Dilip R. Abayasekara, Ph.D., A.S.
(Accredited Speaker), helps business and organization leaders in this region
learn how to speak more effectively.
You can get your MBA to help you
crunch numbers, and attend workshops to learn compliance with the latest human
resource laws. You can sign up for a crash course on how to operate that
new fancy computer system you just bought. But what are you going to do
if the thought of presenting your ideas to your management team or a
prospective client gives you a big stomachache?
Toastmasters is a service club
with a fine reputation for helping anyone who wants to improve their public
speaking abilities to acquire these skills. The problem is, many of the
region's top executives are either too busy or too embarrassed to take
advantage of the valuable resources offered by local chapters.
I belong to an organization called
the National Speakers Association. Most members are professional
speakers - you aren't even allowed in for membership until you qualify with a
certain number of paid speeches under your belt.
Both of these organizations,
however, have difficulty serving company leaders and salespersons who are
judged every day by how they appear and sound on their feet. That's where
Dilip steps in.
Dilip runs a Mechanicsburg area
consulting firm called Speaker Services Unlimited. How did a native of Sri
Lanka, a small island near India, become an expert in speaking English, of all
After completing high school in
Sri Lanka, he came to the United States on an exchange program called
"The Experiment in International Living". He was hosted by
several families in Dayton, Ohio, and then went on to earn a B.S. in chemistry
and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry and polymer science.
For the next 12 years he worked as
an industrial scientist. I know good speech making means having good
chemistry with the audience, but what's the connection? Dilip explained:
"I became involved with
Toastmasters International, and I discovered an aptitude for public
speaking. I threw myself into competitive speaking. I was
twice a finalist at Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking,
placing second in 1992.
My passion and love for public
speaking soon found an outlet in a part-time seminar business. I
taught adult education programs in local colleges and public seminars on
presentation skills, impromptu speaking, and mind mapping. In 1996,
I left the chemical industry to throw my full-time energies into building
my speaking business."
Dilip has offered seminars to
a wide variety of clients in Delaware, Pennsylvania, new Jersey and
Washington, D.C., including the Pentagon, several large banks, a host of
community colleges and professional organizations.
But what he loves to do more
than anything is to serve as a private speech coach. He has coached
company presidents, university professors, physicians, elected officials,
scientists, engineers and even speech contestants.
if the idea of hiring a
private speech coach intrigues you, Dilip has advice for determining
whether you are a good candidate.
"Typically, a person who
appreciates my speech-coaching services falls into one or more of these
categories," he says:
(1) The person is in a
high-profile position, realizes that he/she needs to improve their
speaking skills, but does not have the time and/or the inclination to
attend communication-training workshops or join an organization such as
Toastmasters (for example, company presidents, executives, elected public
(2) The person already may
have taken, or be in the process of attending communication
seminars/workshops/training, but feels that he/she need (to be) focused
one-on-one training in order to improve at a faster rate (for example,
university professors, professional speakers and trainers, aspiring
professional speakers, sales people, marketing people).
(3) The person has to deliver
a very important speech. He/she wants personalized coaching for that one
speech (for example, company executives, elected president of an
association, executive directors, speech contestants, candidates for
public office, speaker at a convention)".
When someone expresses an
interest in exploring Dilip's speech coaching services, he sets up a free
one hour appointment for a mutual interview.
Depending on the needs, he
offers four to eight-week sessions, usually held at the client's office or
home, or at Dilip's home office or a reserved conference room. He
concentrates on the emotional issues involved in effective speech making,
not just the technique.
"My first focus is to
help the client build a solid understanding of the rule that their
thoughts and attitudes play in effective speaking", Dilip said.
speaking is 95 percent mental and 5 percent technique. If only the 5
percent is learned, the client will be a technical robot, and my coaching
will not have a long-term impact. I spend time at each session
probing the student's understanding and giving them exercises that build
up this self-knowledge and motivation. The client understand the
"why" before trying to do the "how". My
longer-term clients learn to present their "best selves" when
they speak - they do not imitate others."
Dilip has many fans among his
previous clients, some who initially questioned spending money and time on
something like professional speech coaching. Frank Felsburg, a seminar
leader and previous client, is glad he made the investment.
"As a result of hiring
Dilip", he said, "I have grown immensely, not just as a speaker,
but as a person as well. He finds gifts in people they don't realize
they have. He is a remarkable individual".
Perhaps what makes Dilip
valued to his clients is his ability to convince them that they, too, are
remarkable individuals, with something of importance to share with an
audience. This is the most powerful technique he has to offer to a cadre
of professionals who need to convert their self-consciousness to
Azriela Jaffe is
Lancaster-based writer specializing in business and workplace
issues. Reader responses and questions may be mailed to her at P.O.
Box 209, Bausman, PA 17504 or e-mailed to email@example.com.
Dilip R. Abayasekara,
Ph.D., A.S. is a professional speaker, trainer, speech coach and CEO of
Speaker Services Unlimited. He specializes in helping organizations
develop leaders and helping people think, speak, and sell more
effectively. "Dr. Dilip" is the author of "The
Path of the Genie...Discover and Grow Your Own Genius" (available in
video and audio cassettes). He delivers seminars and workshops on
Mind Mapping, relationship building, presentation skills, impromptu
speaking skills, sales, and leadership to corporations and organizations.
He also offers seminars that are open to the general public and private
coaching in presentation skills and sales. Dr. Abayasekara can be
reached at Speaker Services Unlimited at (717) 612-1600 or send e-mail to: