Last modified 06/02/23

How to shift from expert pitfalls to a powerful speaker mindset 

by Elizabeth Van Den Bergh

In this article, I talk about the three pitfalls of experts who take the stage and how to prepare to show up as a caring, inspiring, and engaging expert speaker instead.

Reading this article will give you a deeper understanding of how to show up with a powerful mindset. Just like the great speakers you admire.

Remember that keynote that you attended but didn’t land with the audience? What happened there? Let me explain and also tell you what you can do to avoid this happening to you.

Every speaker has expertise to bring to his audience.

The three pitfalls of experts who take the stage

You are too deep into the topic.

Of course, you are because you are the one with all the expertise. This means you might have a hard time connecting to the audience because they find themselves on a different level of expertise. Find a way to engage them.

You focus on proving you are the expert.

Of course, you can make your case. By all means, please do. But whilst proving yourself you might fall into the trap of data dumping. Also known as the trap of information overload. Believe me, nobody is waiting for that. You are on the stage, we know you know your sh*t. We want you to inspire us.

Your need for control doesn’t allow you to be fully present with your story and with your audience.

You focus too much on getting it right and not forgetting anything. At worst you seem disconnected from your audience. Needless to say, this is not attractive to your audience. They want to feel involved.

What is going on

What’s happening is probably a blind spot for you and ultimately an attitude problem. But please, don’t blame yourself for it. Upbringing, education and, society all told us to get knowledgeable, prove ourselves and, to take control.

So, no surprise that you show up with the attitude that you have to prove yourself. Which, at worst, can end up in an overbearing attitude, perceived by some as arrogant.

Let’s see what you can do so you show up as a caring, inspiring, and engaging expert speaker instead.

What to do instead: the one technique great speakers master that will take your keynote from average to great

It is all about showing up with the right mental attitude or mindset. Let’s make this very concrete.

I am curious to know what is valuable and relevant for my audience

You must bridge your deep level of knowledge on the topic to the level of knowledge of your audience. Meet them where they are. Simple, but not always easy.

A great talk takes the audience on a journey. If you don’t manage to captivate them at the beginning. It’s nearly impossible to do so later in your presentation.

You are deep in your topic, and you keep asking yourself ‘Do I know enough?’. This question comes from a mindset that says ‘I must impress.’ This is not a mindset that allows you to show up with power. Because there is always more to know. And the more you know, the more you know there is still so much you don’t know. But knowledge in itself is not inspiring.

Stop looking for more knowledge. Instead, be so curious about how you can help your audience that they experience tremendous value from your words.
How can your knowledge help them?

The right mindset is ‘I am curious to know what’s valuable and relevant for my audience’. This is a powerful mindset.

More concretely ask yourself: how does my topic appear in the lives of my audience?

Let me give a simple example here: public speaking is what I help my clients with. So for me, it’s daily business, I breathe and live it every day. For potential clients, public speaking is urgent and important, but not a daily business. So I will address it from the question: when and where do you speak? And take that as a starting point.

‘I am curious’ is an engaging attitude to show up with.

I own myself and forget about being perfect

When we feel we have to prove ourselves, we keep asking ourselves ‘Am I good enough?’. The default answer by our inner critic will be ‘No’.

Clearly, this is not a helpful inner conversation to feel powerful on stage.

And as a result, you might go for the data-dumping strategy. Also known as the opposite of inspiring.

The opposite of proving yourself is owning yourself. By that, I mean, not trying to be perfect. Not trying to be someone you are not. Owning yourself means you accept yourself fully, both your strengths and weaknesses, and live life without regrets or apologies. Be real, not perfect. Flawsome. That’s inspiring.

‘I am good enough’ is an inspiring attitude to show up with.

I let go of wanting to control

Let go of the idea that you have control. You cannot control what will happen exactly when you deliver your keynote. You cannot control other people or their reactions. Yet, you have much, much more influence than you believe is possible.

Think about this. By letting go of control, you gain control. Because you can be more present and connect.

My advice is always ‘come with a plan and go with the flow’. Your keynote will never go exactly as planned and I hope it doesn’t. Because this means you were present and able to interact with the audience.

Wanting to control comes from a place of fear. Instead, check in with yourself and shift to inner safety. If you feel inner safety, you can operate from a place of trust, love, connection, and full presence. Allow for playfulness, and lightness of being.

‘I am present’ is a caring mindset to show up with.


I hope this article helps you question and adjust your mindset.

Making the right mental shifts and asking the right questions are what I help my clients with. So they can become the comfortable, relaxed, and engaging speakers every audience dreams of.

If you want to get started, book your call: