Ellen Dunnigan

/Ellen Dunnigan

About Ellen Dunnigan

Ellen Dunnigan founded Accent On Business in 2001 specializing in public speaking, communication skills, and executive presence for leaders in business. She has 25 years of experience with professional and nonprofessional speakers in healthcare, media, politics, engineering, sports, and other industries. Ellen’s coaching in speaking skills gives established and emerging leaders greater confidence and credibility. Her leadership programs in accountability, alignment, difficult conversations, and organizational communication have helped leaders expand their influence. Ellen is known for her practical “how to” style.

Stories Add Spark

Recently we met with a new client, an insurance and benefits broker, who does important and serious work in lowering the cost of insurance by helping companies establish wellness programs. The broker needed to describe their unique selling proposition such that the target customer would want to switch insurance brokers. They were keen on telling target customers that the company would pay less for their insurance plans if the company’s employees were healthier as a group.

Don’t Cry Uncle!

WinterAccording to the Farlex Dictionary of Idioms, to cry (or say) uncle means to admit defeat and/or plead for mercy, especially in an informal physical contest of some kind.

It’s cited as an American phrase that came about in the early 1900’s attributed to bullying on the playground; however, there are also two other theories as to its true origin: Ancient Rome and 19th Century England.

The Roman theory suggests children who were in the throes of battle with a childhood bully were commanded to say “Patrue, mi Patruissimo” or “Uncle, my best Uncle” in order to be freed.  Uncles at that time were given the same level of respect and regard as fathers were, and therefore the cry “uncle” was a way for the victim to grant the victor high status.  The English theory states that it came from a joke regarding a […]

Not Your Average Piece of Toast!

toastThe number one question I’m asked when I’m discussing my role as a speech and communications advisor for Accent On Business is this;
“Oh! You are just like Toastmasters aren’t you?”

Sigh.

No, we’re not just like Toastmasters.  I don’t have anything negative to say about the organization, they provide opportunities to practice giving speeches in public and that’s a good thing!  However, we are so much more.

The next question inevitably is “But you teach public speaking right?”

That’s correct! Let me tell you what makes us different and uniquely qualified to assist you with what you need.  Our experts are nationally certified speech language pathologists, professors of story and rhetoric, veterans of communication in corporations, and scientists in mind and heart.  We’re focused on the expectations of the audience and the professional presence of the speaker. We’re concerned about the speaker’s well-being and […]

13 Tips for Hosting Perfect Panels

So you’re going to moderate a panel, congratulations! Your job is easy, right? Just show up and read the questions and smile a lot, right? Hold on, not so fast, the success of this event rests squarely on your shoulders.

Changing What Your Customers Think of You

Recently, the CEO of an IT company approached one of his disgruntled customers with a simple message: “I know you’re unhappy with our customer service over the past few months. I imagine you’ve developed some rather negative beliefs about us and I’m here to find out exactly what those beliefs are, so we can change them.” After the surprised customer delivered a detailed description of her beliefs and the experiences that had created them, the CEO surprised her again by saying, “These are not beliefs we want you to hold, so we’re going to create a whole new set of experiences for you—experiences that will lead to brand new beliefs about us.”

For the next several minutes the CEO discussed the protocols of Prosyn, a cyber security firm that he knew intimately, he spoke of what they were doing right. He explained the new experiences that he and his organization were […]

5 Big Deal Selling Tips

five image croppedThink back to the last time you had to make a big purchase, for example a new car. There were some obvious factors to consider such as price, quality, safety, and gas mileage and then you decided which minivan or Ferrari made you feel the best.

Then you paid attention to the salesperson. Which one did you like the best and trust the most?

Whether you’re selling a new product or your business is trying to promote a new service, the quality of the product is a given. It’s not just about the actual product anymore. It’s often about how “trustable” and likable you are. This speaks to your professional presence and public speaking skills.

People are more likely to buy a product from someone who is likeable and someone who demonstrated that down the road, when something does go wrong, it will […]

Let Us Introduce Ourselves

We are Alexis Blevins and Katya Kantar, the new summer interns at Accent On Business. As interns we were very excited to sit in on our first client session. We observed a small business entrepreneur who is developing a 45-minute keynote speech for marketing an innovative, new product. The session included an overview of basic presentation skills and how to deliver the content of the speech in a more significant and memorable manner. It began with Ellen Dunnigan, President and CEO, inspiring the client to think and question how she wanted her audience to perceive her and what the main goals of the speech are for both the speaker and the audience. We recognized that the client truly believed in the content she was presenting to us. She wanted to be perceived as relaxed and insightful while giving her speech, but she had no way of explaining what it meant […]

There is No Such Thing as “Perfect” English

An English dictionary is not a rulebook, but a suggested guideline. It is based on the pronunciation, spelling, and usage of most educated speakers.

What it Really Takes to Nail Your Presentation

board room

There are several “must-haves” for every great presentation. Of course, depth in your content is vital. Without stellar content, there is just no reason to stand before us as a presenter. Of course, your content must be carefully crafted. Always think about your purpose and your audience when crafting the content of your speech. Beyond depth of content, making sure you are properly channeling your energy (sometimes referred to as anxiety) allows you to show up as the capable and confident speaker that we’re expecting. We advocate our four-part process for mastering your fear of public speaking and for showing up with professional-level energy.

While the four-part process is an effective and essential component, it is not the only formula for successfully delivering your […]

Invest in Your Future! Improve Your Communication Skills

Uh oh, it’s happened again.  You’ve been able to avoid it for the last 3 years.  Now here it is again…the dreaded presentation.  Ever been in one of these situations?

  • You’ve been invited to make a key presentation at a Board of Directors meeting.
  • Your dream job just opened up and you will need to interview for it.
  • You have one single opportunity to have lunch with a prospective major account client.
  • You have three months to prepare your 25th high school class reunion’s keynote address.
  • You’ve been asked to fill in for a colleague in teaching a training session to senior management.
  • Your company is in the peak of a crisis or incident and you need to speak about it live on television or on radio.
  • You volunteered on a mission trip sponsored by a large company in your area and are […]
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