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How to Speak Up and Stand Out from the Crowd

Paul Barton Stand Up and Speak Out“My view is that all the world is a stage, and life is a series of presentations – networking, job interviews, pitching an idea to a client, even something like trying to get your colleague to try a new place for lunch – they are all persuasive presentations.” – Paul Barton, ABC, business communication expert, instructor, author

For many of us, persuading others through public speaking is a big challenge to overcome. But once you do, you’re on the road to success in your personal and professional life. Improving your public speaking skills also improves your presentation, networking and interpersonal skills.

I’m taking this advice to heart by supporting my friend and fellow collaborator, Paul Barton, ABC, in his efforts to help everyone, “put the fear of public speaking in your rear-view mirror!”

I encourage you to join me in attending Paul’s workshop, “Speak Up and Stand Out: 5 Powerful Ways to Present Yourself with Presence and Poise” on Wednesday, July 13, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

During this highly interactive workshop, you’ll discover how to:

  • Deliver persuasive presentations that turn heads and win hearts
  • Introduce yourself and make a great first impression
  • Use storytelling techniques to make a lasting impact
  • Network effectively and be remembered
  • Collaborate more effectively with co-workers and clients using active listening skills

Be better prepared for your next presentation or networking opportunity. Register today!

In the meantime, read on to learn more about Paul and how his workshop can help you stand out from the crowd as an effective presenter and connector:

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: How is this workshop unique from other public speaking workshops?
Paul Barton, ABC: This workshop is about much more than traditional public speaking. My view is that all the world is a stage, and life is a series of presentations – networking, job interviews, pitching an idea to a client, even something like trying to get your colleague to try a new place for lunch – they are all persuasive presentations. So this workshop is geared to everyday business situations, and it provides attendees with skills they can use on the job and in their daily lives to stand out from the crowd.

Most people have never been taught how to:

  • Introduce themselves to stand out from the crowd
  • Tell a succinct story that is memorable
  • Listen to really understand and ensure people feel heard
  • Properly exchange a business card
  • Shake hands to make a lasting impression

This workshop is not a PowerPoint lecture. It’s highly interactive. I present simple, common sense tips, tricks and formulas, and then we put them into practice. Attendees are up out of their chairs and on their feet, working in groups, role-playing and receiving personal coaching much of the time. It’s really a lot of fun!

PLB: What are the biggest challenges people face in public speaking?
PB: The single biggest challenge for most people is overcoming the nervous jitters. The other major challenge many people face is organizing a presentation coherently so they don’t sound like they are just rambling.

PLB: How does your workshop help people overcome these challenges?
PB: In the workshop I provide simple, but strong techniques attendees can use to redirect nervous energy and overcome their fear. I teach them how to “own the room” so they are the host and the audience are the guests, instead of the other way around.

Regarding the organization of a talk, I present several techniques to add “verbal signposts” to a presentation and a great template that can be adapted to give a clear structure to any topic resulting in a powerful persuasive presentation.

PLB: Do people need to change who they are to become better speakers?
PB: We don’t try to change people into being someone they aren’t. That doesn’t work for in the long run. We don’t count “ahs” and “ums.” Instead, we focus on who they really are and then help them become more of it.

People don’t stand awkwardly and show nervous twitches when they are talking with their friends or family. I help them discover how to be comfortable in all situations and develop habits that will allow them to be effective speakers.

PLB: What was the inspiration for the creation of this workshop?
PB: I teach college courses in business communication and public speaking as an adjunct instructor. I developed a curriculum aimed at helping people tackle real world experiences, and I saw how the students responded to the coaching and role-playing exercises. Many have told me months later that they still remember and use the formulas I taught them.

Every student has left my class with more confidence than when they came in, and in some cases the skills the students have learned have changed their lives. Some of the students I’ve taught have had speech impediments, but discovered they can still be effective presenters.

The students amaze and inspire me every day, so I decided to offer some of the techniques I’ve developed for my classes into a six-hour course to help others discover how to be more effective presenters.

