How To Calm Your Nerves Before You Take the Mic

The Essential 5-Minute Prep

How To Calm Your Nerves Before You Take the Mic: The Essential 5-Minute Prep

First off know that it’s completely normal and natural to be nervous before speaking in front of a group.

We are born with two natural fears: loud noises and falling. The other fears are products of our environment including public speaking.

But you can come across as being completely sure of yourself, even if you can’t completely shake the jitters.

Here are a few tips to help you keep your calm before you take the mic.
1. Wiggle your toes
Studies show that wiggling your toes reduces stress levels and decreases anxiety.

2. Chat with Your Audience Before Your Presentation
Meet and greet people before you get on stage. Talking with audiences makes you seem more likeable and approachable. Ask event attendees questions and take in their responses. They may even give you some inspiration to weave into your talk.

3. Claim the three “audience realities”.
One: They believe you’re the expert, so don’t tell them otherwise.
Two: They want you to succeed, so they’re on your side.
Three: They won’t know when you make a mistake, so don’t broadcast it.

4. Find a Pre Talk song.

Athletes and entertainers use this strategy to focus before they take the stage, or start their sport.
Find a song that gets you pumped up and listen to it backstage before every talk. It has to be “your song”, a song that gets your adrenaline to the perfect level: It has to give you enough so you’re saying “You’ve got this, (insert your name), they are going to love you”. Any song that can make you feel that way is worth taking a few minutes to listen to before jumping on stage. Many athletes do it, why not you.

5. Visualize your success.

Sports psychologists have proven that an athlete’s ability to vividly visualize his or her success creates a higher win rate. ,Before your next presentation, mentally walk yourself through the presentation. Picture yourself speaking with confidence and poise; see your audience responding positively.

Nervousness is a natural reaction to speaking in front of large groups. However, try to think of this emotion as a “readiness to share you”, and a type of excitement that is necessary for you to speak. You’ve been sub-consciously programmed to think that you fear it, so how about intentionally creating how you perceive your nervousness? It’s within your control. That simple change of view can change your whole attitude.

Share how you deal with your nerves before you speak in the comment area.

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Stay Amazing! — Karen Donaldson

The Ultimate Connection Tool When Speaking

Showing Vulnerability

Being vulnerable is quite difficult for a lot of people. Showing vulnerability, in general, is hard when you add speaking in front of an audience (intimidating to begin with), adding yet another layer of vulnerability…it can seem even more challenging. However, it’s the right direction to move in if you want to create a deeper connection and authentically connect with your audience.

I believe it’s fair to say that the best presentations do one thing extremely well, and that is; create a truly personal connection. The singular thing we all share as human beings are feelings of fear or vulnerability. If you’re willing to open up about yours, it can help people feel a stronger connection with you.

From time to time when I work with my senior management clients, the conversation around vulnerability when speaking is a tough one. Clarity comes when they are able to clean up their misconceptions about vulnerability and acknowledge that vulnerability is not a sign of weakness. In truth, the ability to be vulnerable is a sign of strength.

Here’s my own example: At some of my talks I share my story of getting pregnant in my last year of high school, persevering, getting out of my own way, graduating with top awards, getting my BASc and going on to co-lead the community development initiative for Canada’s 1st ever social housing redevelopment project.

I don’t bring it up to impress people by any means, but I mention it to show people that hey — I too just like them have experienced adversity, walked with my head high through the mud and come out on top.

I become relatable. They can identify with trudging through tough times, we have all been there (maybe not pregnant in high school…but you get what I mean). They have something that they too have gone through, that has scarred them, but they have still come out on top.

Hearing about my adversity, keeps my talks “real” and reminds people of the power they have and all of the things they themselves have overcome. That’s where the true connection comes from, we have a connection as real human beings.

I’m not saying every presentation needs a serious, deep issue in it. But don’t be afraid to discuss things that make you feel vulnerable if they’re relevant. It can be a powerful connection and engagement tool.

I have a senior executive client who often shares his ritual with his kids that they do every time he goes out of town for work. No, it doesn’t make him look soft, quite the contrary. It allows him to develop an instant connection with his audience as a human being. He takes off his official hat as a corporate leader and allows for his audience to see him as one of them, which he is. He instantly connects with the parents, the grandparents, the aunts, the uncles, essentially anyone who has a child in their life in any capacity.

It takes a powerful person to be vulnerable in front of an audience. Being vulnerable comes down to being OK with you, your perfections imperfections and all.

Contact me at if you’re ready to bring your speaking skills to a new level of great.

