Real Leaders

Giving a Public Speech While Your Partner Listens? Here’s How to Cope

Each week, speech coach and leadership mentor James Rosebush will answer a question on how to improve your public speaking

Lynda Webster, CEO of The Webster Group, asks: “I consider myself a decent speaker, but I get a little flustered when people I know, such as my husband or close business colleagues, are in the audience. How do I overcome this? “

Lynda, you are not alone! We all feel this way. Sometimes when my wife is in the audience, I think that she’s the only one I need to impress — because if I don’t do my best, I’ll hear about it all the way home on the plane!
To want to please is a good thing. It helps us stay alert and on our toes, and to be competitive makes us better speakers. Now let’s stop right there because we don’t want our self-consciousness to get in the way of an excellent presentation. Yes, we can certainly feel inhibited when people we know are in the audience.

The best antidote for this problem is to become more immersed in the content of your speech. Try and forget about the physical space you’re standing in. Get yourself lost in what you’re saying and increase your energy and enthusiasm levels around your subject matter. This technique is a “germ-blocker” for the encroaching insecurity you may feel. Try raising the level of your voice, too, and say to yourself (as Margaret Thatcher once told me): “OK, you can do this!”

Have a question you’ve always wanted to ask about public speaking? Email James at and your answer may feature here.