From An Introvert To A Public Speaker: Important Public Speaking Tips

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I’m Harsh Agrawal

Blog Scientist & a passionate blogger. Love minimalist life & talk about things that matter. Adventure from heart & doer by action.

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Harsh Agrawal - Important Public Speaking Tips

Do you believe that life is about learning and sharing?

Well, that’s one of the things that I strongly believe in, and that’s why I’m always ready to explore new things.

I’ve always considered myself an introvert, but with time, I realized that no one is a perfect introvert or a perfect extrovert. It depends upon the situation, the place, and the people we are with.

With certain people, we are very comfortable sharing everything, and with other people, we don’t have much to add to the interaction. The latter brings out the introvert, and the former highlights the extrovert.

That’s one reason why I always suggest you find and hang out with like-minded people.

This post is not related to discussing introverted or extroverted characteristics; instead, I will tell you about how I toned-down my naturally introverted nature to become a public speaker.

In the past three years, I have given many workshops/seminars on various topics (some with over 200 attendees). Some include:

Even though I love adventure sports, public speaking is something I would have never imagined I would enjoy, even in my wildest dreams.

So let me share how I learned to ditch fear and enjoy public speaking. There are many takeaways & valuable tips here for you. Go grab a cup of coffee & learn something solid today!

How I Started Public Speaking with Zero Experience

If you are a regular reader of ShoutMeLoud, you may have read about my complete blogging journey and also the recent article on the 8 year anniversary of ShoutMeLoud.

So you probably already know that I simply enjoy sharing what I’m learning via my blogs, while at the same time making money.

For anyone who loves to write and help people, blogging is definitely a great career. But it also comes with responsibilities- like being asked to speak in public.

My first public speaking experience happened in 2013 when a blogger contacted me to be a keynote speaker at a blogging event happening in Mohali, and I realize this could be a good reason for me to try something new.

Since I had almost one month until the presentation, I prepared and learned how to fight against stage fright.

The presentation turned out to be better than I imagined, and after a couple of months, another friend asked me to give a workshop at the Reseller’s Club Hosting Summit (Asia’s biggest hosting summit), and I gladly accepted his offer.

This time, I made the silly mistake of being over-confident, and I didn’t prepare in front of the camera like I did the last time. Surprisingly, the workshop turned out to be great for many attendees (based on feedback), but I was not happy with my own performance and negligence for not practicing.

In 2014, Baroda WordCamp organizers asked me to become a speaker, and that was something I didn’t want to miss for various reasons.

For starters, I love WordCamp. The first time I ever attended (Janurary 2009), I got the insights necessary to shape my career as a professional blogger.

Secondly, I knew that there were going to be many newbies there with great enthusiasm that just needed to be pushed along the right path, and I felt like I could be the one to push them.

The hard part was deciding on the topic for the seminar, but I decided to pick “WordPress SEO”.

Well, it’s almost impossible to teach WordPress SEO to anyone in 50 minutes, but I tried my best to make it targeted for both beginners & intermediate bloggers.

Harsh Agrawal at WordCamp

Oh boy! What a day that was! I had such a great experience speaking at WordCamp Baroda. I believe this was one of those speaking gigs that changed my career as a speaker.

After that, I spoke at many national & international forums. You can find a list of most of my appearances here.

To be honest, after the first few appearances, I became pretty confident. But it was my last session when I started getting nervous & worried.

I was about to speak at Affiliate Summit West in Las Vegas, USA. It was my first ever international solo speaking engagement & the audience was completely new.

However, it turned out pretty smooth & I recently just got the feedback from my session.

Feedback-as-a-speaker

Well, this kind of feedback is priceless as I now know which particular areas I need to work on. With this last one, I’m so happy to join the league of people

With this last one, I’m so happy to join the league of people who have spoken internationally. It’s indeed a good feeling.

Affiliate-summit-west-vegas

So enough about me. What can you do to start your career as a public speaker?

Before we dive in, remember this one rule:

  • A good speaker never differentiates between an audience count of 1 or 1 million.

Also remember:

  • Time is money, so make it count.

1. Make Your Own Slides

Make Your Own Slides

It doesn’t matter if you are a CEO or just an account manager of a company, if you are going to be speaking at a seminar, or a workshop, or even in your office meeting, ensure you make your own slides.

If you don’t have enough time to make your own slides, ensure that you at least work out a complete rough draft of your slides.

