That’s right, step out of your comfort zone and make BOLD choices about how you want to show up in your talk.

This third Leadership Speaking TV episode encourages you to disrupt your personal status-quo as a speaker.

Rise to your highest potential




While speaking, you may feel that you want to give up and throw in the towel, but don’t!

This second episode of Leadership Speaking TV encourages you to stay committed for the entire duration of your your talk so that your message can live.

Rise to your highest potential


When you change your perspective to understand that it’s not about you, it’s about the audience, everything changes. You improve as a speaker.

This Leadership Speaking TV episode shares what you need to do to make this happen.

Rise to your highest potential



Ahhhhhhh! The bliss of being a speaker in the 21st Century. Your time is now! It’s never been easier to get in front of an audience.

As such, this Public Speaking Hack has some words of wisdom to share about how to show up as the best version of yourself in this Golden Age.

Holding you high to create your best work


As a professional speaker coach, I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to work with leaders from so many different fields: Business executives, scientists, entrepreneurs, academics, bankers, politicians…you name it! These professionals are doing all sorts of interesting work in the world and I get a front-row seat to find out about it. It’s such a privilege.

The insights I get from my clients deeply nourish my curiosity and make me aware of trends that are going on out there. For instance, a big trend that is taking the world of public speaking by storm right now is that more and more leaders are feeling the pressure to up-skill their speaking abilities for leadership and career advancement.

Just a few weeks ago, for instance, a business leader reached out stating that he urgently needed my support to help him to up-skill in order win a promotion at his company. He had recently been passed over for advancement because he failed to deliver his high stakes presentation with confidence. He was given three months to improve or he will lose his position. Intense right?

Our work together is transforming him from a speaker who “shrinks” when he speaks, to one who can speak with authenticity and “oomph”. I am empowering him with a bespoke toolbox of speaking skills, which will help him to nail that upcoming promotion.

In another example, two months ago, I was contacted by a leader from the corporate sector who had been promoted into a position where she was expected to deliver regular company updates on camera. Due to the pressure of knowing that her company of thousands of employees would be tuning-in to evaluate and judge her performances regularly, she wanted to up-skill her knowledge of speaking on camera so that she could show up as the best version of herself on screen.

This executive, while a natural and charismatic speaker, knew nothing about how to “have a conversation” with the camera lens or how to move and appear relaxed in a crammed studio with hot lights and high pressure. Nor did she know how to rehearse her camera work beforehand so that she would be “camera ready”, saving both her and the production crew valuable time and effort.

Learning these skills, and many others related to camera work, was essential in order for her to feel good and to show up with confidence and “savoir-faire” in the studio. I can report that after our immersive work together she is now speaking on camera, like a boss!

As a final example, earlier this year, a leader from the conservation community, whom I supported with his first TEDx talk, owned the stage the night of his talk. Without the up-skilling of his public speaking repertoire, he would have delivered a terse academic PowerPoint presentation, with too many slides, missing the mark and not making his life-changing message matter. In our time together, he learned how to create content that had a heartbeat and that connected to his audience. He learned how to use his voice so that people would want to listen to what he had to say and he learned how to move with purpose, seamlessly “dancing” his movements, taking his message where it needed to go on stage (see his beautiful talk HERE).

Overall, I find that leaders like the ones I just mentioned, are struggling to keep up with the high bar that has been set for today’s speaking skills. Many have never received formal training in the speaking arts and they just “wing” it when asked to speak. This leaves them feeling frustrated and powerless.

It is apparent that we are living in a time of great disruption related to public speaking. The old-world norm of static, soul-less speeches behind podiums is being replaced by the new-world norm of TED-like talks, where speakers glow with confidence and are vibrant and fully engaged with their audiences.

This new-world norm challenges leaders to significantly step-up their game in how they speak in public. Added to this, are growing demands for 21st century speaking skills like speaking on camera and interviewing on podcasts. It has never been harder or more wonderful to be a speaker. Harder, because the expectations for excellence are higher; more wonderful, because there has never been a time when there were so many different outlets and opportunities for public speaking. We are living in the golden age People [and I am so thrilled and humbled to be smack dab in the middle of it!]

So where does that leave all the other leaders out there who are struggling to catch up to this tidal wave of high expectations for public speaking? How do they get the essential skills that they need to advance in their leadership and in their careers? Unfortunately, the choices are severely limited. They can look online for D.I.Y solutions , or Google “public speaking training” and find a few 1 to 2 day workshops in their local area or they can join Toastmasters to practice. Great! but not good enough Folks. These options don’t deliver the depth of knowledge that is needed to properly up-skill into the realm of advanced public speaking. Nor do these options provide professional support over time. No one-stop-solution exists…until now.

