Public speaking is difficult for most of us. Take a moment and imagine delivering a presentation in a new language and a new culture. You now have a whole new set of challenges. This is the life of many international founders and executives as they navigate communication in the US in what are often high stakes pitches and presentations.
Starta Accelerator, an internationally facing accelerator based in New York City, is known to hand-select talented founders from around the globe. They all bring boundless ambition, and innovation from their home countries, yet communication skills can vary greatly. This is why the “Starta Communication Program” was born. Lisa Patti of AccentC3, Starta’s Communication Coach, has developed an intensive weekly communication coaching program where founders receive weekly one-to-one intensive coaching, participate in interactive workshops, and practice through a variety of mediums. This is a unique offering, placing a high level of importance on developing communication skills.
The goals for founders can range from perfecting a pitch or developing a powerful voice to more intensive work on accent reduction and developing skills in English. After eight cohorts, Starta continues to refine and perfect the program, adding new layers of skills that the founders need in order to connect with investors and clients.
The one thing we see time and time again by the end of the program is the measurable increase in confidence that improving communication skills has on a founder. When you understand how to use your voice in connection with the story instead of just saying the words, you own the way you are perceived. It is then that you really get to see their “secret sauce” which is their personal style, shine through.
5 Communication Tips For The International Founder
- Volume - Volume can be cultural and how it is used changes around the world. Americans tend to speak louder than many other cultures and not everyone is comfortable with this. How much energy do you want to inject into your pitch? Your volume should change from softer to louder in different parts of your pitch.
- Accents - Don’t overthink your accent. Use it to be unique and stand out in a sea of startup pitches. It is not necessary to sound American, but it is necessary to be clear. Make sure you are not cutting off the final sounds of words which will impact clarity and hold the vowels a little longer to create emotion.
- Voice - You spend hours preparing the pitch, yet how often do you prepare your voice? Alcohol and coffee will dry your voice out so be sure to drink plenty of water so your voice can stay hydrated. Gentle humming will warm up your vocal cords and clears the voice before you present or go into a meeting.
- Pitch Variation - Here we are talking about the pitches and stress you use on words. If you lack vocal variation, you can easily lose your audience. Stress on keywords using a slightly higher pitch helps those words to stand out and can bring them to life. Practice a short phrase three ways, changing the stress on different words each time you say it to create different meanings.
- Record, Record and Record - Watch yourself on film, listen on audio, and get to know your style. This might not be your favorite activity. Some might say it’s downright painful, but it is the key to understanding how you present and whether how you perceive yourself is actually how you are delivering.