There are more women in the boardroom and on the bench, but they are still a distinct minority, as they are in science and engineering. Is it discrimination? Possibly so, says communications trainer Anita Jacobs, but she does not dwell on repairing institutionalized discrimination as an answer. She says that the best solution comes in changing yourself, rather than changing all of society.
For women – and men – who want to put their best foot and voice forward, the New Jersey Institute of Continuing Legal Education offers "Breaking the Gender Barrier: Communication Skills to Enhance your Credibility" on Thursday, August 11, at 9 a.m. at the Law Center in New Brunswick. Cost: $ 99. Visit www.NJICLE.com to register and for more information.
Outlining a list of specifics ranging from dress color to vocal pitch, Jacobs explains how to get yourself, and more importantly, your message accepted in a professional world.
Jacobs is the daughter of an attorney and of Teaneck’s first female police officer. Graduating from New York University in l970 with a B.A. in communications, Jacobs took a graduate degree at theUniversity of Vermont in speech pathology and human resource planning. She later gained her Ph.D. in special education law and educational administration.
In an intriguing variety of capacities, Jacobs has spent more than two decades helping individuals at all levels improve communications skills. While in Georgia, Jacobs developed the Atlanta Circle for psychotherapy. She has served as president of the Jewish National Fund and as grant writer for the Eugene O’Neill Theater. While coaching attorneys and executives to make better presentations, she herself made countless presentations as director the National Jewish Appeal. "Nothing is tougher than making a non-profit pitch," Jacobs says.
Her book "Portraits in Passion," profiles 21 women who moved to Israel and made their own way. Today, after many meanderings, she lives just a few blocks from her childhood home in Teaneck.
"I think our passion for ‘equality’ really misses the mark," says Jacobs. "Women and men are different. The goal is to accept this, use it, and develop skills that will enhance the credibility of your message."
Talking the talk. If you are hard to listen to, people won’t, Jacobs is fond of saying. For women, such audience turn offs frequently include a high, shrill voice. While few individuals can easily alter the entire tenor of their voices, slowing the speech pace and speaking in a measured rhythm go a long way toward lowering the pitch and making the message easy on the ears.
Insider jargon and unnecessary words and phrases have invaded the speech of both genders. The woman who can trim her sentences to be forthright, but not abrupt, is more likely to be gratefully received and believed. Making too many of those sentences questions is a particularly feminine trait that Jacobs labors to correct. "Whether it’s too many questions or simply ending sentences with your voice always going up, as if it were a question," says Jacobs, "it diminishes your authority."
Movies and television shows are putting out the message that a woman must be more than tough – she must be nasty. In emulation of this overacted style, many women have taken up a tough talk attitude, even adding vulgarisms for punctuation. Jacobs is a firm believer that your track record, rather than your assertiveness, wins your listeners’ ears – at least at the outset. To hold their attention, a tone of warmth and references to individual audience members will best energize your well crafted words.
Every little movement. Studies have shown that the success of a presentation depends 38 percent on the speaker’s voice, 7 percent on his words, and 55 percent on his body language. Jacobs divides typical speaker stances into what she labels green light or red light attitudes, which signal that you do or do not want to communicate. (A speaker may often deliberately adopt a red light stance if he doesn’t want to deal further with an issue.)
The two worst red light attitudes women commonly display are shifting their bodies from hip to hip while they stand or smiling all the time. The first signal confuses the message, while the latter makes the speaker appear blissfully, incongruently unaware. Other red lights include tilting the head and glancing away from your subject.
Improper use of hands is a foul committed by 97 percent of all speakers, Jacobs claims. Hands are not speaking tools, nor are they designed to cover the speaker’s crotch. "Your audience’s eyes will automatically follow to wherever you move your hands," she says.
Green lights include speaking with your arms and torso for emphasis. Lean forward toward your audience, without invading its space. Place those hands in the safe zone – across your belly button.
Ladies, men are going to stare at your chest. Get over it. "In most cases, men are taller than the women they talk with," says Jacobs, "Their eyes naturally travel right down to that cleavage. It does not mean they aren’t listening."
Men are going to see women as women, and as a speaker, she warns, you also had better be able to make the distinction. As to the subtle subject of using one’s sexuality to get a message across, Jacobs says that speakers do not have to be androgynous. It is possible to very much act as a woman, even an alluring woman. But don’t tip that fine edge and appear to be selling with sex. When that happens, all authority vanishes.
Clad for the fray. In the l980s women joined their drab male counterparts in the office by donning gunmetal-gray suits that proclaimed: "I’m serious about business." Today, men have relaxed, Fridays and often summers have relaxed, and Jacobs says that women should sprout a variety of attractive colors. Ideal are the whole range of blues: imperial, Yale, sky. "And of course green is always in," she adds. "It’s the color of money." Soft, obsequious pastels are always out.
The goal is to dress stylishly, even strikingly. As a woman, you can afford to be a little more of a fashion plate than a man without seeming a fop. Suits are still an excellent bet, but should be dressed up with distinctive scarves. Frills, excessive lace, or deep cleavage give the woman and her message just one more hurdle to leap.
Women see men from the head down, while men see women from the toes up, says Jacobs. For that reason a woman’s shoes must be stylish and well kept. Jacob’s general rule is that if shoes are open in the front, they should be closed at the back; open in the back demands closed in the front.
