Dance With What You’re Given: A Lesson In Grace From Miley Cyrus

Eleni Kelakos Executive leadership coaching, Peak Performance, presentation skills training, public speaking training, speech coaching, Women in Leadership

It was New Year’s Eve, 2021, and superstar performer, Miley Cyrus, took the stage in her live TV special, singing and dancing while rockin’ a fabulous teeny tiny silver skirt and matching teeny tiny halter top. All was well. Until it suddenly wasn’t: The teeny tiny top suddenly loosened, and Miley’s hands leaped up to hold it up, as she shimmied and sang. For a few moments, she tried to keep up with her complicated choreography. And then, no doubt realizing it would be impossible to keep dancing with her arms and hands immobilized, she backed off the stage, still …

Take the Risk to Advocate for Yourself

Eleni Kelakos Peak Performance, Problem Solving, Self Help, Women in Leadership

I was in my twenties, pursuing my dream of being a professional actress in New York City. Auditions—and rejections—were challenging and discouraging. To fuel my bruised creative spirit, I took supportive acting classes; and I soaked in every piece of theater I could afford to see on my limited budget. That’s how I found myself in the basement of a small church in downtown Manhattan, stunned and spellbound by an explosive production of a play called Cinderella/Cendrillon. The production, based on Massenet’s opera, Cendrillon, combined elements of opera, dance and theater in ways that both twisted and deepened the standard Cinderella story. It …

Sometimes You Just Have to Say Something

Eleni Kelakos Peak Performance, Self Help, Women in Leadership

A snippet from my new book out now,Claim the Stage! (Note: The following is an excerpt from the preface of my new book, Claim The Stage! I chose to write this book for women like you– and some of you have even helped me write it, by providing answers to two surveys that have given me data to work with and thoughtful perspectives to quote. I thought I’d share this excerpt today as a way of explaining why I haven’t exactly been writing and posting Monday Morning Musings very regularly. Truth is, since the Pandemic began, in between coaching sessions and speaking …

Assertive or Aggressive? What’s the Difference

Eleni Kelakos Executive leadership coaching, Problem Solving, Self Help, speech coaching, Women in Leadership

Years ago, while I was living and working in New York City as a professional actor, I had a passing acquaintance with another performer I’ll call Paula. With a soaring, powerful voice reminiscent of Barbra Streisand, Paula was one of the most talented singers I’d ever heard. As big as her voice was, her drive to succeed as a Broadway musical theater performer was even bigger. She was, however, continuously frustrated by her inability to land the kind of big, splashy roles she not only felt she deserved but could rightfully handle. The more no’s she got, the more frustrated …

Public Speaking Success: Making The Most Of A Wrong Note

Eleni Kelakos Peak Performance, presentation skills training, public speaking training, speech coaching

What You Do Next Matters I was leafing through a catalogue of novelty items, when a quote by jazz great Miles Davis printed on a tee shirt caught my eye.  “When you hit a wrong note,” it said, “it’s the next note that makes it good or bad!”  I ripped out the quote and pinned it to my bulletin board, thinking Mr. Davis nailed it! When it comes to performing in public, It’s what you do next with a moment that goes awry that matters. The fact is, whether you give a speech or a concert, public performances are in-the-moment …

Silence Is Not Necessarily Golden

Eleni Kelakos Executive leadership coaching, Peak Performance, Problem Solving, Self Help, Women in Leadership

(Note: The following is excerpted from Claim the Stage! The Workbook, an interactive workbook associated with my book Claim the Stage: A Woman’s Guide to Speaking Up, Standing Out and Taking Leadership. Both will be available to the public by mid-summer) If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my work is that silence is not necessarily golden. Whether you want to step onto larger stages, or share your voice more in meetings or conversations, one thing is certain: Your voice cannot be shared if you choose to silence it. Silence is not necessarily golden (except when your newborn finally falls asleep, or you’ve …

“Ouch! That Hurts! But Thanks For Telling Me! Learning to Embrace Constructive Criticism

Eleni Kelakos Peak Performance, Problem Solving, Self Help

(Note: The following is excerpted from Claim the Stage! The Workbook, an interactive workbook associated with my book Claim the Stage: A Woman’s Guide to Speaking Up, Standing Out and Taking Leadership. Both will be available to the public by mid-summer) Taking ownership of our blessings tends to be a lot easier than examining and owning our blocks—particularly when we receive feedback that makes us go “Ouch!” One of my life and career changing “Ouch! That hurts! But thanks for telling me” moments occurred years ago, soon after I started to give keynote speeches to large audiences on a national level. After giving …

Before You Take Steps, Take Aim

Eleni Kelakos Problem Solving, Self Help, Women in Leadership

(Note: The following is an excerpt from my new book Claim the Stage! A Woman’s Guide to Speaking Up, Standing Out and Taking Leadership, which will be released in mid-summer): Brenda, a warm and witty catering manager for a local restaurant chain, wasn’t sure why she was sitting in my office. “I’m feeling unfulfilled by my work,” Brenda began. “But I really don’t know what I want.” “For now, let’s focus on what you don’t want,” I said. “What do you want to stop doing or feeling?” “That’s easy,” she said. “I want to feel less restless. I don’t want to be tethered to my desk, computer, …

Executive Presence: Switch On Your Video and Unmute Yourself

Eleni Kelakos Executive leadership coaching, Peak Performance, presentation skills training, public speaking training, speech coaching, Zoom Performance Anxiety

When it comes to Executive Presence, I like to say that “presence = being present”. And being present means being willing to truly be in each moment as it unspools. It means allowing yourself to see and be seen, hear and be heard, feel and be felt. If you want to make a real impact, and to amp up your executive presence, you’ve got to be willing to fully reveal yourself. Which is why I’m so fascinated by how many business professionals who say they want to be perceived more as leaders choose to don their cloak of invisibility. And …

