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Murder The Monotone Monologues (152)

Boring presentation.

The bottom line

The fundamental and most important factor. It's actually refering to the bottom line on a balance sheet - the final figure.
Das Fazit / Unter dem Strich

Murder the Monotone Monologue!!!

Monotone – no intonation in your voice, very dull
Monologue – when one person talks most

I don’t know about you, but I find that the smarter or more senior people are, the more they tend to drop into monologue mode.

Now, no matter how senior you are, you do not have all of the answers and neither do you have all of the right questions to get to the answers. So, I would like to persuade you to try something new.

Instead of talking at people, try talking to them.

If you find that when you’re speaking to people, people are scrolling through their phone or getting distracted, grabbing coffee when it’s not really time for coffee, all of these kind of things, that should be screaming at you:

“They’re not paying attention. I’m being boring”.

Yeah, that’s the bottom line. You’re probably being very boring. So ,liven things up a bit. Use your voice. Don’t just speak like this all the time because it’s really boring, you would never listen to a podcast that spoke like this, would you? So, use your voice, engage with your audience, get them to interact, and pull them in to your story, your story, your message, your inspiration.

This episode is going to show you exactly how to do just that.


Welcome to the Experts! Speak English! Podcast!

Together we’ll discover how to talk yourself into an international career without the bullshit.

And at the end of each episode, I give you an opportunity to try out what you have just learned on the show because I give you Coco’s Communication Challenge which gives you an opportunity to get out there and try out one of the tools, techniques or tips that you will have heard on the show.

I’m Corinne Wilhelm, I’m a corporate communication coach with over 20 years experience of helping leaders to secure the career that they deserve through intentional communication, intercultural awareness, and the confidence to show up as the English-speaking expert.

Corinne - podcast host of the " Experts Speak English Podcast" with her editing headphones on

Take the pressure off

Businessman working late at night

Become The Best In Your Industry

Now, no matter which industry you’re in, we all need to be striving to be better. To get better we need to give people the chance to bring in their ideas because it can feel a little bit lonely at the top as the CEO.

And I hear that from a lot of my clients, that they feel that they can’t really talk to their staff about business stuff because they’re expected to have all of the answers. Even as the head of a department, you might be able to identify with this.

And so, what I need you to remember is that a little bit of vulnerability, a little bit of open-mindedness, and this headspace to give your people a chance to contribute could be the smartest decision you make.

Because, yes, they might be expecting you to have all of the answers, because so far you always have. But in the world that we live in, where people want more out of a job than just a salary, you need to give them amazing feedback, the opportunity to get involved and top-notch flexibilit

Get your team involved

Now getting them involved is actually really easy. You just pull them together for some kind of workshop. Pick their brains, the people on the bottom line, or working with clients, getting the job done, those are the ones that know what’s going wrong. Once you’ve identified those problems, then you can gradually move towards getting it right. But pretending everything is wonderful, you have all the answers, it’s just putting more pressure on yourself. And there is a lot of capability, a lot of talent, and a lot of keenness, a lot of motivation in your staff – if you only give them a chance to open up.

Team of fashion designers at work

Planning for more Powerful Conversations

Now before you go into a situation like this, you need to really be planning what you are going to say to people. At the very least, you have to have a start, a middle and an end. Ideally, you can take it up a notch and do a start, three points and an end. Or you could take a start, one point, three sub points, second point three sub points, third point, three sub points and a call to action at the end. But where is the interaction in that? That’s a speech and that’s fine if that’s what you’re going for.

But I invite you to embrace the expertise in your team. Invite your team in, because they have a lot of ideas. And actually, by bringing people in to your decision-making, you will take the burden off yourself and give them an opportunity to shine and share what they know. Because when it comes to promoting members of your team, you need to make sure that it’s the team members who have great ideas, who are capable and keen to take your company to the next level.


Super Basic Talk Structure
Super Basic Structure
Basic Talk Structure
Comprehensive Talk Structure

Creating a Safe Space

Now the preparation is important and the delivery is also important, but at the end there also needs to be some follow-up. So, we’re thinking about before (the prep), during (the delivery) and after (the follow-up).

Now, let me just set the scene a little here. If you’ve been giving monologues for a while now, then they might be expecting that. They’re going to come in sluggish.

So, you’re going to have to set the scene. You might want to give them a little bit of pre-work.

Just give them a little (open) question. Give them something to think about.

