Stairway
to Confidence

A 12 week online group program to help women speak to groups and record video with confidence.

I’m delighted that you’re interested in joining Stairway to Confidence.

I’m Olivia Mitchell, the creator of Stairway to Confidence, and on this page I’ll cover all the information you need to make a decision about joining Stairway to Confidence, including:

  • Who Stairway to Confidence is for,
  • How Stairway to Confidence works,
  • The ‘sliding scale’ payment system for the program so that it is affordable for you whatever your income level.
I ran the first Stairway to Confidence earlier this year (at that time it was called Journey to Confidence). The eight women who completed the program experienced huge changes in their confidence in public speaking, speaking up, and recording videos. I’ve included their stories on this page.

Who Stairway to Confidence is for

I’ve designed Stairway to Confidence for women who identify as introvert. As it’s entirely online, you can take part from wherever you are in the world as long as you have internet access. Here’s what the first participants on Stairway to Confidence felt about speaking up in meetings, public speaking or recording videos before doing the program.

Marisa Mack

Aspiring Entrepreneur

Click here to read how Marisa felt about public speaking before doing the program
Before I took this course, public speaking was something like a dreaded chore for me. I am an aspiring entrepreneur, and when I would think about what I would actually be doing with my clients, it brought me lots of joy and excitement, but when it came to me thinking about actually getting on video and talking, it was very intimidating for me. So it was like having this huge mountain in front of me that I would either have to move out of the way or find a way to get over it.
My biggest dread was of my mind going blank and not being able to remember my next point, which inevitably led me to over-preparing and exhausting myself. Margaret O'Brien

Marie Waldron

Inspired by helping people achieve their health and wellness goals

Click here to read how Marie felt about public speaking before doing the program
The thought of public speaking was absolutely terrifying. Even in my meetings at work I was just terrified of making a fool out of myself or going bright red. The thought of actually getting up in front of someone and doing a speech was just, I could not even imagine ever doing it. In thinking about how I was back then just makes me go very short breathed and like, aw, it’s just that awful heavy feeling of I can’t do it, I can’t do it, I can’t do it, no that’s it.
Despite years of experience, speaking was still something that I struggled with. As a result I hesitated to put myself forward, and I didn’t promote myself. Torna Pitman

Workshop and webinar presenter with an academic and counselling background

Glenna Frey

Nurse starting a new nonprofit, “Kidney Donor Conversations”, to increase awareness of living kidney donation.

Click here to read Glenna's experience of recording videos before doing the program
I did a video with my daughter and I was so insecure and didn’t like the idea at all of being video taped, had never been video taped before, had never been on camera really before, and just felt very insecure about that whole idea, and my voice was very soft. I didn’t know where to look. My eyes were shooting like everywhere, and I was extremely uncomfortable with the entire process.
I had lost confidence in myself and in expressing my ideas, particularly in meetings at work.  This is what I wanted to change. Rachel Prendergast

Marketing communications professional

Amparo Cifuentes

Inspired to help youth

Click here to read how Amparo felt before doing the program
So before joining Stairway to Confidence, one of the things that I can tell for sure is that the idea of standing in front of a group of people, but especially, not any group of people, the group of people at work where my manager is, where the senior leaders of the organization are, was, oh my goodness, this makes me so nervous. The idea of standing in front of the group would bring all the butterflies in my stomach. And in my particular case, what happens is when I get these butterflies, they seem to travel out my body and take hold of my voice and my voice would shake a lot. And as a consequence, I tended to avoid these opportunities a lot.

If you can resonate with these women, I designed Stairway to Confidence for you.

 How Stairway to Confidence Works

The program is based on the principle of accomplishing something in a series of small steps, hence the name – Stairway to Confidence. There are three Stairways, all building on each other to fully prepare you for delivering a presentation or recording a video towards the end of the program:

1. Disapproval Immunization Stairway

This is based on the principle:

We don’t have a fear of public speaking.

We have a fear of disapproval.

Here’s a thought experiment:

If I could wave a magic wand and absolutely, without-a-doubt, guarantee that every person you spoke to would show their approval of you and everything you said…

…would you still feel fear?

There’s no such thing as the fear of public speaking. It’s the fear of disapproval.

