About a year ago I made a decision to chase down a long time goal of mine to become a speaker. I've given several talks in 2017. It's a good start for a fledgling speaking career. In that time I've met some resistance and learned a lot about myself.
THE JOURNEY BEGINS
Starting out, I had no idea what I really wanted to talk about. Here's a few of the things I knew from watching other speakers.
- Power Point Sucks. Know your material.
A lot of speakers I've seen are entirely reliant on Power Point presentations. I'm not against Power Point as a tool during the presentation. But I am against speakers who use it as a crutch because they simply don't know their material well enough to speak without it. Of course that means they naturally commit the most fatal speaking sin of all. They read the Power Point presentation to you.
I knew whatever topic I was speaking about, I had to know my material in my sleep. This kills the need to use Power Point as a crutch and adds authority to the presentation.
- Talk About What You Know
Do you remember watching shows like American Idol and The Voice? When contestants failed it was very often that we heard, "It was the song choice." I've seen many speakers fall victim to the same thing. They picked the wrong topic.
It can be very easy to be seduced by a topic. This usually happens because a new speaker sees another speaker make it look super easy. For example, Matthew Hussey, has a lot of experience speaking about relationships. His content on Facebook is fantastic. He's confident, has a bit of an accent, and speaks with authority. It would be very easy for a young speaker to try and start talking about relationships. But without any credibility on the subject, the "fake it til you make it" approach is going to bring that speaker down in flames.
The best thing for a speaker to talk about is what they know. In my case, that meant the challenge of living with arthritis, being an entertainer as well as marketing and social media. These are all things I have directly experienced for a lot of years. That's the credibility I needed to move forward.
- Keep Your Thoughts Organized and the Talk Moving Forward
After my first couple of presentations I learned something critical to being a successful speaker. You have to keep your thoughts organized in order to keep your talk moving forward. Getting off on tangents happens easily, especially when you're talk includes active discussion.
As the year has advanced I find myself producing more content across digital platforms. This has been beneficial for me developing even more mastery of my talk. That level of mastery helps create confidence which in turn allows for a much more engaging and dynamic talk.
TELL YOUR STORY
One of the most important things I've taken away from this year is this. Tell your story or someone else will do it for you. One thing I want to make sure does not happen is that I end up being defined by someone or something else. The best way to do that is for me to tell my story.