george carlin

Why bother with a cover-up?

By Laura Bergells on

People in Washington say it’s not the initial offense that gets you in trouble. It’s the cover-up. They say you should admit what you did, get the story out, and move on. What this overlooks is the fact that most of the time the cover-up works just fine, and nobody finds out anything. I would …

Please: stop “hiring to cultural fit”

By Laura Bergells on

I bristle at the trendy, thoughtless phrase “hire to cultural fit”. And I’m not alone. Often, you’ll hear this phrase parroted at tech, business, and startup conferences. Generally, it means, “when hiring, consider personality first — consider tech and business skills second”. Here’s the loosey-goosey rationale for ‘hiring to cultural fit’: “Hey, it’s easier to …

uncanny valley

Beware the uncanny valley of presentation design and delivery

By Laura Bergells on

A performer and presentation can be overly polished and perfect. Creepily so. Borrowing from the world of robotics, I call this phenomenon the uncanny valley of design and delivery. This is when a presenter looms a bit too near perfection. I don’t run into the uncanny valley of presentation design and delivery too often, but when I …

How long do you plan for Q&A?

By Laura Bergells on

Q&A — questions and answers — is my favorite part of any business or training presentation. I’m curious. I like hearing what’s going on in the heads of the audience. I like learning from the audience every bit as much as learning from the presenter. When I give a presentation or training session, I almost …

The Titanic

Why do you need a building to get an education?

By Laura Bergells on

A few weeks ago, I went to tour the new Seidman Business School Building on the downtown GVSU campus. Reports say the new building cost around $40 million. Wow. All that money for a business school building! Accounting, economics, finance, management, marketing — fields like that. You know, the kind of topics people all over the …

untimely windows update

Where were you when the tech went out?

By Laura Bergells on

Well, it happened again. The event coordinator gave me a firm 50 minutes to speak — no wiggle room! — and a nifty state-of-the-art presentation system. I love walking into a building with shiny new equipment! Just plunk in a thumb drive, do a simple sound test, and I’m ready to go on with the …

Laura Bergells teaches

How is emotional manipulation a bad thing?

By Laura Bergells on

For a public speaking exercise, I ask students to tell a 2-3 minute story in front of the class. I also hand out a stack of simple evaluation sheets to the class — students anonymously rate the speaker’s storytelling skills, vocal skills, body language, and story value from 1-5. I also leave a brief space …

Betty Boop Distracting Voice

What no one will tell you: your voice is distracting

By Laura Bergells on

I heard a young woman speak on the topic of feminism. Her content was valuable, thoughtful, and well-organized. However, her voice caught me off completely off guard. She spoke in a high, squeaky, Betty Boop voice. Photo credit: infomatique  Initially, I assumed the speaker was adopting a cartoonish voice to illustrate something about her subject …

talk like a robot

Talk like a human, not like a robot

By Laura Bergells on

This morning, a company rep told me, “”Customer satisfaction is our number one priority.” I laughed, because no human being actually talks like that, right? Clearly, he was badly coached. Stilted words guaranteed a clumsy delivery. This turned into an awkward, laugh-out-loud moment. Later this afternoon, I worked with another service. “Customer service is our …

Kennedy Nixon First Televised debate

For your next video conference: think Nixon…

By Laura Bergells on

Watch the first televised presidential debate on YouTube. Kennedy and Nixon go head-to-head in 1960. Today, this debate is often discussed as an example of how much your personal appearance matters when it comes to an important televised presentation. Kennedy took great care to look good on camera. He wore a neatly pressed dark suit. …