MCBA’s January general membership luncheon introduced members to a new theme with a program designed to hone leadership skills by improving our public speaking abilities. Marianne Fleischer, a former TV newscaster and current speechwriter and presentations skills coach, delivered an abbreviated version of her workshop, “Cool Under Fire.” Whether it is pitching legal services to a client or presenting a case to a judge or a jury, attendees learned do’s and don’ts of a polished and eloquent presentation.

Fleischer delivered an entertaining interactive program, enlisting attendees in a few improv scenarios. She addressed managing performance anxiety, profiling your audience, creating influence, and building a memorable narrative. Other topics included when to deliver bad news in a presentation, winning back resistant or distracted peers, and building executive presence. Here is a small sample of the takeaways from two of those topics for those who missed an informative workshop:

Building a compelling narrative:

  • Describe hero(s) on a quest
  • Build tension
  • Throw in a twist
  • Resolve the key issue to be the new normal
  • Celebrate lesson learned

Handling stage fright:

  • Take deep “belly” breaths
  • Slow down
  • Anticipate brain freezes and stash props to give yourself something to do while unfreezing, such as walking to a glass of water on another table and sipping it
  • Use “Power Poses”
  • Use Jin Shin Jyutsu
  • Use “Clench Technique”
  • Consider beta blocker pills

For those interested in contacting Fleisher about upcoming programs or private coaching, her website is