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How to Solve Speaker Anxiety

How to Solve Speaker Anxiety

How to Solve the New York Times Crossword gives you four excellent clues on how to solve speaker anxiety.

Start With the Monday Puzzles

“The Monday NYT Crosswords are the easiest, and the puzzles get harder as the week goes on. Solve as many of the Mondays as you can before pushing yourself to Tuesday puzzles. You can thank us later.”

Same goes for giving presentations. Start small. Speak to “warm”/agreeable audiences first. Speak on topics you’ve earned the right to discuss. Speak in settings that add to your comfort zone. Then push yourself. You can thank me later.

It’s Not Cheating, It’s Learning

Tip: Don’t be afraid to look up answers. You’ll become a better solver for it.”

As speakers, it’s not cheating to have notes. In fact your audience wants you to stay on time and on target. Notes keep you from getting disorganized and tangential. And it lowers your anxiety.

Note: Don’t read your notes verbatim. Only bring an outline to the lectern.

Practice Makes, If Not Perfect, a Much Better Solver

“Do more puzzles. The more you solve, the better you’ll get.”

Quid pro quo, practice makes you a better speaker and decreases nervousness. Practice tips: Say your beginning and ending out loud at least 4 times. Remember that giving a speech is not hard (because you’re speaking about your topic) … it’s just difficult to start and conclude.

As a recovering perfectionist I steer away from the adage, “Practice makes perfect.” Instead, “Predictable practice makes you better prepared.”

Solve With a Friend

“Tip: Solving with another person can work to your advantage. You know things your friend doesn’t know, and he or she knows things that you don’t know.”

I love speaking and am intimidated by doing crossword puzzles. Thank you to my son-in-law, Kevin, for being my crossword puzzle friend. You make it fun and easier!

To decrease your fear of public speaking practice with a non-judgey friend. Then buy them lunch.

Puzzling your way out of speaker anxiety ➜ Use these foundational crossword puzzle strategies as your clues.

© 2024 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved

A Powerful Communication Lesson from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

A Powerful Communication Lesson from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Note – This blog, originally published on 1.17.17, has been one of our most popular posts. The message remains true and I’d like to share it again on this Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday.

MLK uses the Anaphora Effect.

You’re asking, “What’s the Anaphora Effect?”

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s American federal holiday marking his birthday, celebrated earlier this week, let’s highlight one of the genius components of his famous “I Have a Dream” speech delivered in 1963 during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

He uses the Anaphora Effect exquisitely.

Definition of Anaphora

It’s the repetition of words at the start of successive clauses, phrases or sentences.

Why use Anaphora phrases? To create a rhythm, heighten emotion, and add emphasis to make the message easier to remember.

In MLK’s famous speech:

  • Now is the time” is repeated three times in the sixth paragraph.
  • One hundred years later”, “We can never be satisfied”, “With this faith”, “Let freedom ring”, and “free at last” are also repeated.
  • Of course, the most widely cited example of anaphora is found in the often quoted phrase “I have a dream”, which is repeated eight times as King paints a picture of an integrated and unified America.

You might have learned in your English writing classes to not repeat words too often in written form. It depends. Using a catchy phrase can enhance your email or Chairman’s Report.

Your Speak For Yourself® challenge:

Use the Anaphora Effect digitally, informally and in formal presentations to create more buy-in.



Photos taken by Robin Sachs Photography. Thank you to Robin for joining me in Atlanta to tour the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and the Martin Luther King National Historical Park!

© 2024 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved


Use this 10-word sentence to elevate your business success

Use this 10-word sentence to elevate your business success

(1)People (2)do (3)business (4)with (5)people (6)they (7)know, (8)like (9)and (10)trust.

The 1st 5 words – “People do business with people”

While obvious, we forget this simple fact. As the CEO of your large company or your solo-preneur startup – you are NOT doing business with data, spreadsheets, PowerPoint decks, or your specific products/services. While your data creates credibility, you do business with people. And it’s the way you communicate with people that can add or detract from your success.

The 2nd 5 words – “they know, like and trust.”

KNOW”: To be known means to get out there and network in your professional universe. It’s not “net-sit”. It’s not “net-eat”. It’s “net-WORK”.

LIKE”: Here’s the litmus test: Do you pick professionals to work with that you could ride for 1500 miles in a Volkswagen Beetle? Yes – they’re in. No – they’re OUT. Of course, other factors come into play, but this litmus test comes first!

  • Be Likeable. Be the person that anyone would want to invite into a Volkswagen Beetle for a road trip.
  • Look for “likeability” when hiring others.

TRUST”: Gaining trust takes time… once you’re known and liked.

  • Be Genuine. Show up with authenticity. Make that other colleague/business associate/social acquaintance feel as if he/she is the only one in the room.
  • Have Integrity. People will trust you if you show expertise and good judgment and are accountable, responsible and dependable. What you say you’ll do…. you do! And you do “it” with grace.
  • Show Empathy. Try to understand the other person’s thoughts and feelings from his/her point of view. It’s more than just pressing “like” on a social post.

