consideration.
Understand mutual stresses.
Pay attention to words and body language.
Ask the other person what name you should call them (e.g., elderly patients should not become Mary, dear or honey unless you have first established that they prefer the use of their first name). Maintain the social distance you have kept in the past unless the person wants a change.
Getting the Message
Repeat what a person has said in your own words to make sure you have understood an important point.
Ask the person to repeat what they have said in different words if you were unable to understand their point.
When you do understand, nod your head in agreement or acknowledgement. Say "Uhhuh" to show your understanding and lean forward to indicate interest. Ask specific questions that require a yes, no or a fewword answer to make sure you have understood key points.
Acknowledge the person's feelings and story instead of "topping" their story with one of your own experiences. We cannot concentrate on someone else if we are thinking about ourselves.
Helping People to Talk
The most powerful communication tool we know of to help people who have a major problem or concern is to ask the person a broad question. Broad, or open, questions cannot be answered by yes or no or in a few words. These questions start with words like why and how instead of closed questions that use words like do, did, will. An example of a broad, openended question is: "What do you understand about your illness?"
The broad question is followed by complete silence on your part. The other person may need up to two minutes to come up with an answer if your question was about a major point or feeling the person has. During this silence the person will decide how much to trust you and they will begin to form their answer in their head. If you interrupt with more questions or with your own ideas they will stop thinking of their answer and will probably not trust you with their answer later on. When they do start talking you must actively listen to their words and watch their body language.
If the person gets stuck in making their points, ask further questions. Questions are much more powerful than statements in helping people to figure out their own solutions to their own problems. It worked for Socrates thousands of years ago!
You must not judge people when they are talking. If you tell them you disagree with them or that they are talking nonsense they will stop talking to you. Many family arguments happen when people do not listen to each other without judgment.
If it becomes appropriate later on in the conversation you can provide the person with practical information that may help them with whatever problem they have.
Resolving Problems
If a person complains to you about a communication problem, discover what communication process was actually used and offer recommendations to improve situation. (Often a few practical tips can help resolve communication problems.)
People's Lament
"I don't have enough time." We spend 70% of our waking hours communicating, therefore we have to use our communicating time effectively. We spend only a fraction of our formal education learning to do something we do 70% of our time. We could avoid many of the simple misunderstandings that can lead to unnecessary meetings, memos, letters, redoing work, or simply bad feelings between people if we continually improve our communication skills. Good communicators can say "ten minutes with me is like 50 minutes with someone else". And it's true!
As we have discussed, there are other forms of communication besides talking. Using body language, a touch, a smile, a look of concern and empathy to show genuine interest can shorten many conversations by getting right to the important issues.
People have a personal story. They may have experienced family problems, possible abusive relationships and problems with work or pain. You cannot change people. You cannot force family or work reconciliation. You can offer help and understanding. You can provide an opportunity to meet a person's needs without personal judgments about what they "should" do. This can be a valuable gift as solutions may emerge as you listen.
Exercise #3
Successful Communication
The following are several exercises you can try to see whether or not you are communicating well. Try these with family, friends or work colleagues to see how all of you communicate. Have some fun with the Exercises and exaggerate some of the situations to see what happens in the extreme.

Many people tried this exercise as children but it is worth repeating. Get 8  10 people together.
Have the first person tell only one other person a short story. Then have the second person tell only a third, etc., until the 10th person hears the final (10th) version of the story. See how closely the 10th version is to the first version. What facts were the same? What facts were changed? How does this apply to your verbal communications at work or in your family?

In groups of three give each person one of the following roles:
One person talks about a belief they hold strongly.
Second person sits on their hands and listens carefully to the first person. The second person can only speak to clarify a point. They cannot give a personal opinion themselves. Once they think they understand what the other person believes, they summarize their points and get the first person to agree or disagree with the summary.
Third person takes notes about how the first person tried to make their points clearly and concisely and how the second person tried to understand what was said. They then take notes on how well the second person was able to summarize the first person's beliefs.

Have the participants change roles so each has an opportunity to speak, listen and record or evaluate the communication process. Ask each other which role was easier for them to do, and why.

In groups of three have two people sit backtoback. First person describes a geometric shape to the second person who must draw it as exactly to scale as possible. The first person cannot use names like triangle, square or rectangle. They can only describe lines and angles to help the second person draw the shape. The second person cannot ask any questions except to ask the person to repeat their description or to slow down. The third person makes sure the other two follow the rules and observes how clearly the first person speaks and how accurately the second person draws.
Switch people's roles and repeat the exercise. This time the second person may ask questions to clarify what they are drawing.
Compare the two exercises to see whether the second person asking questions is helpful or not. Your results will depend on the individuals participating.

Watch a television program or video tape of people in a crowded area and identify their body language. Make assumptions about what you are interpreting and see if there is other body language that supports or rejects your assumptions. Also look carefully at the clothes people are wearing. Is there a wedding ring to tell you the person is married (or pretending to be married)? Are there children nearby and do they belong to the person you are watching?
Use this exercise as a regular game to help you begin to look at people more carefully. Discover if people are happy, sad, angry, or worried. Do not stare at people in public places or make them uncomfortable but do look more carefully around you to see what information you can discover about people.
Videotape yourself talking for a few minutes. Watch your own body language. Is your body saying the same things as your words? What nervous energy can you see? Are your words clear? Is your voice interesting to listen to? What changes can you make before you videotape yourself again?
Whenever possible, have yourself videotaped. Only by seeing yourself and listening to yourself as others do can you begin to understand why people react to you in the different ways that they do.
The word communication comes from the root word "common". Communication, then, means using a common language that is easily understood by whomever you are speaking or writing to. Successful communication is based on a broader concept of what is important in life and how communication can help you achieve success in those important areas. Ralph Waldo Emerson gave this summary of success:
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived;
This is to have succeeded.
Basic and effective communication skills can help people achieve success in the areas they define as important for themselves. The foundations of communication are: concentrating on meeting the needs of the person you are taking to, understanding their similarities and differences to you, interpreting their body language and fording out if your interpretations are correct, and speaking in clear, common language. Follow these simple principles and you cannot lose  in fact you will almost always guarantee yourself success.
The following resources are only a few of the many useful resources that you can find in your local libraries, within your own organization, and in your local bookstores. Look for other books but also for journal articles, magazine reports, films, videos and audiocassettes. Also keep in mind how much you can learn from experts in the field, including people within your own organization.
Aubuchon, N. (1997). The anatomy of persuasion: How to persuade others to act on your ideas, accept your proposals, buy your products or services, hire you, promote you. New York: AMACOM.
Birdwhistell, R.L. (1970). Kinesics and context: Essays on body motion communication. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Booher, D. (1994). Communicate with confidence: How to say it right the first time and every time. New York: McGrawHill.
Fast, J. (1970). Body language. New York: Pocket Books.
Gschwandter, G., & Garnett, P. (1985). Nonverbal selling power. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Heyman, R. (1997). Why didn't you say that in the first place? How to be understood at work. San Francisco: JosseyBass.
Kim, Y.Y. (1988). Communication and crosscultural adaptation. Philadelphia: Multilingual Matters.
Krisco, K.H. (1997). Leadership and the art of conversation: Conversation as a management tool. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing.
Larkin, S., & Larkin, T. J. (1994). Communicating change: How to win employee support for new health care facility/team directions. New York: McGrawHill.
Nierenberg, GI, & Calero, H.H. (1973). Metatalk: How to uncover the hidden meanings in what people say. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Stone, D., Patton, B., Heen, S. & Fisher, R. (2000). Difficult conversations: How to discuss what matters most. New York: Penguin.

Assertiveness is a popular approach to help people improve their relationships with others. It is based on the ageless wisdom that we all work best with those people who are honest and fair in their communications and their behavior.
Assertiveness allows you to get what you want more often. At the very least it tells people what you believe and what you consider to be fair in a given situation. Assertiveness skills are meant to give you the confidence to deal with those situations that have made you uncomfortable in the past. You may still be somewhat uncomfortable in those situations but you will not let someone else deny you your rights as a person, a coworker or as a family member.
First of all, what is assertiveness?
Assertiveness  Being assertive means that you stand up for your personal rights and express your feelings, beliefs, requests and thoughts in direct, honest and appropriate ways without violating the rights of others. Some of the most assertive people you know are probably also some of the most quiet, peaceful, persistent, and truthful people you know.
Aggressiveness  Being aggressive means that you stand up for your rights in a punishing, threatening, assaultive, demanding or hostile way. Loud, rude people may get results but they do not get respect or voluntary cooperation.
Passiveness  Being passive means that you often do not express your feelings, thoughts, requests or beliefs. People tend to take advantage of you but you keep your anger bottled up.
Passive Aggressiveness  Being passively aggressive means that you often do not express your feelings, thoughts, requests or beliefs directly, honestly or in a timely way to someone else but do whatever you can behind their back to punish or threaten them
All of us are assertive, aggressive and passive in different ways and in different situations. We change the way we act and speak depending on the situation and who we are with. We act differently with our friends, with our boss, with different family members, and with our spouses.
Becoming More Assertive
Before you become more assertive you need to ask yourself a few questions:
1.	Why do I want to become more assertive?
2.	How will being more assertive help me?
3.	What can stop me from becoming more assertive?
4.	What is my present general style: assertive, aggressive, passive, or passive aggressive?
5.	How does my general style change in different situations and with different people (at work, at home, socializing, or shopping)?
6.	Who can I use as role models for becoming more assertive?
Who can I ask to help me become more assertive? Who can give me suggestions and comments as I try more assertive behavior?
Before we get too deeply into a discussion of assertiveness techniques, lets look at some basics. You can use these suggestions to build up your confidence in situations and with people you feel most comfortable with. When you have practiced enough, to your own satisfaction, try being assertive in more difficult situations.
The Process
Observe Your Own Behavior to see what kind of situations you are most and least assertive in and why?
Record Your Assertiveness with a diary or log to note down situations when you are assertive, aggressive, passive and passive aggressive.
Focus on Specific Situations and imagine how you will deal with people in that situation. Imagine yourself being assertive and fair with the people and try to "feel" what you will feel.
Review Your Assertiveness after each situation to see if you are comfortable with: your knowledge of assertiveness, your ability to be assertive in similar situations, and thinking of changes you might make in similar situations.
Pick a Role Model who is assertive in the way you would like to be assertive. Ask them how they would handle different situations. Pick someone who is similar to you in personality so that you can feel most comfortable using similar assertiveness techniques.
What are Some Alternatives to the approaches you have selected for specific situations.
Role Play different situations with someone you trust to find out what you are most comfortable in doing. Have your friend respond in different ways to the same situation so that you can practice different assertive techniques.
Ask People for Constructive Suggestions to how you have handled situations in the past and how they see you handling situations now. Is there a difference? Do they think your new approaches are working? What constructive suggestions can they offer to make you more comfortable with being assertive.
Reinforce Your Success by having friends give you specific compliments when your assertiveness is successful. Treat yourself whenever you try to be more assertive, even if it didn't work out perfectly. Assertiveness is a skill that takes time so you need to reward any and all of your efforts!
While working as a very nervous and very new graduate on a busy neurosurgical unit, I had to very quickly learn how to speak up for my patients and their families. The first time I discussed a patient with a neurosurgeon was very intimidating but with time and practice, I was able to do this with confidence and at times, even state why I didn't think a particular approach was best for the patient! We can all learn to be assertive in various situations; it starts with making a decision to step over our "comfort line".
Beverley PowellVinden
Limiting Beliefs
Many of us have underlying beliefs that prevent us from saying what we feel and think, even when we know we are right.
Some common beliefs are:
"If I let go of my aggressive feelings, I might lose control of myself."
"It's inappropriate behavior to say what I feel and think. It might upset someone."
"If I'm open about these feelings and thoughts they will reject me."
"If I tell them how I really feel and think, they won't be able to take it. They may fall apart."
"I'm afraid of what they'll do in return."
"If I'm really their friend, I don't have any right to be annoyed. Real friends understand each other and don't get annoyed at each other."
"When I told them about why I was upset, they told me that if I loved them I wouldn't get angry."
"If I can't say something nice to someone, then I shouldn't say anything at all."
Our beliefs can prevent us from being comfortable with who we are. Just as importantly, these beliefs prevent us from truly understanding our family, our friends and our colleagues because we are constantly assuming how they feel, think or will act. If we don't talk openly and assertively with people we prevent relationships from improving and getting stronger.
If we let small situations continue to bother us without telling people how we feel about them, we build up a resistance and anger that one day will surface in a more negative way. People who purposely avoid subject after subject because it may upset someone will end up only talking about weather, television or sports. This is not very fulfilling for anyone involved in longterm relationships of any kind.
Changing a Negative SelfImage
We often use negative statements to put ourselves down. Let us look at some typical negative statements we might use in the common situation of having to meet a deadline. Here are some suggestions of how we could change them into more positive assertions.
Negative Statements
"I'll never get finished."
"If I miss this I've really blown it."
"Why am I so anxious? I hate feeling like this."
"I must get going. I must hurry." 
"I know people think I can't do this."
"I hate myself."
"I just don't have enough time, so why bother?"
Positive Statements
"Just take it one step at a time."
"Some tension is inevitable but I don't have to worry about it."
"I really do have confidence in my basic ability. What else matters?"
"Mistakes happen and the work will still get done."
"Don't anticipate problems, just get started."
"What's reasonable for today just do it."
"I've done good work before and I will do this project well too."
"I love to learn and try new things. I learn from my successes and from my mistakes."
"If I break this project into smaller units, it will get done."
I have a few tricks that I employ if I am in a situation that requires a particularly assertive stance. I focus on a very positive image of myself as an effective person, some of my successes and strengths, and sort of imagine myself having the conversation I need to have. I will stand up during the actual exchange, even if it is over the phone. This gives me a feeling of more mastery. I also employ a pleasant and energetic voice, even if I don't feel that way inside. It's rather like rehearsing a stage performance and well worth it, I find.
Elizabeth Latimer
Communication Behaviors
Our beliefs and selfimage determine how we act in certain situations and with certain people. If our beliefs and selfimage limit our openness and honesty we have a tendency to be passive. If our beliefs and selfimage limit other people's openness and honesty we have a tendency to be aggressive. If our beliefs and selfimage encourage us and other people's openness and honesty we have a tendency to be assertive.
Tendency to:
Allow self to be interrupted, subordinated ad stereotyped     
Have poor eye contact.
Have poor posture and defeated air                                  
Withhold information, opinions and feelings
Ineffective listener
Apologize, avoid and leave.

