I challenged myself recently to get out there and do some talks and more networking. It had been a while since I had given a presentation, so I felt a bit rusty. Deciding that in at the deep end was a good place to start, I applied to host an event as part of the Coventry and Warwickshire Business Festival. When the acceptance email came through, I was terrified! My event was a two-hour workshop about how to write non-fiction books, aimed at entrepreneurs and small business owners.
After a lot of hard work over several weeks, Tuesday 27th November came around distressingly quickly! The event was split into two halves. The first part was a talk by me, giving an overview of publishing routes and then more specific writing advice. The second half involved small groups working through exercises I had devised, with me facilitating.
On the day, I actually felt alright, despite not having had a wink of sleep the night before. The whole I MUST get some sleep vicious circle thing was going on. I had practiced my talk four times with different people, so I felt confident that the content was right and I could deliver it well. I normally use index cards with a few bullet points on each as an aide-memoire when I’m giving a talk. However, on this occasion I gave a 45 minute talk and this was material I hadn’t delivered before. I ended up with a massive bundle of papers, which were the slides with my notes beneath. This wasn’t ideal.
Happily, the event went really well and the feedback sheets were very positive. It was a great place to start getting out there a bit more! Next time, I’ll feel much more confident about public speaking. So go on and do it! What’s the worst that could happen?
Here are a few reminders that helped me:
- Practice your talk several times with different people
- Make your presentation image heavy, using just a few words on your slides, or none!
- Encourage interactivity – ask the audience questions
- Use humour and keep it lively – there are VERY few exceptions to this rule
- Follow up on your talk – keep in touch with interested attendees, making sure you’re GDPR compliant, of course!