3 Master communication lessons from Barbara Walters

3 Master communication lessons from Barbara Walters

Barbara Walters won 12 Emmys

The trailblazer of interviewing, who won 12 Emmy awards over a 5-decade career, teaches us 3 master lessons on how to leverage any conversation to your advantage.


“Barbara Walters’s superpower was fairness”, writes Matt Zoller Seitz (critic & writer for Vulture and New York). He continues, “Her subjects trusted her to give them as fair a shake as she could, even if she disapproved of what they did, said, or stood for.”

She exemplified an open mind and the ability to listen to the nuance of any situation.

Relaxed ambiance

“Barbara Walters, in my estimation, really has the quality of reaching through to the person,” Mike Wallace said. “She will put the person sufficiently at ease and it’s a remarkable gift.”

Looking at her interviews from every U.S. president and first lady from the Nixons to the Obamas to a wide range of celebrities and sports figures she creates rapport through her content and delivery.

They said yes to her when they wouldn’t say yes to anyone else because they liked the atmosphere Walters created onscreen.


Trust requires these three components working together: trust in yourself, trust in the process, and do your homework.

Walters nails this triad. And THEN she goes after the tough questions!

Excerpt from a Walters’ interview, “You’re a New York Times best-selling author, you’re an accomplished and celebrated concert pianist, and a three-time Academy Award–winning actor. Why the porn?’”

Bonus Strategy:

Ok – she also plays into the subject’s ego. She usually gave three compliments, and then went in for the kill.

Barbara Walters, who died recently at the age of 93, left a legacy about how to set the stage for a meaningful dialogue.

#communication   #speakforyourself   #KarenCortellReisman   #BarbaraWalters

4 presentation clues you might be missing

4 presentation clues you might be missing

A compelling presentation is NEVER just about your data.

4 questions to ask yourself – and answer (!) –  before giving any speech

1️⃣ How much time do you have?

Your best friend when giving a presentation is your clock or timer.

  • Don’t: glance at your watch while speaking – that’s distracting for you and your listeners.
  • Do: prepare and practice your comments to fit within your time limit.

2️⃣ How much do they know or need to know about your topic?

Your stealth bomb on getting heard above the noise is all around meeting the needs of your audience.

  • Don’t: underestimate or overestimate the topic knowledge level of your crowd.
  • Do: your due diligence on finding out their interest, experiences, pain points and successes on whatever you are about to say.

3️⃣ So what? What’s in it for them?

My clients often miss this one: the ROI – the Return On Investment for your listeners.

  • Don’t: forget to share this ROI, near the beginning of your remarks, out loud. Don’t: make it hard on your crowd to understand what they’ll gain from you.
  • Do: tell us how you’ll solve some issue, help us be more efficient, save us time and headaches, improve our bottom line. Pick any of these that work for your message, or figure out how you will help us… and then tell us.

4️⃣ What do you want them to do, think, or feel as a result of your speech or digital message?

If you don’t move the conversation forward in some way, then whatever you’ve shared in your message is a waste of our time. One of my mentors, Jeanne Robertson, of blessed memory, was a humorist. Her Call To Action (CTA) was to make us laugh and help us find the humor around us, even when times are tough. Perfect.

  • Don’t: leave us hanging!
  • Do: understand your CTA and share that with us. What are our “next steps” after reading your email or listening to your message?

Next steps for you

Be compelling when you speak by sticking to your time limit, creating your message to meet the needs of your audience, sharing your ROI, and moving your conversation forward by adding your Call to Action.

#communication #speakforyourself #karencortellreisman

4 Crisis Communication Strategies

4 Crisis Communication Strategies

See pic explanation below.

You might recall last week’s post of a snake in our toilet at our ranch. 😱 This prompted my blog about dealing with the unexpected as a speaker.

Today’s focus: expecting the unexpected as a leader.

How do you, as business and nonprofit leaders, do damage control during a crisis?

4 Crisis Communication Strategies

1️⃣ Be timely. No communication when crisis hits the fan creates a huge vacuum that fills with fear, anger and confusion. You want to avert that mushrooming emotional effect by being accessible.

2️⃣ Be transparent. Share what you know and share what you don’t know. When my beloved mother suffered from what would become a terminal heart attack my sister and I sat in the waiting room for three weeks. As difficult as it was to hear, the medical community gave us their updates including the known and the unknown. We valued their clarity.

3️⃣ Be empathetic. Always, always, always. Try to understand the craziness from your team/board/department’s point of view. Communicate your concern for them and about them.

4️⃣ Be solution minded. Pet peeve: people who complain without any ideas on how to improve the situation. Don’t be one of those leaders. Bring your facts, context, and thoughts on how to handle your crisis.

🔢 THE PIC: Not to detract from the serious nature of many crises, this crisis happened because #HandsomeCowboyHusband had back surgery (a few years ago) that meant I had to clean the chicken coup. Pic key: bandana to ward off the fumes; gloves to handle the mess and my rhinestone necklace because … why not?

3 Magnetic Selling Principles

3 Magnetic Selling Principles

Why do you stand in line to spend more money to buy a product you already own?

Double line at Apple Store

Retail craziness

Over the weekend my husband and I walked around NorthPark Mall in Dallas and witnessed this long line, really two lines (!), of Apple customers waiting, ONE BY ONE, to enter the store.

Not every store in this mall has lines forming out the door.

