man with public speaking fear

I’m Greek, so please indulge me. In the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the father plays a game where he takes a word and shows how it is rooted in the Greek language. Here’s my Greek lesson for you.

Glossophobia comes from the Greek glōssa, meaning tongue, and phobos which means fear. Public speaking fear is real and very common. In fact, it is the single most common phobia outweighing the fear of dying.  About 27 million Americans are afraid to get up and speak.

Over the years I have seen countless people get up to present and freeze, get so nervous that they shake or sweat as if they just ran a marathon. This physical response keeps some from sharing their great work, offering new ideas or contributing to their organization. The good news is that you can reduce and manage this fear. The bad news? It takes some work, but it is worth it.

As a society, we tend to believe people who are great presenters- even if the content is flawed or wrong. We also discount people who appear timid or downright scared. In the workplace, the importance of public speaking is often overlooked. People blame their lack of progress on not being in the right department, having the right background, connections or the lack of seniority. That may be the case, but don’t underestimate the importance of communication and effective public speaking skills.

According to Magnetic Speaking, “the fear of public speaking has 10% impairment on your wages & 15% impairment on your promotion.”  Being able to demonstrate knowledge by standing up and speaking out can be the differentiator in your career. As a public speaking coach, I cannot help you overcome the fear of presenting to a group of people in a blog. I can give you a few quick tips to get you started.

Work the Room

It goes without saying that you need to be prepared if you want to stand up in front of an audience and be an effective public speaker. The day of the presentation, arrive early and “work the room.”  Think about what you do at a social gathering. You mingle, meet new people, and greet those you know. Doing this gives you a feel for the room. It also shows people you care about them. Audiences are much nicer and less critical of people they know and like. So, don’t think your presentation begins when you start to speak. It starts when you enter the room.

Stack the Room

This is a little trick that works every time. If you know people who are attending your presentation, enlist their support. Ask 2- 3 people to position themselves in different areas of the room.  Tell them to smile at you! Now you have friendly faces to look at and it will help disperse your eye contact, so you are speaking to the entire room. This little confidence builder is a crutch to get you through until you feel more comfortable.

Own the Room

When you present, the room is your stage and you need to own it. You must take command, and there are a couple of ways to do that. First, don’t stay planted behind a podium. If you need to start there, that’s fine. Then move to the side, while still resting your hand on the podium for support. Walk. Pick a couple of spots in advance and move there with conviction. Stop and continue your speech. Then move to another spot. The mere act of moving tends to loosen people up and make them more comfortable. It goes without saying, don’t walk in front of projectors or screens, if possible.

There is no doubt public speaking is difficult. In fact, it is a lost art for some in a technology-focused world, but the importance of public speaking cannot be denied. Want a promotion? Want your ideas to be implemented? Want to help your employees develop better communication skills?

As a professional presenter and public speaking coach, I have worked one-on-one with individuals from CEOs of major corporations to small groups of employees. Not everyone can be a superstar performer… but everyone can improve, and I can help you get results. To read more about my services or chat about a custom program click here.


Public Speaking, Presentation Skills & Media Training
woman owned small business supplier of the year

We are honored and grateful to have been named the “Woman Owned Small Business Supplier of the Year” for 2018 from Siemens. We are very appreciative of the friends we have made through the years and are proud of the work we have done with this innovative organization.


Here is a “thank you” video we created for the Siemens Supplier Awards event for earning this incredible award.



Public Speaking, Presentation Skills & Media Training

This is the fourth blog in a series that will help you start or rethink your video strategy: Video Is Expensive! Or Is It? 

Video production is expensive—I hear that a lot, often from those who are paying too much. There’s this perception that paying more is the only way to get better quality, but that simply isn’t the case. So, how do you know what is reasonable?  

There was a time when video cost a predictable $1,000 per minute to produce, but the traditional formula simply doesn’t apply anymore. Instead, the price will depend on what kind of video project you want. The important thing to remember is that the low-cost approach can be just as high-quality, if it is the right approach for that project.

For example, if you want a production company to concept a video, then you should expect to pay a producer’s fee. The producer will use the information you provide (or interview experts) to develop messaging and content for you. Then they will give you different approaches or treatments. If you are not prepared to act as your own producer, hiring the right one will be the key to getting your project off the ground. Fees vary, so you can shop around before hiring someone. You can also head into the process with a rough budget that can help inform your choice of treatments. Don’t let an excited producer talk you into something you don’t need and can’t afford!

How much is too much? Again, that depends on your needs. For interviews and office/retail locations, a site survey is usually wasted money. However, a site survey for manufacturing sites, customer case studies, or unique settings can actually lower your costs. The survey helps the location prepare for the visit and helps the producer find the most efficient way to schedule the shoot. I have seen crews sit for hours because they arrived at a break time or when a facility was not busy enough to show well. Time is money.