What could we do better?
What do customers want?
Where are we wasting time?
How can we improve …?
Why don’t they buy more?

Tell them that you’re going to be exploring some new ideas. Just the word “ideas” makes people’s ears prick up. 

Take a different role

So, you’ve set the scene and you’ve given them the expectation. They’re going to come in and they’re going to have to do some work.

Ok, that’s great. So we need to establish an atmosphere, not like school where, you know, you are frightened of making mistakes.

No, this is a – this is a sandpit of innovation.
We want (need) to move things forward.

It doesn’t matter which industry you’re in, if you want to succeed, you have to be doing things better than your competitors.

You have to be ahead of the curve.

And by asking the people that are working for you to contribute, you get that loyalty.

But you also get

  • their knowledge,
  • their experience,
  • their talent.


And let’s face it, you’re paying them anyway, you might as well get the maximum benefit out of them and make them feel valued and appreciated. 

cigar smoking business woman

The dictator is dead

So now you have changed your role from dictator (sorry, a bit of a strong word, but you know, come on, only dominant people use monologues) – so do you see?

You’ve completely turned it around.

Instead of you doing all the thinking,
instead of you doing all the talking,
instead of you coming up with the ideas,

the people who are dealing with these problems on a day-to-day basis would be doing exactly that. You will be getting the best input from the best people at the best time. So make sure that you invite everybody, including the receptionist, to get involved because you deserve the best for your clients, but also your team. 

Explaining rules of painting

Slagging off

anything from insulting critisism to light hearted teasing
- this will make people reluctant to contribute to the conversation

Ground Rules

Now, one thing you can do is you can set some ground rules upfront. If you’re going to go into a brainstorming session, the last thing you need is somebody slagging off or criticizing any ideas at the initial stage.

So you need to clarify right at the beginning, this is brainstorming session, first we’re going to gather the ideas and then later we will get to a stage to we will evaluate those ideas and stage three, we will choose some ideas, but today we just want lots of ideas. So go crazy.

Be a bit crazy.

Come up with some ideas that are really unworkable because sometimes they have a glimmer of shine that we can use.

Innovation has to be a bit wacky. Establish your ground rules, that gets them to buy in, to being respectful in their communication.

Be mindful of the fact that if somebody’s first language isn’t the one that you’re speaking, they might need longer to think. So, make sure you’re bringing in other people who aren’t maybe so outgoing.

People that are introverts often are a wealth of information. So give them the opportunity to speak because while everyone is speaking, they are listening very carefully. 

Power Shift in Process

The power dynamic has now shifted and you are now opening up for conversation. This involvement and interaction – the two I’s – are going to replace your I – it’s not about you.

It’s about us, the team, moving forward as a dynamic group of amazing individuals.

Now, take a few tips out of the trainers and facilitators that you have seen working in your organisation. They have some great techniques and I’m always trying out new techniques, so be brave and use some of those. Don’t be afraid about showing up as the trainer. 

You’re now driving the conversation in a different way. Treat people on a par – they say in German “auf Augenhöhe”. You know, you can have a bit of fun here, it doesn’t have to be super serious. The topic and the outcome are serious – you want to make more money, you want to be more competitive, you want to secure a really solid income for the people on your team. That is serious, but the way that you get to that doesn’t have to be serious. 

On a par with

equal in importance or quality to
auf Augenhöhe


Searching for Gold

You have to welcome all and every recommendation, suggestion, flippant comment, just take it all in.

It’s a bit like searching for gold. They don’t go there and say, “Hm, I don’t like that. Oh, I don’t think that’s what I’m looking for”, they would never find any gold.

They have to sink their pan into that soil and give it a good shake and see where the sparkle comes up.

They have to look really, really carefully and see exactly where that nugget of gold really is. Then they find the gold and that’s how you (need to) think about ideas. 

Role Reversal

So now your role is no longer monologue-man or -woman, it is timekeeper and inspirer, not the boss.

Today, in this situation, you are not the boss. And actually, if you are really keen about getting the best out of people, you will actually get an external Agile coach or a facilitator to run the session.


This gives you a little bit of distance. This means that you can take part or observe rather than running the whole show because it’s difficult to wear too many hats at once, right?

So, remember that you can ask people on their own, but likewise, you can get people into groups, open up some breakout rooms in advance so that you’ve got them ready and be sure to really get them to log their findings and get them to explore with each other what the options are.


interaction & Involvement

So interaction can be simple, creative or powerful.

