Monthly Archives: April 2011

A Very Busy April Weekend!

Well first off I’d like to congratulate the newest royal married couple, Will and Kate. It was a fantastic wedding, and I wish you the best. As a Communication Coach, I hope that you continue to relate directly to your public, and don’t be afraid to be real in front of the camera, within reason of course!

Next, I have to send a big Good Luck to GSP (Georges St. Pierre), Mark Hominick, Jason MacDonald and the rest of the Canadian contingent who will be representing this great country on the mat and in the ring this Saturday at UFC 129. It is the first time the UFC has held an event in Toronto, and it was the biggest sell-out so far at 55 thousand seats. I’ll be watching and cheering them on. In the octagon, you cannot hide who you are. The truth will reveal itself. Buckle up.

Speaking of representing our great nation, who is going to win the Canadian federal election? May 2nd is the time to vote and support whichever party leader you believe will do the best job. Or, as some people have suggested, you can pick the one who does the least trash-talking and dirty ad campaigns. (That would be why Smilin’ Jack Layton has doubled his numbers in the last 2 weeks – people are sick and tired of the Liberal and Conservative dirty politics!)

I have to toot my own horn here for a second – it was a great honour to be asked to give my expert communication assessment of the federal leaders’ body language (and other non-verbal communications) after their Federal Leaders’ Debate held April 12th. I was interviewed by 1130 News in Vancouver, AM640 Toronto – The John Oakley Show as well as by host Stephen LeDrew on CP24 LeDrew Live TV show shortly after. I told everyone basically the same thing, which is that from a communication point of view, Mr. Harper had the best showing. He was calm, in control, did not get rattled when he was attacked, and he made symmetrical open hand/arm gestures stemming from his navel, which is an area called the ‘truth plane’. It’s a good place to keep your hands when you are trying to win trust.

Mr. Ignatieff used some poor hand gestures and was caught with his hand on his hip, but did use the ‘rule of 3’ well, which is when you use 3 words that are easy to remember. He repeated “jets, jails and corporate tax cuts” often enough that I still remember them! Problem is, if you overuse this technique, it sounds stale.

Mr. Layton used his smile well, in that he looked great deflecting the criticism with a smile and a joke. He has pretty good posture in general and leads with a strong voice. He was smoother that night that I expected, since Jack usually sounds choppy. He did a great job and I’m not surprised his ratings improved after the debate.

Mr. Duceppe has an obvious disadvantage in that English is his second language, but I can tell you that in any language you do not want to be caught reading your notes, which he was a couple of times. When he speaks fast and impromptu he does not sound as good as when he is prepared and calm.

These are just a few of the things that I noted during the debate. Unfortunately the video from the TV show and the audio from the two radio interviews are not available at this time. However here is a link to a short article from the Vancouver news station, should you be interested:–harper-was-debate-winner-in-body-language-expert

Have a great weekend, and if you are Canadian, please vote May 2nd. The future is in our hands.

PS – if you or someone you know needs executive coaching, especially for media, public speaking or presentations, please pass along my website contact info. These days it is extremely important that managers and other executives representing the government or a company are clear and confident in their messages to the public, or to the shareholders.

YorkRegion Article: Newcomers learn accent reduction

I usually do not advertise my competitions’ websites and press releases, but this is a great article that helps explain why some people want/need accent reduction training, and also some of the benefits. I am available to help you modify your accent if you need to improve your speaking.  Just contact me to set up a free consultation.

Here is the article:

YorkRegion Article: Newcomers learn accent reduction

The John Oakley Show – Body Language of Cdn Leaders


After a radio interview this morning and a TV appearance today on the Stephen LeDrew Live show, I have been asked to continue sharing my analysis of the non-verbal communication of the 4 Canadian Leaders during their Tuesday evening debate.

I am happy that I will be on the John Oakley Show – AM 640 – Toronto, at 7:30am (April 14th).

Here is a link to his show’s website, where you can find a link to listen live, if you wish, or listen afterward, as long as the link is up.

Thanks John!

Don’t Settle for Less Respect with an Accounting Firm

At this time of year many people are either doing their taxes themselves or having an accountant help them. I have a little story about trying to find an accountant.

I did an internet search for small-business oriented Toronto-based accountants, and came up with a few. After reviewing their websites I chose one to pursue:

Even though I am not an IT professional, I am a contractor, and it was close enough for me and I assumed close enough for them.

I had a free consultation with a wonderful lady named Rachel. She was professional, knowledgeable and very helpful in helping me feel like my taxes would finally be organized in the best way possible. She even arranged for me to come in for a second free consultation early the next week, so that she could ensure my articles of incorporation and HST were in order. Not 1 but 2 free consultations – nice!

After that second meeting I REALLY felt good about my new accounting firm. I was hooked and happy to sign up. The meeting was left with Rachel informing me that she is not an accountant herself, so she would connect me to one at their firm. She would email me a couple documents, and after that I could proceed. I was a very happy potential customer.

