career advice, career management, Careers, entrepreneurs, leadership, Personal Branding

Want More Visibility and Credibility? Speak Out!

Mary Rosenbaum | July 23rd, 2013

An important part of personal branding and leadership branding is gaining the visibility and credibility with your target audience. One way to do that is to speak up and speak out – either as a speaker in front of an audience or as a member or leader of a team where speaking up at meetings and conferences help promote your brand.  If you want those that matter to know how much value you can contribute, public speaking is a great way to get that point across – by showing rather than telling.

Yet public speaking is one area where both seasoned and aspiring leaders have the most difficulty.

Many people say they have a fear of public speaking. When they get up in front of an audience, they become anxious and sweaty and forget their speeches. While this all makes sense, you could also say it’s not only the fear of public speaking that is the problem, it’s the fear of what uncomfortable things may come up when speaking in front of people.

Bad Associations

People create associations all of their lives. They associate their physiology with good or bad things. A person who gets sweaty palms or butterflies in the stomach in front of an audience just knows that’s a bad sign. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.

A 2013 study in Clinical Psychological Science shows our reaction to our physiology can be altered. By understanding that physiological responses when in front of a group of people are just the body’s way of handling stress, you can create new associations.

When I was in high school I auditioned for and was selected to portray Portia in the Merchant of Venice. I was terrific in rehearsals, knew my lines and was thrilled to be a part of the production. The evening of the performance, I froze and had to be walked off the stage with my understudy completing the show.

In the years that followed my fear of public speaking loomed large and I avoided the prospect each and every time an offer to speak was presented to me. The memory of freezing on stage haunted me for many years.

After years of forcing myself to take on public speaking engagements in spite of my fear of freezing up and of hearing the wild beating of my racing heart, I can honestly say that I now enjoy doing it. So much that I actually seek out opportunities to get up on the podium. I recognize that I will be nervous each and every time but I now accept it as fact, take a deep breath and start giving my talk. It works every time.

By reminding yourself those physical sensations are just the body doing its thing, and that it’s not bad or good, you can be back in control of your body and your presence on stage.

Change Your Focus to the Audience

Stop worrying about how you look or how uncomfortable you feel and move your attention from you to the audience. After all, that’s the reason you’re there in the first place. So be curious about your audience, who they are, why they are there, and what demographic they represent. Focus on the topic and that should keep your mind occupied. Once you shift your focus on the value you can provide to this specific audience, you won’t have time to worry about yourself and the end result will be far better.

Do What You Fear the Most & Then Do It Again

Famed American billionaire Warren Buffet had a huge fear of public speaking. He even dropped out of a public speaking course before it started because of his anxiety. His ultimate cure was to begin teaching topics he enjoyed to force himself to be in front of a roomful of people. Eventually, the joy of teaching overshadowed his fear of being in front of the class, but he had to do this over and over again in order to overcome his distress.

Pick one of your anxieties, and find a way to be right in it. Notice: you didn’t perish, you weren’t mortally wounded and you even survived in one piece. Slap yourself on the back for succeeding, and go do it again. Eventually, you’ll wonder what the big deal was. If you need a little motivation, organizations such as Toastmasters are good at helping you find your anxieties, and begin working on them.

What advice do you have for overcoming public speaking uneasiness? Share them in the comments.

Need help building credibility and visibility? Contact me.

Hillary Stroup, an MBA student and public relations consultant, co-wrote this post. She has over ten years of experience helping small businesses succeed through rough patches. She started out as a wedding planner and her business has grown from there.


Who’s in Your Corner?

Mary Rosenbaum | July 10th, 2013
Wimbledon Final 2013

Novak and Andy before the big match.

Last Sunday morning’s men’s final at Wimbledon was a stunning example of not only great tennis but of how you can be spurred on to greatness if you have people in your corner.

Going into the match the odds favored Djokovic to win. For those people not as addicted to the game as I am, Murray won in 3 straight sets and became the first British man to win Wimbledon in 77 years.

Yes, he played well, in fact brilliantly at times. But what helped him get through some rough patches and some earlier difficult matches was the crowd. What propelled him to run down every ball, many of which seemed impossible to reach, was a crowd of thousands both inside and outside the stadium, as well as the knowledge that millions of people around the country were rooting for him.

It’s fair to say that for a lot of people this type of pressure might make them choke rather than succeed. Yet I would argue that for many of us, having other people encourage us to hold the bar up even higher than we would like is an excellent way to bring out our own greatness.

Outside support helps build on the momentum you have already created. Sometimes you need that extra push to go the distance, whether it’s presenting a new idea, completing an assignment, taking on a new task or job, or asking for a raise or promotion.

– Knowing others care about you and your results helps keep you accountable and focused on your goals. You’re not in it alone.

Your corner is probably already filled with your own large group of supporters. Yet you could make their cheers and words of encouragement even stronger if you openly share your dreams and your goals with them so they know how and when to cheer you on.

It’s important to realize that if you fail in your endeavor you’re not letting them down but merely adding more knowledge and experience to the task and regrouping for the next time. Andy’s fans have known what his goals have been for a very long time. And each time, win or lose, they were there with him. The victory was even sweeter knowing how long it took, how many failed attempts he made, and how hard he had to work to finally achieve it.

So don’t limit your corner to a select few but rather fill it with people who have the knowledge to help, the wisdom to use the right words, voices loud enough to be heard, and the ability to hold you to a higher plane. Friends, family, bosses, sponsors, mentors, coaches, teachers, and colleagues – they can all easily fit in your corner.

And most importantly of all – make sure you cheer loudly and support others so you can help bring out the greatness in them.

So who’s in your corner?

Have questions about how to manage your career with purpose? Contact me.