In Stairway to Confidence you’ll immunize yourself against that fear of disapproval.

You’ll take actions which expose you to the fear of disapproval. Your first action will be a tiny dose of the fear of disapproval. So tiny that it will fly under the radar of your fight or flight response.

During the first Stairway, you’ll take an action every day. This is called your “Daily Action”. Gradually you’ll increase the size of your Daily Action and so build up your immunity to the fear of disapproval. This in turn will build up your confidence.

Here’s what the participants have to say about doing their Daily Actions:

Marisa Mack

Aspiring Entrepreneur

Click here to read Marisa's experience of doing Daily Actions
I was too overly concerned about what others would think, so in taking these daily actions, I learned to stay focused on taking the action. More so than concerning myself with what anybody would think about any of the actions that I did. And in taking these actions, I also noticed that it not only increased my confidence, but I was inspiring other people and just becoming more aware of things about myself that I wasn’t really aware of before.
The biggest learning for me was that deliberately engaging in small challenges every day has a cumulative and beneficial effect on overall confidence. I cannot recommend this course highly enough, especially for introverts. Margaret O'Brien

Marie Waldron

Inspired by helping people achieve their health and wellness goals

Click here to read Marie's experience of doing Daily Actions
When you break through that little small fear and you did an action, it actually takes away how important you think it was before, so just doing those daily actions everyday did make such a huge difference. It’s such a simple concept, but it works really well.

Amparo Cifuentes

Inspired to help youth

Click here to read Amparo's experience of doing Daily Actions
I really enjoyed the fact that we had Daily Actions that helped little by little with acquiring that confidence. So asking us to step outside of our comfort zone doing little actions that normally would make us feel really uncomfortable. And then living through those real moments to say it’s okay, because the one discovery I did also through the program was that the fear that we have is not about public speaking. It’s a fear of disapproval. So doing little things that make you realize that it’s okay if people realize that you’re not perfect. You can be yourself and people can still accept you and things can be fine. It’s not the end of the world.
I am not promising to eliminate your nerves.

Nervousness is a normal and natural accompaniment to doing something important and visible, such as public speaking.

In Stairway to Confidence, you’ll learn how to approach your feelings with acceptance and empathy. Your feelings won’t disappear completely but they’ll no longer stop you doing things. They’re very likely to reduce, but it’s helpful to see this as a byproduct of the process rather than the goal.

2. SpeakerMap Stairway

Confidence is the belief that you can do a task. In order to have that belief, you need skills. And the most important skill in being effective at speaking to an audience is being able to plan content that your audience will find relevant, engaging and valuable.

I will teach you how to do this with the SpeakerMap®. The SpeakerMap® is the planning framework that my partner Tony and I, have developed over 20 years of training presentation skills.

I’ll take you through every aspect of planning your presentation from how you’ll open it, what you’ll say, how you’ll organize what you say, what examples and stories to use, and how you’ll close.

In the past, when you’ve had to prepare a presentation, you’ve likely procrastinated and then had to plan your presentation in marathon sessions. What you’ll do here is plan your presentation in short sprints.

Note: In the first round of Stairway to Confidence, the SpeakerMap was not integrated into the program, instead students had access to Nail that Presentation – the program in which I teach just the SpeakerMap. This time I am integrating the SpeakerMap fully into Stairway to Confidence.

Here’s what participants had to say about the SpeakerMap:

Torna Pitman

Workshop and webinar presenter with an academic and counselling background

Click here to read Torna's experience of the SpeakerMap
I felt like I’d struck gold [when I found the SpeakerMap], I really did, because it was like finally, here’s a way that I can structure this really critical information on coercive control, that I want to get across to audiences. Here was a way that would help me structure it which meant that the audience could come along with me on the journey and I knew how to take them on the journey with me and I was effective. So I did, I felt like I had struck gold.
Preparation and practice is also key and the SpeakerMap is useful for that.  Half way through the course I gave a speech at my sister’s wedding and found that I could do this without using my notes. The simple tips Olivia gave me really helped me in working out what to focus on. Rachel Prendergast

Marketing communications professional

Glenna Frey

Founder of “Kidney Donor Conversations”

Click here to read Glenna's experience of the SpeakerMap
It’s just been a huge, huge, huge benefit, and it’s been an invaluable piece of information and content that I’ll always have now. I just can’t say enough about how helpful it’s been.

