Where To Start . . .

Where To Start?

You want to make major advances in your Speaking or Acting or in your Life.  Where do you start? With ACTING SKILLS.  Seriously.  I want to share something special I do with all my clients.

The Comfortable Exercise below is the first major step towards Great Speaking and Acting Skills and Great Living that I give to everyone of my speaking clients and actors.

You must experience this process for yourself to truly understand what it takes to be even better in what you do and who you are.  It is the minimum required for interacting, connecting, reaching and empathizing with others.

I’ve had people say “Oh, I do that every day in my job any way.” And then they make a lame attempt at it.

It truly is important to commit to this process completely.

So I say to you, – you have NEVER done THIS before!  Not the way you need to in order to soak it into your body, your soul and your emotions.

Because it requires full and total concentration and focus – the kind you’ve never used before and you’ll only be able to cover a fraction of it on this first attempt. You see, it requires a life time of practice to really understand.

For example, the “PRESENT” you have to BE is not the casual kind where you give only part of your attention to something. It has to be ALL OF YOU in THIS MOMENT, in your physical surroundings, in your body, in your senses, in your breath.

So I give you this assignment hoping you understand that it requires a depth of commitment and being you’ve never entered before. Because if you have, you would already be well on your way to being an amazing actor or speaker or artist. Because if you have, you’ll be grateful for this opportunity to do this again and again and again.

The Comfortable Exercise

For 24 HOURS make EVERYONE you come in contact with, feel “comfortable” – not happy – but comfortable. Be clear about what that means.

You must be clear what “comfortable” means to you and to them.

Julie Davis _(Kate)Therefore, keep close watch to see that what you are saying and doing is making people comfortable. If it is not making them “comfortable”, try something different.


This is your objective for 24 hours. You may not tell them what you are doing.


Summary of “What valuable piece of advice would you pass on to the younger members of speaking groups?”

125 people replied to the question posted on linkedin

“What valuable piece of advice (looking back) would you pass on to the younger members of the groups?   Patience would be mine.”

As promised I have done my very best to summarize and put it all in my blog
because someone said:

Within a forum like this, it is equivalent to having a knowledge base at your finger tips, in a “cliff notes” form. We all benefit from the thinking of many which may help clarify our own thoughts, bring new insight to us, and give us an opportunity to learn tools and techniques of others to benefit our business and performance.

What we have available here you can’t pay for, the words and wisdom of many all with the same interests. This is powerful.”


This is a truism I can testify to from more than three decades as a professional speaker: you are in the marketing business. If that works out, your reward is the privilege of speaking in front of audiences all over the world.

You must be willing to spend at least a few hours a day calling, writing, and connecting with potential clients (and communicating with previous clients.) The business of the speaking business is as vital to your on-going success as developing “your voice” and refining your skills in the “art of speaking.”

You should spend 50% of your time marketing–EVEN when you’re booked solid!

Keep your eyes open to new opportunities and be willing to let go of old patterns of behavior and thinking. Be willing to try new ideas.

What is your mission? Define your goals. And remember Integrity and Tenacity.


The personal is powerful.

Be authentic. The audience really connects to you when you are authentic and committed to them and their needs.

Being authentic brings an emotional connection that bonds you and your listeners.

I agree with the authenticity comments but you must be a true professional who an audience can respect as someone with exceptional platform skills while at the same time being so down to earth that they feel they can relate to you. They may be motivated temporarily by a slick canned message, but the lasting impact will come from the person who they feel truly “gets” where they are and has possibly even been there too. Hours of preparation for each individual audience, makes this appear “natural” and makes a speech become a conversation with each person in their own mind.

Engage your audience with a story or example to which they will personally relate. It will draw them in and keep them interested.

Audiences respond to emotion. You can intrigue them with statistics and logic…but you can only MOVE them with emotions.

You are only as good as your stories. Develop your stories and learn to tell them. Listen to great storytellers and develop an understanding of why you like them as storytellers. Learn by doing.

Learn how to interact with your audience, make eye contact, improvise, and go off on tangents as appropriate.

Never speak AT an audience. : converse with your audience; invite reactions, even if the audience is too big to be able to allow people to speak

LISTENING, and much more:

Practice extreme listening.

Validate the questioner when a question is asked.

When others see you take the risk for the right reasons, it provides support and “permission” for them to take the risk with you.

Always start preparations by asking, how can I serve this audience?

Approach each presentation as if for the first time.

Focus, focus and focus again.

