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Acceptance Speeches – do’s and don’ts

Acceptance Speeches – do’s and don’ts

Congrats to all of you who get recognized by your peers.

Last night my cousin Neal received just such an award from the Northern TX PGA of America. My husband, Jim, and I proudly attend the President’s Dinner at a beautiful golf country club (of course!) and I have the chance to observe 16 award presentations.

Yep – 16 acceptance speeches, each being around 4-5 minutes! You do the math.

Don’t think “How boring can you get”! These guys do a great job and I stayed engaged even though I know nothing about them or their accolades.

What makes Acceptance Speeches work

My cousin Neal receiving the Byron Nelson Award

🎤  Brevity.  My cousin Neal begins his acceptance speech saying, “I didn’t have my glasses on when I read the instructions … I think the PGA wants me to speak for 4 to 5 minutes or 45 minutes!” He laughs. We laugh. And thankfully Neal sticks to the guidelines. Remember this adage, “Be brief, be gay, be gone.”

🎤  Authenticity – being true to your own personality, values, and spirit.  I stay engaged for the entire evening because each awardee speaks from his truths. The superintendent award winner is overwhelmed as he shares with joy and honesty, “Thank you so much for including us in your award banquet. We aren’t the golfers, we keep the grounds, grass and fairways ready so you can golf. I love ‘my’ golf country club. We have trouble sometimes with the creek that runs through it, but that’s not our fault!”

🎤  Inclusivity. What to include … you ask? First: Context about the award itself and the group that bestows the award on you. Second: People you wish to thank. Write every name down. Yes, even your partner’s name! One guy almost forgot to thank his wife!

What to avoid when receiving an award

❌  Winging it – No notes! No prep! No good!  You’ll go long on tangents and short on what you really want to convey.

❌  Digitizing it – reading your speech from your iPad or phone.  OK – You’re going to push back on this. Many of you rely on your digital notes, and when it works you’re golden. But you’ve also encountered times when your battery dies, the brightness of the screen fades, or the scrolling causes you to lose your place. Please bring your notes, on paper, in a font size you can see. (Better to be old-fashioned then lose your train of thought which did happen to one of the PGA awardees.)

🎤  If you don’t want to accept an award because you hate the thought of giving one of these speeches, call us! Happy to help you become comfortable receiving recognition you deserve.


© 2024 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved

A Powerful Communication Lesson from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

A Powerful Communication Lesson from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Note – This blog, originally published on 1.17.17, has been one of our most popular posts. The message remains true and I’d like to share it again on this Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday.

MLK uses the Anaphora Effect.

You’re asking, “What’s the Anaphora Effect?”

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s American federal holiday marking his birthday, celebrated earlier this week, let’s highlight one of the genius components of his famous “I Have a Dream” speech delivered in 1963 during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

He uses the Anaphora Effect exquisitely.

Definition of Anaphora

It’s the repetition of words at the start of successive clauses, phrases or sentences.

Why use Anaphora phrases? To create a rhythm, heighten emotion, and add emphasis to make the message easier to remember.

In MLK’s famous speech:

  • Now is the time” is repeated three times in the sixth paragraph.
  • One hundred years later”, “We can never be satisfied”, “With this faith”, “Let freedom ring”, and “free at last” are also repeated.
  • Of course, the most widely cited example of anaphora is found in the often quoted phrase “I have a dream”, which is repeated eight times as King paints a picture of an integrated and unified America.

You might have learned in your English writing classes to not repeat words too often in written form. It depends. Using a catchy phrase can enhance your email or Chairman’s Report.

Your Speak For Yourself® challenge:

Use the Anaphora Effect digitally, informally and in formal presentations to create more buy-in.



Photos taken by Robin Sachs Photography. Thank you to Robin for joining me in Atlanta to tour the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and the Martin Luther King National Historical Park!

© 2024 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved


Use this 10-word sentence to elevate your business success

Use this 10-word sentence to elevate your business success

(1)People (2)do (3)business (4)with (5)people (6)they (7)know, (8)like (9)and (10)trust.

The 1st 5 words – “People do business with people”

While obvious, we forget this simple fact. As the CEO of your large company or your solo-preneur startup – you are NOT doing business with data, spreadsheets, PowerPoint decks, or your specific products/services. While your data creates credibility, you do business with people. And it’s the way you communicate with people that can add or detract from your success.

The 2nd 5 words – “they know, like and trust.”

KNOW”: To be known means to get out there and network in your professional universe. It’s not “net-sit”. It’s not “net-eat”. It’s “net-WORK”.

LIKE”: Here’s the litmus test: Do you pick professionals to work with that you could ride for 1500 miles in a Volkswagen Beetle? Yes – they’re in. No – they’re OUT. Of course, other factors come into play, but this litmus test comes first!

  • Be Likeable. Be the person that anyone would want to invite into a Volkswagen Beetle for a road trip.
  • Look for “likeability” when hiring others.

TRUST”: Gaining trust takes time… once you’re known and liked.

  • Be Genuine. Show up with authenticity. Make that other colleague/business associate/social acquaintance feel as if he/she is the only one in the room.
  • Have Integrity. People will trust you if you show expertise and good judgment and are accountable, responsible and dependable. What you say you’ll do…. you do! And you do “it” with grace.
  • Show Empathy. Try to understand the other person’s thoughts and feelings from his/her point of view. It’s more than just pressing “like” on a social post.

Incorporate this 10-word transformative sentence into your business strategy. Be people-focused. Get known, be likeable, gain trust. You’ll do business and create wonderful relationships.

