What the Muppets Taught Me about Public Speaking

May 11, 2023

Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, where I got the opportunity to meet some true ICONS of public speaking. 

I'm of course referring to...the Muppets. 

Perhaps I should explain...

There are two particular Muppets that come up in my speaking sessions about once a week. 

  These guys.   

Perhaps you're already familiar with Statler and Waldorf, the two grumpy old men who heckle the other Muppets from the back of the theater, as Kermit, and Fozzie, and the rest try their best to put on a show. 

The reason these two cantankerous old puppets come up so often when I'm helping folks with public speaking, is this:

They are the perfect embodiment of the noisy inner critic that plagues many public speakers. 

That voice that pops up mid-presentation to say unhelpful things like: 

  • "There was a better way to say that."
  • "You tripped over that last sentence."
  • "Do you hear how...
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Can ChatGPT Write my TEDTalk?

Apr 13, 2023

Yesterday morning I did an experiment that I've been anxiously avoiding for weeks.

I tentatively opened up my laptop, opened my browser to the famous (or infamous) AI chatbot "ChatGPT," took a deep breath, and asked it a question...

"Hey ChatGPT, will you please write me a blog post about the importance of public speaking skills in an age where content writing will increasingly get outsourced to artificial intelligence such as yourself?"

10 seconds later, sitting before me was a well-structured and largely accurate email newsletter. 

It was pretty dry and generic, but it was passable. 

(Important note: THIS is not that blog. Please be reassured that any and all typos and malapropisms are completely my own. )

Like so many people, I was equal parts impressed and distressed by this technology. 

Sure, I can write better content than ChatGPT, but I certainly can't write it faster.

What will this technology mean for creatives like myself who are largely...

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We're Defining "Public Speaking" All Wrong

Feb 23, 2023

I can’t tell you how many times a week I hear some version of the following statement: 

“I don’t really do a lot of speaking. I mean–I have one-on-one conversations all the time, but the idea of speaking to a crowd TERRIFIES me.”

This statement always puzzles me. 

(Not the part about public speaking being scary–that I totally get. Performance anxiety is a completely normal fight or flight response that I will get into later in this very email!)  

No, the thing that puzzles me is the first half of that statement: 

How can someone say that they “don’t do a lot of speaking” and immediately follow it up with  “I have one-on-one conversations all the time”?

This is one of my biggest gripes about the field of Public Speaking.

Most of us are putting far too much emphasis on the word “Public.”

Public Speaking does NOT have to mean “speaking to a crowd.” 

If you speak...

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Some Hard Data about Soft Skills

Jan 12, 2023

Happy New Year! 

Hope you got to enjoy some much needed rest before launching into 2023. 

I know for me, the last week of December is all about rest and reflection.

You will not find me in Times Square for the ball drop! I spent the last moments of 2022 enjoying a sleepy board game night with a handful of good buddies.

And as much as I love a good new year's resolution, I feel like that process is doomed without a healthy dose of old year reflection

That's why before I sit down to create my New Year business goals, I always take an afternoon to review my past year's numbers. 

(As much as I'm a word nerd, I also appreciate some cold hard data!)

And here's the big stat that hit me as I conducted my 2022 audit:

In 2022, more than 60% of my business could be traced back to public speaking events that I participated in.

That means more than 60% of the folks that hired me in 2022 did so because they attended a talk or workshop that I...

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Just Curious...

Oct 13, 2022

September was a heck of a month for Speak Masterfully alums and I gotta take a moment to brag about my clients.

(Don’t worry, I’ll keep it to a lightning round.  I could ABSOLUTELY talk your ear off like a proud mama after her kid’s first big recital, but I’ll try and curb that impulse.) 

So without further ado, here are 3 September success stories in 30 seconds or less. 

Last month…

  • One client took to the TEDX stage to share a message she’s truly passionate about 
  • Another booked her first paid speaking engagement
  • A third crushed his talk on the mainstage of a major tech conference

Absolutely nothing brings me more joy than seeing the dynamic, hardworking, inspiring people I get to call my clients becoming known as thought leaders in their respective fields

I can’t help but shout it from the rooftops.

But I’m not writing this blog PURELY with the purpose of bragging about the rockstars I’m lucky...

