5 Confidence Stealers that can Sabotage your Success!

Research shows that having confidence still remains an important, though elusive, characteristic for many women seeking promotions in the workplace? A recent article by FORTUNE  reporting on the findings of a study conducted by KPMG,  revealed that 63% of respondents cited confidence as a top characteristic of leaders, but 6 out of 10 women said they find it hard to see themselves as leaders.

One respondent was quoted to say, “I wish I would have learned to be confident and stand up for my beliefs. Just to never be afraid of what others think.”  The solution to helping women prepare for and do well in leadership positions was in making training more accessible. In particular, Debbie Messemer (@DebbieMessemer), reflecting back on her career, said that there was a time that she knew she had the experience and attributes to be successful in (leadership ) roles but lacked the confidence to raise her hand to be considered for them. She went on to say that, 

“Having access to positive role models, who exemplified how I should look and act, and leadership training that included effective public speaking (as an introvert, this was particularly important for my development,) helped bolster my confidence to lean in and ask for these leadership roles.”Woman walking head down


Are you a woman in leadership? Or do you aspire to advance in your career or business endeavour as a woman entrepreneur? I want to encourage you to seek out leadership training, and in particular, seek ways  to intentionally develop your public speaking skills. The survey also concluded that 8 out 10 of the working women believe that networking with other women leaders  will help them advance in their career. Networking is said to be most beneficial when you hang out with women who are already doing what you want to do, or have skills that you can learn from . That way you will always be challenged and inspired to move forward and upward.

I can certainly relate to how these women felt. In the past, I have found myself in situations where I knew I was qualified to do the job or take on the responsibility , but lacked the confidence to go for it.  Often, it’s because we are unsure that we have “permission” from those in authority , unsure they believe in us. May sound strange but that is the kind of self-talk that can sabotage your success . Are you looking for a place to receive training in public speaking skills? A place where you can connect with other women leaders in a safe , growing environment, and where you can develop your communication skills?

Perhaps you need  a community to cheer  you on towards increased confidence and give feedback so you can speak with greater clarity.  That’s exactly why I created The  Emerging Women Speakers Academy™ !    Woman talking in small group

The definition of the word “Confidence” comes from its root words that mean “with faith”.  Do you have faith that who you are is enough? Do you trust that as you step forward you will have everything you need to accomplish the tasks? As you seek to build your confidence, beware of the 5 biggest thieves that seek to sabotage your success by stealing your confidence. They are:

  1. People’s opinion. No matter what you do or say, there will always be people who try to discourage you and see life through a negative lens. Two of the best ways to protect yourself from their deflating words is to either avoid them all together or decide to “press delete” so their  words don’t even have a chance to root in your heart.
  2. Unclear purpose. If you are not sure what  your purpose  is in life or in stepping out in an area, then any challenge will rattle your confidence. Get clear on your purpose and watch how it affects your confidence.
  3. Lack or preparation.  When it comes to public speaking, many people think that “winging it” may portray you as more competent. However, many people don’t realize  that those who can “wing it” the best are actually the most prepared. They don’t just get ready but stay ready for opportunities that come their way. They are always prepared which makes it easy for them to pull out of their toolbox something to say when asked on the spur of the moment. Research has shown that preparation is not just a good idea- it is a great way to build your confidence.
  4. Perfectionism. I am a recovering perfectionist. It started when I was a teenager when I became obsessed about my appearance  and looking thin. This lead to destructive habits of control, denial and an eating disorder. It was only years later that I realized that attaining perfection is an impossibility. It’s alright to aim for perfection, but be willing to settle for excellence. This applies in public speaking as well. Trying to give a perfect presentation is the biggest hindrance to connecting with any audience.  Value progress over perfection. Shaking free of perfectionism is hard, but possible. It will require courage and action to step forward and be willing to put yourself (or your marketing) out there as done even if its not perfect! Try it!! Not only will you experience new levels of personal freedom, but your confidence will actually increase (even when you don’t get it right all the time.)
  5. Practicing wrong things. You have heard the cliche, that “practice makes perfect”. Well there is some truth to that, unless you are practicing the wrong habits. For example, a young man asked his mentor how he could connect better with his audiences when speaking. The mentor suggested he always start his messages with a joke. Well, humor is a great way to connect with people, however not if it is forced or inserted without any relevance to the main theme of the message. A more effective way is to practice “uncovering” humor in the message or situation you find yourself , so it becomes more organic and much more entertaining. Practice does make a better presentation- only if you are practicing the right things. As you become more aware of the habits you need to replace so that  you can be more effective  as a communicator , your confidence will strengthen as you discover new ways of connecting and impacting your audience.


Value what you have to give, the combination of education, trainings, experience, personality and talent. It is your unique contribution to the world so offer it with confidence and assurance that someone somewhere is needing to hear what you have to say – and waiting for you to speak.  Step forward with confidence and embrace life fully engaged!