Let’s look at the simplest ways first. The simplest way in an online setting, for example, is to get people to put their hand up, shout out ideas. They can type in a reaction or a gif or an emoji. In a face-to-face situation, you get people standing up, you can use Post-it notes, all that kind of thing.

Now the creative interaction requires a little bit more preparation, but it will have a little bit more impact. So here I’m thinking about using like a tally system. So if people have lots of ideas, they put them all on the board and then you want to prioritize which ones had the most importance. Because you will get people saying the same thing again and again and you don’t want to waste their time by doing that.

So if you insist on (the participants) only saying something once by telling them “Later, we will be evaluating these ideas, so your idea is not lost”.

Prioritizing the top three ideas

3 marks. The best idea
2 marks. The average idea.
1 mark. Least favourite idea

This way you can evaluate the popularity of the ideas and the suggestions.

this also works anonymously – just turn the board around and get people to come up one by one) 

But let’s hold our horses here, we’re not yet at the recommendation phase.

This is all about brainstorming, getting ideas out of the minds of those that are working with this problem every day and tackling them.

We want to explore.
So use Post-it notes, you can do this online with a board like Mural, and you could even use some of these retro boards out there. But you can also just use a bog standard whiteboard.

It doesn’t have to be fancy.

In fact, sometimes fancy can slow things down. Sometimes the low-tech options are the most dynamic. 

peg doll with message notification icon, chat social media interaction.
Tally System

Bog Standard

regular, boring, typical

Team work on data


So have those group breakout rooms set up in advance or, (and if you feel uncomfortable with technology, get somebody else to organise the breakout rooms and take care of things for you so that you’re totally present and available for the people in front of you. If this is hybrid, you need to make sure that there are people looking after the online participants and feeding back in to you. Right! We’re now at the third level. So, even more preparation, but even more impact. The more you put in, the more you get out. 


So now you can think about using polls. There’s lots of them out there as well as the Miro board and Mural. But you can also do all kinds of other face-to-face things to get people really moving around and having some fun with this. This doesn’t have to be serious, remember, we’re just trying to get some great ideas and great ideas don’t come out when you’re being serious. So sometimes you have to be a little bit silly.

Pronunciation Pointer

And a little bit of a pronunciation side note for you:
I said serious not series.

Vocabulary For Each Podcast Episode of Experts Speak English
Series (Reihe - Netflix)
serious (Vernünftig)

Manage Expectations

So have some fun with this problem-solving power-up and you don’t have to do everything that’s suggested.

Set the exception upfront – no instant implementation can be expected here.

And, (but) you know, be mindful, of course, that the speed of the implementation is a reflection of your commitment to it, but if people don’t expect these things to be done immediately, that keeps their expectations at a reasonable level.


Hungry dog holding bowl and waiting for feeding

Don't be 'stingy'

stingy - tight, reluctant to spend money, cheap skate,
long pockets and short arms 😉 (can't reach their wallet)

Business people during the meeting with drinks in the office

Fuel Their Concentration

Now make sure that there are some snacks and drinks and a chance to chat off topic. So breaks are very important – online and off.

What I’m seeing is a lot of the times with my clients, they’re coming in and telling me that actually they very rarely plan much time for this.

You know, time is money, people don’t have the time for all of this social nonsense… but they do.

They need to have that element of any training when they’re on these long calls. And that makes it really difficult to concentrate and focus. (especially online)

So you’re the boss or head of department, so don’t be stingy about it. Give people the time and the budget to, you know, have a little bit of a decent spread, you know, whether it’s pizza or a few snacks or a few… – something sweet, whatever it is – but these things count.


You might see this as dead (a waste of) time, but it’s not!

This is when people are talking to people from other groups or they’re expanding on the ideas that have already been brought to the table. So this is not dead time at all. It’s constructive.


In order to get more ideas and more cross-team collaboration, build those sections into the training. Breaks shouldn’t be an afterthought. Time for breaks should be an absolutely essential part of the agenda building process.

And allow space for a little bit of craziness, those wacky ideas and solutions and have a bit of a giggle – it’s fine!

Wrapping Up

At the end, remember to thank everybody for their participation and their openness and their ideas, and afterwards, you need to share that information. The more creative you can be in doing that, the better. 


