Innovating Through Artistry

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Speaking Coaches help entrepreneurs get their message across

In Author: Barbara Kite, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Marketing, Networking, Outside Your Comfort Zone, The Entrepreneurial Artist Competition on October 15, 2009 at 6:06 am




By Hillary Chura
Published: Thursday, January 11, 2007

NEW YORK — Whether to appear more confident, better organized or to stop the “ums,” entrepreneurs are realizing good voice and presentation skills can help them come into their own and even compete against larger competitors with big marketing budgets.

Michael Sipe, president of Private Equities, a small mergers and acquisition advisory firm in San Jose, California, worked with a presentation coach who helped him differentiate his business from competitors.

“If a customer can’t determine who is any better or different or worse, then they are left with a conversation about price. And as a business owner, if you’re only in a price conversation, that’s a losing conversation,” Sipe said. “It is really important to paint a picture of why someone should do business with them in a very compelling way.”

Even though business owners may be experts in their fields, that does not automatically translate into being able to market themselves verbally. Many agree that speaking concisely — and in a compelling way — lends credibility. While poor communication skills are not necessarily deadly, they can make it more challenging to win over potential investors, prospective clients, employees and business partners.

“Small business is leaving money on the table because it is overlooking one of the most powerful marketing skills: speech,” said Diane DiResta, a speech and communications coach in New York. “Speech is the way a small business builds its brand, establishes expertise, gets free publicity and gets in front of its market.”

R.W. Armstrong & Associates, a civil engineering project management company in Indianapolis, first hired a speaker trainer two years ago to help prepare it for a pitch worth millions of dollars. The company went in as the underdog but clinched the deal after working on timing, learning how to use descriptive words, introduce co-workers and present itself with poise and cohesion, said Donna Gadient, director for human resources. She said the company paid about $8,000 to $10,000 for a day of training for 25 people.

Tom Cole, a general partner at Trinity Ventures, a Menlo Park, California, venture capital firm, said good communicators had an easier time captivating investors with their verbal and nonverbal skills than do those with less polish.

“Some entrepreneurs are such poor communicators that they never get past the first meeting with us,” Cole said. “A good entrepreneur can give you a 30- second elevator pitch that describes his or her business. Sadly, many fail to do that in the course of an hour’s meeting.”

Coaches, who may charge $100 an hour for one-on-one guidance to more than $10,000 a day for groups, work with clients on content and delivery, tone, organization, diction, timing, how to enter a presentation confidently and refining a message around essential words. They draw attention to flaws like blitzing through presentations as well as rising inflections that make every statement sound like a question from, like, a Valley Girl. They encourage people to use short sentences, speak in sound bites and pause so listeners can digest what has been said.

A less expensive option is the public speaking organization Toastmasters International, where members critique one another’s presentations.

Being a good presenter is more of an acquired skill than a gift you’re born with, enthusiasts say. Techniques that work with a large audience are also effective one-on-one. Patricia Fripp, a sales presentation skills trainer based in San Francisco, said that connecting on an emotional level with the audience and telling people what they will gain, rather than what you will offer, is important.

Lawrence Dolph, managing partner of RFD Insight, a turnaround specialist and growth consultant in Ann Arbor, Michigan, said that in addition to being concerned with what they know and how they present it, speakers now must be telegenic thanks to videoconferencing.

“It causes you to be assessed as if you were a television actor,” Dolph said. “You need to have good body control so you don’t look like a stiff. And a lot of that requires coaching. Unless you have been brought through some sort of actual course, you are probably not aware of your body or speech patterns.”

David Freeman, director for client development at the San Francisco asset management company Ashfield, sought help to hone his firm’s message to pension funds, financial institutions and wealthy investors. The idea was to stop presenters from rambling and have them deliver only pertinent information.

“We may fly across the country to present for 45 minutes to a pension fund or consulting firm that can be worth $25 million, $50 million or $100 million in the amount of money we are being given to manage,” Freeman said. “You want to increase the probability that you are going to be remembered.”

When Rebeca Mojica, a Chicago jewelry designer, started her jewelry design business in Chicago three years ago, she found herself being taken advantage of by clients who did not respect her time or wanted free private lessons or discounts. For several months in 2004 and 2005, she hired a coach to help her take control of conversations. She said she learned to be matter of fact in dealing with unpleasant situations and even got tips on how to sit when talking on the phone, with feet planted on the ground and torso leaning slightly forward.

She said coaching taught her how to handle potentially uncomfortable situations, cut down on wasted time and reduce misunderstandings.

“I tended to be a people pleaser. I’m a very nice person, which is great for some aspects of customer service but not good for others,” Mojica said. “When you want results, you need to take conversations seriously.”

Sharon McRill, founder of Betty Brigade, a concierge company in Ann Arbor, hired a coach, Eleni Kelakos, after agreeing to deliver a Chamber of Commerce breakfast speech in 2005. McRill said that while she was comfortable one- on-one, she felt sick addressing a group. After learning breathing and relaxation techniques, her confidence rose.