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Stay Amazing! — Karen Donaldson

Managing Your Fear Of Public Speaking

To Speak Well in any setting means: Accepting the Role of “SPEAKER”

I know it sounds cave mannish, however whenever you speak up in front of a group, YOU = Speaker…like it or not.

Unfortunately, most people go into the speaking experience focusing on this:


Sound familiar?

It’s a type of mental resistance that will never serve you in the right way.

Accepting the role of the speaker instead of wanting to quickly end the speaking experience is one of the quickest ways to rid yourself of your Public Speaking Fear and to remove your mental resistance.

Fearful speakers create anxiety for themselves when they don’t embrace the role of Speaker. Instead, they try to be the “Finished Speaker”.

They try to “get through” the experience without committing themselves to the role of Speaker.

They talk fast, they don’t look at the audience the audience, and they focus mainly on being done. The entire time they are focusing on being the “Finished Speaker”.

The result of this mental resistance is, typically, that it gives you more public speaking anxiety, not less – just the opposite of what you want.

Here’s 3 Ways to Help you to Embrace…”Speaker”

1. Change Your Perspective and Self Talk.
If you go around thinking that you “hate” public speaking, you will forever be uncomfortable. The place to start is by thinking something true yet positive: i.e. I can’t wait to share my ideas with people. I know what I have to share will benefit many people. etc

2. Speak From a Genuine Place.
Public speaking becomes much easier when you’re telling the world about a something, someone, some idea, some (you fill in the blank) that you have a deep connection to. Whatever you share, truly identify with why this is compelling to you, or why you believe in it and share from that place.

3. Just Keep Doing It!
The only way to feel more comfortable speaking publicly is to speak. Keep doing it, over and over and over again.

Don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be.

If you have something to say or share and you choose to Speak, make the choice to speak and stop living the life of a Finished Speaker.

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Stay Amazing! — Karen Donaldson

Tired of Rambling When You Talk


Tired of Rambling When You Talk….Keep Reading

If you’ve ever left a meeting or a conversation saying to yourself, What did I just say? What was I thinking? Why did I keep talking?

Don’t worry it happens to a lot of people. It’s not uncommon, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.

If you ever struggle to be clear, direct and have what you say flow nicely this is a post you want to read.

Usually, what my clients say to me is something like this: “I started talking, and then I kept talking, and then I lost my point and where I was, and then I didn’t know what to do so I kept talking and didn’t know how to stop. Then it just went downhill from there.”

Whenever this happens you jeopardize your credibility, your message, and your reputation.

Here are some tips to help you rein in your rambling.

1. Slow Your Pace
I often teach my clients that they must be intentional about slowing down their pace when they speak. It allows your listeners to absorb and retain what you are saying. An individual with a hearing impairment should be able to read your lips.

2. Power Pause
I always teach my clients that the “pause is on your side”. The next time you’re worried about rambling in a conversation or meeting, pause. Pause before you start to speak pauses if you feel yourself speeding up, pause to gather your thoughts. Learn to intentionally use a pause, it will help you to increase your impact as a speaker.

3. Front Load
Front loading is a communication strategy where you deliver your core message right from the get go, get people’s attention and then just deliver content to support your core message. It simplifies things, helps you to stay focused and spells out what your listener needs to hear immediately.

Use the tips to slow your roll and increase your impact when you speak.

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—Karen Donaldson


Moving your Business

Moving your Business from Mediocre to Magnificent

You have a fabulous product or service and you know it – people have even told you so. So why aren’t you out there in the world claiming your space????

My friends – enough with showing humility and being humble. The time is NOW to be that magnificent entrepreneur.
Being magnificent means being your authentic self with your quality products or service and sharing this authenticity with everyone around you.

It is time to re-group and re-focus on getting your self out there in a big way.
Use these three tips to catapult yourself into greatness.

1. It all begins with Clarity. Be clear with what you are offering and who you are offering it to.

2. Re-check your mindset and attitude. It needs to positive and ambitious. The beliefs you put in your mind create the actions that you ultimately take. For example, if you tell yourself that you are just okay, you will be just that – okay. What you think about, you will become. Start telling yourself how valuable you and your services are and let your positive attitude and outlook radiate in every facet of your business.

3. Marketing strategy mix up. Take a critical look at your marketing strategy and make an intentional effort to change one thing that you are doing. Unless your marketing strategy is allowing you to rake in your desired income, you need to start doing something differently. Take yourself completely outside of your comfy zone, incorporate a marketing strategy that makes you feel a bit uncomfortable. Don’t think too hard and talk yourself out of it – Just do it!

Here are some words that help to re-ignite my fire when I am becoming a bit too comfortable:

“The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible.”
Arthur C. Clarke

Stay amazing!

