“All of us, whether we are in this business or not, have little voices that tell us we’re not good enough.” Ellen DeGeneres

Why are we so quick to find fault with ourselves? To think we are not good enough, that we will never “measure up”? In a recent post, “Conquering The Fear of Public Speaking”, I cited the wide variety of professionals, including politicians, celebrities and performing artists who suffer terribly from fear of performance failure.

I’m grateful to Ellen DeGeneres and others who publicly acknowledge the universality of these fears. She validates the feelings of those who are less well-known by letting them know they have plenty of company in their struggle to gain the confidence necessary to be authentically themselves and fully expressive in a public speaking situation.

One of the greatest gifts we possess as human beings is self-expression. In order to become fully expressive, a person needs to tap into and develop these 5 elements of expression that I call VIBES:

  • Voice
  • Idea
  • Body
  • Enthusiasm
  • Story

Use your voice to its fullest. To do this, you need to support your voice with your breath, enunciate well, and play your voice like an instrument to fully express your message.

The idea for your speech is your core message that you want the audience to understand and remember

Animate your body – utilize great posture and physical energy. Move with intention. Don't just wander around; use expressive hand gestures, facial expressions to give life to your words.

Imbue your speech with enthusiasm! When you are excited by your message, your audience will be too!

Create a story that will give some life to your core message and make it memorable.

A good place to begin is by simply making a commitment to not heeding that nasty “little voice” inside that DeGeneres referred to. By taking a leap of faith and believing that you will succeed, you change the way you walk, talk, listen and present.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. To achieve this freedom of expression, you must first do adequate and appropriate preparation prior to presenting. This includes practicing out loud and on your feet, at least 3-5 times.

Here is a brief checklist to help you to ensure that you are well-prepared. (please note this does not address the technical and logistical needs of being “on location):

  • Know your audience
  • Fit your content and your language to their needs
  • Have no more than 3 key points
  • Design your presentation and delivery style to best express your key points
  • Include anecdotes or personal stories that add meaning and entertainment value
  • Practice your delivery out loud at least 3-5 times including gestures and movement
  • Be informative, entertaining, inspiring, or all three!

Enjoy Your New Confidence and Freedom of Expression!


Laurel Weber Snyder is a public speaking, media and job interview skills coach. Follow Laurel on Twitter @wellspokencoach.