As my friend Kelvin likes to say, sometimes we’re more suited to offer someone else advice than remember how to use it for ourselves. Occasionally this happens to me, but at least I’m always ready to try something rather than just sit around wishing I had. However, this all starts with a story from some years ago.
Yesterday I went to a medical billing program that I put together. The presenter is someone very knowledgeable on her subject, so I figured this was going to work out great.
by Ariel Cruz via Imagekind
Things started out well enough but quickly fell apart. It wasn’t that her knowledge was all that much in question, however. It’s that her presentation wasn’t really focused and sharp.
The problem was that she knew exactly what it was she wanted to get across, but she kept crossing information that was totally confusing me. And because I’m the type of guy who will ask questions when confused, I kept stopping her and making her clarify what she was saying. I was really confused for the first hour, and I’ve been doing this type of thing for almost 30 years.
At the break I had the opportunity to talk to a few people. I mentioned how confused I was and that maybe I was taking everything she was saying literally. Each person responded that they also had been confused and that maybe she should have broken up what she had to say so that each facet had its own time instead of trying to mix messages on the same slides. I had to agree, and felt it was a shame that others were confused as well.
After her part of the presentation her co-worker came to do his presentation. His was a bit more focused, when suddenly his terminology changed. Well, that’s not quite accurate; what he did was start using a word in a much different way than I’ve always heard it used. Me being me, I called him on it, and he wasn’t able to give me a proper answer. I let it go until the lunch break, when I went up to him and explained myself, and then he agreed and said he saw it in a slightly different way depending on the topic. The problem of course is that everyone else in the room saw it the same way I did, so he’d kind of lost his audience for awhile as well.
One of the reasons I always start with an outline whenever I’m asked to give a presentation is because I want to make sure that I get my points covered in the order I want to do them. This was point one on my post last week about giving live presentations. Sharing knowledge with others doesn’t really work when you’re all over the place. And trust me, the people in that room were pretty smart already, yet most of us ended up in a fog.
That’s why whenever I’m doing a tutorial of some kind on this blog I give the step by step processes of what I did. Or whenever I put together a list post I make sure to address each particular point before moving on to the next one, and if it’s a procedural list I make sure it’s in order.
Sometimes when we know stuff it’s hard to contain ourselves when we want to share it with others. We all need to learn how to direct our information so that we inform rather than confuse. At least I got handouts. 🙂
Most of you know I’ve been doing these workshops and seminars on social media marketing. You might even know I’m now doing another seminar on October 2nd locally; I’ll be creating my “sticky post” about it soon. I’ve had many people come to me and say “I could never stand in front of others and give a presentation.”
I can honestly say that I can see why it would freak people out. One of the issues with blogging is that we all put our thoughts and beliefs out here for the masses, and at some point someone could come along, say something bad about it, and pretty much ruin your day. If that happens in person, it could feel like it’s even worse than blogging.
The fear of public speaking, also known as glossophobia, alternates almost yearly as the biggest fear of most people, only supplanted by death. It’s hard for someone like me to believe that people can actually have that much fear of speaking to others, but I guess it could be because there are way more opportunities to speak than there are to die, morbid as that sounds.
I have never had an issue with public speaking. Even as a kid, I could get in front of a room of other kids and do my thing. I’m not really sure how, since I have my periods of being an introvert, and other periods where I’d just rather be hidden and not have to worry about people looking at me. However, I guess those periods where I have to do what I have to do come out, and after all, how could one want to be a public speaker if one couldn’t figure out how to speak in front of others?
So, what are the basics of the art of public speaking? Here are my 5 basics, some of which I’m assuming you’ll have seen elsewhere, and some of which I hope I’m the first one who’s saying it, but I doubt I am.
1. You need to like what you’re talking about. How come you can tell jokes to a group of your friends at a party? Why is it that every kid in the world can learn song lyrics to music they like yet can’t pass a history test? Because you liked the joke when you heard it, or kids liked the song they were listening to. It’s why many guys can quote some of the most obscure sports stats sometimes. If you like what you’re talking about then it’s an easier thing to deal with.
