Conversations are an essential component of every day life. The ability to make a lasting and meaningful impression on others during conversations can make or break your relationships with friends, colleagues, and others. To help you have better conversations, the experts at Speak have compiled a guide of the most effective ways to have a great conversation.
1. Lead with a question
The best way to start a conversation is by asking a question. This shows the other participant in the conversation that you are interested in what they have to say, and confident enough to ask. It is important to ensure that the question that you lead with is broad so that the other person can engage with it comfortably. It is also important to ask neutral questions that will not put others in an uncomfortable situation.
Questions to avoid include:
What did you think of the presidential address last week?
Did you ever get that promotion?
Are you and your significant other still together?
2. Start with small talk
Trust is earned, not given. For this reason, it’s better to start a conversation off with light small talk than it is to immediately delve into specifics. For this tip, remember the 3 tiers of conversation.
The first tier is comprised of safe territory. This includes the weather, popular culture, and any shared experiences.
The second tier is comprised of potentially controversial topics. These include religion, dating, and politics.
The third tier is comprised of the most intimate topics. These can include family, finances, and health.
Always ensure that you begin with tier one conversations, and gauge the situation and relationship before moving on to more personal topics.
3. Look for obvious talking points before you approach a conversation
If you are introducing yourself to someone, consider obvious talking points that you could bring up before you approach. For example, is this person wearing merchandise from a specific band or sports team that you could ask them about?
4.It’s about more than just words
Did you know that 93% of communication is non-verbal? This type of communication includes body language cues such as posture, hand gestures, eye contact and facial reactions. It also includes tone of voice, and pace of speech. All of these non-verbal cues communicate a lot about you to others. For example, typically those who speak slower are viewed as more confident.
5. Don’t hog the mic
Remember to keep the other participant engaged by consistently asking for their opinion and input on the topic of conversation. If you feel like you may be talking too much, ask your conversation partner how they feel about what you’ve just said.
6. Focus on listening, and remember key points
One of the biggest mistakes that people make during conversations with others is focusing too much on their response before the other person has a chance to finish their thought. Ensure that you are listening to your partner, and considering their full thought before you respond. Make sure to remember key points during the conversation that you can refer back to later to show others that you care about what they have to say.
7. Don’t be scared of silence
Silences are only awkward if you make them. Silence is actually a normal part of every conversation, and should be regarded in this way. Do not grasp for abstract topics to attempt to fill every silent moment, because they are a natural part of every exchange.
8. Try to relate
Relating to other people is the best way to form lasting relationships. As humans, we are naturally drawn to people who are similar to us. If you relate to something that your partner has said, make sure to tell them that you have had a similar experience or feel a similar way about a certain topic.
9. Be aware of social dynamics
Conversations will flow differently with various types of people. How you converse with someone depends on your relationship to them. For example, you will likely converse in different ways with your best friend than with your boss. Ensure that you are aware of the social dynamics that you are participating in, and adjust your behavior accordingly.
10. Fake it until you make it
The key to better communication is essentially to fake it ’till you make it. Even if you don’t feel 100% confident in a situation, always pretend that you are the most confident person in the room.
The best way to master the art conversation is by practicing often. We hope this guide has helped you think of new ways to initiate, and keep the conversation flowing.
Visit our homepage to contact us for more insights into how to better communicate with others.
It is proven that a lack of confidence can hinder your overall performance in the workplace, personal relationships and self-actualization. Due to a rise in the digital age, online communication and social media, a major consequence is a decrease in confidence. Succeeding in life and obtaining opportunities starts with your inner perception and your first impression.
The psychological aspect of confidence goes hand-in-hand with goal setting and accomplishments. When you achieve success your confidence boosts as a result. This makes your performance rate in the workplace rise and in turn, creates a continuous boost of confidence cycle. If you do not believe you can achieve your goals, then who else will? You have the ability to change the way you feel about yourself and the ways others perceive you. Take a look at Speak’s guide to mastering confidence through body language and speech.
Communicate Through Body Language:
A major aspect of communication skills is the ability to build confidence through body language. The reality is that 90% of our communication skills and perception of others is non-verbal. This means that the majority of the way we come across is through the natural tendencies of the human body. That is why mastering and adapting muscle memory is an extremely powerful skill. It takes 21 days to form a habit, so make today day one and become more confident.
Master The First Impression:
Furthermore, first impressions are everything, that is why so many individuals put an emphasis on the first date, the first interview, meeting the parents etc. This is because within 10 seconds the person who you are interacting with has already made an assumption about your character. You must be thinking, I said all the right things, I was so nice, I had amazing manners, well the reality is that verbal communication will not be the root of your success in communication. The mind and the body need to be simultaneously interacting to create a well-rounded appearance.
Embody The Essence of Confidence:
This is where the notion of confidence comes in. Being confident is a skill that for many, is extremely difficult. So why not fake it till you make it? Or rather fake it until you become it? This is where the term procedural memory comes in. This is the process in which mastery comes through the constant repetition of body movements. It is true that with practice anything is possible. If you embody the essence of confidence you then build up the natural tendencies of muscle movements.
Communication Is Instinctual:
In addition, this is a lesson for your muscles to the point where they naturally execute these habitual behaviours. The notion of naturalistic body movements has been dated back to the beginning of time. In fact, in the animal kingdom, the communication process is instinctual for survival. Animals entire functionality is based on non-verbal communication, this includes gestures, body language, and facial expressions. All of which are relevant to humans, as our biological makeup correlates with animalistic capacities.
Setting Goals is Crucial For Confidence:
Moreover, the mind and the body are interconnected, so the way you move your body is vital for a confidence boost. It is stated that feeling motivated heightens an individual’s level of confidence. The root of feeling motivated is completing goals and feeling good about accomplishments, which in turn makes an individual feel self-confident. So getting out there, setting goals and crushing them is a great way to feel more confident. These can be goals of any size and any manner, from making your bed every morning to completing a marathon, both can contribute to a boost in confidence!
Master These Body Language Tips:
However, what about those days where you cannot shake a low self-esteem persona? The answer is simple, change your body language. By incorporating positive body language you can, in turn, become a more confident person. Every time you choose to smile, you inherently become more happy and gleeful. It is because the brain obtains the signals coming from the body and translates them into feelings. Let’s talk about poses that are crucial for increasing confidence:
This pose is an easy and quick way to train the body to feel confident. Stand with your legs shoulder width apart, bend your knees slightly and raise those hands in the air! Just like you’ve won the biggest race of your life! These are signals of power and resilience that are being sent to the brain at a rapid pace.
While someone is talking or when you are listening to a presentation leaning in articulates a state of interest. It shows you are paying attention and that you are invested in the situation at hand. This tells your body that there is value in the information being disseminated and makes you an active listener.
Smile, it looks good on you:
Smiling calms the body by lowering your heart-rate, releasing endorphins that eliminate stress. It gets your body ready to be productive and master all the necessary tasks for the day. Every morning smile and tell yourself that you are worthy, attractive and that a good day awaits. It is the best way to begin your day with a cup of confidence!
Everyone is always talking about good posture. But what if it actually helped boost confidence? When sitting keep your back straight, sit all the way back on the chair, feet flat on the floor and keep your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
Do not forget about your arms and legs:
When we are nervous we tend to fidget with our arms or tap our feet. Many cross their arms or legs in a resting position. Try to avoid all of these tendencies because they make you look closed off and nervous. Keeping your hands in your lap while you are sitting and by your side, while you are standing is the best resting position.
Start and End with a great handshake:
A great handshake can tell you a lot about the person that you are meeting. It is often times the first sign of confidence through body language and is a trait that should be universally mastered. A handshake needs to have strength, without too much force, mixed with direct eye contact and a smile. This is the recipe for a confident greeting.
Take up space and invite others in with open gestures:
By showing you are not afraid to occupy space shows you are confident. Widen your stance by standing stable and solid. This shows that your natural relaxed state is dominant and sure of yourself. Stand when you can and walk around when applicable show that you are there for a reason
By holding your hands out while speaking and using your hands with articulating shows relaxed body movements. Invite others in by facing your palms up. All of these gestures allow you to be perceived more positively and invites others in for open dialogue. This is beneficial for your overall creditability and appearance and persona.
In conclusion, all of these tips are simple ways to train the body that you are confident. The more you incorporate these gestures into your daily routine, the more confident you will feel. It is natural that not everyone feels confident all day every day. Sometimes we need a little boost to get our day going. Soon with practice, you will become the master of your confidence.
Enhance your influence on others through your communication skills. Speak is a key tool that aids in your journey toward confidence. Learn more about Speak and become the best version of yourself. Let Speak help you become a confident communicator and obtain skills that enhance your lifestyle. Email us at [email protected]
Senators Bennet, Hassan and Casey on Government Shutdown
Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Bob Casey (D-PA) spoke about the government shutdown and the debate over border security.
Here is the full transcript of Michael Bennet’s Government Shutdown speech:
Over the weekend, as you may have heard, our government set a new record. It wasn’t for the number of roads being built or repaired in this country. It wasn’t for higher math scores or graduation rates for kids in the united states of America. It wasn’t for passing the most bills or investing the most dollars in our future. It wasn’t for paying attention to the next generation of Americans. It was for the longest shutdown in the history of the united states. A selfish act has taken bipartisan politicians that it is an embarrassment to our country. And to our future. It’s been 24 days. We have federal employees all over the state of Colorado and I’m sure the state of Alaska, the state of the Commonwealth of Virginia we heard before who are out of work because of what Washington has done to them. It is nothing that they have done. They have fulfilled their end of the bargain. But because we have a screw loose around here, because we are the only modern industrialized country in the world who shuts its government down for politics.
