Coaching fun Presentation public speaking

One Simple Mind Game That Can Make You Feel Better About Public Speaking…

People say they’re scared of public speaking, but are they really? I see these people speak in public all the time. They’re relaxed, confident — and they seem to be enjoying themselves.

Take a friend of mine. Let’s call him Greg, because that’s his name. Greg insists he’s terrified of public speaking.

Yet, I’ve seen Greg at parties. I’ve seen him at work. He enters into conversations with ease, even with strangers. He tells engaging stories. He’s a good listener. He encourages other people to tell stories with his eye contact and body language.

“Well, sure,” he said when I pointed all those things out to him. “But that’s not public speaking. That’s just talking to people.”


Because that’s the definition of public speaking. Greg’s not afraid. Greg enjoys it. And he’s good at it.

So why does Greg promote the idea that he’s scared of public speaking? What’s wrong with Greg? Why is he such a dirty, rotten liar?

“No, no, no,” Greg laughed. “Give me a microphone and a stage, and I’ll clam up. I’d get the shakes. I’d stammer. I’d probably faint or fart or both. It’d be ugly.”

Oh, I see.

Greg’s not really afraid of public speaking. He’s afraid of the unknown. He doesn’t speak in big rooms or on a stage. Greg’s never used a mic.

Instead, Greg is afraid of the idea of Public Speaking, with a capital P and a capital S. He’s not afraid of speaking in public. He does it all the time.

So what’s the difference between Public Speaking and speaking in public? A microphone? A stage? More people, less interaction?

According to Greg? Yes. Yes. And yes.

All these unknowns? That’s what makes Public Speaking terrifying for Greg. He’s laid a big, scary head trip on himself.

So I laid a different head trip on him. I suggested Greg might want to change his relationship with the idea of public speaking. I asked him a question:

What are the factors that make you feel most confident when you speak in public? 

“Easy,” he said. “I’m at my best when I’m interested in the topic. I also like talking to individuals or small groups of people. And I like interaction, so I get to hear what others have to say and react. I prefer being spontaneous.”

Great. Why don’t you rebuild your relationship with public speaking? You’ve got a strong foundation: so why not grow from these strengths?

Think about it.

If you identify with Greg’s feelings on public speaking, you might want to consider changing your relationship with it, too. Rebuild it from a place of strength. Ask yourself the same question I asked Greg:

What are the factors that make you feel most confident when you speak in public?

Be specific. What kind of audience, room, content? What level of interaction?

Identify your current public speaking strengths. That’s your foundation. Grow from there. If you’re afraid of something, it could be the unknown.

But you can learn new skills and approaches. You can build upon your strong public speaking foundation. You can layer in new techniques as you learn. And you can grow stronger with practice.

Whether you’re nervous or confident, you have plenty of opportunities to practice public speaking. You can learn and grow every day. Because every time you speak in public, guess what?

You’re a public speaker, my friend. Grow from your strengths. Be open to learning new techniques. You’ll get there.

Laura Bergells is a writer, teacher, and a #LinkedInLearning author. You can take her courses on Crisis Communication and Public Speaking.

Coaching fun public speaking

End hiccups instantly with this amazing mind trick

I haven’t suffered from a case of the hiccups in over 40 years. And I have helped dozens of people end bouts of hiccuping instantly — without props, goofiness, or drama.

All you need is the power of your own mind.

Here is what you do if you ever get a hiccup: talk to yourself, mentally.

Tell yourself,

“OK, for my next hiccup, I will concentrate on making it the LOUDEST hiccup ever!”

Concentrate on making it really loud.

Then wait.

You will not hiccup loudly.

In fact, you will not hiccup again!

The mere act of concentrating on making a LOUD hiccup lets you regain control! It’s that simple.

Try this phenomenal trick, and you may never endure a case of the hiccups again. You may hiccup once, but once you deploy the mind trick — you’ll never have another “case” of the hiccups.

Ah, the irony! Every now and then, I’ll run into someone with seemingly unstoppable hiccups. I’ll tell them to concentrate on making their next hiccup super loud. If they comply, their hiccups end. Many will say, “Oh, wait, my hiccups went away… I never had a chance to try your trick and make a loud hiccup!”  The funny part is that they think the hiccups went away without using the trick — when in fact, it was the mind trick that made the hiccups end!

Alternately, I’ll run into a neurotic hiccup-er who says, “Absolutely not! I will NOT make my next hiccup loud. I don’t want to make a fool out of myself…” And so, they will hop up and down, hold their breath, drink water, plug their ears and noses with their hands, twirl around in circles, or beg their friends to find a way to scare them.

And yet, they say they don’t want to appear foolish. Irony at work, again!

If you’re serious about ending hiccups instantly, permanently, and without drama — try my little mind trick. I doubt you’ll ever have a case of the hiccups again.

Presentation public speaking social media Twitter

How Twitter is Like Public Speaking

  • “I just don’t know what I would say…”
  • “I can’t believe anybody would care…”
  • “I think I’ll make a fool out of myself…”

Speechwriters and presentation coaches often hear these three objections from new clients. Today, I hear the same objections from clients when they talk about approaching Twitter.

Stage fright? It’s being replaced with Twitter fright.

It makes sense, in an odd way. Twitter, in part, is a public speaking platform.

It’s much more, of course: it’s a public listening platform as well. And it’s much less, of course: each Twitter utterance is limited to 140 characters.

Fundamentally, Twitter is a new and growing communication platform. Learning to communicate well on Twitter may be every bit as essential as polishing and honing your public speaking and presentation skills.

When I hear someone who has yet to try Twitter say,

“I just don’t know what I would say…” — I often ask them to listen first. Use Twitter Search to find people who are Tweeting about topics that interest you. Or use Twitter Search advanced to find people in your local community who are tweeting about local events and issues. It’s easier to enter a conversation that’s already in progress about something that’s inherently interesting to you – than it is to be the one to start the conversational ball rolling. Eavesdrop on an interesting conversation already in progress. Ask a question or show support. Later, when you’ve developed some rapport, you might find that you have plenty to say — and you’ve got an audience that’s more predisposed to listen.

“I can’t believe anybody would care…”
— Why is this so hard to believe? Here’s a timeless truth: people care about people they know, like, and trust. And people care about their communities. And ideas they find interesting. People like to discuss topics of interest with others. And yes, it sometimes includes recipes and food and music. Sometimes it includes humor, jokes, and talk about the weather. Oh, and from time to time, the conversation turns to talk about business. If you really “can’t believe anybody would care…” — make them care. Get to know them first. Get to like them. Get to understand them. Be a mensch. Get personally involved. Chances are, if you genuinely care about people and let them know it with a few minutes of chat or a link to an interesting idea, they will come to care about what you say.

“I think I’ll make a fool out of myself…”
— Don’t worry. You’ll make a fool of yourself at some point or another in your life. No one’s immune from foolishness. But the people who look like the biggest fools are people who claim knowledge without experience. As in the people who routinely say, “I think Twitter is stupid. It’s a waste of time, so I’m not getting involved. But I will keep telling everyone I know how stupid I think it is…” It’s hard to convince me that Twitter is stupid when millions of people use it to a) find real-world friends b) get breaking news c) brainstorm great ideas d) build relationships that lead to new opportunities e) spread news about great causes and ideas… and a whole bunch more.

You’re a social human being that longs to connect with other people. Twitter is a communication platform that can help you do just that. Don’t be scared or intimidated. You’ll find the people and ideas you care about being discussed on Twitter. Join the conversation, develop rapport, and start building relationships.

Feel free to connect with me on Twitter. I tweet under the handle of @maniactive