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Public Speaking Advice

September 14, 2011

I remember it clear as yesterday – January 8, 1996 – the first time I had to stand up in front of 10 women entrepreneurs and give a speech. Although I was confident in the material I was delivering, I wasn’t confident in my presentation skills. My heart was beating fast, my palms were sweating and my stomach had butterflies. I couldn’t wait for the presentation to be over. I remember someone telling me after I accepted the speaking opportunity, “Don’t worry it gets easier speaking in public the more times you do it.” I didn’t believe them.

When Syracuse University brought the first WISE Conference to Syracuse in 2002, I was asked to be the emcee of the event due to my role as a leader in women entrepreneurship. You would have thought by then my past six years of public speaking would have made me a more confident speaker but it didn’t. This time I was addressing 400 women not 10. As I walked to the podium for the first time, I told myself I’d be fine if I spoke from my script and my heart. When I got to the podium and saw hundreds of fantastic women in the audience all I could do was relax and enjoy the experience. It must have showed because I was asked to emcee the event the following two years.

Throughout my 16 years as an entrepreneur I’ve always been a little anxious walking into major client appointments, television interviews, live radio shows, and even small committee meetings. I think it’s a natural response because we want to be viewed as confident, smart and experienced. I’ve learned over time the adrenaline rush after the meeting or interview is over is a really satisfying feeling because we’ve accomplished the task and the nerves.

At Women TIES events, I witness women who are timid about networking, introducing themselves to others and standing up to pitch their companies. Some lack confidence, some don’t have the right pitch ready, and some simply aren’t comfortable with public speaking. But as women entrepreneurs, we represent not only ourselves, but our businesses when we speak, so it’s imperative to perfect our communication skills to be successful.

Today’s blog is to encourage you to think about sharpening your personal communication skills this fall. Ask yourself these questions: Is my fear of speaking stopping me from going to networking events? Could I land some excellent marketing opportunities if I learned to be a better communicator? Would I seal more business deals if I was clearer in my delivery? Should I work on perfecting my pitch to attract more business?

If your answer is yes, I encourage you to attend the September 22nd Women TIES Syracuse event called “Secrets to Incredible Communications.” Don’t let your fear of learning about this important subject stop you from attending. I promise once you overcome the butterflies and become a confident speaker the doors will open for you in more ways than you imagine. 

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