Public speaking doesn't come easily to most. So what do you do
when your supervisor makes speaking in public a work goal? The
answer for one treasury professional: lead a session at AFP Annual
"My personal objectives at work included 'improve public
speaking' and AFP gave me a great opportunity," said Synthia
Seefried, CTP, Senior Cash Manager with Kimberly-Clark. "I spoke at
the Conferences in 2011 and 2012. The feedback from the attendee
evaluations was consolidated by AFP and the ratings were provided
to me. I was able to use those ratings to compare year-over-year
and provide back-up showing I met the objective of improving my
public speaking ability."
Seefried had never spoken in public prior to her 2011 session.
"At first I was scared," she said. "But I knew that I needed to do
it once to help get over the fear factor. Although still nervous,
as the date drew closer I was very excited for the opportunity.
This last year, having spoken already in 2011, I bypassed the fear
and went straight to excited!"
Now a veteran public speaker, Seefried offered the following
advice for other treasury professionals who are thinking about speaking at Annual
- If you have never spoken in public before, gather
others to be on a panel with you. "This way you can gain
the experience without the pressure of filling the full hour on
your own," she said.
- Hold regular phone calls with your co-presenters to
determine the agenda and then each presenter drafts their
slides. Once drafted, the presenters should continue
to meet to finalize the presentation.
- Get over first-time stage fright by recruiting
panelists. "For my first time speaking, I recruited others
on the panel to be the 'lead' speaker to limit my time in the
spotlight," she said. "Then, last year, I only had one co-presenter
and I was the lead speaker. This gave me time to practice and get
used to being in front of others before leading the presentation
- Practice, Practice, Practice. Be very
familiar with your material. "I 'presented' the material several
times out loud in an empty room to be more familiar with the
material and to gauge the amount of time the presentation would
fill," she said.
- Don't worry about nerves during your
presentation. "You will not see most of the people
attending your session ever again" was one perspective that
Seefried heard while preparing-and it proved beneficial during her
sessions. It is natural that you will be nervous as you start the
session, but as you move along in your presentation, you should get
- Find a few friendly faces in the audience-"plant"
friends around the room if needed-and look at them during the
presentation. "Having someone smiling at you is
encouraging as you speak and it helps ensure you look around the
room during the session," said Seefried, who said she is very
likely to submit another session proposal in the future.
Along with meeting the objectives of improving her public
speaking ability, Seefried added: "The free conference registration
is also a large motivating factor to submit a speaker proposal!"
If you are interested in submitting a proposal to speak at 2013
AFP Annual Conference, click here.