Getting Over Yourself

March 24, 2016

“Love means never having to say you’re sorry”–Donald? are you there?

Although I’ve never subscribed to that concept (saying you’re sorry to a loved one can make a huge difference), apparently Donald Trump does. Clearly his supporters love him regardless of what he says or does–they may even love him, in part, because he doesn’t apologize. And, it’s obvious that he is committed to standing by what he says and never apologizing. We’ll know after the election if that was a good overall strategy.

However it works out for him, I don’t recommend that you emulate this model.

There are, of course, people who apologize for everything all the time and it’s annoying. Apologizing inappropriately just draws attention and not admiration. Definitely not a leadership quality.

Yet, there is a time when apologizing gets you more credibility–with your family, your co-workers, your boss, your employees. If when you are wrong, you acknowledge it, own it, and move on–with no sense of shame or loss of credibility, you’ll get more credit and more cooperation.



October 16, 2015

3 ways to get yourself out of the way when you’re speaking

As far as I can tell, whenever you’re nervous you’re thinking about yourself. It stands to reason, then, that if you can stop thinking about yourself–get out of your own way–that you and the audience are going to be happier. So, here are some tips on how to do that.

1. Don’t wait until you’re in front of an audience to practice noticing where other people are focused. It’s not on you, because they’re way too busy thinking about themselves. Where they’re going; what they need to know; how far behind they are in their schedules. When you’re not in front of a group it’s easier to observe that they’re not focusing on you. And you’ll find it fairly easy to begin putting it into practice when you’re up in front.

2. When you organize your talk, build everything around outcomes and information that is relevant to those specific people you’re talking to. Why they would care, how they can incorporate it into their work or lives. It’s much easier to get out of the way when you realize everything you’re saying matters to them. So, take the time to be sure it does.

3. When you’re delivering your message, look at individuals–one by one–as you have a conversation with them. Stay focused on how this is helping them and watch their faces to see that they’re tracking with you. Most people like helping others. That’s what you’re doing. Keep that uppermost in your mind and there won’t be room for you to fuss about yourself.

Happy you. Happy audience.

May 20, 2014

Jill Abramson’s brilliant speech at Wake Forest

Filed under: Observations — Barbara Rocha @ 9:43 am
Tags: , , ,

I’d say it was brilliant for several reasons:

1. She wasn’t whiny or defensive. If any sense of being personally wronged had come through, it would have been uncomfortable for everyone and also given critics a chance to say, “Gotcha.”

2. She included her family–her sister and her dad. Telling something about yourself helps people relate to you and it showed family solidarity and values. Plus, it provided insight into her perspective on growth and life, and  acted as a transition to including  her audience. Applying the lesson to their own challenges.

3. By using her own story, she made it easier for them to get it. Generalities aren’t nearly as convincing.

4. She artfully used the word “dumped.” As in, “we’ve all been dumped.” Dumped is an emotionally charged word that grabbed the audience. And, while many probably have been dumped in the context of personal relationships, she didn’t use that as one of her examples. She stuck with business examples. It would have taken the speech off track to have included the personal, and yet the word “dumped” has all those emotional overtones and people could apply their own dumped experiences. Again, making it relevant for everyone, while staying totally on track with encouraging greatness in their lives after graduation.

If she maintains the open, rational, human approach she used on that speech, she’s the winner in this.


For more tips on speaking visit

March 11, 2014

Do you sometimes feel as awkward as you did in high school?

When I was in high school, I was sure everyone was judging me, so I didn’t say “hello” to people in the hall that I didn’t know because I thought they would think, “Who is she and why is she saying ‘hello’ to me?” Ah, yes. Consequently, of course, that makes people think you’re stuck up. When it’s just feeling self-conscious–more concerned with what they think about you than with making somebody else feel good by saying “Hi.”

I blanked out once in front of the student body because I was supposed to announce the name of the song we were going to sing and it just went right out of my head. And it was terrible. The name of the song was “America, the beautiful.” Not that difficult. And I probably remembered it right away, but it sure added to that feeling of hating to be in front of an audience.

So, it’s hard to explain to myself why I voluntarily put myself in an awkward situation. Our Girl Scout had gone to Hawaii (we spent a full year earning the money to do this) and while we were there we learned to do the hula. When Senior Banquet time came around and they asked for volunteers to provide entertainment, I said I’d do the hula! Really! I can’t imagine what possessed me to do that. I could do the hula pretty well. But I forgot the part about I was really uncomfortable about being up in front.

Well, there we were at the banquet. I had on my costume and was feeling pretty shaky. My name was announced and I went to the front–that was okay. But I stood behind the floor mike (rather a restrictive position for dancing in the hopes that they couldn’t really see me behind that microphone. I’m pretty they could. And, I’m pretty sure that I didn’t dance nearly as well as I had in my living room.

It was quite a number of years before I learned how to stop being self-conscious and really got the hang of getting myself out of the way–or getting over myself. That was such a big deal that that’s the name of one of my books as well as my website: “Getting Over Yourself: A Guide to Painless Public Speaking and More.”

It changed my life, and now I do raps for my 30 second introduction at meetings where I’m networking. You can watch a couple of those on YouTube at–PHhjbk

No more hoping the microphone will protect me.

February 13, 2014

How to get your audience to listen to you

We tend to think of ourselves first and then include others. And that doesn’t change when we’re in the audience. So, if you want people to listen, talk
about them. It’s not that hard when you shift your perspective from you to them.

