February 2011

How to use a keynote speaker

A reader sent me this:

“Here’s how to use a keynote speaker.  Tell them you want them to talk to 10% of the people attending the retreat prior to their speech, and then to summarize their findings as the top three ideas or action items that would benefit this company. If the speaker isn’t excited by this process, pass – no matter how many best-selling books they have or how good your friend said they are.”

I’m doing just that in a couple of weeks. 

How to use a keynote speaker Read More »

PowerPhrase: I get excited and talk too much

Last week Power PhrasesI read in “The M Factor” about a young man who blew an interview by talking too much. He requested a do-over and apologized, explaining that he had wanted this position so much for so long that he got excited and started trying to sell himself too strongly. The CEO gave him a second chance.

Last week I heard author Jill Konrath suggest having a recovery strategy when excitement gets us talking about what we do when it would be more effective to ask what others need. Her advice was similar.

  • Sometimes I get so excited about my work that I talk too much. I apologize. Tell me more about…

It’s great when we get the balance right the first time. When we don’t, it’s useful to have a fall-back strategy.

PowerPhrase: I get excited and talk too much Read More »

Reader Question: Tangential Exec

Note: this question came from the webinar last week. It’s revised from what I suggested at the time.question

Meryl, with one of my executives, I find myself completely lost until about 3/4 through the conversation because he will be talking about one subject and then jump to another one. How do I keep up and make sure we’re communicating appropriately?

Response – Note the difference in styles. Something like:

  • You have a remarkable ability to go in many different directions and then tie it all back in to your central point. My mind works more in a straight line that yours does, so sometimes I get lost. Would you be okay if I interrupt you when I stop following you?

Reader Question: Tangential Exec Read More »

Rude? Dismissive? Stupid? Or beyond busy?

Rude? Dismissive? Stupid? Or Beyond Busy?

overworked_thumbI hear a lot of people complain that we’ve become rude as a society. Some of what seems rude could be a “busyness” world that has gone beyond busy.

I hear a lot of people complain that we’ve lost our ability to think critically. Some of what seems to be a lack of critical thinking could be the result of a “busyness” world that has gone beyond busy.

The need for speed requires us to be more clear and more engaging in our communication than ever. We can complain about how difficult it is to be heard above the noise. Or we can adjust. We can make it easy for people to give us what we want and we can be as clear as possible. We can do our homework before we open our mouths and use phrases that cut through the fog. That’s what the people who are succeeding in this new economy are doing. Think someone is being rude, stupid or dismissive? Maybe they are. Or maybe they need to do business with people who understand their busy-ness world and communicate accordingly.

Rude? Dismissive? Stupid? Or beyond busy? Read More »

Reader Question – Internet Use at Work

Internet time

Meryl, I have a great direct report who spends a lot of time on the internet. Weicon for Questions have guidelines about internet use and another director complained to me about how much she is on it. She gets her work done well, and volunteers for projects, so it’s not a performance issue. She complains about being bored.

Response – Clearly the real issue is keeping her busy and using her talents, so while you could force her to follow the guidelines and you may need to, I suggest focus on redirecting her interests. Something like:

  • I can tell we’re not using you to potential because you’re over guidelines on internet use. Let’s brainstorm projects for you until we come up with ideas that will keep you too busy to hang out there long.

  • It doesn’t make sense to me to require you to follow the internet guidelines when you’re getting all your work done, but I might have to. How can we resolve this? I have ideas, but I’d like to hear yours first.

Reader Question – Internet Use at Work Read More »

From pet peeves to best practices

From pet peeves to best practices

Girl phoneWe received many wonderful pet peeves last week – but few pet practices. Kudos to the two who posted about ways others communicate that they like.

It didn’t surprise me – human nature seems to focus on what we don’t want over what we do. That’s part of why it takes time to develop really effective communication skills. Translating negatives into positives is an important step in the SpeakSTRONG Method. Please post your favored practices here. If it helps, start by typing, I love it when… or I love the way…

I’ll start. I love the way Bob gently tells me when I do things that inconvenience him and asks me to do things differently. Even if it’s the hundredth time he’s asked me to put something back where I found it, he is graceful in his reminder. I love the way Angela keeps me updated and turn mistakes into learning opportunities. I love the way Evan inspires me to be my best self and how Wendy tells me what she’s going to do and then does it. I love it when people joke when we do business together – without compromising effectiveness. I love when people are on my team – including readers – and tell me things they think I should know.

The pet peeves are satisfying to talk about. The pet practices are inspiring and heartening to share. What are yours?

From pet peeves to best practices Read More »

SpeakSTRONG Newsletter March 21, 2011

SpeakStrong Newsletter



In this Issue – #402

March 22, 2011

Why my heart is singing

Pet Peeves Survey Results

Learning teleconference

PowerPhrase for making a job easier

Keen on Lean



SS Method Handbook
Twitter Tips
Twitter Posts

Facebook Pledge
Meryl on Facebook
Free stuff
Subscribe to Newsletter 


Custom Webinars




Speak StrongPower Phrases


SpeakSTRONG Method

Meryl Runion
Creator of the SpeakSTRONG Method

March 22, 2011

Got a question or a comment?   Do not hit reply.  
Please comment on my blog or email me.   View in a browser here.

Why my heart is singing

What a month since I sent my last newsletter.

