Broc does an awesome job discussing why presenting is so critical to your success. I realized this several years ago when I joined Toastmasters. Broc and I are online friends now, and his content “rocks”!
Does anyone else go to concerts and try to figure out how to do your job better? No? A side effect of being a presenter and facilitator is that I cannot attend any training, speech, or event without noticing what is done well, what could be better, and what I can learn from it.
Eighteen months ago I wrote a post called “Rock and Roll Presentation Skills” after seeing one of my favorite European bands perform. As a presenter, this band inspires me more than any other with their stage presence, energy, and connection to the crowd. By sheer coincidence the same band was performing in Dallas the same weekend I was there to attend HRevolution and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see them again.
Reflecting on what I took from this performance, the presentation lessons hold true with what I learned from their last performance.
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Many people are terrified to speak in public and/or give presentations. Here are five reasons why public speaking and presenting can suck:
- You were not prepared / did not understand your content
- You did not practice ahead of time
- You did not know your audience well enough
- You did not have a back up plan when things like visual aids had technical issues
- You have not at least visited your local Toastmasters Club as a guest, to see how they can help develop your speaking skills
Public speaking and presenting can be a rewarding experience if you address these five points, and several others.
- Are you due for a public speaking “makeover”?
- What is the greatest challenge that you face getting up in front of a group?
Presenting in front of colleagues, prospects or customers can be very difficult if not terrifying. But it does not have to be. As a Toastmaster for 18 months now, I am continually looking for ways to improve my presentations.
It is a work in process, and thankfully each time I get up in front of an audience is a step in the right direction.
Here are five things that I focus on each time I present:
- Preparation – I know; sounds crazy but it really does make a difference! Practice ahead of time and make sure audio-visual equipment is working before you start
- Timing and organization – Be respectful of people’s busy schedules and don’t go over time. Always have a question and answer period near the end, but close with your own summary
- Less is more – NEVER put too much information on a PowerPoint slide. Information overload tunes people out!
- What is your value – Smile often, be engaging and limit dead air. These speeches tend to get monotonous and boring. Stand out!
- Information gathering – Have a sign in sheet. This is a great way to confirm contact information and follow-up at a later date
If you want specific information on any aspect of public speaking, stop by http://www.toastmasters.org and check out the library of resources!
I Once knew a boy…
- Who was horrified to get called on to speak out loud in grade school class
- Stood behind his mom or dad’s leg every time as a child when people tried to speak to him in public
- Answered the telephone by saying “Yeah” at home and not “Hello” when he had trouble saying the word
- Would cry himself to sleep on occasion as a child wondering why he was different and did not speak like everyone else
- Once had a teacher stop him from speaking out loud in class, came up to him, asked him to open his mouth and checked if “there was an answer” to his speech issues in there
- Would sit for what seemed like hours afraid to pick up the phone before calling a friend when he was afraid to stutter
- As a teenager, would never go through the drive-thru to order food because he was afraid to mess up his words
- As a young adult, would only order drinks at a nightclub only if he could say the word properly, even if he did not even really like the drink
- Would get lazy and only say words that he could say smoothly throughout the first 18 years of his life, and not work on the difficult words
- As a high school graduate focused on getting in to a profession where he would not have to interact with many people, and could keep to themselves
That boy was me, and growing up I felt like I was the only person in the world that was dealing with a stuttering issue. We have all dealt with stuff in our lives, and fought through adversity in our own ways. I look forward to sharing my entire speech journey at some point in the future but for today, you only need understand this.
I have not allowed these issues to take control of my life. I changed my area of study in school because I hated the courses that I was hiding behind when I felt scared to face the world. I have always been in a very relationship oriented professions, and speak in front of groups of people regularly. I have cold called face to face, in person, and been in pressure packed speaking situations more than I care to remember.
But you know what, I made it through every situation, some more easily than others. Today I am involved with Toastmasters, doing video on my blog, and am not afraid to tell my story to the world.
We are not here to judge each other on what is, or is not significant in terms of what is causing issues in our lives. But we need to be there to support each other and aid in getting past these hurdles.
I am convinced that if I did not have those speech issues growing up that I would not have become as touch a customer as I am today. Perspective is a powerful thing, and when I attended an info session recently to volunteer at a stuttering clinic, I realized that I did not have it so bad after all! It just seemed like it at the time, because all eyes were on me as I struggled day-to-day.
- What is holding you back?
- Is there something that others can help you get through to become who you really want to be professionally and/or personally?
It may seem like a big deal now, but once you conquer it you can look back and say,
“That was a turning point in my life!”
If you have a story that you would be comfortable sharing, I would love to post them on my blog in the next couple of weeks. Please send them to:
You should stop by a Toastmasters meeting if you are interesting in developing your speaking and leadership skills. The best way to find out what this organization has to offer is to see for yourself!
Here are the top 5 reasons that I am loving Toastmasters:
- Practice public speaking in a very positive environment
- Develop as a leader
- Meet new people (network within your club and district)
- Hone organization, preparation and time management skills
- Have fun and laugh!
If you want more information on Toastmasters stop by http://www.toastmasters.org/
I have started a Facebook page for my Toastmasters group. If you have any questions you can post them at:
Or email your questions to:
I will let you know about my personal experiences as part of this fantastic organization!