Tendency to:
State feelings, needs and wants.
Have good eye contact
Have straight posture and self confidence
Able to disclose information, opinions and feelings
Active Listener
Make positions and decisions clear
Confront people assertively

Tendency to:
Interrupt, subordinate and stereotype others
Have intense and glaring eye contact
Have invading posture and arrogant air
Conceal information, opinions and feelings
Ineffective listener
Dominate decisions
Be loud, abusive, blaming and sarcastic
What Are Our Personal Rights and Responsibilities?
Personal rights are not all listed in law. However, there are many moral rights that we can legitimately ask other people to respect.
People intellectually agree that these rights are fair and should be true for all people, regardless of race, color, creed, gender or, sexual orientation. However, we often do not believe that these rights always apply to us. Look at your own assertive style. Ask yourself, "How would I be different if I believed this right applied to me in most/all situations and with most/all people?"
Exercise #1
I have:
The right to act in ways that promotes my dignity and selfrespect as long as others' rights are not violated in the process.
The right to judge my own behavior, thoughts and actions.
The right to be treated with respect.
The right to say no and not feel guilty.
The right to experience and express my positive and negative feelings.
The right to take time, slow down and think.
The right to change my mind.
The right to ask for what I want.
The right to do less than I am humanly capable of doing.
The right to ask for information.
The right to make mistakes.
The right to feel good about myself.
The right to a reasonable workload.
The right to an equitable wage.
The right to say "I don't know", "I don't understand".
The right to give and receive information as a professional.
The right to choose not to assert myself.
Which rights would you add?
Whenever we have rights we also have responsibilities. As assertive people, we have certain responsibilities if we expect others to respect our rights.
If you want others to accept your more assertive style you must also ask yourself, "Will I accept the responsibility for my own actions and their consequences?" If you answer yes, then you have the right to be more assertive.
Exercise #2
I have:
The responsibility to respect and encourage other people to be assertive.
The responsibility to tell others how I feel if their behavior affects me negatively.
The responsibility to help other people be more effective communicators.
The responsibility to understand and fulfill my moral obligations to others.
List some other responsibilities you will have as a more assertive person:
Assertiveness Skills
Assertiveness, like all skills, is an evolving process. Reading a section on assertiveness helps you understand the concepts and skills you may want to learn but it cannot make you more assertive. Only practice leads to more assertiveness.
From the following list, note those techniques you are already comfortable with. Then pick one or two suggestions that you can add to your assertive skills and begin to apply these new skills immediately. When you are comfortable with your new skills, pick a few more suggestions and repeat the process until you have become the assertive person you want to be.
Take time to look at yourself. Take time to identify how you feel in different situations and with different people. Use that knowledge to discover your strengths and identify things you would like to change in yourself. Over time, start to let others know about your efforts to change.
Take a moment to look at a different attitude. Assertiveness is easier to learn and apply when you begin with an attitude that recognizes that everyone is doing the best they can with what they know at that time. This attitude recognizes that people may be rude, arrogant or without communication skills, but these people have learned these skills over the years and do not understand what the alternatives are. This attitude may help you to be more patient with a person, while using assertive language to have your needs met at the same time.
An assertive person may recognize that people are not always capable of behaving appropriately but that does not mean they have to stand there and take abuse. You can tell the person you will discuss the matter later. At a later point you can use assertive and conflict resolution strategies and techniques to help the other person find more appropriate ways to communicate and behave.
Assume an attitude of interest. An assertive attitude is also an attitude of interest; interest in what people do, what they say, and how they feel. This attitude of interest can be disarming and leads to mutually satisfying communication.
Recognize People
Catch people doing things well. Compliment a family member, colleague, supervisor, cafeteria employee, bus driver, and anyone else you meet whenever they have done something well. Assertive people recognize the worth and talents of people around them and are not afraid to let them know. What a wonderful gift.
Ask openended questions. Few assertiveness and communication tools are as powerful as an openended question followed by silence. An openended question begins with a why, how, if, or what. Closeended questions can be answered with a yes or no. Closedended questions often begin with do, will, can, or would.
The secret to openended questions followed by silence is that they permit people to say things they might otherwise not say. The silence (up to 60 90 seconds!) gives them permission to decide how much they trust you and how much they want to tell you. The tone of your voice should reflect interest and curiosity versus judgment.
Examples of openended questions might be: "What is it about my behavior that gets you angry so often?" or "What have I been doing differently lately that has caused you to avoid me?" or "Why do you need to interrupt me whenever I am talking to Sue?"
Listen actively. The second most powerful assertiveness and communication tool is active listening. Listen to what the person is saying. Look at their body language to see if what they are saying is similar to how they look. For example someone who tells you that the problem you had together is over but who does not look at you and is standing with their hands tightly clenched together may not be telling the truth.
When you listen, listen for the actual words but also for hidden meanings. When you listen actively you should not have time to be thinking up responses in your head. Your total concentration is on that person. When it is your turn to reply, take a few seconds to think about what you want to say. They will give you, or you should ask, for that time to think.
Outline your expectations at the start. When you are working with someone else on any kind of project, tell them what they can expect from you and what you expect them to do. If necessary, put these expectations in writing so that each of you can refresh your memories.
If you have not decided on what work needs to get done, ask them what they want from you and tell them what you want from them.
Build in your support. When you meet people or are working together, offer to give useful information to help them and ask for similar kinds of information in return. This can help build a supportive relationship.
Body Language
Use assertive postures. Assertive body language is critical to assertiveness. Most of our communication is nonverbal. The way we stand or sit, the way we use our hands, whether we are looking at people when we talk, our facial expressions; are all key to being properly assertive and supportive of other people.
Watch various people at work, in your family or on television to see how their body language encourages or discourages people to listen and participate.
You may wish to videotape yourself as a way of assessing your posture, movements and image of assertiveness.
Develop an attitude of interest using your body to indicate that interest, for example, look at people, lean towards them when they speak, give them enough physical space to talk and move so they do not feel intimidated.
Speak slowly and clearly but with enough energy to encourage other people to pay attention.
“I” Messages
In frustrating situations or when you are angry, use "I" statements to show your own feelings and send messages that say you still respect the other person but their behavior is harmful to you in some way. Talk about the person's behaviors instead of calling them names or talking behind their backs.
"I feel embarrassed and angry when you yell at me in front of the others at work. Next time you disagree with something I have done could we please discuss it in your office.", instead of, "You're a stupid jerk! How do you think I feel when you yell at me like that?" The second sentence doesn't present an alternative and insults a person rather than identifies a specific behavior you would like them to change.
Admit your mistakes. If someone confronts you with an error you have made, admit the mistake but not necessarily their judgment of you. If someone tells you that you are incompetent or stupid because of an error, you might say, "Geez, I'm sorry that I forgot to mail that report yesterday. I will certainly do that right away. However, my mistake does not instantly make me incompetent or stupid, wouldn't you agree?"
Cooling Off
Leave the situation if you are being abused. When someone is very upset or is demeaning to you because this is their normal reaction to stress or frustration, let the person know you will be available later to discuss the matter. You do not need to let someone abuse you, nor do you have to "fight back" with the same style.
Praise and Criticism
Accept both praise and criticism. People often find it just as difficult to accept praise as they do to accept constructive criticism. If the person's opinion or comment is accurate, a polite "Thank you" is all you need to say. If you are being praised or criticized for something you didn't do, give specific and concise information to correct the misunderstanding.
Criticize a person's behavior only. Whenever you criticize someone else make sure to criticize their behavior and not the person themselves. See criticism as an opportunity for learning rather than an occasion to attack their personality. For example, "What has to happen in order for. . . ?"
Sometimes we are confronted by rude service people in stores or repair shops. Assertiveness requires you to:
Give specific, detailed and concise information of what you want them to do.
Politely, but firmly, demand the kind of service or information that the store or service advertises.
Politely, but firmly, demand to see a supervisor if the person you are talking with is unable or unwilling to serve you properly.
Sometimes your humor and your attitude that these people are doing the best they can with the skills they have used for years can be very helpful. They may have a personal or professional "crisis" that does not excuse their behavior but may explain it. Beginning from that assumption you can respond assertively and get farther than if you responded aggressively or too passively.
Uncertain Behavior
Question people with curiosity. When someone is putting other people down, being rude, insensitive to others you might try to find out why. If your tone of voice tells the person you are curious rather than judgmental or angry, they may actually answer your question. For example, "Why do you find it necessary to put people down?" or "How does it help you to ignore other people when they try to explain their opinions?"
Sometimes you have to risk that someone will respond angrily or withdraw from you. You cannot cause these feelings in other people. Your honest, assertive style cannot cause people to respond in certain ways. Other people, consciously or unconsciously, choose how to respond. It is their choice.
If You Loved Me You Would…
Refuse to accept responsibility that is not yours. People often use the phrase "If you loved me you would..." to get you to do things you do not want to do. Your love or friendship does not mean doing specific things for people. Your love or friendship does not decrease if you do not visit someone, if you forget a birthday, if you wear that ugly yellow silk shirt, or if you clean too much/too little. Whenever someone says, "If you loved/really liked me, you would... ", you can respond quite simply, "Do you really believe that?" If they do, sit them down for a chat to discover what they are really saying. Perhaps they think your behavior reflects a change in your feelings for them.
Your Boss
Judge the situation. It is difficult sometimes to be assertive with a supervisor. That person's personality may not take kindly to someone who honestly expresses their thoughts and feelings. You will have to judge how far you can go and whether or not you can become more assertive over time rather than overnight. If the person dislikes your assertiveness you may have to choose between returning to your previous behavior or transferring/leaving your position.
The good news is that most supervisors like staff who are assertive (not aggressive or passive aggressive). Assertive staff members decrease communication errors, are more productive and consistent, work better with their colleagues and resolve conflicts more effectively.
If you are having a particularly difficult time with a supervisor, write down your thoughts and feelings and rephrase them in assertive and acceptable words. Set an appointment with your supervisor and use your notes to prepare concise statements and questions to help resolve the situation. You may want to rehearse with a trusted friend or family member first.
One at a Time
Limit yourself to one issue at a time. You cannot deal assertively with many issues at once. Do not permit others to bring in old or new concerns until you have examined and resolved the present one.
Once an issue has been resolved, do not bring it up in future arguments, disagreements or discussions.
Reading Minds
Ask questions when you do not know something. Unless you have exceptional powers you cannot read other people's mind nor should they assume that you can. Ask specific questions until you understand what someone has said or is what they are trying to say.
Some More Tips
Be specific when you are being assertive. If someone is being "disagreeable" with you, you must concentrate on specific behaviors rather than the person's personality.
Work towards change rather than complaining. If someone is doing something you dislike, concentrate on their behavior and suggest alternative behaviors that the person is likely to accept.
Ask for and give feedback so that you are both clear about what is said and heard. Poor and misunderstood communication is the root of many disagreements.
Stick to the subject without bringing in past problems or potential future difficulties. Staying to one subject at a time will help you concentrate on specific behaviors and alternatives rather than stretching out your discussion into a debate of each other's personalities and personal histories.
Listening actively and asking questions are wonderful assertiveness tools because listening and asking are powerful means to help you understand people and to force yourself to be fair and open.
Discourage counterdemands from the other person until you have resolved the present concerns. You cannot deal with many situations at once so concentrate on one at a time.
You cannot read someone's mind or expect them to be able to read your mind so be clear and concise in your messages and ask the other person to paraphrase important things you say so that you both understand each other. It takes more time this way but it can slow the discussion down to a more manageable, and less emotional, pace.
Avoid labeling and stereotyping people except as a tool to get to know them better. Use your beliefs about someone and ask enough questions to find out if you are right. We naturally label and stereotype people but if we do not find out if we are correct we will miss important information they can give us. Stereotyping or labeling people focuses only on their personalities, culture and visual appearance. Assertiveness concentrates on people's behaviors and how you can help them understand how their behavior affects you and others.
Concentrate on the present and avoid bringing in the past. You can change what people do now but you cannot change the past. Do not wait to discuss someone's behavior with them till next week, next month or next year. For change to be effective, people need to know what their behavior causes now.
Take time to think about your concerns, your needs, how you will approach a situation, and what benefit there is for the other person to change their behavior for you.
Humor is a wonderful assertiveness tool because it helps people to see that change does not have to be painful. Humor gives us perspective and reinforcements to change if change will make our life and other people's lives more rewarding.
Exercise #3
Manipulation is an ability to handle or control people and situations skillfully, either in a positive or negative way. Manipulation also means influencing or managing people and situations shrewdly or deviously. When people manipulate us in a devious way, it requires us to be assertive.
People often try to manipulate others in a negative way. Examine the following situations and decide what you would do in similar situations based on what you have learned about assertiveness.

1.	Making excessive demands of you to convince you that it is not worth the effort or to make you feel defensive.
"I think we need a detailed report on your idea by Monday or we'll just end up doing it my way, okay?"
2.	Considering you irresponsible and untrustworthy when you change your mind.
"Yesterday you said you would give me some help ...and now you say you can't."
3.	Insisting that you mean something other than what you have said.
"I know you didn't really mean that..."
4.	Putting you down by assuming you are less intelligent.
"You mean to tell me that you don't know how this procedure works? Didn't you learn anything in school?"
Becoming More Assertive
The following questions may be helpful when you choose to be more assertive in a specific situation or with a particular person.
1.	What is the situation? What do you want to accomplish?
2.	How will being assertive help you in this situation or with this person?
3.	How could being assertive harm you in this situation or with this person?
4.	What would you normally do in this situation or with this person?
5.	What usually stops you from being assertive in this situation or with this person? How can you overcome these barriers?
6.	What are your rights and responsibilities in this situation or with this person?
7.	What specifically will you do in this situation or with this person to be more assertive and to accomplish your goal?
How will you deal with the anxiety that becoming more assertive may cause? How will you reward yourself after trying to be more assertive, regardless of the outcome?
Assertiveness, like other social behaviors, is learned. You have the ability to change yourself You have to work at change but you have the control to do it.
Change is hard work. Plan to take small steps. Pick one behavior you would like to change and begin there. For example, when you are more comfortable being direct with a colleague with whom you have had some difficulty, you can pick another behavior to work on.
Assertiveness is not the only answer. Assertiveness works in most, not all, situations. The alternatives of being passive or aggressive usually fail and cause greater problems. Be persistent in trying to be more assertive before giving up.
When you are satisfied you have been more assertive in a particular situation or with a specific person, reward yourself! Go to a movie, take a long walk, or have a treat of some sort.
The best way to learn assertiveness is to watch an assertive person in different situations. Once you have become more comfortable, be a role model to your family, friends, and colleagues. It helps you remain consistently assertive while providing people near you an opportunity to change as well.

