Author Archives: Phil Stella

Mark Twain on Public Speaking

What can we learn about public speaking from Mark Twain, 19th century American writer, humorist and lecturer? Lots!

“It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.” 

“There are only two types of speakers in the world. 1. The nervous and 2. Liars.” 

“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.” 

‘Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.’

‘Words are only painted fire; a look is the fire itself.’

Why I Love ‘Escalator Speeches’

Elevator Speeches – your simple answer to the often-asked question ‘What do you do?’ – are sometimes maligned and often done poorly. But, they’re still a fact of life when you network.

So, that’s why I love Escalator Speeches. Assume you’re on the down escalator as someone passes by you going up on the other side.. You only have a few seconds to communicate, so you must be focused and concise.

Mine is ‘I empower business leaders to take away their pain from workplace communication.’ Short, simple and likely to generate some questions when the other person turns around and follows me back down.

Crafting something that concise is a lot of work, I admit. But, it’s well worth the time and effort if you want to make the Varsity Networking Team.

Why I hate ‘Quote-Unquote … ‘

How often do you hear people use this phrase in conversation, in presentations or even on TV? It’s both incorrect and lame. Remember that ‘un’ means ‘not’ – it doesn’t mean ‘no longer’ or ‘end’ in this context.

You might hear ‘And then John said ‘quote-unquote’ – ‘that won’t work here at all!’. If the intent is to repeat exactly what John said, the correct form is ‘And then John said ‘quote’ – that won’t work here at all’ – ‘end quote’, ‘close quote ‘ or ‘unquote’.’

And if you ever even think of using ‘air quotes’ or ‘air bunnies’ to add visual punch to your quote reference, punch yourself first before someone else does.


We’ve Got to Start Meeting Like This!

A workplace meeting can be an effective and efficient tool for dealing with information problems or communication issues. It can also be a frustrating, unproductive and expensive waste of time. How organizations plan, facilitate and manage the meeting process will make all the difference between success and failure. Here’s a summary of Meeting Management Best Practice I typically share with clients. Read More »

Referrals Rule!

Last month, we discussed whether or not you should ask for Referrals, winning Repeat Business and seven tips for how to ‘Nail the Sale’. Now, let’s focus on Internal and External Referrals and how to say ‘Thank You’. Read More »

Great Questions

Good to know you continue to like this short and simple feature for expanding your Workplace Presenter Tool Kits. So do I. On to this month’s questions … Read More »

101 Meeting Managing Tips

 ‘Managing Meetings’, Tim Hindle, DK Publishing, Essential Managers series, NY, NY, 1998

Despite some pix of people in dated attire and old technology references, the author provides lots of simple tips for managing effective meetings, most of which still work today. A good quick read.

Why I Love Quotes

I regularly use a lot of quotes in my training, speaking and writing. However, I’m adamant about putting the sources in proper context. Few people are so well known that they don’t need any reference, like Jefferson, Mark Twain, Churchill, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., etc. For the rest, we need to answer the question the readers or listeners often have – ‘So … who is that guy?Read More »

Why I Hate ‘You Guys’

A reader asked what I thought about using the phrase you guys’ when talking to a group of people. While there may be nothing wrong with it and lots of people use it, there’s nothing really right with it, either. And you never know when someone in your audience might take offense at it. In contemporary usage, it’s usually gender-neutral, but still a little lame.

So, I try to avoid that phrase when I can. Instead, I try to use ‘you’, all of you’ or even ‘you folks’ as less lame alternatives. And there’s nothing wrong with the traditional ‘ladies and gentlemen’ either.

So, when I’m on top of my game, you guys will not hear me say ‘you guys’

Master Marketing R&R – Part One

(This piece first appeared in COSE’s ‘Mind Your Business’ in August)

 Time to focus on ‘Marketing R&R’— with every sale or engagement, savvy entrepreneurs ask ‘How can I earn repeat or referral business?’ The answer is easy to understand but hard to do. So, read on for ‘R&R’ best practices. Read More »