My Top Newbie Tips for Taking the Stage as a Speaker, Teacher, or Coach - Christine Kane

For the last year and a half, I’ve taught people how to host their own Vision Board workshops.  It’s a blast.  People who are terrified make hundreds and thousands of dollars hosting and teaching and leading these workshops.

And here’s the deal.

Everyone gets scared to speak.

Everyone has fears about stepping on stage.

Many years ago, I was the same way.

Then I became a performer and did about 260 dates each year.

Now I’m on stage many times a year, hosting retreats and large events with my company Uplevel You.

I think you should do this.  I think you should speak. I think you should teach. And I think you should do it live and in-person.  On-line is great, yes.  But nothing is as real as people learning from you in person.

Check out this email:

7 Must-Know Insights from 20 Years on the Stage

You get the chance to change lives when people experience you in person.  Do it, okay?  You’ll love it.

And here are my top newbie tips from 20 years of doing my thing on stage:


1 – Learn how to manage the emotions of your audience.

First, a caveat.

If your workshop is called “Tactical Management and Human Resource Compliance,” you won’t, perhaps, be dealing with highly charged emotions.

However, you’d be surprised at what can come up for people in a room.  My students who host Vision Board Workshops share all the time that they were surprised at how many tears came up

How I Prepare for Emotions in a Live Setting:

Bummer, there’s no “9 point plan” for emotions.

For starters, just know they happen.

Here’s what will help…

When someone gets emotionally triggered at your event, your go-to plan should always be to get present. And I mean Jedi present.  In your body.

You’ll be tempted to get mental and try to “fix” this person.  Don’t try to fix them.  Just listen and be there 100%.  Ask guiding questions and have compassion.

You will know when it’s time to move on. If they are refusing to budge and becoming disruptive, here is some language that might help:

“I understand what you’re sharing here.  And here’s the thing.  We do need to get through this session, and I have lots of great material to cover here. Can you set this in a parking lot for now and return to it? I think there’s some great stuff for you there – but I want to honor the time of everyone else in the room.  Does that work?”

This person may or may not be pissed at you for this. But at this point, you’ve been clear.


2 – Avoid the fire-hose.

The nervous energy of being on stage can make newbies a bit hyper.  You will try to cram way too much in, talk way too fast, and throw way too much information at your participants. You fire-hose them.

And they glaze over, and you lose them.

How to prepare for this:

So you know that voice that likes to tell you you’re a fraud and that everyone will want their money back if you don’t give them every last tidbit of information you have ever known on this topic and then some?

Well, here’s the deal.

This voice never ever ever gets to join you when you’re planning your content.

When I stopped listening to this voice, I could then relax and find the best way to teach any given concept.  And almost 100% of the time, the best way is to go slow and give less than you might think.


3 – People will blow you off. Don’t take it personally.

You will have no-shows if you’re hosting your own event.

(And sometimes, they won’t even be decent enough to email.)

This one goes into the file labeled “cost of doing business.”

No matter how high or low your ticket-price, it happens.

Most peeps don’t understand all that you had to do to make this event happen. So they blow you off without even thinking.

Let it go.

How Team Uplevel prepares for potential no-shows:

First, make sure you always require some kind of payment for a live event, even if it’s “free.”  For example, at Uplevel, even if we offer a free ticket with a program I’m teaching, we always require a deposit to claim that ticket. The money is refunded upon registration at the event. It is not refunded if a participant doesn’t show.

Secondly, I stay in touch and keep the excitement alive after people register for the event. I add value to keep them anchored to the event as it nears.  I don’t just send “reminders.” I always send content and to keep them engaged.  This does wonders for our no-show rates.


4 – Be mindful of your energy.

When I was a musician, I learned the hard way how much energy the stage requires from you.  It’s subtle and you might not even notice it. But it’s a reality of any kind of performing.

Now, when I do events, I’m not floored like I used to be. That’s because I understand how much energy it requires to hold a room for three full days.  I have a set of core habits that are non-negotiable.

How to prepare for the energy of the stage:

First off, remember that your energy is the reason you make money at all.

Do not take that fact lightly.

It doesn’t mean you become a crazy diva. (But hey, why not?) It does mean that you be careful about nutrition, sleep, and exercise around your speaking or teaching dates.

It means that you drink tons of water when you’re on stage, and plan healthy meals in advance.

Oh yeah. Plan your outfits well in advance (including shoes and jewelry.)   This eliminates all the potential time and energy you waste on clothing choices in the morning before you step on stage.

7 Must-Know Insights from 20 Years on the Stage

Notice how Melinda is wise enough to give herself time to rest up after her first retreat – great idea!


5 – Observe the committee in your head. And then ignore them.

For sure, you’ll love being on stage and the energy of the room.