PS: As I write this first blog of 2024 I realize what a win-win this transformative sentence has been for Speak For Yourself®. I’m grateful for all of the relationships I’ve made with clients across time. Thank you!

Top 5 ½ Best 2023 Communication Habits

Top 5 ½ Best 2023 Communication Habits

My handsome husband, Jim, and I wish you a happy new year and a fulfilling year ahead! 🥂 🎉 

Time to reveal our ’23 Communication Best-Of List – guaranteed to boost your communication skills even more in ’24.

#1 🎤 Communication Habit: Find the humor. 

Even during drama-filled times and situations – funny stuff happens. Keep notes on this “you cannot believe what just happened” truths. Use this material in your conversations/presentations.

#2 🎤 Communication Habit: Ask questions. 

You will be forced to listen more and you’ll learn more than if you’re doing all the talking.

#3 🎤 Communication Habit: Read more. 

Fiction or non-fiction – you’ll gain insights and become even more articulate. Even a trashy novel can provide examples of how to use dialog, plot development, and what makes for a good story.

#4 🎤 Communication Habit:  Reflect on your positive communication experiences in ’23. 

You do a great job of remembering in exquisite detail when you think you’ve failed at running that meeting, or facilitating the board discussion, or giving a speech to your shareholders. Think back on when you rocked on your platforms. Not only will this make you feel great – but it has a positive rollover effect on your future gigs.

#5 🎤 Communication Habit:  Write more. 

Practice writing short and clear emails, articles, reports and posts.

Confession: I began writing this blog series … kicking and screaming. Now I realize it’s been one of my best communication habits. Writing makes you a better communicator. I am forced to observe with purpose… all the time… constantly mining for good info and stories.

#5 ½  🎤 Communication Habit: Empower by praising others.

It’s a complicated world, made just a little bit easier if you can find something positive to say to the next person in line at the grocery store or to anyone in your personal and professional arenas. You’ll make their day. So give someone a specific and sincere compliment today.

YOU are the reason this blog exists. Thank you for your support and comments directly on this blog or in my email box. See you in 2024. 

3 pervasive & annoying speech habits

3 pervasive & annoying speech habits

You are about to hire your new VP of Sales. Or you are negotiating with the owner of a family-owned business for the rights to franchise. Or you are meeting with your CIO about a possible security breach.

And then the potential VP, the owner, and the CIO use one or all three of these highly annoying speech habits. Outcome: you don’t want to work with any of them.

In a recent conversation with Dr. Alice Silbergleit, the Director of the Speech-Language Sciences and Disorders Department of Neurology at the Henry Ford Health System in Michigan, I asked, “What are your top three bad speech habits?”

“That’s easy,” Dr. Silbergleit replied. “These three bad habits are rampant and they are killers. The first one is: DOING SOMETHING CALLED ‘UPSPEAK’. Second place goes to ‘GLOTTAL FRY’. And the third bad habit is ending sentences with ‘RIGHT?’ All three of these tie for first place!”

  1. UPSPEAK: This phenomenon refers to making all sentences end as if they were questions. Hence, your pitch goes up at the conclusion of the sentence even if you are NOT asking a question. I tell my clients to “land the plane” at the end of each sentence, even if you are asking a question. Lower your pitch. Don’t raise pitch.
  2. GLOTTAL (VOCAL) FRY: The glottal fry register is the lowest vocal register and produces a creaky lower voice. Females, to potentially sound more credible, use this croaking sound more than males. Yet, as Dr. Silbergleit explained, this voice pattern undermines the effectiveness of their communication.
  3. “RIGHT?” It was great seeing you too – RIGHT???  “Right?” is the third annoying speaking habit! Ending every sentence with the word “right” detracts from your overall presence. I concur with Dr. Silbergleit and will add two more words/phrases that become annoying: “Does that make sense?” and “Do you see what I mean?”

Just because these bad habits are rampant does not make them acceptable, right? Listen to yourself and see if you are doing Upspeak or Glottal Fry. Does that make sense?

How to communicate like a CEO

How to communicate like a CEO

What makes you a great leader and communicator, whether you are “the” CEO or a solopreneur?

Adam Bryant writes a column, “Corner Office”, for the NYT every Sunday for a decade answering this question. In his 525 interviews with CEOs he asks the unobvious.

His queries are NOT about their companies, but about how they’d hire someone, what their parents were like, what shaped them, and life advice they give or wish they had received.

After a decade of these concise and insightful interviews, Bryant summarizes the lessons learned from these leaders in the corner office.

3 recurring themes for those people who get the top job

  • Applied curiosity. “They tend to question everything. They want to know how things work, and wonder how they can be made to work better. They’re curious about people and their back stories. … Rather than wondering if they are on the right path, they are wringing lessons from all their experiences.”
  • Discomfort is their comfort zone. “CEO’s seem to love a challenge.”
  • Management of their own careers on their way to the top. “They focus on doing their current job well and that earns them promotions. That may seem obvious, but many people can seem more concerned about the job they want than the job they’re doing.”

The most important communication quality for effective leadership

Bryant shares, “I would put trustworthiness at the top. … We can sense at a kind of lizard-brain level whether we trust someone.”

Readers of this blog – you know that “trust” is the bottom line theme of our Speak For Yourself® philosophy. Without trust you have no relationships. Without relationships you have no business. How do you convey trust? It’s all in how you communicate.

Your voice. Your business.

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