When Did Speaking in Front of Others Become Uncomfortable?

Written by Pam Chambers Be first to comment on this post.

Probably not last month, or last year, but when you were in grade school. You had to get up in front of the class and give an oral book report, or describe your science project. Perhaps for the first time in your young life, your friends became your enemies. You flubbed a word. Someone snickered. Your face turned red. More people snickered. Your mind went blank. Your teacher frowned and told you to continue. Bam! You made a decision: This is not safe. And forever after, memories such as these were linked to being in front of people.

In my classes, people ask, What am I so afraid of? Normally Im a confident person! I think at the bottom of this fear lies the horrendous thought that you might be so unacceptable, make such a fool of yourself, and be so unrespectable, that you might as well pack up and leave town. The city would be abuzz about how awful you were. Most basic, you might be abandoned – left to circulate through the universe, outcast and alone.

Sounds melodramatic, but people nod in agreement when I describe it this way. What can you do if you have a presentation in the near future?

  1. Tell yourself the truth about how you think and feel.
  2. Realize that that was then, and this is now.
  3. Discover a desire to share your message. How will it help people?
  4. Know your subject, and if possible, love your subject.
  5. Clarify your intended result and call for action.
  6. Figure out what to wear.

Could You Stand Alone?

Written by Pam Chambers Be first to comment on this post.

“NOW we’re talking!” That’s what I said aloud when I recently watched a YouTube video of comedian Demetri Martin perform a hilarious routine without any bells or whistles. On the stage were three things: Demetri, a stool, and a glass of water. Oh, and about half-way into the gig he produced a flip chart which contained pages of simple drawings that accompanied his jokes.

It was a relief to not be distracted by somber lighting, power point images with too many illegible words, and confusing slides that didn’t direct the gaze. Our eye knew exactly where to be on Demetri. And to his credit, he was dressed as plainly as possible: ordinary shoes, non-decript pants, a plain t-shirt, and well-fitting unzipped sweatshirt. The only note-worthy element was his signature Beatles-style haircut.

As a coach, my goal for each student and client is to have them be ABLE to do it this way. If all your technical tools and devices were to be snatched away by fate, could you stand alone and deliver a memorable message? Become that kind of speaker.


Presenters Who Go Overtime

Written by Pam Chambers Be first to comment on this post.

Recently a well-respected man in his field was allotted 20 minutes for his remarks. He started by saying, “I can’t possible condense my message into 20 minutes. It will probably be more like 40. If you can’t stay until the end, feel free to leave.”

I don’t know how everyone else felt, but my three adjectives about him in that instant were: arrogant, self-centered, and disrespectful. Let’s add a fourth: undisciplined.

Especially in Hawaii, people don’t like getting up and walking out on a speaker. They are more likely to sit in quiet anguish, wondering how and when they can escape.

Please, speakers: You must learn how to be an accordion, gracefully collapsing and expanding your material. No one will know (or care about) what you left out. Learn how to express your message in one hour, half an hour, and five minutes. That’s what headlines are all about. A well-crafted headline lets us know if we should stick around for the rest of the story. Be that kind of speaker. Stick to your agreement and stay afterwards to chat with people who want more.