Publications & Products
Volume 4, Issue 51

Public Speaking Tips for Shy Leaders

Even introverted leaders can be confident public speakers, writes a communications expert.

Judith Humphrey, founder of a leadership communications firm who describes herself as "painfully shy," recently wrote a column for Fast Company about how she learned to overcome her fear of public speaking. Her advice includes:

  • Examine excuses for anxiety. "Some people might find reasons not to give a speech or even speak up at meetings," Humphrey writes. "But examine those excuses. Ask yourself where they come from. Often, it's that you are afraid to speak up. Once you realize that source of discomfort is not in the audience or anyone else's judgments but inside you, you can take charge of it."
  • Take advantage of fear. "If you dread standing in front of an audience, yet know you're going to have to do it anyway, then why not use that anxiety to drive you to greater heights?" she writes. "Begin your preparation earlier than your more confident colleagues might. Create draft after draft, each time building greater confidence in what you are going to say."
  • Learn to focus. "Once on stage, stay focused on what you are saying and on the importance of your message to your audience," Humphrey writes. "This will ground you and keep you connected not only to your ideas but to your audience."
  • Celebrate afterward. "When your performance is over, claim the glory," she writes. "Congratulate yourself for your bravery, for taking the stage and for building your skills in the only way you can—by getting out there on stage and speaking to live audiences. Don't focus on the things you didn't do. Focus on the boldness and accomplishment you demonstrated."

This article is from the AdvWeeklyJune292015 issue.

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