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Speaker Anxiety – reduce by handling The Energy Zappers

Speaker Anxiety – reduce by handling The Energy Zappers

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

6 Ways to Appear More Authoritative at Work

6 Ways to Appear More Authoritative at Work

Emerging leaders beware: are you undermining your own authority without realizing it?

Here are 6 ways to exude confidence and appear to be a leader, according to U.S. News & World Report writer Alison Green.

🎤  Get in synch, up front, with your direct report.

Have alignment with your supervisor on issues facing your team and company. You will lose authority if your boss reverses what you are doing and saying.

🎤  Know how to answer questions when you don’t know the answer.

You will not know how to handle every situation that crosses your path. To respond with confidence in these scenarios learn to use time as your negotiating factor. Example: “You’ve raised some valid concerns and you’ve given me lots to think about. I’ll get back to you on Friday.” Note: follow up when you say you’ll follow up.

🎤  Reduce your verbal clutter.

Fillers like “um,” “you know,” and “I think,” dilute your point, make you look nervous and decreases your gravitas. Try to erase this clutter by being aware of what fillers you use and wearing your imaginary Verbal Clutter Hat. Hint: practice this de-cluttering technique in less stressful situations and the habit will carry over into your work life.

🎤  Be aware of your tone of voice.

Don’t end sentences with a question mark unless they’re questions! This bad habit, called “upspeak”, negates your authority. Also, use declarative sentences. These are simple statements providing information or stating facts. Your tone of voice implies authority vs sounding hesitant and unsure.

🎤  Use the Power of the Pause.

Sounds easy but it’s not! You rush to fill in the spaces. You might chatter nervously or do a quick laugh/giggle at the end of your sentences. Both belie your sense of authority. State your thoughts and then stop. When answering questions you can pause to formulate your thoughts before responding. Become comfortable with silence.

🎤  Be straightforward.

Say what you want to say, even in difficult or awkward conversations. You will appear more confident and authoritative by being direct. Addressing issues is part of your job.

The Naked Truth about Speaker Anxiety & how to deal with it

The Naked Truth about Speaker Anxiety & how to deal with it

You are not alone in dealing with public speaking nervousness. As CEO of Speak For Yourself® I have worked with 100s of clients from a variety of industries on this issue.

Over time I’ve written a couple of books on communication and selling and many articles on speaker anxiety.

Today “13” is your lucky number! My new e-book is a compilation of our top 13 short and strategic articles covering all angles of how to handle the fear of speaking once your name is called out, the crowd is applauding and you’re centerstage.

You’ll enjoy and gain usable strategies to get your nerves to work for you rather than against you.

I laugh with my clients when I tell them I’ll be their “ledge whisperer” on this issue. And I hope to be that same ledge-whisperer for you.

➜  If you’d like your free copy of this e-book send me an email (karen@karencortellreisman.com) with “Speaker Anxiety” in the Subject Line.

Breathe, enjoy and read this book.

You’ll get off that ledge and on to your next stage, boardroom or team meeting.

#speakeranxiety  #speakforyourself   #karencortellreisman   #overcomefearofpublicspeaking


Why Speaking Anxiety Can Be a Good Thing

Why Speaking Anxiety Can Be a Good Thing

Fear of public speaking is a common form of anxiety. Everyone gets nervous before giving a speech. Full disclosure – I get nervous too. In fact I rarely eat much before a presentation. (About 15 minutes into my speech or workshop I’m starving!)

How can anxiety be useful in public speaking?

Public speaking creates an increase in adrenaline. What you do with this extra jolt separates those that become miserable at the lectern vs those that become more energized.

How can you capitalize on this extra jolt of energy?

  • Accept the obvious. Do NOT wish this anxiety to go away. That takes you down a slippery negative slope. You can’t undo these nerves and then you feel even more anxiety when the nervousness persists!
  • Do the reverse. Say to yourself, “Great – I’ve got this extra energy. All good.”
  • Don’t say, “I’m nervous”. Say, “I’m excited”. It makes a difference.
  • Think of this boost of adrenaline as a shot of caffeine.
  • Do all of the steps we’ve blogged about to ensure your success, like being prepared, knowing your audience, getting to the venue early, drinking room temp water, practicing out loud and doing some pre vocal warmups.

What happens if you are NOT nervous/excited?

What if your upcoming speech is the 29th time you’re giving the exact same message? You’re almost lethargic. Not good!

Find ways to add some nervousness/energy … as counter-intuitive as this sounds.

  • Shake it up – rework your topic.
  • Create new visuals.
  • Try new material.

The paradox of the fear of public speaking

You need the extra adrenaline. Use it to add more energy to your delivery. It’s a good thing.

Author: Karen Cortell Reisman is Founder of Speak For Yourself®, a communication consulting firm, and the author of 2 books on how to communicate. She lives in Dallas, Texas and she always has nuts or a protein bar with her at a speaking gig to snack on once her appetite kicks in.

© 2022 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved

Communicate Well: Your Secret Weapon

Communicate Well: Your Secret Weapon

Our attention spans rival those of a mosquito.

21 ways to enhance your audience’s retention

Last week’s blog explains the surprising truth about being memorable. First – your listeners comprehend what you’re showing (visual mode), second – by what you’re saying (auditory mode) and … third – by what you’re doing (kinesthetic mode).

While your spatial movement comes in last place in this triad, it’s got the power to cement what you’re showing and saying in the brain cells of your audience.

Your movement do’s

  • Walk on & pause before talking & establish eye contact with your group.
  • Face the audience.
  • Stand with arms resting at your sides, when not gesturing.
  • Stand with weight evenly distributed on both feet.
  • Be natural. Use your hands & arms.
  • Sit with good posture, if seated. (And don’t rock in your chair!)
  • Move around with purpose.
    • Speak on Point #1, then move.
    • Speak on Point #2, then move.
    • When you move quickly, you stir the audience. When you move slowly you keep them entranced.
  • Stand CENTER STAGE for your most important comments.
  • Post speech: pause w eye contact before leaving stage.

Your movement don’ts

  • Box Trot: Moving around in an imaginary square.
  • Cha-Cha-Cha: Taking one step forward and one step back repetitively.
  • Tennis Game: Pacing back and forth. Is your audience watching a tennis match?
  • Cruise Ship: Swaying … shifting your weight from leg to leg.
  • Fiddling Fingers: Picking at your cuticles.
  • Fig Leaf: Hands clasped below your waist.
  • Parade Rest: Hands clasped behind your back.
  • Stern Father: Arms crossed just below your chest.
  • Thigh Intrigue: Hands in your pockets.
  • Pen/Paper Massage: Playing with laser pointer, pen, and/or paper.
  • Arthritic Arm: One hand holding the opposite arm.
  • Itchy Face & Scalp Disease: Hands on your face or in your hair.

Your secret communication weapon

Move with purpose. Don’t detract from your message by being unaware of your stance, posture and gestures.

It’s not about speaking… it’s about getting heard!

Author: Karen Cortell Reisman is Founder of Speak For Yourself®, a communication consulting firm, and the author of 2 books on how to communicate. She lives in Dallas, Texas and admires the tenacity of mosquitos even with their limited attention spans.

Did you know we offer a free 20-minute communication consultation?

© photo: 123RF

© 2022 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved

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