Archive for the ‘Stage Fright’ Category

Avoiding Onboarding Obstacles: Ramp Up Success Quickly

Posted on: October 17th, 2016 | by tmpadmin

Avoiding Onboarding Obstacles

Ramp Up Success Quickly

Learn the secrets of high-functioning organizations

Date: Thursday, November 10, 2016
Time: Noon – 1:00PM (EDT)

New performers launch without skills and performance lags. Managers time gets hijacked and isn’t well leveraged. New team members are unintentionally set up to fail. There is limited visibility to Individual potential. Little alignment exists between participant start date and training cycle. Results vary by location and manager. Successful onboarding learning isn’t leveraged for future candidates.

Join us for this fast moving and highly informative workshop that will help you jumpstart results from new performers.

This workshop will help you improve your new team member:

  • Selection
  • Training
  • Measurement
  • Accountability
  • Continual development

Eliminate the frustrations and costs of ineffective onboarding. Join us on Thursday, November 10 for this groundbreaking webinar.

Space is limited. Enroll today.

Practice, It’s Not Just for Olympians

Posted on: August 15th, 2016 | by tmpadmin

Lavern practice

With the Olympics in “full on” mode at the moment, a post about practice seems like a perfect topic. Bobby Knight, the one-time Olympic basketball coach from Indiana University said “The key is not the “will to win” . . . everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.”

Imagine if your professionals, students or entrepreneurs could execute their communication like a gold medal winning Olympic athlete competes in their event. How much better would your team perform? Imagine if they could articulate a podium worthy value proposition, class presentation or venture pitch. Imagine if they could connect with the audience and compel them to action. Would they sell more? Would they get better grades or a better career path? Would they raise more money?

Indeed champion athletes and award-winning performance artists embrace volumes of focused practice to assure peak performance. While the numbers vary considerably by sport and art form, athletes and performing artists practice somewhere between 2-50 times more than they play in actual games or perform shows. They train physically and mentally, they do dress rehearsals and walkthroughs and they focus on specific skills some days and the entire game or performance others.

Practice is safe and collegial. Practice might also be competitive to replicate a game environment or opening night performance. The championship is not won in practice, but it can be lost by how we practice. Practice helps individuals evolve from conscious competence to unconscious competence. The best practices see performers stretching beyond their current skill set to manifest higher levels of ability.

Watch this brief video where Michael Jordan shares his thoughts on the importance of practice.

Athletes and artists who don’t practice, don’t play. Practices are mandatory and integrated into the performance process. Practice is not only a base requirement, it is essential to maintaining and evolving skills. The emphasis on practice doesn’t stop when athletes and performers move from junior levels to the Olympics or professional ranks. In fact, practices get longer, harder and more sophisticated as performers mature towards their peak. Specialized coaches, trainers and consultants are hired to maximize performance at the top levels.

So here are a couple of challenge questions, if your team isn’t prepared and communicating at a gold medal level:

  • What’s your team’s practice to performance ratio? Remember top athletes and artists practice 2 to 50 times more than they play and perform.
  • Do you have a method to diagnose each individual’s skill and performance gaps? Left to our own devices, most of us will practice our strengths and ignore our weaknesses. Identifying and overcoming deficiencies is where major performance leaps occur.
  • Are you providing good benchmarks and references? While each individual understanding their performance and growth opportunities is important, this information is abstract. Seeing their performance in comparison to peers and past performers creates even better reference points. Sometimes it is hard to improve until you know what better looks like.

As Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Greatness then is not an act, but a habit”.

Test My Pitch – Private communication skill development platform. Think Toastmasters online. Engage, empower and accelerate your communities communication confidence and competence.

Ask us how we can help you improve your team’s success through practice. Email or call Bill Kenney today at or +1 (860) 573-4821.

Listening Skill Development Exercises to Improve Communication Skills – Part I

Posted on: December 16th, 2015 | by tmpadmin

These listening skill development exercises are compiled from:

6 Listening Skills Exercises To Promote Stronger Communication
content courtesy of the Udemy Blog. Article written by C. Paris

The act of listening is not the same as hearing. When someone is communicating with you, they want to feel like they’re talking to you, rather than at you, and that can only be done with a set of good listening skills and an understanding of the principles of effective communication in general.

