7 tips to push past your fear of public speaking

Rita Perea is president and CEO of  Podium photo for Iowa Biz blogRita Perea Leadership Coaching and Consultingspecializing in working with senior leaders to successfully engage employees, lead teams, manage change and balance work and life.

Here it is... Your big chance to impress people. You’ve been given the amazing assignment of developing and delivering a “knock-their-socks-off” presentation to the entire North America team of directors in your company. If you hit this presentation out of the park you will be noticed for that promotion you've had your eye on.  There is a lot riding on the success of this golden opportunity. You are up for the challenge!

And then...When you mentally picture yourself standing at the podium delivering your message, alarm bells begin going off in your head. Your heart starts pounding.  You feel like you have been punched in the gut. The fear of public speaking is rearing its unwelcome head.  

The most important question to ask yourself is what do you do to regain your self confidence and hit a home run? 

I was asked to be part of a public discussion where the issue of “Presenting with Confidence” was the hot topic. Drawing on my 25-plus years of public speaking experience, and my business of coaching others in this area, I wanted to offer you seven tips to push past the fear of public speaking.  

1. Plan Your Content and Delivery

Another way to think about this is Message and Methods. First pinpoint how much time you will have at the podium. Step two: write down all of the critical, must-have information that you want share with your audience during the time you’ve been given to speak. Step three: Review your notes and determine the top three critical points in your message. Step four is the time to focus on how you will deliver your top three points to your audience. These are the methods you will use for your presentation. Powerpoint? Whiteboard notes? Graphs and charts to illustrate your critical points?  

Bonus tip:  This first step is the hard part. Do not wait until the day before the presentation to do this prep work! In the professional speaking world a good rule of thumb is 4 to 1: Four hours of planning for every one hour of presenting.  

2. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!

Now that you know what you are going to say and how you will say it, it’s time to practice the delivery. Many people find it helpful to record their voice as they are practicing their presentation. Videotaping yourself is also a great way to identify voice inflections, hand gestures or body language you may want to change. 

3. Warm up the audience

After weeks of planning, the day of the big presentation has finally arrived! Be sure to arrive at your event location as early as possible to check the technology set up and the microphone. After you are confident that you are all set up, and the audience begins to trickle into the room, give people a warm “hello” and shake their hands. This will help you build rapport with your audience before you begin the delivery of your message. This is also a secret weapon for fighting the butterflies you might be feeling in your stomach. 

4. The first 30 seconds

A surefire, no-fail way to calm your nerves and begin to maximize your impact is to walk up to the microphone, take a deep breath and smile! The combination of breath and the smile will help you gain control of your emotions and oxygenate your voice for better clarity. After smiling, begin building audience rapport by graciously thanking your event planners or hosts before launching into the presentation. 

5. Stories bring the point home

No one is asking you to be a comedian here. As you develop your content and presentation delivery strategy (tip #1), be sure to sprinkle in a few well-crafted, tasteful stories to help illustrate your critical points. Brain-based research shows that cognitively we use stories that drive an emotional response to learn new information.  You want to create stories that create emotion in the audience members so they will remember the points you are making. 

6. Actionable steps

Your presentation has inspired your audience to do something new or different - to find out more about the topic, change a thought or perception, persuade others, or have different behaviors.  Whatever those few actionable steps are that you want them to take, leave behind a reminder on a document, card, bookmark, etc. as the call to action in your presentation. 

7. Leave them wanting more!

There is never enough time to answer all of the questions that an audience may have. When it is time to end, tell the audience that you will be available to talk individually and answer questions after the presentation. Be sure to provide your phone number and email information so you can be contacted with follow-up questions.  

While public speaking is the #1 fear for most people, with preparation, practice and poise you can overcome your nerves and present with confidence. 

 ©Rita Perea, 2015


Irony and Mr. Heisenberg

Joe Benesh is a senior architect with Shive-Hattery and president + CEO of the Ingenuity Company, a strategic planning, diagramming, framework development, and design thinking consulting firm.

A German physicist named Werner Heisenberg introduced a principal called the “observer effect” in the early part of the 20th century. The principle states that the act of observation or measurement actually changes what is being observed. An example of this would be if you wanted to determine (observe) if a pie was hot, you might stick your finger into the filling to determine the temperature. This observation changes the pie - it has a hole where you put your finger into it – but you have gathered the data you sought. Bundesarchiv_Bild183-R57262,_Werner_Heisenberg

There are several cycles in organizational development – the entrepreneurial phase, the management phase, the reorganization / recreative phase. Every successful organization goes through these cycles as they become fully integrated.

As you work to strategically manage development through these cycles, it is important to consider the observer effect. Certain organizational development cycles are more suited to different types of individuals – the most effective way to capitalize on the effect is to determine the best way to impact the organization as a function of what phase it is in.

