Kelly Pickler, Part II

During last week’s "Become the Star You Are" TeleClinic, we talked about Kelly Pickler, one of the contestants on "American Idol," and how she survived after totally screwing up while singing the song "Bewitched." While some people at the TeleClinic had never watched American Idol, a fact I find hard to believe, we all had some insight into what it was about Kelly that made her impervious to being eliminated.

Kelly’s disaster AND how she handled it was an amazing example of how being real, vulnerable and totally honest is so much more magnetic and winning than just performing something perfectly. Audiences are hungry for someone who’s not hiding behind the need to appear greater than they are, someone who will just say, "Hey, this is me, and I really goofed up."

(If you want to check out the recording of this TeleClinic, just register here).

But this last week, Kelly did get voted off after another really poor performance. It made me wonder if her first disaster had gotten to her, that she wasn’t able to shake it off as well as I thought she might.

Nonetheless, she’s still got her straightforward spunk, as Daniel Feinberg of reports here:

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Public Speaking Anxiety Hits the News!

Are you a high-trait or a low-trait?

CBS News reports on a new study done by Paul L. Witt, Ph.D., of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, that states you are probably one or the other.

"What was surprising was the anxiety pattern. People with low-trait anxiety get nervous before speaking but begin to relax once they get started. People with high-trait anxiety, however, are anxious when they start speaking and get more anxious as they go on."

Witt calls the high-trait folks "Sensitizers" and the low-trait folks "Habituaters."

But what I find affirming is that this study shows that it all comes down to focus. The high-traiters are people who focus on the unpleasant sensations or negative thoughts they are experiencing while the low-traiters have the ability to focus in a way that makes them more comfortable and at ease within the public speaking context.

While I appreciated this study, I think Dr. Witt’s suggestions on how to deal with the anxiety are pretty lame. He’s right when he suggests that "it’s a matter of gaining confidence by learning a simple set of skills." It’s just that the skills he suggests don’t really work.


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Kelly Pickler: How Does She Do It?

My friend Scott and I were complaining about last night’s American Idol. Eventhough neither of us are big Ace fans, we couldn’t believe that America didn’t vote Kelly Pickler off the show after she completely messed up the song "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" by Rodgers and Hart.

I was ranting that America must still have some kind of unconditional love for dumb blonds. I’m sorry, but Kelly’s wide-eyed naivete is wearing very, very thin.

But once I calmed down, I realized there may be another reason why Kelly didn’t get voted off.

She didn’t make any excuses. She said out loud, "I butchered it.!" She didn’t try to cover anything up. Unlike a lot of public figureheads these days.

Perhaps America stayed in love with Kelly for two reasons.

  1. Because we can relate to her. We all mess up every now and then, despite our best intentions.
  2. We respect people who make a mistake and just admit it.

Or maybe American really does love dumb blondes. (Now, before you send me evil emails, I’m not saying ALL blonds are dumb. Only some of them).

There is something irresistible about people who just are who they are, even when they aren’t at their best. We trust them. We feel at home with them. And we relate to them.

In my article The Myth of Mistakes I talked about my friend Bridget who is so engaging and fun when she forgets her lyrics and just vamps her way through the song until she remembers what comes next. The audience loves her when this happens, not because they want to hear her mess up, but because all of a sudden Bridget is just a person and not a professional singer. She is someone we can relate to, someone who messes up yet finds her way again.

I have many clients who won’t speak up or even raise their hand in a workshop situation because they are afraid making a mistake or asking the wrong question. They are afraid of what people will think of them if they are less then perfect.

Well, Kelly, why don’t you tell them?

Hey, you guys! You can mess up BIG TIME and still be America’s Sweetheart! Kelly Pickler is living proof.