When it comes to the actual production, there are some easy ways to figure costs. How many locations? How many people will be interviewed? How much additional b-roll will you need, and how easy is it to maneuver through a facility? Will you need actors onsite or use real employees or customers?  One camera or two?

The size of the crew should be determined by the complexity of the shoot. If it is a simple interview with additional b-roll, you do not need “Hollywood.”  More people can simply mean more disruption and unnecessary cost. I’ve seen people pay $25,000 day for productions with a crew of more than ten. A typical video case study can be accomplished with just two to three experienced production people. You can imagine the difference in cost.

Once the shoot is complete, you move to post-production, including editing and graphics. Lots of special effects will add a lot of sizzle—but do you need that sizzle? Maybe you do, and we can do it for you! But if the added cost isn’t going to bring you extra sales, go for a cleaner, simpler look.

The important point is there is no one right budget number that works for all projects. More money doesn’t lead to better results if you’re paying for things you don’t need. I like to say that I can give you the Mercedes of video production—but if what you need is a Kia, I’d rather give you a Kia, on a Kia budget. I’ll help you determine what you need for your project, and I’ll give you a very well-made Kia, if that’s what you want!


Need help with video production? I run a video production company. Let’s chat.

Public Speaking, Presentation Skills & Media Training

This is the third blog in a series that will help you start or rethink your video strategy: Lights. Camera. Action. Is Your Media Production Company the Right Fit?

When it comes to trusted resources, you might think about your attorney, accountant or financial planner. You probably don’t think about your media production company–but perhaps you should. After all, when you create different types of digital communications, they represent you and your organization. You should not trust just anyone with a valuable asset and that is what your brand is–an asset!

What should you look for in a media production company? How do you know if there is a good fit? Can the company produce something that gets your message across creatively and with great quality?

No production company will have a sample that is exactly what you are looking to create. However, it should have a body of work that you can review. Watch the samples. Do you like what you see? I believe it’s important that there is variety. Sometimes every video or graphic sample has the same treatment, the same look and feel, the same overused content. You want a company that understands what is unique about your organization and captures it. You do not want to look like everyone else.

While media production is creative, you want a source that has a very clearly defined production process. The company should be able to explain the various steps for discovery and content development, specific milestones, and signoffs. They also should ask you how and when you want to be involved. Some clients prefer to set direction and let go. Others want to be present for shoots and during editing.

Ask about the team who will be assigned to your project? Are they on-staff or freelance talent? Can you meet them in advance?

Budgeting can be tricky. At my company, creative projects are budgeted by the project and we provide ranges for the product to be delivered. These take into account the complexity of the project, the number of shoot days, need for professional talent, editing, graphics, etc. Remember, you are in charge. I like to say, “I can make you a Kia or a Mercedes–you get to choose what you need.” Still, many have trouble understanding how the budget translates to the level of production. Don’t expect Hollywood blockbuster effects on a home movie budget. Have the production company show you projects in different budget ranges, so you understand what you are getting.

Ask if you will be able to see the progress of the video. Does the video company have an online system that allows you to see and comment right on the video? This can make the process much easier and communication more accurate.

Finally, how will the video company archive your raw video and finished project? This is an important point. Video is an asset and once you collect it, you need to make sure it is properly archived. Then you can use it in the future. It will also make changes easier and new projects less expensive. We often leverage video that we have shot for clients for years.

The most important aspect of a relationship with a media company is trust. Choose someone you trust with your brand and who will work for you whether it is a simple short social media video or a highly-produced, important campaign.

Need help with video production? I run a video production company. Let’s chat.

Public Speaking, Presentation Skills & Media Training


The National Small Business Association (NSBA). This is one of my favorite organizations. I’m obviously passionate about the NSBA–I talk about it, a lot.

I came from a small business family. I run a small business. And the NSBA advocates for small businesses.

Small business owners know how hard it is to keep up with the day to day tasks. And with so many government regulations, an organization like the NSBA is needed for small business owners all over the country.

If you are a small business owner, the National Small Business Association has your back!

Public Speaking, Presentation Skills & Media Training

This is the second blog in a series that will help you start or rethink your video strategy: Do It Yourself Video… Good Idea or Not?

I know what you are thinking.

“I can create my own video. I have my smartphone and the camera is great. I can download free software for the edit. There are graphics and images on Google. How hard can it be? After all, I saw that video on YouTube where they made that cool expensive car commercial with just an iPhone.”

Yes. Your phone camera is pretty good. You can download free software and find graphics.

Now the reality about do it yourself video…

That cool car commercial? They built a whole lot of custom mounts and accessories to get that video. The iPhone was simply the recording device. And the editors–they were experts. Chances are you can’t make something that cool. No offense.