Incorporate this 10-word transformative sentence into your business strategy. Be people-focused. Get known, be likeable, gain trust. You’ll do business and create wonderful relationships.

PS: As I write this first blog of 2024 I realize what a win-win this transformative sentence has been for Speak For Yourself®. I’m grateful for all of the relationships I’ve made with clients across time. Thank you!

5 reasons your emails get deleted

5 reasons your emails get deleted

Think of your emails as a contestant in a Hunger Games movie. Only one can survive. The rest get killed – aka – DELETED.

In your crazy busy professional world that’s what you do. You delete all the junk in your inbox as fast as you can. Yet, your emails are another vital way you get your message(s) across.

Speak For Yourself® five top reasons your emails get eliminated before their time.

1. No “call to action”

What do you want your reader to do as a result of spending precious time reading your email? The sooner you express this info, the better.

2. Too long

Introductory emails should be no longer than 60 words. If your recipient knows you, still keep it short.

3. No clarity

Make your email easy to read. Highlight the Must Read Info. Example: If you have time, date and locale info for an upcoming meeting use a different font or color.

4. Confusing/Nondescript Subject Header

It’s great to be clever. It’s even better if you’re clear.

5. Too egocentric

Begin your emails with “you” or “your” vs. “I”. It’s not about you. It’s about your Board member, your client, or your team.

Keep your emails short. Make them easy to read. Tell us what you want.

© 123RF Stock Photo

#communication   #KarenCortellReisman   #SpeakForYourself   #EmailTips

Role Reversal


No, I’m not talking about Chas Bono on Dancing With the Stars.

Dr. Richard Fine, a friend of mine, told me he was facilitating a Role Reversal Program at a senior living community this week. He said, “I’m going to ask my audience to pretend to switch feet, or hearts, or clothing with another attendee, and follow that with a discussion on how that changes your perspective.”

“What’s the purpose of this exercise,” I asked.

“Empathy. It’s all about placing yourself in the role of another. How does that impact your thoughts? Your actions? Your feelings?”

Here’s the etymology of the word empathy: Greek empatheia, literally, passion, from empathEs, emotional, from em- + pathos, feelings, emotion.

Merriam-Webster’s definition of empathy: The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another.

Karen Cortell Reisman’s definition of empathy: Put yourself in the other person’s shoes – an extension of Dr. Fine’s role reversal workshop this week.

Empathy is a powerful relationship-builder that can form the bedrock of sustainable careers. Empathy can also make life’s little challenges easier to deal with.

Life, Death, and Fish Balls

Karen Cortell Reisman with her mother, Anne Cortell, in 1990.

Today’s blog was published in the Texas Jewish Post on 9-22-11.

Happy New Year to all who celebrate the Jewish New Year – Rosh Hashanah.

 You should never make my Mom’s Gefilte Fish Balls. Why?

1. Your house will reek of fish for one week.

2. YOU will smell like fish for one week.

3. Your refrigerator will smell like fish for two weeks.

You should read this recipe and the back story (below). Why?

1. It’s about what really matters-making time for those you love and creating wonderful traditions and memories in and out of the kitchen.

2. It’s funny.

3. It’s delicious.

My mom, of blessed memory, was a great cook. The only problem was that she never taught me anything. Every year for the Jewish Holidays of Passover and Rosh Hashanah she made her famous gefilte fish balls – a classic appetizer dish. The universe must’ve sent me a hint – shortly before her death I realized that I did not know how to make this fish, a dish that was loved by all.

I dashed over to her home and watched her prepare the gefilte fish, against her wishes. She remarked, “I don’t know how I do it. I just put it all together. I can’t give you a real recipe”. Hence – you will find these approximate amounts below.


2 pints of finely ground onions

Tell the guy to take this amount of fish and filet and grind twice. Once it’s ground you should have around a total of 6 pounds of ground fish.

Make sure he saves the carcass and skin – and gives to you. Have them remove the eyes.

3 pounds of buffalo fish

4 pounds of trout

4 pounds of whitefish

8 carrots

A head of celery – use the very tops and the bottom part (I think my mom was saving the best part for other usage)

1.5 sticks of margarine

2 large onions, sliced (that’s in addition to the pre-ordered ground onions)

1 dozen eggs

14 ounces matzo meal



Lawry salt

Garlic salt


2 packs of clear Knox gelatin

Couple of jars of red horseradish


Place rinsed skeletons, heads, tails in bottom of a huge deep rectangular pan that will cover two of your burners on your stove. Throw away fish skin.

Add water – totally cover – about ¾ high in the pan.

Add all the carrots, celery tops and bottoms, margarine, sliced up onions.