PLB: What will people gain from attending this workshop?
PB: Attendees will acquire greater self-confidence, expand their comfort zones and discover how to deliver with presence and poise. They will come away with easy-to-remember tips, tricks and formulas to tackle real world situations. They will become better listeners and more persuasive presenters. Everyone communicates, but not everyone connects. With a little training, everyone can learn how to speak up and stand out from the crowd.

About the presenter:

Paul Barton, ABC

Paul Barton, ABC

Paul Barton, ABC is Principal Consultant, Paul Barton Communications LLC. He’s been passionate about connecting the minds of organizational leaders with the hearts of employees for more than 20 years.

After a successful career at six fast-growing brands including PetSmart and Hawaiian Airlines, Paul authored a book entitled Maximizing Internal Communication: Strategies to Turn Heads, Win Hearts, Engage Employees and Get Resultsand he launched his own consulting firm.

He’s a frequent speaker and workshop presenter on the topics of crisis communication, internal communication, and HR communication strategies. Paul also teaches courses in public speaking and business communication as an adjunct faculty member.

Paul is a long-time member of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and has earned the association’s Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) designation.


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Brilliance@Work and the Stars Who Make it Happen: Stacy L. Wilson, ABC

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a series of profiles about stellar communication professionals and their best practices at work.

Stacy L. Wilson, ABC

Stacy L. Wilson, ABC

Stacy L. Wilson, ABC is president of Eloquor Consulting, Inc., in Lakewood, Colorado. Stacy has more than 27 years of experience and has focused exclusively on internal communication and organizational development since the mid-1990s. Stacy and her company specialize in intranet governance, usability and content, and change communication.

Stacy is also the conference chairperson of the 2014 Intranet & Digital Workplace Summit, July 29-31 in Chicago, Illinois. This event is designed for communicators and technologists to learn how to reinvent their intranets and move toward a digital workplace that drives productivity, innovation and measurable business results. For information or to register, visit

In the meantime, read on to learn how Stacy helps organizations communicate more effectively with employees and leverage internal communication to deliver results.

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: What is most important for people to know about you?
Stacy L. Wilson, ABC: When I left not-for-profit for corporate I needed a new cause. Employees became my cause and passion. My work is focused on making work life better and more rewarding for the employees of our client companies, leveraging technology where possible.

PB: What are you most interested in and speak most enthusiastically about?
The people and process side of technology fascinates me. I believe organizations too often launch new technology without paying attention to how it affects people and processes. This results in low adoption and poor ROI. I’m especially interested in human psychology and resulting workplace behavior. I enjoy teaching about technology governance, how people interact with their digital tools, and how people interact with online content.

PB: What communication projects are you most proud of?
SW: While working for a child welfare agency in Ohio, I managed the communication budget used to attract foster families. I reached out to my counterparts in a half-dozen other agencies and together (I facilitated) we created the Foster Care Cooperative. Working together and pooling budget, the agencies were able to do a lot more outreach in the community and attract far more prospective foster families. That agency is still in operation today, using the same logo we created in the early 1990s.

In the mid-1990s I led the implementation of the first intranet for Sprint PCS. While we saved the company millions of dollars with it, more importantly, we changed the entire mindset within Sprint Corporate about what an intranet should do. I came over to corporate to lead a similar effort for the entire company, where I laid the groundwork for what today is an award-winning intranet, managed by the woman I hired when I was there. It’s a legacy I probably won’t have another opportunity to create.

In January, I completed a project for the Fortune 100 logistics company mentioned below. This was the most comprehensive digital workplace roadmap I’ve ever been involved with. It is a terrific example of how to engage many users in the upfront planning and requirements definition to ensure adoption and big ROI. As a result, they have a big pool of champions from which to draw during implementation.

PB: What makes you stand out in a crowd of professional communicators?
SW: As a communicator, I want to get employees actively involved in communicating, and I want to leverage communication to achieve business goals. As a consultant, I am highly participatory and collaborative. I think of myself as a teacher when I lead conference sessions, not a speaker or presenter. This is true in my consulting work as well; I teach so the client – or conference attendees – can do things on their own.