Our allies don’t shut their government down for politics and our foes don’t shut their government down for politics. No local government shuts its government down for politics. No school district shuts its government down for politics. No state would ever think of doing. No elected official at any level of those governments would show their face in the grocery store on the weekend after they shut the government down. Sorry to the citizens of Alamosa, or sorry to the citizens of Durango, or sorry to the parents in Denver public schools, your kids can’t come to school today because we’re shutting the government down for politics. It is ridiculous! I met an air traffic controller today, mr. President, who got her check on friday after she worked through the entire holiday. She had a kid in her– I don’t know how old he was, but a baby that had to be carried. She worked the entire holiday separate from her family, got her check on friday. It was for 77 cents. The people in this body might as well been standing outside lifting their middle finger at her. And the tsa workers who are there today at denver international airport making sure that we were safe. That the travelling public was safe and not getting paid, unlike the people here during this shutdown. By the way, that airport, which we’re very proud of in denver and in Colorado, denver international airport, that is the newest airport that has been built in the united states of America and it was built almost a quarter of a century ago. Because we’re not making the investments that anybody else in the world is making. And as I said, mr. President, no other advanced country in the world shuts its government down for politics. I expect us to have disagreements. We should have disagreements. But we shouldn’t shut the government down over this disagreement, 24 days. While we were shut down, other countries were actually investing in their future. South korea in the last 24 days, mr. President, broke ground on expanded bullet train outside their capital of Seoul.
Canada, while we were shut down, announced support for a new five megawatt geothermal plant, the first of its kind in that country. India issued tenders to set up 7.Gigawattsts of solar capacity. New Zealand announced millions in new resources to improve the safety of rural highways. You should see other highways. It’s not just the shutdown, it’s a decade, a decade of fiscal fights made in the name of fiscal responsibility that have put us in the — in the first position since the Vietnam war and before the Vietnam war to see our unemployment rate falling and the deficit going up! This same wrecking crew who called Barack Obama a socialist and a bolshevik and was incapable of bringing themselves to help at a moment when our unemployment was at 10%, and we were at the depths of the worse recession since the great depression have now closed the government! And given us a million and a half to two trillion dollar deficit, while the unemployment rate is falling. And every one of them promised their constituents and my constituents that these tax cuts would pay for themselves. God knows when they add it up what this shutdown is going to cost the American people. Not saving them money.
Vietnam opened a new international airport near the bay to attract tourists and to boost the economy. Singapore is preparing an underground master plan to maximize its urban space by moving things like data centers, utilities and water reservoirs below ground. A new report showed that for the first time ever germany drew more energy from renewable sources than coal in 2018. Ireland ireland, in contrast to what I was just saying about the united states of America, ended the year with a budget surplus, mr. President. Imagine the flexibility it gives legislators and policy makers there to think about, what are we going to do with this surplus? How are we going to invest in the next generation? How are we going to shore up their equivalent of social security? Maybe we can have a real middle class tax cut or lift some people out of poverty in our country. We can’t ask those questions today because of our fiscal imbalance and because the government of the united states is shut down. While we were shut down, other countries moved forward with a trade partnership that excludes the united states. Once it’s fully in place, it will help a trading block of nearly half a billion consumers. And our manufacturers should be selling, too. That our small businesses should be exporting to.
Not surprisingly, mr. President, China has been extremely busy over the last 24 days while we have been shut down. While we have been shut down, mr. President, China landed a spacecraft on the dark side of the moon. That has never happened before in human history. There was a time in our history, you’ll remember it, mr. President, when the Russians launched sputnik, that that caught our imagination. And john f. Kennedy said, we are going to put a man on the moon within the decade. That’s what he said. That’s what we did, mr. President. Now because of the fecklessness of this Congress, did you know that America cannot send an astronaut into space. Without asking the Russians for permission to ride on one of their rockets. A whole generation of Americans that I was part of, mr. President, was inspired by the space mission that nasa led. Unfortunately, in my case, it did not lead me to understand anything about mathematics or about science, but it inspired us as Americans to have a big vision for what our country could do. And for what our country could do in competition with our adversaries around the world. Do you think the chinese are not observing what we’re doing while they’re putting a rocket, a spaceship on the dark side of the moon for the first time in human history? Something they will always be able to claim.
