I Am Not A Good Presenter, Get Me Out Of Here!!


So you think you are not a good presenter. One of the top human fears is the fear of public speaking. Another is the fear of death. But imagine that for some, the  No. 1 fear can be actually dying whilst speaking in public. If the thought of standing up in front of a crowd is worse than death itself, read on for some tips on how to overcome that.


Most phobias and dreaded fears stem from a single event. Most people can recall immediately when their phobia or fear took hold, and can even associate with the sights, sounds, smells and exactly how they felt at the time. It’s important to dissociate from those feelings, or do some work around improving the phobic or negative feelings, and replacing them with more positive feelings.

The first 20 seconds

So back to the task at hand. When you stand up in front of others, the first 20 seconds are vital! If you have already been introduced, or are listed on a programme of events, it’s really not necessary to spend the first 20 seconds repeating your name. So what does work? A simple fact, a reflection, an interesting statistic, or a rhetorical question. This will grab the audience in those vital first seconds as curiosity kicks in. After answering the question yourself, or commenting on the interesting statistic, THEN you can introduce yourself again or reassure them why you are there.

Believe in yourself – you are a good presenter

good presenter by The Smart Train
You are Fabulous!!

Firstly, BE yourself. If you can be comfortable in your own skin, then you are half way there. That provides you with the head-space to believe in yourself enough to seek the confidence within, so you can present without.

Believe in your content

If you are passionate about your subject, then you have no problem with presenting. The challenges lie either within, or with the group you are presenting to. By simply advocating the content, it will help them see value in the information you are about to share. Research any negatives about your content and have some answers ready for “objections” or even introduce an objection and provide the anecdote.

Leave the bullets at home

The slides accompanying your presentation should not BE the presentation. Text requires energy to read. Text assumes each attendee understands language. By adding imagery and a little movement to your slides, if using them, caters to those who are more visual (viewers). Using your voice caters to those who are auditory (listeners). Using props or assigning a task will cater to those who are kinaesthetic (doers). This is why it is important to “know” your audience.

Be flexible

By simply being open to changes in mood, content or physical changes provides you with the power to be flexible. When things don’t go as planned, including technology breakdowns, you are prepared to re-connect with your audience and improvise. Dance in the moment and go with the flow.

Nerves are good!

Our thoughts directly affect our behaviour, so if we feel nervous, we act nervous. What are the signs of anxiety you should look out for? Quickening of breath, high pitch in voice, broken voice, increased heart beat.

A little anxiety is good – it keeps you on your toes, ensures you remember things like “Say Hello, introduce myself, make sure my shirt is buttoned, fly is closed, etc.” If you sense a negative energy about the event, the best thing you can do is be there early, and endeavour to get a few attendees “on your side”. Making an effort to build rapport will strengthen your advocates. If you can show “I am like you” then you can make a connection with your audience.

5 things to get you started STRONG
Presenting to an audience

  1. Make an effort to communicate with early arrivals, they can be your greatest advocates during your presentation
  2. Always begin strong – the simple word “Imagine” will get people thinking and focused
  3. The audience know why they are there, so convince them that they made the correct choice with a strong opening statement or story. Ask a question, and ask for a show of hands. This will provide activity for those who like to be “hands on”
  4. Let them know very quickly how they will benefit from your speech/presentation and build on the rapport created before the event
  5. Make eye contact, using a capital M shape to scan the audience. This will discourage you from looking at the same friendly face during the presentation.

5 things NOT to say when speaking to a group

  1. “I shouldn’t really be here…”
  2. “Hi, my name is… and I am here today to talk to you about…”
  3. “And as John just mentioned, I am…. And I am here because…”
  4. “Wait ‘til I tell you this really funny story…”
  5. “BUT” during the Q&A session, as this one little word negates all that was said before, as in the attendees question or statement. Practice using “AND” instead.

Find out the WIFM, WIFT and the WIFE! Such powerful information gives you the upper-hand, always. Knowledge is power!

Do you think you are a good presenter now?

So what do you do to prepare for an impending presentation? Share with us below….

14 thoughts on “I Am Not A Good Presenter, Get Me Out Of Here!!

  • November 5, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Great post! I actually quite enjoy public speaking but have always found getting the balance between text and images difficult. If I use only images, I have a tendancy to waffle a bit.

    • November 6, 2013 at 4:32 pm

      Hi Neil,
      Thanks for the comment. I am delighted you enjoy public speaking. With regard to waffling, small cards you can carry in your hand (perfectly acceptable) or written pointers on a page if you are using a podium might help to keep you on track.

