“As a veteran public speaker looking to up-level my craft, I was thrilled to find Saskia Shakin. After our initial session, I felt like I had gotten a massage, a reiki treatment, a therapy session, and a cup of coffee with an old friend all at once. It was easy, fun, and brought clarity about what to do next. Working with Saskia is sure to be a gift to anyone who wants to reach people through public speaking.”
Omega Institute, 2011
“I hired Saskia to coach me for a Tedx Talk
I delivered in September, 2019. Although I had many times given work presentations, this was a totally different ball game. I knew I couldn’t deliver a boilerplate academic talk with dry statistics that would drive my organization’s agenda. The Tedx Talk had to have entertainment value, inspire people to enroll themselves in my idea, and change behaviors and thinking as a result. I had to come up with a personal story that could thread the content together—which was probably the hardest part since I’m a very private person.
Saskia supported me in all of it—helping make my content come alive and tease out personal stories that could help connect the dots (and help me feel at ease in doing so). She helped not only shape the content but also delivery. She advised me on movement, tenor, tone, and expression.
One of the most important bits of help she offered was on engaging my audience—not preaching to them but to have a kind of conversation with them, though I was the only one on stage. I had to completely memorize my talk—I had no notes or video prompts. But I wanted to avoid sounding like a robot, and create a natural conversation that simply flowed. One of the audience members afterwards asked me if I was a professional public speaker, so it sounds like I achieved my goal!
Saskia also gave me great advice on how to dress—knowing I’d be geared up with microphones and knowing what shows up well on a lighted stage with video cameras.
And perhaps best of all, she gave me confidence—confidence to stand up on stage with an enormous physical and digital audience. Confidence to be myself. To believe in myself.
I was really pleased with the final talk and I entirely credit Saskia for it.”
Saskia, thank you!
Phoebe K. Schreiner, Executive Director
Center for Agricultural Development & Entrepreneurship (CADE)
“As Chairman of Marsh & McLennan Companies from 1986 to 1992, one of my responsibilities was delivering a message at the annual shareholders’ meeting. Since public speaking has always come naturally for me, it never occurred to me that I should participate in any kind of coaching until I had the good fortune to meet Saskia Shakin.
As I practiced my prepared remarks with Saskia for the first time, she pointed out in her gracious but perceptive way that part of my message was not clear because I was not focusing on how the audience hears a message. Saskia also helped me develop the right emotions to emphasize my talking points. Since that day, I never gave a major address without the benefit of her advice.
I can’t recommend Saskia highly enough and find her a pleasure to work ”
—Frank J. Tasco, CEO
Marsh & McLennan Co.
“There are only a few people who have a major impact on the course of your life. Saskia Shakin was one of those people for me. Anyone who has ever delivered a speech in a public forum has experienced a sinking sensation in the pit of her stomach as the time to speak approaches. Many have prayed for a miracle which would remove them from the dais. For me, Saskia was that miracle – only she didn’t facilitate my escape from the dais, she made it feel like home.”
—Marie R. Corio, Ph.D. President,
Applied Economic Research Co.
“Soon after I joined NERA
, an experienced hand asked me to meet with Saskia about a short talk I was to give at a NERA
event. Having taught reasonably effectively at the university level for over a decade and having done a fair bit of speaking outside the classroom, I was insulted. I was convinced that I knew more about how to present economics, in particular, than a non-economist ever could. I was wrong.
Saskia listened carefully to what I had thought was a terrific talk, and, in her charming but focused way, led me to understand that its organization was flawed and its presentation wooden at best.
Acting on her very specific suggestions, I improved that talk substantially. I quickly learned that Saskia knows more than I do about effective oral presentations, particularly to non-specialist audiences, and that she is a terrific teacher. Even though I flatter myself that I have been a good pupil over the years, I still work with Saskia whenever I can, and I think of her teaching whenever I prepare to address a class, a court or almost any other audience.”
—Richard Schmalensee, Ph.D.
Billard Professor of Economics, MIT
“In a remarkably short time, Saskia guides you gently and without platitudes or formulas to written and spoken communication is is demonstrably more effective. You see your presentation of your ideas clarify, strengthen and, in all, transform. You feel as if you are in better command of yourself and your ideas – and you are. The increase in confidence alone.”
—Steven A. Kaufman, Partner
Ropes & Gray
“Lawyers generally know that a solid claim or defense can run aground if a client cannot communicate effectively with the jury. In a recent case, my preparation techniques with a difficult client had been exhausted. The problem was not content, but rather delivery.
Saskia focused on the body language, tone, inflection and listening skills of the client. In a short time – under three hours – with the assistance of videotape reviews, she helped salvage an unusually difficult situation.
The trial was expected to continue for 4 weeks. But, after the client’s first day of testimony, the case settled on very favorable terms, thanks in large part to Saskia’s coaching.”
—John T. Montgomery, Partner
Ropes & Gray
“As a Broadway Playwright and Producer
, I have been helped immeasurably by Saskia’s coaching. The challenges of succeeding in the theatre world are like no other. You must be skilled in business and art, in raising money and selling ideas, in negotiating with artists, landlords, producers, actors, publicists, writers and politicians. Success or failure hinges on how well you communicate sometimes to a group of 5 ... sometimes to a group of 100.
Knowing your subject well doesn’t necessarily mean you can communicate it well. Most often you don’t ... because you make assumptions ... because you don’t view it from the audience’s perspective. Saskia is your connecting link between the audience and yourself.
You learn to speak as a person, not a salesman; you are secure and relaxed, and, most important, clear.
Clear in your mission, your thoughts, and your words; precise, to the point; using humor where appropriate, and knowing when to stop.
Coaching you to speak well is not for your spouse to do, or co-worker, or neighbor, or friend. It is for a professional. In this area, you certainly want the best … for it is often your bread and butter, your sense of self, and your dreams that are at stake.”
—Arje Shaw, Playwright and Producer
“Magic Hands Freddy”