2. You need to know what you’re talking about. Our new friend Patricia knows a lot about lavender, and I hope you’ve visited her blog. If I asked her to talk about RAC audits (don’t ask) she’d be way out of her league. She’d probably sweat and get really nervous and try to do some research, if she even agreed to talk on it at all, but she’d never get comfortable with the topic. The same goes for me and lavender; I know what it is, I like the smell, and I’ve used the oil, but there’s no way I could ever get up and talk about it. If you know your topic, it becomes easier to talk about it.
3. You need to rehearse what you’re talking about. When I’m going to be giving a presentation, I go into the living room and I rehearse. I go there because my wife has four mirrors on one wall, and that gives me the opportunity to practice looking around the room so that when I’m doing it live I’ll remember to do that same thing. Even when I’ve done the couple of webinars and podcasts that I’ve been asked to do, I’ve rehearsed as if I was giving a live presentation in front of others. Even Zig Ziglar, who’s been giving presentations for more than 40 years, says that he rehearses before each speaking engagement, even if he’s speaking on a topic he’s addressed in the past.
4. You’re allowed to have notes or outlines or anything else you need to help you stay on point. Most of the time when I’m giving long presentations, I will have a powerpoint presentation along with me. When I rehearse I always have an outline to work with to make sure I stay on point. When I’m putting on a relatively short presentation, as I did with my Keys To Leadership seminars, I did them without notes, but because I had rehearsed I know what I was going to talk on and only had to memorize the topics. People who come to watch you give a presentation aren’t looking for perfection all the time; they’ve either come for the knowledge or because they like you as a speaker.
5. Remember that the majority of people who are there to see you are not only there to hear what you have to say, but they’re sitting there amazed at how brave you are because they can’t see themselves standing in front of anyone doing what you’re doing. That’s actually the first thing to try to recognize once you’re close to giving a presentation. The difference between a good and bad presentation often comes down to confidence. If a speaker can project an air of confidence, people will be on their side. No one wants to see any speaker fail, especially if one is interested in the topic. Of course, don’t be so overconfident that you forget why people are there in the first place either.
As y’all know, I’ve been doing some workshops on social media marketing. I expect to do more, and I’m working with my friend Renée to possibly do a local workshop the first weekend of October.
To Be Taught by Katrina Lopez
It’s actually the first time I’ve done the same exact workshop more than once, and if I’m going to be doing it more and more I need to continue to refine it to a degree. This is different than a one-and-done, which I’m usually used to doing, mainly because some of the participants might talk with other potential visitors, and thus you want to always try to be better each time you do a live presentation. However, sometimes it’s not all that easy. Here are 10 things I’ve learned from the first two presentations.
1. You can’t control the traffic. Of all things, there was a major tractor/trailer accident on the major highway to get to where I was giving the presentation. It took them 6 hours to clear things up, which of course meant that all the people who were on their way were going to be late, since it seems none of them had listened to the news to know the accident had already occurred. The seminar ended up starting 80 minutes late; oh well…
2. There’s a different between a formal group and a nonformal group. With the first group, I didn’t know any of the people who came. With the second, I knew everyone who came. The first group listened intently, asked questions when they had them respectfully, and all was good. The second group had a couple of people who wanted to try to share what they knew about some of the things I was talking about and basically just blurted out things as they saw fit. That made for a rough day, especially since they still insisted on finishing at the same time even though we started late.
3. People form their own expectations of what they think they’ll get out of your presentation, no matter what you tell them. I think the flyer was very clear on our objectives; you will learn what you need in order to create a social media marketing campaign of your own for your business. First time around, one lady said she came to learn ways to keep people from asking them a lot of questions. This time around, one guy said he was hoping to learn how to find time in his busy schedule to do this type of marketing. Both said they didn’t get what they came for; that was expected since I wasn’t teaching what they were expecting, and didn’t come close to indicating that’s what I was going to do.
