Communication Matters Newsletter MARCH 2019
Four Steps to Becoming Great at Anything
Drivers License Application
It’s my second (and last!) experience training a teen driver. Driver #2 has a different outlook, a few challenges (a few months off due to a surgery which equated to less practice), and less of a desire to even drive. But the goal from Dear-Ole-Dad is the same – a safe driver who can navigate the road with OTHERS who are distracted, texting, or just not capable.

Last night we took the final practice tour. Panic stops. Three-point turns. Parking positional awareness. And a few tests Dear-Ole-Dad cooked up because he loves to think about and practice ways to help people learn more effectively (drive my 5,000-pound pickup truck for the first time; guess the speed with the speedometer covered up; park with the tires on a line; find your way home from a road you’ve never been on).

The final practice wasn’t without mishap. Three-point turns were a challenge, because an awareness of the actual location of the wheels hadn’t been mastered. In two panic stops, our lovely car with all the technology and anti-lock brakes screeched the tires twice. The anxiety was building. I could tell that nervousness would play a role in the final exam. 

On the way to the DMV, Driver #2 announced, “I’m really nervous.” (I didn’t let on, but so was I). But I repeated what I’ve said so many times to our clients: “It’s when we’re nervous that training kicks in. Just do what you know is right and execute like we’ve practiced.”

“I just hope I don’t have to do a panic stop, and that it stops raining” she said (we picked a rainy day so the lines would be shorter).

Much to our chagrin, the examiner was all business, didn’t laugh at Dear-ole-Dad’s jokes, and was less than cordial (“Ten times worse than the stereotypical DMV examiner” – although drama and exaggeration are no stranger to this teen).  

I’ve used the example of driving many times to compare to the skill of speaking well. It’s the autonomous behavior from training and practice that enables a speaker to focus on audience response, callbacks, the message, and responding to the needs of the audience. It’s finding small, incremental improvements to make and putting yourself in position to gain experience to handle any occurrence. It takes work to be good.  

Oh, and the nerves. I’ve met previous few people who can say they don’t get nervous at all when they have a big talk to give. The final walk-through can add to nerves. Not everything will go smoothly. Anticipation can be the worst part. But the show must go on. Speaking – and driving – are integral parts to our lives and careers in this environment.

But from the examiner’s (that’s the audience!) point-of-view, it’s all about just doing it correctly. Give the right message, in the right time, in the right way, and fix any problems that come up.
Becoming great (at anything) follows a predictable and repeatable process:

  1. Knowledge – learn what you need to do (Driver’s Ed!)
  2. Practice – under instruction, focus on repeatable behaviors (drive straight) until they can be done with effort (supervised driving)
  3. Experience – as competence comes, gain a broader base of capability building on the existing ability.
  4. Constant Improvement – instead of settling for the current ability level, evaluate and seek help to relentlessly improve.

A teenage driver can get somewhere into step three. Enough to let dad give them the keys. But I hope and expect them to get even better.

Oh, the rain did stop. And the examiner didn’t ask for a panic stop. He seemed pleased that he got a “No, I’m just nervous” answer to the “Do you always drive this slow?” question (that’d be like asking a speaker, “Are your words always this confusing?”).

I’m pleased to announce Driver #2 is now in possession of a valid North Carolina license. You might need to be worried about that more than your next chance to speak!

• What skill do you need to practice?
• What new experience would make you better?
• What examiner could you ask for feedback?
Communication matters. What are you saying?
By the way, you’ll be comforted to know I’ve had no more dreams (that I remember) and everyone in my house is safe from the ogre I described in last month’s newsletter.
The Power of Storytelling in Business and Life
Half-Day Workshop, Raleigh
WEDNESDAY, March 6 -- seats still available!
Whether you're giving a technical work presentation, mining the networking circuit, engaging in a sales/persuasion situation, or crafting your online content marketing plan, you can apply the principles of storytelling to your message. 

Join us for a fun, half-day workshop where the participants make the material come alive. When you leave, you will have the techniques to make your audience WANT to listen to what you say.

Come learn the one communication skill you can't live without!
MillsWyck Minute Podcast
In this brief speaking tip, Alan talks about mistakes and how you should respond when you make a mistake while speaking.

The MillsWyck Minute Podcast is full of practical, short, and fun speaking tips. Listen to them on the go or use them to start discussions with your team. You can also catch each MillsWyck Minute at the end of every episode of the KEY5 Speaker Podcast, the podcast for speakers, by speakers.
Are You a Speaker in Need of Professional Videos?
The Key5 Speaker's Conference is a half day event designed for professional speakers. If you're a paid professional speaker (or want to be!) looking for a complete, high quality video marketing library to promote your business then this conference is for you. You'll walk away with a full suite of marketing videos and still shots taken in front of a 100+ person live audience. Key5 is held in an upscale venue and produced by a professional video crew with 7+ cameras and professional audio and lighting. Watch testimonials  from the last Key5 event.

If you become a Key5 speaker, you can receive a  special discount  on any of our spring 2019 Workshops to help get you "speaker-ready." Just email us at
Don't delay, grab your seat now to catapult your speaking business!
Upcoming Public Workshops
Mar 4-5 (only 1 seat left) , May 6-7, Aug 19-20, Nov 18-19

Mar 6
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 believes the power of Communication and the power of a Coach give you the ability to change a person, an organization, a community, and the world.

Keynote and Workshop Topics:
  • Winning Communication - Strategies to Connect and Convince
  • 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
  • Coaching to Win: The Four Corners of Behavior Change
  • The Four Questions: How to Win at What Matters
For more information, check out Alan's speaker website at or contact him directly about your event at 

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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.