Something we will never be able to claim? Do you think the Russians note that we can’t put somebody up on the space station if we want to? That we have to wait for them to let us do it? Just after they put that spaceship on the other side of the moon, China announced that it’s planning another mission to the moon by the end of the year and a mission to mars by early as 2020. It announced it’s planning to invest in 4,200 miles of new railway lines this year, including almost 2000 miles of high speed rail. You know how many more that is than we have? 2000. And that says nothing about the investments they’ve already made. They began operating new high speed rail lines in east China and northern China with initial speeds of 155 miles per hour while our government is closed. That’s another plan, that’s another set of tracks. China announced plans for a six giga watt wind farm on the border with mongolia which once completed would become the largest in the world. China continues its pursuit of a vast space-based communications network that will cover every inch of the earth. If we’re not careful, if we’re not careful they’re going to deploy 5g a lot more quickly than we will. That’s what the rest of the world is doing while we are shut down. And in my– mr. President, my view of this is that we don’t need to wait for the president on this. That’s what the majority leader keeps saying, mr. President, he keeps saying, well, I can’t pass something that the president will veto, that– because it won’t become law. I don’t understand the logic of that, speaking of math. We passed a bill in this senate, this Republican-controlled senate, I think it was unanimously, to keep the government open. And the house of representatives, so my math isn’t that great, virtually unanimously, the house of representatives passed a very similar bill to keep the government open.
And in the middle of all of this, in the midst of all this, president trump said I’m not going to accept that because I’m going to use this moment to extort Congress for $5 billion for my wall. He said to the people he refers to as chuck and nancy, he said — he said give me the $5 billion and they said, well, why don’t you just open the government? Because almost the unanimous senate passed it and the house has passed it and his answer was because I’ll lose leverage, meaning, I won’t have the misery that I am creating for the federal work force. I won’t have people who can nt pay their mortgage, who can’t pay for their early childhood education, who can’t pay for their education. I won’t have their misery to use to extort the members of Congress into giving me $5 billion for my wall. Notwithstanding the fact that he promised over and over and over again when he was running for president that Mexico would pay for the wall. That’s not my talking point. That’s not me coming out here and being unfair and trying to exploit a weakness or a misstatement. I think it’s fair to say almost all of his campaign was based on the idea that there was going to be a wall and that Mexico was going to pay for the wall. He could not have been clearer about that. And now he’s trying to shut the government down because he knows Mexico won’t pay for the wall, which the rest of us knew the whole time he was telling America untruths about it.
And he’s turned instead to the American taxpayer to say, okay, I wasn’t telling the truth about it then, but don’t pay any attention to that, you now have to pay for the wall. And our first response to that is no! You haven’t even spent the money that’s been appropriated for the wall to date. He has not built an inch of the wall. Look it up. And the second problem is that anybody who has studied this question for any moment of time knows that his proposal is a waste of money for the united states. I’m not going to be lectured by anybody on the other side about the need for border security. I was part of the gang of eight that negotiated the immigration bill in 2013. That was a bill, mr. President, that had not $5 billion of border security in it, not 2.3 billion dollars ever border security in it, but 46 billion dollars of border security. It got 68 votes here in the senate. Never went to the house, never was allowed to have a vote because of the tyranny of the so-called hastert rule which requires people not to vote their conscience, but to vote only along party and partisan lines, another disgraceful chapter in modern American history. But that $46 billion in that bill doubled the number of border security agents at our border. If built 350 miles per hour of what the president how refers to as steel slats, as if he’s invented that idea. It made sure that we could see every single inch of our border. The chinese are going to be able to see every single inch of the world, the least we could do is see every inch of our border, and in that bill we were able to do that and meanwhile, he tells his base and the people on fox news repeat it every single night, that Democrats are for open borders.
Democrats are for terrorists pouring in over the southern border. Mr. President, I’m going to stop because my great colleague from new Hampshire is here. We’ve spent years working on border security, years working with my cherished Republican colleagues on this issue in a bipartisan way, that the president doesn’t want the wall. He wants the entertainment of the wall. He wants to rally his base around the wall. And meanwhile, he is taking the leading economy in the world, a country with the largest capacity for self-defense in human history, and he has shut its government down over a $5 billion phony wall. And it is a disgrace. It’s a disgrace for every hardworking federal worker and their families who depend on them who are out of work, who are being furloughed, who aren’t being paid. It’s a disgrace for every person who works at the state and local government, and in school districts all across this nation, who would never think about shutting their government down for history, but who understand that what they possess as a civil servant is a sacred trust to their community and to the next generation of coloradans or folks from new Hampshire or of Americans or of alaskans. And we can’t wait for the president and I’ll finish with this. Because he either doesn’t want the wall or he doesn’t have the capacity to get to a solution to it. And so, we have to do our work as senators. And we have to vote to reopen the government. And if that were put on the floor tomorrow, it would pass.
