9 Ways This Introvert Polished His Public Speaking Skills

9 Ways This Introvert Polished His Public Speaking Skills
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

I stood on stage, looking out over the hundreds focused on me -- waiting for me to speak, to say anything -- and the voice in the back of head made it's way forward to remind me, "You're not the right person for this."

I was the opening talk for the TEDx event, and it was up to me to set the tone. This is an extraordinary responsibility on top of giving the most important talk of your life and, had it been any other circumstance, I might have given into that voice. "Yeah, you're right. I shouldn't be here. I'm an introvert. I'm an internal editor. I can't even finish a sentence with my wife without wanting a do-over."

Thankfully, I'd done my homework. Not just on the talk, but on how to keep from self-destructing. I knew what I needed to say, I believed in the message, and I had a plan even if the perfect circumstances I spent so much time practicing in didn't reflect reality on game day.

Today, I can get on stage in front of a few thousand people and say what I think is important with confidence and authority. If I'm lucky, some finesse and a few jokes that aren't total duds. But it hasn't always been this way.

When it comes to public speaking, any confidence I have today is the result of a tremendous amount of work, frustration, cold sweats, and embarrassment. But I'm glad I had those experiences because they got me here -- a place I can share some lessons about how to go from a terrified, bumbling idiot to a calm, confident communicator.

That, perhaps, will be the most useful part of this article for you -- simply knowing that public speaking skills can be learned. You don't have to be born with them.

From sharing an idea with a small team of friends to selling one to thousands of strangers on the main stage, these are the lessons -- many from speakers far better than me, I should add -- that have changed me from a timid, stuttering presenter to a confident, respected one. I hope they help you spread your own big ideas.

Popular in the Community


HuffPost Shopping’s Best Finds