fear of public speaking

The Neuroscience of Instant Confidence

Whether speaking in front of a group, a high stakes meeting, or a difficult conversation, we've all faced situations that cause anxiety. Whenever we feel threatened, the lower, primitive brain gets triggered and can hijack the logical brain. 

No Sweat! Get Control of Public Speaking Nerves

Three people called me this week because their public speaking fear is holding them back. It's affecting their brand, their reputation, and their career advancement. It's causing them to remain quiet in meetings and to decline speaking opportunities. It’s time to knock out the fear of public speaking! Public speaking is no different from any other fear and you can kick the habit long before you kick the bucket.

Public Speaking is Going to the Dogs


hunting-dogs-800845_960_720It's the Dog Days of August and public speaking is going to the dogs - in a good way. Animals, especially dogs, have been used in pet therapy programs for years. Research shows that pets can help lower blood pressure, and reduce anxiety. Bonnie Auslander, who specializes in business communication, decided to use dogs to help reduce public speaking anxiety in front of an audience. Knowing that dogs are successfully used in pet therapy, Auslander applied the idea to speaking anxiety. The sessions were part of a pilot program at American University. They recruited 12 canines who were chosen for their calm personalities. Nervous business students were paired with a friendly dog.

Did it work? The evidence was anecdotal. The students reported that looking at dogs made them smile.

True confession: When I was starting out as a public speaker, I would place stuffed animals in chairs and would practice my speech as well as my eye contact. The only downside was when my husband walked into the room and saw me talking to a bunch of chairs.

The idea was to mentally remove the negative image of a scary audience and to replace it with something or someone who is accepting.

While we don't know if this experiment in reducing speech anxiety will transfer to a human audience, it can't hurt. The dogs allow the public speakers to "feel the love", and it's a win win. The public speaker reduces anxiety and the canines get undivided attention.

So I guess it's true. Every dog has it's day.


The Fear Worse Than Public Speaking

freedom-of-speech-156029__180Public speaking is not the top fear. Don't get me wrong. I work with clients all the time to build their confidence so that they can express their ideas. Speaking enables leaders to influence, build relationships, and advance their careers. It's one of the most powerful business and personal skills with far reaching impact. But public speaking fear is a temporary obstruction. It can be overcome. However, there is another fear that is much greater. It's slowly creeping into our culture.

It's the loss of freedom of speech.

Today, as we celebrate Independence Day, I heard a disturbing report on a television news segment. The University of North Carolina published a guidebook for employees on how to avoid micro aggression. They listed words that should not be used in conversation. Here are a few:

Don't say:

  • Christmas Vacation because it could insult someone who practices a different religion
  • Wife/Girlfriend or Husband/Boyfriend because it discriminates against other sexual preferences. (So do I deny I'm married ?)
  • Round of Golf because some people can't afford to play (Have they not heard of municipal courses?)
  • I Love Your Shoes because that's discriminating against women. (I have never met a woman who was insulted when I complimented her shoes).

ARE THEY KIDDING? What kind of craziness is this? Who could take this seriously? What great material for Saturday Night Live.

I certainly don't mean to single out UNC. There are other universities that actually have designated free speech zones. REALLY? The first amendment of the Bill of Rights grants freedom of speech not in geographic zones but everywhere. The purpose was to limit the power of  government and now we have universities telling us what we can say.

The comedian, Jerry Seinfeld stopped performing at colleges because he got tired of political correctness. Where is our sense of humor?

Whoever controls language controls thought. And that's scarier than any fear of speaking in public. This July 4th, let's give thanks for freedom of speech and have the confidence to speak out.

Happy July 4th !




Re-Launch of “Give Fear the Finger”


GFTF 3D coverDiResta Communications Recognizes International Women’s Day with Re-Launch of “Give Fear the Finger”

Diane DiResta, author, speaker and owner of DiResta Communications honors the 2016 theme for International Women’s Day—Gender Equality

New York City, NY:  “International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.” The 2016 theme is Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality.”

Diane DiResta, in keeping with this theme, is relaunching her latest book, Give Fear the Finger: How to Knock out Fear of Public Speaking and making it available for only $.99 for the rest of the month, starting with International Women’s Day.