Karen Donaldson, Maximizing You.
Copyright © 2014, Karen Donaldson Inc., All Rights Reserved

A Lack of Motivation


Motivation is no one’s “real” problem; it’s a lack of clarity, focus and lack of direction that is the true issue at hand.

The problem is that motivation can be a curse if you lack self-awareness, focus and a commitment to “doing the right things”. Have you ever experienced being totally energized and motivated and by the end of the day you slow down and realize that you really did not get much accomplished? That’s what I mean by a lack of clarity and focus.

When a person is motivated, but that energy and motivation are sending them in the wrong direction or if they have conflicting desires within themselves, that person is going to wear themselves out or become frustrated fast.

This is what causes people to give up and settle.

More important than having motivation is to understand what you are motivated by, and this is why self-awareness if the foundation of personal achievement.

Whenever you venture forward on a new project or professional or personal goal, you must start by asking yourself the following questions and be clear on the answer to every single on of them before proceeding.

1. What do you want? What do you want to achieve?
2. Why do you want to achieve that specific goal?
3. How will it make you feel when you achieve it?
4. What will it look like when you achieve the goal?

You see we get so caught up in the steps and when we feel stuck or like things are at a standstill, it overwhelms and we; slow our pace, get frustrated or stop altogether, or just settle.

And (Yes, yes, I know you’re not supposed to start a sentence with and!) settling is NEVER and option.
Choose to know where you are going and why you are going there before you start.
Stay amazing!

Karen Donaldson, Maximizing You.
Copyright © 20164, Karen Donaldson Inc., All Rights Reserved

8 Habits standing between you and what you want

8 Habits standing between you and what you want

Starting today, stop doing the following…

  1. Playing it safe. – Have you ever tucked something of value “in a safe place” out of fear that someone might ruin it or steal it from you?  And then one day woke to the realization that you had hid it so well that even YOU couldn’t find it?  If so, then you understand the wisdom of leaving your heart and your dreams in the wide open.  To reach for what can be, even when we’re doubtful.  To let go of what is lost, even when it’s painful.  To live as though we’re brave, even when we’re fearful.  These are the trials we face and the choices we make along the path to happiness and success.
  2. Tolerating the influence of negative people. – Sometimes we forgive people simply because we want them in our life, and sometimes we need to let go of them simply because we have had enough.  Saying goodbye is one of the most painful ways to solve a problem, but from time to time it’s necessary.
  3. Letting failed relationships haunt new relationships. – There’s a purpose to every failed relationship.  The purpose is not to lower your expectations, but to raise your standards.  Remember, you don’t want someone who chooses you solely for what’s good about you.  You need someone who sees the bad too, and still appreciates you just the way you are.
  4. Expecting constant bliss. – True happiness is not found just within positivity, it is found within reality, which means accepting the fact that both positivity and negativity coexist.  Trying to be 100% positive all the time is wanting to be an ocean in which waves only rise up and never come crashing down.  However, when we recognize that the rising and crashing waves are part of the same one ocean, we are able to let go and be at peace with the way things are, which leads us to happier, more productive places in the long-term.
  5. Dwelling on the things you’ve lost. – In life, there are some people and things you’re going to have to lose in order to find your best self.  So be grateful for what you have right now, try not to dwell on the things you’ve lost, strive for what you want most, and keep marching forward.
  6. Overlooking the lesson. – Everything happens for a reason – a reason you can learn and grow from.  People change so you can learn how to let go.  Things go wrong so you learn to appreciate things when they go right.  You believe lies at first so you eventually learn who you can truly trust.  And sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.
  7. Being overly critical of yourself. – If you feel like everyone is judging you all the time, realize that we often feel this way when we are too busy judging ourselves.
  8. Letting pessimism feed your procrastination. – We have two choices when we wake up in the morning:  either we go back to sleep and dream, or we wake up and chase that dream.  We often spend way too much time wondering why we’re not good enough, and discrediting ourselves, instead of giving ourselves credit.  We waste too much time with our heads down and hearts closed, never giving ourselves a chance to look up from the ground to see that the sun is shining bright, and that today is another perfect opportunity to take action and pursue our dreams.

This is Karen D signing off… Your Next Level Coach for Life
“Good things don’t come to those who wait, good things come to those who go out and get it”. ~ Karen D

Managing Conflict


In any type of relationship conflict is basically inevitable.  But conflict itself is not a problem; it’s all about how it’s handled.  Conflict can either bring people together or completely tear them apart. The next time you’re dealing with conflict, keep these tips on effective communication skills in mind to help  create a more positive outcome.

