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How to look confident without appearing fake

How to look confident without appearing fake

red apple with heart design templateThe Apple Stance

Apple speakers, at the recent Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), “strode into view and assumed the position: standing with legs spread and toes pointing out”, according to the Washington Post. Dubbed The Apple Stance, it began to look fake since everyone struck this same pose!

The effort spent to look effortless

When every company employee on camera has the same stance, the juice is not worth the squeeze. I believe in executive speech coaching (I am one!). However the effort to look effortless took too much effort. The result, paradoxically, created a lack of believability. They looked like they were performing the A in AI.

The Ready Position

Try this method to look confident and approachable when giving your presentations ➜

  • Walk up to the lectern or centerstage with energy and a smile.
  • Don’t start talking the nanosecond you get there (or before you’ve even gotten to centerstage).
  • Do pause and count (internally) for two long seconds “1001 and 1002”.
  • Vary your eye contact from the left side to the right side of the room during this two-second pre-pause.
  • Stand with your weight evenly distributed at a shoulder’s width apart. BTW, the Apple Stance is a little wider and looks a bit too practiced.
  • Stand tall – don’t crouch over.
  • Don’t lock your knees – have a bit of flex here.
  • Put your arms by your sides.
  • Start your presentation, and then use your arms in a natural way.

This “Ready Position” shows strength. You’re taking up your space and it’s one of the most important ways to display confidence. My last blog, The real reason you shouldn’t tell audiences you’re nervous … and what to do instead lists other ways to look confident even if you don’t feel all that confident.

You, your stance and eating one bite out of The Apple

Far be it from me to question the world’s most valuable company! In fact, I’m typing this blog on an Apple MacBook Air while my Apple iPhone charges.

To look confident and speak with strength – speak for yourself using your own natural gestures and the Ready Position stance.

© 2024 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved.

Thank you to my blog editor, Judy Dedmon Coyle, for bringing this Washington Post article to my attention. What fun!

The real reason you shouldn’t tell audiences you’re nervous … and what to do instead

The real reason you shouldn’t tell audiences you’re nervous … and what to do instead

False sense of connection

You might think that sharing your discomfort with the audience is a way to build rapport and empathy with your group.

You’re doing the exact opposite with this maneuver. First, you’re telegraphing a lack of confidence. Second, you’re making your audience uncomfortable. Third, even though you’re being transparent and honest, you’re not reducing your level of speaker anxiety one iota.

A better approach

Act confident.

I did not say, “Be confident.” Being confident is your goal, and that comes with experience, training and content knowledge. “Acting confident” means being an actor of confidence. The cliché, fake it till you make it, comes to mind.

To look confident, even if you don’t feel all that confident, do the following:

  • Have good posture.
  • Use effective eye contact.
  • Project your voice.
  • Smile – have an open facial expression.
  • Walk with purpose (rather than swaying, pacing, rocking, or doing an imaginary cha-cha-cha dance).
  • Stop fidgeting.
  • Reduce verbal clutter.

No surprises there

I’m about to facilitate a full-day public speaking workshop for emerging leaders at a technology company. In the pre-workshop survey the attendees have shared that they’re either pretty nervous to extremely nervous. No surprises there. I can’t wait to share our best practices on how to channel these negative gremlins into positive energy.

I’ll be sure to tell them not to share their nervous angst when making a speech, doing a pitch, or running a meeting.

© 2024 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved 

Photo ©:  by Robin Sachs Photography on Atlanta Beltline

The Best Networking Tip guaranteed to increase your impact

The Best Networking Tip guaranteed to increase your impact

The Set Up

I’m at my physical therapy (PT) appointment due to a recent knee surgery. More to the point, I’m lying on a work-out table on my side facing another PT patient lifting my bent knee up and down with a band on my thigh. He’s on his stomach stretching out his upper back. We’re quite the duo.

A selfie of Karen and fellow PT patient at Physical Therapy class.

Selfie of Karen & Chris @ our Physical Therapy appointments last week.

I say, “I overheard you work with finance companies in the insurance industry. Tell me more.” I continue my exercises, he continues his stretches, and we discover we have some clients in common.

At the close of this PT session he asks, “Do you have a card?”

“No” as I patted my empty gym short pockets. I say, “Let’s take a selfie and I’ll text it to you with my name and you text me back with your info.” (See said selfie here!)

