• Kendra Clark Leadership Strategies

Public Speaking for the Non Public Speaker

At some point in your career, you will reach the stage where you get asked to do the drum roll.....the dreaded speech or public presentation. For some, this is a time to shine and they relish in the moment. For others and for most of us, it is the moment where you turn pale, start quivering, get the sweaty palms and you start trying to think of every excuse in the book to get out of it. This process stays intact until it's over. Sound familiar? I am in the latter category or I should say, I used to be, but have since moved into the middle of the two categories.

I once had an absolute horrible speaking experience. It was my first speaking engagement on a large scale and I was speaking on behalf of my company at the time. I was nervous and experienced all the feelings mentioned above. I prepared and wrote the entire 45 minute speech out word for word. I tried to memorize the entire speech and I had a ball in my stomach for a solid two weeks before the engagement. When the time came, I got up and looked out at the room. I started and ended up ditching the word for word notes and spoke. After the engagement, I received an email from an attendee who outlined how horrible I spoke. The email went on and on and actually totaled the amount of "umms" that I used. Now, I knew that I was not a professionals speaker, but I also knew that I was not the worst. To make a long story short, it came out that it was their way of asking me to join a local speakers group. It was a funny sales pitch, which I politely declined and that decline, resulted in another round of critique emails until I stopped responding.

I share this story, not because it was a highlight for me, but because, while mortified, I thought long and hard about the experience and came out with a game plan for public speaking that has served me well since that time. Please note that these are not professional tips (and I strongly encourage everyone to take a speaking class), but they are real life tips for the executive who has to stand up and give an update at a local rotary meeting, give a presentation or otherwise have a smaller speaking engagement.

Tip #1 - Create an outline

Tip #2 - Don't read verbatim off cards....if need be, ask to utilize a powerpoint

Tip #3 - Don't overthink

Tip #4 - Speak about a topic that you are passionate back

Tip #5 - Tell a story with humor and personalization


Tip #6 is the most important tip. I learned that a good speaker is one that connects with their audience. To connect, you have to make the audience feel like they know you and that you care. To do that, be yourself. If you are naturally goofy or causal, be that way. When you take the pressure off of yourself to be perfect or overly professional, that is when you hit it out of the park. Bonus is that you take away the weeks of sleepless nights and days full of stomach aches. So, my advice to the non-professional speaker.....Just be YOU!

Kendra Clark Leadership Strategies is a global agency located in Stockton, CA focusing on executive coaching and leadership, business and marketing strategy consulting.  As a member of the John Maxwell Team, Kendra helps organizations and executives overcome any hurdles they may be facing through purposeful leadership and strategy. To learn more about our services, please email or visit

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