[…Take a long pause here for dramatic suspense…]

I am so inspired and profoundly rewarded by the work I do to help leaders up-skill their speaking abilities that I have decided to build a new Master Class.  I call it High Performance Public Speaking (HPPS). It is a highly selective, “high-touch” communication game-changer for leaders who are hungry for the speaking skills they need to take their leadership and their careers to the highest levels.

Over a period of four months (meeting three weekdays per month from November 2019 to February 2020), I am going to roll-up my shirt-sleeves with a small, hand-picked cohort of exceptional leaders who are ready to do real work related to vastly improving themselves as speakers.

Not for the faint-hearted or for those who want a “quick-fix” for their public speaking needs, HPPS is designed for leaders who are looking for an elevated and much more in-depth experience, which empowers, nourishes and fulfils, over time.

Meeting at The Public Speaking School Studios in Gland, Switzerland, the cohort will develop a bespoke repertory of high performance speaking skills which will make them into speakers who are fluent in the language of “leadership speaking”. They will be able to:

  • Enjoy speaking in front of audiences and show up as the best version of themselves every time they speak
  • Confidently create and deliver talks that rock
  • Effortlessly use their toolbox of core speaking skills anytime they are called to speak
  • Handle 21st century speaking skills (TED-like talks, speaking on camera, interviewing on podcasts) with grace and ease
  • Manage the stress and anxiety that comes with every speaking performance

…and so much more!

As far as I know, nothing like this exists on the planet. It is completely unique and fully bespoke to serve you leaders out there who are awake to the fact that you need this type of training in order to thrive and to rise to your full potential both in your leadership and in your career.

Before reading on, I invite you take a moment to reflect on the internal conversation that is going on in your body right now. Simply stop and pay attention to what your body is telling you. Are you breathing differently? Is your heart beating faster? Is there a tingling sensation in your gut? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then you are being called.

I invite those of you who have this reaction (and who are self-aware enough to feel this) to take action, immediately.

I am currently enrolling the inaugural Class of February 2020 and I want you to apply.

The process for admission is simple. Fill out an application HERE, it takes 5 minutes. This application is my way of finding out if HPPS is a good fit for your needs and frankly, if you are a good fit for HPPS. I am looking for leaders who have experience speaking, but who know, with their deepest instincts, that they are capable of so much more. I want leaders who are hungry for the extraordinary skills that they will be learning through HPPS and who will have opportunities to implement them on a regular basis. Finally, I want leaders who don’t have to be convinced that they need this training, but who know on a cellular level that this is right for them.

At the moment, I have already pre-sold and filled many of the spots for this cohort (there are a total of 10 spots), but there are a few left and I am keeping them open for those of you who are ready to do the work required to elevate yourselves into your true potential. The deadline for applying to HPPS is Friday, October 4 at noon.

Folks, the right time is now. I look forward to hearing from you.


Laura Penn, Ph.D. is disrupting the status-quo for public speaking. As Founder and CEO of The Public Speaking School, award-winning international speaker, author and professional speaker coach, she empowers speakers on camera, in classrooms, in boardrooms and on stages around the world, to deliver the best talks of their lives.


Today more talks than ever before are being recorded, posted online and living in the ether of the internet for all eternity. This makes how you deliver your speech much more high stakes now, than in the past, because gone are the days when you could perform a keynote speech, give a short lecture or even run-off a quick staff update with the knowledge that “what happens in the room, stays in the room”. No more. Now, what happens in the room can be aired for the entire human race to see, in real-time.

Anyone who is looking you up online could stumble upon that keynote that you delivered in Singapore two months ago at the sales conference where you said 274 “ums” in 20 minutes and lost your voice because you over-rehearsed it the night before. Or through a few more clicks, people could find that interview you gave with the local television station where you gave terse, one-word answers with a blank look on your face and fidgeted nervously with your fingers the whole time.

Don’t be one of the many people who I seem to meet on a daily basis, who tell me that they haven’t spent much time preparing for their talk, but that they’ll “wing it” and they’ll be just fine. Don’t be one of those people who spends 98% of your preparation time on getting your slides glossy and beautiful and only 2% on preparing your delivery. And, whatever you do, PUUUULLLEEEAAASSE! don’t be one of those people who leads with your ego, shrugging your shoulders and saying that you don’t need to rehearse your high stakes talk because you have been speaking for the past 25 years and you know what you’re doing.

