Did you learn in grade school that when you give a presentation you must “act” a certain way?
Going full Shakespeare
Here’s what we see with our Speak For Yourself® clients: When you stand up to deliver your message you transform! The real you goes missing and you go full Shakespeare. Or, conversely, you become muted.
Where did “you” go?
The best mental exercise to sound like yourself at the lectern & reduce performance anxiety
Think about a friend that you meet with to just hang out and talk.
What’s the location? Where are you when you have these chats?
What are you drinking? (Doesn’t have to be alcoholic.)
Some recent client responses:
Person: His brother. Watering hole: A campsite at their 700 acre family ranch. Drink: Blanton’s Bourbon
His mother. Back porch by the pool. Iced tea with lime and mint.
Her husband. Their Crested Butte house on the deck – drinking chilled dry Grey Goose martini.
When you are giving a speech imagine you’re talking to your buddy, in your favorite hang-out location, sipping on your drink of choice.
THAT’S the voice and tone you want to project at your board meeting, panel, or quarterly townhall.
Fill in these blanks and add to our blog comments. Picture that set up at your next event. You will sound conversational and like you.
So, tonight when I’m being interviewed as a “Local Legend” of National Speakers Association – N. TX Chapter I’m going to imagine I’m with my husband, sitting on the porch of our Star Ranch, sipping Glenlivet neat.
PS: check out our new website! www.speakforyourself.com
Even CEOs and veteran presenters commit these presentation skills’ crimes!
COMMUNICATION MISTAKE #1: Misunderstanding audience expectations.
Don’t be the team that works only on presenting your solutions to the client or prospect. Be the group that gathers this intel first:
Where is prospect pain? What makes them tick? What are they good at? Who competes with them? Where can they improve? What defines success for them? How knowledgeable are they about your topic? Experience range?
COMMUNICATION MISTAKE #2: Memorizing your speech.
Don’t commit your speech to memory. Just know how you will start and how you will end.
What should you get yourself in order to speak with confidence?
We @ Speak For Yourself® have curated the best gifts, by category, to help you check this quest off your gift-buying list.
A smile, good posture, and effective eye contact cost nothing.
Have you heard the phrase, “Fake it till you make it?” You may feel uncomfortable but you can appear as if you own Manhattan by your facial expression, stance and eyeball connection.
Clothing & Accessories
Buy clothes you love that fit the group and venue you’re speaking at.
Buy shoes that you can stand in, for hours, that look great. (Good luck.) For women – I’ve seen some fabulous post-pandemic glittery sneakers that have rocked the stage.
Buy yourself a Story Journal. Write down the funny stuff that happens. Keep a story log of events inside and outside your professional world. Then find ways to make these stories relevant when you run your company town halls / strategic retreats / quarterly zoom meetings. You will resonate more with your various audiences, which in turn will increase your confidence.
Besides the obvious – your computer, auxiliary cords, and remote wireless clicker if you use visuals, also purchase back up batteries, a decent pen, old fashioned note pad, and a thumb drive with your material (even if everything is in the cloud). Having your tech arsenal ready and available will add to your comfort level.
Food & Drink
Some of my clients beg me to agree that a shot of vodka will boost confident communication. No. That won’t work, and your holiday gift list to yourself does not include a trip to your wine store. Here are foods and a great drink that will boost your energy:
Some type of protein or a protein shake.
Easy food that will not drip onto your clothes like a piece of fruit or nuts.
(I always take a protein bar, a banana and some nuts to my speaking venues to snack on.)
Your best drink: room temp water to hydrate your vocal cords.
OK – chocolates are always a good thing to have on hand.
Can you think of other items to add to our holiday Communicate With Confidence gift list?
Fear of public speaking is a common form of anxiety. Everyone gets nervous before giving a speech. Full disclosure – I get nervous too. In fact I rarely eat much before a presentation. (About 15 minutes into my speech or workshop I’m starving!)
How can anxiety be useful in public speaking?
Public speaking creates an increase in adrenaline. What you do with this extra jolt separates those that become miserable at the lectern vs those that become more energized.
How can you capitalize on this extra jolt of energy?
Accept the obvious. Do NOT wish this anxiety to go away. That takes you down a slippery negative slope. You can’t undo these nerves and then you feel even more anxiety when the nervousness persists!
Do the reverse. Say to yourself, “Great – I’ve got this extra energy. All good.”
Think of this boost of adrenaline as a shot of caffeine.
