Where I Learned to Be a Public Speaker

We’ve all heard it said: humans’ top three biggest fears are death, loneliness, and public speaking.

Public speaking? On the same list as death?

The thing is, public speaking can be very scary. The prospect of standing on a stage for the world to see and hear us (and judge us) is unnerving at the very least. But as is the case with most everything, practice and repetition makes us better, and public speaking is certainly no exception.

I was never taught the basics of public speaking before I was thrown into the fire to just do it. I shed my fear of speaking in front of a crowd during my years of employee benefits consulting: before my tenure at AmeriBen/IEC Group, I didn’t have any exposure to public speaking aside from school projects. During my time there, I joined Toastmasters and had the opportunity to present at company all-hands meetings. Part of my job was to lead benefits open enrollment meetings for groups of employees from a wide range of industries. I was hired for my Spanish-speaking skills, and I would present in both English and in Spanish: after using all my available brain space to do a presentation in a non-native language, I remember being so relieved to present in English that the nerves were no longer there!

Since my days of leading benefits presentations, I’ve sought out opportunities for public speaking. My last corporate role with Oracle was giving software demos and presentations full-time. I’ve done improv and performed at storytelling venues in Austin. My friend Talan of PitchATX (who was a nationally-ranked college speech competitor!) and I co-led a workshop back in September on brand storytelling that was a ton of fun.

I learned public speaking through trial and error; through practice, and through creating opportunities to present to a group. Public speaking is a skill just like anything else, and knowing how to practice—along with a few key tricks for memorization and non-verbal communication tactics—is the secret to success.

Have a speech or presentation coming up that you need to nail? I can help with that! Reach out and let’s work together to craft a story that gives you the confidence to land the sale, get the promotion, and leave the audience wanting more.