there’s nothing more exciting than being asked to speak… Well, that’s certainly the case when you’ve got something to say and you’re prepared to do the preparation needed to do a good job.
Want proof? Here’s a recent photo of me on stage:
Being in that good a mood comes in part from practice and preparation.
Making the most of an hour of people’s lives is a big responsibility. If you take it seriously, connecting with a room of people is an incredibly rewarding activity.
I’m often asked for advice about how to make the most of a speaking opportunity. I’ve posted some of the things I’ve learned below. I will be posting more on Twitter using the hashtag, #speakingtip.
I hope they help you make the most of whatever opportunity comes your way.
LOOK AFTER YOUR HOST
Whoever invited you to speak has put their reputation in your hands. Do the preparation necessary to justify their faith in you.
The day before you speak, the person who invited you will be nervous! A call to say you’re ready & excited can go a long way.
LIVE A POSITIVE LIFE
Do interesting stuff. Go places. Listen to people who are often ignored. Read/Hustle/Experiment/Reflect. Have something to say.
Find something to admire about every speaker you see. If you’re a kind audience member it’ll help you see audiences as kind!
In the weeks before you speak
Don’t test on your real audience: before the event, buy coffees and talk through your topic & ideas with anyone who’ll listen.
Phone a few audience members before the event. When you’ve taken an interest it’s so much easier to connect & be relevant.
The night before
Be ready the night before your talk and you’ll sleep easier: pack bag, lay out clothes, set 3 alarms, play relaxation audio.
Reflect on all the people whose generosity has helped you learn & grow. Lifts your mood & reminds you of how far you’ve come.
On the day
On morning of your talk, be super healthy: exercise, play up-beat music, get sunlight, eat well, preen, breathe, phone a friend.
Before the talk, greet attendees as they enter. It builds rapport, warms the room & relaxes you-you’ll see they’re just people!
Be clear about how you’d like your audience think & feel after your talk. Intention carries in your voice & choice of words.
WHILE YOU’RE IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE
Get in the right mindset
If you relax, the audience will too. Slow breathing & measured pace gives you more time to think & inspires audience confidence.
Never “present” to an audience! Instead, have a conversation with them! It’s easier to be yourself & much more fun to listen to.
Build up your audience
Identify how your audience’s work contributes to a worthy purpose. Discuss this early in your talk: show ’em some appreciation.
Watch the clock
Stick to time! Respects audience & focuses your talk. Have a clock in your line of sight & friend to subtly flag time warnings.
Got more to offer than your time allows? End on time & offer to expand in the break. If people choose, they can stay for that.
Be a Q&A ninja
Don’t let your audience become hostages to an obscure, niche question in the Q&A. Broaden your answer so it applies to everyone.