3. Delivery and Rehearsal Stairway

My approach is inside-out. Rather than focusing on the outside – body language and vocal variety – I’ll show you how to work with your own internal energy to connect with your audience.

And you’ll rehearse. When you’re working by yourself in the run-up to a presentation, it’s tempting to put-off rehearsal. Doing the dishes starts to look attractive. But on Stairway to Confidence, you’ll be rehearsing alongside your fellow participants, providing feedback, encouragement and accountability to each other.

You’ll learn how to be grounded, present and connected with your audience when delivering a presentation.

Here’s what participants had to say about the experience of rehearsing using video:

Amparo Cifuentes

Inspired to help youth

Click here to read Amparo's experience of rehearsing
So we had the Facebook group, and we had the opportunity to practice our presentation in Facebook doing video. Some people did live video. Some people, like me, recorded and then posted. And having that support and knowing that people from around the world were going through the same journey that we do, are going through the same experience, and they give you encouragement through the comments, it’s amazing to receive that immediate feedback from one another and realize that it doesn’t matter what part of the world you are.
I found practicing on the FaceBook live group and watching others inspirational and a great learning experience. Suddenly it’s not so scary being on video. Rachel Prendergast

Marketing communications professional

How Stairway to Confidence will support you

WEEKLY

1. Content
At the beginning of each week I’ll send you short videos with the content and action steps for that week.

2. Coaching
Each week, we’ll have a one-hour long group Coaching Call. The calls will be recorded, so that you can catch up if you can’t attend live.

DAILY

1. Accountability
You’ll check in every day to the Stairway to Confidence website (which will only be accessible by you and others on the program) and record your Action for that day.

2. Small group support
You’ll be a part of a small online group of 8 to 12 women providing support and encouragement to each other.

Seth Godin on Behavioral Change

“While you and I were busy running down dead ends and wasting our effort, scientists have been busy trying to figure out what actually works. And now they know.

Small steps work. Consistent effort works. Group support works.

That’s it. Three things.”

What will you achieve by the end of Stairway to Confidence?

Your Stairway to Confidence will culminate  in you giving a presentation or speech. Here are examples of the type of presentations that the first students on Stairway to Confidence chose:
  • Invite family and friends to a gathering and speak on a topic you’re passionate about.
  • Do a Facebook Live video or recorded video to promote your business or not for profit cause.
  • Host an event to promote your business.
  • Join a public speaking club such as Toastmasters and deliver a speech.
  • Give a presentation to your team at work.
  • Deliver a presentation at a conference or workshop.
I was delivering a presentation on a controversial topic – domestic violence and coercive control – to a potentially hostile audience. Doing Stairway to Confidence prepared me so well that I was in just the right mental state. I knew I could do it, there was no stopping me.

The personal feedback I’ve received has been amazing. Many people have said “You’re a phenomenal presenter!”

But most important is that I got my message across – providers are changing their approach as a result of my presentation. Torna Pitman

Workshop and webinar presenter with an academic and counselling background

The presentation I made at the end of the course was a revelation to me. To my surprise I was able to deliver it without referring to my notes, and the response from people afterwards showed how much they had felt engaged by what I had shared. Margaret O'Brien

What will Stairway to Confidence mean for you?

What will your new-found confidence mean for you? Perhaps it will mean that you will:
  • dust off your resume and apply for the job or promotion that you’ve always wanted
  • take on leadership opportunities in your work or community.
  • do more meaningful work
  • make an impact in the world by sharing your ideas
  • promote your business or social enterprise by speaking or videos.

Marie Waldron

Inspired by helping people achieve their health and wellness goals

Click here to read Marie's dream
I’ve had this dream of being a motivational speaker and being onstage and inspiring people and making a difference in their life and that was like never, that was just a pipe dream and then I shut it down but now it’s like, what if I could do that? What if this is the beginning of me training and learning to be able to do that? So it’s just made me real excited about the future. Anything could be possible.