This is where the leadership differentiates itself from management as a construct. In order to move through these cycles effectively and create sustainable growth (not only in size, but in capacity / capability), the C-suite must capitalize on the opportunity to show leadership by hiring or repurposing human resources to maximize the potential of the organization.

Related to the observer effect, there is another construct in quantum mechanics called the uncertainty principle. First published by Heisenberg in 1927, the principle basically states that in a pair of related variables or inequalities, the more information you are able to determine about one of these variables, the less you are able to determine about the other.

This is different than observer effect in key ways, but equally important. As you consider the cycles above, there may be a tendency in the C-suite to focus on specific types of employee profiles. For example, in the management cycle, there may be a tendency to target non-conformists because they may be considered outliers in this phase. The effect of this might be that lower performing conformist employees may be hired to produce more consistent results, while these high performing non-conformists are driven out.

It is difficult to look at both things at once with equal emphasis, but the entire cycle needs to be taken into account. While management might focus on these outliers as problem areas, the uncertainty principle would urge balance between these individuals and those who conform within that phase of the cycle, looking at the entire system in a holistic sense. These non-conformists may actually be the key to significant growth in other phases of organizational development.

In this case, it is actually possible to ruin things by trying to fix them; what you thought you were measuring got thrown off by trying to measure it – short-term corrections vs. long-term sustainability. It’s ironic, but the point is sound – while you are looking at one metric, you might become so focused on it that you may lose track of another. The most common example I have seen regarding this is the shift between wanting the best talent and wanting to produce the best results. Sometimes those things can be extraordinarily difficult to balance.

Transformative leadership can make itself evident in many ways as it relates to management. By calibrating the correct amount of nondestructive “observer effect” and by balancing all facets of the uncertainty principle as they relate to human or other resources in your organization, you can truly build a balanced system with dynamic capabilities. This translates to a culture of transparency, innovation, and respect for the diverse strengths and talents of employees, management, and engagement with your organizational mission, vision, and core values.

 For more information:Joe _Benesh_2011

 Contact: joe@ingenuitycompany.com

 Please follow: @ingenuitycmpny


How your calendar might help you beat the IRS.

Ulmclock-Joe Kristan is a founding member of Roth & Company P.C.


Professionals who charge by the hour are used to keeping track of how they spend their workdays. The tax law is making time-trackers of the rest of us. And tracking time made a five-figure difference in the tax life of a Brooklyn apartment owner who recently beat the IRS in Tax Court.


The “passive activity” rules (IRS offers free oxymorons, no extra charge) have made it worthwhile for taxpayers to keep track of hours worked since they were enacted in 1986. If your business income and loss is reported on your 1040, these rules apply to you. It matters for sole proprietorships reported on schedule C, partnerships and S corporation income reported on schedule E, and farm income reported on schedule F.


The rules keep you from deducting a loss when you are a “passive” investor in the “activity.” If your “passive losses” exceed your “passive income” for a year, you can’t deduct the net loss;  the disallowed loss carries forward until you either generate passive income, or until you sell the activity in a taxable sale.


For the most part, whether you are “passive” depends on how much time you spend on an activity. You have to meet one of these tests:


  • 500 hours worked in the activity in a tax year.

  • 100-500 hours worked in the activity in a tax year, and when combined with other 100-500 hour activities, you get over 500 hours. This is for people running multiple businesses.

  • Over 100 hours, and more than anyone else.

  • Substantially all of the activity in the business.

  • You have met one of the hours tests in five of the prior 10 years.


If you rent real estate, you also must prove that you are a “real estate professional" before you can deduct rental losses. It’s a test that’s hard to meet for taxpayers who aren’t involved in the real estate industry.


If you have a business loss in a year, these tests become a big deal. They might eliminate your taxes on your other income, or even give you a tax loss that you can carry back to prior years for a refund.


The IRS can be distrustful of taxpayers claiming losses, and they may ask you to prove your time spent. You aren’t required to keep a time sheet, but then you have to prove your involvement by other means. That may be easy if you have a full-time business you show up at and run, but it is harder for part-time side businesses. The best way is to keep a calendar of your time.


A Brooklyn, New York man with a full-time real estate job (a real estate professional) had to prove the IRS that he wasn’t passive in managing the two apartments above his home. Fortunately, he did keep a calendar of his time, and the Tax Court ruled that he showed that he spent over 500 hours managing his business. the record keeping saved the taxpayer $25,174.60 in taxes and penalties that the Tax Court overturned.


Many other taxpayers who weren’t so careful have lost their deductions, sometimes into six figures. And don’t count on preparing a time log retroactively if the IRS ever comes calling. The results can be embarassing.


So when it comes to your business losses, time really is money. Keep track of it. And get your tax professional involved to make sure your recordkeeping and reporting will get you through an IRS exam.

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