Why Measurecamp is the perfect place to do your first talk & top tips from a fellow newbie speaker on how to get through it!
I recently did my first ever public speaking engagement – and it went much better than I imagined it would!
In the (short – I had less than a week’s notice) build up to my talk, I was anxious, imagining the worst – what if I forgot what I was saying, tripped over my words, or worse, tripped over my own feet on the way to the stage (it’s been known!). But I got through it, without so much as a glance at my cue cards, and I actually got some really good feedback afterwards!
In reflecting on my talk and why I think it went well, and why I can now say I’ll definitely do more speaking in the future, there are some really clear things that helped me – so I’m going to share them with you, in the hope they help you too!
- Talk about something you *know* inside out, over something that will impress.
The theme of my talk was stakeholder management – I talked about empathy, feedback and consistency, about educating clients and demonstrating value to them. There was nothing really groundbreaking in what I was saying, but I knew it – my whole career has been client facing agency roles – I believed every word of what I was saying, and I am passionate to the core about it.
I actually cut some stuff out of my talk that was more on the ‘impressive/innovative’ side, but that I didn’t have too much experience with. I wouldn’t have been as confident speaking about it, and though this decision was driven by fear of being asked a question I couldn’t answer after the talk, on reflection it was definitely the right choice!
- Practise it out loud to determine your speaking style.
I locked myself in a room the day before my talk and read it aloud, first from a loose script, then using cue cards, and then using just my slide deck. It was immediately clear to me that the formal style of the script I’d written didn’t fit with my presenting style, which I like to think is a bit more authentic and informal. By speaking it out loud in a way I was comfortable speaking, I could update the presentation to match better what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it.
In speaking it out loud I could identify certain points that just didn’t flow, where I just didn’t have it nailed enough to not need a cue, or where, once I was talking, I wanted to embellish on more to explain or clarify beyond what was on the slides.
Often the stuff that didn’t flow was the stuff I’d wanted to include because, to be completely honest, it made me sound clever, but my lack of deep knowledge meant I was more likely to stumble without my cue cards, so I culled it. It wasn’t me, it wasn’t the stuff that excited me, and that would have shown had I kept it in, I’m sure.
- Have a security blanket if you need one!
Even though I’d practised my talk without them, I had my cue cards in my pocket on the day. I didn’t actually use them – even when I did lose track a little and had to look back at the screen to remember what I was meant to say next. Nevertheless, knowing they were there was a security blanket for me. I’d numbered them so if needed I could quickly grab the one I wanted.
An added comfort for me was knowing my slides looked good – I’d gotten a designer to spruce them up for me and recreate some graphics in our branded colours. For me knowing that my slides looked professional was comforting – even if I didn’t come across professional in my speaking, at least I looked the part. Fake it till you make it!
- Remember, as a new speaker – no-one has any expectations of you!
Seasoned speakers we expect a certain level of finesse from – for first time speakers, there are no expectations.
Something I kept reminding myself before my talk was that no-one was there to see me. That’s not me being self deprecating – I was a last minute addition to the speaker line up due to someone else dropping out, so it was literally fact that the event had been booked up before I was even announced. It was actually comforting to know nobody was going to be disappointed by my talk, as nobody had any expectations of it!
At an event like Measurecamp it’s the same – no-one knows who will speak, so take comfort in the fact that nobody has gone along to that event for the purpose of seeing you speak. Even if you don’t do as well as you feel you could have, you literally won’t be disappointing anyone!
That’s why Measurecamp is THE perfect place to do your first ever talk!