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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Public Speaking in Emotional Contexts

Dec 16, 2021

This Saturday, I’m speaking on perhaps the most nerve-racking stage I’ve ever stepped onto… 

Am I giving a TEDTalk? No. 

Am I finally officially announcing my candidacy for elected office?! Not yet. 

I’m doing something even scarier…

I’m officiating my brother’s wedding. 

Now on a certain level, this kind of speaking engagement is as easy as they come. 

After all, you’re never going to find yourself in front of an audience that is more primed to root for your success! 

So, why do these sorts of events make people so nervous? 

The answer’s pretty simple: 

These speaking events require us to risk getting emotional in front of a crowd. 

For most of us, that is a pretty terrifying prospect.

Which is why I want to devote this month’s blog post to the subject of speaking in emotional contexts

If you’ve ever delivered a eulogy, given a toast at a wedding, or shared a...

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How to Nail Your Elevator Pitch

Nov 11, 2021

 “So, what do you do?”

If this question makes you break out in a cold sweat, read on!

Today we are talking about Elevator Pitches

If you’ve ever gone to a networking event, you have most certainly seen an elevator pitch gone wrong.

Take Terse Tanya, for instance, who shuts down the conversation by not giving us enough information:

“Oh, I’m a lawyer.”

...

*Cue chirping crickets* 

Or, even worse, Garrulous Gary, who gives us his whole life story:

“I’m an intellectual property attorney, but I got my start in tax law. Actually, it’s a funny story… when I was in undergrad, I majored in economics, but then... ”

*Five minutes later, he’s still talking but you have fully checked out.*

Obviously, neither of these situations is ideal.

So how do you strike a balance?

How do you answer the question, “What do you do?” in a way that is both succinct and engaging?

First, we need to slow down...

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How To Slay Performance Anxiety

Oct 14, 2021

In honor of Halloween, I want to talk about a spooky subject that constantly graces my inbox...

Performance Anxiety.

You know the feeling. You step up to the mic or turn on your camera and suddenly it hits you:

  • The racing heart
  • The sweaty palms
  • The tunnel vision
  • The sudden deer-in-the-headlights look in your eyes

It's like you've just seen a ghost.

And then the spookiest thing of all happens...

Despite all the preparation you put into this presentation, you have this horrific realization:

You don't remember what you're supposed to say next.

If you've ever experienced performance anxiety around public speaking (and I know I sure have), it really can feel like a supernatural event.

Especially if you normally have no problem speaking in front of a group.

I can't tell you how many times a client has come to me distraught and confused saying,

"I have no idea why I froze up during that presentation. I don't normally get nervous during those kinds of things!"

They're understandably...

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It's Too Damn Noisy in Here

Jul 14, 2021

How am I supposed to get through my presentation when everyone keeps talking? Try as I might, I can’t wrangle my thoughts and remember what’s on my next slide with this CONSTANT chatter. 

 

It feels like every third word, someone is interjecting:

  • “Sara, you tripped over that last sentence.”
  • “Sara, there was a better way to say that.”
  • “Sara, Gary looks bored.” 
  • “Sara, this isn’t how you practiced it at home.”
  • “Sara, this is a disaster. Just speed through and put everyone out of their misery.”

It is too damn loud in here. 

...Of course, by “in here,” I mean in my own head. 
 

That’s right. Today we are talking about that chatty inner-critic.
 

We all have one. Some are chattier than others, but one thing all inner-critics have in common is this: 


They are supremely unhelpful while you are presenting.  

Don’t get me wrong, there is a...

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You Lookin' At Me? (AKA The Missing Ingredient in Your Virtual Presentation)

May 20, 2021

As the world slowly begins to reopen, you know what I’m most looking forward to? 

Eye contact. 

Don’t get me wrong, hugs are high up on that list as well, but after over a year of Zoom meetings I am craving some actual eye contact. 

But, since I doubt virtual meetings are going anywhere anytime soon, I thought I’d use this week’s newsletter to address the million dollar question:

How do I simulate eye contact on Zoom? 

The short answer is probably pretty obvious: 

Look directly into the camera when you’re speaking. 

This is what reads as eye contact to the folks on the other end of the call.

When you look directly down the barrel of the camera, your audience feels like you are looking right into their eyes. 

It’s one of the most powerful public speaking techniques you can utilize in the world of virtual meetings. 

There is a problem with this technique though...It feels really weird.  

Most of us,...

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Do You Speed Up When You Get Nervous? (Here's How to Stop)

Jan 04, 2021

Are you a speedy talker? 

Me too. 

I've always had a pretty peppy cadence to my speech, and spending the past 10 years in NYC has only made me sound more caffeinated. 

Normally this isn't problem... unless I get nervous.

And unfortunately, even public speaking coaches occasionally get nervous when speaking in public. 

This used to be a big problem for me. 

If I forgot to take a couple minutes to meditate before a presentation, my normal trot of a speech pattern would quickly turn into a frantic gallop. 

Suddenly, I'd be flying through slidestripping over words, and, worst of all, losing my audience

I was in denial about this for a while. 

I thought, "So, I talk fast. What's the big deal? People like an energetic presentation!"

And that's partly true.

People do like an energetic presentation... but only if they can understand it. 

I was forced to fully embrace this idea one spring when I almost drove off the side of...

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A Very Christmas-y Cure for Monotone

Dec 14, 2020

One of the most common questions I get from my clients is:

How do I break the habit of speaking in monotone?

I can be presenting on the most interesting subject in the world, but when I start to speak in my boring voice, I see everyone’s eyes glaze over. 

When I try to add more vocal variety, I feel weird and fake. HELP!

Do you relate to this? 

Do you fear that your vocal style is that of Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?

Bueller? Bueller? 

Never fear! I’ve got a yuletide cure for monotone coming your way!

Let’s break this down for a second:

What is “monotone”? 

Monotone describes a continuing sound, especially of a person's voice, that is unchanging in pitch and without intonation.

So, what’s the cure for monotone? 

Adding variation in pitch and intonation! 

See, wasn’t that easy?!

I kid, I kid!

Kind of…

See, here’s the problem: 

...

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