Marisa Mack

Aspiring Entrepreneur

Click here to read what Marisa now thinks of as possible
If you had asked me about five months ago would I ever see myself being a keynote speaker, I would have said absolutely not. Now, as a result of taking this course, I think that one day I would love to be a keynote speaker, I can actually see myself doing it. With more practice and more experience, yes, I think that is something that I could do. Where about before, I would run from it. If anybody even approached me or suggested it, out of the question. So this course was one of the best investments that I have ever made for myself, for my business, even for my family and a way to inspire them to do things or face things that they are afraid of or fearful of, or that’s just in the way of them succeeding.

Glenna Frey

Founder of “Kidney Donor Conversations”

Click here to read how Glenna now feels about doing videos
I could never have anticipated the value of this course with the timing of everything that’s happening with this new business I’m doing and just getting more comfortable on the videos, a big part of what we’re planning to do with the business is to make videos and do educational, you know small videos, that’s really what has been my daughter’s vision all along. And I’m, yeah “Whatever”.
Wow, I might actually be able to do this and feel much more comfortable which I had no idea I’d be going there, I think, when I signed up for the course.

Amparo Cifuentes

Inspired to help youth

Click here to read how Amparo is feeling now
I can be me, that I can be passionate, that it’s okay if my voice shakes a little bit, because what matters is the message, what matters is the audience. And I have so many important messages to share with other people that, when the opportunity is given to me to express those things and to share them with other people, I have the right shape and frame of mind now to be able to take those opportunities and say, “Yes, I can do this!”

Your Commitment

Because Journey to Confidence will involve some discomfort, I want you to make a commitment to yourself to do whatever it takes to get over, through or under your fear of speaking up and public speaking.

“Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life”

Susan David 
Author of Emotional Agility and TED speaker

1. Commit time

Warm-up 9th - 15th July

You’ll complete a number of written exercises that will strengthen your resolve to overcome your fear. Allow 2-3 hours.

The Stairways 23rd July - 28th September

Allow 15 minutes at least 3 to 5 days a week. Allow one hour 30 minutes each week for the Coaching Call and videos.

2. Commit money

I’m asking you to make a financial commitment because it’s a way of having “skin in the game”, and because this is my livelihood.

At the same time I want this program to be affordable for everyone who is committed to it.

So I have a “sliding scale” method of payment. This means that what you pay is related to what you can afford.

I trust you to choose the payment that is right for you – I’m not going to ask you to prove it.

You can choose to split your payment into three equal payments, which will be charged once a month for three months.

If you cannot afford the lowest amount,  I invite you to contact me and we will agree to an amount that you can afford.

Cost of Stairway to Confidence

If you’re not paying for it yourself eg: your employer is paying: US$1,000

If you’re paying for yourself, here are the suggested tiers based on your household income:

I’m ready to do this!

Still got questions?

Is Stairway to Confidence right for me?

I suffer from anxiety in other areas of my life as well as about speaking. Will Stairway to Confidence help me?

The important distinction is how you’re feeling about your anxiety.

If you’re feeling determined to make some changes in your life, so that your anxiety is less of a problem, then Stairway to Confidence can help you.

However, if you feel depressed or ashamed about your anxiety, then it would be better for you to see a mental health professional for one-on-one support.

I'm currently seeing a counselor or therapist. Should I do Stairway to Confidence?

You can do Stairway to Confidence if you’re currently seeing a counselor, therapist or other mental health professional as long as they support your participation. Send them the link to this page so they understand the program. I will ask for written confirmation (eg: an email) of their support for your participation.

I've suffered serious abuse as a result of speaking up. Will Stairway to Confidence help me?

If you’ve suffered serious abuse or assault, then the support available in Stairway to Confidence is unlikely to be enough. This is because it is:

  • A group program without one-on-one support
  • I am not a professional therapist and so am not equipped to handle issues which might come up for you.

I recommend that you find a therapist for professional one-on-one support.

I'm an extrovert. Can I join Stairway to Confidence?

Yes, you’re very welcome.

I’m aware that extroverts suffer from the fear of public speaking too. I wanted to create a program that particularly catered to introverts, but it will work for you too.

I have a friend/daughter who would benefit so much from joining Stairway to Confidence. Can I enroll them?