If you think I am discouraging you from making your own video, you are wrong. I actually think there are many instances where you can produce video.

For example, if the production is relatively simple–one location, one person at a time with minimal graphics then it is worth a try. Make sure you have a good camera- usually a digital SLR that shoots stills and video. Please use a tripod, unless you want people to get motion sickness watching your shaky video. The biggest issues are framing, lighting, and audio.

Framing the perfect shot is an art–enough said. Without professional lights, you will need to take advantage of available light. Audio is an issue with smartphones. You must be very close to the speaker or invest in an external microphone. Room noise or wild sound from a location can also be an issue, so you need to find a quiet place. A great resource for creating digital content is Wiley Publishing’s Digital Video for Dummies.

But professional videographer work is expensive…

Sometimes it is not practical or cost-effective to send a professional videographer around the country to capture short soundbites or location shots. When that is the case, we often coach our clients about how to shoot the video and have them send it to us to edit. This can be a nice compromise if the raw video is acceptable. Then we can dress it up in post-production.

When the project is important, highly visible, and it must capture attention, you need to call in the experts.

What can video production professionals do for you?

On simple projects, professionals know how to get the best interviews and coach on-camera interviewees.

On more complicated ones, video professionals understand how to capture movement and get a variety of shots in a short period of time.

In the edit room, professionals can take hours of video interviews and pull the best bites–get rid of all the stumbles and montage clips to tell a compelling story. They color correct scenes and add the sizzle of motion graphics. In short, video pros make everything look much better than it did in real life.

There are lots of decisions to make when it comes to production. In the next blog, I will tackle the question about how to vet a production company, questions to ask and how to create a relationship that can last.

Need help with video production? I run a video production company. Let’s chat.

Public Speaking, Presentation Skills & Media Training

This is the first blog in a series that will help you start or rethink your video strategy: Think You Need a Video?

According to a Cisco Visual Networking Index Forecast for 2016-2021, “It would take an individual more than 5 million years to watch the amount of video that will cross global IP networks each month in 2021. Every second, a million minutes of video content will cross the network by 2021.”

That’s a lot of video and people are watching. On their desktops, smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. But, getting people to watch your video depends on a number of things; the content, the quality, the wow!

With over 35 years of experience and lots of awards for my work (yes, I am bragging a bit), I believe my guidance can get you to start or rethink your video strategy. This is the first in a series of blogs that I hope will bring some clarity.  

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your content suited to video?
  • Should you do it yourself?
  • Should you hire a professional … and at what cost?
  • What kind of shelf-life can I expect … and how do I leverage video assets for future projects?

There is a lot to think about so… 

let’s start with content.

STOP thinking that everything should be a video. (I own a media production company and I did say that.) There is nothing worse than a boring video. For example, lists of healthcare options, calendars of employee events, financial reports. You get the idea. This is content that can easily be read and understood. You don’t need a video.

Great video content is visual and compelling. It’s a story about someone that struggled with a problem or a team that achieved something amazing. It’s a demonstration that captures your attention- why do you think those infomercials get such good results? It’s watching people, or robots make something. It’s the story beyond the financials, how the results were achieved or what went wrong. It can be “talking heads” but only if the people are really interesting, the message is supported by cool graphics, and the camera work draws you into the story.

Look for topics that evoke emotion- a sense of pride about an employee’s work, a feature about a customer that used your product and gushes about it, a video case study that shows how you solved a problem. And, don’t forget to find “wow” stats. These are numbers that impress- you saved a customer X number of dollars, improved productivity by x, helped them serve X more customers.

Do you need a video?

Of course, the reality is that not all the critical information you need to convey appears to be video-worthy. You can take “dry” content and make it interesting. I actually made a video about pallets that was pretty fun and entertaining. But, it takes creativity to make some topics come alive.

I always ask customers why they think they need a video. Sometimes, they do. Other times we discern that there are better ways to get the information to the intended audience. Video is an important tool but it only works if it is well produced and perfectly suited to the audience.

Stay tuned for my next blog where I will share ideas about when to create your own video and when to hire it out.

Need help with video production? I run a video production company. Let’s chat.

Public Speaking, Presentation Skills & Media Training

Extending the Shelf-Life of Trade Shows, Presentations, and Corporate Events

Washington, D.C. – Sept. 17, 2018 – When a client’s employees were honored at a Women in Manufacturing event in Washington, D.C., communications firm Cynthia Kay & Co. produced a feature video to share the celebration within their client’s organization.


Extending the Shelf-Life of Trade Shows, Presentations and Corporate Events

How video can help extend the shelf life of your events!