“I needed to be comfortable speaking to 300 business leaders — leaders who I don’t normally get to speak to — so it was important to come across as competent and smooth,” said McRill, who paid $750 for the insight. “If you can make an impression by speaking in front of a group or by meeting someone at a networking event that helps you be remembered, then it’s going to continue to pay you back later.”

see my Great Speakers and Acting Blog – for more in depth information regarding speaking using acting skills to help in your presentations.

AND now for something different

In Author: Barbara Kite, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on September 15, 2009 at 3:46 am

How about  a change of perspective? 

My Acting Coach would say you need to get their attention, shock them and change their perspective.

And although this clip doesn’t shock, I found it reminded me that I’m playing it safe and moved me to remember that in America we avoid the big emotions.  What else do we stay away from?

Chavela Vargas – La Llorona (Video Clip)

Just another reminder through art, that I need to daily shake myself out of my every dayness.

Just another reminder that as an entrepreneur I’m not using all of me to succeed in my work and I should be re-examining and challenging my approach.

The Secret to Success – It’s easy

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on July 9, 2009 at 4:57 am

You can have a whole community involved in your dream.

You can be a leader, you can inspire others, you can give joy, you can have fun. 

It’s simple.  You need to dare to be foolish, to be authentic, to love the music in you and dance, dance, dance.

Dance to your own music – the one in your heart, your soul and you will inevitably inspire others to join you.  It’s a fact.  The secret is to let go.  Can’t let go?  Join an Acting Class, a Dance Class, a Movement Class…


The Arts and Business

In Author: Barbara Kite, Emotional Intelligence, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on June 24, 2009 at 7:39 am

I am always questioning how connected am I with my purpose to make a difference in the world through my art and my desire to make money is.  How concerned am I with making sure the right questions are in bold letters across the human sky?

It is a constant questioning, a constant struggle, a daily need to remind myself to constantly examine.

I come from a generation that believed that if  you weren’t aligned with the “truth” connected with your art you were selling out.  In the ensuing years the lines have blurred quite a bit. 

Artists feel it’s okay to do crappy work just to get the money they need to do the important work.  I wonder.  My younger colleagues remind me that if they do everything that comes their way they will gain exposure, valuable experience and eventually power over their creative life in the business world,  which will allow them to express their true art.  I wonder.

So little I find, is done that deals with truth and the result is that we end up in the mess we have created through allowing, encouraging, supporting and covering lies. 

I remember this one saying that really got to me and I try to connect to it every day (not successfully always but with the intention to move in that direction)

From Chinua Achebe
“The poet
(artist) who is not in trouble with the King
is in trouble with his work.”

What advice do any of you give to young artists in this regard?

When communicating your passion, how foolish are you?

In Author: Barbara Kite, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Theater/Film on June 4, 2009 at 9:30 am

How foolish are you?  How successfull do you want to be in communicating your passion?

I have been seeing a large number public speaking clients lately and if there is one salient feature amongst all of them, it is the inability to embrace foolishness.

The fear of  looking foolish has a great number of  potential speakers stuck in mediocrity, sameness, safeness the land of boredom. 

This is how it plays -“I might be too loud, too quiet, too imposing, too animateed, too open to criticism, too wrong, too stupid….I MIGHT END UP LOOKING FOOLISH.”

This litany of negative thoughts grow stronger each time they surface particularly because  they are never addressed,  just accepted and allowed to become part of the speaker’s truth.

And the result?  The result is that we are then careful; watching ourselves to make sure that no error occurs, that no foolishness gets out, that no failure is noticed.  So we commit to safeguarding our authentic (foolish), human (error/failur ridden) self.  

We end up being serious in our manner, monotone in our voice, boring in our presentation, safe in containing our emotions. No music from the soul, no real connection, no memorable stories are given to the audience to take away with them to remember us by and to be grateful they came to hear us.

The choice is clear – bore  your audience or chance looking foolish. 

How to allow FOOLISHNESS into your life?

  • Give up on perfection.


  • Remember it’s not about you – it’s about the story, the gift you are giving, the audience


  • Stay present


  • Get out of your own way


  • Focus on the audience one at a time and make eye communication (not brief eye contact)


  • Trust you know what you know and don’t have to go by your written speech


  • Be ready to improvise, change with the needs of the audience


  • See the story in detail, before you say it (practe beforehand seeing, smelling, tasting, touching, hearing your story in all aspects)


  • Give yourself permission to fail- lose your place, make an error, feel under the gun,  BE FOOLISH.  All you need to do is focus on your important gift (the message that is going to make a difference in the audience’s life) and focus on the audience and listen to them


  • And most important address the negative thoughts you have before speaking – answer them with something truthful and positive every time they come up


  • BREATH, BREATH ,  BREATH (before you go on, while you’re on and after)


  • Remember speaking is like acting – it requires AUTHENTICITY, HEIGHTENED ENERGRY and GREAT STORY TELLING SKILLS

Some REAL help for Small Businesses

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on June 1, 2009 at 7:03 am

 I have been at the new aspect of  my business for over 5 years and had a client recently who ran the SBDA here in Portland Oregon.  She suggested I come and visit the orientation and see if they could help me with my organizational needs, system set ups (bookeeping, keeping track of clients, and future clients and past clients and phone numbers and emails) – all of which I’d been okay at but not really well versed at.  I realized I could do better not to waste  time with old systems.

