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Q&A: Communications Expert Patricia Scott

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Photo by Jared Castaldi

Though you’d be hard-pressed to find too many people who enjoy public speaking, Media’s Patricia Scott actually thrives in front of an audience. As the owner of Uhmms, a communications consulting and public-speaking service, and the author of the book Getting a Squirrel to Focus, Scott is an expert in the art of persuasion. Last fall, she was among the winners of 3M’s “Make Mine a Million $ Business,” a national initiative to help creative women in business. The self-professed “communications geek” tells us what the victory means for growing her business, one presentation at a time.

MLT: We’re guessing that the name of your business refers to what everyone tries to avoid when speaking in public.
PS: Yes. I work with corporate clients to develop their skills in public speaking, giving presentations and persuasion. My book references how to take advantage of someone’s attention.

MLT: How did you develop your own experiences into a business?
PS: I have bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in communications, and I was working in the corporate world for 20 years when I left to have my daughter. I never forgot the tips and tricks I learned, and I did my research in scientific literature, as well. People call it the “art of persuasion,” but it’s really a science. There are certain ways that people understand things, and if you figure out how they think and process information, you can figure out how to make a more impactful conversation.
MLT: So how did this translate to the “Make Mine a Million $ Business” event?
PS: For seven years, I’d been a small, woman-owned business. I heard about this opportunity to pitch your business to a group of experts. There was only a short period of time for each pitch, so you had to carefully and persuasively talk about your current business growth and potential, and they then judged whether they felt you had the potential for a million-dollar business. I made it through that round, and the next round was all about the financial aspects—your five-year plan and how sustainable that was.

MLT: And that was the winning round?
PS: Yes. That meant I was able to receive group coaching and training sessions with other Philadelphia awardees, a one-year legislative membership with Women Impacting Public Policy, and an invitation to join the M3 online networking group, among other benefits.

MLT: What’s one thing you wish more women understood about developing business of their own?
PS: People don’t think big enough—I suffer from that as well. You have to keep finding your confidence to get specific skills if you don’t have them already. If you need help, you have to get it. You also don’t have to do it alone. It might mean building a team of people with different skills, but it’s still something you can do.

To learn more, visit uhmms.com.