Learn how to become an empathetic, attentive, and active listener with the listening skills exercises listed below. You can also review this guide on the numerous components of the listening process for reference.

A Game of Telephone

Telephone might be considered a child’s game, but it’s actually a very useful exercise in communication that those working to improve their own or their team’s listening skills can benefit from greatly. The rules are simple, but altered slightly to shed additional light on the importance of active listening, and how information can become distorted as a result of laziness, inattentiveness, and passivity… all enemies of effective communication.

To start the game, participants should stand in a line, or a circle. One person begins the game by whispering a sentence to the person after them. This sentence should be prepared beforehand, by someone moderating the game, but it should only be known to the person starting the game. The person who received the messages should then whisper it to the person after them, and so on.

By the time it gets to the final person in the group, they should say the message aloud. The first person will read the sentence they were given, and participants can note how much the two have changed. It’s very unlikely, especially in large groups, that the message has not been altered at least a little bit.

The additional rule teams can add to make this exercise more lucid is for each participant to keep a small note card. After they hear the message – not during, but after – they should write down what they heard, and read it to the person next to them. This way, any slight change in the message is down on paper, and the group moderator can post these note cards up in front of the room. Then, the team can study how subtle changes in word use, slight additions or eliminations, can significantly alter the meaning of any message.

Selective Listening

Selective listening is the act of hearing and interpreting only parts of a message that seem relevant to you, while ignoring or devaluing the rest. Often, selective listeners will form arguments before they’ve heard the full story, making them not only poor listeners, but poor speakers too!

To confront this in a group environment, one moderator should compose a list of objects or ideas, all similar in theme. For example: turkey, lettuce, tomato, mayo, mustard, cheese, etc. These are all sandwich components, and most people will recognize this. The list should be relatively long, maybe 15 to 20 words, and have some repeated words. For example: turkey, lettuce, tomato, mayo, mustard, cheese, ham, lettuce, pickles, onion, olives, lettuce…

The moderator should read this list to the group, and then allot them 30 seconds to write down as many words as they can remember. Most people will remember the word that was repeated the most, and a notable amount will most likely write down words that were obvious, but not actually stated in the list. For example: bread, sandwich, or food.

Group Storytelling

A good listener should be able to view a discussion as a whole, and not just its most immediate parts. The group storytelling activity is a fun, potentially silly, but incredibly valuable exercise in active listening and comprehension.

This activity should have one group moderator, who will deliver the story’s first line. It should be something simple, and open for many possible continuations, such as, “So the other day, I went to the store.”

Each participant in the group is responsible for making up their own contribution to the story, a single sentence that logically continues from the last. Meanwhile, the group moderator should be keeping track of the story on a computer or in a notepad, checking each addition for possible continuity errors.

Most of the time, there will be a few additions that contradict previous parts of the story. The moderator should hold out on identifying these until the full story has been written, and can be read aloud to the group. Then, the group can discuss how these mistakes were made, and what sorts of listening skills they should practice to ensure important information is never forgotten.

Additional Listening Skills Exercises

Here are more listening skills exercises that should help you and your team develop the listening skills they need for effective communication. Don’t forget to follow up each exercise with a discussion! Check out this communications guide for some talking points.

  • Read a short story, and have participants paraphrase. This activity is a study in how team members choose to interpret and prioritize certain information over others.
  • Pair up participants, and have one person discuss a hobby or passion of theirs, while the other person is instructed to ignore them. Discuss the frustration that can come with not feeling heard or acknowledged, and review good body language and verbal remarks a good listener should practice.
  • In pairs, one participant discusses a type of location they’d like to visit, giving only subtle hints as to the specific place. The listener will have to pick up on these subtleties and at the end, recommend somewhere suitable for the speaker based on their explanation. The original speaker will confirm or deny the usefulness of the suggestion, and the two will then discuss ways people can stay alert, as a listener, and pick up on the appropriate cues to help them play a more vital role in discussions.

Program: Standout in 30-Seconds

Posted on: December 3rd, 2015 | by Bill Kenney

Standout in 30-Seconds
Help your team connect at every opportunity
Make high impact elevator pitches and self-introductions

Do members of your team get nervous, bobble their words or struggle to clearly articulate your message and value proposition?

Connecting quickly with an important individual or audience can make all the difference in whether or not you gain next steps. Capturing attention and compelling action takes effort and practice.