Well, I sure learned a lot more than I imagined.  And they had a lot more to offer than I thought they would.  And although I’m not there yet.  I am super aware of what it is I need to do to be more successful.  The artist side of my brain didn’t fully examine all my specific business needs. 

And so I pass on to you this bit of a find I feel I have stumbled across.  Go visit the Small Business Development Center in your area.  It’s affordable and has a lot of good programs.

Hosted by leading universities, colleges and state economic development agencies, and funded in part through a partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration, approximately 1,000 service centers are available to provide no-cost consulting and low-cost training.

The mission of the Association of Small Business Development Centers is to represent the collective interest of our members by promoting, informing, supporting and continuously improving the SBDC network, which delivers nationwide educational assistance to strengthen small/medium business management, thereby contributing to the growth of local, state and national economies.

*606 attempts to make this work

In Creativity and Innovation, Emotional Intelligence, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on May 24, 2009 at 10:47 pm

It took 606 attempts to make this work.  How many attempts are in you to make it work?  And do you know that there is going to be that one that does work?  There is!

Oh, by the way, this is not digitally enhanced.  It’s done the old fashioned way, one bump at a time.


SENSE MEMORY (making stories vivid and memorable)

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on May 21, 2009 at 2:48 am

An important acting tool and an essential story telling tool is SENSE MEMORY.

Do you realize that every feeling we have  comes from our sensorial interaction with the world around us? 

What if you have a wonderful story to tell (and I’ll get to story writing in another blog)?  One that supports (and it must) your message  –  something people will walk away remembering for a long time.  Because, as you know,  you remember images and feelings more than facts and power points.  How do you make sure your audience remembers your story?

You have to make sure they see it, smell it, taste it, touch it, hear it.  That means you have to before you speak. 

I tell my clients –  actors and public speakers, “If you see it they will too”.  It’s a given. 

If you see, smell, taste, touch and hear the elements of  your story, you will react to them honestly and your audience will go along for the ride.

So here’s the sense memory exercise.  If you can, get together with a few people and have one person read it out loud as you go along.

 Simply stated, “sense memory” is the remembering by the five senses of the sensory impressions experienced by the individual organism in everyday life. 

  THE EXERCISE:  Begin with a coffee cup as your first exercise. 


Find a simple coffee cup at home, fill it with coffee or your favorite morning drink, and explore every sensory aspect of the cup in minute detail. Let your mind ask the questions, and your senses provide the answers.


 1) First, get in a chair and do some relaxation exercise. Stretching, tensing, relaxing, etc.

 2) When you are relaxed explore the cup with the sense of sight:  DON’T TOUCH THE CUP – how tall is the cup? what is the diameter of the cup?   what color is the cup?  of what material is the cup made?  are reflections from  the lights in the room visible on the cup (where, what color?)?  when do I first see the coffee inside the cup as I approach the cup to look in?  are there flaws in the cup (what kind, what size?)?


 3) Repeat this process for each of touching, smelling, tasting, and hearing so that you should be able to ask the same questions and get the same answers when you no longer have the cup to refer to. 

Notice what muscles you use to move your hand towards the cup.

NOTICE HOW EACH SENSE SUPPORTS THE PREVIOUS ONE. While you are moving towards tasting the drink, sight, smell and touch may come into play and you cannot ignore them.

In other words, as you pick up the cup to your mouth, realize that touch and sight are involved and record them.

 That’s the “art” of acting.

It is not the critic that counts

In Author: Barbara Kite, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on May 18, 2009 at 5:02 am

It is not the critic that counts.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marked by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasm and great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
                                                                                                                   ~Teddy Roosevelt

BREATH (from Mark Westbrook’s Blog)

In Author: Barbara Kite, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on May 17, 2009 at 7:57 am


From our first breath to our last,  breathing is an instrinsic part of that each and every part of our lives.  The breath is both instinctive and expressive, it is a vital part of our physical functioning as a human being, but it is also an essential part of our emotive capacity to express ourselves.

There are two types of breath, the inhale and the exhale, the in-breath and the out-breath.   Breathing in prepares us, it fills us with the oxygen vital to thought and to fight or flight survival.  The outbreath is how we communicate, it is the expressive breath.  We ‘inspire’ on the in-breath and we ‘express’ on the out.

In times of stress or pressure, when we exert, many times, we hold our breath.  Yet it requires a natural and relaxed breathing cycle for the actor to both inspire and express themselves, we have to learn to breathe thorugh toughest experiences.

When we breathe in, the 3-dimensional barrel of our breathing apparatus should become fully inflated, whilst remaining free from tension.  Likewise, when we release the breath and all the air to travel out of us, we should allow the deflation to be entirely unimpeded.   It is common for many beginning actors to have not considered their breathing when they begin taking classes.  Many people think the belly button should be sucked in with the in-breath and pushed outwards with the out-breath.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  On the in-breath the barrel inflates, on the out-breath the barrel deflates.  This process should be a cycle and not feel like two separate oppositional forces.  The breath is an endless circle of in and out, inspire and express.