You can usually get to know them ahead of time so you can fit your subject to their interests. And, if you can’t specifically find out who they are, it’s usually fairly easy to determine the area of their interests based on the venue or the occasion of your talk. Then you can think of examples, anecdotes, stories, that make your facts come alive to that group.

If your points can’t be fitted to their interests, you probably shouldn’t be talking to them or change your subject.

If you know everything you’re saying strikes a chord within the audience, you can be sure they’re listening. (And that gives a big boost to your comfort level as well as your energy level.)

August 16, 2013

Stop feeling embarrassed

Filed under: Observations — Barbara Rocha @ 11:11 am
Tags: , , , ,

Almost always giving in to embarrassment is a waste of everyone’s time. And you can be embarrassed about making a mistake, or embarrassed because people are praising you. I repeat, being embarrassed just prolongs the discomfort. Everyone’s.

When you make a mistake, focus on fixing it, rather than on your feeling that you do this way too often. It’s not about you, it’s about turning things around and getting back to the point–whether it’s in a meeting, at a party, or during a presentation.

And when you’ve done a fine job on your speech, your baking, or your performance, it’s still not about you. It’s about the clarity, the joy, or the freedom that you brought to the audience. So, when you graciously say “thank you,” and are grateful they enjoyed it as much as you did, you’ll all be happier.

When you feel embarrassed, you’re making it about you and drawing unneeded attention to yourself and away from the idea you were expressing.

July 2, 2013

Don’t let them see you sweat!

Actually, it’s okay, and better than putting all your energy into trying to cover up your mistakes. We don’t want to look bad–to ourselves or to others. So, when things don’t feel like they’re going well, it’s tempting to pretend there’s no problem and just plow ahead.

It’s easy to feel like we’ll lose credibility if we acknowledge some blip in the presentation (or most of the rest of the time, as well).

Pretending can separate you from your audience because it takes so much effort that you’re no longer connecting with them.

On the other hand, I’ve heard people throw themselves on the mercy of the audience (“I’m really nervous.”) which may or may not work. You may win them to your side but you better have something to say. That alone isn’t enough. They’ll give you the benefit of the doubt as long as you deliver the goods.

Be human, (it’s okay to let them see it), and stay on point. Wandering off mentally to try to fool the audience will do more harm than accepting the problem and getting back on track.


May 6, 2013

Feeling like the stupidest person in the world won’t help

It’s interesting how we can know we’re smart and still feel stupid. Maybe it’s because we know we’re smart that anything that doesn’t measure up to our standards triggers that latent fear of doing or saying something stupid. Nobody likes to be laughed at (when they didn’t mean to be funny) and it can be convenient to make fun of our stupidity before someone else can. (A little aside here: you’re not unique in this. A lot of people in your audience suffer from the same fear.)

It’s a recipe for disaster. Since I tend to focus on speaking as my topic, think of what that does to you as a speaker. You’re never seeing the situation clearly because you’re filtering what’s going on rather than focusing on getting the job done. Anticipating how your stupid side might kick in and ruin everything tarnishes your brilliance and is a stumbling block to reaching your goal in that presentation.

Logically you know you’re not stupid (unless you keep repeating the same mistakes without learning anything), yet you may be allowing this fiction to color situations you could be acing. Get out of the way. Get out of the way. Get out of the way. When you do, you’ll reach your audience successfully.

December 13, 2012

How much time do you spend worrying about an upcoming presentation?

Really. How much? I used to waste a lot of time just fussing, ducking, avoiding, chastising. All wasted. You cut your preparation time in half if you’ll just stop worrying. There are no awards, no Brownie points, no kudos, no money given for worrying.

Either work on the presentation (speech) or don’t. Worrying gives you ulcers and gives you no progress in your preparation.

Worrying about your ability, about the speech, about the audience, just pretty means you’ll put way too much info in that will just be boring. It’s counterproductive having no benefits that I can think of. All time invested should be focused on what the audience needs and how you can best give it to them. None on your failings or inadequacies. If you want to be invisible (have them focused on what you’re saying instead of on you), all your efforts are on helping them not on making yourself look good.

Then, if you can do that, happily you will look good and the audience will be happy.

November 28, 2012

When did “you’re welcome” become “no problem?”

Filed under: Tips — Barbara Rocha @ 10:36 am
Tags: , , ,

Please. Practice saying “you’re welcome.” When I thank someone, it’s sometimes just a social nicety to keep things easy. And when they answer, “no problem” it’s annoying. Because they often haven’t really done anything. And it totally changes the dynamic in almost every situation. I heard my granddaughter say it to someone the other day and I’m pretty sure that what she meant was, “I didn’t really want to be here and do that for you, but don’t lose any sleep over it.”

“No problem” often just puts the other person in a lesser position. I’m sure that many times that person isn’t really thinking — they’re just giving a robotic answer. So, if I had my druthers, I’d rather have a robotic, “you’re welcome.”

And along those same lines, listen when people are being interviewed and the interviewer says, “thank you.” The majority of the time, the person being interviewed also says, “thank you.” I’ve noticed that when they say, “you’re welcome,” I like it better. Now, if they were promoting a book, or in some other way benefited from the interview, perhaps “thank you,” is appropriate. But when their role was to offer their expertise, then “you’re welcome,” seems more appropriate.

But wait, there’s more. A somewhat related topic is whether to say “thank you” when you finish giving a speech. If you’re going to say it, you should have a reason and not just have it be a knee-jerk reaction to finishing or because you don’t have an actual close and want your audience to know you’re through. Those are not good reasons for finishing that way. And if you do say it, be sure you’ve let your point sink in before you say it. Otherwise, you’ve just stepped on the point you wanted to make and weakened the impact.

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at