Could you imagine any other performing artist (because yes, Dear Reader, public speaking is a performing art) including dancers, musicians or actors saying any of the above about their performances? People like Yo-Yo Ma, for example, saying: “Naw, I don’t need to practice for my performance at La Scala because I have been playing the cello for over 25 years and I know what I am doing”.

No, of course not!

But why is it different for public speaking? Why is it ok to deliver sub-par presentations? Why is ok to fail?

I am here to tell you that it’s not ok, especially now that your talks could be recorded and aired for instant viewing online. Doing a bad job on your presentation these days, could cost you your reputation, your credibility and your dignity. A high price to pay for being lazy or for allowing your ego to get in the way.

I had a close run-in with this terrifying prospect myself a few years ago and that’s why I am so passionate about this subject.

It was the fall of 2017 and I was preparing to deliver my first ever TEDx speech. Man! I worked hard to get ready. Eight iterations of my script, three months of preparation and 145 rehearsals later, I arrived on stage in front of a live audience of 500 people. I was dressed to the nines and I delivered my speech just like I had rehearsed it (except for the addition of the 18 times I had to adjust my head-microphone because it was slipping off my ear). After the talk, I walked off stage feeling…”Meh!”. Something was wrong, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Moving through the apero area after the talk where the audience and the speakers were mingling, I felt it again. I measure the success of my speaking engagements by how many people come up to talk with me afterwards and only two people (out of 500!) spoke to me over the wine and cheese. Something was definitely wrong…

Fast forward four weeks and I had put the experience behind me, until I received an email from the event’s organizers announcing that the talks were now on the TEDx platform online. “Yay!” I thought, “I can’t wait to see it”. I clicked on the talk and watched it with greedy anticipation. Right away, I began to see what was wrong with it. Besides seeing the excessive fixing of my head-microphone, I noticed that I looked like a pushy actor, over-delivering every word and every movement. I cringed inside, held my breath and went numb. Adding to my discomfort, I made the grave mistake of reading the comments underneath the video (I will never, ever, ever do this again). BAM! A virtual fist-punch to my gut. The power of the hateful words I read by anonymous strangers, literally knocked me down. I ended up on the floor of my kitchen in a pile of oozing self-pity.

I felt horrible. I had a non-stop, painful dialog with myself: “How can I call myself an expert at public speaking when I have a performance like this?” “My reputation as a speaker is destroyed so I might as well throw in the towel and stop speaker coaching now, because I am not good enough”, and on and on and on. I felt sorry for myself for two weeks until serendipitously, I found something that helped me to snap out of the 24-hour pity-party I was having with my ego.

An amazing book by Patsy Rodenburg called Presence, broke the spell. (Thank you Patsy!) Her illustrious book described many things, including something she calls the first, second and third circles of presence. These are states of performance energy. People who perform in the “first circle of presence” are introverts and direct their energy inwards, making themselves inaccessible to the audience; people who perform in the “third circle of presence” are extroverts, pushing their energy outwards and alienating the audience by overpowering them; finally, people who perform in the “second circle of presence” connect with the audience because their performance energy is “just right”.

Ha! There it was, in plain English. I had bombed my speech because I performed the whole damn thing in the third circle. Eureka!

I had the privilege of having my second TEDx speech a few months later, and my-oh-my! did I do things differently. Firstly, I realized that TEDx talks are FREAKIN’ HIGH STAKES TALKS. There is ZERO room for error. These talks will live on in the ether of the internet longer than my own lifetime, so I better switch-up my game. Secondly, I ditched my ego, which told me that I could do it by myself and instead invested in some first-rate instruction, enlisting the support of a fellow speaker coach whom I admire, to help give me perspective on my next performance. Thirdly, I started to walk-the-talk, living in the bliss of my knowledge about the three circles of presence and showing up to every Master Class I gave, every keynote I delivered and every future TEDx talk I performed in, IN THE SECOND CIRCLE. Yaaasssss!

The big lesson is that…

Folks, the right time is now! The stakes are simply too high in this digital day-and-age, for you to beat-around-the-bush and let either your laziness or your ego hold you back from improving how you speak in public. Work hard at preparing for your performances and work smart. Instead of thinking that you can do it all by yourself or that you are going to be fine with your D.I.Y approach to public speaking (see previous article), invest in the support that you need to get it right. Your reputation, your credibility and your dignity depend on it.


Laura Penn, Ph.D. is disrupting the status-quo for public speaking. As Founder and CEO of The Public Speaking School, award-winning international speaker, author and professional speaker coach, she empowers speakers on camera, in classrooms, in boardrooms and on stages around the world, to deliver the best talks of their lives.