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Lisa Vanderkwaak coaches women leaders on how to improve their public speaking skills so that they can lead with greater confidence, clarity and impact!!

Saying Thank You is Not Always Good

Have you ever travelled to another Country and found yourself

thinking-audiencewondering why they aren’t as polite as …well… as Canadians?

If you are a Canadian, like I am , or know a Canadian , you would know that one of the reputations we have around the globe is that “Canadians are very polite”, and some would argue, at times “too polite”.

Is there such a thing as being “too polite”?

As a matter of fact there is, especially when it comes to public speaking. What I am about to say may be contrary to what you have been taught, but if you want to stand out as a speaker, and own the stage, you NEVER want to open your message with a THANK YOU.  What I am referring to are the “niceties” that most speakers start off with after they are introduced. What distinguishes the best from the rest is when a speaker uses the first 30 -90 seconds of their message to capture the audience’s attention and get them curious enough to want to keep listening to what you have to say. Let’s face it, audiences don’t really care that  you are “glad to be here” or “so thankful for (so and so) inviting you to speak”. What the audience cares about is “What’s in it for them?” Audience members have lots of competing thoughts going on in their mind as they sit there. As a speaker, your challenge (and goal) is to interrupt those thoughts and capture their attention and keep their attention so they discover what you have to say applies to their life.  The first 30-90 seconds of your message is a critical piece as your audience will be determining whether they like you, and assessing whether they think you have any thing relevant that’s worth their time and attention.

If you must thank someone from the stage, do it AFTER your Opening and before you get into your main content of your message , or somewhere else in the message (appropriately) but DO NOT OPEN with THANK YOU.

Take note the next time you hear a speaker and see what they do and what difference in impact it made in the message. If you currently do this, take out the niceties in your opening and open with a bang. See what difference it makes in capturing your audience’s curiosity and  infusing your message with fresh power!

Love to hear about what you discover.  Send us an email or post on the FB page.

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How did it get the name LEAP YEAR?

Have YOU  ever asked Why it’s Called “Leap Year” ?

Have you ever wondered how the concept of LEAP Year came to be?  It always seemed odd to me, that every 4 years we add another day to our year, until I researched it.

calendar where it's written february the 29th with a blue thumbtack

History reports say that he Roman dictator, Julius Caesar, is considered the “father” of leap year. The ancient Roman calendar system was based on a total of 355 days in a year—a full 10 ¼ days shorter than a solar year, which is the length of time it takes the Earth to make one complete orbit around the sun. To keep the calendar system in line with the seasons, Roman officials were supposed to insert an extra month every so often, but by the time Caesar began to rule Rome, the calendar had gotten seriously out of whack. Caesar consulted with the top astronomers of the day, and in 46 B.C. decided to add one day (known as leap day) every four years to make up the discrepancy between the lunar and solar calendars. 

According to Wikipedia: The name “leap year” comes from the fact that while a fixed date in the Gregorian calendar normally advances one day of the week from one year to the next, the day of the week in a leap year will advance two days (from March onwards) due to the extra day added at the end of February (thus “leaping over” one of the days in the week). (This also why your birthday is on a different day every year).

Adding a day didn’t quite solve the problem, but it was better than adding a whole month.

Why am I telling you this?

Well sometimes , simply adding something to your life will solve a problem, and even better align you to your dreams and life purpose.

A few years ago,  after interviewing a number of women entrepreneurs, I discovered something interesting. The women who were the most successful had added something to their  skill set, which ended up being a major contributor to their success. What they added was a decision to regularly invest in improving their public speaking skills. Each of the women sought out coaches and opportunity to learn how to become more effective communicators.   By actively pursuing this goal to adding speaking to their skill set,  they saw their business LEAP forward and ALIGN to their original dreams of success.

What do you need to ADD to YOUR skill set to help you LEAP forward in your business or dreams for the future?

In honour of Leap Year, I want to invite you to a FREE Webinar where you will learn about the 3 main components that these women added to help turn their Presentations into PROFITS.

The Webinar will be on Monday , Feb 29th. Reserve your spot so you will also receive a recording link afterwards:

Sign up Here

Take the Leap!   Can’t wait to connect with you on Monday.

To Your Speaking Success!!

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Confidence as a Speaker!

I recently had a conversation with someone about having Confidence as a public speaker. Exuding confidence plays a huge role in how others perceive you. Many people say your confidence will grow the more you practice – and yes, there is SOME truth in that!  However, one of the best ways to increase your Confidence is by being PREPARED. Sometimes you may look at public speakers who seem to do a good job at “winging it”   and believe that this is the mark of someone with confidence- being able to “wing it”. The truth is those who are best at “winging it” are actually the most prepared. They may not have specifically prepared for that moment when they were called upon spontaneously to speak- but their ongoing preparations gave them what they needed to be able to “speak off the cuff”. They pulled from their storehouse of prepared materials to confidently respond in the moment.