But you may also have a few WTF moments when you doubt yourself… perhaps when something goes wrong (which it will) or someone looks at you with hostility (which is mostly you projecting) or you say something profoundly stupid (see #6).

Standing in front of people in a live setting is as real as it gets in a business.

How to Prepare for Self-Doubt:  

This is called practice. Books like Tara Brach’s Radical Self Acceptance and Kristen Neff’s Self Compassion are must-reads if you are this sensitive.  Also, read this article on overcoming the fear of being seen.

Beyond that, embrace all of this as soul training. This work is expanding you. (And you’re the luckiest person in the world to be doing it!)


6 – Lose the perfection illusion.

About two weeks before the event, a voice will appear in your head. It will say something like, “Oh shit! I’m not perfect yet!”

You will then obsess over the following things in no particular order:

Your weight, your expertise, how you dress, your hair, your weight, the embarrassing fact that you’ve watched Lake House like 32 times, or that you yelled at your daughter last night, or that you’re a total fraud, and the three ginormous zits that just appeared on your chin.

And of course, your weight.

You will always think a more perfect version of yourself should show up to the stage. Please let this go. She never arrives. Be yourself. Be not perfect. Your people will love you for modeling something they so need to understand as well.

7 Must-Know Insights from 20 Years on the Stage

I love this text I got from my client before her event…

How I Prepare for the Perfectionist:

No way to prep for this one. You already are your perfectly imperfect self. Go for it.

(If you want to feel better about yourself…ask ANY of my clients about my Spanx incident on stage. Sigh.)

Final thing to consider…

I learned all of these things by just doing them and then learning from them.

When you speak or teach, you will always walk away with lessons. Make sure you write them down – and make sure you list action steps for how to prepare when you do your next one.  Use the wisdom from your experience.

And hey, since you made it this far in the article, I’d like to invite you to join us (as my virtual guest) at my SOLD OUT CLiCK Retreat next week, March 9, 2018.  You get to join us in the room for three sessions of deep dive content that’ll help you Uplevel your income this year.  (I promise there will be no Spanx issues. 🙂 ) Click here for deets!

  • pemberton

    Christine Kane, thank you ever so for you post.Much thanks again.

  • Jennifer Keller

    I’ve been a performer for quite a few years, and what I’ve learned is that pauses are OK. You don’t have to fill EVERYSINGLESECOND with something. Give it time to settle and breathe.

    (And while I don’t have a Spanx story, I do have a clothespin story…. 🙂

  • paulette hamel

    Live and in-person is authentic when you know what you are talking about. People can sense a fraud a mile away.

    Know your material and be engaging. Invite questions.

    I was having breakfast alone when a woman walked by and said hello and introduced herself. Turns out she is the director of the worlds largest apparel trade show and we hit it off and shared stories of younger brothers we both love and who both suffer from cancer and that led to her asking me questions about work. In particular, my opinion about Product development and Artificial Intelligence which led to a dinner invite that night with nine industry leaders, which led to a breakfast with peers the following morning where I gave some comments as part of the crowd and THAT led to being asked to speak at this same trade show next year (on inspiration and motivation for product developers and companies incorporating AI)

    I share this to illustrate how speaking opportunities can happen out of thin air from someone you barely know.

    I have never done a professional speaking engagement before but said yes because I felt excited at the opportunity to inspire and motivate others about my work.

    While I am too new to give concrete advice on speaking, I can certainly share that fear has crept in ever since I said yes. But, the thought of speaking from what I know and what I believe makes me realize people just want a story they can relate too with results they can apply.

    I only have to be a story teller of my life and my work.

    Perhaps my experience will encourage someone reading this post to see you do not have to be a world renowned expert….you just have to be open to the possibility and seek guidance from those that have done it before. One of the many reasons why I am taking UpLevel Your Business. Know where to get the tools you need and then just do it.

  • Sally Galloway

    What 2 things that have helped me most when I’m speaking or performing is 1. practice, practice, practice (not every word memorization–way too much pressure) to make sure I’ve captured the main points of what I want to cover, then trust and be 100% dancing in the moment.
    2. remember to keep my focus on the audience, who I am there to serve, what gift can I give, what the desired outcome for them is.
    Love your content, Christine, and your no-nonsense, non-fluffy delivery. Also loving that you’re on the east coast!

  • Kate Brooke-Potter

    I love speaking at events and every word you say here is so true.
    It is only through repeatedly doing events that you can look with humour at any glitches.
    I find that by being super ready with my set up it gives me the space to be milling around the entrance when my guests arrive. By engaging with them there, I don’t have to suddenly present as an unknown presence on stage.
    They already have a connection with me.
    This also allows for quicker interaction during the event.

