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January 12, 2011


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Kathy Reiffenstein

Hi Tom,

I'm so glad you found the post useful.

One other thing I would add is, since you're in effect saying goodbye, think of the way you'd like your audience to remember you. And then let that image guide you as you prepare your remarks.

And don't forget to practice, practice, practice.

Best of luck with your retirement speech.


Tom Brown

Kathy - Your information is simply outstanding. I have made business related presentations for over 40 years without issue with the exception of when I speak of my managers and other personnel that work closly with me. I get an emotional "catch" in my voice. I've managed through this over the years, but now I am facing my own retirement speech and went looking for help as I don't want to lose control and make a fool of myself.

Kathy Reiffenstein

Hi Telonius,

Thanks for your comments.

Yes, I agree that it is not at all good to detach entirely from one's emotions. We need to show enthusiasm and even sadness or outrage, as appropriate.

The key with the speaker showing emotion is to consciously be aware of the audience's comfort/discomfort continuum. No matter how genuine the speaker's emotion about a particular subject may be, if it makes the audience uncomfortable, the impact of the speaker's message will be lost.



I think it is not necessary to detach completely from one's emotions. They also help to make a natural and kind impression on the audience. But one should keep the awareness on the outside, as was mentioned in the post, and not get overwhelmed by the own feelings or confuse the audience.

They say that belly breathing activates the parasympathetic nerves and help to stay calm and reduce fright. Deep breathing helped me to settle my mind. Maybe not as deeply as suggested;-)


Kathy Reiffenstein

HI Fred,

Thanks for your comment. I do hope you meant *G*ood and not just odd!! :)

I always get a laugh in my classes when I tell participants that "you never make a mistake or stumble on your words when you just think the words in your head -- in fact there, you are generally brilliant! But when you open your mouth, often it's a very different scenario."


Fred E. Miller

ood and timely Post!

It's very important, as you pointed out, to Practice - Practice - Practice!

Practice out loud! Intellectualizing the speech in your mind is not the same as speaking the words. There is a HUGE Difference.

Kathy Reiffenstein

Hi Deven,

Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

By no means am I suggesting that a speaker detach themselves or disengage emotionally from their audience. My advice is simply to be very aware of what level of emotion and emotional control will be appropriate for each audience.

For example, some audiences will be fine and comfortable with a speaker shedding a few tears when discussing a particularly poignant subject or event. But other audiences [think formal, corporate group] may well not be fine with that level of emotional display.

It all comes down to knowing enough about your audience to determine their level of comfort with emotional "displays" like tears or anger, and then reading their reactions, in the moment, to make any necessary course corrections.


Deven Pravin Shah

Hi Kathy:

From my experience, emotions is what helps me connect with the audience.

Are you suggesting detaching emotionally to keep the calm and composure? If yes, wouldn't it make the speech harder to connect? I would love to hear your ideas on it.

For me, a couple of things help keep control. Have the theme and purpose of the presentation clear in my mind. And have the key points down. And then develop them while speaking. I love the spontaneity while speaking, and still keeping it anchored to the plan.

Kathy Reiffenstein

Hi Simon,

Thanks for stopping by! And you are SO right. Any breathing is better than holding your breath (!), but for the best results, deep, abdomen breathing is most effective.


Simon Raybould

All good stuff - but don't forget that breathing low, into your abdomen, is the most effective way, not just 'breathing' ;)

It's one of the techniques I teach my clients! And I'm sure you do too! :)

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