We are frequently asked for tips on how to get started speaking at events, seminars and workshops. Often people tell us that while they are terrified to speak in front of people, they realize the importance of getting their message out to as many people as possible.
We’ve put together our 5 top tips for getting in front of your target audience and not falling flat on your face:
Speaker Tip # 1 – Be Prepared
When you know you’re going to be speaking in front of people there is no substitute for being very well prepared. For us that usually means:
a) Practicing our speech in front of a mirror or each other (or our kids)
b) Creating a PowerPoint presentation (but being prepared to wing-it if there is a tech failure)
c) (for Mandy) Having my outfit completely planned ahead of time, including shoes and jewelry. For some reason it makes me feel secure – it means one less thing to worry about at the last minute.
Speaker Tip #2 – Focus on the Audience
When you’re feeling afraid or nervous about speaking in front of people the best thing you can do is to focus on making sure your audience has a good time. Just be there for them, be prepared to take questions and take all your attention off of what they might be thinking. If they showed up you have to assume that they are interested in what you have to say. And above all – SMILE!
Speaker Tip #3 – Start Small
If you’re gathering up the courage to speak in front of people it’s a good idea to start with small groups of people and a very short speech! There are lots of networking meetings you can go to that will allow you to speak about who you are and what you do for one minute. Start there and then work up to 10 minutes, and 20 minutes and so on. When Mandy first started relaying messages from Xara & Friends she was petrified, so she started speaking to small groups in private homes. Once she felt comfortable with that she began doing presentations for larger audiences.
Speaker Tip #4 – Have Handouts
It’s a tragedy to speak to an audience who loves your presentation and then not give them a way to connect with you afterwards. Always have business cards, postcards AND surveys for attendees. That way they can go away with something in their hands and you can get their contact information and valuable feedback from the surveys.
Speaker Tip #5 – Create Your Own Events
When you first get started as a speaker it may be hard to get booked – after all – people don’t know you yet. Don’t let that discourage you – just create your own events and invite everybody you know! Once you’ve done a few events (even if they are in your own home) get a friend (or hire a professional) to do a video of you speaking. Edit the highlights and post the video on your website. That way you have something to show people who are considering booking you for their events.
Hope this helps!
Hugs, Mandy (& Wayne, who is clearly too cool for a signature!)