Summer Blast

August 2014

"You are only given a little spark of madness.  You mustn't lose it."
Robin Williams

Thank you for sharing your artistry with us all.

Lickety-Split Feedback on your Smartphone
Quickly capture YOU in action
One of the very best ways to improve as a presenter is to be videotaped.  When you play back your presentation you are able to make coaching comments meaningful.  If someone says, "You know, you say "uhm" a lot when you present."  That feedback doesn't really resonate until you see and hear yourself doing it. While you can't go to the expense of having a coach and a videotaping crew onsite for every presentation - what you CAN do is leverage the video capabilities on your smart phone.  The next time you present, hand your phone to a colleague and ask them to videotape you.  Of course, ask for permission and be subtle so you don't distract.

Seeing yourself in action will speed up your journey to presentation mastery.  So, if you are serious about improving, whip out your smart phone, lickety-split! 

Is it time for a Communication Face-lift?

How to avoid falling face syndrome


Are you experiencing wrinkles of confusion? Have you witnessed sagging relationships? Don't panic, this may be occurring because your face has fallen into your phone.


Recently, I conducted my own informal research using Chicago's Loop as my field of study and observation. I was in and out of meetings downtown and observed people at work, at lunch and traveling on the L. I would guesstimate that 80% of people did not go for more than a few minutes (at the most) without interacting with a cell phone or mobile device. Their faces mostly fell into their technology. I can't remember making eye contact with anyone - I did get very familiar, however, with the tops of people's heads.


What do we loose when our face falls?

  • Human connection
  • Ability to exchange energy, compassion or friendship
  • Reality with the real world (not the virtual one)
  • Presence

How do you know it is time for a communication face-lift? When you

  • End your day with nothing to report other than what you read and saw on your device.
  • Think it is ok to have an in-depth business or personal conversation within earshot of hundreds of people.
  • Feel a more intimate connection with your phone than you do with your friends or family
  • Miss the signals and are unaware of the emotional ups and downs of colleagues.
  • Don't value or make time for face-to-face conversation and you consistently default to sending an email or text.

What's involved in a communication face-lift?


The good news is no surgery or needles are required. Only


  • Commitment to Great Posture - Head up, shoulders back - Make eye contact. When walking through your day, stand tall, hold your shoulders back and raise your head high. Keep your devices in your pocket, out of reach. This will provide you with the incentive and opportunity to say hello to people you pass on the street, greet co-workers in the hallway and actually notice what is new and different in your environment.


It sounds pretty easy, doesn't it? And it will probably be more difficult than you think. The key will be: You Gottawanna. Yep, you have to want to. You will need to be highly motivated to make a change because it is simply too easily to revert to over-reliance on technology. You have to decide that you value true connection rather than connectivity.


I love the line from Steel Magnolias: "Smile! It increases your face value." When we look at people and smile or say hello there is a little bit of magic that happens. Two human beings connecting in real time. There is a momentary bond, a softness, a comfort - a reassurance that we are all still in this together. Sometimes it is all I need to get through a rough day or busy week.


Critique me, please!

 The compliment of correction


Help me understand. Show me how to do it better, faster. What can I do to improve? What am I doing wrong? "Please, give me your total honest opinion!"


When I studied ballet I remember a phenomenon that I don't see often in today's workplace. In dance class, you hoped to be critiqued by the teacher. If the teacher was tough on you, called out your mistakes and corrected you it represented a compliment. The teacher would only take the time to provide feedback to a student who showed potential. If that potential was not seen, the instructor usually wouldn't bother.


There are parallels to this in all sorts of pursuits - sports, art, fitness, etc. - in those arenas we are hungry for ways to improve and it is actually rewarding to have the instructor critique us. We feel special. We feel important.


This sentiment is lacking, however, in the world of work. A friend recently complained to me that her manager was constantly critiquing her and it was driving her nuts! She shared that he never seemed totally satisfied with her performance and always left her with something to work on or finesse. She felt defeated. I asked her why she didn't leave her sales position if things were that bad. She said she didn't leave because she was the company's top performer. She finally confronted her manager requesting that he back off a bit and he responded by saying, "I put pressure on you because I know you are good and I want you to be even better." She now has an appetite for his feedback.


So often, in the workplace, criticism is looked upon as a curse, a downer, or a disappointment instead of recognition that you are being noticed and considered worthy of assessment. Some of this may come from the fact that often we have a lot invested in our image at work. It is important to be considered competent and confident. And if we feel we are not perceived positively, we get concerned.


This of course does not apply to true under-performers who are being hounded by their manager to get their act together. In addition, those who critique have an obligation to be balanced in both tone and content along with demonstrating respect. It is not ok to demean or humiliate the other person.


So what if, in the workplace, we opened ourselves up to feedback and truly saw it as a "gift"? What if our reaction to critique was welcoming and accommodating? What if we switch our attitude from "That's wrong" to "Tell me more".


The next time you are facing critique, before reacting, ask yourself what is right about the feedback rather than trying to figure out how it is wrong. If you do, you will surely learn something and will position yourself as a professional who seeks to improve and grow.


Schedule a 20 minute complimentary coaching call today!
  • Need to finesse the opening or close of an upcoming presentation?
  • Want ideas on how to resolve a conflict with a co-worker
  • Interested in positioning yourself as a thought leader?
If you are interested in improving your communication skills and want to jump-start the process, schedule time with Mari Pat.  Email her at

Thank you for your inspiration and partnership!
Let's have a conversation about your communication needs and opportunities soon.

Mari Pat Varga 

Office: 773.989.7348
Cell: 312.841.0650 


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