5 daily practices that will boost your public speaking confidence at work (start seeing results in a week)

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In the television news world, scripts are key.

In the entrepreneurial, running-my-own-business world, scripts help me manage the day-to-day.

I find them and stow them away like a squirrel saving nuts in my Notion file

I not only came from the television world, where time matters, I also reported business news from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, where ‘words’ constituted ‘full sentences.’

Preferably barked.

So when I started running my own business, guess what I was?


But that didn’t always land well.

A client once said to me, that today, in order to move the needle on her goals, she has to think about how her words ARE RECEIVED by her team and her board.

So here are list of phrases that run the risk of being “TOO DIRECT” and alternatives I deploy so I can be BETTER RECEIVED in business.


1/ “But”

“That is a great writeup, but it’s total sh&*te” (I’ve been watching too much British television)

The word “but” immediately negates all the goodness said before it. Why bother?

Fix: Instead, use “and.”

Its convivial. Inclusive. Additive.

For example, “That is a great writeup and we can tweak a few parts to make it better. I have notes.”


2/ “This might be dumb question, but….”

I hear this phrase daily.

After all, women’s “likeability factor” was our currency before we entered the workforce full bore. Ironically, Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers write in their whitepaper “The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness” that women were less happy after we did.

Nonetheless, the sentence “this might be a dumb question” is already negating her idea before she’s even uttered it. Why diminish any confidence anyone will have in your question.

Fix: Instead, just say your idea. Let it land.

Alternative: Following up on that…..

Alternative: That reminds me of…..


3/ “With all due respect….”

Anytime I start a sentence with “all due respect,” I’m about to say something that probably isn’t going to be so–ahem–respectful. The receiver is already on his/her back haunches, waiting for me to unload the cannon.

Fix: Instead, I take a breath. Walk away if I have to. Excuse myself for a few minutes. But in the end, just say what I have to say. Let it land.


4/ “I’m so busy”

I have a friend whose standard response is this line. It doesn’t matter if it’s a workweek, a working vacation, or a weekend.

“I’m so busy,” is the standard New York response. As if we got off the carrousel for two seconds, we might not survive.

But here’s what’s happening for the person listening to you: They might not bother you because you don’t have time for that “important, door opening request.”

Fix: Instead I say, “I’m working on an important project. Can we plan to reconnect in _____ (July?) or 5:15 p.m.?” This way, I close the loop.


5/ “I’ll try”

I hate this word.

Would you like to write this proposal?

“I’ll try.”

Well, will you or won’t you? You’re not instilling confidence in me that you will follow through.

Fix: Instead, share specifically what is keeping you from writing the proposal. Maybe you aren’t the subject matter expert on this. Maybe you aren’t a great writer and need copy editing.

This way I can get you the resources you need.

One leadership tip

Are you brainstorming for ideas with your team soon?

Since my favorite app Invision is going out of business (sniff), I’m using Card Buddy app. Like Invision, it’s a blank canvas. You can drag around cards, drop in images, and customize the layout, style, and colors.

One public speaking tip

Here are social psychologist Anatol Rapoport’s rules for criticizing something:

  1. You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.”

  2. You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).

  3. You should mention anything you have learned from your target.

  4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

Source: Intuition Pumps And Other Tools for Thinking, by Daniel C. Dennett.

One adventure tip

Well two actually.

We have two spots open on our day sail from Nice to Cannes, France Saturday, June 8th to the underwater eco-museum to snorkel among the art of Jason DeCaires Taylor.

Register here.

I’m hosting my last Mastermind dinner for 6 women before I leave for France for 2 months. Wednesday May 15th.

Sign up here.


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