THEN – nothing. No email. I waited a week, then emailed her to remind her. Nothing. I waited another week, then called her and left a message. Nothing. Now I was taking it personally. I hate being ignored. Don’t you?

On top of everything there was to be an accounting software workshop coming up soon that I was supposed to attend (sponsored through their firm) and I had yet to receive confirmation of registration for it.

Finally I emailed the Big Boss Andrew through LinkedIn and explained to him that I came to his firm based on his father’s reputation, and was very impressed with Rachel, until she dropped contact with me for no reason. I told him that his almost-new customer’s patience was wearing thin really fast, and asked that if he didn’t want me as a customer then to please recommend a new accounting firm for me.

I’m sure he didn’t like that but I was pissed.

Did he respond? Not to me directly (which I think he should have) but I think he passed on my displeasure to Rachel because the next business day, at 5:30pm, she emailed me finally. Sounds good right?

Wrong. She took no responsibility for dropping me and even lied by saying that my email was lost in her spam box (which made no sense since she had my business file with all the info plus my email from when I originally emailed into the firm, not to mention that she emailed me to 2 different email addresses at the same time, clearly proving that she had my email).

Then in a cold, ‘professional’ tone she proceeded to tell me to fill out a bunch of forms attached and have everything in by the next day, plus an advanced payment, and then I could attend the accounting workshop being held the next evening. Nice.

So what would you do?

I understood that Rachel is an excellent sales woman, and maybe she was too busy to follow up with me or maybe she passed on my file to others who didn’t follow up. She seemed stressed in the email. I don’t need stress. CRA gives me enough on it’s own.

I never filled out the forms, never sent a cheque and never heard from them again. I guess I was expendable, even though they would have had a client for life, not to mention a client who would have recommended them to others. Now they are stuck with an unhappy blogger!

I have since found a new accountant to help me out this year, and going forward. I am happy so far, but this story reminds me (and should remind you too) that there are plenty of accountants and accounting firms in Toronto and the G.T.A., and in whatever are you live in.

Don’t settle on being treated like a file or number. Insist on being treated with respect – as a person.

Good Hunting!

Correction – TV Appearance Has Changed

Hi “fans” 😉

I have just been informed that the federal leaders will continue talking after 9pm tomorrow (because 2 hours is not enough I guess), so I will not have time to be on LeDrew Live Tuesday at 9pm. HOWEVER they have asked me to come in for WEDNESDAY at NOON instead. So I am happy to oblige.

CP24 (City News) LeDrew Live with host Stephen LeDrew. Look for me around noon on Wednesday.


Coach Ric

Body Language at the Cdn Federal Leaders’ Debate on Tuesday

Hello Communication Enthusiasts!

Many Canadians will be watching the Federal Leaders’ Debate happening in English this Tuesday April 12th, from 7-9 pm EST. I am sure it will be full of interesting mini-speeches, critiques, replies and maybe some humour. I am also sure it will contain a lot of body language and other non-verbal communication, both positive and negative.

I have been asked by CityNews/CP24 to be a guest on the Stephen LeDrew Live show following the debate. I will be asked to give my expert opinion on the body language used by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Michael Ignatieff, Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe during their debate. I am honoured by the request and have agreed to share some thoughts on air.

As of right now the producers think I would be on around 9:30 pm. I’m not sure how much detail Mr. LeDrew will be asking of me so I don’t know how long my segment will be, but I will endevour to give fair and balanced feedback on each of the politician’s body language, and the inferred meaning and feeling. It must be a difficult job to be a professional politician!

Enjoy the debate and enjoy the LeDrew Live show!

“Should I Get Accent Reduction Lessons?”

This is a very common question I hear from immigrants and overseas workers as we discuss their coaching options.  Though everyone’s case is unique, here is my general advice:

If your (heavy) accent is stopping you from being confident, from making friends and/or from making (more) money, then YES.  Do some accent reduction for your own peace of mind and to become a more confident speaker.

If your accent does not interfere with daily communications, and people are not constantly asking you to repeat yourself or say it again in a different way, then you are probably okay.  You still may choose to modify your accent anyway, but at least you should know that it is not a pressing issue that will halt your career.

How can you modify and reduce your accent?
1.  Watch English movies and TV.  Rent DVDs of shows and sit-coms and play them over and over again, with and without English subtitles.
2.  Listen to the radio and/or sing English songs.  Look up the lyrics online.
3.  Meet native English speakers and practice.
4.  Buy a good pronunciation book, preferably with audio CDs, MP3s, podcast etc.  Choose carefully BrE or AmE.
5.  Attend Toast Masters or another public speaking practice forum.
6.  Attend an ESL class that focuses on pronunciation or lots of speaking practice.
7.  Hire an ESL tutor who has experience teaching the above, or whose voice you want to imitate.  Don’t be shy to ask for details of experience, materials used, references etc.
8.  Hire a professional Communication Coach with a solid background in ESL and accent reduction.
9.  Hire a professional linguist or speech pathologist.
10.  Practice practice practice.