Last week I did a presentation and completely stuffed it up. Yep…even though I’ve done hundreds of talks, presentations, seminars, even a TEDx in front of thousands of people, I stuffed this speech up.

The talk was for the opening of my solo exhibition and I’m not sure what happened. I do know that I was exhausted, not grounded, hadn’t practiced, and weirdly felt people would judge me (even though most of them were friends).

The result was a jumbled mix of words, thoughts and nervousness.

What I do know is I didn’t follow my golden rules. As you probably know, it took a lot of courage for me to step into the spotlight (if you don’t, watch my TEDx about this journey). Along the way I have developed key steps to public speaking.

Prepare and practice

The more prepared I am, the less nervous I am. Research your topic thoroughly and prepare your speech and then practice, practice, practice.

Know your audience

Before any speaking opportunity find out information about the audience. This will help you to tailor your speech to their needs and level of knowledge.

Find your lighthouses

My friend and speaking coach, Mariette Rups-Donnelly taught me this, and I use it every single time. Find the lighthouses in the room. They are the people that are engaged and listening to you. Speak to them and they will feed you energy. It works every time.

Relax and deliver

Try to overcome your nerves. This was the hardest thing for me to do, but it’s important to relax and be yourself. You can use relaxation techniques such as controlled breathing to calm your nerves and make sure you are prepared.

Become a regular public speaker

Trust me, the more you practice public speaking, the more successful you will be. Start by speaking at small events and then build up to bigger ones. Say yes as much as possible to every speaking opportunity.

And sometimes you stuff up. And that’s OK. We regularly sing the song “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen in our office. Don’t hold on to failure, let it go.

I think the most important thing is to grow from the obstacles on your path and find wisdom through their solutions. And always – always – treat yourself with love and care.







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Catriona Pollard
From Unknown To Expert
CP Communications


Golden rules for public speaking @CatrionaPollard


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