Communication Matters Newsletter
MillsWyck Communications - June 2018
A milestone anniversary, woo hoo! What I've learned.
Alan Hoffler Speaker 10 Year Anniversary
We just passed a milestone anniversary here at MillsWyck Communications. It was just over ten years ago that I said goodbye to my corporate job at (what was then) America’s Best Place to Work and the steady paycheck. I was convinced that my passion to teach and the few nuggets I felt worthy of sharing would convince others it was worth paying me (now us) to help them become world-class speakers. It seems like a long time ago. 

While I’ve never missed a mortgage payment, my family has eaten every meal, and I am blessed beyond my wildest imaginations, the difficulty in running a business surprised (and still surprises) me. While I married into an entrepreneurial family with a high tolerance for risk, my own discomfort coupled with the economic environment I stepped into in 2008 has made this much more difficult than I imagined.
Here are a few nuggets I have learned about business through being a consultant-speaker-trainer-business owner for the past 10 years:

  • No one else will ever care as much as you do about your passion.
  • If people don’t pay you for your expertise, you have a hobby, not a business.
  • Life and business have far more details than you are qualified to handle. Get help.

Along the way, I’ve learned a lot more about speaking as well. When I began the business, I had done enough research and learned a bit from some masters that gave me a curriculum and a product I felt was worth selling. But very quickly I observed that speaking is not an intellectual endeavor that relies on knowledge.  It is a SKILL that thrives on focused practice and is more governed by culture and habit than any compilation of intellectual wisdom.
I now have adopted a few core tenets that seem to apply to most every speaker I observe or coach. 

Here are the top tips I’ve gleaned in a decade of studying, speaking, and making mistakes.

  1. Have a point and share it clearly. A point is different from facts, knowledge, or data. Far too often – especially with high knowledge workers like engineers, scientists, and leaders of any type – speakers confuse sharing what they know with having a point. One of the reasons this is difficult for people my age (that used to mean “young” – now it means “experienced”) is that we grew up watching (and thus believing) that knowledge really mattered. It used to be that the only people with knowledge were those that had studied. A college education meant you knew something no one else did. Now, everything man has ever known is available to anyone who can get to a public library or owns a smart phone. MIT puts all their lectures online for FREE. Your audience can Google your topic and learn more facts reading their phone than listening to you. Anyone can get knowledge; what people need is insight and wisdom. And what they want is to be entertained (have their mind captured). That’s where you come in. Tell me what that data means (to me); share how I can use that fact in my life; make it more fun to listen to you than to read Wikipedia. (And never run over time!)
  2. The specific is more powerful than the generic. Somewhere along the way, I noticed that most speakers overuse worn-out clichés and generalities, but seldom give details that matter. Drop the terms “thing”, “stuff”, “issue”, “problem". (Read my past article on How to engage your audience: Be specific.)  Instead, use specific examples that your audience is likely to connect to. This engages their brain, gets them thinking about the topic, and makes you more relatable. I was recently coaching a graduation speech that discussed the “struggles” that each graduate had overcome. We dropped in specific struggles (money, time, motivation, purpose) and uncovered a theme that helped the rest of the speech as well. It’s easy to be cheesy; being exact gives you impact.
  3. Rule #1 is still Rule #1. Your speaking is not, nor will it ever be, about you. I’ve had students and clients challenge me on everything from how to open a speech to how to ask questions to how long they should talk. But no one has ever (successfully) argued that putting the audience first is a bad way to approach speaking. Any time I stumble or get stuck in preparation, reminding myself of this important cornerstone always leads me out the morass and to the purpose of my talk.

Thank you for being a part of this stage of my journey. Using my talents and gifts to push others to have impact on the stage of life gives me great joy. I’m as energized (and nervous) about what I do now as I was ten years ago. My mind is always dreaming and thinking of how to make our influence greater and our expertise easier to consume. May the next ten years bring even more lessons that others can benefit from.
What insight do you possess that needs to be shared!?

Communication matters. What are YOU saying?

Oh, and 22 years ago today I experienced another momentous day! Happy anniversary to my partner in this journey of life, business, and parenthood. 

My wife Haley is a God-given gift and the perfect complement to my stream-of-consciousness style to living.

Our New Privacy and Data Collection Policy
Yep, everyone has a new Privacy Policy and we're no exception. Due to the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union, we've updated our policy to better protect your privacy. As a reminder, you are receiving this email because 1) you are an existing client, 2) you attended one of our workshops, trainings, or speaking engagements, or 3) you signed up for this newsletter online through our double opt-in signup process.

Here at MillsWyck Communications, your privacy is critical to us and we are striving to protect your privacy and rights. If you have any questions regarding our policy, feel free to contact us at

Upcoming Public Workshops
Upcoming Public Workshops
2018 Public Workshop Schedule
Raleigh, NC

Aug 27-28 (Sign up for Early Bird rates!)
Oct 15-16, Dec 10-11

Aug 29
Sneak Peek Video
Here's a sneak peek video at what a workshop from MillsWyck Communications is really like:
Need a Speaker for your Event?
Alan Hoffler, founder and director of MillsWyck Communications, is a Business Communication and Presentation Skills Expert and accomplished keynote speaker. He uses the skills he teaches to craft authentic, custom messages that energize and motivate audiences.  

Alan's Signature Business Communications Topics:
  • Winning Communication - Strategies to Connect and Convince
  • Presentation Sin: The Practical Guide to Stop Offending (and start Impressing) Your Audience
  • Why Modern Business Communication is Killing Productivity (and what you can do about it)
  • The Silver Bullet: The One Skill Every Communicator Should Use
  • Sound Like You Feel: How to Express Passion When You Speak

Check out the full list of Alan's   keynotes or contact us a bout customizing a presentation or workshop for your group. If you need a speaker for your next corporate meeting, professional organization, or conference, contact us at
Key5 Speaker Podcast

Listen to the KEY5 speaker podcast to get more tips for preparing a great speech.
Follow me on Twitter @AlanHoffler!
MillsWyck Communications
Communication matters. What are YOU saying?
Alan Hoffler, Philorator (Teacher & Lover of Speaking)
(919) 386-9238 

Alan Hoffler is the Executive Director and Principal Trainer at MillsWyck Communications. He is a Trainer, Speaker, Author, and Coach who passionately moves others to effective and engaging communication.