The Close

Once we did this text exchange he said, “That’s a great idea. I’m going to do this selfie technique from now on.”

“Perfect!”, I respond. “It’s better than a business card. I now have your mobile number which is the ticket to finding you into perpetuity. Your email may change, your job and location may change… but you’ll never change your mobile number.”

Are business cards irrelevant?

No. Your card still serves a purpose. And your business card probably includes your cell phone. But, now you have the person’s pic and a text chat already happening.

The benefit for you

If you really want to stay connected to the person you’ve just networked with, take a selfie together, put your name on the text, and also add the contact’s name (spelled correctly), just in case your target does not follow through with the return text. Now you have the most critical info to stay in touch.

Take this networking idea all the way to the bank.


© 2024 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved 

Photo ©:  Selfie taken by Karen @ Carrell Clinic Physical Therapy Center

Best Way to Get Heard AND reduce stress

Best Way to Get Heard AND reduce stress

Make others laugh, and here’s how ➜

4 Places to find and use humor

1️⃣   Make aggravations your best friend. Stuff happens. Your flight cancels. Your SVP moves to another company. Your cappacinno is all milk and no caffeine. These irritating situations make great copy if you twist them into humorous anecdotes. (see Best Example Ever below)

2️⃣   Be self-deprecating. Share your foibles rather than your accolades. You become approachable and we’ll want to hear more from you.

3️⃣   Mine your own biggest mishaps. Humor = Tragedy + Time. It’s what you once cried about and now can laugh about. One time I stood up to give a speech and my skirt fell down. I cried then. I laugh now… and you laugh with me because I share this story with most audiences.

4️⃣  Look for the funny stuff. (see pic!)

Best Humor Example Ever

Our family was taking my sister, Nina, to the University of Texas in Austin to begin her college experience. My dad, Walter Cortell, wrote this letter after our stay at a nearby hotel.

August, 1970


Become a charioteer at the Chariot Inn in Austin, Texas.


To make your stay more enjoyable the management provides many unique features. Amongst them are the following:


  • Automatically collapsing Spanish curtain which separates the washstand from the bed room, thus forestalling false pruderie and promoting a sense of togetherness.
  • Table lamp which goes out at the gentle tap of a knuckle. No fussing with old-fashioned switches.
  • Airconditioned blanket. Three strategically placed holes at the foot end of the blanket will permit a person in horizontal position to emit unwanted gases freely.
  • The walls are bare and undecorated so as to prevent overstimulation of the mind and falling asleep.
  • The seat cushion of the chairs follows the curvature of the right buttock by the missing of some strands of springs making it easy to work on your core.
  • There are two adjoining coffee shops and one server who shuttles back and forth between the two and thus provides a very versatile service. The kitchen odors are so pungent and all-pervasive that you can tell the available dishes without looking at the menu.
  • The Chariot Inn was originally built as a log cabin by the pioneer, Stephen S. Austin, and there have been few changes since. The many roaches and crickets you encounter are descendants of the original vermin that crawled into the woodwork. They are historical animals. Do not kill them but treat them as pets.

When you approach The Chariot Inn on Interstate 35 and you can’t stop, then wave, or better yet, wave good bye.




R.Undown, Manager

S.Hitty, Housekeeper

My Dad’s letter & your homework

➜  My Dad’s letter shows his keen eye and sense of humor. I love this Best Humor Example Ever… it’s special to me since he passed away the very next year.

➜  Look for the humor and share the funny stuff. You’ll diffuse tension. They’ll laugh. And so will you.

➜  So, rather than rant on social media about bad experiences –  flex your humor muscle and write your own letter to R.Undown the Manager and S.Hitty the Housekeeper.  

© 2024 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved 

Photo ©:  Karen took this pic at a nearby dry cleaners.

4 Tedious Conversation Topics to Avoid

4 Tedious Conversation Topics to Avoid

Roman sculpture of a face with a water spiget placed where the mouth is.

Know when to turn your faucet on and off!

Your Speak For Yourself® guide

Conversation topics that can best be handled with Zen minimalism

Don’t be the one that shares too much detail on subjects with limited interest to others.

🎤  Tedious Topic #1: Your driving mishaps

🤯  You have a wreck. Or you almost have a wreck. You delve into the details. “I was in the left lane on Northwest Highway, going west, and this other guy who is two lanes over veers into my lane…” Stop right there! We are already lost trying to figure out where you are.