The following resources are only a few of the many useful resources that you can find in your local libraries, within your own organization, and in your local bookstores. Look for other books but also for journal articles, magazine reports, films, videos and audiocassettes. Also keep in mind how much you can learn from experts in the field, including people within your own organization!
Alberti, R.E. & Emmons, M. (1995). Your perfect right: A guide to assertive living. Greenwich, CT: Impact Publishing.
Axelrod, A., Holtje, J., & Holtje, J.  (1997). 201 ways to say no effectively and gracefully. New York: McGraw-Hill.
BurleyAllen, M. (1995). Managing assertively: How to improve your people skillsA self teaching guide. Toronto: Wiley & Sons.
Crisp, SR., & Lloyd, M. (Eds.) (1995). Developing positive assertiveness. Menlo Park, CA: Crisp Publications.
Michelli, D. (1997). Successful assertiveness. Monroe, WA: Barrons.
O'Brien, P. (1997). Positive management: Assertiveness for managers. Nicolas Brealey.
Peiffer, V. (1997). The duty trap: How to say `no' when you feel you ought to say `yes'. Rockport, MA: Element.
Phelps, S., & Austin, N. (1997). The assertive woman. Greenwich, CT: lmpact Publications.
Stubbs, DR. (1997). Assertiveness at work: The ultimate management skill. Philadelphia, PA: Pan Books.
 Telephone Skills
How much of your time do you spend using the telephone? How much of your time do you spend using the telephone effectively? 
Effective use of the telephone means that:
You are able to get the information and services from other people you want.
Other people can get the information and services they want from you.
You will know you are more effective when this process increases the rapport you have with people and when you can do it in less time.
It is important to remember that the suggestions in this section need to be adapted for your own working situation. Obviously someone who uses the phone a few times a day is different from someone who is answering 5-10 telephone requests at one time. You can modify some of the recommendations listed in this section to meet your specific needs. Use the recommendations as a starting point and have fun putting a "smile in your voice!"
Telephone skills are particularly important for the receptionist in the physician’s office, the hospital or health clinic. Patients may feel frightened when they call. A courteous, friendly and personal response to their concerns makes a world of difference to them.
Elizabeth Latimer
Communications Within Your Organization
Exercise #1
When I talk to people in Communications Departments and to secretaries and receptionists they often say that they would like people within their organization to become more aware of what responsibilities there are for communication clerks, secretaries and receptionists. Try and answer their telephone for an hour or so to understand how much information they must know to help your clients and colleagues!
Harry van Bommel
Try to find out some of the following information. Spread the information around to other people within your area. You may be surprised at how many calls are handled by your communications clerks, secretaries and receptionists.
1.	How many requests are made per year through the main console of your organization, department and area?
2.	How many messages per week are taken for you by the people within your Communications Department and by your secretary or receptionist?
3.	If you have a locating or pager ("beeper") system, how many requests are made per year to locate staff?
4.	How many telephones are there within your organization, department and area that the Communications Department and your secretary or receptionist are responsible for?
5.	How many pagers are there within your organization, department and area?
6.	Is the Communications Department responsible for the alarm system within your organization (e.g., to inform fire departments of fires)? If so, how many different alarm systems are involved?

Some Tips
Communications clerks, secretaries and receptionists have passed along some of the following tips to me over the past few years. Keep in mind that these suggestions need to be modified to meet the specifics of your own organization's structure, size and systems.
Finding an Internal Phone Number
If you cannot find a number in your organization's Directory you can call the Communication Clerk for assistance with a friendly: "May I have the number for ..? Thank you."
Using the Directory
A lot of calls asking for the internal extension number of another person in the organization can be avoided if people use their internal Directory more often. If you use your Directory more and keep them up-to-date you could give the clerks, secretaries and receptionists more time to answer external requests. If you cannot find the number and need assistance, make sure to write the new number into your directory for future reference.
Identify Yourself
People cannot always recognize someone who says: "It's me." Always say who you are so that the other person doesn't feel incompetent if they cannot guess your identity.
Being Patient
A single communication clerk, secretary or receptionist may handle 5-10 requests at the same time. Your patience will help them a great deal and will also enhance your working relationship.
Using "please" and "thank you" has a powerful effect on people. It also encourages other people to use the same words with us.
Put a Smile in Your Voice
It has been scientifically proven that your voice changes when you smile. The tone of your voice is friendlier, your rate of speech is easier to understand and the person listening to you enjoys speaking with you. Fifteen seconds of speaking with someone with "a smile in their voice" is worth a great deal and the gift of a friendly voice may be returned to you by the person you are talking to.
A Mirror
Telemarketing organizations often have their staff look at a small mirror when they use the phone. The mirror shows them if they are smiling and if their body language is appropriate for building rapport with the caller.
Various Perspectives
Yourself: Attitude is Critical
Attitude is the way we view things and is shown most clearly through our body language.
When we talk on the telephone our attitude toward the caller, toward our work, and toward ourselves is reflected in the tone, rate of speech, and presentation skills we use.
We have a choice whenever we use the telephone; we can choose to be the kind of speaker we enjoy talking with or we can talk like the stereotypical, bored, overworked person we often get when we call other organizations.
Some points to remember:
The words you use when speaking cannot hide how you feel about your work, your life, and the callers.
Your attitude is reflected in your voice by:
Whether or not you are smiling.
How you sit or stand.
Whether or not your facial expressions are relaxed or tense.
The tone in your voice and your rate of speech.
Have you ever talked to your spouse, children or a friend on the telephone when you were a bit down and they asked you what was wrong? Have you ever talked to them when you were very happy and they asked why? People can tell your mood just as you can tell their mood.
It is common to feel that people expect too much from you. You may feel that people should take the time to understand some of your problems dealing with callers. You may want callers to have more patience and be more courteous. You may want them to solve their own problems rather than depending on you to solve the problems for them. Your assumption may be that you treat people the way they treat you.
Here is an alternative perspective: all communication depends on you taking responsibility for clear communications. You accept this responsibility to make your life easier; not just because it is good public relations. Your attitude recognizes that callers may be impatient or less than courteous because of problems that have nothing to do with you. Your positive attitude (not always easy to have when someone is yelling at you!) needs to acknowledge that you are a capable communicator and a professional.
Can you remember any times when you were upset about something and called an organization to complain? Have you experienced the calming effect of a professional versus the frustration of talking to someone who accepted no responsibility for themselves or their organization?
The challenge of dealing with callers professionally is that you can take an upset or discourteous caller and present them with a positive alternative for getting results. You act as a role model who treats all people with respect and courtesy. This attitude and tone of care and competence is key in the health care setting.
On the other hand, the caller may not respond at all to your courteous manner. Then, at the very least, you are able to finish the conversation with a smile and continue with your day. The caller's attitude does not have to affect your attitude or ruin your day.

I found when working as a staff nurse that my attitude on the phone with another department greatly influenced whether I got what I needed or not. If I let my stress or impatience show in my voice, the person on the other end wasn’t so willing to help me. If I made an effort to be pleasant and polite, often they couldn’t do enough for me. I soon learned that making the effort to be civil on the phone not only made my job easier but made the next encounter with that department easier as well.
Beverley Powell-Vinden
Yourself: The Quality of Your Voice
All of us speak differently; have voices that are deep or meek, a voice that is pleasant, annoying, clear, or muffled. You control the voice you have!
The energy in your voice reflects your attitude and enthusiasm. If you feel particularly low in energy: answer the phone standing up, close your eyes and think of some happy times you have had recently, try meditation, do chair exercises, some deep breathing or go for a quick walk. Whatever works!
Rate of Speech
A normal rate of speech is about 125 words a minute. People can listen to up to 450 words per minute and still comprehend what you say. What this means is that people often get bored if you use long sentences, if your rate is too slow or too fast, and if you are not talking about what they want to hear. Speak at the rate that is comfortable for you and involve the other person through questions to keep their interest.
Your pitch can be monotone, low or high. Ideally you should vary your tone and inflection so that it doesn't sound like you are reading from a boring book.
Physical Concerns
A correct, upright posture increases the effectiveness of your breathing and, therefore, the effectiveness of your voice. As well, any objects in your mouth can ruin all the other things you do to improve your voice, therefore, do not have a pen, gum, paper clips, or cigarette in your mouth.
When I teach proper telephone skills in healthcare I get the participants to call three or four people at other healthcare facilities in the same department and ask for some help. They ask specific questions or fumble around a bit to see how much help they get. In doing this they have found excellent examples of what works as well as examples of inappropriate use of tone, voice, words or attitude.
Once they are comfortable with their own voice, they ask a number of people to call them anonymously and have them note their attitude, tone, voice, words and helpfulness. Getting honest feedback to improve one’s telephone skills is one way to become a role model of telephone excellence.
Harry van Bommel
Exercise #2
Try some of the following tips for a while and see if your callers treat you differently or if you feel differently about your callers.
Warm up by humming or singing a song. This will help deepen the sound of your voice, help relax tense muscles and put a smile in your voice.
Practice your pitch and control by calling an answering machine and deliver several messages. Then listen to the playback and critique yourself or ask a friend to help.
Put a smile in your voice. It's easy to do. Simply remember to smile as you answer a call or have a small mirror on your desk. Believe it or not, your voice will sound friendlier and people's anxiety will decrease.
Exercise #3
Evaluate your desirable and undesirable traits to help you learn what you want to continue to do well and what you want to improve.
Desirable traits			Undesirable traits
My voice:	My voice:
is pleasant sounding	is nasal
has pitch variations	monotone pitch
has a normal rate	is too fast/slow
varies in volume	squeaks, is too loud
says I'm smiling	says I'm tense, bored
Other People: What Callers Want
Whenever we talk about callers it almost sounds like it is them against us. We are all callers. We all respond to other callers. What is it we all want? Callers to our organizations may be professionals, patients, families or suppliers. How can we understand what they want?
If a caller says:							They may mean:
Listen to me.	Pay attention. Understand me. Please listen to what I have to say. I'm afraid, please help.
I want dependable service.	I need to know you will meet your commitments.
Give me correct information.	Don't guess at the right answer. If you don't know or have to check, okay, but don't give me the wrong information.
Do you know your job?	I depend on your knowledge. Please offer suggestions or practical advice.
I need consistent service.	Be dependable. Treat me like the important caller I am.
I expect action.	Don't make me wait unnecessarily as I’m frightened, in pain etc. I know you can't always meet my demands but be as responsive as possible.
I can't hold.	I am calling long distance; or don't put me on hold again (I’m frightened, in pain). Please ask to put me on hold and wait for my answer.
Other People: Caller's Reactions to What We Say
We often use the following statements when we use the telephone. How do callers react to what we say? How might we change what we say to make our jobs more satisfying?
Good morning, [The name of your organization]. May I help you?
Caller's Reaction: Good. The telephone was answered using the three courtesy points: 1) a greeting, 2) giving the department or area name, and 3) an offer of help.
If you feel it is appropriate, you may wish to give them your name as this adds a personal touch. This overall approach will not be completely realistic in situations when you are answering many phone lines at once. In this situation a simple [The name of your organization] with your voice inflection going up at the end to indicate the question "May I help you?"
Ms. Jones is out. Any message?
Caller's Reaction: Poor. The receptionist may sound abrupt and impersonal.
If you change the phrase to: "May I take a message?" The sentence will be more acceptable.
Who were you holding for?
Caller's Reaction: Poor. The caller may think that they have been forgotten or are not important enough to your organization.
Not knowing whom the caller is holding for is a common problem. When this happens, get on the line and say: "I'm sorry, I have forgotten who you were holding for." Then write the person's name so you will remember. Whenever possible provide the caller with a status report, e.g., "Ms. Brown is still on another call. Would you like to continue to hold or may I take your number and have her call you?" If possible give them a choice.
Thank you for calling.
Caller's Reaction: Good.
This simple statement, when said sincerely, gives the caller a feeling of importance.
Complications: Managing Objections
There are basic techniques to help manage people's objections. Good techniques will only work if you have an attitude that says: "This person has a real objection and I can help."
Listen to the specifics of the caller's objections. When you are not clear about what the objection is ask open-ended questions that cannot be answered with a yes or no; questions that begin with who, what, where, when, why, how, versus close-ended questions -- did, do, is, will.
Who is the person you were talking with?
What is it that I can do to help?
Where were you when this incident happened?
When could you come in to help resolve this problem?
Always provide an immediate response. This is how you can show the person you understand their situation and can empathize with their difficulty. Many lawsuits against organizations involve the person saying "No one listened to me or cared about my problem."
State your response in clear and positive terms. Tell them what you can do to help, e.g.:
Transfer their call to Ms. Jones who can best help her.
Do some research into the matter and call back at 11:15 with some kind of response (always call back even to tell them you need more time).
Do not provide unnecessary information and conversation.  Be positive and service oriented by sticking to the details except to make them feel comfortable with you.
Ask them for their approval for any action you have suggested.
Sample Conversation
Mr. White has asked you to interrupt your supervisor because he has a complaint. Your loyalty is to your supervisor yet you want to help Mr. White.
You	Would you like to continue to hold for Ms. Jones or would you like to leave your name and number so that Ms. Jones can call you as soon as she is available.
Caller	No, I can't wait and I don't want to leave my number. Interrupt her and let her know that I must speak with her now.
You	Mr. White, I'm sure Ms. Jones wants to talk to you but since she is not available, please explain what you need and I will either take care of it personally or find someone who can help you. Will that be all right?
Caller	Well, maybe you can help but I doubt it. Ms. Jones promised to tell me why our meeting was postponed.
You	When was the meeting scheduled for? Who was supposed to attend?
Caller	It was scheduled for yesterday at 2:30 p.m. Ms. Jones was supposed to attend with one of her staff to explain some new procedures.
You	I will speak with the departmental secretary and find out what happened. I will call you back in 10 minutes to let you know what I have found out. Will that all right?
Caller	I don't want another run around. How will I know you'll call me back?
You	Regardless of what I find out in the next 10 minutes I will call you to let you know. If I need more time to get details I will let you know then. Will that be all right?
Caller	I guess I don't have much choice.
You	Thank you for your patience Mr. White. I will call you in 10 minutes.
Caller	Okay, thanks for your help.
You call back in 10 minutes to tell Mr. White that Ms. Jones had postponed the meeting until next Wednesday or Thursday, whichever is convenient for him. The other staff person was delayed overseas and Ms. Jones wanted to verify his return before telling Mr. White when the meeting could be rescheduled. You give Mr. White further information about the place and time of the meeting and thank him for his understanding.
Complications: Managing Caller Behavior
Every caller is different. When you recognize these differences you can provide people with excellent service while also enjoying your work more.
Let's look at three behavior styles callers often demonstrate on the telephone: assertive aggressive and/or irate and passive.
The Assertive Caller
An assertive person knows what they want and how to get it. When you have a telephone contact with an assertive caller, it is important to initially be passive and listen closely to what is said. Once you understand what is needed you should become specific and direct. Normally you do not need to ask an assertive caller many questions because they make it clear what they want. Closed questions will allow you to manage the conversation. Assertive callers are interested in quick and efficient results.
Assertive callers are easy to work with if you can meet their immediate needs. Sometimes, however, when dealing with an assertive caller you may need to raise your assertiveness level to simply manage the conversation. Sometimes it is difficult to build rapport with an assertive caller because they may not be interested in exchanging pleasantries. It is important not to take this lack of rapport personally.
Summary: How to Respond to Assertive Callers
Be passive and listen until you understand the problem or request.
Be friendly, but specific and direct in your statements.
Use closed questions to manage the conversation. "Did, do, will, is" are the words that start closed questions which result in yes/no answers and speed the conversation along.
If your voice is soft, raise it slightly.
Stand up if you need to add a more assertive tone to your voice.
Don't get upset if you have difficulty establishing rapport.
Responsive service will satisfy the assertive caller.
The Aggressive/Irate Caller
Managing an aggressive/irate caller is a great opportunity to show off your skills. If done properly, it can be very rewarding. Your body language can help you handle the caller in a professional way.
Diffuse their complaint or request by offering your understanding and sympathy (not by arguing), offering specific help and provide choices.
"I don't blame you for being upset.."
"You are right. You were promised and it hasn't happened. Let's get this problem solved now."
"We've made an error. This time we will do it right."
"I'm sorry you are not satisfied. What can I do now to help the situation?"
If you cannot meet the demands of an aggressive or irate caller because they are unwilling or unable to listen to you, you may have to advise your supervisor and ask them to deal with the caller. Sometimes a caller will only respond to someone in a higher position of authority. Don't take their attitude personally! People have learned through previous experience that dealing with someone in management or senior management is the fastest way to get results.
Summary: How to Respond to Aggressive/Irate Callers
Sympathize and offer understanding.
Agree with the caller if they are right.
Promise to take corrective action and then do it.
Advise the caller of your actions and provide them options to choose from (gives them sense of control they probably feel they have not had yet).
Remain courteous and provide assurance of your genuine wish to help them.
If you cannot meet the demands of your caller:
Decide if someone else (a colleague, supervisor, other department) can help this caller. Do not transfer the caller without telling them why you think this other person can help them.
If there is no one else who can help and you have no way to assist the caller, be honest with the caller and ask them what they would like you to do. Sometimes you cannot satisfy callers and they may end the conversation unhappy but if you remain courteous and honest they may vent their anger in a more appropriate direction.
The Passive Caller
Passive callers are usually easy to give service to. Satisfied callers are often passive and therefore a professional goal is to provide the kind of service that encourages callers to work easily with you in the future. They know they will receive the service they need and, therefore, do not need to be assertive or aggressive.
In many telephone contacts a caller may switch from being aggressive or assertive to passive. When this happens it may be a signal that the caller is satisfied with the service they are receiving. Most people want "hassle-free" service. Most people dislike having to be assertive or aggressive.
Summary: How to Respond to the Passive Caller
Listen carefully to the person's request or complaint.
Provide choices of various actions to give them a sense of control.
Add the personal touch to make them feel that their call is welcomed.
Complications: Some Statements to Avoid
"I'm sorry. Mrs. Jones is still at lunch."
The key word is "still" which implies that Mrs. Jones is taking a long lunch.
"I don't know where he is, may I take your number and have him call you?"
You hear this a lot. When there is a call for someone, and you are not sure where the person is, that information should not be shared with the caller. A simple "He is unavailable at the moment, may I have him call you?" will do fine.
"She is in the middle of a big problem right now."
This statement tells your caller that you have "big problems". Why share this type of information? Simply say, "I'm sorry she is unavailable", and offer to take a message or to help the caller.
"She went home early."
Callers get very angry at this one. They need help and discover the person who can help them went home early. The fact that she put in a 60-hour work week does not impress people. Treat this information as personal and do not share it.
"I'm sorry but Mr. Smith has not come in yet."
The word "yet" implies that he's late. Just say, "I'm sorry but Mr. Smith is not available. May I help you?"
"The 'X' Department (or Mr. Brown) takes forever to answer their phone, don't they? Can I help you?"
If you have internal problems it is not a good idea to share the situation with your caller. Don't broadcast problems.
"I'm sorry it took me so long to get back to you."
People are not interested in your problems. Regardless of what you say they probably think you have an easy job and were just moving at a slow pace. Give people direct actions versus excuses for past difficulties. You might try, "You were concerned about..and this is what I suggest we do."
"Could you please repeat that dear?"
Never use familiar terms such as dear or honey.
"Mr Smith will send you the TQM media release with the relevant software and documentation."
Avoid using jargon or abbreviations with people who probably don't know that TQM is a quality assurance program, media release is a summary of the new service and that relevant software and documentation means a computer program and its reference manual.
Effective telephone communication means:
That you are able to use the telephone to get the information and services you need.
That other people can use the telephone to receive information and services from you.
You must accept 100% responsibility for clear communications with people if you want to achieve effectiveness as a telephone communicator. You can learn to listen more actively and respond in ways that encourage more direct and clear communications with others.
You will encounter callers who are assertive, aggressive and passive. You will be able to master communications with any of these people if you follow some basic communication techniques suggested in this section. Know what your callers want. Understand how to deal with objections. Be clear in your own messages of what you want. Keep in mind the importance of your body language, your smile, and the tone of your voice.
Your attitude is critical in reflecting your professionalism as an individual and as an organization. Nurture your attitude to reduce your stress and increase your effectiveness as a telephone communicator.
The following resources are only a few of the many useful resources that you can find in your local libraries, within your own organization, and in your local bookstores. Look for other books but also for journal articles, magazine reports, films, videos and audiocassettes. Also keep in mind how much you can learn from experts in the field, including people in your own organization!
Anderson, K. (1992). Great client service on the telephone. New York: AMACOM.
Becker, D., & Becker, P.B. (1994). Client service and the telephone. Concord, ON: Irwin.
Career Press’s powerful telephone skills: A quick and handy guide for any manager or health care facility/team owner. (1993). Franklin Lakes, NJ: Career Press.
Friedman, N.J., & Herould, P. (1995). Telephone skills from A to Z: The telephone ‘doctor’ phone book. Menlo Park, CA: Crisp.

