As many of you know I recently was able to successfully complete a keynote presentation at a local conference here in Atlanta and for what it’s worth I believe it went really well!
I had some great feedback and I was able to connect and network with many extremely intelligent entrepreneurs, business owners, and creatives – what a pleasure it was to be among brilliant minds!
Heck, I even had the opportunity to meet some of our TentBlogging Community in real life! That, of course, made my day.
And now that it’s been a few days I can clearly see a number of things that I learned and a number of ways in which I can improve – many of these might seem “elementary” for many of you but you must remember that I don’t do this for a living – in othe words, I’m the newbie here!
1. Asking for Advice is Necessary and Good
When I asked the community here for advice on public speaking it was one of the best posts that I’ve ever written – I received some seriously awesome thoughts and advice on how to make sure I knock it out of the park. Just look at some of these comments to get a taste!
The thing is that I haven’t always asked for advice – in fact, I typically don’t and it’s not because I’m necessarily prideful or arrogant or feel like I know what I’m doing but because I simply don’t like to prepare and as such there’s not enough time to ask!
In addition I just felt like I needed some different perspectives on how to best execute a talk, especially since I knew that the community here had some very gifted communicators.
Asking for advice is an important part of the process and I can’t imagine any professional communicator not asking for advice and suggestions for most (if not all) of their talks – or at least having some sort of feedback mechanism that gives them alternative and healthy perspectives!
2. Prepare and Practice
This might seem really noob-like concept (and it really is) until you realize that I have never really prepared or practiced a keynote presentation and/or smaller breakout sessions before. I have always “shot from the hip” and hoped for the best.
To my credit (or luck rather) the talks have always been ok and the feedback was generally positive in nature. But this time was different and I really wanted to polish and shine this talk as much as I possibly could.
So what I did was I actually practiced and prepared way in advance – imagine that! I even stood in front of my team and my wife to do a few dry runs.
The result? I believe this keynote was the best that I’ve ever done! That doesn’t mean that it was amazingly-spectacular or that I’m going to consider a career change but it does mean that I’m headed (slowly) in the right direction!
3. Enthusiasm Makes the Difference
Whatever insecurities and nerves that I had during the talk were overshadowed by my apparent enthusiasm – and that made all the difference.
The thing is that I did not think that this was explicitly something that I needed to bring to the table as I was preparing and self-coaching myself for the talk!
But I was clearly passionate about my topic and it was translated perfectly to my audience – so much so that more than a few attendees mentioned it to me (and thanked me for it!).
It’ll now become something that I meditate and think about as I prepare for my talk – I think it’s even a good clarifying question when I choose the right topic for my talk: Am I really passionate about my topic for my talk? Will my enthusiasm translate effectively to my audience?
I am very thankful to have a shot at speaking amongst an all star cast of speakers and Jeff Shinabarger did a killer job.
I’ve only got about one or two keynotes in me per year I’m not a communicator and public speaking is outside my core competency and strengths, but when I do I want to make them count!
Do you publicly communicate often? What are some things you’ve learned in your last keynote presentation and/or talk?
[Images via Creative Commons, colemama]