Time to Speak Out

Throughout my career, including as a Global VP, I’ve had the privilege of speaking at various events around the world. Some were intimate gatherings, allowing for personal engagement with the audience, while others took place in large auditoriums or conference rooms. Regardless of the setting, the ability to deliver impactful messages and valuable information that attendees could apply to their advantage has always left me with a profound sense of achievement. However, I understand that many individuals are frightened when it comes to standing in front of an audience, despite the potential career benefits it offers. But now it is time to speak out !

At our core, we are storytellers. We share stories in one-on-one settings or within the familiar company of friends and family. However, the moment that audience shifts to co-workers or a business context, many individuals tend to freeze up and convince themselves that public speaking is beyond their capabilities. This often comes from a bad experience earlier in life (especially at school), but almost anyone can become a proficient event speaker—it’s a matter of starting small and developing your skills.

Speaking at events encompasses various aspects, including presentation style, cultural and regional awareness, and a strong focus on content and desired outcomes. While comprehensive training on this topic is available as part of the Coaching series, this post aims to help you get started.

As I mentioned, almost anyone can become an event speaker. To begin, let’s clarify what we mean by “event.” For most people, the primary hurdle to overcome is a lack of confidence. They often say, “I can’t do that” or “No one wants to hear from me,” trying to dissuade themselves from pursuing the idea. Therefore, starting with small events is crucial—presenting at a team meeting or to a small group of colleagues on a topic you are knowledgeable about and that they would find useful. Keep it concise (maximum of 10 minutes) and ensure you have notes highlighting the key points you want to deliver. Seek constructive feedback from the audience.

From there, you can gradually build your confidence and learn to speak out. Conduct another session with the same group, delving into greater detail (and extending the duration), or present to a different and perhaps larger group. Start incorporating presentation techniques, such as the “Tell them what you will tell them, tell them, tell them what you told them” method, and consider using visuals to enhance your message.

As you gain experience and confidence, you can progress to speaking to larger audiences, participating in local tech meet-ups, joining clubs, or presenting at company events. Soon, you’ll realise that you are capable of delivering a session to an audience at events and discover the excitement and career benefits that come with it, including becoming more visible to a broader audience and differentiating yourself from those around you.

Nerves will always be present as you prepare. The thrill, pressure, and panic of delivering your material to event organizers on time, coupled with the pre-stage jitters, sweaty palms, and dry throat happen to everyone! But once you start speaking, you’ll find your rhythm and nail it, experiencing a genuine sense of joy as you step off the stage.

So, go ahead and give it a try. Develop your skills, gain experience, and boost your confidence. You won’t regret it. Go and speak out !

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