PB: What are some communication best practices you’ve developed and/or helped to implement?
SW: My internal communication planning methodology was recently developed into a SharePoint add-on called ElevatePoint Plan. I’ve honed this method during my nearly three decades of communication work. Now, anyone can drop it into their SharePoint to manage the communication planning, implementation and reporting process.

I’ve created an entire suite of communication tools based on past work. This includes tools for digital workplace projects, manager communication, change communication, etc. I often give these away when I teach at conferences.

My methodology for helping clients create governance for intranets and digital workplaces is really important. I’ve used it for many Fortune 500 companies, tweaking each time to improve or customize to their needs. Our clients really love the approach.

My methodology for content migration, while always evolving, is proving very useful for organizations with a lot of old content and a new platform. Our approach is flexible, yet diligent enough to deliver sound ROI.

PB: What are your current projects as you continue to develop your professional skills and knowledge?
SW: My projects include:

  • Creating a strategic internal communication function where there previously wasn’t one, at a specific site (Fortune 150 mining company), including strategic planning, skill training, message assistance and consulting on their digital tools.
  • Evolving the home page and resource area of the intranet (global insurance company), including user research and testing, counsel on integration of social, taxonomy and information architecture direction.
  • Implementation support for a new digital workplace (Fortune 100 global logistics company), including content migration, governance, training, taxonomy, adoption and communication for launch (Will be starting on this project soon).

I’m also writing regularly for SharePoint Pro Magazine sharing what we learn in client assignments. On a personal level, I serve on the Patient and Family Advisory Counsel at the nearby hospital that last year saved my husband’s life. I, together with other patients and their family members, provide direction and feedback to hospital projects from the consumer perspective. It’s a very rewarding effort.

PB: As conference chairperson of the Intranet & Digital Workplace Summit in Chicago this month, what would you say makes this event unique?
SW: The smaller, more intimate size is great. Advanced Learning Institute (ALI) conferences include a lot of interaction and dialogue among participants. Everyone gets to know each other and connect in meaningful ways. As chair, my first task is to ensure learning and my second is to help each speaker shine.

PB: What are some of your favorite resources that inspire your work?
SW: Some of my favorite resources are:

  • John Kotter: Probably the single greatest influence on my work
  • Geert Hofstede: Really useful when working with global clients
  • Mike Klein: I may not always agree with Mike, but he’s always got something important to say
  • Groundswell: Really altered my view of what digital tools should do for the business
  • Kim Cameron and Robert Quinn’s book on culture: I use it all the time
  • Liz Guthridge: Very strategic and always looking at the psychology behind things
  • IABC: Even though it’s going through ups and downs right now, I continue to support the organization that has shaped me as a communicator
  • Roger D’Aprix’s communication model: Live by it
  • Malcolm Gladwell: Blink and Tipping Point gave insight into how to run my business and provide sound direction, Outliers helped me rethink parenting, while I took David & Goliath as direction for small business success; all very insightful

PB: What is your contact information for questions, comments and ideas?
SW: Stacy L. Wilson, ABC (accredited by IABC), 303-522-0411,, @stacylwilson

What are your ideas for topics or people to be featured in future Brilliance@Work profiles?

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Brilliance@Work and the Stars Who Make it Happen: Robin McCasland

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a series of profiles about stellar communication professionals and their best practices at work.

robin capitolRobin McCasland, Executive Board Chair of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), is a communication expert recognized for her creative approaches to employee engagement strategies and internal branding. She recently joined Tenet Healthcare in Dallas, Texas as Director of Internal Communication.

Previously, she led employee engagement and internal communication for a business unit of Dell Inc. Over the past two decades, Robin received IABC Gold, Silver and Bronze Quill awards and earned several Communicator Awards for her work on clients’ recruiting and benefits communication projects.

At the May 15 IABC Phoenix professional development luncheon, Robin will present “Growing Your Personal Brand and Protecting Your Reputation.” During this event, you’ll learn how to recognize the intangible qualities that enhance your personal brand and make you more valuable and marketable as a communication professional. You’ll also learn why it’s worthwhile to go “ego surfing” online to ensure your reputation is solid.