Give Fear the Finger shows women (and men) how to never be nervous again. Diane teaches the reader the secrets to being confident and fearless whether speaking to one or 1000. The interactive ebook shows how to stand up to fear and command the platform. Gifted speakers are born but effective speakers are made. Speaking is the new competitive advantage and levels the playing field for women. It gives them visibility they might not access and allows them to have a platform. Speaking let women celebrate their social, economic, cultural and political achievement.

Diane DiResta, who grew up on military bases around the world, began her career as a speech pathologist and now travels internationally teaching interpersonal communications and presentation skills. She traveled to Russia to speak to women entrepreneurs and teaches public speaking in countries like Tanzania, Africa; Bermuda, Brazil, Egypt, Spain and the UK. Diane’s mission is “empowering through the spoken word.”

About Diane DiResta, CSP

Diane DiResta is the founder and CEO of DiResta Communications, Inc, a New York City-based communications skills consultancy serving business leaders who want to communicate with greater impact – whether one-to-one, in front of a crowd, or from an electronic platform. DiResta is a certified speaking professional, a designation held by 12% or professional speakers nationwide. She's also the author of the ebook Give Fear the Finger: How to Knock Out Fear of Public

Speaking and Knockout Presentations, an Amazon.com best seller and widely used text in College business communication courses, entrepreneurship, and more. Celebrated for her inspirational message and inviting presentation style, Diane draws from her knowledge and expertise to engage and motivate her audiences to become the change agents in their own lives and businesses.

For additional information on Diane visit her website - http://diresta.com

To order a copy of Give Fear the Finger for $.99 (beginning Tuesday, March 8) - http://amzn.to/1Y3Bo6k

To schedule an in interview with Diane, contact her publicist, Sandy Lawrence


281-989-8892 (Cell)


Is Amy Cuddy's Wonder Woman Pose A Fraud?


ellevate presentationMy colleague TJ Walker challenged the validity of Harvard professor, Amy Cuddy's power pose. Amy Cuddy has one of the most popular youtube videos on body language. She advises people to adopt the Wonder Woman pose (hands on hips) to feel powerful when speaking in public. In TJ's twitter post today, he disputes this claim and calls it a fraud. Here's my opinion. The power pose was recommended to assuage public speaking fear. It's based on neuroscience research and when this pose is held for 2 minutes, there is an increase in testosterone. Higher levels of the hormone, testosterone, are found in those who are risk takers.

What was novel was that there was Harvard research backing up her claims. Do I think she's a fraud? No. Unless the research is flawed, it's helpful to have a technique to increase confidence. And there is a body language of confidence. The mind-body connection is widely accepted.

However, as an executive speech coach who works with women leaders and male executives, I don't claim that this one pose is a panacea for public speaking fear, nor does it make you a knockout presenter. TJ makes several good points. Amy Cuddy had a compelling story, a strong structure to her speech, and good visuals. I always tell my clients that great delivery sits on great structure. Your presentation delivery is only as good as your organization. Public speaking success is 90% preparation and 10% delivery.

A client recently hired me for four hours to work on a 15 minute high stakes presentation. That did not include the time she spent with the graphic designer.

So to feel confident, the first step is preparation, planning, and a good, strong message. Presenters need to master their minds as well as their skill set. Does it help to use the power pose? Probably. I teach it to audiences. It makes them feel powerful. But it's not the whole story. There are other physical skills I give them. But I do believe that the mind affects the body and the body affects the mind.

So as long as presenters prepare and practice their message, why not strike a pose and feel powerful?


Is Public Speaking Fear Good for You?

fear__180Fear of speaking may be something people escape by avoiding speaking in public. But it just may be that the fear can be beneficial. Sociologist Margee Kerr, author of Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear, noticed a relationship between fear and laughter. After watching people go through a haunted house, she noted that their screams would turn to laughter. Fear is not a separate state as most people believe, but shares much with other states such as surprise, excitement, and joy. How this arousal state gets interpreted depends on context.

As for public speaking, one person may experience an adrenaline rush as putting them in a readiness state; another may experience sheer terror.  According to Kerr, people push themselves to feel the "...exhilaration, fear, and eventual satisfaction that comes once the threat has passed." Once the fight is over, this can result in a boost of confidence. She explains that the nature of fears are a product of time and place and that we respond to some threats faster than others.

While screams and laughter may be experienced similarly in the brain, most of us perceive these emotions as being very different. The good news is fear of public speaking can be managed and even conquered. Some of the public speaking fear remedies include: desensitization, breathing techniques, mindfulness meditation, and skills practice. Once you shift your mind set, you'll change the way you think about speaking in public.Your fear may haunt you, but don't try too hard to fight your speaking anxiety. That arousal state may just give you a natural high.