And I’ll bet you it would pass with a veto proof majority. Why? Because everybody’s constituents in this place would say, are you out of your mind? Don’t come back here and have another town hall and explain why you shut the government down over politics. Instead, Democrats and Republicans should come together in this chamber and set an example for the American people and say, all is not lost. This exercise in a Democratic Republican is going to live to fight another day. We’ve come to our senses. We’re not going to beat our own constituents to death for the purpose of empty partisan slogans or ideas that aren’t going to advance the interests of the next generation of Americans. I worry every night that I’m here, mr. President, about how the next generation of Americans, what kind of history they’re going to write about what we did when it was our responsibility to make sure that we fulfilled our commitment to them.
The same ones that generation after generation, generation of Americans have fulfilled for people who came after them. That’s what it means to be a citizen in a republic like ours. And we’re violating every norm of that approach to the work. And allowing our competitors around the world to create advantage for themselves and catch liabilities for us. We shouldn’t let this thing go into the 25th day, 26th day or 27th day, we should end it now. Mr. President, I yield the floor. Floor. Senator from new Hampshire. Mr. President, I rise today to join my Democratic colleagues in sharing stories of what we are hearing from our constituents who are being impacted by this government shutdown. And I want to take a minute to thank my friend and colleague from Colorado for his thoughtful and comprehensive and passionate remarks about where we are and why.
This is a needless and terrible exercise in politics. And we need to reopen the government. Mr. President, this senseless shutdown has been dragging on now for weeks affecting vital government services and leaving many federal workers without pay. In every day that passes without a resolution, hardworking people are dealing with greater uncertainty and many are facing tough choices in order to protect their families and the way of life they have worked so hard to build. Like many of my colleagues, I’ve heard from a number of people throughout my state who have been affected by the shutdown. On friday, I visited two nonprofits in new Hampshire, the nashua soup kitchen and most of us know as cap from strafford county and provide food and support. They are now in danger of being unable to provide critical services that are a part of our safety net and there’s increased demand for the services because unpaid federal workers will be turning to them for help. Federal employees and others affected by the shutdown in new Hampshire have also written to my office to describe the hardships they’re facing and urge us to reopen the government. One of those has been an air traffic controller for close to 19 years. Sadly, on Christmas eve, her mother passed away, leaving her with a terrible loss, but also with the stress and expenses of a funeral. All while having to work Christmas eve and Christmas day. On top of that, now she has not received a paycheck for that work.
She wrote, and here is her quote, the government shutdown has been the last thing on my mind, but now the realization of not being able to pay my mortgage, credit cards from Christmas time and now this funeral, is too much to bear. She put it simply saying, quote, my colleagues and I deserve better. I also heard from a granite stater who works for the irs. He wrote to me saying that, quote, the prospect of not having a paycheck for an extended time is causing sleepiness nights and I am recovering an extended bout of pneumonia that ended up putting me in the hospital right before Christmas and he goes on, quote, my wife is worried about the bills for that. Last night, I worked pushing out the car payments. Today I applied for unemployment for the first time in 25 years. And talked to my mortgage company. He continued, quote, all this was under control a month ago, but now has me worried and is costing me charges and interest. He also details his co-worker who is terrified of losing her home if she’s not able to pay the mortgage and another is waiting to address a health issue until she has had a paycheck again. And said of himself and fellow workers, year hardworking dedicated workers, and long nights away from home and risks to health and safety.
All I want is to do my job, and be paid fairly for it. Finally, I heard from that granite stater whose husband is in the coast guard and recently relocated to new Hampshire. She said, quote, to say the shutdown is impacting us is an understatement. She wrote that she and her husband recently relocated to new Hampshire and they’ve spent every last penny purchasing a home in the state where they first met. She said, quote, we knew it was going to be tight with our two paychecks, but we would have enough to make ends meet. That all changed after Christmas when we were informed that our president was prepared to shut down the government over a wall. Since then, she and her husband have watched, hoped, and prayed that funding would come because now they fear that they’re going to have to call family members to beg, to borrow money, to pay their mortgage and not going in default.
And mr. President, as bad as the direct impact of this situation is on federal workers, and on some of our most vulnerable, and on people in small businesses that rely on government services, the shutdown also has ripple effects on other people and businesses across our state. We must do better. The president’s politically motivated crisis is devastating for too many hard working families in new Hampshire and across the country and they deserve better than being used as pawns for a campaign slogan created by president trump. It is time for these games to stop, for the president’s shutdown to end, and for our government to reopen. We need a vote on the floor of the united states senate. On the bipartisan bills that we already passed that would reopen this government with a veto proof majority. Thank you, mr. President. I yield the floor. Show less text Mr. President, senator from pennsylvania. Thank you, mr. President. I rise tonight to speak about the shutdown and I know the hour is late. I’ll cut short my remarks, but we’re now, as you’ve heard and as many Americans know in day 24 of this shutdown, this is a shutdown that the president a number of weeks ago said that he, I’m not quoting him exactly, you about he seemed to want to have a shutdown and then he went forward and executed it.
