Presentation skills – Don’t let your comfort zone hold you back

Have you ever stopped yourself from doing something because it took you outside your comfort zone?

Giving a speech? Applying for a promotion? Even eating a new type of food?

We all have a comfort zones for everything we do, including speaking in public, and by definition, doing something outside our current comfort zone “feels” uncomfortable and so we often step back, preferring the familiar over the unfamiliar. It happens to the best of us but that doesn’t make it right. Almost every day I meet people who are imprisoned by their comfort zones. Improving your presentation skills requires that you do something about it.

How do you break out of your comfort zone?

Well I don’t think you have to!  I know that sounds like I am contradicting myself but bear with me a second. The reason that i say this is because I think the solution is to expand your comfort zone not to break out.  In reality you have already been doing this  for most of your life.   I am 100% certain that the comfort zone you have now is not the same as when you were younger. If it hadn’t changed you would probably be still crawling around the floor making baby noises!

Learning  occurs at the edge of our comfort zone

i know that this may sound a bit scary but it’s true. Take too big a step and the risks are so great that either you won’t do it, or you will and you’ll hurt yourself psychologically or physically. It makes much more sense to take a smaller, low-risk step where the internal resistance is less too.    it’s this principle that is behind the long terms (90 years!) success of Toastmasters International, the worldwide network of public speaking clubs. They offer a stairway to success by offering members series of  low-risk speaking opportunities that stretch their comfort zone  every month. Each incremental change is, on its own, small, but collectively the impact is huge.

What might you do to expand your public speaking comfort zone and improve your presentation skills?

  • Offer to introduce to speaker at a team meeting
  • Offer to introduce the agenda for the meeting
  • Volunteer to give a 2 minute project update to your colleagues
  • Read a story or an article out loud family or friends
  • Join your local Toastmasters Club

 Share your suggestions by leaving a comment below or share an example of an activity that helped you to expand your comfort zone.  

Image by: Peter Galvin

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