  • November 4, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    Great post Elaine. As you know speaking in public is one of the top fears to me. And I can track it back mainly to an awful college experience. But then if that hadn’t happened I wouldn’t have gone on the other direction I took because of it – so not all bad.

    Good luck with the launch although I know you won’t need it as the concept is brilliant and so are you.

    • November 4, 2013 at 6:41 pm

      Thank you Sian, I am humbled. We are very excited about this new service, and are very grateful to you for helping spread the word.
      Public Speaking can be petrifying. It’s very often worse beforehand, than the actual event (especially if it is something that inspires us or we are very interested in – we often relax after 5 minutes).
      Imagine knowing you were giving a speech to help small business owners improve their book-keeping, knowing that what you have to say will hugely help them, it puts a different spin on our motivation, and taps into our innate wish to help others.
      Best wishes with your next “speech”

  • November 4, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    Really good post on the do’s and don’ts, enjoyable read as I could see plenty of the mistakes I have made.

    Good luck with the launch, Elaine.

    • November 4, 2013 at 2:15 pm

      Hi John,
      I am pleased you got great benefit from the post – thanks for sharing that. If you have any tips you can share that worked for you, make sure you share them with us.

  • November 3, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Speaking is like running a race, if you haven’t “trained” for it, you’re not going to put in a good performance. The most important part of presenting is the work you do in advance. Your post itemises great tips to focus on during preparation time. I like and agree with your list of things NOT to say. Another phrase to avoid is,”Hopefully at the end of this …”, it sounds so wishy washy!
    To cope with nerves, I think it helps to focus on what the audience wants and work on delivering that. By doing this, it’s not about you but about them, and then it doesn’t seem so daunting.
    Really useful post Elaine, thank you. ~ Helen

    • November 3, 2013 at 1:20 pm

      Hi Helen,
      Great point about the training. Having just run a 10K, I can completely agree that the performance is relative to time and energy put into preparation. The worst thing I feel (and have been guilty of in the past) for a presenter to think, is that they can just “wing it”. Spontaneity is great during a speech or presentation, but not knowing your audience is ‘death by presentation’ – really, just go dig a hole…
      “Hopefully”, by sharing the information in the blog, people will understand how important preparation and practice are, and the value of knowing the audience WIIFM…
      “HOPE” is not a strategy that works, I firmly believe this.
      I agree 100% about making it about the audience for many reasons, and yours certainly highlights a great way to dampen the nerves, if we endeavour to make it about them. Thanks for a great contribution to the content!

  • November 2, 2013 at 10:29 am

    That is absolutely brilliant, thank you. This has to be my worst nightmare,having to speak in public. Between you and Eamonn I am so tempted to give it a go one day:) I will share the post everywhere.

    • November 2, 2013 at 11:54 am

      Thanks Debi, really appreciate the support!
      We have to get you from tempted to ‘attempted’ and success!

  • November 1, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Great post Elaine. I’ve just started reading the memoirs of Ulysses S Grant the US Civil War General and US President. It was interesting to read the secret to Grant’s success was a realisation that his enemy was as afraid of him as he was of them.

    In relation to your post I think the lesson is that we should realise that we are the experts in our field of knowledge and that people are there as they want to listen to us. A great piece of advice I heard from a great speaker here in Oracle is that he will never present on a topic that he is not knowledgable about.

    • November 1, 2013 at 11:45 am

      That is great advice thank you Frank,
      Knowledge is power, and when we know what we are talking about, it helps to ease the tension and pressure we feel when speaking. An assumption that the speaker knows more than the audience can help – rather than assuming the audience want to or will catch you out!
      As presenters / speakers / trainers, it’s important to trust in our abilities and knowledge, and go with the flow. Hope the book is going well. Grant obviously had good emotional intelligence to realise if he is afraid, so too is his “enemy”.
      Thankfully, most audiences actually want the speaker to succeed. It helps justify their attendance. As I always say, everyone brings their own agenda and to learn the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) can be hugely helpful to the speaker.

  • October 31, 2013 at 12:15 am

    Fabulous post Elaine. You really do practice what you preach and are willing to share it too. At four my Mum was called to the school because I wouldn’t stand at the front of the class and speak, now decades later I love doing it.

    I love that you’ve broken it down into steps to practice at home before an actual speaking event. Practice makes perfect.

    • October 31, 2013 at 11:28 pm

      Thank you Mairéad,
      I am delighted you got over your initial stage fright, and well done on accomplishing that. Most people bring that experience with them, and you have obviously turned it around. And we all know the obvious, practice makes perfect!

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