Stage fright

Got stage fright?

By on May 17, 2016

Speaking with stage fright is like driving with the emergency brake partially on.  Your whole body trembles, your mouth gets hot and dry, you can smell the smoke rising from your armpits, and you can’t get to where you want to go—which is OFF THE FREAKING STAGE! The only way to release the brake, according […]

Break out of your shell and make an omelet

By on January 26, 2016

When we are anxious as presenters, we grow eggshells around us. Invisible eggshells. And we live inside them, a little scrunched up, worried about what’s outside those dangerously thin walls. At these times, remember these words: “Omelets are not made without breaking eggs.” –Robespierre “You CAN make an omelet without breaking eggs. It’s just a really bad omelet.” […]

Mental Practice Helps Conquer Stage Fright

By on October 21, 2014

This is the last of our series about concrete ways to conquer stage fright.  This tip offers a surprising approach to make almost anything in your life better–mental practice.  Or, in other words: 3. Don’t just rehearse; sit there We all know that practice makes perfect, and that rehearsing your presentation is important. But did […]

Face Your Fears: Ways to Conquer Stage Fright… Really!

By on October 7, 2014

October 14 is Face Your Fears Day.  Many people report public speaking as their number one fear–so why not use this upcoming “holiday” to push past that fear. Why?  Because nothing is as powerful as standing up in front of a room and using your words and body to convince others to see your way […]

Proven Ways to Cure Stage Fright

By on September 23, 2014

By some accounts, public speaking is the No. 1 fear in America. Millions of people are limiting their careers because of this irrational fear. Let’s define stage fright. For me, it’s a cold, clammy feeling of anxiety that churns in my stomach. It drains me of all my resources. I can’t think, talk, breathe, or […]

Adapt to volatility

By on December 18, 2013

Weather wreaks havoc with impunity. Banks go bankrupt. 18 wheelers jump the median. Viruses leap from door knobs. The world is a volatile place. So are meeting rooms and ballrooms. Electricity goes out. Projectors break. Slide decks disappear. You drop your 3 x 5 cards and they scatter across the floor and the cards aren’t […]

Speaking Anxiety: Glossophobia

By on October 9, 2013

Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking. It comes, like all the other phobias, from the ancient Greeks, more specifically the Athenians, who spent time thinking about speech communication. You may be more aware of this word because of this recent commercial: The word itself comes from the Greek word for tongue (glossa) combined, of […]

Got stage fright?

By on June 8, 2012

Speaking with stage fright is like driving with the emergency brake partially on. Your whole body trembles, your mouth gets hot and dry, you can smell the smoke rising from your armpits, and you can’t get to where you want to go—which is OFF THE FREAKING STAGE! The only way to release the brake, according […]

What good is stage fright?

By on February 20, 2012

I have a theory that the first purpose of public speech is to warn a community of imminent danger. For instance, in the animal world, vervet monkeys have three distinct cries for eagle, snake and leopard. Beavers signal danger with a slap of the tail on the surface of the water. And there is a […]

Stage Fright: Nervous about not being nervous

By on January 24, 2012

Last week I woke up in the middle of the night nervous that I was not nervous about a speech I had to make. The thought that I was giving a speech in a few hours floated between my ears and in an instant I fell into a hole of nervousness because I was not […]

Overcoming stage fright is a presentation skill

By on March 18, 2011

A study in the Journal of Sports Sciences established that pro-basketball players who had a rigid pre-shot routine were 17% more accurate foul shooters than those who did not. The rigid pre-shot routine is believed to help transfer control of the activity away from the cerebral cortex (good for learning new things) to the cerebellum […]

Movie Review: The King’s Speech

By on January 3, 2011

It begins with an agonizing silence–The Duke of York standing at a microphone in Wembley Stadium trying to bring the world’s greatest exposition to a dignified conclusion for the entire British Empire listening on the radio.  His stammering and stage fright make him unable to speak. In the historical moment, when the new medium of […]

Stillness: A very cool presentation skill

By on November 22, 2010

I want to sing the praises of stillness.  I used to love, and aspire to, extravagant energy and zeal.  Arms waving, voice elevated, eyes wide open and shining with conviction. Now I enjoy stillness, a sense of calmness in a speaker.  Of course, I don’t want him or her to be calm all the time—the […]

The New is hard

By on August 19, 2010

On the first day of a workshop, an accomplished client delivered an effective presentation with verve and style.  On the second day, I asked him to reorganize his talk to make it more customer-centric, a challenge he embraced with enthusiasm.  However, when he delivered it, he was tentative and less effective.  Why? The simple answer […]

Stage Fright Vanquished

By on August 5, 2010

This from Body Odd: Before now, those with performance jitters have had to contend with the nausea and the nerves on their own, or take beta blockers to battle the symptoms.  New research has come up with another way to fight stage fright:  biofeedback. “Our research looks at both the psychological and physiological effect of […]

Overcoming Speaking Anxiety: Step into your stage fright

By on February 3, 2010

The sensation of stage fright is bad enough, but what’s worse is the damage it can do to your career and your self-esteem. If you let it stop you, your sense of self gets smaller and your stage fright gets bigger and more powerful. However, when you step into your stage fright, you learn quickly that […]

Effective Public Speaking: The Cure for Stage Fright

By on July 21, 2009

I attended a great seminar this weekend at the Integral Yoga Institute in New York City. The teacher was Boris Pisman. Boris teaches Yoga philosophy, and described one aspect of Yoga as the ability to learn how to handle anxious thoughts. He said that Yoga makes an assumption that there is a natural state of […]

Public Speaking: Talent or Skill?

