Nola Beldegreen was a champion college forensics team member. “I won trophies for public speaking the way other people competed in tennis,” she says.
But not until she took a Dale Carnegie course — while working for Glamour magazine — did she really learn to speak for herself.
She became a Carnegie instructor. It was still her avocation — by now she was in sales, traveling the globe for Gourmet magazine — but Nola realized the importance of the spoken word in business.
After she left Conde Nast to raise her 2 daughters, Westport neighbors recognized her talents. She helped them prepare for wedding toasts, job interviews, and any other type of public speaking.
She’s turned that into a business. Nola works with executives and students, in areas like talking points, presence, delivery, messaging through inflection, intonation, pauses, tone and nonverbal language.
Specifically, Nola covers areas like using stories to inspire, leave voicemails that sound professional, lead without sounding “bossy,” remember people’s names, and speak with certainty.
She helps them listen better too. “When you listen well, you know what you’re going to say next,” she notes.
Nola worked with an executive whose mind went blank when she was asked spontaneous questions, a high school student whose mother worried that his avoidance of eye contact — and lack of personality — would hurt him in college interviews, and shy people, who want to become better conversationalists. With everyone, the key is to find a speaking style that’s right for them.
During the pandemic she shifted from personal sessions that taught clients how to feel comfortable in face-to-face meetings, to Zoom sessions that taught them how to feel comfortable Zooming.
Nola worked with people who had lost jobs, and now had to interview without picking up on the verbal cues and body language they’d always been used to.
Many of her clients are young. College students, and those just starting out in the business world, often lack the conversational skills of previous generations.
“The text world is so different from other conversations,” Nola points out. “They need to know how to organize their thoughts and ideas, before they go into a meeting.”
Her goal is to give clients confidence and strength in their presence and speaking skills. It’s the same, she says, as gaining strength at the gym.
She usually spends 6 hour-long sessions with clients. That’s a lot less time than it takes to get physically fit.
And you don’t even need to shower.
(For more information click here, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 212-381-0856. Hat tip: Susan Wexler)