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Has public speaking been holding you back in your career? By Mark Holton on Jun 6, 2021

Public speaking

Has the fear of speaking in front of an audience been holding you back your entire career? Unfortunately for some, the fear of embarrassing themselves in front of colleagues or other professionals runs so deep that they may damage any chance of climbing the leadership ladder.

If you think this might be you, don’t give up. Even people whom you believe are exceptional speakers and leaders still sometimes need support to effectively deliver to their audience. This is because, like any other skill, public speaking and effective communication are abilities that need continuous practice and development.

Not quite convinced you can improve on these skills? Smithink Young Guns 2021 Workshop presenter Steve Allan, of Say a Few Words (, shares his experience below with a client, explaining how receiving coaching as well as regular practice can improve these areas that may be obstructing opportunities for progression.

I recently attended a Zoom session with the Acting CEO of a state sporting body, and to be honest it changed my perspective towards online coaching. I’ve always preferred to be face to face with a microphone, however, times are changing and to move ahead we must adapt.

My client had reached out after recently learning that he had the opportunity to interview for the top role. While he would certainly be a front runner, not only because he’s already acting CEO, but he also possesses extensive experience and knowledge within the company and the industry as a whole.

Despite this, he was still up against other candidates and he’s identified that public speaking has been a weakness for him. He’s a financial whizz and just hasn’t been exposed. Although he may have the knowledge to continue fulfilling the role, he will still have to present himself to the board in an engaging and leading manner.

Nevertheless, we spent two hours stepping through his knowledge of the business, including star players, who have made the brand the powerhouse it is today. We also had a conversation about the former CEO and their enormous impact after 15 years in the role.

My client also highlighted he’s beliefs surrounding the sport deserving equal billing alongside other tier-one sports, concluding that this sport may have undersold itself considering its recent accomplishments.

In his time at the organisation, he’d seen an enormous change within the business. He was pivotal in analysing competing bids and pitching to other sporting bodies. His previous position had given him experience in managing financial cap constraints in sport. It was incredible discovering how much knowledge accumulated in the industry.

Brand knowledge and heritage is a great test for all employees. I’ve worked with many clients who struggle in this department, but my client was excellent, and he’ll need to know his stuff once he lands the top job because he’ll be mixing with everyone from the grass roots level of the sport to State and Federal politicians.

We continued with a Q and A where he interviewed me about my radio career as well as NRL role since 1999 and this was a revelation. He handled this task effortlessly. This would be a KPI for staff at any accounting firm.

The other key areas we’ve focused on have been his presentation style – he has a few traits or habits when he’s nervous or has to ad-lib. Also, the simple act of smiling to make him look like he’s enjoying the moment.

Great speakers and communicators follow the 5 Ps – Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Presentation. We also discussed the connection between great leaders and public speaking. They’re all outstanding communicators.

Great leaders start off as great speakers. They rise to the leading position through their ability to capture their audience’s attention, keep them engaged and lead the conversation in any room.

Come along to the Smithink Young Guns Workshop on 11 and 12 October 2021 at the Hilton Hotel Surfers Paradise and hear more during Steve Allan’s public speaking and communication presentation. Click here for further information and to register for special early bird rates until 30 June 2021.


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