After about month of not doing any social media training, sales presentations, or events, I felt extremely nervous about speaking before a crowd of women about natural hair (for more on me and natural hair, see the interview link on the about page from CoilyHair.com). It was like I’d never done it before and like I hadn’t successfully spoken before hundreds of people nationally. What was my deal?

Sales, presentations, and public speaking is a common means of people’s fear. Standing before your peers, oftentimes who you view as being overly critical and who you fear will reject or heckle you, creates a discomfort like no other. The only way to get over these feelings, or minimize them is to do it anyway, do it well, and do it often.

Approaching other people and being persuasive or engaging is an art. In art, how can you know if you’re any good if you don’t share it with others? You can’t avoid speaking or presentations and expect to conquer your reservations nor will you get constructive feedback to learn how to improve. You just gotta do it.

How can you be effective, doing a great speech or sales presentation? Techniques and opinions vary. What I know and have read is you must be prepared and have some kind of outline so you can organize your thoughts. Maintain eye contact and don’t turn your back or otherwise allow others to disengage. It helps to throw in visual aids, quotes and compelling stories. Being poised and charismatic can’t hurt either.

You’ll find your “it” factor overtime but it won’t come automatically. I’m learning by watching other great speakers and by noting how people respond to me. In the process of feeling the fear and doing it anyway, I’m learning that knowing my stuff, asking my audience questions, and telling stories, often humorous ones, helps my audience relate to me and gets my message across most effectively.

What helps you get up in front of people and do your thing? Are there any books you recommend or dynamic speakers you can mimic? Please share what makes you a great public speaker or salesperson.

Make a note: A great book that great salespeople often read is Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends And Influence People. They even have a sales training program based on this classic book.