Pitch DNA Insider 101: 3 Easy Steps to Tango with the Tasmanian Devil of Fear


Welcome to the sophomore issue of the Pitch DNA Insider. If you missed last month’s, check it out over here

Now, let’s talk about three easy steps to tango with the Tasmanian Devil of fear.

We all know that public speaking can be terrifying, but why? It’s not like we’re in danger of physical assault (at least not usually. I mean, someone once chucked a lemon wedge at me while I worked the crowd, but that’s for a future newsletter).
Being nervous, anxious and/or terrified before giving an important talk is normal and it’s something most of us wrestle with (or “rassle,” if you live south of Springfield).
Fifteen years ago, early into my speaking career, I was scheduled to deliver a talk in front of a small but important crowd. As the time drew closer, I was overwhelmed by a sense of dread.
The feelings confused me because, in the weeks beforehand, I eagerly anticipated giving this talk. But now, minutes before go-time, my feelings had suddenly changed. Why?

I called my mentor, Francesca, who said something that forever changed the way I think about emotions and action:

“Stuart, you have to realize that you may never feel like doing the things that you’re committed to doing, but you do them anyway and the feelings will come to you afterwards.”

This was a critical shift in my thought process because it was the inverse of how I believed life was supposed to work. At the time, I believed you had to feel like doing something (which implied you were meant to do it), then do it.

But I was wrong. The approach to powering through fear is the exact opposite.

3 Easy Steps to Tango with the Tasmanian Devil of Fear

  1. Say what you’re going to do (commitment)

  2. Do it (action) and

  3. Feel the resulting emotions (accomplishment)

After speaking with my mentor, I focused on my commitment (to give a talk that would move people and provide valuable information) and breathed into my feelings of uncertainty—my uninvited house guests. By breathing deeply, I showed them the door, focused on the task at hand, and stepped onstage with a renewed sense of excitement.

When I left off the stage that night, I felt like a million bucks. Thank you, Francesca!

Bottom line: Don’t let fear decide what you're going to accomplish in your life. Let your commitments guide your actions and the feelings will be there to welcome you home.


The Pitch DNA Insider - Issue 101

Audio-mazing: This Audiobook Will Ground Your Storytelling Skills

During high school I took a life-changing course called “The Philosophy of Knowledge.” In the class, we debated everything from philosophy to religion to phenomenology. Though we read numerous books during the semester, the one that stood out most was The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell. Despite needing little encouragement to dig in to such a vibrant work, our teacher assigned us to watch the companion series on PBS (wait, what…PBS? Groan!). To my pleasant surprise, watching Bill Moyers (the host) and Campbell talk was awe-inspiring, as is the audio book. This 5 ½ hour series illuminates both the power of myth and the hero’s journey—two foundational storytelling tools for your startup or new venture.

Listen to a book sample


Widescreen Talks: Nerdwriter Breaks Down a Louis CK joke

My public speaking career is rooted in the art of standup comedy so I know, though professional comics make their material appear off-the-cuff, there’s far more work going on behind the scenes than you can imagine. For instance, the craftsmanship behind CK’s joke writing is impressive because, like any powerful pitch, every word, pause and nuance counts. Video courtesy of Josh Spector’s weekly email newsletter (which I highly recommend signing up for).

Hot Pod: Dr. Robert Cialdini on The Art of Charm Podcast

Most of you know Dr. Robert Cialdini from his groundbreaking book, Influence. He’s back with a new work called Pre-Suasion that has changed the way I think about the “pre-pitch”—the time before your intended audience hears your pitch. This episode is full of actionable advice. Listen to it twice...nay, thrice!

Listen to the podcast (ep 543)


Invest in Yourself: Get a Giant Whiteboard

Many years ago, I fell in love with whiteboards when I realized how useful they are to map out ideas, structures, ideas, notes—everything you need for outlining your pitch. Also, whiteboards can both punch up and simplify complex ideas when presenting. For example, we all know that “5 times the revenue” sounds impressive, but when you draw a bar graph that illustrates 5x, it supercharges your point.

Check out this impressive whiteboard

Pro Tip: After whiteboarding your notes, snap a pic with your mobile phone and upload ‘em to your drive for future reference.


See you next month!

Founder, Pitch DNA

PS. I rely on your feedback. If you have ideas to help me improve this newsletter or topics you’d like me to cover, please email me. And of course, if you find the Pitch DNA Insider valuable, send to a friend so they know how smart, charming and witty you are.