3 Magic Words that Kill Public Speaking Fear


magic lampDid you ever wonder if there was an Aladdin's Lamp for public speaking? All you would need to do is ask the Genie for the magic words to eliminate fear of public speaking or performance anxiety. Just like the eternal search for the fountain of youth, people still yearn for that elixir, potion, or formula that will make their nervousness vanish. What I've discovered is that the words you speak have the power to transform how you think. It's not what you say but how you think about your fear. A number of years ago I spoke to a group of company leaders. They, like everyone else, were nervous about public speaking. At one point I looked them straight in the eye and made a statement. After the training seminar, people told me that those words were very powerful and changed how they thought about public speaking.

Fast forward to a coaching client who was afraid to speak up in her class. She even thought about dropping out of law school because she was so nervous about public speaking. I told her the same thing I told every public speaker. And then it happened. She started to think differently after I shared those famous words with her. She graduated from law school and went on to give presentations without fear.

Most recently, a former client called me for a refresher. She told me her manager noticed a big improvement in her presentation and the way she interacted with clients. He offered her the refresher coaching session to prepare for their upcoming high stakes presentation. During the meeting, my client shared with me that the words I said to her truly changed how she thought about presentations and public speaking. Are the words really magical? No! The words themselves contain nothing magical. What the words did was reframe the way people were thinking about their fear. They were viewing public speaking through a negative frame and that triggered anxiety.

Even though I'm a seasoned professional speaker, I found myself getting nervous the day before a presentation. It was a 10 minute spotlight for the National Speakers Association. I confided to my friend that I was a nervous wreck. I couldn't wait for it to be over. My friend grabbed me by the shoulders and said, "Diane, don't do that to yourself. You're not nervous. You're energized." So I went home and recited my new mantra: "I'm energized. I'm energized." The next morning I gave my speech and it was a success. Words do make a difference.

The 3 magic words have made an impact on so many people. I think it is time I share them with you. So what are the 3 Magic Words that help people face their fear?

"It's About Them."

When I speak to audiences of nervous presenters, I tell them, "Get over yourself. It's not about you. It's about them." What they've come to realize is that at the very core of public speaking nervousness is a feeling of being self-centered. That's right. If you focus on the fear, you're thinking about yourself. If you think about what the audience wants and needs, you're coming from a place of service.

Language reflects thought. Change your language and you'll change your thinking. The next time anxiety occupies your mind, change your focus. Tell yourself, "It's about them."

What have you said to yourself to change your thinking?

What's Triggering Your Public Speaking Fear?


No FearWe've all been there - the racing heart, the sweating palms, the cotton mouth. Many clients call me because they're nervous or experiencing public speaking panic. The mere thought of public speaking can trigger anxiety in some presenters. May is Better Speech and Hearing Month and it's a good time to assess the state of your speaking skills.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I see when I think of myself speaking?
  • What do I say to myself?
  • How do I think I'll feel when I finish my speech?

I would bet a lot of money that the answers to those questions are negative. The act of public speaking is neutral. We charge it with anxious energy by the way we think. Successful speakers know that confidence begins in the mind.

So in honor of Better Speech and Hearing Month, resolve to watch this public speaking affirmations video everyday. The only thing that's triggering your public speaking fear is you.

What To Do When You Bomb On Stage

She had always dreamed of being a keynote speaker, and now that moment was here. It was an industry conference and this would be good exposure. She commanded the stage with all the confidence and gravitas of a professional speaker. Her presentation opening was polished and rehearsed, as she showed the audience what she could do. Then, something happened. She lost her voice. No, not her volume. She lost her message!

She froze with a long pause that got longer and longer. At some point, the audience knew from her eyes that this silence was not intentional.The crowd encouraged her with soft mantras. "You go, girl." "You can do it." Finally, she was back in her body and demanded to speak for the remaining two minutes. She grabbed the moment with gusto but this presentation was not her shining moment.

At a women's event, a male stylist was asked to speak about his skin care line. He started off well and then 5 minutes into the talk he excused himself and left the building. Fear got the better of him.

More typical, is the sales presenter who drones on when the prospect is ready to buy. Instead of closing, he covers everything in the deck and talks his way right out of the sale!

So what do you do when you know you're bombing?

