You are successful. You have built a sought-after business and you’ve far surpassed your financial goals. But you hate giving speeches.

Meet many of my clients. This is their story.

These power clients have figured out how to hide behind others in their organizations… UNTIL they have to accept a huge award in front of 1500 industry peers, or give the Father Of The Bride speech to 350 friends and family, or speak about themselves to get elected to a prestigious board at a venerable social association.

For any number of reasons ranging from a bad past speech experience to a well-concealed constant veil of anxiety – it’s a struggle to give “that” speech.

Yesterday, with just that type of scenario, my CEO client said with a sigh, “I haven’t found my voice.”

I said, “We’ll find your voice.”

Here are the “two games” you must play in order to find that illusive comfort and confidence when giving a pivotal presentation.

Your Mental Game

  • Find and say your mantra (to yourself!) – What short phrase works for you when you’re going nuts? “I got this.” “I know that I know”. “I don’t give a shit.” (that seemed to work for one of my clients. Email me for even more imaginative mantras from past clients…)
  • Pinpoint your PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) – Think about a past POSITIVE speech you’ve given, rather than the one that sucked. Stop dwelling on that one and put yourself back in the situation that went well. Really go there. Recall this event with as much detail as you remember from what you wore, to what you said, to how your group reacted in a positive way.
  • Listen to your fight song – to quiet your demons, listen to your fabulous song ahead of time. Client examples: Rocky, Eye of the Tiger, I Will Survive.
  • Access your “conversational” voice – think about a person in your life that you like to hang out with. Where are you? What are you drinking? Be specific. For me – it’s Robin, PF Chang, Chivas. For you it could be your dad, the back porch, ice tea. THAT voice you use in that situation – take it with you to the lectern.

Your Physical Game

  • Prepare in advance – give yourself the creative time you need to get your thoughts together. Do not wing it.
  • Practice out loud – NOT to the mirror. Find a trusted friend.
  • Understand your audience and what they need.
  • Do some voice and body exercises ahead of time.
  • Get to your venue early.
  • Give the organizer your pre-written introduction – if you will be introduced.
  • Be in control of your physical side effects – you can’t wish the physical stuff like dry mouth, blotchy neck, or a sudden sweat attack to go away. These natural effects will happen. Know what affects you and bring the water bottle, wear a tie/scarf, and don’t wear wool.

It’s a slippery slope. Play your mental and physical game, in tandem, to climb back to the top of your situation.

Photo ©:  123RF Stock Photo

© Karen Cortell Reisman, M.S., author of 3 books and President of Speak For Yourself®, works with decision makers on how to speak with gravitas. It’s all in how you speak for yourself. Karen also speaks about her cousin, Albert Einstein, in a message about hope, resilience and brassieres.

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