Register for the luncheon at

For more information, visit In the meantime, read on to learn more about Robin and her creative approach to communication planning:

Peggy Bieniek: What is most important for people to know about you?
Robin McCasland:
I believe that creativity and an open mind can overcome virtually any challenge (including a lack of budget). Also, it’s helpful to know that I believe if you’re not having fun, you shouldn’t be doing it, whatever “it” is.

PB: What are you most interested in and speak most enthusiastically about?
I love the process of employee engagement. I’ve experienced first-hand how workplace cultures can transform for the better with a long-term, consistent and creative engagement strategy. I love showing people how to take a more creative approach to strategic communication planning. I use a slightly different method that helps get at the “heart and soul” of an organization, engages employees and inspires them to do their best.

I also love presenting on personal branding and reputation. Most people don’t often think about their personal traits and habits that make them more desirable to employers and clients. Those traits are, in my opinion, key to their personal brands – more than their actual communication skills. It’s fun to get people thinking about how they can enhance those positive qualities that make them stand out from others.

PB: How have your leadership roles within IABC influenced your career?
RMC: I’ve been a chapter leader twice – in Fort Worth and Dallas. Each experience taught me much about managing people (volunteers), public speaking, presenting, managing a budget, event planning, fundraising and more. I’ve used all of those skills in my jobs.

Those chapter roles provided management experience that prepared me to take on more senior roles in my career, with far greater responsibility. My IABC experiences over time have given me the confidence and courage to seek bigger horizons – in my career and within IABC.

IABC is in a challenging but necessary transition. The International Executive Board (IEB), staff and I have worked through some difficult situations to move IABC forward. It’s not been fun. However, the experience as IEB chair has made my career seem so much easier by comparison! The things that used to rattle me at work don’t usually faze me now.

PB: What communication projects are you most proud of?
If I had to choose one, it would be the work I did at Texas Instruments (TI) to help transform its university recruiting program with creative employment branding. I had the good fortune to work with amazing human resources pros at TI who gave me a real budget and a lot of freedom to do incredibly creative work. Overall, our work was so effective in this area that the Corporate Leadership Council benchmarked our programs as best in practice. The work was so much fun that I couldn’t wait to get to the office each day. How many people can say they’ve had a job like that?

PB: What are some communication best practices you’ve developed and/or helped to implement?
When I’m developing a strategic communication plan, I ask a few additional questions that will evoke an emotional response or cause people to take action or think differently. That’s the essence of developing clear, compelling messages. Depending on the circumstances and what we’re trying to accomplish, I might ask questions like:

–How do we make a difference in the world?

–What do leaders expect from employees? And – equally important – what should employees expect of their leaders?

–How do shareholders, customers and vendors view us? Is it easy to do business with us?

–How would we feel if any negative comments from those stakeholders were posted in social media? How would we respond?

–What do we value in this organization? Do we value the right things? How would others perceive our values? How would they discuss us in social media?

The answers to those questions and others help me build a more engaging, “living” communication plan.

Oh, and there’s one more unrelated, boring but tried-and-true best practice: Always have someone else proofread your work before you finalize it! Don’t rely on spell-check. Don’t rely on your own brain and eyes that have looked at the same copy for days. Have someone “fresh” read your copy. Always.

PB: What are your current projects as you continue to develop your professional skills and knowledge?
I’m leading special event planning to launch a refreshed brand among employees. I’m excited to pull all the messages and activities together for this special event, which has the potential to impact tens of thousands of employees positively.

I’m developing a second-half 2014 internal communication plan for an organization in the healthcare industry. I’m learning the challenges of communicating with very diverse audiences, many of whom don’t sit in front of a computer on a daily basis.

PB: What are some of your favorite resources that inspire your work?
I’m an audiophile. Music inspires my creativity. Music can literally change my mood in minutes! Some of my best ideas come when I’m listening to music. I love alternative and classic rock, but sometimes a beautiful movie soundtrack will help me engage emotionally in developing good communication.

