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26 August 2010

Do what scares you – My venture in to public speaking

Some say you should confront your fears and do one thing a day that scares you whether its chatting to a stranger, jumping out of an aeroplane or speaking in front of a big group of people. For me it was the latter……

How it all came about?

I’m a big believer in networking which I talk about more here. I noticed a big difference on our approach to networking in the UK compared to my trip to New York recently where there are more networking events and the people there seemed eager to talk to one another (maybe it was the British accent).

At the recent event online marketing show I started speaking with a lady who runs an event company that invites senior level marketing people along for a two day seminar with talks. I’m a big believer that if you can’t help others out then they will be less inclined to help you out although that shouldn’t be the main reason to help them out! I told her my situation of just starting a business and that I would love to give a talk at the event. She got back back to me the next day and from there I got to work on putting together a slide show deck.

What I learned?

Your mindset going in to this is key. In hindsight if you’re telling yourself that your giving a talk to large group of important people then you’re approaching the situation as if you’ve got a mountain to climb. The words in bold are what creates anxiety leading up to the event and if we look at the other words we get a more simpler “group of people” which is a lot more palatable.

Presentation skills

Always address the audience although don’t be surprised if people aren’t always forthcoming with questions. In my experience there will be one or two people who are more involved and ask a number of questions. There is a difference between someone who asks questions because they’re genuinely interested and an attention seeking troll who is looking to get noticed by asking questions which may not be relevant. The way to deal with these questions are to explain it is off topic and you would be happy to address any questions they have after the talk.


Asking questions within your presentation? By asking questions within the presentation it allows your audience to discover the tone within what question you’re addressing as oppose to reading it off the power point. If you see someone raise an eyebrow or look interested then it might be an idea to pause and then ask “you look you like might have a question?” if they have great you have just given yourself a couple of extra minutes on your presentation and engaged with the audience.

What I would do differently?

I would ensure that next time if I could get a better idea of my audience and ask them to introduce themselves and their understanding of my subject. Although I filmed my presentation it was at the back of the room and this didn’t help in being able to hear me and this made the screen too far away to view. Overall my first foray in to public speaking was exciting if not a little nerve racking and I hope to udpate this post as I will be doing a talk for the chartered institute of management on 22nd of September on social monitoring services for managing you personal or company online reputation management.

2 Responses to “Do what scares you – My venture in to public speaking”

  1. KirstyM 9 September 2010 at 8:49 am #

    Great post Mark, got any hints and tips about speaking style? i.e, how to eliminate those umms and ahhs, and also how to make sure you are being heard etc?

  2. admin 9 September 2010 at 9:02 am #

    Thanks Kirsty. In terms of speaking style if you think you are speaking slow enough you’re probably speaking too fast. As a confidence booster its always good to remind yourself that these people are there to see you!

    Also a quick test to make sure your being heard is to ask if people in the back of the room can hear you. This preempts someone interrupting your flow during your talk which can knock your confidence and delivery.

    I would always advise to film yourself so you can reflect back on what you need to improve. I couldn’t hear myself on my video so I will be on the look out for any cheap clip microphones if you know any going let me know 🙂

    I understand your speaking at the A4U Expo this year, what will you be speaking on?

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