Embrace the Mess: Lessons in Public Speaking From My Cat

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

When it comes to giving presentations, my coaching clients all want the same thing: A stress-free, problem free, perfectly executed result. To which I say, “good luck with that.” Because, as you may have noticed, plans and expectation often have a way of going awry. Life is messy, and sometimes giving presentations is too. Which, as I have learned over many years of delivering and observing countless presentations and performances, is perfectly normal and perfectly fine. I recently got a great reminder about the value of embracing the mess and going with what you’re given from an unexpected source: My …

executive presence word pronunciation

To Increase Executive Presence, Sharpen Your Word Pronunciation

Eleni Kelakos Executive leadership coaching, Executive Presence, Peak Performance, speech coaching

I once had the CEO of a company reach out to me to ask if I would coach a member of his leadership team in sharpening his verbal skills so he could increase his executive presence. “The problem,” he explained,” is that this fellow mispronounces a lot of words. For example, he says “acrost” instead of “across,” and “supposably” instead of “supposedly.” He’s in a position that’s heavily client-facing, and I don’t want these verbal slips to undermine his credibility. I know that word pronunciation is a little thing. But I believe it’s often the little things that can hold …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Embrace Your So-Called Mistakes and be Perfectly Imperfect

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

Women are notorious perfectionists. We need to “get it right, and we beat ourselves into a pulp when we don’t. In the corporate world, women are more likely to be perfectionistic and deeply self-critical than the men they work with. This is what Psychologist Peta Slocombe, senior VP of Corporate Health at Medbio, concluded through an Australian survey of 4980 workers from 41 workplaces. I wasn’t exactly surprised to read these findings, because I continously encounter this tendency towards perfectionism in the women who come to me for executive leadership coaching. And, as a recovering perfectionist, I understand all too …

Like Joan of Arc, You Were Born to Make Your Difference

Eleni Kelakos Executive leadership coaching, Peak Performance, Uncategorized

I was shopping at the grocery store, when a quote on a card in the greeting card rack stopped me in my tracks “I am not afraid,” it read. “I was born to do this.” I stepped closer, to read the source of the quote, and was surprised to see that it was attributed to Joan of Arc– a heroine of France who led the French army to victory over the English at Orleans in 1430 when she was eighteen years old. She was ultimately burned at the stake by the English and canonized as a saint. Joan of Arc …