So you want to be a Professional Speaker?
Professional speaking can often seem a glamorous profession. The bright lights, packed
auditoriums and the insatiable feeling of all eyes on you. But being on stage delivering your keynote is just the tip of the iceberg...
I wear many hats in my life (literally – you should see my collection!) but one I feel very fortunate to wear – and indeed get paid to do – is public speaking.
To be given the platform of talking to a captive audience for an alloted amount of time is a real privilege, particularly when I’m so passionate about changing the narrative around living with a disability. It’s a responsibility I don’t take lightly nor for granted.
Recently, I’ve been asked by some interested folk how they too can get involved in professional speaking. What my tips and tricks are. My first question is always: What do you think professional speaking is?
What you see on stage is just the tip of the iceberg. Generally it’s one hour of polished, practiced perfection (or, at the very least, as close to it). What you DON’T see is the hours, days, weeks of preparation to get there.
It’s all in the preparation
Ever been to a presentation where the speaker just reads off the screen? Or loses track of what they’re saying halfway through? Those presentations probably stand out to you for all the wrong reasons.
Often we find speakers who use a conversational tone gain the best response, because the audience doesn’t feel they’re being talked at but rather with. You’ll find their recollection is better, understanding is greater, and they’ll walk away from a more positive experience.
The best way you can be sure you’re educating your audience is by educating yourself. Know your presentation inside out and upside down. Make sure you understand your subject matter implicitly.
The three P’s
Practice, practice, practice. There’s no easy shortcut. If you don’t practice, you can’t perfect. You can’t find all the minor ways in which you can fine tune your delivery. And you’ll often fall over come the actual event.
I’ve been speaking in front of audiences now for about five years, and I’m still learning! If you’ve ever been to one of my presentations I hope you’d find a speaker who looks and feels natural on stage. The only reason I’m able to do so is that I practice...a lot. There’s no secret trick to success; put in the hours and you’ll reap the rewards. It’s my belief that when you present a discussion that is engaging, thought provoking and – above all else – entertaining, there’s a greater chance you’ll be able to have a lasting impact on your audience. Not all of them, but at the least a few. And those few will pass on their learnings to their friends, and so on and so forth.
Big, strong energy is needed, and it can be exhausting! And I make sure to bring that energy into every public speaking event I’m privileged to be invited to, to challenge people’s preconcieved notions and hopefully begin a new narrative.
I don’t think people appreciate just how much energy goes into presenting for an hour. I’ve learned the hard way that doing back-to-back-to-back presentations is taxing and, in the end, produces a mediocre performance.
Now, I will only do one or two speaking events every week or so. For me, that’s just the right balance to ensure that I can go into each presentation fresh and enthusiastic, ready to challenge people’s perceptions.
I’ll be dropping a few more blogs covering public speaking over the next while, so if you’re interested in understanding more make sure you stay tuned! If you had any specific questions or wanted to suggest a blog topic, feel free to drop me a line at email@example.com.
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