Learn, Practice and Perform

Sign up for the Test My Pitch, Standout in 30-Seconds program and you and your team will get:

2 x 1-hour workshops (delivered live online)

  1. Introduction to Standing Out
    • getting started
    • Shocked546x480creating a script
    • delivery techniques
  2. Advanced Standing Out
    • assessing the audience
    • developing a hook
    • closing with confidence

3-rounds of formalized practice and feedback with our expert mentors plus 3-months of use of the Test My Pitch platform for each team member to practice, perform and get peer feedback on their elevator pitch or self-introduction…this is unlimited practice and unlimited feedback!

Though our Learn, Practice and Perform method, skills improve quickly and affordably. Owners and managers also get unexpected insights into their team’s ability.

Reserve your spot and sign up today!

Options for Standout in 30-Seconds

Elevator Pitch – is a succinct and persuasive sales statement typically aimed at closing for a sale, investment or a meeting.
 Select team size

Self-Introduction – is a brief personal presentation of capabilities aimed at creating collaboration and building relations.
 Select team size

Feel free to call/email with any questions or individual needs
+1 (860) 573-4821 or

Subject to the standard Test My Pitch Term of Use.
Test My Pitch is a product of Test My Pitch, LLC

Test My Pitch Use for the “Standout in 30-Seconds” Program

Posted on: December 2nd, 2015 | by Bill Kenney

The intent of this post is to describe the use of the Test My Pitch platform for customers who subscribe to the Standout in 30-Seconds program.

Test My Pitch is a private communication skill development platform. Think Toastmasters online. We engage, empower and accelerate your communities communication confidence and competence.

Specific to the Standout in 30-Seconds program we will provide each team with their own private Test My Pitch community for 3-months. Your team will be able build their skills privately and collegially. Through a customized template process each member will have the ability draft, post and get feedback on their elevator pitch or self-introduction. Whether they struggle to find the right words or deliver them in a compelling way, the use of Test My Pitch will help build their skills and confidence quickly.

Besides the ability to have peer and manager feedback our team of experts will also offer feedback. Communication skills build with practice, so we strongly encourage that your team create and post as much as they want. There is no limit to how much they can post or how much feedback we’ll give.

Please let us know if you have questions on Test My Pitch or you’d like a demonstration. Feel free to contact Bill Kenney at +1 (860)573-4821 or

Click here to go back to the Standout in 30-Seconds program information.

Role-Play that Rock

Posted on: November 21st, 2015 | by tmpadmin

Sell More ● Close More ● Serve Better
Learn how to prepare your team to communicate effectively

Date: Friday, November 20, 2015
Time: Noon – 1:00PM (EST)
This is a webinar. Watch it here.

Need to help your team improve their:

  • Elevator pitch?
  • Cold call scripting?
  • Value proposition delivery?
  • Networking self-introduction?
  • Team member onboarding speed and competence?
  • Customer discovery and need assessment conversations?

Join us for this fast moving and highly informative workshop that will help you quickly improve your team’s communication skills.

Role-playing is one of the most common forms of learning and skill development. Athletes physically and mentally practice their sports, parents practice situational responses with their children and performance artists do weeks and sometimes months of script readings, practice sessions and then dress rehearsals before they see an audience. Likewise, effective professionals perform at their best with practice. This session will highlight stumbling blocks and reveal the current best practices for building your team’s communication competence and confidence.

In this workshop we’ll:

  • Identify the common challenges to communication skill building
  • Learn techniques and systems that will help your team evolve quickly
  • Explore the do’s and don’t of role-playing
  • Create the remedies that are right for your system
  • Learn what to prioritize and how to do it

Over the last two years our team has been visiting, interviewing and serving universities, entrepreneurship ecosystems and large employers all around the world. We’ve been to more than 250 pitch events and demo days in that time. We’ve also worked with sales organizations to engage and build sales team effectiveness. We’d like to share with you some of the learning and best practices that we are gaining through this experience.

Join us for this action packed and interactive session.
We limit these webinars to 50 participants. Register now to reserve your spot.

5 Things that You Can Learn About Pitching from Elon Musk

Posted on: July 15th, 2015 | by tmpadmin

Article courtesy of Andy Raskin @araskin.