Children inspire me. If they’re young enough, their creative minds aren’t stifled by people who tell them “no.” I like to approach each communication opportunity with no limits. Brainstorm as if there is unlimited possibility – and unlimited budget. That’s how kids think, generally. No limits.

PB: What is your contact information for questions, comments and ideas?
The easiest way to reach me is via email at or on Twitter @robinrox.








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Reflecting on the Right Questions for Your Readership Surveys

Photo: Paul (Dex) Bica,  Toronto, Canada

Photo: Lake Reflections, Paul (Dex) Bica, Toronto, Canada

As 2013 comes to a close, it may be time to conduct a readership survey on your organization’s publications. Employee communication expert Steve Crescenzo, of Crescenzo Communications,, says that when it comes to readership surveys “it’s not about readership numbers; it’s about outcomes.”

In the attached article from IABC’s Communication World, Steve shares his recommendations for questions to include in your readership survey that will show the value of your publications to the organization. Steve Crescenzo_IABC CW_Readership Surveys

What questions do you include in your readership surveys?

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How to Calculate the Value of Organizational Communication

© Jorge Royan / / CC-BY-SA-3.0

© Jorge Royan / / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Communicators know that effective communication delivers value to business in many tangible ways, but how can you show this value in a quantifiable way that is easy to understand?

Lorenzo Sierra of LoSierra Strategic Consulting,, created a solution to this dilemma:


That is, the value of communication is equal to the costs plus the efforts of what you’re communicating to the power of perception.

This equation is further explained in the attached article from the June/July 2003 edition of IABC’s Communication World. Sierra’s Theory of Communicativity_IABC CW

This concept was also applied to calculating the value of total rewards communication as detailed in the attached article from WorldatWork’s 2004 edition of Workspan. Lorenzo Sierra_Workspan_0204

How can this equation be applied to show the value of communication at your organization?


Six Sigma Project Ideas for PR

Six Sigma

What is Six Sigma and how can it help you improve your organization’s communication processes?

According to, “Six Sigma is a disciplined, data-driven approach and methodology for eliminating defects in any process – from manufacturing to transactional and from product to service.”

I earned my Six Sigma Green Belt certification in 2004 by improving our employee newsletter. Six Sigma can be applied to all of your communication processes to help improve costs, engagement and productivity.

If you’re looking for ways to improve your public relations efforts, here is a list of “Six Sigma Project Ideas for PR” created by Mark Weiner, CEO of PRIME Research,

This list was published in IABC’s January/February 2004 Communication World. See attached article.
Six Sigma PR_IABC_CW 2004.

Six Sigma Project Ideas for PR

  • Reduce time for press release approval.
  • Improve media targeting (identify media that have proven reach among your target audience).
  • Assess journalists’ preference and satisfaction with current PR initiatives.
  • Assess “internal client” preferences and satisfaction with current PR initiatives.
  • Improve the ratio of releases sent versus releases used.
  • Improve the ratio of placements featuring critical messages.
  • Improve the ratio of placements featuring a company spokesperson.
  • Improve the ratio of stories featuring visuals or graphics.
  • Improve the ratio of stories that are either exclusives or feature-length.
  • Improve the ROI of events and event sponsorships.
  • For agencies, improve percentage of billable hours.

How do you use Six Sigma principles to improve communication processes at your organization?

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The Perfect Fit: How to Best Tell Your Organization’s Story

Thai Shadow Puppets by Steve Evans,

Thai Shadow Puppets by Steve Evans,

Timing is everything, especially when planning to tell your organization’s story as it’s unfolding. To do this successfully, you must have a strategy.

The attached article by Gary F. Grates, “The Perfect Fit,” explains how to successfully tell your organization’s story in a cohesive and compelling way. This article originally appeared in IABC’s October-November 2003 Communication World. Perfect Fit_IABC article

Use the attached template to successfully identify, design and communicate the “Perfect Fit” strategy for your organization. perfectfit

What are some of the ways you share your organization’s story?

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Show business value of communication

An effective communication program can help increase business performance. In this article, James Shaffer, IABC Fellow, thought leader and consultant, explains how to show business value through communication.

Article published in IABC Communication World, September 2013.