Even after this body, the united states senate voted unanimously just before Christmas to extend funding for the government until february so we could continue debates until then, but he chose to up-end that and now we have this shutdown lasting not just 24 days, but now the longest in American history. Not a distinction any president or administration or Congress, especially the majority here in the senate, should be proud of. And I think it’s very clear that there’s a way out of this and the way out of this would not foreclose– in fact, it would enhance the chances that we would have a fulsome, thorough, policy-oriented debate on border security, which we should have. We should actually enlarge that to speak to a lot of– or debate, I should say, a lot of major immigration issues and maybe come up with a bipartisan bill like we had in 2013 where 68 votes brought forward a bill out of the united states senate that had probably the best border security provisions in recent American history, had a pathway to citizenship, a long and arduous path, but a pathway nonetheless, as well as guest worker provisions so that employers could have orders and rules and certainties as to their work force in our immigration system. So we have a very much broken system that would have been five years at least into the fixing of or the repair of, if we had passed that bill. Or if the house had passed that bill, I should say. So 68 votes in the senate, died in the house and we haven’t seen a bill like that since, not a bill as comprehensive. Here we have with 24 days of government employees held hostage by the administration.
And I think there’s some complicity here in the senate as well because we know that there’s a bill that would open eight of the nine agencies that’s here in the senate. We could pass it tonight, tomorrow morning, tomorrow afternoon, we could pass it very quickly because remember, the first act of a Democratic house, Democratic majority house, the first act was to pass Republican appropriation bills. Bills that sailed through the united states senate, Republican majority with little to no opposition. That’s where we find ourselves with a way out of the predicament, which I believe would not only open up the government, which would be good for the whole country, both parties all across the country and the people most adversely affected and it would isolate the issue, right? The president says that he wants to have changes made and he has a different view than I do. But let’s have– let’s have weeks of debate of border security, everything he wants to talk about. Let’s bring in the experts. Have a dueling set of experts. See who the American people supports. Do they support one point of view that says we want border security? Or do they support the other point of view that says that you want a wall or some steel barrier, and that’s kind of the choice.
Do you want real border security or want something else, but we should have a debate about that. If anything, the debate about the shutdown would be set aside because it would be over. The government would be open naturally. The country, the press, the senate and the house would naturally focuss then on issues of dispute. That would isolate the issue, but it’s very difficult to maintain an argument or a debate, a reasoned debate, a debate based upon facts and policy and law and I hope the advice and consultation of border security experts, not just politicians. We’ve got a lot of smart people in the Congress, but very few, if any of them, are border security experts. Let’s listen to the experts, let’s take testimony from them like they had back in 2013 that under undergurded the bill that got the 68 votes. That would isolate the issue instead of bringing misery what is now hundreds of thousands of Americans, soon to grow to millions and then tens of millions, because those who miss paychecks today are– they are a very big number. That number will grow when it starts to affect government services, which I’ll outhine rather quickly because of the hour. But we’ve got a lot of men and women working in the country now, working without pay or being furloughed, worrying about whether they can make a mortgage payment or put food on the table, or pay their heating bills. They don’t have a choice. They can’t just say, well, sir, I can’t pay the bill today because the government shut down, just wait and you’re going to be just fine. So they have to pay the bill. Thank god we passed legislation for back pay, but for some of these folks, back pay won’t be enough because their credit will be adversity impacted. Their credit might be destroyed, even if they get the back pay. On friday 820,000 federal workers, including 14,000 in my home state of pennsylvania, missed a paycheck.
More than 1300 department of agriculture employees, 990 department of interior employees. 1200 federal bureau of prisons employees, 775 f.A.A. Ap tsa employees, 700 epa employees, as well as u.S. Attorneys, or assistant u.S. Attorneys in different parts of pennsylvania. One part, a smart part of a longer constituent letter that I got from a constituent. Now, this constituent said, I am currently a furloughed united states– u.S. State department employee and one of your constituents. I will soon miss a paycheck and with car payments, student loan payments, et cetera, on the horizon, my family of five will likely suffer beyond our personal hardship, this shutdown is both expensive and counterproductive to border security. I couldn’t agree more with that constituent. With the argument that that constituent makes, but what’s even more compelling, of course, is not the argument about the policy debate in washington. The more compelling is missing car payments, student loan paints and a family of that size suffering. That is real life. That’s not just a washington theoretical debate, that’s real life for that family. How about farmers? These are people that are not federal government employees, but they’re affected by the fact that federal government employees are not at their desk or not in the field. Farmers can’t visit their local farm service agency office to get assistance. We have a new farm bill, one of the great bipartisan achievements. Democrats and Republicans, house and senate came together for a big farm bill. That’s great glad we got it done at the end of 2018. Bad news, some of that requires advice and consultation and engagement with farm service agency offices.
