Fear of Public Speaking

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 One Word That Will Get You What You Want

thinking headsOn Monday, I decided to try a test. I declared my intention that I was going to book business on that day. I didn't know how. I didn't know where it would come from. I didn't start calling a list of numbers. By late afternoon, I went to my inbox and there was an email. It said, "Could you send us dates when you are available?"


The email was from a new prospect. We had a prior conversation, but no commitment had been made. There was only one problem with this manifestation. They were asking for dates in January. I forgot to tell the universe I wanted the business for October. So on the one hand, I was happy with my quick manifesting skills. On the other hand, I was laughing to myself because I should know better. The universe is literal. The subconscious mind is literal. If you're not specific, it causes confusion. And while you may manifest, it doesn't come to you in the way that you desire.

There's one magical word that we all learned as children: Abracadabra. This literally means, "I create as I speak." But you need to be specific. It's the same with communication. You say the word car. You're envisioning a Mercedes, and somebody else is seeing a Prius. Same word, different pictures. The more specific we are in the way we communicate, the more effective we'll be in our conversations and presentations. And the more we will manifest and get what we want.

I've been reading a lot about quantum physics lately. This is not airy fairy, positive thinking. Science is now explaining how matter materializes, and it's all about thought and energy. So what are you giving thought and energy to in your presentations? In your communication? In your life? Are you being specific?

Fear of speaking is an old model. It doesn't have to be that way. Simply by changing how you think and speak about presentations can totally change your experience. Affirm what you want. Aim to be a quantum communicator and start manifesting success in all of your interactions and presentations.

Do You Have Your Public Speaking MBA?

Diane with Lionel from WPIX On Saturday, October 19, I spoke at the WPIX, Channel 11 Health & Wellness Expo at the Javits Center in New York City. I was in good company with celebrity speakers like Dr. Steve, Dr. Ian Smith, Lionel the WPIX commentator, and others. My presentation, Mind Body Speaking: The Key to Confidence, was well-attended. Every seat was filled, and there were people standing to hear the message.

When I asked the audience what they wanted to learn, the unanimous response was confidence. During the talk, I introduced the topic of a public speaking MBA. MBA stands for Mind, Body, Audience.

The first goal is to manage your mind with positive intentions. The audience created three positive I Am statements to say to themselves before a presentation. They learned how to get centered in their bodies by focusing on the breath, and by participating in empowering body postures. Finally, they learned how to make an "I" connection with individuals in the audience to create a relationship.

They walked away with practical tools and the understanding that the mind is the key to successful public speaking.

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:

Your Brain on Stage Fright

brainSome call it flop sweat. Others call it stage fright. Whatever you call that tightness in the pit of your stomach, sweaty palms, and racing heart, we've all experienced it. Public speaking still ranks as a top fear. Even professional speakers feel nervous when the stakes are high. Fear of public speaking has always been a mystery. Why does it happen? How does nervousness manifest? Why does the thought of public speaking send some people into a tailspin? Imagine going about your day, and suddenly your manager says you're expected to give a speech. In an instant, nervousness descends like a wave washing over you. What's going on in the brain?

When I polled people for my book, Knockout Presentations, I asked them why they felt nervous speaking in public. The thread running through most of the responses was the fear of humiliation. Well, it turns out that we're hard wired to worry about our reputations.

Did you know that fear is a primitive reaction to protect our bodies? Some people get more nervous than others and there is a reason for that. There are three main things that affect how you experience stage fright.

Find out in this article on the science of stage fright.

Give Fear the Finger


If you're like most people, you avoid public speaking like the plague. But that's a recipe for failure. Successful people must have good presentation skills and speak to build their reputations and expertise. What most public speakers do, is resist their fear and what you resist, will persist. Here's another idea. Instead of trying to control your thoughts, use your body and give fear the finger. Watch this video to learn how:


Confidence is King

I just read an article from James Caan, CEO of Hamilton Bradshaw, entitled, Confidence is King. He writes:

"Ask any businessman or woman and they will tell you the same thing – confidence is a vital ingredient in the recipe for success. In other words, if you want to be really good at anything - no matter what walk of life you are involved in - you need to have belief in yourself and your abilities."