What I Sent Zack

What I sent Zack was a link to Elon Musk’s presentation for the Telsa Powerwall (the full video is at the bottom of this post). I also included a version of the points I’ll share below.
Musk’s delivery isn’t stellar. He’s self-conscious and fidgety. But at the end, his audience cheers. For a battery.

That’s because Musk does five things right that you should emulate in every pitch you ever make to anybody. And you should do them in this order:

#1: Name the enemy

Never start a pitch by talking about yourself, your team, your product, or your total addressable market. Instead, start by naming the thing that’s getting in the way of your customer’s happiness. Do that by painting an emotionally resonant picture of how the world currently sucks for your customer, who/what is to blame, and why. When Musk shows this image of burning fossil fuels, you can practically hear Darth Vader’s ominous breath.

#2: Answer “Why now?”

Audiences — particularly investors — are skeptical. They’re thinking, “People have lived this way for a long time — are they really going to change now?” Musk handles this objection by showing that we’re at a critical point in the growth of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration; if we don’t act now, things quickly get much, much worse. When Musk says, “We should collectively do something about this,” his audience howls in support.

#3: Show the promised land before explaining how you’ll get there

Before saying anything about batteries, Musk describes his version of happily-ever-after: a civilization powered by “this handy fusion reactor in the sky, called the Sun.” Showing the enemy’s defeat before explaining how you’ll make it happen can feel wrong for novice presenters — like blurting out the punchline before you’ve told a joke. But when an audience knows where you’re headed, they’re much more likely to buckle in for the ride.

#4: Identify obstacles—then explain how you’ll overcome them

Now that you’ve shared your vision of the future, (a) lay out the obstacles to achieving it and (b) show how your company/product/service will overcome each one. (There had better be some big, nasty obstacles — otherwise who needs what you’re selling?)

Musk addresses three obstacles to a solar-powered world:

(i) The amount of energy produced by solar panels varies throughout the day and night (thus the need for batteries):

(ii) Most people think the land area required for batteries to store enough energy to rid U.S. of fossil fuels would be really huge (but according to Musk, it’s that tiny red dot in Texas):

(iii) Currently available batteries suck in seven specific ways:

By this point, Musk’s audience is practically salivating for the Powerwall product video, which will explain how Powerwall does not suck in each of those seven ways. But make no mistake: the fancy graphics and dramatic music only work because Musk has set up the Powerwall not as a battery, but as the salvation of mankind.

#5: Present evidence that you’re not just blowing hot air

Again: audiences are skeptical. So you must give them evidence that the future you’ve laid out is, indeed, attainable. Musk does that by letting his audience in on a secret: Powerwall batteries have been supplying the energy for the auditorium in which he’s speaking. (As proof, he zooms in on the meter above, which registers zero power from the grid). For early- stage companies and products, demos like this can serve as evidence, though results from early (or beta) customers are more compelling. Least persuasive— but better than nothing — are testimonials from potential customers explaining why they would buy.

Watch Elon Musk pitch the Powerwall.

See the original article.

How Speaking in Public Made Me a Better Entrepreneur

Posted on: June 8th, 2015 | by tmpadmin

Courtesy of AlleyWatch

Facing your fears means becoming a better leader.

Ever since I found my purpose in life, I like to tell many folks that I feel like Superman. As soon as my eyes open every morning, an extreme sense of urgency overcomes my body to get up, own the day and make things happen.

But as you all know, even Superman has his weakness.

Public speaking has been my kryptonite for a very long time now. The first time I ever spoke in public, I suffered a severe anxiety attack. It was an awful experience and something that stuck in the back of my mind ever since. I also believed that public speaking was the main thing holding me and our company back from reaching our full potential.

The opportunity to overcome this fear came when I received a cold call one morning from the president of the Alabama Real Estate Association. He invited me to come and share the story of how I started my company, Ohio Cashflow. My mind started racing. I did my best to spit out a response, “Well, I am not a public speaker. I can be very raw and rude sometimes.”

None of it worked. I reluctantly accepted the invitation and thought that I would have to make up an excuse, as I had three months until the event to plan one. As the event started getting closer and closer, my mind started to race and play tricks on me. The thought of public speaking haunted me every evening as I tried to go to sleep.

