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Teleprompter Trap: Avoid Reading and Actually Connect with Audiences

When actress Jennifer Coolidge took to the stage to present at last year’s Golden Globe Awards, her speech was hilarious and, as expected, went viral.

She humorously spoke about her fear of reading off the “ticker tape” at the right time and how it always seems to “get ahead of her.”

She was referring to a teleprompter.

The prompter operators our team works with worldwide beautifully follow the speaker, making sure the teleprompter is aligned exactly where your eyes need it while you’re speaking.

Even though it’s easy to make sure your experience is perfect – her discomfort with it is not unique.

One mistake is common when it comes to teleprompters, and as a media and public speaking coach, I’ve seen countless professionals struggle with this.

The critical mistake that undermines a speaker’s credibility with the audience is:

Reading from the teleprompter without connecting with the audience.

It’s a common scenario: You have a keynote or quarterly earnings report to deliver, and the pressure is on. You need to make a lasting impression.

If you want to captivate your audience and convey authority and authenticity, try these five things.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Invest time to rehearse your script before stepping in front of the teleprompter. You want to practice so the teleprompter operator can adjust the font size for your eyes, and you can get to know that exact stage. Every setup is different. Knowing how that stage feels and how the monitors will reflect your script is important. You want to be familiar with the content and the setup so you can deliver your talk naturally.

Practice delivering the words aloud, focusing on inflection, pacing, and how you will emphasize the key points you want the audience to remember.

Own Every Word

When delivering your presentation, make a conscious effort to own every word. You want to think about each word. Don’t just read them.

Imagine having a one-on-one conversation with someone rather than reciting a script. This mindset shift will help you establish a genuine connection with your audience and convey sincerity and authenticity.

Adapt and Adjust

Don’t be afraid to adapt and adjust your delivery as needed. If a sentence feels awkward or doesn’t flow well, rework it. Get your script ahead of time and carve out time to work with it.

While significant changes may not be feasible (legal departments), subtle adjustments can enhance the clarity and impact of your message. Make the speech your own.

Utilize Formatting Options

Use formatting options such as underlining or capital letters to emphasize key points or phrases. These visual cues guide your delivery and ensure the most important points resonate with your audience.

Avoid Cold Reading

Reading directly from the teleprompter without infusing your personality and passion into the delivery is a surefire way to lose the attention and trust of your audience.

Connect with your listeners on a personal level by speaking in your voice.

We do everything from just shortening sentences to major surgery on speeches to make sure they sound conversational.

Leaders need to connect with the audience and not just READ to them.

By making this simple yet powerful shift in your approach to teleprompter usage, you can elevate your presentations to new heights and leave a lasting impression on your audiences.

Remember, the goal isn’t just to deliver information – it’s to inspire, persuade, and connect.

Your audience will thank you for it, and you’ll reap the rewards of their trust and confidence.

Need one-on-one coaching with teleprompters? Our team can help

Astronauts Can Wear Pink: Challenging Societal Expectations

How many times have you been made to feel like you have to twist and shrink who you are to fit the mold society tells us a successful woman must fit?

If you’re a woman in a leadership role, I’d be willing to bet you’ve spent considerable time worrying about how you’re perceived.

Now …  it’s true how you present yourself matters. At our company, our trainers spend a lot of time making sure our clients look up-to-date and their look matches their personality, brand, and messaging. We want them to look like themselves – and not distract from their message. And we know when they’re not happy about their look and just haven’t had the time to figure it out. We help them fix that.

The last time I was in the studio for a shoot, our makeup artist made me rethink my “look.”

When she was finished working her magic, she pulled out the lipstick.

It was bright red/orange.

It was bold. I loved it.

And it scared me.

I don’t do bold.

“I can’t wear red lipstick.”

And then it hit me.

I can.

AND I can be taken seriously doing it.

Kellie Gerardi is an ASTRONAUT and fields comments daily on Instagram about her looks. People ridicule her because she wears pink and friendship bracelets. They tell her astronauts shouldn’t dress like that.