✅  Try to pare down the details and say, “I’m shaken by an almost wreck last week. I got lucky.”

🎤  Tedious Topic #2: Your technology hassles

🤯  Technology – you can’t live without it, and sometimes you can’t live with it! Your Wi-Fi goes away, your calendar doesn’t sync, you get to the last step and the system doesn’t accept your zip code. I won’t even mention worse tech nightmares. Stuff happens. And the less you tell us the better. It’s horrible for you and boring for us.

✅  Try saying, “I’m having tech issues. I’ll spare you the details, but it’s been a bad Monday morning!”

🎤  Tedious Topic #3: Your medical challenges

🤯  “First I had a twinge of pain on the back of my left knee. It hurt whenever I took a step. Then …” Stop!  “I take xxx for high cholesterol, yyy for high blood pressure and zzz for insomnia, and my test results were …”  Stop! Too much info!

✅  Try being very broad and make sure you have empathy for the other person’s situation. Say, “It’s been a rough time but it’s temporary. It makes me even more aware of your strength in dealing with your [fill in the blank] chronic issue.”  Or, “I have good days and bad days. I’m taking this one day at a time. Thanks for asking.”

🎤  Tedious Topic #4: Your vacations

💤   Do not give us a day-by-day rundown of your itinerary, meals and adventures. It’s boring.

✅  Try picking one story of something that went wrong! While that sounds counterintuitive, we love to hear how you handled a travel snafu. We can relate and it helps us figure out how to handle calamities on the road or at home. Plus, good stories include conflict.


Only go into detail if your listener keeps asking questions. Their interest stems from having similar experiences. They had a wreck in the exact same place as you. They have a very similar medical experience or they’re going to the same vacation destination. Or they are your beloved family and friends who really care. Talk away.


  • You and I have made all of these errors… sharing too much detail/pain/aggravations on these topics.
  • Why? We want you to share in our pain and joy.
  • Try the Zen approach going forward. I will too.

© 2024 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved 

Photo taken by Karen in Rome, Italy

Everything in life needs a good edit – your diet, your closet & your words

Everything in life needs a good edit – your diet, your closet & your words

Cross out your deletes!

If you’re like me you have thousands of digital pics on your phone or some other cloud storage. You spend precious time scrolling through them to find The One You Want To Show At Your Dinner With Friends.

Wirecutter expert, Max Eddy, has some advice on cleaning out your camera roll. The solution? Build in a “delete day” habit. Take a few minutes daily to search that day’s date in past years and then whack away. Delete, sort into albums, or save. With time you’ll see a transformation from photo warehouse to “curated gallery”!

Everything in life needs a good edit from time to time.

I’ll leave your diet, closet and photos in your hands. As for your words, build in this Wirecutter strategy. Here’s how to clean it up.

“Words ‘n Phrase Delete” habit

Salty Sailor Words. I am walking again! I had a knee surgery 10 weeks ago that left me non weight bearing for 6 weeks that meant using a walker and a wheel chair,  followed by just the walker and then a cane. Why am I telling you this? Because I found myself using curse words to describe my situation! Yes, I admit that my frustration over the whole deal brought out some graphic phrases. I am deleting these words NOW. They detract from my gravitas.

🎤  What words belie your personal brand?

Overused Cliches and Phrases.

  • “At the end of the day” – this one wins an award for excessive use.
  • “To be honest” – is everything else you say not honest?
  • “You know what I mean?” – ummm, yes I do, unless you confused me, in which case I’d ask you to clarify.

🎤  What phrases are you using that add nothing to your meaning? Be intentional.

Verbal Clutter. The main offenders include ➜

  • “Umm”, “You know”, “And, so… anyway”.
  • I also can’t stand the “Illy Family” – filler words we can all do without. “Really”, “Actually”, “Basically”, “Truly”, and “Literally”.

🎤  Monitor your use of word clutter. Wear your “Anti-Verbal-Clutter Hat” in non-stress situations and practice deleting these superfluous words.

😳 I’m embarrassed to share that I have 21,539 photos and 641 videos on my iPhone. We all need to edit something from time to time!

© 2024 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved 

Photo ©:  123RF Stock Photo

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