I love your generosity and wanting the best for your friend/daughter.

But it’s really important that each person makes their own decision to join. Send them the link to this page and if they get excited and say they’d love to do it, then offer to pay for them.

English is my second (or third or fourth) language. Will I be able to keep up with Stairway to Confidence?

Yes, if you can understand all the information on this page including the videos, and you can express yourself in English at a conversational level.

You can deliver the presentation that you’ll deliver towards the end of Stairway to Confidence in your own language.

Why is the program for women only?

I have thought long and hard about this question. My experience in the pilot and the feedback I got from the pilot participants were that it functioned best once it was a women-only space (there were very few men enrolled, and they were unable to continue).

All the genders share commonalities when it comes to confidence and visibility issues, however there are some issues which are gender-specific. As a woman, I am most able to help women.

About the Program

What science is Stairway to Confidence based on?

I attempt to ensure that everything I offer is evidence-based.

I have drawn from Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for strategies for dealing with fear.

Many of the structural aspects of the program and the warm-up exercises in particular are based on research on effective behavioral change as summarized by John C Norcross in his book Changeology.

The software we’re using was developed by Gina Hiatt, a clinical psychologist, building on psychological principles for behavior change.

What size group will I be in?

You’ll be in a small group of 8 to 12 people.

Gina Hiatt, the developer of the software that makes all this possible, has been running small groups like this for almost 10 years and has found this the ideal number for a small group.

What support will I get from you?

On our group Coaching Calls, I will provide coaching support.

I won’t have the ability to provide one-on-one coaching support.

Will I have access to the content of the program after it's finished?

You will have access to the program content for as long as the program is available. If for any reason, I am no longer to provide access to the program content, I will let you know so that you can download the program content.

What qualifications do you have for running the program?

I overcame my own fear of public speaking when I was in my early 30s.

I’ve been helping people overcome stage fright for the last 20 years.

This has been both through one-on-one coaching and during face to face presentation training courses.

What changes have you made to the program since the pilot?

There are two major changes I’ve made:

  1. In the pilot, I offered the SpeakerMap training through Nail that Presentation. As a result of feedback, this time round I am fully integrating it into Stairway to Confidence.
  2. This time round, Stairway to Confidence is only open to women. This has been a difficult decision to make, but here were the factors I considered: Most of the people who enrolled in the pilot were women, all the people who finished were women, which seems to be a sign that it’s a program which suits women more. I got feedback that the women in the program felt safer when it became a women-only space. Women and men do have different cultural conditioning when it comes to confidence and speaking up, and I have more of an insight into the particular issues that women face.

Logistics of Stairway to Confidence

When will the Coaching Calls be?

I will schedule the weekly group Coaching Calls so that as many people as possible can attend live.

If necessary I will do two Coaching Calls each week in different time zones, to give you more options for attending live.

What technology do I need for Stairway to Confidence?

You’ll need to have access to the internet most days so that you can check into the Stairway to Confidence website.

You’ll need a phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer with internet access to take part in the weekly Coaching Calls. If you’re using a laptop or desktop, you’ll need a webcam and microphone (these are often built in).

If you don’t have access to the internet at the time of the Coaching Calls, you may be able to join the call using a telephone. We’ll be using Zoom and they have telephone numbers available for most countries.

What if I can't continue because of sickness etc

Sometimes life happens (you or a family member gets sick or injured) and you can’t continue the program. You can join the next program that I run at no extra cost.

Or if we’re less than 6 weeks into the program, you can choose a full refund (of course, if you do this, you’ll need to pay again if you want to join the program at another time).

The Finances

Do you offer a refund?
Yes, I understand that something may happen and you can’t continue the program. Or you may start and decide it’s not for you. I will give you a full refund up to 6 weeks (half-way through) into the program.

If you have to withdraw after 6 weeks, you can join the next program that I run at no extra cost.

Do you offer a guarantee that this will work for me?
I do not offer a guarantee for this program. This is because this is deeply personal work and I cannot give you a guarantee of a particular outcome.

What I can promise is that I’ve done the best that I can in designing a program that will give you the opportunity to grow in confidence around speaking up and speaking to groups. And I will support and encourage you.

I’m ready to do this!

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