Breath is expression, breath is spirit, when we breathe no more, we live no more.  It is ever present in our living existence, but we take it for granted.  Each and every actor, no matter their level or experience should take the time to learn more about the ‘breath of life’.   Breath is one of the few outlets for the actor’s inner expressiveness and feelings, without deeper knowledge, experience and exploration of the part it plays in acting, the actor is missing something vital.

Breath is projection, breath is tension, breath is relaxation, breath is articulation of thought and feeling, breath is  inspiration and expression.

Mark Westbrook is a Professional Acting Coach and runs Acting Coach Scotland, a private acting studio offering classes, masterclasses, workshops and audition coaching for actors at all levels. His acting studio is based in Glasgow, Scotland, although he teaches all across the United Kingdom.

TONGUE TWISTERS for Actors (and Speakers)

In Author: Barbara Kite, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on May 15, 2009 at 7:29 am


Good speech is an essential part of being a good actor.  Exercising your mouth with difficult tongue twisters keeps your mouth fit for purpose.

Here are TEN new tongue twisters to work on at home.  Do each tongue twister EIGHT times, getting quicker with each recitation.

  1. Mommala Poppala Mommala Poppala
  2. Peggy Babcock
  3. I carried the married character over the barrier
  4. Honorificabilitudinatibus (From Shakespeare’s Love’s Labours Lost)
  5. A regal rural ruler
  6. Green glass grass gleams
  7. A proper pot of coffee in a proper pot of coffee pot
  8. You Know New York, You Need New York, You Know You Need Unique New York (This was hard just to type out)
  9. Wrist Watch Wrist Watch
  10. Get Grandma Great Greek Grapes

Practice! Practice! Practice!



PR Society of America PRESENTATION – what not to do

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on May 12, 2009 at 4:17 am

I forgot how much I enjoy doing a presentation.

I had the best time on Wednesday with the Public Relations Society of America.

Just to pass on some highlights – I talked about the similarity between public speaking and acting- and I want to make some comments on what I observed and learned.

I noticed people using microphones when they didn’t need to and improperly at that – too close to their mouths and poping their P’s.  And Power Point. I can’t believe it’s still being used and in such volumes.  Listening to the speaker and reading the power points just put me off, so I left.  The secret to power points is less is more.  I worked with a speaker from Intel and she was going overseas to do an important presentation on a new product and had to preview it for her department before she went.   23 power points had her by the throat until I told her to forget them and write the speech she wanted and then pick 5 to support it. A sigh of relief and work that ended in clarity was the result.

I also watched a speaker rattle off important information with no attention paid to voice, or contact to audience. Everyone was writing down everything on the screen and also trying to write down what was said. What’s the point? Why not just read it in a book or on line and ask questions on line. Why the need to have an actual speaker there? And what will be remembered? All that writing I guess. But do you check all your notes? Well someone asked if they could get the information on line and yes they could so the writing stopped. But the cell phone texting began. I know when I’ve made notes in the past I was writing as quickly as I could and not paying attention and when re-reading my notes at a later date, I only understood about half of them.

No stories where told to help people remember the theme or a particular point. I know some of it was technical. After all it was about digital communication. Still, a word, an anecdote, a gesture, a moment that the audience could have taken away to remember the most important part or parts of what they learned would have helped and broken up the monotony.

A lot of learning happened and I’m glad I can remember some of it. If I wanted more, I guess I could have bought the books on sale.

I was, however, gratified to find that audience members for – Powerful Communication Using Acting Skills – came up to tell me they received a lot of information they could use.  I made certain that if they were writing something down, I stopped and kept up with them.  I made certain that eye communication was happening at all times.  I made certain that I was listening.  I made sure that I was painting striking pictures to take away and think about and use to create a  new way of communicating for each of them.   I made sure I was present, present, present. After all it is all about the audience.

Inspired by Adam Shames’ You Lecture, I Leave

In Author: Barbara Kite, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on May 2, 2009 at 11:29 am

Just what it says above.  A fellow blogger inspired me to merge his observations with my work. 

As an acting coach, in every class I make sure every person gets up and works, sometimes with one other, sometimes by themselves, sometimes with the whole class, but always in front of an audience, always needing to connect with them.

I believe learning happens not just with the words.  As a matter of fact, I believe it happens the least with words.  Sensorialy and kinestetically we retain so much more and on a deeper level.  Telling me about skiing is just not the same as having me do it, see, smell, taste, touch, hear and move in the experience of it all.

I have always known that speaking is like performing – you need to give the audience an experience.  That requires authenticity, heightened energy, great story telling skills, among other technical needs.   And now I’m am on a mission to find even more deeper ways to involve my audience besides just talking about what they need to know. 

If  you’re interested in addressing your fears about speaking, here’s one assignment I give to some of my actors.