So break away from the tedium of text and, you know, you might want to use some doodles if there is somebody anyway doing some sketch notes, feel free to ask them if you could borrow their notes afterwards and if they wouldn’t mind recording the session.

But handwritten notes from the flip charts, etc. give ownership and tell them what’s next.

Thank them and tell them that you’ll be in touch.

Sketchnotes on tablet
Tally Results & Thanks
Project your voice with intention
Use your voice to capture their attention, a little like reading a story to a young child

Use your voice intentionally

When you’re speaking to people and you’re trying to get them on board, remember a couple of things about your hands and your voice. Make sure your voice is going up and down.

(90% of people make this mistake and damage their reputation in the process)

If you’re going to be asking questions, make it sound like a question. If you forget to use intonation, it will sound like a fact, but you’re in a conversation now, so you need to ask questions. So if this is a question, make sure that you go up at the end. 

Let me give you an example: The parameters are ready. Are the parameters ready? You see? it’s a different sound. It’s more inviting. I want to get involved. You have to be very mindful of the fact that questions in English go up at the end.

Your voice should go up and down. You should draw people in with a bit of suspense and loud and quiet, soft and hard. You see what I mean? Play with your voice.

You’re not a performer, you’re not a clown. But you do need to get their attention.

So use your voice to your advantage. Pull them in. Pull them into your idea, into your mission, get them on board!

So just like when you’re reading a story to a young person, you have to use your voice to go up and down and bring them in to your story.

And that’s what you need to do as well when you’re trying to inspire your team.

Use your space, body language and mimic

And use the stage – even (especially) if you’re online, use your hands, use props, show people what you think, reach out to the screen and pull them towards you for a big hug, whichever it is, use the screen.

If you’re sitting dead-still, it’s really hard for people to concentrate. So why not stand up? Give yourself the space to move around, invest in a decent lapel microphone, which gives you a little bit of option to move around and, you know, engage with your audience.

Pick things up. You could even pretend to throw them a ball, get them involved in a game. There are so many wonderful games out there, so don’t be frightened to use those games.

As well as using your voice and using the screen or the stage, depending on whether you’re meeting online or in person, I also want you to do one thing:

Use pauses, give people the chance to process.

By giving people the chance to process, they feel more appreciated, taken seriously. By giving people a chance to process, they have a chance to think, to play with the information and think about it a little bit.

To think how it would fit in with

their own team,
their own job,
their own responsibilities.

And did you see how my voice just went down a little? That pulls you in. So use your voice! It’s a wonderful free instrument. It doesn’t cost a thing and it has so much power. 

Use props

Hold something up that adds a visual trigger to your message,
it can be anything at all, as long as it enforces your message

Use props to demonstrate your point, just like a doctor does for complex topics
Time to think. Portrait of young bearded man in eyeglasses and formal wear touching his chin and

To summarize:


1. Structure your conversations – and they are (or you should shift towards) conversations, not speeches

2. To switch out of the monologue into a conversation, bring people in with interaction and involvement, speak to them on a par.

3. Your role now is timekeeper and inspirer, not the boss. 

4. Make sure all of the ideas are collected with no judgement, no evaluation at the outset – that comes later. 

5. Experiment with three different types of interaction. The simple, the creative and the powerful. 

6. So these are a few methods that you can use to escape from these godforsaken, monotone monologues that I am still hearing so much about from my clients.

7. Do not talk at your staff. If you want the best out of your staff, treat them like individuals.

8. Give them some more autonomy, and give them the space to perform


And I’ll just leave you with this.
I’m sitting here on my own. I have nobody in front of me. And yet, even as a podcaster, I am using my voice to bring you into this story, to bring you into my message, and so, can you see the power of voice is incredible. And if I’m doing this right, you can probably even imagine what I’m doing with my hands.

Coco's Communication Challenge

So go out and have a great time experimenting with this new approach.
Getting your team to buy into a workable and worthwhile strategy is a gratifying and inspiring experience.

Instead of talking at people talk to people.

That’s Coco’s
communication challenge for this week. 

Coco's Communication Challenge
Coco's Communication Challenge

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That's it from "Experts Speak English!" ...

You’ve been listening to Corinne Wilhelm on the Experts! Speak English! podcast, brought to you by English Speaking Experts


So, all that remains for me to say is: Have a fabulous week and be the very best communicator that you can be!


This podcast was brought to you by Experts! Speak English! and if you’d like some help with breaking free of the monologue, let me know. I love helping people do just that.