Dale Klein has a built a business helping people present themselves, become better networkers and level up their careers. She'll be speaking about active listening at the upcoming RISE Women in Health Care Leadership Summit.

Dale Klein, owner of Profitable Speech LLC, takes her background as a speech language pathologist and uses those skills to teach people to communicate better, and do better in their business. Perfecting that skill has become even more critical during the pandemic when in-person business meetings, cocktail hours, and interviews shifted to Zoom and Teams calls.

Klein will be a speaker at the RISE Women in Health Care Leadership Summit, Dec. 14-15, at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego.

In this interview with the Albany Business Review (reprinted with permission), she discusses her work on improving communication and the biggest challenges people face in public speaking. 

Your background is in clinical speech pathology. How did you start your business?

After practicing clinically for probably close to a decade, I decided this really isn’t for me. It took me a while to realize that. I stayed within health care, which is really where I was most adept and ended up running several different rehabilitation departments. I actually started out in foreign accent reduction. That’s part of corporate speech pathology. And I felt very trained to do that. So because I was in health care, I had normal access to a lot of physicians. And so I focused on physicians and helping them with foreign accent reduction. And then I decided, you know what, I’m going to expand this.

What do you do today? 

I decided to really broaden up my entire field and open it up into public speaking and any type of what I call business communication.

Who are your clients?

They come from every industry and my reach is global. Some of my clients are in other countries. Prepandemic, I was very accustomed to working virtually.

How do you work with them?

One area of the business has to do with coaching people, could be anybody who really needs to enhance how they sound. Someone who wants to sound their best. They may think that they do sound their best and they’re saying, “I want to up my game. I want to really sound my best when I’m leading a meeting, when I’m speaking one on one, when I’m speaking virtually or when I’m interviewing for a job.” The other area is that companies will hire me to be their speaker, so I am addressing, it could be, a group of several hundred, it could be a group of 50 or more.

Can you give an example?

In December, there is an association that I’ll be speaking for and they are having their in-person event in San Diego. So I’ll be flying to San Diego and speaking to a group there. The topic will be on listening because that is what this particular association wants.


The RISE Women in Health Care Leadership Summit


Have people’s needs changed in the last two years as more business has become virtual?

I think they have. I was working with a gentleman based in Washington, D.C., who works for the U.N. and another person who is in health care. Both of these individuals are very good speakers. However, to your point, they said, “I’m going to an in-person event, and I think I’m kind of rusty. So how do I network? How do I say what I do? How do I present my topic?”

Did the abrupt shift to Zoom calls require different communication skills?

One banker during the pandemic was doing a lot of his leadership skills and a lot of his networking online. He  had no clue, as many of us did not know, about how to really present the best possible version of himself online. And so I was very instrumental in helping individuals with that. There is a lot of competition. There’s a lot of noise out there. Everybody’s clamoring to do the same thing. I call it the stand-out factor. How are you going to stand out? You can’t just get on the screen and talk. One wants to be memorable. Who doesn’t want to be memorable? But sadly, a lot of people have no clue how to do that. And one way to do that is by how we sound.

What are the biggest challenges people face in public speaking?

One is lack of preparation. I don’t want to be scripted and held to something verbatim, but I think it’s really important to do some homework right in advance. No. 2 is the fear of speaking doesn’t go away, and people have a misunderstanding about what that fear is all about. They come to me and they say, “Dale, can you help me eliminate the fear of public speaking?” My answer is absolutely not. Walter Cronkite said, “It’s OK to have butterflies, however you want to teach them to fly in formation.” I don’t eliminate it. But I do tell people how to manage it. 

What’s the best way for people to answer the dreaded question, “What do you do?”

You need to really perfect your 30-second commercial or some people refer to it as an elevator pitch. But those are scary words, “Oh, so what do you do?” So many people just tell everything. No, no, no. You want to say something that’s poignant, something that is really striking and something that will make the other person want to know more, similar to an interview. You tell them just enough so that they ask more.

Seats are still available for the live, in-person event, RISE Women in Health Care Leadership Summit, Dec. 14-15, at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required to attend. Click here for more information, including speakers, full agenda, how to register, and health and safety protocols.