Presentation & Public Speaking
The first thing you need to know is that you are already a successful public speaker. You speak to people everyday in a common language that they easily understand and you speak easily. This is the key to all good public speaking -- a common language between speaker and audience.
You probably began speaking in public when you were one or two years old. You have been speaking successfully in public for years ever since. You may be nervous about the more formal speaking events in public but you need to remember that you have already mastered many of the skills to speak comfortably in front of your family, friends, classmates, and colleagues.
Therefore, you already know a lot of the information in this section. The material is designed to build on your speaking strengths.
Many young children learning to speak will talk to anyone, anywhere. However, few of us remain born public speakers. Over time, we learn to worry about people disagreeing with us, laughing at us, or falling asleep when we talk. We lose some of the self-confidence we had as children. Nonetheless, you have continued to talk in public almost every day of your life. Concentrate on your successful communication instead of remembering every little mistake you have made as a speaker.

When I was three to five years old I used to climb on a table and entertain adults in the local Dutch cafe across the street from our home. They enjoyed this little boy who tried to make them laugh. We immigrated to Canada when I was five. Other children began to laugh at my strange clothes, my accent and my awkwardness in a new country. I became very shy. I rarely spoke in public except with close friends and family.
When I got to high school I became more involved in extra-curricular activities and found that I needed to speak more in public. I began to watch people who were good at it. I assumed, incorrectly, that they were never nervous. I also watched people I thought were not good speakers to find out what they did that I should not do. I watched the audiences of other speakers to see how they reacted -- what they found boring or what they liked and disliked. The information in this material began with that research and has continued for decades since then. 
Harry van Bommel
One of the most important things we have learned is that shy, quiet people can become the most dynamic speakers. Many celebrities and movie stars can fill a room with laughter, or dance the dance of a lifetime in a film but are very shy when you meet them personally. Their basic personality does not change when they became better at speaking in public -- what changed was their awareness that they knew what they were doing and knew that they could meet their audience's expectations. That is what you need to concentrate on. Your basic personality will not change by learning to be a better public speaker. The only thing that will change is your confidence to make your points in public in a clear, concise and effective way that meets the needs of your audience.
I am an extremely shy person. People mistake my joie de vie as my being gregarious when it is only my joy at being able to walk. When I get up to speak I am seldom nervous because I have done a lot of relaxation work just to get to that point so my body will stand, speak and move overheads. No one believes me when I say that I am shy but the person who looks so competent is a puppeteer who holds the strings and is the puppet as well. If I can do this with all the extra I must manage, with practice, so can others.
Michèle Chaban
The good news is that there is no artificial "buzz" that can compare with the excitement and joy you feel when you receive sincere applause for a speech or a presentation well given! It becomes addictive and will encourage you to speak more often and become even better prepared for the next speech or presentation.
We will be using the words presentation and speech interchangeably throughout this section because most of the points deal directly with both forms of public speaking. There is a difference between the two, however:
Speech  A verbal talk with little or no audio-visual support. An after-dinner speech, a toast at a wedding, expressing your point-of-view at a meeting are all forms of speeches.
Presentation  A speech using audio visual supports like slides, video, overhead projection, theater and educational tools such as, role playing or computer-based learning. Many aspects of preparing a speech are the same for presentations (e.g., setting your objectives for the talk, finding out about your audience, preparing the material). Presentations are often longer than speeches because there is often more opportunity for the audience to participate during a presentation.
In the resources section there are many books listed that offer excellent advice on public speaking. These books use many stories and examples of how people have prepared, rehearsed and delivered wonderful presentations. We do not have enough space in this section to give many stories or anecdotes. We highly recommend that you go to the library or bookstore and pick up one or two books that appeal to you. Read them for the specific examples they give to encourage you to speak in public more and more. You learn from other people's experiences and these books will tell you what helped, or hurt, other people giving similar presentations to the ones you will be giving.
This material is designed specifically as a how-to guide for public speaking and making presentations. Read those sections that apply to your present needs, go back and read the rest when you have more time. A quick overview of the material will tell you what you need to know to prepare for your next speech or presentation.
One-Time Speech or Presentation
If you need to prepare for only one speech or presentation, then do not read all the information in this material. You will be wasting your time and worrying yourself about nothing. Instead read this section and the ones we mention below.
As we said in the introduction, you have been speaking in public for years. The speech or presentation you are going to make requires a few basics to be highly successful. Forget the fancy memorization tricks, the stand-up comedy routines, the magic act and other things you thought your speech needed to be successful.
The basic rule of any speech or presentation is: Know what your audience needs and wants from the presentation and give it to them as best you can. That's it!
You have probably been asked to speak because you have a particular expertise. Here is what you should do to help prepare for your one-time presentation:
Read the section "The basics: For beginners and experts alike" in this section to help you prepare and rehearse your presentation. Skim through the rest of the material to pick up one or two ideas that may be useful to you. Avoid the rest and concentrate on building on your strengths rather than learning lots of new ways of doing things.
Write an outline of your presentation and show it to a few trusted people to get their comments and suggestions. Speak to people who know what your audience will want so that you can meet their expectations as best as you can. Your outline should:
Use an attention-getter such as a claim, question, anecdote, very carefully chosen joke (often overdone by speakers) or an exhibit.
State your topic and narrow it to a small number of points or statements.
State your objective. Tell them what you are out to accomplish or prove.
State the benefits that the audience can derive from your message.
Deliver the body of your message: illustrate and support.
Summarize your key points and benefits.
Finish with a strong conclusion -- one that is memorable, clear and concise. Tell them how to use your information. Appeal to them to take some form of action, if that is appropriate.
Rehearse the presentation a few times to get the feel for it. Ask a few trusted people to watch you rehearse your presentation to give you encouragement and support. Remember not to memorize or read from your notes. Use them as a cue to say the right things in the right order but, when possible, speak directly to your audience. They are a wonderfully forgiving group of people if you just help meet their needs.
Make your presentation without apologizing for how you present unless you have specific hidden limitations. Bring some food (cookies, fruit, candies) as a gift to your audience (assuming it is small enough). People always feel warmer to a speaker who brings food!
I struggle with this all the time. I always begin my lectures with an apology. I apologize for what I cannot do. I confess my limitations, I say I may trip over the microphone wire but not to worry, I will just keep lecturing. I do it with humor and I do it because I am not like others. I, like many of us, have limitations. When I didn’t identify these, inevitably, there was someone who shouted out, “Can’t hear you” or “Speak louder” which threw me off course and upset me greatly as I then had to admit to my limitations as a deficit rather than my own natural ability.
Michèle Chaban
After your presentation find out if you met the audience's needs and what they thought of your presentation. Ask a few people individually what they thought. Have one or two trusted people to ask a few others for you.
When you follow these basic five steps you may find out that you actually enjoyed speaking in public. The more people do public speaking the more addicted they become to it. It is so much fun to help an audience meet their needs in an enjoyable and non-threatening way.

The Basics: For Beginners and 
Experts Alike
Courage comes from wanting to say it well.
Security comes from knowing you can say it well.
Confidence comes from having said it well.
Sharon Bower
It often takes longer to explain the basics of a skill than to actually use or practice those basics. The idea here is to skim those parts you already know from experience and improve your speaking skills with the rest of the information.
Four Parts to Public Speaking 
Evaluation of what worked and didn't work.
The Audience
The audience has shown up to learn and perhaps be entertained by your presentation. They want you to be successful so that they can tell other people they made the right decision is coming to hear you. They have their own egos invested in your success so they are there to help you. As an equal to them during this speech, use their desire to make you successful and enjoy their trust and appreciation. If you are prepared and truly want to meet their needs it will be hard to fail no matter how nervous you might be.
Why? (The Purpose)
People need to know why they should listen to you, why they should remember what you say, and why they should use what you have told them. If you know your audience well, then your "why" will fit their needs and you will be successful.
Types of Speeches
You may be asked to speak at different kinds of functions. Later in this section we will look specifically at the location of the presentation, but more important is the reason people have come together. Are they at a breakfast meeting, sales convention, medical rounds or inservice, regular monthly meeting, a social event or a public forum at the local library on a specific topic? The speech should be short (15-20 minutes maximum) so that the audience is left wanting a little bit more.
Breakfast meetings (usually at 7 or 7:30 a.m.) are not good places for in-depth speeches or presentations. Most people are too tired or too pre-occupied with the rest of the day. Leave such times for people to talk among themselves or for giving out awards and leave the speeches for another time.
Morning presentations  The advantages of speaking in the morning are that people tend to be more alert than after lunch, they tend to be more willing to get involved in the presentation, and they are fresh to new ideas. The disadvantages are that morning presentations often begin late, the room temperature is too cool or too warm, and the audience expects the speakers to be more dynamic and not waste their valuable energy or time.
Lunch speeches are almost as difficult as breakfast meetings. People want to eat (usually more than they normally eat for lunch), have some drinks (which certainly affects concentration), leave for a stretch before they go off to work or other presentations, talk to people they have not seen for a long time, or just relax after a big lunch. This audience can make you very successful as a speaker if your topic can be energizing and/or change the way your audience can be more successful in their work or personal life. If your topic is rather technical or dull then you will lose your audience quickly (physically or mentally) and have them tell other people that your speech was not worth their time.

 particularly if there will be wine. My subject (pain control and palliative care) doesn’t match very well with wine and liqueur. I remember one very hilarious situation several years ago when one of my after dinner audience had a wee bit too much wine and started to play the piano in the same room while I was presenting. Fortunately, a colleague gently escorted him out. It’s funny to look back and remember.
Elizabeth Latimer
Afternoon presentations have the advantage of low expectations. People come back after lunch full and perhaps tired. If you can get them involved in an activity quickly then you help them get back their energy and enthusiasm. Some speakers even begin by using a videotape of an appropriate stand-up comic to get the audience laughing and feeling good about being together in this particular group with this particular speaker.
After-dinner speaker  After a long day at work or at home people want to be entertained as well as educated. They are not interested in a lecture-style presentation on the tragedies of the last economic recession. They are interested in improving themselves without a great deal of effort and thought or examining their present situation in a humorous way. You do not need to be a entertainer as much as provide information in an entertaining way. Unusual facts, real-life human stories that make people laugh or smile with understanding, or a moving anecdote all give people something to think about and discuss with others later on. A good speaker is one that people will want to talk to others about. Remember the speech should be short (15-20 minutes maximum) so that the audience is left wanting a little bit more. Eat a light meal and avoid alcohol (a depressant) even if you are nervous. A little nervous energy is required to present well and a full stomach or a few drinks will not help you present more professionally.
Evening meetings  These tend to be more informal meetings at schools, libraries or church halls. Even those held at corporate headquarters or at the evening portion of a convention have less predictability to them about the size of audience, the location, the audio-visual equipment that is available, etc. People tend to arrive late and leave early during your presentation for personal reasons. Your ego must accept these diversions and concentrate on providing your audience (regardless of how small) with the best presentation you can.
We have begun to look at some of the things that lead to a good speech or presentation. To make the alternatives clear, We want to highlight the obvious errors that far too many speakers make that result in poor presentations or speeches. A key to success is to avoid the common errors.
Poor speeches often result if you:
Come unprepared.
Waste everyone's time with inaccurate or irrelevant information.
Talk to yourself (i.e. never look at the audience).
Talk to your boss.
Use opinions instead of facts.
Ramble away from your subject.
Forget your objective, or your audience.
Ignore the setting.
Ignore the clock (i.e. do not start and finish on time).
Conclude inconclusively.
Tell inappropriate jokes or stories.
Make sexist or racist comments.
Constantly apologize for your speech.
The Audience and Your Preparation
At the heart of every successful presentation is a speaker who knows their audience and genuinely wants to help them leave with their expectations fulfilled.