Public Speaking, Presentation Skills & Media Training

In 2015 I had the opportunity to testify before Congress on the state of entrepreneurship and small business. Here is a guide from my experience for business owners who want to make their voice heard.



I walked in and was immediately struck by the formality of the room, the cameras, and hushed conversation. It was March 2015 and I had arrived in Washington DC to testify on behalf of the National Small Business Association (NSBA) before the House Committee on Small Business. The topic was “Building an Opportunity Economy: The State of Small Business and Entrepreneurship.” At the time, I was the Vice Chair of Advocacy for the NSBA.

It was, to say the least, an interesting experience. I routinely speak to large audiences, so this one was a small group by comparison. But it was, I feel, one of my most important presentations to this day.

Here’s a little inside look at what it was like to testify before Congress:

  • Before you testify on the Hill you must submit written testimony. Mine was a combination of information gleaned from a survey by the NSBA about the state of small business but also my personal experience as a business owner.
  • On the day of testimony, you are given a time limit… and a big clock that counts down to be sure you do not go over. Once everyone on the panel has spoken, the questions start. Not just about what you have said, but also questions regarding your written testimony which is more in-depth.
  • The panel was diverse, but I was the only small business owner, so it was not surprising that many of the questions came my way. Fortunately, one of the things I teach in presentation training is to have five times more information than you need. It came in handy and I was prepared.

I agreed to do this because I felt it was a chance to make the case for supporting small business with certain legislation. If presented with the opportunity to testify before Congress – either on the state or federal level, take it. It truly is an honor.

Here are a few tips that might help when testifying before Congress:

  • Be prepared. It can feel a little intimidating, so don’t wait until the last minute to develop your content.
  • You don’t need to be an expert on legislation. You do need to draw on your personal experience as a business owner to tell a story or express an opinion about how a certain issue is impacting your business.
  • Don’t feel that you must answer every question. If you don’t know something just say so. The purpose of testifying is to provide good information. You do not want to say the wrong thing. Stick to what you know.

Not everyone gets the opportunity to provide testimony, but everyone can be sure that their perspective is heard by reaching out to elected officials or through organizations like the National Small Business Association. Every two years they hold the Small Business Congress in Washington DC. This year, there are several opportunities to attend regional events in advance where business owners can weigh-in on their priorities and learn about the issues. As the current Board Chair of the NSBA, I will be traveling to a few them. Then in November, we will gather to “discuss, debate and decide on the small business agenda for the next two years.”

Consider joining me and other business owners from around the country November 14-15 in Washington DC.

Public Speaking, Presentation Skills & Media Training

A cybersecurity breach truly is a unique crisis. Are you prepared?



It’s a communication crisis. But, it is not the same as a fire, natural disaster or production delay.

A cybersecurity breach is a communication crisis that is unique. That’s because when it is discovered you might not know all the facts immediately and it can drag on for a long time. You might not know the extent of the breach, the damage, when it happened, or the recommended course of action. All of this makes it a complicated communication nightmare–not to mention that you have numerous audiences: employees, customers, vendors, investors, and the media.

Here are a few of the facts about cybersecurity:

February 2016, a survey conducted by MIT Technology Review Custom in partnership with FireEye and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Security Services found that “Forty-four percent of the 225 business and IT leaders polled said their organizations didn’t have cybersecurity crisis-communication plans in place; another 15 percent didn’t know whether they had such plans.”

In fact, 60% of small companies that are attacked go out of business in six months.

While many believe that only large high-profile companies are at risk, that is not the case. Smaller companies may be easy targets because they do not have as many safeguards in place or resources to cope with an attack. That makes it imperative that businesses, especially small and medium-sized organizations do not delay in planning.

Here are just a few things to consider.


Identify a team that can assist you. It might include legal counsel, IT professionals, and communication or public relations experts. You may already have these individuals as a part of your outside resources. Be sure you have emergency contact info for these companies in various locations in case you are unable to access your databases. You need to be able to separate this communication from regular/non-emergency communication.

Figure out how you will gather information if systems are crippled. Who will take the lead to communicate information? Some people believe it should be just the CEO that communicates. I think a team approach may be best, but everyone must be on message.

Create a list or a framework for how and what you will communicate. For example, does everyone get the same communication? Consider having a separate website or splash page for emergency situations. It does not need to be complicated but should be designed and tested in advance. If you use social media, that is another way to keep stakeholders informed.

Also, consider what will you say to the media if they come calling? If you are really prepared, you will have media-trained one or two spokespersons. Understand that anything you say to the media can be used in a lawsuit.

When a cybersecurity breach occurs, it is critical that you communicate early and often. This is a situation that may linger, so be prepared. How you handle a cybersecurity breach or other crisis can instill confidence or make a bad situation even worse.


Join me at the Kalamazoo Cybersecurity Panel! For more information on this event click HERE.