Top 3 Public Speaking Issues: Confidence, Message & Practice

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

Whether I am coaching an entrepreneur in Connecticut, an executive in Italy or a project manager in Thailand, there are three main presentation skills issues that I see over and over:

1. Lack of Confidence
The first area that I work on with most clients is overcoming this confidence deficit. People say, “Who am I to get up in front of this group and talk? They are not going to be interested in what I have to say. There are smarter people in the room than I am. Why am I doing this? I do not feel like I have much to offer.”

This lack of confidence undermines everything about the presentation from practicing to delivery to what happens if someone asks you a question that you haven’t prepared for.

2. Unclear Message
The second issue that I find that people face very often is not being clear about their point or their message. What are you there to say or share? Can you do a data dump of everything you know about this topic? Probably not, because it will put your audience to sleep and take you over your time limit.

You have to be clear about your message. What is the one thing you want people to remember from the conversation? What is the newspaper headline or billboard? And your message must be tailored to your specific audience.

3. Insufficient Practice
The third issue that I see is people not practicing their presentation. I find that people do not practice as much as they should and as much as they could. Also, they do not practice in the right way. Most people belong to the “wing it” school of practice. I ask, “Do you practice?” and they say, “Well, not really, I have so many other things to do.”

So they just “wing it” and then get frustrated when they don’t perform as well as they’d like, which just confirms their misguided and negative view of their public speaking ability.

You have to realize that if you practice in the right way, you will become more effective and therefore, more confident. And if it is a new presentation, high-stakes, in front of a new audience or on a topic you have not spoken about before, you need to practice more than you normally would.

“Practice”does not mean you just sit at your laptop and flip through your slides if you have them. It means you actually stand up in a room (as similar to the real one you as you can get), say the words out loud and time yourself.

This is not in order to memorize your presentation word for word, but to become so comfortable with your material, your transitions, and your timings that you come across as comfortable, confident and smart. You are able to be in the moment with your audience.

The good news is that these three issues are not insurmountable. With focus, coaching and practice, you can overcome them and improve your confidence, influence and success through effective presentation skills.

For more information on how public speaking coaching can help you, visit

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