Article by Niki Hennessy

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Stepping in front of an audience at a speaking gig, workshop or event, whether it’s 5 or 500 people, can be a nerve wracking experience. Fear of public speaking is commonly right up the top on people’s ‘greatest fears’ list, but it doesn’t have to be a sweat-inducing experience.

Imagine owning the spotlight at your next workshop, feeling natural, in control, keeping your audience hanging on your every word.

The ability to create a vibrant, tangible atmosphere, to hold space for a group of people, to own the stage and confidently engage every single person within that audience is something that EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US has the potential to cultivate.

Yup, you heard me. I’m talking to you lady.

Now I know what you’re thinking – “You’re either a natural at presenting or you’re not.”

“I don’t have the personality for it.”

“You’ve got to be super extroverted and I just don’t have the charisma to pull something like that off.”

“I’d just shrink in a big, on stage, ‘in the spotlight’ presentation. No way!”

… sound familiar? Well let me put that inner mean girl to rest and banish this big fat lie, because there is one simple thing you can do to up-level your next presentation like a pro.

Yes, some people do find it easier to stand up and present than others.

However no matter how comfortable you might be with presenting naturally it takes a helluva lot of practice to be really, really good, and practice is something that everyone can do, no matter how naturally it comes to you.

When Elizabeth Gilbert, (you may have heard of her author, creative and seriously fierce lady boss who speaks at events that draw crowds in their thousands), was asked to speak at one of Oprah’s live events she spent countless hours rehearsing her presentation.

⇨ She learnt the whole thing, by heart, and then repeated it to herself again, and again, and again.

⇨ She worked with a speaking coach to hone her overall presentation and to refine everything down to perfection.

⇨ Then she practiced some more.

She got to know her content so well, that she was able to stand up, in front of an audience of thousands, and confidently speak those words without her brain freaking out and getting in the way.

If you’ve ever seen Elizabeth Gilbert speak you’ll know the woman is amazing. She’s composed, confident and oh, so natural – but that doesn’t mean it comes naturally.

Secondly, your personality type doesn’t matter. So many fantastic presenters class themselves as introverts. I’m an introvert and I still really enjoy presenting – it’s just a case of ensuring that I’ve done what I know I need to do to prepare. I need to know exactly what I’m going to say and how I’m going to deliver it.

As the old saying goes, confidence is like a muscle – the more you work it, the stronger it is.

By this point you’re probably not going to be surprised when I tell you that the simple, sure-fire, fail-safe secret of building your confidence so you can present like a pro is – practice.

⇨ Before any speaking op’ always do your homework and be thoroughly prep’ed, practiced and ready. It doesn’t matter how well you know the subject matter, don’t attempt to present off the cuff. Being well rehearsed and prepared shows you have respect for the subject matter and for your audience.

⇨ Stand in front of the mirror, rope in friends and family, bring in a pro to give you some coaching, whatever works for you – invest the time in getting really familiar with your content and in practicing your delivery.

When you know your content inside and out you don’t need to think about what you’re saying, removing the chance for your brain to overthink things and get in the way.

Practice is the only way to refine the whole show and build your confidence. When you’re confident your presentation will feel more natural, letting your energy shine through. And there is nothing that captivates an audience more than enthusiasm and passion.


Niki Hennessy is a PR and Marketing coach, writer, yoga teacher, chai addict and proud mama of a wild-hearted little star child and a feisty fur baby.

Niki’s mission is to empower purpose-driven entrepreneurs to build their beautiful business and fuel an abundant life through strategic, soul-centred marketing and communications.