1. Take stock and pivot. Quickly assess why it's not going well. Do they seem bored? Then try to engage the audience with a question.

In the case of the sales presentation, if you get a yes, fast forward to the close.

If it's the wrong topic for the meeting, stop, acknowledge the elephant in the room, and be willing to facilitate a discussion, or agree to reschedule the meeting.

2. Breathe. Don't go into panic mode when your brain freezes. You need to get back into your body. Focusing on your breath will help you remain calm. Smile.

3. Summarize. If you go blank, simply summarize the story or material you just presented. This will buy you time.

4. Use a pattern interrupt. One presenter who was behind the lectern, lost her place in the notes. So she did something unexpected. She took out her glasses and slowly adjusted them on her face. This gave her time to find her place. The audience never knew she was lost.

5. Ask for help. I once was on a panel and had a word retrieval issue. I asked the audience, "What is the word I'm looking for?" and then thanked them for their help. No big deal.

6. Pull out your one-liners and come back to the moment. If brain freeze is your fear, plan a number of lines you can use. You can refer to your "senior moment". Comedian Johnny Carson used this technique when a joke didn't get a laugh. He would acknowledge the joke that "just died."

As in sports and politics, you don't always win. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn. But you can always recover with grace.

Watch this video - Plan a Recovery Strategy:

And this one - Watch my blooper recovery!

Overcoming Fear of Public Speaking, Part II

paul jenkinsGuest blogger Dr. Paul Jenkins works with organizations and individuals to establish and maintain habitual patterns of positive perception and focus that increase happiness, engagement, productivity, profit, and ultimate achievement of professional and personal life missions. Two things create – and cure – anxiety.

The brain and the mind.

In our previous post, Overcoming Fear of Public Speaking, Part I, we addressed the brain component, and how to calm the fight or flight response. The mind, on the other hand, is the ‘you’ inside that does the worrying, fretting, thinking, planning – and succeeding.

The mind is commonly thought of as having two primary parts – the conscious and the subconscious. The conscious is the part you are aware of. The subconscious is where the trouble is because you are not aware of it. The subconscious has a habit of asking, “What If?” The subconscious has a another habit of answering its own questions. The default subconscious answer to the What If question is:

You can’t handle that!

This creates a threat for the limbic system and triggers the fight or flight response.

You can feel the physical onset of anxiety – the fight or flight response – tightness in the chest, harder to breathe, heart pounds, sick feeling. This is caused by the chemical brain response to the subconscious default answer to What If.

Toolbox - Answer The What If Question

  1. Bring the What If question to the conscious mind
  2. Answer truthfully and intentionally
  3. Notice the fearful avoidant response and do it anyway
  4. Practice, practice, practice

When you get to the answer that you can handle it, your limbic system calms down and allows you to begin thinking again. The thinker solves the problem. Bring the What If up from the dark basement and solve it in the light.

You don’t have to want what you fear, just to get to the point that you know you could handle it.

The What If question itself strikes fear into the heart of many. A prominent undertaker commonly tells his clients when they are making pre-arranged funeral plans, "Thinking and talking about death won't kill you." In the same sense, taking on the What If question won't cause the feared thing to happen. Avoiding the question seeds more anxiety. Answering it truthfully, consciously, and intentionally frees the subconscious to let go of it.

A client shared this quotation with me:  “Today is the tomorrow that you were afraid of yesterday.”  Here it is, and there you are still handling everything as it comes.  At the root of every fear is the same belief – that I can’t handle it.  Nothing could be farther from the truth – you have already handled absolutely everything so far, and that will not be changing.  Keep moving forward and know that you can handle it!

Remember this – You can handle anything that comes up in your life.

Haven’t you already handled everything so far?

About the Author

Dr. Paul Jenkins works with organizations and individuals to establish and maintain habitual patterns of positive perception and focus that increase happiness, engagement, productivity, profit, and ultimate achievement of professional and personal life missions.

With two decades of experience as a professional psychologist, Dr. Paul (as he is known to clients and his audiences) lays out the how and the why behind the art and science of being constructive in an often destructive environment. It is like having an owner’s manual for your brain – one you can actually read, understand, and apply. You understand your own mind and improve its functioning on purpose.

His deeply thoughtful writing, engaging and fun keynote addresses, powerfully practical breakout seminars, individual and corporate coaching and counseling are profound and simple. His clients, readers, and audiences get an iron grip on powerful Pathological Positivity principles that make an immediate difference in their personal and professional lives.