Who says?

One of my favorite women on social media right now is Codie Sanchez. She’s a business owner and investor. She recently shared four lessons from her friend, Ann McFerran, the Founder of Glamnetic, a $50M press-on nail and magnetic eyelash business.

The first three of four lessons were great, but it’s the final one I loved the most.

She shared her FAVORITE thing about Ann is she’s unapologetically feminine.

Codie explained how for years, she thought she couldn’t be sexy and taken seriously at the same time.

Relatable, right?

But Ann – the founder of a $50M company – doesn’t share this mindset, and neither should you.

I dressed “like the boys” for most of my 20s because I felt out of place in TV newsrooms across the country. I wanted to blend in. And I didn’t want the female reporters and anchors to think I wanted their job. I wasn’t happy and I lost part of myself.

Here’s what you should take away from this:

You can be taken seriously and feel and dress as feminine as you’d like.

Just lean into and embrace your femininity with confidence.

Choose what you want your personal brand to be, own it with confidence, and walk your walk and talk your talk.

If you’re uncomfortable with it – everyone will know. You can’t pull it off by being sheepish about it.

You have to OWN IT.

Choose what makes you happy and OWN IT.

The confidence is what people will see.

And what matters.

When Pain Becomes the Pathway: Did I Manifest My Way into Training Medical Experts?

For about 14 months, I had the most incredible pain in my left foot. 

It was so bad I had to lean on the podium every time I was on a stage.

If your job requires you to be on your feet for long periods of time and you’ve experienced something like this – you know just how helpless it can feel.

It was excruciating, and I had no idea what was going on. 

I saw foot specialists.

I talked to the neurologists I train.

Everyone kept telling me to find the BEST orthopedic surgeon. 

So, in my mind, I thought about orthopedic surgeons non-stop.

I was also traveling the most in my career – and I didn’t have a lot of time to actually make those appointments.

I finally found a great surgeon, and we were making headway…

I was spending more time than ever focusing on my foot and the healing process.

And then weeks later, you’ll never believe who called me up.

It was the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. 

Then, months later, I found myself in San Francisco coaching that medical association and dozens of orthopedic surgeons. 

Was it fate? Perhaps a coincidence? Or did I manifest this job? 

It’s quite possible I manifested it.

Manifestation means different things to different people.

And we all have varying levels of belief in its power.

For me, manifestation is very real and has benefitted me at different points throughout my life.

I think of it as a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

If you want something and you spend a lot of time thinking about it, you are going to modify your behavior to align with that desire. 

You may not even realize you’re doing it!

On top of that, there’s also credit due for being in the right place at the right time.

AND being OPEN when opportunity comes knocking at your door.

This story serves as just one testament to manifestation’s potential. By maintaining a focused mindset and unwavering belief in my goal – to find the best orthopedic surgeon – I may have inadvertently attracted the very opportunity I sought.

Sometimes, the most remarkable opportunities arise when we least expect them. 

This isn’t the first time this has happened to me.

I went through five IVF rounds to have our daughter.

After the fourth round and losing twin baby girls in the second trimester – I started thinking about adoption and living without having children. I started to compartmentalize and come up with all my backup plans to protect myself.

A therapist told me to stop protecting myself with all these backup plans because she said it was actually hurting my outcomes.

She knew I wanted a girl. She told me to imagine the day she was born. Who was in the room? What color were the balloons? What time she was born? How did I feel? 

She was showing me how to manifest.

And I didn’t just think about it.

All that manifesting made me go 100% in.

I read books on how to make the best eggs and embryos. 

I went sugar-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free.

I did all the fertility yoga, massage, and acupuncture I could possibly schedule.

She was born in April five years ago. My little baby girl will be five in just a few weeks.

I manifested our daughter.

Have you ever experienced a challenge so intense it seemed insurmountable, only to find it led you to unexpected opportunities?

The next time you face a daunting challenge or find yourself yearning for a particular outcome, remember the power of manifestation. 

