Meet Leah Bonvissuto: Workplace Communication Consultant and founder of PresentVoices. She helps people talk to each other and have more meaningful conversations at work.
Raised by a Broadway musician and a mime-turned-magician, Leah spent many years as a theater director and started doing this work in public hospitals. Today, her work is living theater—she has helped thousands of people talk to each other at companies including LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, AIG, Robin Hood, and New York-Presbyterian.
Effective communication is key to the success of every business. In order to have a culture of innovation, employees must feel safe and empowered to share their ideas and struggles. Communication problems have been called “the silent killer” of companies by the Harvard Business Review.
Leah does this work not because it comes naturally to her but because it doesn’t. She developed a system of tangible tools that has helped her and thousands of people manage speaking nerves, prepare for spontaneous speaking, have challenging conversations, think on their feet, and be more present. Leah has built data assessments that show the need for this work and the impact of it.
Tell us more about what you do and how you moved into your space
I was a theater director for many years and started doing the work I do now in public hospitals, helping front-line staff improve the patient experience by using tools of awareness, physicality, and presence.
Today, my work is living theater: I help people talk to each other at companies including Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and have developed a system of tangible tools that has helped me and thousands of others feel more confident and in control of professional conversations.
What role do you play in the tech ecosystem and why is that role important?
Communication is the most important skill to have at work. Yet, most people are craving more meaningful relationships and confident conversations in the workplace. I enter organizations as an outside eye to identify miscommunications and instill an organizational language for the way people talk to each other internally and externally. Working as a coach, facilitator, and consultant, I put systems into place that make sure people can speak up and be heard.
How has technology impacted your industry and why is this important?
Technology is transforming the way we interact at work: Slack, email, videoconferencing, and in-person meetings create endless opportunities for collaboration but also for misunderstandings and hurt feelings.
Remote team meetings, leadership changes, and multitasking can lead to miscommunication and inefficiency. By creating a dedicated way to talk about talking at work, companies ultimately amplify more voices throughout the organization and prioritize clear and confident communication.
What do you believe is the most exciting tech trend for 2019?
I’m proud to work with organizations that celebrate the uniqueness of individual voices. Data supports that this is the best way to lead, so hopefully this is not a trend at all, but the future of work as we know it.
I also collect my own data that confirms that most people struggle communicating confidently, preparing for spontaneous speaking, and managing speaking nerves in everyday professional situations. I want to normalize the anxiety so many of us feel speaking up at work, because when we talk about talking, we create workplaces where people speak up and more voices are heard.
Who is a person that inspires you in the space and why?
I am particularly in awe of people who work hard to make workplaces more inclusive, diverse, and progressive. Daisy Auger-Dominguez inspires leaders to think inclusively, lead with purpose, embrace courage, and shape the future of work. Susan McPherson helps organizations develop, amplify and communicate social responsibility and philanthropic initiatives. Leesa Renee Hall helps leaders unpack their unconscious biases and I learn from Leesa on social media daily. There is so much good work being done if only we listen.
What advice would you give for someone who wants to get into your space?
This is the advice I followed when I became a parent and it’s true for entrepreneurship as well: Prioritize things that make you trust yourself and strengthen your intuition. I thought about going back to school because I was insecure about my lack of business knowledge, but I also knew that I never thrived in school settings. Instead, I acknowledged my limited business experience, owned the experience that makes me good at what I do, and surrounded myself with people who knew things I didn’t know. Rather than go back for a degree, I opted to learn in ways that felt good to me—listening to podcasts, attending conferences, and talking to people who are good at what they do. I said, “I don’t know” a lot, and asked lots of questions.
Anything else we should know?
I started @PresentVoices.co on Instagram as a place to #TalkAboutTalking. Join the conversation and let me know what you want to talk about and how I can help amplify your voice.