Drop Your Armor

Eleni Kelakos Peak Performance, Problem Solving, Self Help

In days of yore, knights girded up for battle in metal from head to toe. How they functioned at all is a wonder, ensnared as they were by their heavy armor. In this day and age, we don’t use breastplates or shields to armor ourselves: We put up emotional barriers instead, in a misguided attempt to protect our tender hearts from the slings and arrows of daily living. And then we wonder why we feel so disconnected, so alienated from others, or from our own feelings. As an actor, I learned that the emotional armor I was piling up in …

3 Ways to Help Men Hear You Better

Eleni Kelakos Problem Solving, Relationship Communication, Women in Leadership

My husband handed me the Sunday paper’s “funnies” section, and pointed to the comic strip Zits, by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman. “Read this,” he said, with a grin, “it’s right on the money.” In the strip, a mom was attempting to communicate something she was really upset about to her teenage son, who was sitting next to his dad. The mom’s speech bubble was completely filled with words, all scrunched illegibly together. After the mom left the room in a huff, the dad stood up and rearranged the words in the mom’s speech bubble, reducing them to this: “Don’t …

When You Get Your Cue, Don’t Think, Just Do.

Eleni Kelakos Peak Performance, speech coaching, Women in Leadership

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 7, Take Your Cue, from my book, Claim the Stage: A Woman’s Guide to Speaking Up, Standing Out, and Taking Leadership, which is THIS far from being published. Stay tuned for more about my book launch and release date! Preparation builds confidence. But overpreparation due to the need to be perfect can kill your confidence because it presumes a lack of readiness or worth that can only be conquered by doing, or being, something that is unattainable. The pitfall of perfection is one that women of all ages and career levels risk teetering into. And it’s …

Three Ways to be Confident on Camera

Eleni Kelakos Executive leadership coaching, Peak Performance, presentation skills training, public speaking training, speech coaching, Women in Leadership

When the 2020 Pandemic hit, every aspect of my work that I typically did in a room within literal reach of an audience of one many– from executive presence leadership coaching, to group presentation skills training, to giving keynote presentations— moved 100% to a virtual platform. Staring into lens of the Logitech camera perched on the top of my computer screen, I was taken back to my early days as a professional actress in New York City when, after several years of auditioning for and performing in plays and musicals, I started to audition for television and film projects. Though …

3 Ways to Rock Your Short Talk

Eleni Kelakos Executive leadership coaching, Peak Performance, presentation skills training, public speaking training, speech coaching

Sammy, a young inventor, and the winner of a prestigious 30 under 30 award from Forbes, Inc was offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: To give a short talk about his groundbreaking invention at the prestigious annual Forbes summit.  When he called me to set up some coaching sessions to help him shape his presentation, I asked how long his short talk needed to be.  “Five minutes on the nose,” he replied. Five minutes to give a short talk with career-boosting impact. Five minutes to give a short talk to an audience of deep-pocketed potential investors. Five minutes to give a short …

What Is a Keynote Speech? Plus 5 Steps to Help You Write One.

Eleni Kelakos Peak Performance, presentation skills training, public speaking training, speech coaching

You’ve been asked to deliver a keynote speech at an upcoming event.  And while you may be flattered by the request, you have a lot of questions, like: “What is a keynote speech anyway? What makes it different that other presentations?  How long should a keynote speech be? And how do I write a keynote speech Before I answer those questions, let me congratulate you for having been asked to deliver a keynote speech.  Because being invited to give a keynote speech means that have developed a perspective, a public persona, or a big idea that is interesting enough to …

5 Ways to Beat Zoom Performance Anxiety (ZPA)

Eleni Kelakos Executive leadership coaching, Peak Performance, presentation skills training, public speaking training, speech coaching

As a presentation skills coach and trainer, I’ve spent almost twenty years helping clients manage presentation performance anxiety.  But it’s only been since Covid-19 reared it’s extremely ugly head that I’ve needed to help my clients manage what I’m calling  Zoom Performance Anxiety, or ZPA (and oh, how I wish I could have found a way to make ZAP work instead of ZPA)!  Several presentation coaching and executive presence leadership coaching clients, both new and old, have confessed to a surprising and off-putting fear of speaking while using online platforms like Zoom.  They typically experience Zoom Performance Anxiety when they …

Paint Your Speaker Vision in Living Color

Eleni Kelakos presentation skills training, public speaking training, speech coaching

Imagine going to an archery range that had no targets. You’d be standing around with your bow and arrow, scratching your head and wondering “Uh, where do I point this thing?” Or you might be firing off arrows willy-nilly in all manner of directions, which isn’t exactly productive. Without a target, you have nothing to aim at. That’s the reasoning behind writing and using a Speaker Vision.  By vision I mean a clear, specific, and compelling picture of how you want to see yourself as a speaker at a specific point in time in the future (e.g. six months or …

To Boost Public Speaking Confidence, Take Time to Take a Bow

Eleni Kelakos Executive leadership coaching, Peak Performance, presentation skills training, public speaking training, speech coaching, Women in Leadership

Claudia had spent weeks working with me to prepare a high-level presentation for a prestigious conference that would showcase her considerable expertise.  The effort she’d put into developing and internalizing the presentation was almost as mighty as the effort she’d put into managing the anxiety she’d had about giving it.   I was confident that she was ready, and that her performance would make us both proud. On the day Claudia gave her presentation, she shot me a brief text:  “Went great! More when I see you next week.”  Claudia’s brief text sounded triumphant. Which was why I was so taken …