Cultivate a mindset of belief, remain open to unexpected opportunities, and trust in the journey ahead. 

Who knows? You might just manifest your future.

Slide Savvy: Avoid This Presentation Pitfall

The Presentation Pitfall Everyone Makes (and How to Avoid It)

There’s a huge mistake nearly everyone makes when it comes to giving slide presentations.

You might be doing this without even knowing…

It’s okay, I’m here to protect you.

If you want people to …

  • Pay attention to you
  • Buy from you
  • Invest in you
  • Or do whatever it is you want them to do …

Stop STARTING with the slides.

Imagine you log onto a webinar, and the first thing you see is a slide deck.

No human.

No person talking to you.

No connection.

Just a boring old slide filling the screen.

It’s probably not that hard to imagine because it happens all the time.

You might hear the presenter’s voice – but their face is hidden behind the content. 

The person – the actual entity you’re supposed to be connected with – is trapped in a tiny little Zoom box.

You can’t connect with them. You can barely even see their eyes.

Do you feel their passion for the subject? The brand? The product?

You. Don’t. Know.

You. Can’t. See. Them.

Despite how common it is, this approach misses a key element of effective communication: the personal connection between the presenter and the audience.

So, what’s the solution?

The Right Way To Engage Your Audience And Make An Impact With Your Presentation

If you want to engage your audience and make an impact with your presentation, come out on camera WITHOUT the slides and make a connection with your audience first.

Start by building a relationship.

Start by building trust.

This initial face-to-face interaction will grow the audience’s confidence in you – and the tone for the rest of your presentation.

 It’s not just about starting strong – it’s also about ending on the right note. 

When concluding your presentation, don’t stay stuck behind your slides. Instead, return to the camera to deliver your final remarks. 

This lets you maintain that crucial connection with your audience as you summarize your key points and deliver your call to action.

Why does this approach work?

Being visible on camera throughout your presentation creates a personal and engaging experience for your audience. They can look you in the eye, see your facial expressions, hear the tone of your voice, and feel a deeper connection to you as the presenter. 

This human element is essential for building trust and making your message resonate with your audience.

The next time you prepare a slide presentation, remember this valuable tip:

Always start and end with yourself on camera.

Build that trust, make that connection, and watch as your presentations become more impactful than ever before.

Invisible Audience, Lost Connection: Why Knowing Your Audience Matters More Than Slides

You find out you have to do a talk.

You come up with the topic.

And then you dig right into the slides.


I have news for you.

This is what the majority of presenters do wrong.

Do you know the first thing you should do before creating a talk, presentation, webinar, or slide deck? 

The one thing you must do before creating your slides is know your audience.

The first step in speaking to anyone is to know who you’re talking to.

Know their pain points.

Know what matters to them.

Know who’s in the actual audience.

If you don’t know – how do you know what to say?

What will resonate with them?

I recently had a conversation with someone preparing a presentation for work.

She had meticulously crafted her slides and rehearsed her content, but a crucial piece was missing – she didn’t know her audience. Her boss never provided insights into who would attend the presentation.

As a result, she found herself struggling to create something meaningful and engaging. She had difficulty creating something in a vacuum and feeling passionate about it.

It’s a scenario many of us can relate to. 

It can feel impossible to connect with your audience online or on stage if you don’t know who they are.

Don’t wait until you get there.

Some executives think it’s acceptable to breeze through slides for 45 minutes – just talking about what THEY want to talk about.

Guess what? That’s a surefire way to lose your audience’s interest and credibility as a speaker. Do that, and they won’t connect. They won’t buy your product. They won’t trust you. They won’t even like you very much… and if you’re a paid speaker, you likely won’t be invited back.

The key to being a successful presenter is to shift your mindset from merely delivering information to engaging in a conversation with your audience.

And it’s not a real conversation unless you know them.

You see them. 

You need to know your audience to feel them.

Presenting blindly is a recipe for disaster. 

Empower yourself by asking questions about your audience ahead of time. Contact event planners or organizers (or get your EA or team) to gather insights to help you tailor your presentation, know what to teach them, and how to talk to each person. What do you ask?

