I'm a Sr. Communications/Brand Marketing Executive & Broadcast Talent with a Passion for Brand Building and Dynamic Presentation

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

PUBLIC SPEAKING: Fighting Back the Anxiety Attack

Nervous OR Anxious?  There's a Difference
It wasn’t long ago that somebody about to take the stage for one of their first really big speaking opportunities said to me, “The anxiety is killing me! I'm nervous and I really don’t think I can calm down.”

Now...  I could have said a bunch of things, but the look on their face told me that not much was going to stick if I rambled on with long winded last minute advice.  So I kept it simple.  I’ll tell you what I said in a moment.

The fact is that everyone has a degree of anxiety.  Everyone wrestles with finding the best way to combat the internal chaos of nerves and excitement and energy that goes with making a speech or delivering in front of an audience.

If you don’t have nerves, then the speech probably doesn’t mean that much.

BUT … first and foremost, don’t let your mind tell you that you are “nervous.”  Let your mind tell you that you’re anxious.  There is a huge difference.  Anxious means you’re dealing with energy.  Nervous means you are scared or uncomfortable about the potential outcome.

The key is a great beginning.  And for less experienced public speakers the opening moments are the most critical and most nerve wracking.

Here are three things you can do in the early moments of your talk to get off to a positive start.  I do each and every one of these – without fail – every time I take the stage.

Work the Room BEFORE Your Talk

·         Find a Friend & Laugh a Bit – whether you are at a table with others before hitting the stage, or mingling with guests in a cocktail hour, or sitting in a conference room before standing before the group, there is the chance to engage and the chance to talk.  Sitting (or standing) silent prior to the talk only lets your mind focus on the speech.  Relax, joke with people and take your mind off the big moment.

·         Bring Quick Energy – start with a smile, pose a question, show your enthusiasm and give them a visual clue that you aren’t nervous.  Go off script a bit to come across as natural and conversational.  Starting off trying to be “perfect” makes you seem rehearsed. 
Don't be LOCKED to a Podium

·         Take the Focus OFF You – A great opening shouldn’t take long.  But getting to a great video or a key slide or a perhaps even going so far as to walk OFF the stage into the audience with a question that makes someone else talk can help. Movement helps relax you.  Standing stiff (if nervous) and facing a big audience can add to nervousness.    

I can’t make your anxiety (or mine) go away.  It happens for everyone.  The key is to embrace it and find a way to make any butterflies you may be feeling fly in unison.

So here is what I said.  “Enjoy the moment.  Somebody picked you to do this.  Don’t be what you think they want you to be, just be you and make sure you smile and have fun.”

Remember, there is a difference between nerves and anxiety so find your way into a mindset that has you anxious and excited to walk in front of your audience, not afraid of it.

Thanks for reading this blog.  I welcome your comments below and your thoughts on twitter @KraigKann
Find a Way to Smile - It Relaxes EVERYONE

Thought for the Day: When it comes to speaking in front of a large group, remember that if you aren’t smiling, nobody is.  It’s really that simple.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

PUBLIC SPEAKING: How are YOU Different?

Can You Remember Who Spoke?
How many conferences do you attend during a calendar year?  Ten?  Five?  Three?  One?  Easy to answer.  Now consider this.  How many of the speakers you heard during a calendar year can you actually remember?

My guess is that each of you has had the opportunity to speak in front of a group at one point or another in your career.  You prepare, rehearse and then deliver.  And so does everyone else. 

To be successful, you need to be memorable.  You need to be ... different.
The reasons are obvious.  Memorable speakers get what's referred to these days as "word of mouth marketing" which is huge.  They get testimonials and they create traction.  They elicit emotion and jump start action steps from those in attendance.  And they also do wonders for those who put on a conference.  After all, organizers want to make their clients happy and they want to create repeat business.  A good list of speakers creates follow up attendance for the next year’s conference.

Good Speakers Talk.  Great Speakers Engage.
So the question becomes… how can you be different or YOUnique?  Consider these as goals to achieve.

·         A dynamic speaker, not a reader

·         Enthusiastic delivery with passion for his or her subject

·         Unique way to deliver the material everyone else delivers

·         Strong opinions tied to the material

·         A GREAT open and a STRONGER close

Tying in current events, recent issues or things everyone can relate to or knows about is always a way to get people’s attention.  I’ve said this many times, but the speaker who’s chained to the podium, stiff and monotone will send an audience reaching for their cell phones to check email in a hurry.

I ENCOURAGE using phone
I’ve taken it to a different extreme.  I actually encourage people to pull out their phones.  Each talk I do that has any type of PowerPoint involved has a “hashtag” on every slide.  I’ll have my own Twitter handle somewhere noticeable on the slides as well.  The goal is simple.  I want people to use the hashtag to create a running line of content from the talk – a twitter feed of memorable moments or quotes.  This keeps people involved in the talk as active participants and they’ll type the things that resonate to them.

Bottom line is this… if you haven’t gone into the planning stages of your talk without thinking of how you are going to stand out from others, you haven’t planned to make an impact.  And at the end of the day – or in this case, the end of the talk – we all want to create and impact and be remembered.

Thought for the Day – Standing up on the stage is easy.  Standing out is the challenge that motivates the best speakers and separates them as well.



Monday, March 28, 2016


I’ve heard it from athletes and executives, agents and even public relations specialists; "Why aren’t media folks paying attention or interested in my story?"

That’s a complex question for sure.  And it usually has many layers.  But the fundamental issue centers around how compelling your story is and how well you are able to deliver it.

Think of how many interviews you’ve heard... and then, consider how much you actually remember after you watched and listened. 

·         Did the person have a real message?

·         Did the person share a story?

·         Did the person challenge the question with a strong opinion or stance?

Many times, those who get the opportunity to answer questions or sit on a panel discussion simply… answer the questions.   There is no passion behind the comments, no thought behind the opinion or many no real opinion at all.

Media folks are looking for quotes.  It's as simple as that.  Get used to being comfortable with that.  And audiences want to be given something they can hold on to.
They want a :30 second news clip that has some staying power and can be re-played over and over again so their on-air analysts or commentators can react to what’s been said.  Print media folks are looking for the juicy comment that can create a headline and draw readers and page views. That's reality.

As the subject of an interview, you may be saying “well, why would I want that?”  or “Who needs to be the subject of everyone’s attention?”

I’ll spin it this way.  Do you want people to know your story? Or your brand?  Do you want to be relevant?  Most do.
Are YOU "Quotable?"
In today’s media world, the only way to be notable … is to be quotable.  So when you’ve got a date with the microphone and a reporter or interviewer on the other side, anticipate the questions and think about what you might say.  In the same way that speech writers take time to craft the right words for the right impact, think about what you want people to remember and then deliver it with the energy and confidence to make it happen.

Make Your Story "Shareable"
Everyone has a story to tell.  Not everyone makes the “cut.”  Today’s media space is very picky and limited to the very best at making people take notice.  Can you make it happen?  Yes you can.  So, figure out a way to take advantage of your chance by saying something … and not just being the subject of an interview.  That's how you build a "shareable story" and bigger platform for you and your brand. 

Thought for the Day: Those who get their message across are those who have put in the time working on message and delivery well before the time of their interview.