They’re not able to give that assistance. How about seniors who rely upon transportation services and nutrition services, provided by the enhanced mobility of seniors and individuals with disabilities program? And the commodities supplemental food program also known as the senior food box, are now at risk of being isolated. These seniors, I should say, are now at risk of being isolated at home and without food. Approximately 2400 units of who using, housing in pennsylvania are in jeopardy because the department of housing and urban development won’t be able to renew a contract. Most people are seniors and people with disabilities. And people who benefit from this housing assistance have average incomes less than $13,000. And 1.8, almost 2, 1.8 million pennsylvanians receive assistance through the snap program, supplemental nutrition assistance program and we use today call it food stamps. They may lose if it drags on. The administration says don’t worry, everything is okay for february, in essence what the administration said. Having given us a definitive word about march. So, 1.8 million pennsylvanians, a huge share of them have a disability, a huge share of them are a child in a household, who can’t support themselves, can’t afford food on their own. They’re children. They benefit as well. They’re part of the 1.8 and a lot of them, of course, are seniors, who deserve this program because that’s what we do in America. We try to help people who need food assistance.
That’s called being America, being a strong country that we are, showing how strong we are, not just by virtue of our military, our gdp. Everyone knows that. No one comes close in the world. But we’re also strong because we say we care about people with disabilities. We want to make sure if we need the medicaid they get that health care. If they need food assistance, we care about our seniors, too, because we’re America and we’re strong and it’s an American value. So these programs are important. So when they’re shovelled down, that’s not– that’s not an American value being upheld. So when we talk about these programs, about food assistance, this is also real life. Literally, today, or the day when you lose food assistance. Or why should that assistance even being– even be the subject of uncertainty. Uncertainty because someone doesn’t get their way on a policy matter in washington? I guess it’s okay for any member of Congress because we’re a co-equal branch of government. It’s not like the president is higher than the Congress, we’re co-equals. I guess because the president wants to shut the government down to make a point about a policy matter, I guess that should be the option that any member of the house who are senate should exercise. So the next time, it will be a member of Congress. When you lose a battle on a policy matter or you don’t propose the funding on time, which is what happened here, they didn’t ask for the money the beginning of the year, so they tried to shoe horn it in at the end of the year.
I guess if you lose the policy debate or your bill doesn’t pass, you vote to shut the government down. You take action to shut the government down like the president did. I don’t think that’s the way any party or any country should operate. 200,000 Pennsylvanians may lose access to the women, infants and children’s program which provides critical nutritional support to mothers and young children. 200,000. So there’s the million, or the two million I talked about. 1.8 million people getting the benefits of the snap program which, by the way, helps all Americans. People say what do you mean by that? What do you mean? You spend a buck on snap and get a buck 80 back in economic activity because people have to eat and tend to spend that money quickly. It helps everybody. So the snap program is not just a nice thing to do for people that have a disability or seniors or children, the snap program helps all of us, because it helps stimulate the economy. So even if you’re disinterested in supporting this program, but you’re interested in your own economy, your own American economy growing, you should support the snap program.
It’s also the right thing to do because it’s a darn good program, but when you have 1.1 million people getting snap and 200,000 who benefit from the wic program, over 2 million just in one state. Now, these programs aren’t out of money this week or the month of january, or the month of february, but we don’t know about march yet. We have not gotten any guarantees about march and even if we got a guarantee about march, what about april? That’s far from guaranteed. So, that’s what we’re talking about here. Why should– why should these people have to wait? Why should a farmer have to wait weeks or months to talk to a farm services agency office. Why should a family who’s got food insecurity as part of their lives, not be able to get something to eat because we’re having a policy debate here? Why shouldn’t we give them the certainty that they vote for us to ensure? So, it’s unconscionable, and unacceptable and I wish I could come up with better words than that because they’re not at all adequate.
