You accepted the offer to be the keynote speaker at your company’s upcoming conference and now that it’s just days away,  you are regretting it! What were you thinking? You hate talking in public! And what will you say? Just the thought of all your colleagues hanging on your every word, waiting with baited breath for you to mess up! How can someone of your caliber not know how to speak to a crowd? Easy, it is called glossophobia and it is the fear of public speaking and delivering speeches. It’s coupled with atychiphobia, the fear of failure and it stands in the way of your success! Whether you’re speaking to a crowd or asking your manager for a salary increase, you need to know how to deliver, persuade and win over your audience. There are proven techniques and tools to help you acquire all of the necessary attributes of a successful speaker. If you have the desire to be an effective speaker and you practice a few easy to learn techniques, you will overcome your fear in no time.  Let’s first look at the symptoms and the evidence that you are not comfortable speaking to others.  

The symptoms

  • Nervousness
  • Stomach knots
  • Sweaty palms
  • Disconnection, out of focus

The Evidence

  • No eye contact
  • Using safety words like “um”
  • Fidgeting
  • Over reading
  • Speaking too low

You can read books, you can take courses but there is nothing that can get you over the fear until you understand why you are not comfortable. If you were to take a 2 year old and sit him in a chair and take two minutes to talk about why that child should avoid eating too much candy, I bet you could do it. You also would not experience any of the symptoms of speaking and I doubt if the kid would experience any evidence of your fear. In fact while you held the candy in your hand,  you would have the child’s complete attention. Talking in a group is no different than this! Once you are confident, organized, have your facts and supporting ideas in order there is no speech that you can not give.

Your comfort with the kid

  • No judging
  • A subject that has his interest
  • Confidence that you know what you are talking about
  • A specified amount of time to speak
  • Holding the interest by an object of attention
  • Nothing to lose


The warm up

  • Clap along with the audience as they are clapping for you, this will help calm your jitters.
  • Thank them first for their attendance and hospitality.
  • Start off with a joke about someone in your office or yourself, get them laughing.
  • Let them know how much time you will be speaking…”I know Bob would like for me to talk all day about the our company plans so he can take his usual 30 minute nap (hopeful laughter),  but I’m just gonna take 14 mins. To let you know…” This helps manage their expectations and give you their undivided attention

The system

  1. Tell them what you’re gonna tell them, this sets up the perimeters
  2. Tell them, this is your subject
  3. Tell them why it’s important, why they should care
  1. “I bet you didn’t know that candy is terrible for your teeth, every year millions of kids go to the dentist and have their teeth pulled out because of cavities. In two minutes, I’m gonna without a doubt show you why you should be careful eating this candy in my hand.”
  2. “When I was 5 years old I got my first cavity. My mother took me to the dentist because I had a toothache and my mouth was so swollen that I couldn’t sleep all night…”  “The sugar in candy is twice as much in….” “Here are some pictures of teeth with cavities, see…”
  3. “What’s important is that we have time to prevent this from happening since you have no cavities yet, you can choose eat no candy or candy in moderation so you can keep your teeth…”

The close

  • Set up the ending “In closing I want to…
  • Please remember that…
  • Compliment “You’ve been a wonderful audience and I enjoyed speaking with you…”

If you could organize yourself and set up each presentation with a format such as this you can become not just a great speaker,  but one of the best. Break your speech down in 3 sections:

  • a simple beginning
  • a body in the middle
  • a humble closing.  

Write it out, practice and time it.

Good luck!