Overcoming Fear of Public Speaking, Part I

paul jenkinsGuest blogger Dr. Paul Jenkins works with organizations and individuals to establish and maintain habitual patterns of positive perception and focus that increase happiness, engagement, productivity, profit, and ultimate achievement of professional and personal life missions.

What is your greatest barrier to success, joy, great relationships?

Fear and anxiety.

Would you like to end the fear, anxiety and worry that interferes with your relationships and get in the way of your success and joy?

Two things create – and cure – anxiety.

The brain and the mind.

When you understand the interplay between the brain and the mind, then you are in a perfect position to understand the secret to overcoming fear, anxiety, and worry.

Your brain is not your mind any more than your liver is your mind. Your brain is a part of your body. It is a specialized group of cells that performs a specific function. Your brain is an organ in your body – your mind does the thinking. The answer to your anxiety is understanding what the brain is doing, and steering your mind a different direction.

Understanding and applying a few basic principles in both of these areas makes an

immediate and lasting difference in my clients breaking free from anxiety and moving forward with power in their lives. The short version: Get the brain to calm down and get the mind to come up with new answers.

The brain is designed to respond to threat in a predictable way. Part of its job is to keep you safe and alive. Because of this important job, the brain kicks into what we collectively refer to as the fight or flight response any time a threat is detected. This is true for both real and perceived threats. Chemicals are released into the blood stream which quicken the heart, speed up the breathing, and empower muscles to react with more power and speed. There is also a shut-down of higher cognitive functioning. Contemplating philosophy does not serve you well during an attack from a ferocious lion.

Taming the fight or flight response starts with switching the brain back to thinking mode. Can you imagine installing a switch in your brain that shuts down the fight or flight response and turns the thinking back on?

Breathing exercises provide a switch in your brain. The fight or flight response causes alterations to your breathing (it gets rapid and shallow). By taking intentional control over this typically automatic process, you can directly affect the fight or flight response at a brain level.

Toolbox - Conscious and Focused Breathing - Practice Protocol

  1. Choose a time and place where you can be undisturbed for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Assume a comfortable sitting or lying position.
  3. Breathe in through your nose, making it a point to gently stretch your lungs.
  4. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds – feel the stretch.
  5. Slowly exhale through your mouth. Blow like you are blowing out birthday candles. Restrict the flow somewhat. Push it out. It should take you about twice as long to exhale as it took to inhale. Normally when you exhale, you leave some air in your lungs; try to push it all out.
  6. Repeat steps three through five.
  7. Notice the feeling of calm relaxation you feel as you complete the exercise. This is your brain switching from fight/flight to rational/think mode.

Do this practice exercise for 3-5 repetitions, 3 times a day, for 5 days.

As you get better at it, a simpler form of this technique can be used in the moment when anxiety attacks. One intentional breath makes a big difference. This effectively calms the brain's fight or flight response.

Stay tuned  for Part II of Dr. Paul Jenkins' guest blog post, Overcoming Fear of Public Speaking.

About the Author

Dr. Paul Jenkins works with organizations and individuals to establish and maintain habitual patterns of positive perception and focus that increase happiness, engagement, productivity, profit, and ultimate achievement of professional and personal life missions.

With two decades of experience as a professional psychologist, Dr. Paul (as he is known to clients and his audiences) lays out the how and the why behind the art and science of being constructive in an often destructive environment. It is like having an owner’s manual for your brain – one you can actually read, understand, and apply. You understand your own mind and improve its functioning on purpose.

His deeply thoughtful writing, engaging and fun keynote addresses, powerfully practical breakout seminars, individual and corporate coaching and counseling are profound and simple. His clients, readers, and audiences get an iron grip on powerful Pathological Positivity principles that make an immediate difference in their personal and professional lives.


It's Risky to Play It Safe Even With Public Speaking

"The title seems so opposite to your sweet, demure image..." GFTF 3D cover 3This was the email from someone in my networking group after reading the title of my new ebook, Give Fear the Finger: How to Knock Out Fear of Public Speaking. Of course, the title is so NOT me. There was a moment when I considered changing it. It's edgy and has a real New York energy. That's probably why so many of my New York City friends loved the title. But what about others? I took a risk and the feedback is overwhelmingly positive. People from all over love the title!