I work with leaders to build confidence in all their communications and the biggest hurdle is fear of speaking. So I created a series of videos on my YouTube channel for conquering fear of public speaking:

Are You Seen But Not Heard?

Karen was newly appointed to her position in finance, where she was responsible for managing and keeping the department on budget. Soft-spoken and petite, Karen had a hard time making herself heard during meetings, as her aggressive team shouted over her and challenged her when she questioned their figures...

Would You Rather Die Than Give a Speech?

Jerry Seinfeld once told a famous joke about public speaking:

According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy."

It turns out Jerry Seinfeld was wrong.  According to our quiz, Presentation Panic Quotient, only 18% would rather die than give a speech.  That's good news.  We expected fear of speaking to be much higher.  To learn their PPQ, respondents ranked themselves according to their level of public speaking nervousness and received a final score.

According to people who took the quiz, the PPQ is a great reality check.  To determine your  Presentation Panic Quotient watch the video and click on the link.

It was interesting to find out the nervous public speaking habit that had the highest ranking.  What do you think was the number one  nervous symptom when speaking in public?  Let us know in the comments.

Watch video on YouTube

Click to Learn Your Presentation Panic Quotient

Fear of Public Speaking Series: Plan a Recovery Strategy

Murphy's Law will happen during one of your presentations. Guaranteed. The challenge is what to do about it.  The pros don't get rattled by mishaps. They plan for them. Confident speakers know when accidents happen - they can handle them. That's because they anticipate and plan a recovery strategy. Anyone can deliver a good presentation when things are going smoothly. But when disaster strikes, the great public speakers rise to the occasion and put their best public speaking foot forward.

Watch the video on YouTube

Fear of Public Speaking Series: Focus on the Breath

Public speaking doesn't have to evoke fear. Breath deeply. When we're in a fear state we tend to hold our breath.  Psychologist Roger Wolger once said something to the effect of " Anxiety is an interruption in respiration." To work through fear, breathe deeply. Focus on the breath.

15 Tips to Conquer Fear of Public Speaking

July is Freedom from Fear of Speaking Month. Summer is a good time to take a public speaking class, get a coach and knockout fear of speaking. Here are 15 tips to help you become a confident public speaker.

  1. Get over yourself Fear of Speaking - Nervousness is being self-centered. It's not about you-it's about them. The audience wants you to succeed.
  2. Focus on the breath - Breathe through the diaphragm of belly. Take 5-10 deep cleansing breaths.
  3. Prepare and Rehearse - Practice out loud and time your speech. Videotape yourself. You don't look as nervous as you feel.
  4. Set an anchor - Remember a time when you were at the top of your game. Get the feeling. Press your index finger and thumb together and anchor it. Press your fingers together right before you speak.
  5. Affirm your success - Overwrite negative programming by writing positive statements and say them to yourself. "I'm confident." "I can do this."
  6. Arrive early - Mingle with others and you'll feel like you have friends in the audience.
  7. Visualize your outcome - Create the outcome you want in your mind. Imagine every step of your presentation until the outcome is exactly the way you want it.
  8. Transfer your nervousness - Squeeze a small foam ball in your hand.
  9. Make contact with a friend - Look at a friendly face and smile. You'll feel you are supported.
  10. Plan a recovery strategy - Imagine your worst scenario and plan how you'll handle it in advance. Humor works great.
  11. Take time to pause - Stop for 3 beats of silence at the end of as sentence. You'll be able to catch your breath and think.
  12. Make your fear smaller - Imagine your fear as a fiery ball. In your mind's eye, shrink it and move it far away.
  13. Express your passion - Get excited and involved in your message or story and pretty soon you'll forget yourself.
  14. Meditate - Ten minutes of meditation will calm and focus your mind.
  15. Work the room - Release energy through moving to different parts of the room and using gestures. You'll feel energized.

What are your favorite tips for conquering fear of public speaking?

Do You Have a Public Speaking Anchor?

