Sunday, December 28, 2008

Dorothy Sarnoff dies at 94

Dorothy Sarnoff, a longtime speaker coach in New York City, has died at age 94. She began her coaching career after asking a women's fashion magazine editor why no advice was provided to women on vocal quality. Her first efforts at coaching went where women were--in Alexander's department store in New York City. Here's the lede of her obituary in today's New York Times, which captures her talents:
Sweaty palms, nervous laughter, a Brooklyn accent, panic-induced silences. These were just a few of the image blemishes addressed by Dorothy Sarnoff, an opera singer and Broadway star who had a much bigger second career as one of the first, and most influential, image consultants, coaxing stageworthy performances from business executives preparing a big speech, ambassadors on their way to foreign assignments and writers heading out on book tours
Sarnoff took an optimist's approach to training, focusing on bringing out the best in would-be speakers. Her three books on speaking are no longer in print: Speech Can Change Your Life, Never Be Nervous Again and Make the Most of Your Best: A Complete Program for Presenting Yourself and Your Ideas With Confidence and Authority , but you can find used copies of these classics.