You’ll have to read about it in my next blog:  FEAR REVISTED – Fainting at Nordstroms

FEAR REVISITED – fainting at Nordstroms

In Author: Barbara Kite, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on May 2, 2009 at 9:03 am

Here’s an assignment I give to some of my actors.

Choose a large department store (preferrable Nordstroms) and faint in the men’s or women’s clothing department (the opposite of your sex).

It’s easy – you just slowly fold your body down to the ground.

The purpose – because you’re afraid to. To put yourself out there. You live in a box and you don’t really know it (none of us know the parameters of it).

Because you need to feel vulnerable.

Because you need to feel in control.

Do something silly and connect back to the child, the adventurer that still lives in you. (Don’t you want to bring that energy to your speaking?)

Do something that is outside your comfort zone.

How strict are you?

How many silly rules to you adhere to? I wouldn’t think of fainting anywhere because “that’s just not done. It’s irresponsible. People would think I’m crazy if they found out. There are rules we have to follow.”

Are all of them necessary? Do they encourage us to be even more strict with ourselves, more boxed, hold on more tightly (to what?)?

How important is your fear, (do you know that the opposite of fear is excitement?)?

It’s just a way to get you to think and start asking questions about your freedom as a human being, as an artist, as a speaking artist.

Oh and don’t worry about getting “caught” by thepolice or firefighters or management and wasting their precious time. As soon as someone approaches you, start to get to your feet and mention something about “never going without breakfast again”. Of course it helps if you do this late in the afternoon. AND of course you have to be aware of what is going on around you while pretending to faint. You have to be very present as a actor and as a speaker.

I remember doing it and feeling in control of my life.

Let me know how it goes.

Some Thoughts and Blogs on Entrepreneurship by Kelvin Legal

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on April 26, 2009 at 10:44 am

I like the idea of being self-employed.

One day I hope to be able to run my own business, perhaps even run a law firm (whether as a partner or by starting my own remains to be seen since I am still in law school).

Entrepreneurship has hit the mainstream in a big way. Where once people preferred the protection and stability of a good-paying job, more and more people are now jumping on the entrepreneurship bandwagon or being encouraged to do so.

Of course, running a business isn’t easy. If it was, almost everyone would be doing it. And I guess that’s where the biggest problem is. Fear.

There is a lot of fear involved when one opens up your own business or start your own law firm or even just jump into your own sideline. There is a lot of uncertainty and a large chance of failure.

But that doesn’t stop most people. And it shouldn’t, because the rewards for going into entrepreneurship are amazing. A strong sense of self-control, possibly tons of money (if it succeeds) and an opportunity to do something you like for the rest of your life.

I know one day I’ll jump into the whole business thing myself like my sister did. But for now, I’m just biding my time, studying the law and trying to brainstorm for possible businesses.

Until then, here are a couple of great blogs and websites on entrepreneurship you should check out (in no particular order).

1.) Instigator Blog – the blog of the CEO of Standout jobs, which is a promising internet start-up.

2.) Pinoy Web Startup — a Filipino webstart up I discovered recently. Marie Casas, one of the founders of Pigmata Media, and the author of the Pinoy Web Startup Blog, was even featured in MoneySense magazine.

3.) Open for Business – a new blog by the editor of SME Insight which is published by the Inquirer. New but very promising.

4.) Reflections of a Bizdrivenlife – Wilson Ng is one of the earliest business bloggers I know and runs a successful computer business which distributes to Visayas and Mindanao.

5.) Go Negosyo – the brainchild of Joey Concepcion who is a strong advocate of opening up your own business.

6.) The Brazen Careerist – the ultimate startup for career bloggers and the like. Founded by Penelope Trunk and the Ryans of Employee Evolution, you should check out their blog posts on starting up a business. Really great stuff and offers a different perspective.

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Brazen Careerist Network but I read and enjoyed their blogposts on start-ups BEFORE I was asked to join. So I recommend their posts on a very unbiased basis.)

7.) Guy Kawasaki’s Blog – probably the ultimate web start up guy. He has founded a number of businesses and was even once connected to Apple as one of their tech evangelists. he has also written a number of books on technology and start-ups.

8.) What Would Dad Say – a great blog by G.L Hoffman, an American baby boomer who has successfully founded a number of start-ups. He has a great post on the 100 attributes needed to become a successful entrepreneur.

The purpose of art and Darfur

In Author: Barbara Kite, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on April 25, 2009 at 4:53 am

What is the purpose of art?  BIG discussion and many different beliefs are out there. 

Here’s mine.  Art must  contribute to making a real difference in the world.  Mia Farrow is fasting for 21 days starting Monday April 27th.  I think of this as performance art. 

It is time we all became more aware of what is going on in Darfur.  We don’t want another Rwanda, although in some ways it’s happening already.  My mother spent time at Ravensbruck concentration camp and I heard stories about he stay from the age of 10.  I wish everyone had.  We need to raise our voices and stop this NOW.

Since the Foreign caregivers have left, there is very little help, food, medicine, shelter for those that really need it and death by starvation and by massacre is coming.  What are you going to do about it?  How can you use your creativity, your passion, your imagination to make the world a better place, starting with Darfur.  Starting NOW.

Here’s a video explaining the history of Darfur to better understand what is going on and how difficult it is to deal with.  Once again, greed, oil is one of the central forces.

Apologies to anyone who thinks this an inappropriate subject for this web site.  I don’t.

Communication and the child within

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on April 23, 2009 at 5:47 am

Child within?  What does that have to do with public speaking? 


Speakers need to be reminded that their imagination and their ability to talk passionately and speak in pictures, is directly connected to how often they release the child within.   

Last night I conducted another amazing Acting Class and it reminds me of the skills public speakers need in order to be great.


Be a five year old. 


Everyone found a spot on the floor and began imagining their five year old space and whatever popped up was then worked on – tying shoes, waiting for Dad to come home after being bad, setting up toys like soldiers, ballerinas, etc., waiting for a friend to come over and play, hitting someone who took their toy away and on and on.  


Everyone learned that they restrict themselves as adults and the excitement is squelched because we are grown ups who are not allowed to express our feelings in an authentic way.  What a pity.  Our heads guide us toward what is acceptable and as years go by we make the rules more and more rigid and the child is no longer heard.


The passion, the joy, the commitment, the imagination, the excitement of the child is so necessary in great public speaking.  Have you lost touch with yours?  Where do you go to re-learn to be authentic, to see anew, to play again?


I ask for 10 minutes of your time.  Because you can’t THINK what it was like to be a child and try to re-capture it.  You can’t IMITATE your childhood phrases or actions or words and expect to re-capture the child within.  You have to get down and dirty.   This is true of speaking too.  You can’t imitate your idea of what a speech should be or sound like, you must be present as yourself with your voice speaking honestly.


You have to put it in the present time and be the child. That means you set some time aside – 10 to 15 minutes.  Find a quite place.  Yes, I know, that doesn’t really exist, but focus and concentrate (another important aspect of public speaking) on your task and nothing else.  Now start imagining your surroundings.  You don’t have to be exact, just go with whatever pops into your head (the subconscious is were your creativity lives), whether it’s a different age, 10 or 2, it doesn’t matter.  If the colors in your room can’t be remembered, just toss in whatever comes up, because it will be there for a good reason.


Now start to play.  Don’t force, just let it come to you.  If it’s difficult and you start thinking – DON’T.  Just pick up a toy and start playing and talking to yourself out loud IN THE PRESENT, as if it’s happening right now. 


Commitment, focus, imagination, letting go, letting it happen to you instead of making it happen, freedom, authenticity, seeing for the first time and being present (absolutely important for public speakers) are just some of the rewards.  Without releasing the child, you will continue bringing your head, and not your heart, to your communication.   


Let me know what happens.  I’d love to talk about it further.



It’s not about you

In Author: Barbara Kite, Emotional Intelligence, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on April 16, 2009 at 2:55 am

How do you prepare yourself to tell the world about your gift as an artist, as an entrepreneur?


As an Acting Coach and Public Speaking Coach I deal with artists and presenters of all sorts who want to effectively communicate their gift.  What is your gift?  Can you put it in a sentence?  Are you passionate about it?  Do you realize that it can change people’s lives?  Do you focus on this when you speak, because it’s not about you, it’s about the gift you are giving.  If you have nothing to give to an audience, don’t speak. 


My gift is the ability to inspire and validate artists and speakers helping them realize that their gift makes a difference and teaching them acting skills and authenticity to deliver it effectively.

An inspiring video on validation


What stands in your way?  What stops you from becoming a dynamic speaker?



Fear of what?  There are many I have heard throughout the years.  Here are a few.


“I’ll make a fool of myself!” 


                        “What if I lose my place?”


       “I really don’t know that much.”


“I’m boring.”

                                                “What if I freeze up?”


What is your specific fear?  Become friends with your “doubter”.  Know it on an intimate basis.  And address it. 


Involvement is the enemy of tension. 


 Be involved in what your gift can do to help your audience and the attention will be on that, not yourself.


But how can you be involved if you are watching, judging, directing, and scaring yourself?  You can’t.


So let’s address it!


Let’s start at the very beginning – feeding that all important brain of yours.   Deep Breathing.  Have you heard it so much you’re sick of it?  I know I am.  And yet, over and over again it comes up.  Deep inhalation and exhalation – extremely important to relaxation, centering, feeding of the brain.  Eight slow breaths in, hold on four and out on seven breaths.  Do that three times.


Now imagine yourself in front of a large crowd giving a speech or better yet, remember the last bad experience speaking.  Now ask yourself what were the thoughts you had at that time?  Any of the ones mentioned above? 


Write them down and deal with them one at a time. Be specific.  And then ask yourself “Is this true?”  “Am I boring?”  “Do I not know enough about my subject?”  The answer is NO.  You must pay close attention to these “doubters” and stop them dead with a big resounding NO.  You see most of the time you don’t address them and they just build, getting stronger and stronger every time. You validate them every time you do not address them, letting them affect your self-worth.  So, first say NO.  Then tell the truth.  What is the truth?  Ask yourself. 