I am passionate about making messages matter, that’s why I started my business in the first place.

It all began back in 2009. I had just relocated to Switzerland from a lifetime of globe-trotting because of career and family. I was looking for work in my field of conservation, where I’m a specialist in the communication of conservation messages. Agonizingly, I couldn’t find it, so I reinvented myself.

My lightbulb moment happened when I was sitting-in on a conference of conservation colleagues, watching them deliver horrible presentations. They were ticking every box for what-not-to-do when speaking in public: Reading from their slides, mumbling, speaking too fast, and on and on and on! A thought came into my head:

Conservation is a crisis discipline. Wildlife and wild places can’t afford to have the people protecting them FAIL at public speaking…something has to be done about this and fast because these messages HAVE to matter!”

Fuelled by an overwhelming sense of urgency, I started a club based in a major conservation organization, called “Communicating Environment”. I wanted to test-drive if I could combine my two loves of conservation and the performing arts (theatre and dance) to help my colleagues “promote conservation through effective public speaking”. Guess what? It worked. I was all in and I was on fire!

Folks, there’s something very special that happens when you do work that you feel you were born to do. When all of the dots of your life align and everything that you have done so far connects to reveal your true purpose. Whoa!

My purpose is to help make messages matter.

This bright and shining clarity of my life’s mission propelled me to build what is now The Public Speaking School. A beacon in the stormy sea of public speaking, guiding you to live and breathe your message, so that it matters.

Across all of the people whom I’ve had the privilege of supporting over the years, I have discovered that there are three formidable drivers which make messages live in the hearts and minds of the audience. I want to share them with you so that you too can give your message wings:

Formidable Driver # 1 – Serve Realness

Just do you. Be yourself and show the audience who you really are and what lives inside you. Don’t give them a tense, breath-holding version of yourself where your stiffness, lack of connection to what you are saying and closed body language, repel the audience away from you. Learn how to: Breathe, take your time, listen to your words, open your body language and share yourself generously. These powerful choices will make your message stay in the room and will connect to the heartbeats of your audience.

Formidable Driver # 2 – Find Speaking Equilibrium

The audience cannot focus on your message if you are distracting them with any number of the following: Nervous energy, sound and word-fillers like “um” and “you know”, erratic movement without purpose, closed body language and frequent disconnection from the audience because you’re looking back at your slides. These are public speaking “no-nos” that will steal the focus away from your message.

Learning how to manage your nerves, clean-up your words, move with purpose, open your body language and stay connected to the audience, will bring you to what I call “speaking equilibrium.” This is a state of being, where everything about your speaking performance works harmoniously and nothing distracts. Your message is bright and pure and shines into the room. You get to this magical destination through guided rehearsal, which is a step-by-step process that takes you to a place of comfort where your talk just pours out of you. Knowing how to do this is key to making your message matter.

Formidable Driver # 3It’s Not about You, It’s About the Audience

This driver is a game-changer. When you understand that the talk that you are giving is not about your needs and interests, but instead about the needs and interests of the audience, you switch-up your game in public speaking. Untrained speakers will create talks which exclusively feature their own ego-driven agenda. They will focus only on what they want to talk about and will not consider what the audience actually wants to hear. I see this all the time with many of my clients, especially those from the academic and finance sectors. They will have thick slide-decks full of detailed graphs, images and dense descriptive text. [Understandably, this type of information is important for these fields, however, if this is all that is presented, the audience will drown in the depths of the data!]

All you have to do is put yourself in your audiences’ shoes. I know you’ve been there yourself, listening to a speaker ramble on and on with slide after slide of information. Tap into that memory and what you felt like while receiving that presentation and create your next talk from that point of view. As a member of the audience, what do you want to see, hear, feel and understand? What information is relevant to your needs and interests and how do you want to be engaged and involved? Learn how to create the content and the delivery of your talk from this perspective and you will be on your way to mastering the art of how to make your message matter!


Laura Penn, Ph.D. is disrupting the status-quo for public speaking. As Founder and CEO of The Public Speaking School, award-winning international speaker, author and professional speaker coach, she empowers speakers on camera, in classrooms, in boardrooms and on stages around the world, to deliver the best talks of their lives.


What is the identified issue?

I am currently running a survey in my LinkedIn community to find out more about how people perceive themselves as speakers and what their speaking needs are. I am going to use the results to build game-changing content for a four-month long Master Class that I will be launching this fall. Out of the 50 people who have responded so far, I am seeing an interesting trend… When asked which sentence best describes their experiences as speakers, the majority (55%) have answered:

“After I speak, I know that I could have done better, but I don’t know what needs to be improved or how to fix it.”