Live in the Moment and Be in the Moment.

Enunciate clearly Collaborate!

You learn much quicker and have way more fun working together with like-minded people. I wish someone had told me that sooner.

Remember that everyone you meet is your client: the drive through clerk at the fast food restaurant, your bellman at the hotel, the janitor at the convention center. Everyone is your client

“Whether you think can or think you can’t, you’re right.”  Henry Ford.

 Barbara Kite is an Executive Speaking Coach, a Professional Acting Coach and a keynote  speaker who resides in Portland, Oregon www.barbarakite.com


Fixes for anxiety

(information primarily gathered from Great Speaking Ezine with additions and edits from me)


My very favorite is turning it into excitement.  After all both feel the same.  I just replace “I’m scared” with “I’m excited” when the feeling comes up and inevitably other sentences supporting my “excitement” follow.  And in minutes I have myself on the road to excitement.


But not everyone reacts the same and there is no universal fix. Don’t try to use all these fixes at once. Pick out items from this list and try them out until you find the right combination for you.


Visualization strategies that can be used anytime


  • Concentrate on how good you are at public speaking.
  • Pretend you are just chatting with a group of friends.
  • Close your eyes and imagine the audience listening, laughing, and applauding.
  • Remember happy moments from your past.
  • Think about your love for and desire to help the audience.
  • Picture the audience in their underwear.


Strategies in advance of program


  • Be extremely well prepared.
  • Find a  acting class.
  • Get individual or group public speaking coaching.
  • Listen to music.
  • Read a poem.
  • Anticipate hard and easy questions.
  • Organize your speaking notes.
  • Absolutely memorize your opening statement so you can recite it on autopilot if you have to.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Especially practice bits so you can spit out a few minutes of your program no matter how nervous you are.
  • Get in shape. I don’t know why it helps stage fright, but it does.


Strategies just before the program Remember Stage fright usually goes away after you start. The tricky time is before you start.


  • Be in the room at least an hour early if possible to triple check the public address system and everything else on your checklist. You can also schmooze with participants arriving early.
  • Notice and think about things around you to be present.
  • Concentrate on searching for current and immediate things that are happening at the event that you can mention during your speech (especially in the opening).
  • Get into conversation with people near you. Be very intent on what they are saying.
  • Yawn to relax your throat.
  • Doodle.
  • Draw sketches of a new car you would like to have.
  • Look at your notes.
  • Put pictures of your kids/grandkids, dog, etc., in your notes.
  • Build a cushion of time in the day so you are not rushed, but not too much time. You don’t want to have extra time to worry.
  • If your legs are trembling, lean on a table, sit down, or shift your legs.
  • Take a quick walk.
  • Take quick drinks of tepid water.
  • Double check your A/V equipment including the public address system, projectors, etc..
  • Don’t drink alcohol or coffee or tea with caffeine.
  • Concentrate on your speaking ideas and how they will benefit the listeners.
  • Concentrate on your audience.
  • Listen to music.
  • Read a poem.
  • Do isometrics that tighten and release muscles.
  • Shake hands and smile with attendees before the program.
  • Go somewhere private and warm up your voice, muscles, etc.
  • Use eye communication.
  • Go to a mirror and check out how you look.
  • Breathe deeply with your diaphragm, evenly, and slowly for several minutes.
  • Don’t eat if you don’t want to and never take tranquilizers or other such drugs. You may think you will do better, but you will probably do worse and not know it.
  • Open your arms wide, in private, and imagine your eneregry filling the room and covering every listener.  Imagine radiation sunshine from your chest, fingers, etc.


Strategies when the program begins


  • If  legs are trembling, lean on lectern /table or shift legs or move
  • Try not to hold the microphone by hand in the first minute.
  • Don’t hold notes. The audience can see them shake. Use three-by-five cards instead.
  • Take quick drinks of tepid water.
  • Use eye contact. It will make you feel less isolated.
  • Look at the friendliest faces in the audience.
  • Joke about your nervousness. What’s the right wine to go with fingernails?


Remember nervousness doesn’t show one-tenth as much as it feels. Before each speaking engagement make a short list of the items you think will make you feel better. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different combinations. You never know which ones will work best until you try. Rewrite them on a separate sheet and keep the sheet with you at all times so you can refer to it quickly when the need arises.


When speaking in public use these steps to control stage fright so it doesn’t control you.


Barbara Kite is a professional Acting Coach and Executive Speaking Coach as well as Keynote Speaker in Portland Oregon.