But it is unconscionable that children and moms and hungry Americans will suffer because of this — because of this shutdown. The president says he’s concerned about crime and the flow of dangerous drugs into the country. And I agree with him, a lot of Americans do, of course. But the shutdown is significant impairing the fbi and dea agencies. These are impacted. Agents are doing their work to keep the public safe, they’re dedicated and they’ll do their work no matter what, but with many analysts on furlough it’s harder and harder to work effectively to keep the public safe. I want a fbi that’s got all the resources they need. Everybody on duty. Everyone working. But if you only get– if the fbi is undermined because of the shutdown, we are less safe. If the dea, drug enforcement agency is undermined because of the shutdown, we’re less safe. You don’t have to be a law enforcement expert to say that. So, it goes on from there, mr. President. I’ve got more, but I won’t because of the hour, but I’ll go back to the beginning. There are adverse impacts today with people not being paid as of friday. That alone is compelling and urgent and insulting, frankly, to us as Americans and directly insulting to those families, who don’t deserve this. It’s going to get a lot worse though.
That number is going to grow and grow if people, not just those directly affected with their paycheck and their livelihoods and credit rating and all that, but it’s also going to– it’s going to grow from there. It’s going to affect people who defend upon the federal government for help when they’re vulnerable. When they’re hungry. When they want an answer to a question. When they want to close on a mortgage or do a long list of other things. And I for the life of me. I don’t understand why we would not pass a bill that’s sitting in this chamber that we could pass to open eight of the nine agencies that are closed until the end of the fiscal year, September 30th so the shutdown would be over for those eight agencies and then you’d have one agency, homeland security that we get short-term funding which would be another reason we could continue the debate. Another way to focus attention on border security.
Whatever else anybody wants to talk about here, focus the attention on that issue. Remove the issue that’s in front of all of us, which is the government, 25% of the government and a lot of it affecting a lot of people, is closed, shuttered, not working, not effective. Not delivering on results. So there’s an easy solution here, which not only foreclose the debate on border security, effective, expert– expert-recommended border security, but in anything, I think it enhances the possibility that there’ll be a more engaged debate on border security and as I said, I hope it would grow to a larger immigration debate. So, mr. President, with that, I will yield the floor.
Metadata is a set of data that describes and gives information about other data. Most people experience metadata on the web in a search result as seen below:
At its root, metadata is additional information about the content. By seeing the description below the homepage link in the search result, users get additional context about the information they will be directed to if they click on the link. Other common examples of metadata are:
As we have continued to build Speak, we have been discussing this idea of another level of intelligence that is happening in our communication. This additional level of intelligence is obvious when seen in action: conversations are engaging, transitions to new topics are smooth and ending the conversation is frictionless. Some people believe these are just good communication skills. But, Speak what are good communication skills? How can we break them down? Especially, when some people are naturally attuned to be skilled communicators while others need to improve their abilities.
This is where conversation metadata comes into the discussion. Our core mission at Speak is to help people communicate better. We believe this is possible by creating conversation metadata. So, what is conversation metadata? It is similar to the search result meta description we showed above. But, the metadata gathered and displayed is much different. Instead of authors and file size, we look at data that can be collected from a conversation. As humans, we process this data both consciously and subconsciously. But, like many of us have experienced, that data is lost quickly (similar to losing your memories of a dream) as you talk about many topics or introduce another speaker.
But, what if we could collect that metadata? There are so many benefits that can come with that: we can remember conversations with better accuracy, we can see what emotional state we were in, the tone we gave off, we can see who said what and we can identify the main keywords and topics. Speak accomplishes this by recording conversations and transcribing them while extracting information from the words that were said, the way there were said, and the information captured visually if filmed.
Here are just some of the conversation metadata we can capture:
Words Per Minute
The Future of Communication
Here at Speak, we believe the way we are communicating has changed rapidly. But, we also believe we have a long way to go. With the emergence of technology like we are using at Speak, which includes speech-to-text, natural language processing, visual recognition and audio analysis, we have opened up an entire new realm of possibilities. Currently, Speak is able to analyze conversations after they have been done. But, we are already transcribing in real-time and are also building in real-time audio and video analysis. In real-time, we will be able to not only transcribe but also give instant feedback on tone and emotion depending on the way you or others are speaking.
By understanding who you are speaking with through real-time time feedback, Speak users will be able to adjust instantly to connect more deeply and communicate more effectively. After, they will also be able to go back and reflect on the communication in an easy-to-access dashboard.
How to Apply Conversation Metadata
There is an increasing amount of companies who are now working on taking the data from speech-driven content to provide better indexing and analysis. Here at Speak, we aim to be leaders in using this new technology and applying it to help people, nonprofits, and businesses communicate better.
Speak can be used seamlessly for recording, transcribing and analyzing meetings, interviews, presentations, phone calls and creating. Speak is also skilled at evaluating written content like blog posts, comments, social media and press releases.
Speak is still in development but will be launching a web application soon that users will be able to access. When the web application is live, users will be able to easily create and upload audio, video, and text for indexing and analysis and receive recommendations to improve communication. If you are interested in getting a demo of Speak, please contact us on our home page.