That’s a question most public speakers are excited to hear. Me? I never really thought of myself as a public speaker. Whenever I was asked that question, my response was more along the lines of: “I don’t really speak. I help other people speak.”
When I started ATP, it was because I sincerely believed that when we put ourselves in front of the right audience, we are utilizing a powerful vehicle for sharing who we are and how we can help. What has become so clear since, is that most business professionals would say yes to speaking if it weren’t for the fact that they had no idea how to get the started.
Rats. I had arrived at a moment of truth. The handwriting was on the wall because I’ve evolved into an “SME” (Subject Matter Expert), and just like many other SMEs, I realized I was ready to start sharing my knowledge and expertise with people who could genuinely benefit from it.
Time to walk the walk. Time to say yes—which I did a couple months ago when I was asked to be one of the speakers at an event sponsored by the CT Chapter of the International Coaching Federation.
Imagine that… a public speaking coach/consultant speaking to people who want to know and learn more about public speaking!
It’s not like I haven’t spoken before, because I have, plenty. The difference would be that this time, it would be an“official” speaking engagement. To truly put my money where my mouth was (did I miss any relevant clichés?), I decided to guide myself throught the same steps I have been helping other experts navigate to prepare for speaking success.
I began with the dreaded blank document… the same page I guide everyone to… the one that has no words on it until I put them there. I put aside a block of time, sat down, and just started doing my best to get ideas out of my head and onto the page. It was slow at first, but I kept plugging away. Sometimes when I got stuck I did research. Why? Because there’s always more to learn about our topics. There are always other perspectives that will help us understand our own perspective and content better. There are also times when we find inspiration through the simple realization that the content we’ve pulled together is every bit as informative, relevant, and valuable as the content one of the “big dogs” in our field is sharing.
What did I learn from my first expedition into the speaker’s realm?
1) That I don’t need the pressure of an impending deadline to create content. In fact, by giving myself a reasonable amount of time to prepare, I was also able to create complimentary content for the event: a brochure, a hand out, and an offer for my audience. What a concept!
2) Audience participation excites me! Some speakers want to get through everything before they start taking questions. Not me. I invited people to question or comment along the way and loved the interaction. Who knew?!
3) It’s easy to create content. Trying to answer every question anyone could possibly ask is impossible. The challenge was narrowing down the scope of what I was going to cover, choosing the best words I could to address both the problems and solutions I’d chosen to highlight, and then making sure I could deliver it within the time allotted.
“If you want me to give you a two-hour presentation, I am ready today.
If you want only a five-minute speech, it will take me two weeks to prepare.”