4. When people think they know your topic, they actually don’t most of the time. One guy at the last workshop said he used LinkedIn a certain way. When I made a suggestion based on my material and knowledge he said he didn’t want to use it that way. I said that was fine, went on with my presentation, and he kept interrupting to counter how it wouldn’t work for him, which was disruptive, until I got to one point when he finally said he got it. Another guy said his impression of Twitter was that it was writing things on the internet via one’s cellphone. He also said he’d spent the previous day participating in a webinar on social media marketing. Either he missed that part or it wasn’t very good if his impression of Twitter was so bad. But early on he’d been someone who said he didn’t want to talk about Twitter much, and it was based on his misperception of what it was. He’s still not going to do it, but at least I now know he understands what it’s really about.
5. When people think they know you, sometimes they just don’t understand how to respect you. I’ve thought about this one a lot over the past few days. One of the people there does presentations around town, and I’ve seen him in action a couple of times. I know his topic, as I’ve read many of the same books he’s read. I’ve written about his topic on both this blog and my business blog, and in other articles in other places. Yet, whenever I’ve seen him present, I’ve never interrupted him or called him out on something I’ve read, and rarely offered anything else. In my mind, he’s the presenter, the professional at that moment, and it’s not about me but about what he has to share, and if I can get a nugget then it’s all good. However, it seems many people aren’t like that, and thus you have to work on building up a thick enough skin to deal with it at the time, and figure out what to do with it later on. I’m still working on that second part.
6. It’s always nice when you see someone have an “aha” moment. At the first workshop, I happened to mention Meebo and how I use it for business. This one guy thought it was a great idea, and on the spur of the moment he figured out many ways he could use it in his business and the customer service benefits of it. And the thing that felt good is that he was a marketing consultant who came to learn about social media marketing and actually got something really beneficial out of it.
7. Doing a workshop is like trying to teach someone how to play a musical instrument. I play piano, and while I was in college, people would ask me to teach them how to play. So I’d start by telling them where middle C was, and they’d invariably say “I don’t want to learn all that, I just want to learn how to play a song. In music, you can’t learn how to play anything until you know a couple of foundation pieces to help you know where you need to put your fingers. With social media marketing, if you have no idea what it is or why it can be beneficial then it does me no good to tell you how to use it. A couple of times I got interrupted by someone asking me how they could use something when I was still building the foundation as to why it was important. Since they already had my presentation in their hands, they knew what was coming. I would always have to say “I’m going to get to that”, which is irritating, but you do what you have to do.
8. Building the foundation is important. Why? Because at the end of each workshop there was at least one person who came to me and said they didn’t know any of the stuff I taught them, and how much they appreciated that I took the time explaining it all and then giving them ideas on how to use it. That’s what it’s all about, and the thing anyone who gives a presentation of any kind has to remember. Because…
9. You can’t please everyone. Well, if they’re open to what you have to say maybe you can, but in general you’re going to hit some home runs, and you’re going to have to bunt to get on base a couple of times. I go to very few things where, in the long run, I didn’t think I made a good decision. That’s called evaluation, and if you have everything you need, you should be able to evaluate whether something will help you or not. I know that the two workshops reached the majority of the people who came, and I’ve always been a numbers guy, so in my mind they were both fairly successful.
10. Rehearsing is paramount. I can’t believe people will put together a presentation and not rehearse it, then wonder why things didn’t go well. The first presentation went six hours including a 45-minute lunch break. The second one went 4 hours and 45 minutes with a 30 minute lunch break. I presented over 4 hours both time, yet ended up not quite giving the same presentation each time. Without rehearsing, timing different concepts to see how long they would take for me to talk about, building in what I considered was legitimate question time, I wouldn’t have known how to change things up to achieve my objective. And I really needed that skill the second time around.
I could add more but this post is already long enough. Suffice it to say I’m definitely doing more of these, and hopefully each time I do it, I’ll learn something else I can use the next time.