I always like to check out the layout of the room well before my presentation. Not only things like AV equipment, podium and lighting, but I also like to have a “feel” of the room so I have a flow for my movements. I seldom use a podium anymore. I like to get close to the audience. I also use more overheads than slides because I like to see my audience. It helps me to relax and I think the audience enjoys it more too.
Elizabeth Latimer
Audience Expectations	Audiences Expect That You Will:
Know who they are	Know your specific audience's needs for this specific presentation. Is your talk meant to change the way they do their work? If your audience is composed of both lay and professional people, use theory and anecdotes throughout your presentation.
Assure them	Assure them through your manner and speech that you know your subject and you are well prepared and organized to present it. For example, if you are presenting a part of your work, briefly tell them your experience so they know they can learn something from you; preview your presentation with them so they can hear that it is well thought out.
Respect their valued time	Let them know you understand their time is valuable and that you will not waste it. You do not need to say anything to tell them that. This becomes clear when you preview your presentation so they know what they can expect and you can tell them that you always finish on time.
First things first	Present your most important information near the beginning of your presentation. People are used to getting information fast: many of us watch television advertisements, music videos, the 2-hour movie version of a 1,000 page novel, fast-paced children's programs. People have less patience for speakers who take a long time to get to the point. Recognize this fact in your presentations by making the main points early on and the audience will wait to hear your supporting information. Do the reverse and build up to a "big finish" and you may have lost half your audience (either physically or mentally).
Clarity	Make your main points clearly and memorably. For example, you can help people remember your points with a brief handout, a story to illustrate the main points (people remember stories better than lecture points), an overhead or slide so they can read the points while you are discussing them.
Conclusion	Present a strong, logical conclusion. It lets people know you are finished with your presentation but also leaves them with your main points summarized and a conclusion that they can leave with and think about.
Humor	Use appropriate humor, stories, and comments. People do not appreciate bad jokes, or efforts at humor that are unnatural to you. You do not have to be a stand-up comic but neither do you have to pretend to be a serious university lecturer on the meaning of life. Be yourself and allow those aspects of your personality that your family and friends appreciate to come out in a natural way. One speaker I know who is very shy uses overheads of a few cartoons to add the humor that she does not feel comfortable adding herself. Another speaker who presents to small groups of 10-30 people brings in home-baked cookies to go along with the morning coffee break. He is uncomfortable with revealing too much of his humor or personality when presenting so uses that wonderful incentive "food!" to be more personable with his audience.
Majority	Speak to the whole audience (majority rules): people in smaller groups are less responsive than large audiences because they may be self-conscious. Therefore speak to the whole audience (the majority) rather than trying to get the person who is sleeping or yawning in the back row to enjoy your speech.
Outside influences	Recognize any outside influences that are beyond your control. For example, people in the audience may be affected by late-breaking news of a success or disaster (e.g., a favorite home-town sports team has won or lost the championship). A speaker who does not recognize these outside influences will be speaking to an audience who is losing interest. Comment on the event to show that you understand what the outside influence is, and if appropriate, draw that event into your presentation.
Exercise #1
Your Audience: Preparing for the Speech
To prepare for a speech answer the following questions:
1.	Do you know, generally, who your audience is and what they expect from you? Do you know if they want to be taught, informed, persuaded or entertained or a combination of these 4? How will you find out?
2.	How will you assure them that you know your subject and you are well prepared?
3.	How will you tell or show them you understand their time is valuable?
4.	How will you make your main points clearly and memorably?
5.	What will be your strong conclusion? How will you make it memorable?
6.	How will you make sure your humor, stories and comments are appropriate?
7.	How will you make sure you speak to the majority audience?
8.	How will you recognize any major outside influences that may affect your audience?
9.	How will you meet the needs of your audience if they are used to getting information fast?
Preparing and Rehearsing Your Presentations
You now have a basic understanding of your audience's expectations. It's time to look at the specific steps to preparing and rehearsing your presentation. This section has information on:
Analyzing your audience more specifically than you have done before.
Preparing technical information and closing remarks.
Using texts or notes in your presentation.
Shortening your sentences.
Rehearsal techniques.
Developing confidence.
Visualizations and deep breathing.
Evaluating your preparation and rehearsals.
Remember there are four main reasons why people go willingly to listen to someone's presentation. They want to be informed, taught, persuaded, and/or entertained. You need to know which of these four reasons fits your overall audience. If they want to be taught something, then it is unlikely that they will want to listen to a 2-hour speech that entertains or asks them for their opinion without any concrete learning material presented.
Once you understand the audience and the overall purpose of the presentation, you need to attract their interest, and then do one or more of the following: inform or teach them something, persuade them, and/or entertain them.
Capture their attention and maintain it for the rest of the presentation. You can do this by beginning with a dramatic or comical short story, through a strong claim or controversial point, through appropriate humor, or by a direct "this is what I am going to say to you today" approach.
To Inform or Teach
You must make it relevant in terms of what will reach them intellectually, emotionally, and when appropriate, spiritually.
You must make it logical, coherent, and easy to follow.
To Persuade
The information must have credibility.
The information must have a benefit.
It must logically apply to the situation.
It must be fair and equitable.
Audience Analysis
You have looked at the audience as a whole to find out what you should be presenting and how. Now you need to analyze the audience more specifically to make sure your assumptions are correct.
Size of group. Some people prefer talking to small groups while others prefer to talk to large groups. Which do you prefer and how will you handle the size expected for your next presentation?
Age range. Large age differences may not affect your audience if they have a common interest. However, if your presentation is designed for an audience of people who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s but half your audience was born after the 1969 first landing on the moon, you have to recognize that the personal perspectives of your audience are vastly different.
What do they want (versus need) to hear?
What jobs do they have?
Do they resist change?
Are they friendly or unfriendly?
Any corporate or professional politics to consider?
Do they wish to ask questions?
Are they motivated or not?
Do they like information presented in one way more than in other ways?
What audio-visual aids suit this group?
Is the topic controversial with this group?
How much time do they have to hear your presentation?
Are they bottom-line oriented or detail oriented?
What social, political, economic or professional prejudices are listeners likely to have?
What do they know about the subject?
Can you expect hostility from the group?
Are you trying to inform or persuade or both?
Will they respond to humor?
What possible questions can you expect from the audience?
Do you have the answers to these questions?
Do they require a great deal of proof?
Do you have the proof?
Are they skeptical of everything?
Are they pressed for time?
Are you the only speaker? If not, in what order are you speaking (i.e. first, middle, last)? How will this order affect your audience's ability to listen and learn, if at all?
Interesting Technical Presentation
Statistical, technical, financially detailed or reporting presentations can be long, tedious, dry and dull. Why? Because they contain facts and so often, nothing but the facts. This type of presentation is demanding on the audience in that every word, line, statement is crucial to the understanding of the information. What the presentation needs is material that will make facts interesting and relevant to the audience and will be less demanding on the audience's attention span. In other words, facts need interpretation.
Technical presentations can be the most rewarding to give when you add interpretation and variety. People often expect to be bored at such a presentation and anything you do to increase their interest and energy will make the presentation more memorable and enjoyable. You can hardly lose doing such a presentation well since so many other people do it poorly!
Interpretation includes:
Personal editorials (appropriate to the audience)
Analogies and comparisons
Anecdotes and experiences
Visual aids
Listener applications and benefits
Audience participation
Testimonials and quotes
Case studies
Closing Remarks
Use words like, "In closing" to tell people you are about to conclude.
Repeat your objective statement (in past tense).
Remind them what you wanted to accomplish.
Tell them what you expect or ask of them in terms of: action, behavior, attitude.
Persuasive: ask for the sales order or call to action.
Informative: invite questions and/or suggest they read documentation.
Avoid the introduction of new facts or figures and avoid a long conclusion or producing an anticlimax by mentioning some relatively unimportant point at the last minute.
Text or Notes
There are various ways to write your notes. It is generally not advisable to read your presentation word for word from a podium. The exceptions may be a legal presentation, a press release, or for dramatic effect (e.g., reading a historical, literary or memorable speech, poem or monologue).
1.	Use 8.5 x 11 cardboard (file folder). Handles better than paper and doesn't shake as much. Other people use 3 x 5 cards that are less obvious or intrusive. Others use overheads or slides to show the audience the notes you are speaking from. This may help audience members who learn best visually.
2.	Maximum of 6-8 lines per sheet.
3.	Typed or printed in big dark letters.
4.	Start each sentence on the left.
5.	3-5-7 critical words per idea or sentence.
6.	Leave room to add.
Separate idea per sheet. Avoid having one sentence begin on one page and end on the next.
How to Shorten Sentences
1.	Drop the word "and" from your sentences. It usually links 2 or 3 short sentences together, turning them into a paragraph. Replace "and" with a period and start a new sentence.
2.	Put the "statement" early in your sentence. Avoid qualifying your remarks before the punch line. In fact, put the qualifiers in separate sentences.
3.	Question, then answer. Break up a long sentence by turning the first part into a question followed by the answer which is the second part. For example: "How do you break up long sentences? You ask a question and follow it with a short answer."
4.	Springboard. Break a long sentence into 2 or 3 separate ones by using the last word of the first sentence as the first word of the second and so forth. For example, "I have a dream. A dream.."
5.	Variations on a theme! If a sentence has 2 or more verbs and/or adjectives or nouns, break them up by writing shorter ones. For example, "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."
1.	Write out in long form, a full draft of your presentation.
2.	Edit, revise and shorten your sentences.
3.	Prepare "agenda" notes. These will help you remember the order of your presentation and when you may need audio-visual aids during the presentation.
4.	Do one rehearsal of your presentation out loud to test the quality of your lesson plan notes.
5.	If there are problems with the notes, fix them.
6.	Do a second rehearsal and tape it on a cassette player to work on your verbal delivery. Minimize "uhhs" and "ahhs".
7.	Do a third rehearsal with visual aids to practice your body language and to become familiar with the room and the visual equipment.
8.	Enjoy yourself or no one else will.
Developing Confidence
Lalophobia is the fear of rejection or embarrassment of making mistakes and failing. Every presenter is nervous (if they are any good) and afraid of failing. A certain amount of fear produces adrenaline, which helps all professional speakers. Professionals never lose their fear completely. If they do they probably become over confident, boring and arrogant to their audience. Proper preparation, planning, techniques and rehearsal are important in minimizing fear and nervousness. Positive mental visualization through role-playing is helpful tool.
Visualization and Deep Breathing
A very old technique for dealing with anxiety before a speech is to do some deep breathing and visualize yourself giving the presentation. Ancient Greeks used this technique when preparing for speeches. In modern times, Olympic athletes often spend hours every day after practice going through their activities mentally -- over and over again. This helps the mind work best with the body for peak performance.
Deep breathing:
1.	Sit, stand or lie down in a comfortable position. You can even do this while walking slowly (e.g., in a park, on a beach, along a quiet street).
2.	Breathe in through your nose and try to fill your stomach with air. Your abdomen will expand which means that air is getting deep into your body. If only your chest expands that your breathing is too shallow.
3.	Hold the breath for a second or two.
4.	Breathe out slowly through your mouth. Breathe out a little more air than you normally would. This helps you take a deeper breath the next time. Breathing out through your mouth helps to relax tight jaw muscles.
5.	Wait a second or two before taking your next breath and continue the cycle.
6.	As you continue to breathe deeply, concentrate on tensing -- then relaxing your major muscle groups: neck, shoulders, arms, chest, abdomen, thighs, calves, hands and feet.
7.	Your body should now be somewhat relaxed (this takes practice so do not expect complete relaxation the first few times you do this) Continue to breathe deeply.
Imagine in your mind getting up in front of your audience and giving your presentation. Imagine people smiling, nodding in agreement, laughing and looking thoughtful as you present your material. Imagine yourself full of energy and dedicated to meeting the needs of your audience. Imagine yourself filled with adrenaline that comes from a realistic level of anxiety and turning the adrenaline into the calm, professional air of a confident public speaker.
Imagine this scene several times over several days to get used to feeling successful. If possible, find out where you are speaking and visit the location so that you can see the actual room during your visualizations.
You need to evaluate your rehearsals based on the purpose of your presentation, your audience analysis, your content, your visual presentation techniques, and your verbal delivery during practice sessions. You will probably need the help of a family member, friend or colleague to give you an honest evaluation of how they think you succeeded in meeting the anticipated needs of the audience.
Based on your own evaluation and that of others, you may need to change your presentation. If you do not have time (because of short deadlines) to go through many rehearsals or an evaluation, then you must be sure to get feedback from others after your actual presentation. This feedback will help you make sure the next time you present you will do an even better job. Over time, evaluations will allow you to take less time to prepare and rehearse presentations because you have improved your skills and need less time to "learn as you go".
Presentation Formats
There are different ways to present information depending on your purpose. You have already decided in the previous section what your purpose is:  to inform, teach, persuade and/or entertain. Now you must decide whether you want to give an unrehearsed speech (at a meeting perhaps); a well prepared speech that you want to use to influence or convince people about a certain issue or idea, or a presentation that teaches your audience about specific knowledge and skills.
Deciding the purpose of your presentation will help you decide what format the speech should take. Let's examine various types of formats.
If you plan to give a short, unrehearsed speech (at a meeting, social gathering or public forum) you need to concentrate your format on the following.
Short, Unrehearsed Speeches
Short Unrehearsed Speech
1.	Discuss only one aspect of the topic.
2.	Tell them your main point.
3.	Illustrate the point with one example,
4.	Support it with one piece of evidence.
5.	Restate the point.
6.	Tell the audience how your point affects the listener.