7 seconds of salt – from large container using the spout

7 seconds of garlic salt – with open bottle (no sifter)

5 seconds of Lawry salt – with open bottle (no sifter)

4 seconds of sugar out of sack

3.5 seconds of pepper

Put on two burners on stove on high till it boils. Cover and turn to simmer for around 40 minutes to an hour. While this is simmering, prepare the fish. Put all the ground fish in large bowl.


2 pounds finely ground onion

3 cups of water

1 dozen eggs

14 ounces of matzo meal

6 seconds of salt (for all seasonings use same lid as above)

4.5 seconds of pepper

5 seconds of Lawry salt

5 seconds of garlic salt

4 seconds of sugar

Knead together and add 4 more cups of water

Use an ice cream scooper – dip scooper into heated fish broth first – then scoop out 2 balls. Fill the scooper but make it flat at the top (unlike today’s huge portion of ice cream at an ice cream shop, but that’s another story). Put the scoops of fish into the fish broth.

Turn the broth up to boil again and wait for the balls to float, turn white, and not fall apart. These are your test balls! IF they fall apart, add more matzo meal to your ground fish concoction.

Take your test balls out when ready and place in freezer. Go grab some coffee and wait a bit. Take the balls out of the freezer and eat them. Should taste delicious.

Now get busy: Put 16 balls at a time into the fish broth. Bring to a boil. Should take about 10 min. to cook – or until they’re really floating.

Makes a total of 114 balls (not an approximation) *

Once done: take all the fish bones and other ingredients out of the fish broth. Add in the gelatin. Save the cooked carrots and dice.

Pour the fish broth over the fish balls in their various glass Pyrex dishes. Cover and refrigerate.


2 fish balls per plate, 1 little slice of cooked carrot on top of each piece of fish. Looks a little like the balls are graduating from college.

Place some of the jelled fish broth on each plate. Add a dab of horseradish to the side.

* While Mom never had a written recipe, she kept a log of each time she prepared Gefilte Fish. Her detailed notes of jelling challenges, added matzo meal, how many balls went where date back to the 1950’s. Some notes from her batch on 9-18-1990: “It made a total of 114 balls and I think it turned out very good! Indeed EXCELLENT AND IT JELLED!! Total of 81 balls for Karen, she had 11 left for her. 12 for Nina, 8 for me, 4 for Reisman, 8 for Kallenberg, 2 each for Ruth and Norma.”


As I grew up, we always had a large crowd for Rosh Hashanah. Then after I got married, I inherited the tradition and celebrated this High Holy Day – the Jewish New Year, at my home. At one time we peaked at around 45 people for this seated dinner.

Mom continued to prepare the fish. On the day of the dinner she would arrive at my door around 11am, honking her horn. I’d come outside and help bring in the 5 Pyrex dishes filled with The Balls. We would sit down, have some fish with fresh Challah (bread) – a true highlight moment. I always knew the best part about this celebration was not the holiday itself, but the entire day spent with my Mom. We would set the tables, prepare other dishes, and spend quality time together.

I vividly recall her final Rosh Hashanah. According to her notes she brought the fish over on 9 – 8 – 1991, two days before her 72nd birthday. She honked her horn as usual. As she came in she said, “Karrrren (she had a thick German accent), I’m tired. I don’t know why. I shouldn’t be, but I am.”

We had our typical fantastic day together and a lovely evening celebration. She had a fatal heart attack two months later.

A year later I took her copious log, called the grocery store and attempted to make The Balls. At the last minute Aunt Lorraine offered to help. (Aunt Lorraine was not a ‘real’ Aunt – she was my Mom’s best friend and a second mother to me. We just called everyone ‘aunt’ and ‘uncle’.)

Out of deep sadness evolved a new rich tradition. From that year forward, Aunt Lorraine and I would prepare The Balls together. She had her pot – covering two burners, I had mine – covering the other two burners. She tossed in the same amount of seasoning as I. Then she’d say, “Karen, I don’t get it! We’ve done the exact same thing, but your balls always taste better”, which was an accurate assessment, in my humble opinion. I responded, “Aunt Lorraine, I know why. My mom is watching over my pot, not yours.”

Then Aunt Lorraine was diagnosed with a terminal illness, and just ahead of Rosh Hashanah she called and said, “Karen, I won’t be able to prepare the gefilte fish this year.”

Her comment spoke volumes. What she was really saying was, I can’t make the gefilte fish because I’m dying. That would be the ONLY reason one would not be there.

Here are the lessons I’ve learned from gefilte fish balls:

With my mom – It wasn’t about the balls, it was about love, and tradition, and celebration and family.

With Aunt Lorraine – It wasn’t about the balls, it was about finding ways to move from deep grief to new and special connections that help fill the void.

So – don’t make these balls (refer back to beginning of recipe).

But – do make time for those you love. Create wonderful traditions in and out of the kitchen. Those memories – past, present, and future are delicious.

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