I had surgery on one eye and can see things I never saw before – including colors and street-signs. I’m having surgery on the other eye tomorrow.

I played Scrabble in Cincinnati with my 91-year old dad and it was so much fun. I’m going back for another round this Sunday.

And I spoke at a Lean Manufacturing conference for the Young Presidents’ Organization and fell in love with Lean Manufacturing. I’m going back for another Lean conference next week.

Now, it might seem a bit odd to say I fell in love with a manufacturing system. But my associates have their heart in what they do, and I found out why. It’s eloquent. It is based on comprehensive values. It’s concrete. It’s beautiful. I got that sense where you seem so at home with someone it’s like you’ve known them your whole life.

I talk about my experience on a radio interview on Lean Nation Radio. You can listen to the podcast.

Why Lean? Well, I’m still figuring that out myself, but I will say that I love how Lean is as dynamic as the world is and as my approach to communication is.

And that’s why my heart is singing. More later.


Communication pet peeves results are in

check The results are in for our communication Pet Peeve survey, and the winner is:

– Staying silent and complaining later.

The very close second is:

– Being blind-sided because people didn’t tell me about problems.

Both submitters will receive a free year-long subscription to my “Say What You Mean eCourse.” Thanks for playing.

Interesting that the highest scoring bad practices are both passive behaviors. We tend to think overly-aggressive communicators are the ones who create the problems. This survey indicates otherwise.

I didn’t get enough submissions on the good communication practices to start a competition for that, but if people post enough, I’ll create one for that. You can post about communication practices that you like here.


Teleconference for CEUs: “Applying Classroom Learning to Workplace Reality”

Thursday, March 24  1:30 – 3:00 PM Eastern Time

webinarThere’s a difference between learning how to do something—and actually doing it. There’s a difference between having the tools to make changes and actually changing things. The best information in the world is useless without the essential pieces to put it into practice. I’m offering a teleconference to bridge the gap.

This conference is presented through Professional Development University – and there is a fee for each registration. Everyone who attends earns CEUs.

I’ll be talking about what made last week’s Young Presidents’ Organization conference so effective as an example of well designed training.
More info

PowerPhrase: What do you need to make your job easier?

Power PhrasesMy husband asked Lalena, the young woman who cleans our house,

  • Is there anything you need to make your job easier?

Lalena replied that a new mop would be nice since the one we have falls apart. Such a simple thing – and yet she didn’t think to ask for it until she got the offer. Are there people in your life who make do with what they have when a simple improvement would make a big difference for them? Why not ask and find out?


Why am I so keen on Lean?


What’s the fuss over Lean all about? At the YPO Lean conference, I felt like I was transported to an alternate universe where leaders don’t think efficiency happens at the cost of connection and humanness. That’s worth fussing over.

Lean is a dynamic process. It’s about continuous improvement – not improving occasionally or in chunks – but bit by bit, step by step. It’s organic – you take a step and that movement changes the whole situation. You check out the new situation before you plan the next improvement.

Here’s what that can mean on a communication level. If sarcasm is an issue for you, you find yourself getting defensive over criticism and you don’t set boundaries well, you might decide to change all that at once. 

But if instead, you start by eliminating sarcasm from your communication, your other concerns will shift. Chances are you uncover new problems, overcome old ones, or both. A dynamic approach allows for your next step to be completely appropriate for the new reality.

Linear thinking, operating and communicating is at its best when it leaves room for the dynamic world we actually live in. Lean does just that.


I have several more blog posts for you

A fun video from one of the Lean Manufacturers at the YPO conference. For his company, continuous improvement is fun.

The Social Network: A Docudrama Dilemma
Here are my thoughts about fictionalized biographies. What are yours?

Nuclear Honesty
A pretty scary admission from someone who didn’t want his name on a potential disaster

The Day-to-day Conversations of Lean Management
The kind of conversations that get people on board with initiatives like Lean

PowerPhrase: I respond more quickly to short emails
A clarification phrase that gets people to be more succinct

Lean Nation Radio
You can hear my interview on Lean Nation Radio where I talk about what happened at the YPO lean conference

PowerPhrase: I own this space Dan Mulhern
Is your presence as big as you expertise?

A financial argument for a moral and safety decision
Your reason for supporting or opposing a project might be a moral and/or a safety concern. But your best argument could still be financial.

About Me and SpeakSTRONG

I help you communicate your ideas so people understand the big picture, engage in exploring possibilities and partner with you to make things happen.

I love to attend conferences and present a customized closing keynote summary of the event in terms of what conversations participants will want to have after the event to implement the learning. I base the presentation on my own expertise, the information presented during the conference and conversations and comments from participants. This takes the information out of the realm of theory and makes it actionable.

I wrote eight books about effective communication with phrases to help you find the perfect words to cut through the clutter of a busy and dynamic world. I offer a very generous books-buy-the-box discount that includes a free half-hour webinar about how to move from book learning to workplace reality.

I can customize a webinar for you, present in-house or support your communication efforts in a variety of other ways.

Contact me for more information.

© 2011 · Meryl Runion and SpeakStrong, Inc · All Rights Reserved

Speak STRONG, Inc

4265 Outpost Rd

Cascade CO 80809

(719) 684-2633


SpeakSTRONG Newsletter March 21, 2011 Read More »