This fascinating answer inspires me to write this article…

What are people doing?

I notice that many speakers are doing what I call do-it-yourself (D.I.Y) public speaking, using a patch-work of resources like YouTube videos, books and podcasts, to “fix” their perceived speaking problems. [Disclaimer – I contribute to these resources myself as a way to create awareness about what I do and the art of effective public speaking]. As tantalizing as these resources are, they don’t go deep enough. They can’t, because they are not designed that way.

These tools are a helpful means to get a few quick tips and techniques, like a new breathing skill here or a great idea about how to tell a story there, but they are created to be public speaking “fast food”; quick and superficially filling, but not nutritious. There is no slow-release of nutrients to give your body what it needs to grow and thrive. The knowledge is shallow and temporary, not “internalized” and fused into your bones.

On top of that, these fast food public speaking solutions are not personalized. They don’t take you and all of your uniqueness into account. How could they? They are a one-way-street of information flowing from the video, book or podcast into your eyes and ears. There is no return ticket and nothing bounces back. Absent a meaningful interaction, they remain generic and non-specific and don’t really hit the mark. Many people I know who try to nourish themselves with these solutions are left feeling “Meh!”, only half-full and thus, determinately go searching for more.

So, what’s the problem?

I find that too many people try to improve themselves as speakers by “self-medicating” on a hodge-podge diet of public speaking fast food. The result is that they go nowhere, fast. I often receive clients who have taken one-off public speaking courses here and there, own a library of books about public speaking and who watch YouTube tutorials on the subject religiously, but…who aren’t particularly good speakers.

When I meet clients like this, I often chuckle (not in a mean way) to myself and remember the time when I met a guy who was trying to learn how to figure skate. Being deeply interested in this sport myself, I asked him how he trained. He said that he read books about how to skate. I laughed out loud in disbelief at his response.

I’m here to tell you that reading books to learn how to figure skate, like reading books (watching videos and listening to podcasts) to learn how to speak in public…doesn’t work! At best, like I said earlier, you’ll get a few good tips and some motivation, but Folks, you learn these types of skills by involving your entire being, from head to toe in the experience, over time. You need to smell it, feel it, taste it, hear it and see it, using all of your senses, over and over and over again. You need to spend countless hours on the ice so that moving around on it becomes second-nature.  You need to fall, so that you can figure out how to get up and do something differently so that you avoid falling the next time. You need to experience the exhilaration of gliding so that your body wants to relive this bliss all the time.

In addition to these essential components and if you are serious about making real progress, whether it’s on the ice or in public speaking, you should find a first-rate coach whose work you admire. Someone who is currently speaking the way you see yourself speaking in the future. Someone who is “living in their own learning” and continuing to develop themselves as speakers. Success leaves clues and this person should have clues that you feel pulled towards wanting to pick-up and follow.

You should also look for a robust training program with a good student to teacher ratio (no giant seminars with too many people), which supports your personal growth over time. This last part is really important! Do not be seduced or fooled by the quick-fix solutions that are out there, marketed to the masses. While they are great ways to learn what the toolbox is, they can’t teach you how to implement the toolbox. This has to take place with a “high-touch” approach over time because, as I have hopefully made clear by now, we humans need to do something over and over again and ideally, with the right guidance in order to learn it well.


I hope that I have bent your ear enough for you to understand that if you are serious about learning the skills that you need to take your speaking to the highest levels, D.I.Y public speaking is insufficient. Use it for a few good tips and motivation and inspiration, but don’t get stuck spending your time, money or effort on quick-fix solutions, which aren’t personalized and don’t nourish you over time. Go deep to learn deep! Or as Neale Donald Walsch says: “Life [Learning] begins at the end of your comfort zone.”


Laura Penn, Ph.D. is disrupting the status-quo for public speaking. As Founder and CEO of The Public Speaking School, award-winning international speaker, author and professional speaker coach, she empowers speakers on camera, in classrooms, in boardrooms and on stages around the world, to deliver the best talks of their lives.

Dear Community,
I need your help.  I would LOVE to get your input about how you perceive yourself as a speaker and what your needs are related to public speaking.  Your answers, which are anonymous, will help me to build game-changing content for a Master Class that’s coming soon…
Please click-on THIS LINK to take a two-minute survey.
Thank you so much!

This Public Speaking Hack invites you to ooze authenticity by just being yourself.

Holding you high to create your best work