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Speaker Anxiety – reduce by handling The Energy Zappers

by | Apr 30, 2024

A recent scenario: “I’m paralyzed by speaker anxiety”, said my billion dollar investment firm CEO, during one of our 1:1 meetings. He continued, “I’m lost.” I replied, “I’ll help you get found.”

We talked. We strategized. “Here’s one way to move from speaker anxiety to speaker comfort zone”, I said. “You can learn to understand and handle The Zappers.”

For all of you (and there are plenty of you) who have a smidgen to lots of speaker nerves, read on ➜

Who are “The Energy Zappers”?

The Energy Zappers are those people in your audience (of one to many) that are disengaged. You know the one(s)! They’re distracted. They may even be sleeping, heaven forbid.

Two Energy Zapper situations & how to handle them

Everyone is disengaged.

➜ Example: During a full-day limited-attendance workshop with a tech client I saw that the entire group of 15 began to text. It looked like they were texting each other. In this instance I read the room and stopped to ask what was going on. They said, “A server has gone down.” I said, “Let’s take a break now and try to solve this issue.” They did. Phew.

🎤 Tip – If everyone is disengaged you have a problem. Either find out what’s going on, or call us later to work on your content, organization and delivery.

A few are disengaged.

➜ Example: You’ve got lots of Energy Givers in your audience. They give you good eye contact. They nod. They even take notes! BUT there are those few that are on their mobiles, or nodding off, or multi-tasking while pretending to listen to you.

🎤 Tip – Remember Karen’s Speak For Yourself® Zen Phrase:

“You don’t know what emotional baggage your listeners bring to your table.”

Repeat this phrase to yourself when confronted with Energy Zappers. Please remind yourself that this disengagement is not your fault even though you might take it personally. How do you know what’s going on in their lives? They might be on a chemo regimen. They might have allergies and taking Benadryl. They might be dealing with any manner of personal issues. You don’t know! So don’t get sucked into a mental game of trying to rouse them from drowsy purgatory. Instead, concentrate on the rest of your room.

Back to my CEO client. I told him, “I taught college classes early on in my career. I got better at it, semester by semester, and my student evaluations let me know exactly how they felt about my teaching! Fortunately as time went on the evaluations improved. In fact I might have 3 negative vs. 75 positive reviews. Guess which reviews I fixated on?” He replied, “the three bad ones.” “That’s correct,” I said.

When you speak – remember my zen phrase and try not to react the way I did with my college evaluations. You’ll reduce your speaker anxiety by leaning into the positive energy and ignoring The Zappers!

© 2024 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved 

Photo ©:  123RF Stock Photo

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