By on June 13, 2008

Public speaking is a talent before it becomes a skill. A talent is a latent ability, something that is dormant inside you. When you work at it, it becomes a skill. If you do have a potential talent for speaking and you work at it, you are likely to receive encouragement and recognition for your […]

Fear and Loathing of Public Speaking

By on May 28, 2008

No one likes to be pulled from a warm bed and thrust into a cold shower.  And many people I’ve met feel the same about being plucked from the blanket of everyday life to stand alone on a stage with a thousand pairs of eyes on them.   And so, when they find themselves on stage, […]

Speaking Anxiety: Stage Fright

By on April 5, 2008

In the Jobs section of the New York Times, on Sunday March 30th, Phyllis Korkki has written an article entitled The Adroit Speaker Doesn’t Wing It. That’s true and not true. I believe wholeheartedly in preparing, rehearsing, getting feedback, even scripting a speech or presentation. But then, once I have internalized the content, I boil […]

Speaking Anxiety: The Mind/Body Toggle

By on January 2, 2008

Recently, a client of mine, who is also a childhood friend, left me a voice mail saying that he did not think my short article on the power of gesture to create emotion was appropriate for the market I serve. Essentially, the short piece tried to make the point that speakers can alter their inner […]

Speaking Anxiety: Teaching the Shy to Present

By on November 24, 2007

I have a new puppy named Little Bear.  He has shy moments that make my wife and I want to pick him up and cuddle him.  I also have clients who are shy when they stand up to speak.  I don’t want to cuddle them, but I often feel drawn to what they’re saying because of their authenticity […]

Speaking Anxiety: A Loss of Confidence

By on September 10, 2007

A friend of mine, who is a very successful consultant, told me that she has lost her confidence as a speaker. For twenty years she has been speaking to large groups of clients and potential clients with success.  Now she feels very unsure of herself. She reports to me that she’s terrified of going blank.  While she used to […]

Speaking Anxiety: Gestures Help you Think

By on August 23, 2007

Trying to master a mental task? Acting it out can help.  In a study reported in Cognition, when kids were told to use gestures as they learned to do a type of math problem, the lesson stuck.  Embodiment gives you–literally–another way to grasp an idea. Actors use gesture in a similar way–to grasp the feeling […]

Presentation Coaching: Presenting Outside the Comfort Zone

By on July 20, 2007

I occasionally hear from clients that they don’t want to change their style as presenters.  The implication is that any behaviors I recommend that are outside their range of normal will be artificial and ineffective.  They just want to be themselves. I know how they feel, and focus them on the flow and logic of […]

Facilitation skills for medical liaisons at ad boards

By on June 18, 2007

With the average sales call in the pharmaceutical industry now shrunk to less than 30 seconds, medical liaisons have an important opportunity to engage the interest of key physicians at advisory board meetings. However, there are several common problems. First, facilitating ad boards is not presenting. In fact, it’s almost the opposite of presenting. Presenters […]

Speech Training: Speaking Above the Speed Limit

By on May 11, 2007

They are mostly women. I have now spent 20 years in the speech trade, and most of the people I run into who speak too fast are women.  I have no idea why.  I can only speculate. they are more ambivalent than men about being the center of attention, meaning they simultaneously want to be […]

Speaking Anxiety: The Conference Room Comment

By on April 18, 2007

One of my consulting firm clients came to me with a problem that surprised me.  Although they hire the most accomplished students from the most competitive colleges and B-schools, the firm is concerned about their unwillingness to speak up at meetings during their first two years. I recognize that it’s human nature to sit back in a […]

Public Speaking Tips: Fear and Loathing of Presentations

By on December 27, 2006

I know audiences don’t exactly jump for joy when attending presentations, but speakers are often puking in the bathroom minutes before they go on. I am interested in cures, or coping strategies, for intense speaker anxieties.  We need to put our heads together to figure out a smorgasbord of techniques to calm us down. I’ll […]

Public Speaking Crisis: Harvard Kid Tells it Like it is

By on November 17, 2006

Reva P. Minkoff, Class of ’08 at Harvard and a Staff Writer on the Harvard Crimson had this to say on November 16th: “Since the days of Cicero, the ability to speak eloquently in public and argue persuasively with others has been a prized skill and a ticket to success. Among our generation, however, the […]