Do all of the steps we’ve blogged about to ensure your success, like being prepared, knowing your audience, getting to the venue early, drinking room temp water, practicing out loud and doing some pre vocal warmups.
What happens if you are NOT nervous/excited?
What if your upcoming speech is the 29th time you’re giving the exact same message? You’re almost lethargic. Not good!
Find ways to add some nervousness/energy … as counter-intuitive as this sounds.
Shake it up – rework your topic.
Create new visuals.
Try new material.
The paradox of the fear of public speaking
You need the extra adrenaline. Use it to add more energy to your delivery. It’s a good thing.
Author: Karen Cortell Reisman is Founder of Speak For Yourself®, a communication consulting firm, and the author of 2 books on how to communicate. She lives in Dallas, Texas and she always has nuts or a protein bar with her at a speaking gig to snack on once her appetite kicks in.
You might say, “It’s just a word!” And I’ll respond, “I’m in the little things mean a lot business, and what you say to others AND yourself makes a difference.
Two words can mean the same thing. Yet one word choice brings out the worst and the other creates positive energy.
Words to avoid and why
Negative word: nervous vs Positive word: excited
In a past blog about handling public speaking anxiety I share a study on changing your self-talk from “I’m nervous” to “I’m excited”. This study proves that this slight tweak will improve your speaking confidence. After all, your body does the same adrenaline dance for both “nervous” and “excited”; but your head game goes in a better direction using “excited”.
Negative word: fee vs Positive word: investment
You are in sales! You may be the CEO, or the General Counsel, or the CFO and your sales team is in another department… but you are always selling. Rather than talk about “fees” for your clients, use the word “investment”. My clients hear the following phrase: “Your project investment is xx.” They never hear the word, “fee”.
Other positive vs negative word connotation examples
Easygoing vs Lazy
Confident vs Arrogant
Value driven vs Cheap
Curious vs Nosy
Dedicated vs Stubborn
Bonus negative/positive word choice
Holocaust survivor & Texan of the Year in 2019, Max Glauben (of blessed memory), inspired this blog. His recent obituary shares that he helped co-found the Dallas Holocaust Museum, originally housed in the basement of the Jewish Community Center (JCC).
I was on the Board of the Dallas Holocaust Museum for 16 years and I hated one of the words in the above paragraph. And everyone on the board knew it!
Don’t say “basement”, say “lower level”!
So, for the record, the Dallas Holocaust Museum, now a beautiful & meaningful stand-alone museum in Dallas’ historic West End, originated on the lower level of the JCC.
Can you add to this word choice list?
Think about your word choices and respective connotations. What words enhance or detract from your message? Your word choice makes a difference to your listeners and YOU.
Author: Karen Cortell Reisman is Founder of Speak For Yourself®, a communication consulting firm, and the author of 2 books on how to communicate. She lives in Dallas, Texas and is value driven (not cheap).
Nathan’s comment mirrors all of our ‘gold-medal’ clients – every leader we’ve worked with on presentation skills across time.
You say, “I get nervous.”
My response: “Let’s get the nerves to work for you and not against you. This extra adrenalin is a good thing.”
Nathan Chen’s quotes on how to get your butterflies to fly in formation or at least do a soaring quadruple flip-triple toe combination jump –
“The music helps me get into the program and then I have fun.”
“I’ve certainly learned the most from my mistakes.”
“With this second chance I learned to trust in myself and to trust the others on my team who’ve given me great advice.”
“Enjoy every moment.”
“A lot of experience training.”
“I stay calm by just breathing, have fun, be present.”
Take-aways on channeling the fear of public speaking –
Listen to good music.
Trust in yourself.
Pick a good team & then listen to them.
Not every speech will lead to a standing ovation or a million-dollar sale. Nathan Chen’s 2018 Olympic experience was his worst moment, but, he says, “in many ways, it was the best.”
Realizing “There’s more to life than skating” helped Chen to focus. Chen explains, “You kind of dramatize things and are like, ‘Oh, man, it’s the end of the world if things don’t go well,’ but really, no, the world continues to turn and things will go back to normal.”
Nathan learned perspective – and so can you.
Author: Karen Cortell Reisman is Founder of Speak For Yourself®, a communication consulting firm, and the author of 2 books on how to communicate. She lives in Dallas, Texas and her favorite number is 22. So she’s having fun, breathing, staying present and enjoying authoring this blog on 2.22.22.