Embrace a Mindset Shift

One day, I decided that I’d had enough. I made a decision that I had to go for it. As soon as I made the mindset shift, I quickly gathered the team and we started putting the pieces of the puzzle together in preparation for the speaking engagement. We composed an awesome presentation along with our branded company brochures and fliers. We planned every little detail extremely well, with two rehearsals beforehand. I had someone stand next to me to kick-start the presentation with a question just in case my mind went blank and I froze on stage (a similar thing happened when I had the anxiety attack).

Around 20 minutes before I took stage, I started feeling very lightheaded and anxious. I asked one of my team members to get me a glass full of ice. For whatever reason, crunching the ice with my teeth gave me a soothing feeling and made me completely relaxed. As soon as I hit the stage, it all just fell away and everything felt completely natural — from my tonality to hand gestures and even throwing in jokes to make the audience laugh.

We really rocked the house. Everyone seemed amazed with my story and related to many things I spoke about. Afterwards, we received a ton of praise, and people were even lining up to shake our hands and speak to us. I do recall looking into the crowd and receiving some weird looks like, “Who do you think you are with that back to front yellow cap and weird accent?” Taking my eye off those characters and solely focusing on someone positively acknowledging and smiling kept me on track. All in all, it was a fantastic experience and one that I am looking forward to doing many more times in the future.

Face Your Fears and Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

In business and entrepreneurship, educate yourself as much as possible on becoming a market expert. Surround yourself with key people who are smarter than you and who will always have your best interest at heart. This will minimize your risk as well as your fear of making mistakes and losing money. Don’t forget that business is easy — it’s working with the wrong people that can make it difficult. The magic truly happens when you get out of your comfort zone and stand up to pain and fear. You must be willing to acknowledge that every experience is a good experience as long as you perceive it that way. Accept failure if it does occur, re-asses and keep moving forward.

It’s the last 1-2 repetitions at the gym that grow the most muscle and the last 1-2 miles when running that improve your fitness. No pain equals no gain. The most powerful inspirations and ideas come to me when everyone has long left the office and I am in the 12th hour of a grueling day by myself with all the time in the world left to think and create. Eliminate all negativity and focus your energy on always being positive, growing yourself and your business.

Read the article on AlleyWatch

Featured Webinars

Posted on: February 8th, 2015 | by tmpadmin

Come back often.
New webinars will be added monthly.

5 Reasons Why Your Training is Failing…and what to do about it

Building Community: How to Diversify Beyond the Usual Suspects

Business Plan Competitions are Broken…and What to Do About It

Criteria Conundrum: Developing Your Ultimate Pitch Evaluation Rubric

Feedback Failures: Where Feedback Goes Off Track…and How to Correct It!

Huh, What’d They Just Say?

Judging Nightmares…Make your judging reliable and informative!

Listening: The Secret to Powerful Communication

Make Your Pitch Event Kick-Ass

Measuring Impact: 7.5 Questions with Brian Barge from The Evidence Network

Mentee Mayhem

Mentor Magic: Overcome the Biggest Mentor Program Challenges!

Performance Paradox: How to Drive Results While Conserving Resources

Role-Plays that Rock

Stale and Underrepresented: Reinvigorate Your Community (note: Due to a technical snafu, the slides will not appear until the 4:50 mark. The audio should be good though)

The Millennial Paradox

When a Negative is a Positive: Making Feedback Effective


See the full library on our YouTube channel

Are You Willing to do Your Worst One Ever?

Posted on: June 10th, 2013 | by tmpadmin

The thought of public speaking makes most of us very anxious. This form of performance anxiety affects not only the new communicator but also many seasoned professionals.

In his blog today, marketing guru Seth Godin revealed that he, like most of us, has had his challenges with public speaking.

We’re not alone, entertainers such as Julia and Eric Roberts, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson and Anthony Quinn along with athletes like Tiger Woods and musicians such as Bono, Barbara Streisand, Van Morrison and Elvis Presley and historic figures like Margaret Thatcher, John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill, King George VI, Thomas Jefferson, Sir Isaac Newton and Aristotle have all had trouble speaking in public.

Mark Twain who made made most of his income from speaking, not writing, said, “There are two types of speakers: those that are nervous and those that are liars.”

Seth Godin closed his blog post by saying that, “if you’re not willing to get your ‘worst one ever’ out of the way, how will you possibly do better than that?” That’s great wisdom!

Test My Pitch is a collegial environment for entrepreneurs and professionals to draft and get feedback on their business idea pitches and self introductions. Come and join us, it’s FREE.