The secrets of Apple’s magnetic spell

Selling Rule #1: Communicate Value

You buy products that excel in the marketplace. You buy what works – professionally and personally (preferably both), what’s dependable, and what makes your life easier. And you’ll keep buying what continues to propel these attributes.

Selling Rule #2: Communicate Customer Service

You provide excellent after care for your products/services. “Apple Care” costs extra (another genius upsell!) and it’s worth it. Why? Because it works, it’s dependable and it makes your life easier.

Selling Rule #3: Communicate Loyalty

See Selling Rules #1 and #2! IF you provide value and excellent customer service you will achieve Customer Loyalty.

My clients are successful because they have achieved loyalty in their various industries.

How can you cash in on this type of momentum?

  • Know your Value Proposition. Keep it simple and memorable. Share it widely. Ex: Walmart – ‘Save Money. Live Better’. You see this on their trucks, on the front of their stores, and on their shopping sacks.
  • Take care of your customers… and they’ll take care of you.
  • Appreciate your buyers. Let them know how much you value their loyalty.

To sell well you must communicate well.

Author: Karen Cortell Reisman is Founder of Speak For Yourself®, a communication consulting firm, and the author of 2 books on how to communicate. She lives in Dallas, Texas and … full disclosure: Karen is typing this blog on a MacBook Air, while multi-tasking on her Apple iPhone mini 13, and looking forward to a book she’s reading on her Apple iPad. 

© 2022 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved



Communication @ Genius Level: Magic Power of Three

Communication @ Genius Level: Magic Power of Three

Walkathon in honor of Andrew Szabo with National Speakers Assoc buddies.

How to leverage Attention Economy

A compelling presentation and/or conversation is never just about the data. BUT your data has to be included. Your ticket to get heard above the noise: Use The Magic Power of Three concept.

Magic Power of Three in action

Andrew Szabo

Last weekend I attended a walkathon fundraiser for a fellow speaker and friend, Andrew Szabo. Andrew has ALS. As we all walked around a golf course to raise money and awareness around this terminal illness I asked, “Andrew, what are some lessons you can teach me that you’ve learned during this challenging journey?”

He responded, “After my diagnosis I met with a psychologist who said, ‘the best journeys I’ve witnessed are with those that have the Three F’s: Faith, Family and Friends.’”.

Observing the Magic Power of Three

You’ve heard me talk about using three categories, sections, silos, reasons, buckets to share your info during a speech or even on an email.

I’ve also asked you to be aware of when others use this strategy. It will instruct you on best ways to get your messages across.

Faith. Family. Friends.

The use of those three words elevates Andrew’s story to an unforgettable message with a wise reminder of what really matters.

Using the Magic Power of Three

On your next digital conversation or zoom meeting or in-person presentation – understand that your audience is multi-tasking, stressed and busy. I challenge you to use the Magic Power of Three to cash in on our limited attention economy.

Author: Karen Cortell Reisman is Founder of Speak For Yourself®, a communication consulting firm, and the author of 2 books on how to communicate. She lives in Dallas, Texas and is extremely fortunate to have faith, family and friends. 

© 2022 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved

Communicate with Power: When to be clear and when to be clever

Communicate with Power: When to be clear and when to be clever

To be a compelling speaker you want to be clear and clever. The trick is to know when to do what.

Several new clients are working on important upcoming presentations.

I told them, “It’s like building a house. First you lay the foundation and build the structure. After the walls are up and the floors are in, then you add the tile color, cool fixtures and fun furniture.”

I continued, “That’s how you construct a speech. The foundation of your message needs clarity. Don’t make it hard on your audience to figure out what you’re talking about. AFTER the house bones are in place… then you add your décor.”

When to be clear

Your presentation purpose + the time you’ll take to share your message. Example: “In the next 15 minutes I’m going to share a snap shot of our 4th quarter earnings.”

Your ROI (return on investment) to your listeners. What will your audience gain from listening to you? This sentence usually comes just after your statement of purpose. Example: If your purpose is to talk about how to mentor new lawyers then the ROI will be, “You want to mentor your new lawyers because they will be your future bench and gold mine. If not, turnover is costly and time consuming.”

Your main points/categories/reasons/buckets. This is like your Table of Contents. Let your audience know up front the main chapters of your presentation. You’ll stay more focused and less tangential, and your listeners will remain more tuned in. Example: “The main points of my speech are our strategies, costs and value.”

Your call to action. What do you want your audience to do, think or feel as a result of listening to you? State this clearly! Example, “I challenge you to take steps to strengthen your value proposition.”

When to be clever

Your beginning (intro) after you get introduced by someone else. Here is your chance to be clever! Gain your audience’s attention by starting with a story, quote or question.

Your support material. Within each of your main points – add some texture. Include stories, examples, analogies, metaphors, and good visuals.

Your conclusion. After being clear about your Call to Action, end with a quote or another story or a continuation of your story used at the start of your speech.

Example: “Your house is a combination of the cement and wood beams AND your art and pillows. Together you create your unique home. Just like with a compelling presentation.”

Author: Karen Cortell Reisman is Founder of Speak For Yourself®, a communication consulting firm, and the author of 2 books on how to communicate. She lives in Dallas, Texas and has never built a house but tries to be both clear and clever when speaking!

Did you know we offer a free 20-minute communication consultation?

Photo ©: 123rf.com

© 2022 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved

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