How to Become Confident at Public Speaking | 120 Seconds to Better Leadership

Anyone that follows this video blog knows I’m not a great fan of public speaking, which is ironic because I directed a public speaking course for Purdue University for a decade. Nonetheless, it’s not my favorite thing even though I do quite a bit of it. And I am in Arizona – it’s green, not white here – and the night before my presentation, I had the good fortune of sitting next to someone who coaches people on public speaking. And I was sharing with him that I was a little nervous about my presentation the next day and he offered to give me some free advice, which I would never refuse.

The First 60 Seconds

And he said it’s the first 60 seconds – which, I understand what you’re supposed to do in the first two minutes of your presentation, technically I know that. But he told me if you nail your first, you know, minute or two, you’re going to be very comfortable the rest of the presentation, which actually really echoes my experiences, If I get off on a good foot, I have a really good time. If I rattle in the first two minutes, I rattle inside – not outside, but inside the whole presentation. So he said, here are the things you need to do in the first two minutes of your presentation. And he laid out what I already knew, which you guys technically already know, too.

But I really wasn’t aware that it wasn’t just my experience that if the first minute goes well, the whole presentation goes well. If the first minute or two don’t go well, you’re going to rattle inside yourself. And maybe that shows, maybe it doesn’t matter, it’s not a pleasant experience to struggle to get through the presentation.

All the more reason to really focus.

Focus On the Introduction 

I’ve given this presentation in eight-minute formats, 15-minute format, 18-minute format, 45-minute format, 60-minute format, four-hour formats, so it’s not like I don’t know the content. But it was the first person to really validate that, outside of my own experience, that first one or two minutes of the presentation don’t necessarily dictate how the audience perceives your presentation to go, but it definitely perceives how you feel through the presentation. All the more reason to not focus so much on the body once you get going but to really focus on that first introduction. So, I got schooled up.

And it was great.