“I’ll make a fool of myself!”  You will, plan on it, so be prepared to acknowledge it when it happens.  Say it out loud to the audience.  “Well, I sure screwed up.”  They’ll love you for it.  They’ll appreciate your humanity.  They’ll feel you are just like them.  They will trust you.  Some professional speakers purposely screw up just so they can get the confidence of the audience.  And just think if you get that one fear out of the way, you can focus on your gift.


“What if I lose my place?”  I was speaking to the Portland Female Executives at a lovely Hotel in downtown Portland.  I’d sent out questionnaires ahead of time asking what they were most afraid of.  Many said they were afraid of forgetting their place in their speech.  So halfway through my presentation, I stopped, and said “Well, I’ve forgotten what’s next.”  I then walked over to the podium about 5 feet away, rifled through my notes, and finally came up with the next thing to say.  At this point I looked closely at everyone and said “Do you think less of me because I forgot my place?” “Do you think my information is less valuable then it was before I forgot my place?”  Everyone shook their head saying “oh no, no.”  “Then why do you think you will be judged if you lose your place in a speech?” I said.


 “I really don’t know that much.”  I have heard this one more often than any other.  What most people don’t realize is that they are an expert in their field.  They’ve spent years learning through experience, classes, books and conversation, their particular gift.  I remember when I first started Public Speaking Coaching.  I told one of my Acting Students, “People already know all this.”  She looked at me amazed.  “You’re crazy,” she said.  “You know this stuff because you’ve lived with it day in and day out for years.  It’s second nature to you.  But the general public doesn’t have a clue.”  I found out she was right with the first workshop I did.  I had such a tremendous response for the gift I’d given, that I never questioned whether I didn’t know my subject.  Write it down, right now.  I AM AN EXPERT IN MY FIELD and put it somewhere where you can see it daily.


“I’m boring.”  I coached a College professor who said that exact same thing.  I asked, “What makes you think that?”  He said “When I was in Grade 6 and gave a speech, three boys told me I was boring.”  “And you have held on to that and let it grow all these years letting it stand in the way, haven’t you?” I said.  “Yes,” he replied.  We worked on making friends with that “doubter” and never it letting pass by with stating NO.  He replaced it with “I’m amazing.”  I asked him what sort of experiences he had had lately with his speaking and his book.  He said, “Everyone tells me it’s interesting and stimulating.”  And then he wanted to tell me about a recent experience he had in Los Angeles.  “I was at a famous restaurant frequented by many movie stars.  The owner came out and told me that she was a fan of mine and would I autograph my book.” 


“What if I freeze up?”  I must admit that was my biggest fear on stage and it actually happened more than once and I just made something up. But I remember the feeling.  I wished the floor would open up and swallow me and I would never be heard from again.  I remember apologizing to my director at the American Academy of Dramatics after the show, “I’m sorry I went up on the lines.”  To which he replied, “You did?  I didn’t notice.”  That’s right people notice a lot less than you think.  My suggestion is to memorize something that gets you back into it. A mantra.   Usually is the central theme of your speech in one short sentence – Speakers with Acting Skills and Authenticity ALWAYS have the edge.  If I say that phrase,  a slew of acting skills flood my brain and I’m off.  What’s you mantra?


We hold on to what doesn’t work instead of what does.  What works about you?  What do people say is great about you?  Ask them.  Write these statements down.  Use them whenever the “doubter” shows up and soon the truth will be stronger than your negative thoughts.  And you’ll be focusing on your gift and how it can change people’s lives because IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU.





My Story

In Author: Barbara Kite, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Theater/Film on April 3, 2009 at 10:55 am

I wrote my first blog post and sent it off to Lisa to read. A few minutes later my phone rang and Lisa said: “Barbara, you’re amazing, tell your story instead!” I realized what I had written was very little about myself. She wanted me to share my story with all of you.  How could I say no?  So here goes:

From the age of 7, I had always wanted to be an actress.  I could be someone different,  I didn’t like where I was – in a household where Polish was spoken and I was looked upon in the world as a foreigner.  I also wanted to make a difference in the world.  You see my mother spent a year at the Ravensbruck Concentration Camp during the war and as a child I wanted to save mymother.  I wanted to make sure that such atrocities never happened again. 

At the end of the war, the Red Cross had taken my mother to Eskilstuna Sweden, where she met my father (also Polish) and where I was born.

I was five when I arrived in Canada and remember being taunted with the phrase,  dirty DP (Displaced Person) on my way to school and feeling that same way in school.  We lived in a “Polish Roman Catholic” community  in Toronto.  We spoke Polish at home.  A home which my father ran with an iron Polish fist.  It took a long time to feel I belonged on this side of the Ocean.

My father didn’t want me to go to college.  He figured I didn’t need college.  After all I was a girld and would get married, have children and my husband would take care of me.  Why waste the money?  I finished high school with emphasis on secretarial skills, handed him the diploma and started preparing myself for college.  I wanted to be an “educated actor” so I ended you graduating with an Honors B.F.A. in Theatre: Theory and Analysis.  I didn’t pay attention to the fact that this interest in theory was an important part of me.  At the same time I took acting classes in the evening at the Theatre Academy in town .  I didn’t know it but I was preparing myself for my present life. 