Imagine you're sailing. You find a spot where you want to go snorkeling. You drop an anchor and you dive off the boat. You enjoy your underwater adventure as you experience all kinds of marine life. You know when you're ready, the boat will be waiting for you. But what if there were no anchor? The boat would drift away and you'd be left on your own to tread water. It's no different with public speaking. Many people fear speaking because they don't know how to anchor themselves. As their presentation drifts along they become more nervous. In this video, you'll learn about simple public speaking anchors you can use to start speaking with confidence.

Students Face Their Public Speaking Fears and Win

Press Relase

For Immediate Release

Nancy Mui, a college senior, and Sequenza Williams, a high school senior proved they can compete in the adult arena. Both students were winners of the prestigious mentoring program sponsored by Financial Women’s Association (www.fwa.org). The program matches FWA mentors to students. After excelling in the mentorship program, they faced their final hurdle—the acceptance speech. Each student was required to give a three minute speech  at the FWA Annual Dinner before an audience of over 200 adults including Fortune 500 financial companies and sponsors. Recognizing that public speaking is one of the top fears, the FWA brought in Diane DiResta, author of Knockout Presentations and CEO of DiResta Communications, Inc to prepare them for the final event. Over several sessions Ms. DiResta coached them on developing the message, delivering the speech with confidence and in three minutes. They arrived early for a final dress rehearsal in the ballroom where they practiced walking on stage and using the microphone.

Both Nancy and Sequenza approached the platform with poise and gave a knockout presentation. Sequenza shared her growth as a high school senior and personally thanked her mentor by asking for her to stand and accept applause. Sequenza will be attending college in Georgia. Nancy provided several moments of humor and talked about her passion for mentoring other students. She has already been offered her first job beginning this Fall.

“This speech was a milestone for both students,

When It Comes To Public Speaking, Do You Freeze Like A Deer In The Headlights?

Situation: Brad, a corporate executive, was referred by his boss for speech coaching. His presentation style was dry and he was losing credibility among his peers and senior management. He confided that the meetings had become "cutthroat" and that some of the team would "go for the jugular." "It's a very competitive environment," he explained. His boss told him to find a coach and to do it fast. Brad's nervousness on the platform was getting the best of him. He would memorize his slides and freeze up when he saw people roll their eyes. He knew his subject matter but had a difficult time "getting what was in his head and heart to come out of his mouth." Yet, when he would talk off line it was evident that he was very knowledgeable about his subject matter. Brad needed to go from being a talking head to a subject matter expert.

Solution: During the first coaching session, Brad learned to stop memorizing his slides and use them for reference only. He added more stories, anecdotes, and examples to his presentations, and worked on projecting his energy so his voice wouldn't trail off.

Result: Brad gave a presentation at the next meeting a few days later. When asked if his presentation was any better after only one coaching session, his boss replied, "significantly, significantly, significantly, significantly better." Liberated from the cue cards, Brad now speaks with more confidence and style!

Do you know a talking head who's really a subject matter expert in disguise? They can learn to let the expert emerge and dazzle with their ideas.

Is Fear Making You Invisible?

My blog will focus on case studies from my living laboratory. These are real people and I've changed the names to protect confidentiality. These situations are universal. Fear is one of the worst afflictions in the workplace and in life. It keeps us from taking action, it stalls success and happiness, negatively impacts our reputation, and it keeps us from our dreams. One negative side effect of fear is it makes us invisible as in the case of my client Joan.

Situation: Joan was a bright, successful executive for a Fortune 500 company who was deathly afraid of giving presentations, even at monthly meetings. Joan's fear of speaking was causing her to lose valuable opportunities for visibility in her organization. Realizing the seriousness of the situation, she was eager to begin the speech coaching process. Although Joan was a good enough speaker, she was experiencing anxiety and heart palpitations. She admitted that she was avoiding speaking situations and confided that she knew avoiding public speaking was career suicide.

Solution: I decided to take a two-pronged approach. First I reframed Joan's thinking about public speaking and reduced her perfectionism, which was underlying the fear. Once she changed her thinking, Joan practiced breathing and pausing techniques to gain control.

Result: After 8 hours of coaching, Joan developed a new confidence. At the next monthly meeting she spoke up and felt good about it. She reported that her nervousness was reduced and that she was actually the best presenter in the group! P.S., Joan now shares speaking tips with other speakers in her group! For public speaking tips visit