Use the power of storytelling  in your life, career, and community


Places to Practice Your Presentations
by Chris King

In many of my articles, I have stressed the importance of “practice, practice, practice,” but you ask, “I know that I will become more comfortable and polished if I practice speaking. Where do I find places to practice?” Good question. Some start by practicing in front of a mirror, but I have always found this to be unsettling and not at all the same as speaking to a group. So, I suggest speaking to a live audience and in this article, I will share where to find those live audiences while you are perfecting your presentation skills.

Join a Toastmasters International Club. Attend and take part regularly. Yes, I have said this before, but can’t say it enough times. Toastmasters’ groups across the world have given members a chance to become excellent and comfortable speakers. You receive a well written manual to work from, positive reinforcement from the group, and a chance to speak in one capacity or another every week. I found the people involved to be some of the finest people I’ve ever met - always willing to help each other improve. There are leadership clubs for the advanced speaker and opportunities to present at conferences (see the next section). To check out the organization go to .

Propose a workshop and/or presentation for your group’s upcoming conference and/or convention. Most organizations and associations have local conferences, regional conferences, and national conventions. I find that most are looking for good workshops for these events, and many are pleased to use members for the presentations. I started by proposing and giving workshops at our Toastmasters’ District conferences. This was a great learning experience and also a way to become known as a presenter.

Next, I proposed and presented at several Regional Conferences, so became more comfortable and even better known. Finally, I was asked to present one of the workshops that had been a winner at both the district and regional conferences at the National Convention. By the time I got to this level, I had ironed out the kinks and felt confident about my performance. Since that time, I have given a similar workshop at other group’s conferences.

Volunteer to become a member of a Speakers’ Bureau. I am not referring here to the type of Speakers’ Bureaus that place speakers for a fee. I am referring to group speakers’ bureaus that serve a community purpose. For example, there are speakers with bureaus who share information about an organization, a region, a college and/or college topics, and causes. For example, I volunteered to become a speaker for the Cleveland Growth Association. We auditioned and then, when chosen, were given assignments.

One talk involved a slide presentation about all of the great places to visit in Cleveland with a running dialogue including interesting information about those places. Rather than using and reading the script, I did research and created my own presentation of the slides.

When we asked Clevelanders to vote for a “sin tax” to help finance our new baseball stadium, I spoke on the benefits. After the tax passed, I realized that a lot of groups would be interested in hearing more details of what would be taking place in the future with the stadium, so created my own presentation with blessings from the stadium group. I learned how to deal with hostile audiences (there were those who had voted against the tax), question and answer sessions, and how to create meaningful visual aids.

Contact groups that have weekly and monthly meetings and are in need of speakers. There are Kiwanis Clubs, Jaycees, Chambers of Commerce, and a plethora of organizations and associations who are looking for good speakers who will speak for free (or for dinner). Once you have picked an interesting topic and presented it well at a meeting of one of these groups, you will start getting calls from others who have heard about you. They are not expecting an incredible speaker, so when you do an excellent job, they will be delighted.

Make sure you find out how much time will be allotted for your presentation because most of these groups have a special timeline for their meetings. Oftentimes, these engagements can lead to paid speaking in the future, but don’t present for that reason. You are there to give them a powerful presentation that serves them in some way.

Look into Continuing Education opportunities. Many school systems, recreation centers and community colleges offer Continuing Education classes. And most are willing to try a new offering in their brochure. I have found this to be a perfect way to test the popularity of a topic and also put together a winning workshop. One two-night workshop that I still give on a regular basis and one that always fills up is called “Discover Your Core Passion.”

I feel that the way you write up the description can make or break the signups. For example: “What is your Personal Mission? We are all familiar with goal setting, but how do you set goals if you don’t know what it is you want? In this class you will learn techniques, principles and exercises to uncover your core passion, to define your personal mission and devise a workable plan for accomplishing it.” I have met some of the most wonderful people in these classes, been hired by many of them for presentations, and have discovered my core passion!

So, get out there and start practicing. There are more opportunities than you can imagine. And I am sure you can imagine more than I have mentioned.

Let me know how you are doing!

Hot News:

A brand new FREE eclectic e-newsletter, Career Success Planning, is on the way. I will be contacting former sbscribers to Portfolio Potpourri and all who have taken the Portfolio Career Self Test to subscribe to the new FREE e-newsletter. Use the form below to sign up!

Email Marketing by

We never sell names and/or e-mail addresses, and if you ever wish to "opt-out" that's not a problem.

Contact Chris King at:
or at: 36250 Lakeshore Blvd.
Eastlake, Ohio 44095

Phone: (440) 918-1313

Home / Free Newsletter/Stuff / Special Reports /
Free Articles / Editor's BioAsk Questions / Creative Keys /
Storytelling Power
/ Chris Recommends



How to

In this complete manual
by been-there-done-that
author, Chris King,
you will learn everything
you need to know to
become an
Powerful Presenter!

Don't wait another day to
get started.

You will be glad you did!

We hope that you are
learning some new and
effective presentation
skills from this site, but
also are having fun
while here.

to be


By developing your own personal and professional STYLE,
you will live your life
on purpose - with class, pleasure and success in every area.

We have created a Special Report, 125 Ways to Develop
Your Personal and Professional STYLE.
Click HERE for more information.

And don't hesitate to send us your questions, comments, tips, and suggestions. We welcome your FEEDBACK.

101 Secrets of Highly Effective Speakers In 101 Secrets of Highly Effective Speakers, Caryl Rae Krannich Ph.D offers hands on, reader-friendly, practical ideas that will help develop the skills and confidence necessary for a successful presentation.

Speaker's Sourcebook II: Quotes, Stories, & Anecdotes for Every Occasion The Speaker's Sourcebook II remains a favorite source of reference, inspiration and information. The author pours a lot of himself in the messages following the anecdotes and stories. This is like a large Chicken Soup book with ideas for speakers.

In The SpotLight: Overcome Your Fear
In The SpotLight is a real gift to people experiencing any degree of fear or discomfort in speaking or performing in front of others, either in formal or informal settings. Janet Esposito demonstrates sensitivity and wisdom.

Inspire Any Audience: Proven Secrets ...
Zig Ziglar calls this "the ultimate presenter's handbook"--and it's easy to see why! "Inspire Any Audience" is every speaker's find-it-fast toolkit of immediately usable tips and techniques.

Great Session Openers, Closers, and Energizers
Here's everything a speaker or trainer needs to keep the audience awake, alert, and involved. This fun-filled collection of can't-miss activities contains the openers, closers, and energizers you can use to kick off each presentation.