Have you ever heard this saying?  ” Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.”

Developing new and effective communication skills are key to increasing confidence and ongoing personal and professional success. Being prepared ahead of time is one of the best ways to grow your confidence. Craig Valentine says it best, “Don’t just GET ready, STAY ready” for when opportunity knocks. Here’s a great article taken from  Entrepreneur  magazine online  , written by Jacqueline Whitmore  (http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/247353)

6 Actions You Can Take Everyday to Build Your Self-Confidence.

Even the greatest leaders lack self-confidence at certain times. Self-confidence is not a static quality; rather, it’s a mindset that takes effort to maintain when the going gets rough. It must be learned, practiced and mastered just like any other skill. But once you master it, you will be changed for the better.

Here are six effective ways to promote your own self-confidence.

1. Act the part.
Your body language can instantly demonstrate self-assuredness, or it can scream insecurity. Present yourself in a way that says you are ready to master or take command of any situation. If you look confident and act the part you aspire to reach, you’ll not only feel in control, people will have much more confidence in you as well.

Hold your head high, sit up straight, gently bring your shoulders back to align your spine and look directly at the other person when interacting. Avoid a limp handshake and maintain good eye contact while someone is speaking to you.

2. Dress the part.

When you look better, you feel better. If you choose clothing and accessories that fit you well, suit your industry and lifestyle, and make you feel good, this will automatically increase your self-esteem. Look like the part you want to play, or in other words, suit up for success. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine in your accessories. Bold jewelry or a colorful tie can be a focal point and a good conversation starter.

3. Speak assertively.
The next time you listen to your favorite speaker, be mindful of the way he or she delivers a speech. A great speaker speaks confidently, in a steady, rhythmic tone. Instead of the “ums” and “ahs” that interrupt flow, they use pauses to emphasize ideas.

Adopt an assertive, but not aggressive, way of speaking that indicates your self-confidence. You will feel your self-esteem begin to rise. To be taken seriously, avoid high-pitched, nervous chatter or twittering giggles in your speech. People will listen to you more attentively when they see the leader radiate from within you.

4. Think and act positively.

Positive energy leads to positive outcomes, so set your mind to the can-do side of any situation, avoiding the negative self-talk that can make you feel less confident. Smile, laugh and surround yourself with happy, positive people. You’ll feel better and the people with whom you work will enjoy your company.

Keep a gratitude journal to remind yourself of the high points of your day and your accomplishments. You will develop more peace and confidence when you are in a grateful state of mind.

5. Take action.
There’s more to being confident than just how you look. You must act the part. Walk up to a stranger at a networking event, or accept a project you’d normally reject. Practice being self-confident and soon it will become second nature.

Inaction breeds doubt and fear, while action breeds confidence and courage. As an exercise, jot down your strengths and weaknesses. Most people will tell you to work on your weaknesses, but use what you’ve got and capitalize on your strengths instead. Once you put more energy into your positive traits, your confidence will start to shine through.

6. Be prepared.
Remember the five P’s: Prior planning prevents poor performance. The more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll feel about your expertise and competency. Preparation will help you avoid getting tripped up by life’s unexpected glitches.

Learn everything you can about your industry, your subject matter, your goals and what drives you towards success. Before you start a task, first imagine how you want to feel once you’ve completed it. Don’t try to accomplish too much at once. Break complex tasks up into small, bite-size, manageable pieces.

As U.S. Army General Creighton Williams Abrams Jr. once said, “When eating an elephant take one bite at a time.” If you have patience and perseverance, you are only steps away from a more confident you.”


How do you need to start preparing for your next speaking opportunity – scheduled or not?

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Get Coached to Speak – Bootcamp

Want to Become A Speaker?  microphoneRUI

Are you an entrepreneur, coach or author? Do you have a message in your heart that doesn’t always come out the way you want it to ?   This one day Bootcamp will help catapult you into higher levels of confidence and speaking success!

The Get Coached to Speak Bootcamp is designed to not only show you what habits may be hindering your effectiveness but also equip you with the tools to implement right away to connect more deeply with your audience and motivate them to action. 

Reserve your seat for the next  Get Coached to Speak Bootcamp on January 23, 2016

Limited seating available. CLICK here to reserve your seat!

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GET COACHED To SPEAK Bootcamp June 7, 2014



You have probably heard it said that “practice makes perfect” and yes there is some truth to it. However, what if you are practicing the wrong things, and  bad habits are forming. Many speakers mistake their confidence in public speaking as evidence of their effectiveness as a speaker. Getting practice speaking will help, ONLY IF you are practicing the right skills!

The Get Coached to Speak Bootcamp is designed to not only show you what habits may be hindering your effectiveness but also equip you with the tools to implement right away to transform the way you deliver your message.

Reserve your seat for the next  Get Coached to Speak Bootcamp on JUNE 7, 2014.

Limited seating available. CLICK on the icon below to reserve your seat!

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