All of the above points should take 3-5 minutes maximum if you want to keep the attention of your audience. Remember that this is an unrehearsed speech where you are probably not the main speaker so keeping it short and simple is essential.
Longer Unrehearsed Speech
Same points as above except that you can discuss up to three points of the topic. Each point can be illustrated or supported before you conclude strongly with your own viewpoint. Again, keep it short and simple using common, everyday language. You should not take any more than 10 minutes.
Short Speech-Formats to Influence an Audience
There are three short speech formats that help you to influence or convince your audience about specific issues, ideas or recommendations. One format is designed to have an impact on your audience. You may not influence or convince them to think a certain way but you will give them something to think about. A second format is designed to state a problem to provide background to an audience who must make a decision about what to do next. The third format is designed to provide your audience with recommendations that may help them make decisions. It is different from the second format because you begin with your ideas and recommendations. In the second format you are providing information without putting your own ideas forward.
Impact Speech
State > Comment > Illustrate > Support > Explain > Re-state.
1.	State a fact, principle or idea. For example: "Effective client service leads to increased satisfaction and sales."
2.	Comment on the fact. For example, what is the organization's stand, policy, philosophy, attitude, and/or comment on your personal likes, dislikes, concerns, interests, worries, etc., and/or comment from a professional point of view.
3.	Illustrate the fact or the comments, or both. Use examples, anecdotes, experiences, comparisons, analogies, quotes, testimonials and listener applications.
4.	Explain the effect or impact of the fact to listeners. This may include cost, benefits, advantages or disadvantages. They need to know why they should be interested in this issue.
5.	Re-state the fact, principle, idea or comment.
Problem or Opportunity
Establish that there is:
An urgent need to be addressed.
A serious problem to be solved.
A great opportunity to be seized.
Cost-benefit analysis.
Surveys, studies or polls.
Historical data or documented examples and experiences.
Expert opinions and third party objective documentation.
Track record and testimonials.
You leave the possible solutions to the group to decide with, or without, your help. Often this presentation format is used when a person is asked to present a certain issue because of their expertise but it is assumed that people higher up in the organization will make the actual decisions.
Recommendation Format
Submit a recommendation that will satisfy the need, solve the problem or capitalize on the opportunity.
The FAB Method is a short way to tell your audience what the main feature of your recommendation is, how it applies to their specific situation and what the benefits are to the audience and/or organization. 
Presentations for Teaching
Teaching an audience specific knowledge and skills requires a "lesson plan". The plan includes:
What you want them to learn. What they want to learn. Is it the same thing?
What handouts, audio-visuals, and exercises you will use to help them learn.
How you, and your participants, will know if they have learned it.
A typical agenda looks like this:
1.	You tell your audience what you hope they will learn by the end of the presentation. Check with them to see if that is what they expected or want to learn.
2.	Introductions (if group is small enough).
3.	Present background information to whatever you are talking about using audio-visual equipment and handout material if necessary. For example, if you are presenting on how to apply a new computer program to the workplace, you might begin with some background information on how this program was selected, what was the purpose for changing programs, etc.
4.	Give participants an opportunity to ask questions or comment on material.
5.	Provide the audience with an exercise to help them understand knowledge and/or practice a specific skill.
6.	Find out how the exercise went. What did they learn? Do they have any questions or comments?
7.	Summarize that portion of the presentation and move onto the next part, if any.
8.	At the end of the presentation, review the basic knowledge and skills and recommend how participants can begin to use these personally or professionally.

Medical rounds tend to have a set format and the audience may be required to attend. In fact, physicians may have attended similar sessions for years, during their training and professional careers. The quality of such presentations varies greatly. However, those that are memorable in a positive way have been organized, been within the time frame allotted, allowed time for discussion, departed from the “set format”, used overheads that are legible and contain highlights only and been presented in a dynamic way. This section on presentations has much useful information for physicians to incorporate in their presentations.
Elizabeth Latimer
Delivering Your Presentation
The following are some tips about delivering your presentation. Do not try to be the perfect speaker. Try to be an effective speaker. Effective speakers identify their strengths and build on them. They also identify one single delivery skill they would like to do differently the next time they speak. Once they have improved that skill enough to make it automatic, they pick another skill.
When I first began public speaking, I repeatedly used to push my glasses up my nose with my middle finger. When I saw myself on video, I realized that this did not look very professional (or very polite!). For the next few times I spoke, I forced myself to lift my glasses up by holding one side of by glasses with my thumb and forefinger and gently lifting the glasses up. In this way I never lost sight of my audience and the action was less obvious to them.
Harry van Bommel
In this section on delivery skills you will work on your voice, body language and "stage fright".
Your Voice
Sound travels on waves so aim your voice at your audience; not at the floor or projection screen.
Enunciate words clearly, take breaths, alternate between whispers (for attention) and loudness (for drama).
A speech pathologist taught me to imagine great gusts of air being pushed from my diaphragm out through my throat to enhance my voice. She also taught me to deepen my voice while breathing which is no easy feat. The Tibetan monks chant and pray with deep voices. I imagine this before I begin my speeches and I see some results if I stay focused on this image.
Michèle Chaban
Your audience often breathes at the rate you speak so slow down and speed up to get variety in reactions.
Let people hear the end of each word.
Often the faster you speak the higher your pitch. Your pitch also goes higher when your vocal cords are tense. Lowering one's pitch adds authority to your speech, therefore, you must begin by relaxing your vocal cords and practicing speaking lower. A good technique that combines the two is to sing before your presentation (e.g., in your office, in your car, at home) using your abdominal muscles (like opera singers) and sing a key or two lower than normal.
Patterns of Hesitation
When giving information give it in chunks.
Think first, then talk. Too many people begin to talk right away -- stopping to think of what to say next -- then starting again. This latter way suggests that you are unsure of your topic. It leaves audience hanging and waiting for what comes next (unless that is the effect you want).
I do find some “foibles” and mannerisms of speakers endearing. They demonstrate a vulnerability and personal human connection that tells me that they too, are human like me.  Mind you, this is only in the context of a good presentation. Don’t worry too much about your personal ways. They are you!
Elizabeth Latimer
Body Language
If you watch professional speakers you will find that they use all sorts of gestures. Hand gestures, alone, include their hands in front, in back, in a pocket, waving, pointing, holding the belt, touching the face, etc. All of these gestures are appropriate and none should last a long time. You can basically do whatever you like with your hands if you add a little variety and do nothing objectionable (e.g.,, constantly scratching your ear). It is when people are too disciplined or have taken a public speaking course and write gesture prompts in their speeches that they look fake. The best thing to do is videotape yourself to see if you have any bad habits that you would like to change. Keep in mind that most audiences do not concentrate on your gestures, but on your overall presentation (i.e. words, organization, body language, and voice).
You may feel more comfortable using a podium at first. You can keep your notes in front of you.
With practice, we strongly encourage you to move away from podiums. It is more personable to speak to people without a hiding behind a prop. You can walk slowly across the front of your audience or even go into the audience occasionally. You can use audio-visual tools to change the pace of the presentation.
Eye Contact
Try to look at your audience throughout your presentation. This gives the audience the sense that they are included and that you are interested in talking to them as individuals.
Stage Fright Versus Nervous Energy
All professional speakers get some form of stage fright: stomach butterflies, feeling chilled, sweaty hands, dry mouth, etc. Stage fright tends to lessen once you have started your presentation. The good news is that all you need to do is deliver some of your presentation well. The audience will concentrate on the good parts and forget any obvious fright you may have had. Remember that the audience will not be able to see sweaty hands or dry mouth. To my own surprise, they cannot even see your knees shake or your hands quiver. Therefore, do not worry that your stage fright will affect your speech or your audience.
Nervous energy, on the other hand, is what the audience can see or hear. For example, some speakers have loose change in their pockets and they keep jangling the coins so that people in the back row can hear it. Others pace up and down away from the podium in a mad pace that distracts from their presentation. Others drum their fingers on a table or they sway back on forth on one spot on the floor. Ed Wohlmuth in his book The Overnight Guide to Public Speaking suggests that people get a rubber ball that fits in their palm. Throughout the day before a presentation they squeeze the ball continually in one hand and then the other. Once you begin the presentation and you feel yourself beginning to do something that shows your nervous energy, just imagine squeezing the ball and you will immediately stop. He swears by this method.
Again, it is important to have people tell you what you did well and what you might do differently the next time you speak. Concentrate on improving your strengths first. Then pick one thing you might do differently for the next few presentations until you have changed that behavior. For example, if you tend to pace to quickly up and down the stage, you might try standing still in one spot for awhile. When your pacing becomes more natural and less like a nervous walk you can concentrate on another thing you would like to do differently.
Exercise #2
Action Planning
You can plan for the preparation, rehearsal, delivery and evaluation of your speech or presentation in as much detail as you like depending on your time, the audience, the expectations about the delivery, the importance of the event, and your own expertise and comfort.
There are key questions for all presentations. Use the sample action plan to help you be as competent and confident a speaker you want to be.
Item                                                                                                                                             What I Have to Decide or Do    By This Date
Know your audience and their expectations and needs.

What is the purpose or objective of this presentation?

What must I do to prepare- research, audio-visual preparations? 

What format will I use based on my purpose? 

How will I rehearse for this presentation? Who can help me review my content and delivery? 

For longer presentations what will my agenda look like? 

What specific delivery strengths will I concentrate on? What one weakness 
    will I try to improve on during this presentation? 

How will I evaluate the success of this presentation?

Natural speakers may be born, but most lose many of their skills by the time they finish elementary school. Public speaking is something that we have done since the age of one or two but we lose some of our confidence as we grow up.
Public speaking is about relearning some of the skills we once had, adding a few new ones and speaking with a confidence that only preparation and rehearsal provide. Concentrating on the following basics will help you develop your skills as you need them and improve your confidence as an effective speaker.
Come prepared.
Help people to learn, think and question.
Talk to your audience to meet their needs.
Use facts to support your opinions.
Stick to your subject.
Concentrate on your objective.
Make people in the audience think you are talking just to them.
Establish a comfortable listening setting.
Finish on time or slightly early.
Conclude strongly and memorably.
Tell only appropriate jokes or stories.
Never use sexist or racist comments.
Be proud of your efforts.
Enjoy what you do or no one else will.
The following resources are only a few of the many useful resources that you can find in your local libraries, within your own organization, and in your local bookstores. Look for other books but also for journal articles, magazine reports, films, videos and audiocassettes. Also keep in mind how much you can learn from experts in the field, including people within your own organization!
When preparing speeches and presentations it may be helpful to use encyclopedias, Canadian, American and World Almanacs and other general resources to have up-to-date information at your fingertips.
Buchan, V. (1997). Make presentations with confidence. Monroe, WA: Barrons.
Carnegie, D. (1995). How to develop self-confidence and influence people by public speaking. New York: Pocket Books.
Desberg, P. (1996). No more butterflies: Overcoming stage fright, shyness, interview anxiety and fear of public speaking. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.
Engel, P. (1996). Health care facility/team presentations and public speaking. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Gaulke, S. (1996). 101 ways to captivate a health care facility/team audience. New York: AMACOM.
Hager, P.J., & Scheiber, H.J. (1997). Designing and delivering scientific, technical, and managerial presentations. Toronto: Wiley & Sons.
Hendricks, W., Holliday, M., & Mobley, R. (1996). Secrets of power presentations. Franklin Lakes, NJ: Career Press.
Maisel, E. (1997). Fearless presenting: A self-help guide for anyone who speaks, sells, or performs in public. New York: Watson-Guptill.
Morrisey, G.L., Sechrest, T.L., & Warman, W.B. (1997). Loud and clear: How to prepare and deliver effective health care facility/team and technical presentations. New York: Addison-Wesley.
Smith, T.C. (1995). Making successful presentations: A self-teaching guide. Toronto: Wiley & Sons.
Timm, P.R. (1997). How to make winning presentations: 30 action tips for getting your ideas across with clarity and impact. Franklin Lakes, NJ: Career Press.
Urs Bender, P. (1995). Secrets of power presentations. Buffalo, NY: Firefly Books.
Wilder, L. (1999). 7 steps to fearless speaking. Etobicoke, ON: John Wiley & Sons.

Letters, Memos and Reports
Much of this chapter has been on verbal communication. Written communication is equally important in getting your message across. Whether your message was given verbally first and your writing is to reinforce what you said, or your writing is your only communication, the message must be clear, concise and memorable. What you learned in previous sections can help your writing. When your writing improves, so will your verbal messages.
Effective health care facility/team writing is not the same as creative writing. Your purpose is to communicate with others in a clear, concise way; not to write a novel or the great screenplay. The people who will read your work are generally not reading for pleasure. They are overloaded with memos, have little time for reading, and they have their own priorities for what they need to do with their time.
Communication comes from the Latin "communis" meaning common. For communication to be effective we must, therefore, use common words and phrases.
It isn't what you write that is important,
It is what people read.
No matter how well you write a letter or memo or e-mail there will be people who read your words differently than you intended. To minimize this you can choose words that are common and easily understood. These words are then put into short sentences (up to 12-20 words) and short paragraphs (2-4 sentences).

