microphone in the spotlight

How to speak in public – even if you hate it

microphone in the spotlight

So, you’ve known about your speaking engagement for ages. You accepted it months ago, not quite believing the day would ever come. But the weeks are whizzing by and you’re beginning to have sleepless nights over standing up there in the spotlight.

You know you need to get preparing but each time you even think of planning your talk, butterflies flutter in your stomach. Time is getting a little tight.

I know not everyone is a born speaker

As the daughter of a Preacher Man (aka Methodist minister) I think public speaking must be in my genes and I love it, but lots of my coaching clients absolutely do not. I really get that and I genuinely feel for them. I started work with a new client last week who knows she has to up her game and brave a more public platform. She’s a senior comms leader and knows she needs to be seen. Part of her role is to get out there to promote her organisation’s vital work on fair trade, but the thought of it is, quite frankly, freaking her out.

I’m so pleased she’s working with me. She’ll learn new tools and approaches, and get lots of speaking practice in a non-threatening, non-judgemental environment. We’ll do a bit of coaching and bit of mentoring and I anticipate fairly soon she’ll push through the fear and begin to enjoy it.

My 7-Up speaking blueprint

speaking publicly with confidence

So what will I be teaching her? Well, we’ll be working through my seven-step blueprint to public speaking, which over the years has helped many clients find their voice in meetings and speaking engagements. These are the seven steps:

1. Gen Up

2. Show Up

3. Stand Up

4. Speak Up

5. Look Up

6. Shut Up

7. Wrap Up

I’ve blogged about 7-Up before, and in particular about the Speak Up step. Read it here to try out my suggestions.

This time, I’d like to share a few thoughts on the second step.

How to Show Up 

I give my clients a checklist of all the different ways in which they can show up as their unique best self, such as looking as fabulous as they possibly can and creating an affirming pre-talk ritual. I also ask them to get clear about these four powerful questions:

  1. If I am truly to show up today… who (or what) do I have to be?
  2. If I am truly to show up today… who (or what) do I choose to leave behind?
  3. If I am truly to show up today… what difference will it make? To me? To my team? To partners, users or beneficiaries?
  4. So how do I choose to show up?

They come up with some truly goose-bump inducing answers.

Over to you?

So how do you feel about speaking in public? Do you adore it or hate it? Or somewhere in between? I’d love to know what you think, and hear suggestions from your experience. Please add your comments in the reply box below.

What next?

If you need help with public speaking call me on 0208 772 7808 (or 07958 501 427) or drop me an email here. I’d be delighted to give you a no-cost, no-obligation Discovery Session to see how coaching could help you and your team.


CEO speaker image credit: JoshuawintertonCEO 190CC BY-SA 4.0



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