Tip #1:  Really listen.  Most people often think that they are listening carefully, however they are often thinking about how they will respond and what they will say as soon as the other person stops talking.  Though it might be challenging, try really listening to what the other party is saying.  Don’t interrupt, don’t finish their sentence and don’t get defensive. . Just hear them and reflect back what they’re saying so they know you’ve heard. Then you’ll understand them better and they’ll be more willing to listen to you.

Tip #2: Own What’s Yours: Learn that personal responsibility is a strength, not a weakness. Effective communication involves admitting when you’re wrong – because it’s ok to do so. If you both share some responsibility in a conflict (which is usually the case), look for and admit to what’s yours. It helps to diffuse the situation, sets a good example, and shows maturity.

Tip#3:  Look for Compromise. It is not about winning the argument, instead try to, look for solutions that meet everybody’s needs. Either through compromise, or a new solution that gives you both what you want most, this focus is much more effective than one person getting what they want at the other’s expense. Healthy communication involves finding a resolution that both sides can be happy with.

Poor communication skills, disagreements and misunderstandings can be a source of anger and distance, or it can be a launch pad to a stronger relationship and more productive future.

This is Karen D signing off…Your Next Level Coach for Life
“Good things don’t come to those who wait, good things come to those who go out and get it”. ~ Karen D

Motivation Comes In Small Ways

“The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” William James

Be creative when it comes to motivation: the little things count.

We all know how challenging it can be to balance the responsibilities of both work and home. The demands at both ends often mean we are stressed for time – and patience. Many of us talk about health and wellness and taking time out for you, but, for some it is just a statement that never comes to fruition.

And according to a Desjardins Financial Security National Health Survey in September 2010, Canadian workers are definitely feeling stressed. Survey participants said that their top stressors were an insufficient salary (30%), work overload (27%), a lack of recognition (22%), a negative work environment (22%) and 14% named work-life imbalance as a source of stress.

Obviously, something has to give sooner or later.

The good news is, employers and senior managers can do a lot without breaking the proverbial bank.

Motivation does not need to be an expensive venture. It can be simple things that allow people to feel recognized, appreciated or respected. So why not show your employees that you care about their health and well-being? For example, at your regular Monday morning status meeting, greet your employees with a cappuccino bar and seated chair massages chair for the first 30 minutes. Or forgo the morning meeting tradition altogether and re-schedule it for mid-afternoon.

Better yet, at around 2 p.m. – during that mid afternoon slump time – hand deliver “pick me up” snack packs to all of your employees – try chocolate covered espresso beans, or an assortment of 100-calorie snack packs, anything that says “take a moment and enjoy.”

Consistent small gestures that say we appreciate your time and effort are far greater motivators in the long run than the occasional big splash.

This is Karen D signing off…Your Next Level Coach for Life
“Good things don’t come to those who wait, good things come to those who go out and get it”. ~ Karen D

Positivity Equals Profitability

You Will Profit From A Positive Workplace

“You need to be aware of what others are doing, applaud their efforts, acknowledge their successes, and encourage them in their pursuits. When we all help one another, everybody wins.”  ~ Jim Stovall

A great working environment can make a world of difference.

Before the most recent economic recession took hold, Canadians were already struggling with a positive outlook about the workplace. Only six per cent of Canadians and 10 per cent of workers everywhere believed senior management treats people as if they are the most important part of the organization, said the results of a Towers-Perrin survey.
And the survey showed that firms with the highest percentage of engaged employees collectively increased operating income by 19 per cent and earnings per share by 28 per cent year-over-year. Companies with the lowest percentage of engaged employees showed year-over-year declines of 33 per cent in operating income and 11 per cent in earnings per share.

We are know how difficult it can be to maintain a positive attitude at work. We get caught up in the minor things that seem to consume a tremendous amount of our energy. It’s a contagious thing in many workplaces these days. Stresses over workloads, uncertainty and management decisions take hold and productivity declines.

It is important to look after your employees and treat them exactly how you want them to treat and look after your clients. Employees who are happy and content thrive and want to come to work and want to do a good job.  The components to a great environment include; providing employees with what they need in terms of training (soft skills as well as technical knowledge) and genuine support with positive messages where appropriate and constructive feedback where development is needed. Positive messages including praise for accomplishments and thank you’s for the dedication they show to their work.

The wonderful thing about showing appreciation for others is that is doesn’t need to take more than a few words.

Make your goal this summer to provide a great working environment for your employees.


This is Karen D signing off…
Your Next Level Coach for Life

“Good things don’t come to those who wait, good things come to those who go out and get it”. ~Karen D