For many people, giving presentations isn’t something that they do regularly or enjoy doing. When people are surveyed, public speaking usually ranks higher in their fears than death!

Indeed, without training it can be a daunting task to give one – my first presentation to a local networking group lasted a whole ten seconds, when I had a minute slot to fill!

Yet, I have given many presentations now to audiences of over 100 people and for several hours duration.

It’s a skill I’ve learned, and it is very much one that others can also learn too.

My own skills were honed in the supportive environment of the world’s number one referral marketing organisation, BNI.

With this supportive environment, and with the training courses provided, I was slowly able to develop my skills and become more comfortable doing the sixty seconds presentation initially.

Soon it was time for my ten minute presentation and that went ok. Afterwards I was surprised how quickly the time seemed to go.

After four months, I was offered the role of Secretary Treasurer – they must have seen the accountant in me coming! I took the role with both hands as it meant being part of the leadership team and having to make a short presentation at the front of the room to the chapter and visitors weekly, again with training and support.

Three months later I was asked if I would like to be Chapter Director. I really wasn’t sure about this as I would be running the meetings each week and it would be quite a bit outside my comfort zone, however it was a supportive environment and I would receive further training in how to do it, so I accepted.

Now I would be running the ninety minute meetings each week, when a few months before I could barely manage ten seconds!

This went well and over my leadership term I was able to develop until I was fairly comfortable about presenting to a group of people.

Since my term as Chapter Director, I have presented to several different networking groups about my own business and also about social networking of which I am an advocate. Following on from that, I was offered my first large audience – a chance to present to fifty financial advisers in London and, armed with my BNI presenting experience, I accepted.

After my term as chapter director finished, I was then offered the chance to become an assistant director for BNI. This involves looking after chapters, presenting to them and running training courses for members.

I had gone from someone who could barely speak 10 seconds to now training members in networking skills, and supporting them!

Thanks to my role as an Assistant Director I have travelled throughout Surrey, Kent and Essex giving presentations – both to local BNI groups as well as at special seminars we have run too. The audiences for these have been over 100 in many cases.
In addition I have also presented internationally, running several trainings to BNI groups in Spain on topics ranging from referral skills to social media.

When I look back to 2008 when I gave my first 10 second presentation, it has been the combination of training and a supportive environment that has helped me to develop to where I am today. It is a great privilege to help others along the same journey as myself in developing their presentation skills.

How have your presentation skills been developed?