It made me realize that playing it safe can cause us to stagnate even as public speakers. How many of you are giving the same tired speech? What are the risks you're afraid of taking? When you're introduced, do you hand over a boring bio or do you write your own ingenious introduction?

Do you default to being in control as the speaker or do you let go and engage the audience? It can be risky to open up a dialogue but the rich conversational nuggets can have a rewarding outcome.

Are you sentenced to speak to internal company groups or are you ready to take your show on the road?

What about your delivery? Are you wedded to your script or do you engage in repartee with the listeners? Are you willing to wade into the unknown waters of spontaneous humor and playing in the moment?

Does PowerPoint lead you by the nose or can you tell the story without a slide?

Finally, are you concerned about being perfect or can you risk being real? Telling your story can be one of the scariest experiences for a speaker. But here's the truth: People are swayed by emotion. They relate to people who are like them. They trust people who are honest enough to be vulnerable.

So if you're playing it safe and doing what you've always done, you're on shaky ground.

It's risky to play it safe. Even as a public speaker.

Tell me about the risks you've seen speakers take and how it impacted the audience.

Give Fear the Finger-In Search of the Confidence Spot


GFTF 3D cover 3FEAR means False Evidence Appearing Real. I once said that to a group of people and a man in the audience retorted, "That's your definition? My definition is 'Forget everything and run!'" (That's the clean version. He actually used another F word). But isn't it true? We abandon our rational mind and allow the amygdala or reptile brain to take over. This is the place where fear resides. Our eyes first scan for threat. For many public speakers, an audience of strangers is threatening. And that puts them in a state of fear. I discovered that nervous public speakers live in the future of wild imaginings. They focus on what could go wrong. "I hope  I don't trip." "What if I lose my train-of-thought?"

Confident public speakers live in the present. They focus on the message and engage the audience. They know how to access their pre-frontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for rational thinking.

Research shows that CONFIDENCE TRUMPS COMPETENCE. This explains why the confident person who knows less than you, gets promoted. Yes, confidence accounts for more success than knowledge or skills. Many years ago I was bilked out of $30,000 dollars from my bank account. (This was before online banking). Using a fake check, the perpetrator approached the teller in every branch and cashed the check made out to his name. When the detective questioned the bank tellers, they remembered him as "very smooth, confident." Luckily, the bank replaced my funds but we never found the culprit. He may not have been on a stage, but his platform was a teller's window. He inspired trust with his confidence.

The  meaning of the word confidence comes from "con" meaning "from" and "fidere" meaning "to trust." It seems that confidence comes from trusting yourself and trusting others. A confident public speaker has a sense of trust-in the message, the audience and oneself.

How do you gain trust if you approach the platform and feel fear? You give fear the finger. But not in the way you think!

My new ebook will show you a way to short circuit anxiety by activating a special spot that few people know. Give Fear the Finger is filled with exercises, tips and techniques to move you from fear of public speaking to confidence on any platform.

Avoiding public speaking is career suicide. You no longer have to submit to fear. Confidence is closer than you think. It's right there in your hands. And it's available now. You can be confident and take center stage in your career and your life.

Even Celebrities Screw Up Their Presentations


Most public speakers fear that they will bomb when delivering their presentations. That same performance anxiety affects actors and musicians - even seasoned celebrities. Murphy's Law applies to the best of us. It's inevitable that at some point, something will go wrong with your presentation performance. So how do you recover? A few nights ago in Toronto, Billy Joel forgot some lyrics. Watch how he recovers on stage:

Those of us who are not celebrities can learn a thing or two from those who are. We can't all be as direct in our response as Billy Joel was, but we can develop some recovery strategies. Here's a quick tip on how you can plan for that moment when Murphy's Law finds you making a mistake on the platform:

You don't have to be a perfect public speaker. Confidence is about how your recover from a public speaking faux pas. Plan your recovery strategy, implement it with grace, and carry on. Your audience will like you Just the Way You Are.

How have you recovered from a speaking blooper?

What Would Diane DiResta Do? A TED Speaker's Worst Nightmare

I watched this video over the weekend, and while I agree that the prank was well-executed*, I couldn't help thinking about reality. The reality is that public speakers run into technology snags all the time. The possibility of a tech glitch is one of many reasons people fear speaking in front of an audience. What would you do if this happened to you?