Wonderfully developed and crafted memos have vanished in recent years. I can recall a time when it seemed like great fun to send a “memorandum” inviting colleagues together for a meeting. Considerable care was taken to explain the purpose of the meeting, where and when it would be held, and what sort of muffins would be there. Language and style was paramount. All this reflected a gentler time. In the beginning of the 90s, this came to a sad end for many as organizations downsized, managers covered several areas, and E-mail became a significant communication tool. At first, E-mail memos tended to look like hard copy memoranda, but I can remember the day when I received my first E-mail “summoning” me and others to a meeting. ALL PROJECT SPONSORS TO ASSEMBLE AT 0800 IN CONFERENCE ROOM ON MONDAY. Every letter was in upper case and there was no context (and certainly no muffins!). People who opened this terse message late on Friday ruminated over the weekend and were relieved to find the Monday morning meeting was just another check-in and up-date get together. I think it’s a good idea to reflect for a moment on how our E-mail is understood before clicking on “send”. 
Larry Lewis
There are dozens of books on various techniques to improve letter/memo writing. The main features these books agree on are:
Words and sentences should follow the K.I.S.S. system (Keep it Short and Simple").
Writers must be organized and consistent.
Effective writing takes practice.
Most importantly writers must be persistent and professional.
The only way to accomplish effective letter or memo writing is to learn a few new steps at a time to enhance the skills you already have and practice them until you are comfortable.
Your goal is to be a good and effective writer, not a perfect writer.
Most of you write the same type of material over and over again in your work. Once you have carefully worked through your next few pieces of writing you can use them as models for your future works. When you are comfortable with your enhanced style why not pass this section on to someone else?
Writing for Immediate Success
How often have you read something and said: "What's this person trying to prove?" or "Why can't people write like they talk so I can understand what they want?"
The major causes of ineffective writing are:
The writer trying to impress someone with their language.
The writer not writing anything that interests or benefits the reader.
The writer using the passive voice.
The writer writing like a lecturer, not a communicator.
To improve your writing immediately you can do four things:
Ask yourself why you are writing this? (purpose)
Ask yourself who you are writing to? (audience)
Write as you normally talk using a friendly and respectful tone.
Use the active voice.
Let's examine these one by one.
There are six main purposes we have in writing: to inform, to apologize, to request information, to sell, to persuade, and to entertain.
When we want to inform people in a letter or a memo we are presenting facts, conclusions and perhaps recommendations. There may be elements of persuasion but your primary goal is to inform. 
Letters of apology to angry readers must answer their complaint and offer a solution. If you have made an error, acknowledge it. A well written apology letter can save organizations from many lawsuits.
Often letters requesting information are too lengthy and detailed. Readers need to know immediately what specific information is requested. You can list your request in point form to highlight the exact information you want.
Letters used to sell a service, product or idea must clearly describe what the benefits are to the reader. Sales are built on the emotional appeal of the item more often than on the technical merits of a service, product or idea. Readers want to know that what you are selling will at least: make their work easier, enhance their own professional position, reduce costs, increase production, or improve client satisfaction.
Letters that persuade are similar to sales letters except in these letters you are trying to persuade someone to do something (other than buy something from you). You may be trying to get donations of money or time. You may be trying to get them to do some work for you or to endorse work that you are doing. You may also be trying to win an argument, negotiate a contract or encourage someone to change their beliefs or behavior. What is similar between these letters and sales letters is that you must clearly describe what the benefits of your letter or memo are for the reader.
Letters that entertain your friends, colleagues or clients can include sending a cartoon you have found amusing or a story you think someone would enjoy reading. These letters can be sent solely to entertain someone or as an icebreaker when used carefully.
Before you begin to write you must organize your thoughts. Many of us write by beginning at the top of a page and writing until we finish.  We don't stop to think about what the end result will look like.
Another technique is to write an outline or draw a "memory map". By using a diagram (beginning in the center of a page and working outward) we will have a one page summary of what our important letters, memos or reports will look like. The memory map can be used to brain storm ideas or summarize reports. At the beginning of each section in this book is the memory map I used to prepare the section.
For an important report you might begin by writing your subject area in the middle of the page. From there branch out to the various points you want to make to your reader. List reasons why your reader can benefit from your report. List your own reasons for writing the report. The finished product will be a single page with every major point written down. You will have a complete summary of what you want to write on this page. You will have the necessary overview you need to help you know what is important to include in your work versus what you may find very interesting but is not directly relevant to the reader.
Once you have your memory map you might make a more detailed outline. A detailed outline can be used for longer reports. The best technique I have found is to number your memorymap points in order of importance. Take these points, in the sequence you think will be most helpful to the reader, and design a shortened version of a Table of Contents. The sequence may follow the standard:
Introduce your thoughts
Give people the content
End with a brief summary
A sequence outlined before you write will help give your overall work a structure to follow for both you and the reader. A good structure helps people remember what you have written and to follow the actions you have requested.
When we do our outlines they end up being the Table of Contents for a report. As you do more work, the Table of Contents becomes more detailed until the work is finished. If you want to change the order of your presentation you can move the Table of Contents around.
The first thing someone does when they begin to read is to ask themselves: "What's in this for me?" It may be statistics, policy, or a request for action but it must show clearly what the writer wants the reader to know or do.
From the readers' standpoint they likely want to know if your letter or memo can:
Save them time and money.
Give them useful information.
Help them be more effective in their job.
Make them look good to their staff and boss.
From the writer's standpoint you must answer the following questions carefully:
1.	Why should anyone read this?
2.	Who is this person to me => boss, colleague, client, general public, or staff?
3.	What do they want and how can I help them get it?
4.	What else should I be aware of:
Anything that could get in the way of understanding: cultural backgrounds, age, gender, etc.
Anything they are particularly proud of or suspicious of.
Conversational Writing
"Perhaps it would be viable for us to dialogue and interface during our mid-day repast on May 5th in order to share information and data regarding that new technique you communicated to me earlier this day. Please bring your hard copy resource for my subsequent perusal."
The above invitation is a perfect example of ineffective writing. It was written to impress more than to inform. Have you ever sat during a dinner speech, a workshop or presentation where people lectured you versus informing you? What the above invitation really says is:

"Can you meet me for lunch on May 5th to talk about that new technique you mentioned this morning? Please bring the manual so I can read it later.
Writing should be short and simple whenever possible. You do not need to use long words when short ones are clearer. You do not need to fill a page when a few sentences say what you want.
When you write a draft of a letter or memo imagine yourself actually talking to the person. You should read the letter or memo out loud. If your tongue trips over a sentence then it is probably too long and awkward. Remember that you probably only have a few seconds to interest your reader.
Active Voice
"It was decided by the Committee that all future reports must follow the organization's style manual." This sentence is in the passive voice because the action "to decide" precedes the subject "Committee" and makes the decision sound neutral (and boring).
"The Committee decided all future reports must follow the organization's style manual." This sentence is in the active voice and tells you directly who made the decision.
Let's look at some other active versus passive voice sentences.
Passive voice= The baseball was hit by the Prime Minister.
Active voice= The Prime Minister hit the baseball.
Passive voice= The new procedure was developed by Susan Telford and it is with great pride that we give her this recognition.
Active voice= Susan Telford developed this new procedure and we are very proud of her accomplishment."
The second sentences are in the active voice. They show more action and are easier to understand. The passive voice is often used in political speeches or apology letters to seem more neutral to the reader. Who is responsible for an action is less clear in passive voice sentences, e.g., in "it was decided" sentences. This may confuse readers; it will certainly bore them.
Passive voice is easily spotted because the object of the sentence precedes the subject instead of the other way around. In the previous examples: 1) baseball = object, was hit = passive tense, Prime Minister = subject; 2) new procedure = object, was developed = passive tense, Susan Telford = subject. Look at the sentences again to see how you might edit some of your own work.
Exercise #1
Take a letter that you are currently working on. Jot down:
Purpose (Why am I writing this?):
Audience (Who am I writing to: an executive, a colleague, a sales representative?):
Conversational Tone (How would I say this if I was talking directly to them?):
Active Voice (Do I use the passive voice in this letter?):
The First Draft
Once you have your ideas in an ordered memory map or detailed outline you can begin to write.  Follow the structure you have designed. If you change the sequence during the draft remember to change your memory map to see how the change will effect the overall work.
Begin writing without stopping for corrections or improving your style. Write the draft of the entire work or a smaller section straight through without interruptions. Let your creative juices flow freely without self-criticism. Get your ideas on paper while you still have them clearly in your mind. Grammar, spelling and stylistic problems will be corrected during the editing and proofreading stages. 

A few tips:
Write on only one side of the paper.
Double or triple space.
Have wide margins.
Use a sharp pencil.
If you follow these tips there will be lots of "white space" on your page so that you can easily make corrections, deletions and additions. If you use a word processor, use the same tips so there is lots of space on your screen.
Note: If you have a detailed outline prepared you can use the idea within each point in the outline to write sections of your work. In general, your outline is the hard work. You should take a long time to prepare a good outline because this is the backbone of your work. Once you know what your work will concentrate on, the first draft is just a method to add content to your basic structure.
Tone is how your words and style appear to the reader. Do your words indicate your own fear, arrogance and feelings of subservience or snobbery? If your words reflect any of these feelings, you have probably lost your reader. Readers want to learn, be informed or entertained; in health care facility/team writing they do not want to know your personal and subjective negative feelings or thoughts.
Tone is best summarized by showing your respect for your readers, their time and their efforts on your behalf.
Use the word "you" more than you use "I" or "we".
Write positively about things avoiding negative words. Instead of: "You will not get less than 85% commitment from your staff if you follow these plans." write: "You will get more than 85% commitment from your staff if you follow these plans."
Write about people as often as you can. If someone told you something, identify them. If you are apologizing to someone don't fall back on policy or computer problems.  Write about what you are doing for them.
Write in clear English by avoiding jargon. Each industry has its own jargon. It may be suitable to include some jargon when writing to other people within your profession but never use too much of it if you want your writing to be smooth and interesting.
Simply put, style is the you in your writing. It comes from the way you communicate with people. It is partly your personality and partly the skills you use to express yourself more effectively.
Style is seen by your reader in:
The format you use.
The words your choose.
The punctuation in your work.
If you follow some of the suggestions in this section about format, word selection and writing as you speak, your style will become easy to read and easy to remember.
Note: Few people read every word you write so try writing for the "Scanner" who quickly skims over a work to see if there is anything interesting for them. The format suggestions recommended in this section will help you write so that scanners find what they want quickly.
Format is how you visually present your writing. The following suggestions will make your work pleasing to the eye and easier for someone to remember.
Use wide margins in your letters, memos and reports.
Use shorter sentences and paragraphs.
Always have a space between paragraphs in a letter or memo.
When possible use lists and subheadings to break up long sections of words.
Use CAPITAL LETTERS, boldface, underlines or different fonts consistently throughout your text to visually emphasize the organization of your content.
Use photographs, charts, diagrams, graphs and cartoons to add some variety to your work.
By following these format suggestions you help your readers to preview your work. They will see what you consider to be the important points. Once someone has read your work they can use the subheadings, diagrams, and footnotes to review and summarize what you have written.
Layout of material is so important. I receive newsletters from key senior people that are pages of dense small type with no white space or headlines. The material is no doubt important, but the layout really works against my desire to read and digest it. My heart sinks when they arrive on my desk.
Elizabeth Latimer
Barriers to Effective Communication
What prevents your message from getting across to your reader? Possibly the writer and reader have differences in perspectives or in personal needs. For example:
The writer and the reader have different vocabularies.
There are cultural and status differences.
There are professional differences.
There are different assumptions between the writer and the reader.
There are bad feelings between the writer and reader.
There are age differences.
There are deadline pressures on the writer and/or the reader.
The writer or the reader has poor knowledge of the subject or little interest.
There are outside distractions e.g., family problems.
One contributing factor in a reader missing your point is the length of your sentences. Studies show that sentences between 1220 words are easily comprehended. In a busy work situation, longer sentences cause the reader to lose interest. Vocabulary differences also prevent a message from being understood.
Exercise #2
What are the definitions for the following words:
biannual		fortuitous		gratuitous
esoteric		prototype		reticent.

Biannual = twice a year (biennial = every two years)
Fortuitous = accidental, lucky
Gratuitous = unearned, unwarranted or given/received free
Esoteric = intended for or understood by only a small group of people
Prototype = original model
Reticent = not inclined to speak, uncommunicative
Name 2 alternatives not described above for each of these words. For example, biannual could be twice yearly or every 6 months.
Whatever your answers to the exercise above, the odds are that other people will define these words differently. These words are often used incorrectly and may mean different things to different people. If you choose to use them, you can expect many people to misunderstand what you mean. Whenever a simpler, more commonly understood word or words will do, use them. Although you want to shorten sentences and paragraphs whenever possible it is often necessary to use several commonly used words rather than one complex one.
How to Write Bias Free
Did you know that "girl" once meant a young person of either sex? Language is constantly changing. People who have difficulty in accepting change forget that the terms they want to use once meant something totally different.
"Man" used to mean a human being or person in Old English. Over time it took on the extra meaning of a male person. Historical events led to its use for both males and the neutral persons.
I think the best way to look at writing bias free is to remember that our writing is meant to communicate with our reader. If, for whatever reason, their choice of words differs from ours we should probably adopt theirs. An obvious exception is refusing to use any racist or sexist language.
We must adapt to the people we are writing to; whether we prefer to write Miss and Mrs. instead of Ms. is unimportant. We must also adapt to societal preferences if we want our message, not our choice of words, to reach the public.
Any reference to a person's gender, heritage, color, age or physical condition is generally unnecessary, therefore don't use it. For example it is not necessary to write: "The powerful woman doctor and confident young surgeon work well together." We can assume the author means that the surgeon is a male because no mention is made of his gender. The use of "woman" adds no useful information to the sentence. If gender was important then the sex of both physicians should be given. Note: no one ever wrote that Walt Whitman was a male nurse during the Civil War.
The gender language issue is of particular interest to me as a female physician, because I do believe that “language has the power to shape reality”. When speaking or writing, I purposely use “she” for the physician to re-frame the thinking of the reader or listener. I will also use “he” for the nurse or social worker. When my male colleagues use “he” for doctor, it drives me crazy. It seems to deny the reality of my existence.
Elizabeth Latimer

