6 Presentation Tips for Leaders Who Fear Speaking at Meetings or Conferences
February 7, 2018 12:12pm
By Cathy Cook
In my early years as a Front Office Manager I remember how confident I used to be at running a meeting while I sat down at the conference table with my staff all circled around me. I had my agendas all passed out as I led the discussion, ticking off the agenda items one by one with my staff actively participating throughout. My meetings went off without a hitch!
BUT – if I had to stand up in front of my staff (that I was totally comfortable with daily) I would crumble! I would perspire, forget what I had to say, I couldn’t focus, I certainly couldn’t make any decisions. I was mush. And GOD FORBID if I had to do this in front of my executive staff or at pre-conference session with planners. I don’t know how I ever made it through those meetings.
Then one day my favorite Director of Human Recourses of all (Jane) called me into her office and asked me what I wanted to do to develop myself. I told her about my fear of public speaking and she sent me to a 40-hour professional training course to improve facilitation skills. This class really helped me “come out of my shell.”
I learned that I truly loved speaking in front of others, and because I was able to master that skill, I developed an even deeper passion for training. I had always loved one-on-one training and now I felt that I could train large groups. I did this for 8 years as a department head manager for my brand’s properties and whenever the opportunity arose I volunteered to serve on task forces for new property openings and conversions. Then I started working on Design and Development projects at our brand’s Headquarters office in a job that required very little facilitation in my day-to-day role. Since I still sometimes got to deliver instructor-led training, to stay “fresh” with my facilitation skills I decided to join a public speaking group called Toastmasters International. I have been with Toastmasters now for almost 16 years and have completed the Advanced Communicator Gold- ACG and Advanced Leader Silver – ALS levels in the program.
Here are some tips that I have for you that I have learned along the way:
Speaking of stories, I hope that my own story of how I went from being overwhelmed by fear at the very thought of speaking in front of others to becoming a professional speaker and trainer will inspire my readers who may also have a fear of speaking in front of others. I also hope that these tips will be helpful to you in preparing for your next meeting or presentation. Oh, and if you are interested in that wonderful professional group I that has done wonders for my career, you can access information about Toastmasters clubs that are likely right in your area by going to https://www.toastmasters.org/
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M. Cathy Cook is the Executive Director of Training & Development for the Kennedy Training Network, Inc., a leading provider of hotel sales, guest service, reservations, and front desk training programs and telephone mystery shopping services for the lodging and hospitality industry. She also conducts operational and systems consulting for KTN’s clients. www.KennedyTrainingNetwork.com
Contact: Cathy Cook
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