It is so important to be prepared for the worst when you go in front of an audience. What if your PowerPoint deck doesn't load? What if your clicker runs out of batteries? What if your microphone doesn't work? There are so many examples of speaking disasters. Your best bet is to have a recovery strategy:


Some speaking glitches are avoidable, and you can download our free presentation checklist to help prevent them. But there are many problems that you can't control. For those, you have to be prepared.

Prepare your speaking recovery strategy before your big day. This will increase your odds of a graceful recovery in the face of disaster. Knowing that you are prepared for any eventuality will also boost your confidence when you step onto the stage. Now go out and give a Knockout Presentation!

*The speaker in this video is a comedian and was in on the prank.

The Exceptional Speaker

The Exceptional Speaker 3DDo you want to be an exceptional speaker? My friends Alan Stevens and Paul Du Toit, from the U.K. have just published a book that shows you how. I saw them at the National Speakers Association convention in July in Philadelphia, and Alan recently interviewed me for his podcast program. You might be wondering why I'm promoting their book if we're competitors. Well, it seems we all have the same mission. We want to stamp out fear of public speaking and help people to reach the heights of presentation success. There are so many people who need help with their presentations, thus the need for more books about public speaking.  Here are some tips from The Exceptional Speaker:

  1. If you’d like to conquer the fear of speaking to an audience you need to understand the source of this fear, specifically where it relates to you.
  2. Nervousness is natural, but it can also be dealt with.
  3. A good technique is to find a friendly face in your audience and imagine you’re speaking just to that person.
  4. It is just as easy to speak to a large audience as it is to a small one. There is no difference. An audience is an audience.
  5. People who occupy high positions are just as human as the rest of us and therefore do not need to be feared more than anyone else.
  6. Channel your excess energy towards the centre of your body – specifically your diaphragm. This will help you with voice control, keep you calmer and remove the fidgeting from your fingers and toes.
  7. Speaking from notes will help you to keep track of your order. Use cue cards rather than an A4 notepad.

These tips, and hundreds of others are from a new book called "The Exceptional Speaker" by Alan Stevens and Paul du Toit. It is the definitive book on speaking, and is now available from Amazon in Kindle and hardback format, as well as from exceptionalspeaker.com as a PDF.

Change Your Words To Change Your Mind: Public Speaking Affirmations


affirmations cover slide small 2Public speaking is still the number one fear. This was originally publicized by the 1977 Book of Lists. It's 2013 and I don't need another list to prove the case. Fear of speaking tops the list of reasons people hire me. Over the years in my living laboratory, coaching, training and speaking to audiences from 1 to 1,000, it's become very clear that there are two secrets to mastering public speaking: skill set and mindset.

Even when my clients have public speaking skills, it's their thinking that trips them up. I've discovered that fear is about living in the future. Many public speakers envision unsuccessful presentations in their minds and you can hear it in their language.

Successful presenters live in the present. They speak in the moment. They're totally present with the audience. They speak confidently and affirm their success. The two most powerful words are "I Am". By making "I Am" statements, you claim your success in the here and now.

And that's why I was motivated to create this video of public speaking "I Am" affirmations for my clients and the world. We just launched this free YouTube video so that anybody can say these affirmations every morning and right before a presentation. When people are in a habit of saying negative things, they don't really know what to say to themselves to change the message. These words of affirmation are set to relaxing music so that public speakers can program themselves for success and give a knockout presentation.

Click on the video to train your mind for successful speaking.

Hillary Clinton's Face Improves Women's Public Speaking

Fear of public speaking continues to be a top fear for both men and women. Overcoming public speaking fear is a must for anyone who is serious about success. I know a lot about boosting public speaking confidence. I use a number of techniques to help my clients master public speaking and overcome their fear and anxiety. In the 20 years I've been in business, I've utilized  many approaches including breathing, NLP (neurolinguistic programming), acupressure, etc.

But for the first time, there is a technique that never occurred to me.

According to a study in the May issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, women and men each spoke before an audience. The researchers placed a picture of Bill Clinton on the back wall in one room and a picture of Hillary Clinton in another room. Some back walls were blank. The women who presented in the room with Hillary's picture on the wall performed better and gave longer speeches. The evaluations were more positive for the women who spoke in the room with Hillary's photo.

This study takes the impact of female role models to a whole new level. While I don't recommend simply pasting Hillary's picture on the wall and expecting a standing ovation, presenters who've worked on their speaking skills and still feel anxious may benefit by imagining their role model. To read the entire article, click here.

Here are some of my resources for public speaking fear and nervousness: