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Speechless Receiving my Speaker Award

by | Aug 15, 2017 | 4 comments

Stu Schlackman – a past Charbonneau recipient & Karen

You’ve heard me quote Mark Twain who said, “It takes me two weeks to prepare for a good impromptu speech.” You’ve heard me tell you that you should be prepared to speak, no matter the circumstances.

When my name was called out a few days ago as the recipient of the Jos. J. Charbonneau Award for outstanding service and leadership, my National Speakers Association – N. Texas’ highest honor, I was speechless.

Karen Cortell Reisman: speechless. A very rare occurrence.

Karen with beloved family and friends

Context: This award, if bestowed, is given as part of our organization’s annual award ceremony in June. Not August! But I discovered that this particular award got postponed due to my travel schedule in June.

The Lies: When this award is given, the recipient’s family and friends congregate in the back and surprise the recipient as her name is called. On this day, seated with my 100 speaker colleagues, my beloved family and friends streamed in. Crazy! In retrospect their lies now make sense! They covered their back-ends with small and large alibis in order to show up undetected by me!

Gary Rifkin, a past Charbonneau Award Recipient with Karen

The Set Up (the lies continue): In order to make sure I attended this meeting, my dear friend, Gary Rifkin, asked me to do a short presentation. You don’t say “no” when asked, but I wondered why this little showcase was necessary! Another speaker buddy, Julie Alexander, emailed to request some hangout time and could I come early. I did. She’s on vacation.

Mark Twain’s preparedness quote remains correct. But what happens when you, like me, are really caught by surprise?

  • Pause.
  • Breathe.
  • Maintain eye contact with your audience.
  • Ask for participation.
  • End quickly!

Karen with Kate Delaney, NSA – North TX President

What I did say: “Are you effing kidding me?!!!!!”

Had I personified Mark Twain’s adage, here’s what I would’ve said:

“I’m honored to be surrounded by past Jos. J. Charbonneau Award recipients. You are my role models, my mentors and my friends. This award’s namesake once said, “You have to give, give, give in order to get, get, get.” He was right. I’m honored to receive this award from my peers at the National Speakers Association – North Texas Chapter. I’m honored to have my dearest family and friends with me. And, right now, I’m ecstatic that I’m having a really good hair day.”

Karen with past recipients Eloise Owens, Tim Durkin, and Vince Poscente

© 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.

Read more at www.SpeakForYourself.com/blog.

Did you know that we also work 1:1 with decision makers on overcoming the fear of public speaking? Click here: https://www.karencortellreisman.com/seminar-what-i-didnt-say.html



  1. Judith Dedmon

    Congratulations, Karen. Well-deserved!
    Thanks for sharing your words of wisdom on this blog. I always learn something.

    • Karen Cortell Reisman

      Thank you, Judith. It was quite an experience! Your feedback is much appreciated.

  2. Nancy Bartlett

    Clearly well deserved, Karen. You will always be one of my Academy codeines (oh, wait … co-deans!). Congratulations!!

    • Karen Cortell Reisman

      Thanks, Nancy!!!! I will always be your “codeine”! It was quite an experience and I do feel so honored. Warmly, Karen

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