But still, this didn’t seem to be enough, so I auditioned for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.  I had always dreamed of living in New York.  I was accepted and spent two of the most wonderful years of my life acting non-stop, dedicating myself to my work.  I ended up with the Jehlingher Award for Best Actress when I graduated.  And off I went to act.  I loved New York, I loved acting but I was missing something and then I met the most wonderful man, my husband. 

I still had Joan of Arc living within me and still do to this day except today I’m paying more attention to this part of me that needs to be fulfilled – not the burning at the stake thing -okay.

After doing some theatre (Off Broadway is wonderful), soaps (Susan Lucci is about 5 feet tall and will never take her heels off, or so she says) and commercials. 

I was  unhappy since Joan wasn’t being taken care of, so I co-founded a theatre company dealing with women’s issues and ended up acting, directing and producing.  I was happy.  But it wasn’t enough.  I wanted to make more of a difference.

After having a child we moved to Portland Oregon where my husband’s father lives (actually he lives in the Columbia Gorge).  I knew that I was not going to be doing my love, theatre, because I had decided to be home with my son.  So after getting an agent, I ended up working in made for TV movies (Jane Seymour is uppity and has no bootey), commercials, voice overs, infomercials, and any series that came into town and occasionally the staged reading.  At the same time, I remembered my partner at the Women’s Production Company, Victoria Sullivan (poet and playwright) had said how good I was with the actors .  So I decided to teach acting. 

I was afraid I couldn’t do it but I read everything I had missed reading about  in college and realizied I knew more than I thought and set up shop. 

I taught one night a week and my husband took care of our son. That was 18 years ago.  I found out I was spectacular at it and that I loved researching new techniques to bring into class and I was delighted that I could make a difference in people’s lives.  I kept being told that it changed their lives, not just as actors, but as people. This took a long time to sink in.  Eventually, I realized I had been give a gift I and I never knew I had it.  I now have a waiting list for actors who want to get into my class. 

And because it wasn’t enough,  I snuck in some directing.  I was afraid I couldn’t do it well, but I went ahead anyway because it pulled at me. Teen actors interviewed immigrant teenagers and told their stories, learning that art is not about them but about the story that needs to be told.  I was the creative director and coordinator.  It toured high schools and ran at a theatre.  The same was done with holocaust survivors in Portland.  The response to both was amazing and I felt momentarily fulfilled.  Directing Tangoing with Tornadoes < domestic abuse, which is now a one-woman show set up to tour throughought the world helped to further fulfill my JA (Joan of Arc) needs.

I wanted to help more people and make more money so I thought since it  took me no time to change people’s monologue from ho hum to amazing with just a few suggestions, I could do that with civilians, maybe. 

I was afraid I couldn’t do it.  I read everything I could about public speaking and found out I knew more than I thought and decided it would be public speaking with acting skills.

It’s been five years since I’ve started that venture and I’m am so thrilled with the work I do.  It’s so much more than coaching people in public speaking.  It’s part life coaching, part confidence building, part speech writing, and all a joy.  I have many travelling companions I coach allowing me to introduce them to many new doors.  Doors they didn’t know existed in their lives.  Rooms they get to create and attach to new houses.  Lawyers, CEOs, authors, small business owner, life coaches, others speakers, doctors, professors, artists and more come into my life on a regular basis expanding my horizons as a person and as a coach. And it’s growing.  I’m getting calls from all over the US and on top of that the speaking engagements are rolling in. But it’s not enough.

I want to create an organization of artists from all over the world who dedicate themselves to changing the world.  We would meet to discuss what each year’s theme would be and then carefully orchestratre the release of work dealing with that one topic all over the world.  The press would get involved because of the constant one theme arising in works of art.  Attention would be paid on a level it had not been before.  A depth of understanding would capture people’s desire to follow up and get involved with specific organizations to further take care of that problem.  The next year another theme would be worked on.  The first theme I want to work on is children and there are many topics to work on within that one theme.  I guess I need the rest of the artists to contribute there ideas.   Eventually every top writer, filmmaker, dancer, singer, juggler, creators of all kind would get on the band wagon. 

Of course to make all this work I need George Clooney’s house at Lake Como as headquarters. I mean after all –  he owes me.  I did a movie with George just before he started on ER.  It was called Without Warning: Terror in the Towers.  I know George isn’t too proud of it because it’s never mentioned in his bios.  I came up to him on the set and I said, “You’re Peter Gallalgher, aren’t you?”  And he straighted me out.  Told me he was George Clooney.  George who?  I just know that he had decided not to do ER at that time and that evening went back to his hotel room and called his agent and said, “Damit, I’ve changed my mind.  I’ll do ER. I’m tired of not being recognized.” And the rest, as they say, is history.  So George you owe me one.  How about  opening up your home as our headquarters?