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How to Avoid the Summer Slump

Aug 09, 2022

I’ll level with you. I did not feel like writing this blog today.

In fact, I’ve been avoiding it all week.

Every time I sat down to write, it felt like something came up.

Monday: A friend texts wanting to meet up for coffee.

Tuesday: A colleague I normally meet with over Zoom proposes we do our 1-to-1 in the park instead.

Wednesday: I make up all the client work I couldn’t get done Monday and Tuesday.

Thursday: My husband has a half-day and proposes going on an adventure.

Friday: Nothing comes up. I’m just so out of my normal routine that I completely forget about the blog…

“Yikes!” I think.  “Well, at least I can play catch-up this weekend!”

Then I look at my calendar and realize… I’m somehow out of town and/or traveling every weekend for the next 2 months.


This has been the story of the summer for many of us.

All of the traveling and socializing that we’ve been putting off for the past 2.5 years...

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Drop the Jargon

Jul 14, 2022

One of the first things I ask a client when they tell me they’ve booked a speaking gig is, “What’s your goal for this event?” 

For newer or nervous speakers, the top 2 responses I get are:

“I want people to see me as an expert in my field.” 


“I want to sound smart.”

Totally fair. 

Who doesn’t want to be viewed as an expert in their field? 

But unfortunately, while this goal is completely understandable, it’s also completely doomed. 

That’s right. The voice in your head telling you to aim for “sounding smart” is leading you down a dark path. 

A path that ends in my biggest public speaking pet-peeve… jargon

We’ve all heard it (and we’ve probably all used it in an insecure moment). 

Jargon is defined as “special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand.”


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My Not-So-Secret Double-Life

May 12, 2022

At long last, May is here! 

Here in New York, it feels like spring is finally in the air, and the streets are buzzing with the possibility of new beginnings. 

On that note, I’ve got a personal update that I’ve been busting to share…

Next week, I’ll be jumping into rehearsals for a new musical at the New Jersey Repertory Company!

I’m overjoyed to have the opportunity to perform for a live audience for the first time in many moons. 

Spring has sprung and live theatre is back in a big way! 

Now, if you’re newer to my emails you may be thinking, 

“Wait, I didn’t know Sara acted. Isn’t she a public speaking coach?”

You’re not wrong! 

I am indeed a public speaking and storytelling coach

What I probably don’t talk about enough in these newsletters is where my training for these fields comes from. 

So it’s at this point that I must reveal my secret identity: I am, and...

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3 Impossibly Easy Stage Presence Hacks

Feb 10, 2022

I’ll be honest, I’ve found it pretty hard to build momentum this year. I’ve got a lot of exciting projects and collaborations in the works for 2022, but very few firm dates for anything. 

With all the Omicron uncertainty, it feels like folks have been reluctant to put things on the calendar. 

And I 100% get it. I’ve been dragging my feet on all sorts of commitments.

There are flights to be booked, calendars to be coordinated, and plans to be made. 

It’s all going to get done, but I’m finding every stage more effortful than usual.

And I don’t think I’m alone in this. 

I’ve been hearing it from my clients as well. This winter, everything has just felt a touch more effortful than usual.

Returning emails. Keeping the fridge stocked. Finding time for creative projects. 

Usually they burst into the New Year feeling wildly motivated. 

This year, they’re feeling motivated, but they’re also...

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Public Speaking in 2022: What to Expect & How to Prepare

Jan 13, 2022

Here are a few phrases I’m sure you got sick of hearing in 2021: 

  • “_______ is going to look a little different this year.”
  • “Can you all see my screen?” 
  • “You’re on mute.”

This was the vocabulary of the virtual meeting. But there was one phrase that broke my heart more than all the rest…

“I come off a lot better in person.”

I heard some version of this refrain at almost every virtual event I attended. 

And look, I don’t disagree! I think most of us come off better in person. Something is always lost when we can’t make direct eye-contact with the person we’re speaking to. 

But here’s the thing… virtual events aren’t going anywhere. 

Many of us have accepted this in the short term. We figure events will probably remain virtual while omicron and/or other variants are surging.

But I believe things have changed in a more fundamental and long-term way. 


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