Everyday expressions can also offend some of your readers. There is no need to write:
lily white	white as snow
gay old time	straight as an arrow
thinks/fights like a man	midget brain 
yellow peril
There is a heated debate about the use of he/she or his/her in writing. It is awkward and certainly not a space saver. One recommendation is that “they” or “their” replace these terms. For example: "The individual may need extra support in order to do the job, but they can get support from their co-workers as well." Another option is to alternate the use of he and she throughout your work making sure not to use stereotypical references, e.g., "he" for all mechanics and "she" for all secretaries or clerks.
Did you know that "you" used to be only plural? It began to include the singular form when it replaced "thou". Language changes and we should change along with it when it simplifies and clarifies what we want to say. In fact, most people never notice the use of "they" in the singular unless someone points it out to them. It is also very common when we talk.
The argument against using the plural "they" is that it is grammatically incorrect. Famous authors, including George Eliot, Walt Whitman, William Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw and Doris Lessing have all used "they" in the singular The important consideration is whether or not your readers find the use of "they" acceptable in this way.
Some people argue that replacing words with "man" in them is taking the issue a bit too far. If we want to be accurate in our writing, however, we should use more specific terms to describe what we want to say. The following is a list of commonly used words and phrases with their more recent adaptations.
Instead of								Try
manmade								handmade
manpower								personnel
manhours								workhours
cameraman								camera operator
stewardess/steward						            flight attendant
draftsman				                          drafter 
office girl								office worker
men						                          people, inhabitants
salesman								sales representative
Englishmen								The English
to man the machines						            operate the machines
to man the booth						            to run the booth
to man the operating room			                          to staff the operating room
spokesman						            spokesperson 
Perhaps the most argued change has been from chairman to chairperson or chairwoman. Did you know that the term chairwoman has been around since the 17th Century? Did you know that when people didn't know if the chairperson was male or female that they used the term "chair" back in the 17th Century (Miller and Swift, 1980)?
The term "chair" can be used instead of chairman or chairwomen. This is very similar to using gender neutral words like "Crown" to represent the queen/king or "General" to represent a military rank (regardless of whether the person is a woman or a man).
Good communication is not written but rewritten.
Write the first draft of a letter or memo. Use your creative skills to write everything you want to say, without stopping to correct grammar or spelling. Once everything you want to say is on paper you can use your editing skills to improve your style, your content and your grammar. Proofreading corrects typing mistakes, spelling errors and other technical features of your work.
1.	Whenever possible put your draft aside for a few hours, days or weeks. In this way you can edit your work more objectively, as if you were the reader.
2.	Read the draft out loud. This will show you any grammatical errors or when a sentence is too long. If you can read it all the way through evenly and clearly, it is a good sign of effective style.
3.	Rework the prose, putting sentences into the active voice.
4.	Check to make sure that your sequence of ideas makes sense to you and your readers. If the sequence is disjointed rearrange paragraphs or sections as appropriate. Remember to revise your original outline or memory map as well.
5.	Check to make sure that links between paragraphs and sections are correct. If you are reading the work out loud and you find it difficult to move from one paragraph to another, you may need to write a bridging sentence or paragraph. Flow is very important to your work and linking sentences or paragraphs make that possible. It may be something as simple as, "If you agree with the previous points about team effectiveness then.."
6.	Rewrite weak sections where a point is not well made or transitions are unclear. Paragraphs usually represent one idea or a series of related points. If paragraphs are long or weak it is probably because a key idea is not clearly present.
7.	Reread the piece over again out loud and begin again with step two until you are satisfied.
Remember that your goal is to write well. You can never be the perfect writer so do not overedit your work.
Exercise #3
Choose two letters or memos that you have written recently or any two of your form letters. Edit them using the five steps described above. Take the time to do each step well. This will save you a lot of time later on as you master the skills.
Editing for Someone Else
1.	If you are asked to edit someone else's work consider the following:
2.	Your time equals money so spend the amount of time the work deserves. If the work is a memo about the staff picnic don't spend too much time rewriting it. If the work is a request for funds from a government agency then spend the necessary time to edit the piece well.
3.	Act as an advocate for the reader. Are their interests and questions addressed? Is the style an appropriate length or boring? Will the reader spend the time to understand what you have written?
4.	Work with the author on simplifying the words and paragraphs, using the appropriate format and answering the questions about purpose and audience.
5.	Criticism is best received when the author believes you are trying to make him look good to his boss and colleagues.
Exercise #4
Find a short newspaper article or a memo you received recently. Edit it using the above tips. Remember to look for the purpose, the audience, the tone and style (length of words, clarity, conversational style), and whether the writer used the active voice.
You proofread to check for typing errors, spelling and other technical mistakes. Proofreading requires a special frame of mind. You are looking for specific details and cannot let outside distractions interfere with your work. It is easier to proofread someone else's work; perhaps you can work with a colleague to correct each other's work.
To proofread you must orient yourself to small details. There are too many things to look for at one time so I suggest you go over a piece of work several times looking for different things each time.
Some people find proofreading very tedious work. If you set your mind to the mystery of finding and correcting errors the work can be quite fulfilling. Use a colored pencil or pen for corrections.
1.	Scan the work for any obvious errors. Often a typing error will jump out at you when you are scanning.
2.	Read the work out loud for obvious grammar and style errors, e.g., do subjects and verbs agree, are the sentences too long, does your tongue trip over parts?
3.	Go over the work a second time reading backwards; look at each word for spelling. Does the author use American or Canadian spelling? Be consistent in your spelling.
4.	Check each title and subheading for spelling, location and format.
5.	Check each page number to make sure the pages are in sequence and in the correct location.
6.	Are margins and indentations consistent? Are there any pages where a paragraph begins at the bottom of the page (move it to the next page if this happens).
7.	Are numbers consistently spelled out (e.g., for numbers less than 10)?
8.	Are footnotes in sequence and accurate?
9.	Are the page references in the Table of Contents, Index, and other tables accurate?
10.	Is there enough "white space" on each page to make the page easy to read and pleasant to the eye?
11.	Is the work sexually, culturally, racially biasfree?
12.	Take an extra minute to get a global look at the work to see if there is anything that you have missed.
Time Management for Writing
Everyone has exactly the same amount of time everyday. It is taking control over your time that will distinguish you from your colleagues.
To make any job manageable we must break up our writing into small manageable units so that we don't expect ourselves to write 18 major letters or memos in one day. Take a few each day in order of importance. The same holds true for long reports  divide them into manageable sections or sections, whenever this is possible.
I write for publication and other types of projects. I find that breaking the project into small workable pieces helps me to get down to it psychologically. I can reduce anxiety about completion by seeing that sections are getting done.
Elizabeth Latimer
The real enemy of time management is our own negative thoughts. This is especially true when it comes to writing, because so many of us feel unable to reach our own writing standards. We, therefore, postpone our writing until the last minute when we have a dozen other things to do and hurriedly dash off something so we have an excuse not to meet our unrealistic standards.
One of my professors had me writing the moment I entered the program. Rather than researching and then writing, he had me writing first and then integrating the research into the thesis over time. Practicing writing and then editing and rewriting is an excellent exercise in learning how to construct your thoughts but give yourself time to develop the skill of expression.
Michèle Chaban
Our negative feelings about our abilities can only be overcome if we have a writing plan to follow.
Some tips on time management for writing:
Schedule a specific time to prepare an outline and write your draft. Choose a time when you are most energetic and reward yourself when you are finished. (I got a pizza when I finished this section!)
Take a break every 20-40 minutes to stretch and let your mind wander from your work. You often get your best ideas during a break.
Always write down an idea or plan as soon as you think of it. Have a pad and pencil by your bed for that 3 a.m. brainstorm!
When I was working and doing my Ph.D., I began to get more requests to lecture. I had too much to do but didn’t know what to let go of. Before I went to sleep I would say, “While I am sleeping, I want to think about…” Whether it was an idea for a lecture, my thesis or a situation in my personal life, my mind worked on untaxed as I slept. I often woke at 3 a.m. with a clarity of mind that was not there at 6 or 8 a.m. the next morning. I kept a small dicta phone by my night table for these moments of brilliance, which were few and far between!
Michèle Chaban
Plan for:
510 minutes for a brief note to a colleague, 1 hour per page for an important, short memo.
2 hours per page for a short report on a familiar topic (won't need to do a lot of new research).
34 hours per page for an important and detailed report to allow for enough research and editing time.
Don't let these times worry you. They include time for research, outlines, drafts, editing, illustrations, proofreading and your final copy. Make your personal deadline one or two weeks before the official deadline to compensate for sick days and delays.
If you have scheduled time to write, avoid phone interruptions or people dropping in for a visit. Writing time should be viewed just as any other important appointment.
90% of all things can be done immediately!
Procrastination is often our way of avoiding evaluation of our work by ourselves or others.
The fear of evaluation and our own selfdoubts or negative thoughts are controlled by us.
Design your schedule to break tasks into manageable units.
Specific Formats
Note: The following sections on letters and memos are a review of previous sections.
Some beginning points to note:
1.	Write to your audience and with a purpose!
2.	Read your work out loud. Does it sound like you?
3.	Your first and last paragraphs are the most important. Your reader will remember these points best. Get your key point into the first paragraph. Have a strong conclusion or summary in the last paragraph or state clearly what you expect of the reader.
4.	K.I.S.S. = Keep It Short and Simple. At times, however, it is more appropriate to replace a less understood word with several simple words for clarity. This will lengthen what you have written but it will be better understood.
5.	Make your words sound like a conversation, not a lecture.
6.	Use the active voice.
7.	Use "you" more than "I".
8.	Use the format suggestions listed earlier in this section. Have wide margins, space between paragraphs and use lists and subheadings when appropriate. You can also use emphatic devices like bold face, underlining, or italics.
9.	Make sure that you have the correct spelling of the person's name, their correct title, degree and address. Correct spelling of someone's name sets the tone for the rest of the letter.
10.	Use "Ms." if you are unsure of the woman's preference.
11.	If you have no specific name to write to, you could call their department for the information or begin with their title, i.e., " To the Director."
12.	The use of Re: comes from memos and is considered by some to be less personal in letters. Re: can be effective, however, in drawing quick attention to the reason for your letter.
13.	Delete stock phrases, e.g., at this particular point in time, further to your letter of…
Some Suggested Opening Lines 
You're right. We forgot to send you the information you asked for. I hope these charts are what you were looking for.
When we got your letter we called our team together the next day to discuss your request and this is what we decided.
Jack Pollack told me you were the person to talk to. I am looking for someone to help organize our annual fundraiser and your experience last year with the Special Campaign would be invaluable to us.
I have good news for you. You'll be happy to know..
Some Suggested Closing Lines
May we have your reply by June 6?
Please write the answers to my questions in the margin of this letter and return in the enclosed envelope.
If you need any help, please let me know.
Have I given you all the information you need?
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to straighten out this matter.
I will call you on February 12 to arrange an appointment with you.
Sometimes you may want to follow-up a letter to see if the reader has received it and understood what action you expect them to take. 
You should follow-up a letter if you think it warrants another 10 minutes of your reader's valuable time.
Follow-up can be a short phone call, a note or even news clipping about the same subject. For someone you know very well, a cartoon may be appropriate.
Always make sure you are adding some extra information that may interest the reader and that your follow-up is courteous and short.
Letters and memos have a lot in common when it comes to organization, format, and the use of the active voice. I recommend that you read the letter-writing section before reading this memo-writing section.
The main difference between memos and letters is that letters are usually sent outside the workplace and may be more formal in tone. Memos are usually used within the workplace and the tone will depend on who you are sending the memo to.
When you write a memo, you need to have a purpose in writing to a specific audience. Often the audience is one or more of the people you work with and this demands even more respect for their time (other people are always busier than you are (so they think!).
Memos, like many letters:
Explain or record an action.
Get your reader to do something.
Avoid blame for some incident.
Answer a question.
Memos must be short, clear and to the point. Too many words will bore readers and they won't read it.
As in letters make sure your most important point is in the first paragraph and whatever action you want taken is referred to in the last paragraph.
The first line must clearly tell the reader why they should bother to read your memo instead of filing it into the circular file with everyone else's memos. Memos, even more than letters, are scanned by the reader, so use a format that visibly indicates why this memo is important. Use a lot of white space; emphasize key points by using lists, or use a highlighting marker to underline the most important action you need done by this person.
If you sprinkle your memo with some humor or an appropriate cartoon you may even have your colleagues eagerly awaiting your next effort!
Who is the report for? Why was I chosen to write it? What restrictions do I have? When is my deadline? Why will anyone read it? What is it trying to accomplish? How will I know if it is successful?
These questions must be answered before you can begin writing a report.
People with different backgrounds will read reports, especially technical ones. Write out a list of the type of people who will be reading it and how you can help them benefit from it, for example:
Executives	Need answers to cost, time involved, organization-wide benefits, community involvement and benefits. They want it short and easy to remember.
Finance	Want costs, accounting procedures, evaluation methods, time frame.
Technicians	Want specifics, statistics, methodology of research, purpose.
Once you know who you are writing to and what the purpose of your report is you can begin your organization with a memory map and outline. Look at other reports that people have praised and see how your report might follow a similar structure. Get other people's ideas about what the report should look like and what it should contain.
Choose a research approach (e.g., reading books and articles, interviewing experts, designing a questionnaire, and/or putting together a workshop) and work on a more detailed outline as you go along. Do the necessary work and break down the task into smaller manageable units.
Draft your report, put it aside for a few days, then edit and revise. Prepare any illustrations and diagrams. Revise your work until you are satisfied.
We recommend the following format if your department does not have a set format for reports.
Optional Table of Contents
Summary and Recommendations
Description of Work
Findings and Conclusions
Choosing a Title
A title should tell it all without a long subtitle. It should be straightforward and somewhat interesting, i.e., instead of "1986 Report on Services" try "The Year of Improved Services Within the 'X' Department".
Summary and Recommendations
This section should:
Give the main idea you want the reader to remember.
Tell people specifically what you want them to do.
Set apart paragraphs you want people to use to summarize your work to other people.
This section is specifically designed for scanners who want to see what the report may hold for them.
Description of Work, Findings and Conclusions
This section gives the detail to understand the report more fully and will help supervisors, direct care providers, committee members and others to better understand the key points of your report.
Appendices can include statistical charts, engineering diagrams, tables, glossary, index, etc. They are generally used by experts and technicians who want to know how the information was recorded, calculated and used in making the recommendations. 
Technical reports often include a lot of jargon to impress colleagues or to save an author the time it takes to write in ordinary English. The findings of any technical subject can be condensed into one or two sentences if some effort is made.
Imagine how long-winded Newton or Einstein could have been with their discoveries. Instead they summed years of work into the following sentences:
"To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction."
"E = mc2 (Energy equals mass times the speed of light squared.)"
A last point-technical reports of more than 10 pages should have an annotated Table of Contents, glossary, and (if appropriate) an index for easy reference.
Exercise #5
Chose two or three types of written work that you do regularly (e.g., a memo to staff or a monthly report). Use this guide to prepare an outline or Table of Contents for each of these types of writing. Allow yourself to invest extra time in this Exercise so that you can use the outline for all similar writing in the future. Keep the outlines near your desk and use them regularly to save yourself time.
Some Quotes
It isn't what you write that is important it is what people read.
Your goal is to be a good and effective writer not the perfect writer.
90% of all things can be done IMMEDIATELY.
Grammar may help you understand techniques but understanding grammar cannot replace PRACTICE, PRACTICE.
The following resources should be readily available in your personal library:
Canadian Oxford English Dictionary
American Webster's Ninth Collegiate Dictionary
Roget's Thesaurus
World Almanac for general information
Encyclopedia of your trade or profession
Optional: Bartlett's Familiar Quotations
A Dictionary of Modern English Usage (grammar text)
A good secretarial handbook for style and format rules.
The following resources are only a few of the many useful resources that you can find in your local libraries, within your own organization, and in your local bookstores. Look for other books but also for journal articles, magazine reports, films, videos and audiocassettes. Also keep in mind how much you can learn from experts in the field, including people within your own organization!
Bailey, E P. Jr. (1996). Plain English at work: A guide to writing and speaking. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bly, R. W. (1999). The encyclopedia of business letters, fax memos, and e-mail. Franklin Lakes, NJ: Career Press.
Bowman, J.,& Branchaw, B P. (1992). How to write proposals that produce. Phoenix, AZ: Orzy Press.
Colter, R. (1981). Grammar to go. Toronto: Anansi.
Gucker, P. (1966). Essential English grammar. New York: Dover Publications.
Hartman, D.B., & Nantz, K.S. (1996). The 3 R’s of e-mail: Risks, rights and responsibilities. Menlo Park, CA: Crisp Publications.
Heller, B. (1994). The 100 most difficult health care facility/team letters you’ll ever have to write, fax or E-mail: Clear guidance on how to write your way out of the toughest health care facility/team situations. New York: Harper Health care facility/team.
Soden, G. (1995). Looking good on paper: How to create eye-catching reports, proposals, memos, and other health care facility/team documents. New York: AMACOM.
Strunk, W. Jr., & White, E.B. (1979). The elements of style. (3rd ed.). New York: Macmillan.
van Bommel, H. (1985). Effective health care facility/team writing. North York, ON: Skills Development Publishing.

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