Discrimination is a cruel judge. The lady speaker called to the podium must prove herself as that one exception to all previous stereotypes. Then, if she lapses into one wrong signal, or phrase, her entire message is discarded. The good news is that fewer men and women are shifting into automatic bias. A woman speaker is viewed as she should be, as just one more speaker. Yet even on a level playing field it is the messenger who follows all the tricks and rules who will get her message across.
– Bart Jackson
New Complications For Old Sweet Songs
Tastes in music have always been a bit idiosyncratic, and today the music business is catering to individual preferences as never before. In the process, it has developed revenue streams in areas that would have been unpredictable a decade ago – from the ring tones you hear when your cell phone rings to the ring back tones you hear when you call someone else. All major music publishers can now license up to 30 seconds of a song for digital phones. These changes and others have been fueled both by growth in the Internet and by the development of new technologies for transmitting music and listening to it.
Understanding the business practices and the legal strategies necessary to represent song writers, musicians, record producers, personal managers, and others demands a deep familiarity with this evolving industry. "The music business constantly changes, especially with Internet," observes Steven C. Schechter, an entertainment lawyer at Mondello and Schechter in Fairlawn and past chair of the New Jersey Bar Association’s Entertainment, Arts, and Sports Law Section.
Schechter moderates a seminar on "The Business of Music" on Friday, August 12, at 9 a.m. The event is sponsored by the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education in cooperation with the State Bar Association. The seminar is designed for attorneys and other professionals who have clients who are musicians or song writers, and any others who use music in their business activities. It takes place at the Clarion Hotel in Edison. Cost: $149. For more information call 732-214-8500.
One complex area in the music industry is the licensing of music for videos, films, and video games. "The ownership of a song is different from the ownership of a recording of that song," says Schechter. "Many people are unaware that getting the rights to use a song doesn’t give you rights for any particular recording of the song." The process of gaining the rights to use a song in a video, film, or video game has two steps:
Licensing the words and music. The original composer owns the rights to the words and music, and the music publishing industry enables song writers to exploit these rights. For example, the music publisher may negotiate a synchronization license for anyone who wants to synchronize the words and music of a song with visual images – television advertisers, motion picture companies, video manufacturers, and CD-ROM companies, and the song writer usually receives about half the proceeds.
Licensing a particular recording. When the Beatles recorded "Yesterday," which was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, the recording company owned the copyright for the recording. If anyone wants want to use, say, the Frank Sinatra version of the song, for any purpose, it is necessary to go to the record company to get the rightsto use that recording. This step cannot be undertaken, however, until permission to use the words and music has been secured.
Other interested parties in these transactions are the performing artists. They work at the behest of the record companies, who own the copyrights for the recordings of their performances. The record company usually writes a contract for one initial album, including options for future albums, and the recording artist must negotiate with the record companies on both business and legal issues, keeping the following points in mind:
Tie options for future recordings to money and profits. "Make sure you are not locked into a long-term contract with no guarantee of money or revenue," advises Schechter. An artist may not be making money from the first album, but will still be obligated to record a second, third, and fourth album. "Build in the record company’s obligation to distribute the record and pay you money," says Schechter. Specify how many songs you must deliver, and negotiate minimum and maximum budgets for each album.
Include the record company’s distribution and marketing commitments. Specify what the record company’s release commitments will be in terms of distribution and marketing, advertising, and promotion. Schechter observes that often artists are so excited to get a record contract that they end up with a one-sided deal – in favor of the record company.
Specify the basis and rate for royalty calculations. Will the basis for royalties be suggested retail, wholesale, or price after all discounts are given? How often must royalties be accounted for?
Royalties are also paid to the songwriter and are usually subject to negotiation, depending on the songwriter’s clout. The United States Copyright Act gives a songwriter certain exclusive rights, including the right to decide who gets to first perform the song on phono-records – items like audiotapes, compact discs, computer chips that store sounds, and the like.
It includes something called the compulsory mechanical license, which means that once a song has been publicly distributed on an album, anyone can do a recording as long as he pays royalties to the copyright office at the full statutory rate. This rate is now 8.5 cents per record sold for recordings of up to five minutes.
But the compulsory mechanical license also entails cumbersome notice and accounting requirements, and royalties may get bogged down in the bureaucracy of the copyright office, delaying payment. Another option is for a recording artist to negotiate a mechanical license directly with song writers or their authorized agents, and in exchange song writers get paid directly and more quickly. They also find it easier to keep track of their songs as revenue streams move away from albums and CDs to more digital and electronic distribution. Sometimes with lower royalty requirements, the record company is more likely to push a record, and, for the songwriter, says Schechter, "six-and-a-half cents for 20,000 records better than 8.5 cents for no records."
Schechter is a general entertainment practitioner who came to law through his activities in the television industry. He graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications in 1988 with a degree in television, radio, and film production. After college, he produced some television programs and then went to Benjamin Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, intending to stay in the television business.
"I went to law school," he says, "because many film and TV producers I admired dealt with legal issues." Because he found he enjoyed the legal end of entertainment, his career has headed in that direction, first in the legal department at Newline Cinema, then in a small boutique theatrical firm in New York. He has been in solo practice in New Jersey since 1991.
The music field has been an exciting one in recent years, with change being the only constant. Four years ago, for example, little money was being made in video gaming, and now its revenue is close to or exceeding that of motion pictures.
With increasing Internet distribution, business models have all changed and the rules governing distribution are evolving. There has also been enormous consolidation in the music industry, with fewer players and less bargaining power. Yet with new media and technologies, more opportunities have opened up for independent labels. The challenge for music professionals is just to keep their heads above water, and the ICLE seminar will help them to not only tread water, but to warble a tune while doing so.