Who are they? 

What are their ages?

What are the other demographics? (ex: What level of education?)

What time am I presenting (this matters … people are TIRED at 3 pm, so you’ll need to ENTERTAIN)?

Bonus questions you’ll need to ask:

Will there be a prompter?

Is there a podium?

If it’s a panel, what is the seating? (Bar stools, chairs, etc)

Stick mic or lavalier mic?

Remember, it’s not about what you want to talk about – rather, what your audience needs to hear.

Speak Up: Overcoming The Fear of Public Speaking

Is fear stopping you from living life to its fullest?

Close your eyes and picture this:

You’re a kid again. You’re in the third grade, and you’ve been dreading this day for weeks. 

You don’t understand why people keep telling you to picture the audience in their underwear.

Your hand-written cue cards are stuffed in your pocket as you try to remember the words on the way to school. You’re resisting the urge to pull them out and read from them line by line. 

The thought of your classmates – all 30 or so eyeballs – staring at you when it’s your turn to speak has you considering developing a sudden, unexpected case of the flu. 

It was at that moment you unlocked a new fear – you were terrified of public speaking!

Did your stomach flip on you? Did your skin crawl? Some hated the spotlight then, and they still hate it now. 

I bet it’s stopped them from doing a lot of things. Whether it’s public speaking, heights, or creepy crawlies – fear prevents us from living life to the fullest.

This is true for women especially. 

I recently read a study out of Harvard. It suggested women avoid public speaking for fear of looking bad, sounding bad, appearing inexperienced, or not sounding confident.

It also suggested one of the number one things causing women to turn down speaking opportunities is the fear of appearing to grab too much attention.

I find this so interesting because, being a woman myself and having experienced this in my own career …

This is just a story we tell ourselves.

Now, in my mid to late 40s, I can attest this goes on in our heads in our 20s, 30s, and 40s. Our clients feel it in their 50s and 60s.

It’s hard to overcome the anxiety and fear of public speaking.⁠ Who wants to make a mistake and feel like they’ve failed?⁠

With more experience in front of people, we become more and more confident in taking on bigger opportunities.

As for my clients, they tend to reach out to me in their 40s. It’s at this point they realize:

  • It’s time to say yes
  • It’s time to go for that promotion 
  • It’s time to go for that governance board
  • It’s time to go for that presidential position
  • It’s time to go for that conference talk

Don’t wait to take on those opportunities.⁠ Bet on yourself, and take that chance NOW. ⁠

You’re a rockstar.⁠

There’s no reason why you can’t bring that same confidence to webinars, stages, Zoom meetings, leading your team, the boardroom, investor pitches, media interviews, and job interviews.⁠

And we’re here to help.⁠

Stage Fright to Spotlight: Conquer Public Speaking & Communicate Powerfully

Did you know working on one skill will raise your value by 50%?

Many of our clients – leaders, Fortune 500 companies, doctors, CEOs, salespeople – hire our company to train them so they’re more confident when speaking to the media, in webinars, with their teams, with investors, the board, on stage, in job interviews, and with clients. ANY time they need to make a bigger impact.

Even Warren Buffett and Richard Branson talk about why it’s so important to communicate powerfully. 

When Buffett went to college, he avoided all classes requiring public speaking. He was terrified of it. When he graduated, he realized his fear was killing his ability to move up in his career.

He took a public speaking course after college and has since said, “My public speaking course was arguably the best investment I made in my life. You can improve your value by 50% just by learning communication skills.”

Richard Branson says, “Communication is the most important skill any leader can possess.” 

“Today, if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, you also have to be a storyteller … It is not enough to create a great product; you also have to work out how to let people know about it.”

Knowing how to communicate with impact helps you motivate change, influence decisions, and form connections so you can get what you want out of life.

Great public speakers master the art of communication to influence and lead.

You must be able to effectively communicate with your boss, your colleagues, employees, customers, future customers, patients, donors, and investors. 

