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Top Tips for Reluctant Speakers and Presenters

As a natural introvert, speaking and presenting in public used to be a task that I dreaded. Being a type-A personality however, I never said no or turned down an opportunity to speak. Instead, I prepared excessively, felt sick to my stomach for days before the event and had anxiety attacks.

Sounds fun, right?.As I have mentioned in previous ezines, I was initially thrust reluctantly into "voluntary" public speaking when I started my first business. I spoke about Work/Life Integration and I got such favorable feedback from audiences that I found myself looking forward to public speaking and presentations. I began to actively seek out opportunities to speak and train so often that speaking and training has become a major component of my business model.

So, below I have listed some tips and secrets that got me started and allowed me to evolve from reluctant presenter to a confident and self-assured speaker and trainer. (**Please note that experienced speakers will likely cringe at many of these tips! These are designed to get you started. As you gain experience, you will likely leave many of these tactics behind.)

  • Be prepared.

    Know your material well. It's not necessary to memorize but practice exactly what you are going to say out loud several times before you present. If you need to, write out your whole presentation word-by-word. This builds your confidence.

  • Use PowerPoint as a crutch if you want to.

    I was told by a colleague that the POWER is in you not the PowerPoint. However, when I was just starting out, PowerPoint helped me by providing bullet points for me to follow, distracted people from looking at me AND allowed me to dim the lights so people couldn't see me as well. (I still use PowerPoint sometimes because I find it reinforces my points)

  • Understand that nerves are a positive thing. They provide you with the adrenaline you need to be a compelling speaker. Don't get freaked out when your nerves start to hit as you are being introduced.

    Tell yourself that this is a positive sign. Start calling it excitement instead of nerves.

  • Tell yourself that the audience is excited to hear your content. I have found that most fear in public speaking comes from your perception of the audience's judgment.

    They want you to succeed. They want to hear what you have to say. You don't need to prove anything to them. Say what you are there to say.

  • Judgment goes both ways.

    Don't judge your audience either. It doesn't help to think, "they're just a bunch of idiots anyway", because this is actually what fuels your brain to tell you they are judging you. Stop judging others and you will find that you don't perceive others to be judging you.

  • Speak as often as you can. Just get out there and speak.

    The more you do it, the more you will get used to it. Plus, by speaking often, you experience many different situations. Some good and some bad. When the bad experiences happen, you will realize that it's not the end of the world.

  • Visualize yourself as often as possible at the end of the presentation with raving fans all around you. Plant this best case scenario in your brain.
  • Have your first couple of sentences memorized.
  • Don't be afraid of pausing.

    Take a moment to gather your thoughts if you get lost or just need a moment.

  • Don't take it all so seriously! This is not the end of the world! It's just public speaking. It's just an experience that will help you grow and develop.
  • .

    .For 18 years Karyn Pless built her career in marketing, working her way up the corporate ladder to Vice President of Marketing of Zany Brainy while also juggling two children and a husband. After turning to a personal coach herself to reduce the chaos in her life, Karyn decided to become trained and certified as a professional coach and started a company called Shine Personal Coaching in 2004 to help business leaders who are also mothers balance those competing roles.

    In January of 2006, Shine Personal Coaching officially transitioned to Beyond Balance, Work Life Integration Strategies for Professionals in response to client requests for expanded offerings including corporate training, seminars and keynotes in addition to the executive coaching she was already providing.For more information, visit

    By: Karyn Pless

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