This will ensure that you maintain a flow of information while giving your presentation, and get rid of the “ummm”, and “humm”, and all of the awkward pauses.

2. Add Humor When It’s Needed

One great tip to keeping your audience engaged is to add in humor when it’s necessary.

Adding in humor will make you and your presentation much more entertaining.

If you are speaking on a technical topic, try to make it understandable with a humanly-relatable approach (and humor will help with this).

Add in some jokes, and keep the mood light.

3. Dress Appropriately

Non-verbal communication, like body language, vocal tone, and style of dress matters a lot when you are on stage.

You don’t have to wear a thousand dollar suit to leave an impression, but you need to wear something which makes you look more authentic and professional. This will make you feel more confident and make your audience more receptive to what you have to say.

4. Take Questions Seriously

Take Questions Seriously

I love questions after my presentations!

They’re what make me believe that people genuinely listened to everything I said. And as a speaker, you should pay serious attention to the questions coming your way.

Remember that the people asking the questions are not the only ones you’re addressing. Some people may have the same question, but they’re just too shy to step up to the mic.

Whenever a question comes in (on-stage), ensure that you repeat the questions, ensure that everyone is paying attention, and then answer the question insightfully and with wisdom.

If any of the questions are off-topic or require more time to explain, you should tell the asker to come up to you after the event and talk with you.

Overcoming The Fear Of Public Speaking

If you feel shy about speaking in public (stage presentations or giving workshops) but you still want to do it, today is the right day to start.

But how?

Start with your laptop or smartphone camera and record yourself while talking about something you are knowledgeable about. Once you are done speaking, watch your recorded video and notice your facial expressions, your tone, your body language, your movements, and listen to the words you did or didn’t use properly.

If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can even show it to a friend to see what they have to say about your performance.

Now, repeat the process 2-3 more times and seek to improve upon each of your problem areas each time.

Continue this practice until you are a master public speaker!

What kinds of things do you recommend for public speaking? What are your techniques for giving a good presentation? Have you ever had to give a speech? Let me know your thoughts and experiences in the comments section.

Like this post? Don’t forget to share it!

Just in case you are in the mood to learn some things, here are some videos of my public appearances:

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10 comments on “From An Introvert To A Public Speaker: Important Public Speaking Tips

  1. Hello Harsh,
    Awesome post……. your article is really informative & helpful. Really, when it comes to presentation it is too difficult to speak in front of audience, we get hesitated. But, you have described everything in descriptive, simply yet effective too. You’ve done a great job with this.
    Thanks to share this informative article.

  2. Hey Hersh,
    your all the content is unique and inspirable in this article you have mention lots of points which is fully relative a good presentation like make your PPT your self and question session must be there.
    thanks for share your unique views with us.

  3. I recently started blogging and while searching for content to boost my traffic, I found you from ShoudMeLoud. I am impressed with the kind of content this site offers. It not just teaches us but help us in building good brand.
    Now I am regular reader of this blog.
    Thanks you

  4. Hi Harsh,

    Great info! your are one of the genuine guys who share there experience. If you prepare nicely, every presentation goes smoothly. But, whether your audience will remember you depends upon your personality.

    Best Rafe

  5. I still stammer during my presentations. I need to build up the confidence to speak clearly and express my thoughts.

  6. Hi Harsh,

    Thanks for sharing this story. I was not aware that you are also an introvert like me. I always wonder why introvert wanted to work alone and if they are like this by nature then how they can face public speaking. Your Article says so much about this and tells how someone can handle public speaking if it is required from professional point of view. Thanks for sharing your story to help those who have struggle in public speaking and specially for introvert people. thanks

  7. Hi Harsh,

    First of all Thanks alot to become a motivator for me…I like your post…it’s very nice.

    I want to become a person having even a single knowledgeable but at least perfect with it. And not be a part of multiple half knowledgeable topics.

    So, I’m a Business Analyst from Profession and working with IT company and I’m now interested in my field’s technical topics such as SDLC, Agile, Waterfall, etc.
    I want to start my blog with it and want to be a confident person in these skills so that if I would get an offer someday to speak in front of public then I can impress some of them (if not all of them).

    I would like to receive an input from your end @Harsh.

    Thanks,
    Vivek

  8. Thanks so much for sharing this experience with us. I think we all need to have a strong belief in ourselves that we can do. Your blogs are expressing themselves with an overwhelming success. Thanks for sharing. I hope you all the best!

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