Leaders who inspire are trusted by their employees. Leaders with communication and public speaking skills have a much easier time influencing their coworkers. 

Plus, public speaking helps you increase your confidence level. If you can get up in front of a crowd, you can ask for a raise, inspire your employees, have more successful first dates, and even be more successful and happy at home! 

At our company, we’re committed to equipping individuals with the tools and techniques needed to excel in any speaking scenario, whether addressing one person or millions. By embracing and implementing these skills, you’ll not only enhance your value but also unleash your full potential to lead, inspire, and thrive in every facet of life.

Silent Signals: Mastering Non-Verbal Communication

At least 80% of your communication comes from non-verbals.

At least 80% of what you say is not even what you say.

You can prepare, and prepare, and prepare what you physically are going to say with the actual words that are coming out of your mouth, but we constantly are communicating through how we walk into a room, what we wear, whether our shoes are beaten up or if we look exhausted or disheveled.

I had a C-suite executive at a big software company hire me to help his team. He asked me to take a good look at what his team was wearing because he knew his sales team and demo people needed to make a really good first impression with their customers.

He knew he needed his team to evoke more trust in the brand and the message their body language and even clothing were subconsciously sending their future customers.

When I met with them, I found many of the team didn’t tailor their pants, something really basic.
Their pants were just too long. They didn’t land nicely where they were supposed to. They just kind of gathered in folds and creases over their shoes.

What was the message they were sending future customers? They were sloppy, the company was sloppy, the brand was sloppy, and they didn’t think about the little things.

They are not detail-oriented.

When we don’t take care of ourselves, it makes people think we can’t take care of someone else.

When you go into the store and get a new pair of jeans or a great pair of slacks, take that extra step to make sure they’re tailored. It doesn’t really cost you that much, but boy, could it do some major things for your career.

If you can’t take care of yourself, then subconsciously, people will think you can’t take care of their brand or the 20 thousand or million-dollar contract you’re trying to land with them.

Don’t just think, “Well, I’m just the guy doing the demo on the webinar – nobody cares what I’m wearing,” because …

They. Do. Care.

Why it’s important to limit distractions during online and in-person meetings

Have you ever found yourself distracted by someone’s virtual background, be it a cluttered kitchen or an unmade bed, to the point where their words become a distant murmur? It’s a common experience in the era of virtual meetings, and it highlights the importance of creating a focused environment for effective communication.

I’ve found one of the biggest distractions to be digital backgrounds. You’re an expert in your field, but when you put up that digital background, your hand goes missing… you lose your ear and chunks of your hair. I passionately protect our clients by begging them not to use filters, company logos, or pictures from their vacations as their background. I don’t want them to look foolish when a body part goes missing. In TV, an entire crew ensures the meteorologist is “keyed” correctly on the green screen. That’s how it’s pulled off so beautifully in the news. You don’t have that crew lighting you and ensuring your entire head is there. Just skip it and have an uncluttered background. Go simple.

Losing a body part because of a digital background is a big appearance blunder. One study I came across revealed a staggering 83% of people believe appearance blunders detract from a woman’s presence, while 76% feel the same about a man’s.

Audio distractions are also issues. A tequila company contacted me,
wondering why their national radio interview wasn’t helping them sell their product. As soon as I listened to it, I knew. Their big-name NHL star spokesman talked while walking through a bustling downtown with sirens blaring and cars honking. His phone notifications were also going off! His message was lost, and the audience was left completely distracted.

Years ago, I saw another big miss. This one stuck with me so much that I still use it as an example. A mayor was on Good Morning America touting her city’s accomplishments. However, her distracting rings clashing against a coffee mug overshadowed the positive message she was conveying. The lesson here is clear — eliminate distractions to ensure your audience remains focused on your message, allowing them to remember and appreciate the meaningful content you deliver.

Mastering the art of distraction-free communication involves being mindful of your virtual environment, maintaining a professional appearance, and eliminating potential disruptions. As you navigate the virtual realm, these principles are key for leaving a lasting impression on your audience.