    And please send another email telling us about your Spanx event, now you have got us imagining what it could be. 😉

  • Angella Nunes

    Great tips, thank you, Christine.

    When I get excited my outside voice takes over (almost deafening).

    Here is how I manage that issue: I practice my range ahead of time by projecting my voice from the kitchen to the front door of my house. That is a pretty good gauge. I store that in my memory for easy recall. I can easily catch myself and make the adjustment to bring it back down.
    Works for me!

  • Pam

    I would add, that you can trust your inner wisdom, when seven minutes before the speaking is to start, you hear a thought , that says, say this first, or some version of this is important. The plan is the road map. A couple of detours will add unexpected delights for you all.

  • Dori Staehle

    Yes! Totally agree on all points! I love speaking live! I’d add to be prepared for glitches. It could be technology or….having the waitstaff walk right in front of you during your entire talk! Talk about distracting!

    I had to laugh it off and make jokes along the way (“Oh, seafood salad! Yum!….And we’re back!”). I thought it was my worst talk ever. However, many told me later that I handled it really well and they thought it was really funny. Great setup for a coach who can help entrepreneurs with ADHD issues. “Oh look! Squirrel!” Lol!

    Let go of perfectionism! Have fun and just be you!

  • Martina Meyer

    BTW – No 5 – the committee in my head: You’re so right on with this one! I might need to sign them up for group coaching with you 🙂

  • Martina Meyer

    First of all – I LOVE your newsletters, and your generous way of sharing content!!! I totally get how your “human” way of sharing makes everything so much more “real”, accessible and possible… It nourishes my courage everytime I read one of your posts/blogs/newsletters…

    As far as prep work: Nowadays I always ask to see the “place of performance” before it’s show time. A day before is ideal, but the morning of (if it’s and evening start) is ok too.

    I like to be in the space, and just make friends with the energy in the room before anyone is there. To claim my space, get in relationship with the physical space and then claim the space for what I intend to create. I kind of ask the space for it’s blessing to perform my magic, and request it’s assistance. I talk to the walls, the stage, the audio equipment and all their spirit guides to be on my side for this one… Might sound crazy, but it works for me…

    Then I like to be there, somewhat invisible, as people arrive. Seeing them up close makes them real 3-dimensional humans for me, with their own stories, expectations and nervousness – vs it being a big glob of an audience that would feel like one judging superhuman…

    I did this before I did an Amateur dance performance in front of 650 strangers at a alumni dinner a couple years ago… for the first time on stage… for the first time moving, dancing and being lifted in the air… we were lucky to be able to rehearse a couple times in the morning, get acquainted with how the floor and the room felt… then we had dinner within our audience – holy shit – I thought I would have been able to hide all night, perform and get out of there… nope! But that’s when I learned how different it is when you perform for actual humans that you like, vs a strange mob – and amazingly I was less nervous than our initial performance in front of 60 people…

    Much Love,

  • Laura Silverman

    6 – The illusion that you are supposed to be perfect now that you are leading events.

    This really speaks to me, Christine! I’m not leading events (YET!) but I want to become a dual-certified recovery and life coach, and I often wonder if women (and men) prefer a coach who seemingly has their shit together or who models behavior of real humanity (including beautiful imperfection).

    I am so in love with your philosophy and consider me a devotee now! I googled how to plan a retreat (not that I’m ready yet, but still..) and BOOM, a post of yours came up. I’m hooked on you now!

    Plus, I want to make money and live authentically! I just started Marie Forleo’s B-School and I’m wayyyy behind but it’s all self-paced and you can’t rush genius 😉

    I hope to hear from you, my dear!


  • Corinne

    I’ll be in the seat and be exquisitely happy to be there. But I always feel like I have to fill these out. Hugs, Corinne

  • Morna McEver

    Christine, thanks for the good reminders. Numbers 2 and 6 do creep in. I still remember our conversation before my first Creative Arts Business Summit, and we are heading into our sixth later this month. You said, “Get out of your head and be your delightful Morna self.” I needed to hear that. Thank you.

  • Sandy Rees

    Christine! Spot on, as always! This is great for me as I’m thinking ahead to my 2nd live event this August. I definitely try to pack too much in, and I’m a recovering perfectionist which definitely get in my way. I’m going to hang on to this article to re-read every time the doubt and uncertainty creep in!

  • Yvonne

    Hi Christine!
    Thank you, thank you for sharing your top must-know insights. So valuable. I have experienced all that you listed in my small groups. Your authenticity is refreshing. I’m guessing you hear from others that it’s so nice to know I’m not alone in what thoughts enter my mind. Your top insights remind me how they are just thoughts, not the truth & I can acknowledge & move on to my message with love, vulnerablity, authenticity etc…I hope to meet you sometime & learn more from you!
    All my best & love!