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Six Tips on Public Speaking from a Treasury Professional

  • By Ira Apfel
  • Published: 2012-12-20

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 Conference.

"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 Conference:

  • 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 myself."
  • 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 more comfortable.
  • 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.

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