Do You Have It All Together?
Your Checklist for Preparing for Your Next Communication Engagement
Each time you speak, there are tons of demands that are
placed on you. Some of the more common demands are the intellectual, emotional,
and physical kind. Why? Well, because speaking is not always the most
comfortable thing to do. People get paid very well to speak publicly but even
they face some demands as their big talk approaches. You’re trying to remember
the content that you want to deliver at the same time you’re trying to keep
those nerves at bay. Is it easy? No. Is it doable? Yes.
What if I told you there are a few things you need to check off your list when preparing for a speaking engagement. Would you listen? The three items on your checklist should include:
Adapt to your Audience
We hear the phrase used quite often of “back-pocket-speech” in which people encourage you to have a general speech ready at all times. While I agree with that idea, a general speech may not always work with specific audiences. What if my general back-pocket-speech is about ‘overcoming struggles’ but the organization that I am speaking to is focused on ‘improving productivity and performance’? While there may be some good nuggets they can use, overall there will be a mass disconnect. No matter how great I did as a speaker, the audience didn’t get what they came to get because I didn’t tailor my talk to fit my audience.
How to adapt. Research your audience. Find out what their pain-points are, their struggles, their challenges. Find out what frightens them, what they are committed to, what decreases motivation. Once you have a good handle on the audience you are speaking to, you can then adapt your message to fit your audience.
Arrive in Advance
Arriving early gives you the opportunity to control the controllable. Here’s what I mean: Imagine having to speak at 10am to a crowd of 200+ people on the topic of Time Management. You’ve worked very hard on a beautiful PowerPoint presentation that is full of graphics, colors, and images that will support your talk. However, you arrive at 10am, only to realize you were schedule to speak at 9:45am. Then, as you walk toward the stage, the technology team whispers in your ear “we can’t get the projector to work.” This moment you begin to regret you haven’t bought one yourself, as there are some types of small projectors on the market. Finally, you hit the stage and notice there are easily 500+ people in the room waiting for you. These are things that are in your control but arriving late can prevent you from being in control, which can ultimately affect your speaking engagement.
How do to assure this. As a rule of thumb, arrive to the venue 30 minutes in advance and for lack of better words, case out the joint. Make sure the room size is what you expected. Do a couple test-runs on the technology. Ensure the temperature of the room is suitable for expected audience. This can lessen some of those demands that I mentioned earlier.
Address that Adrenaline
Feel that weird feeling in your stomach? Did you notice your palms starting to sweat? What about those jitters that you have? Sounds like you might have a case of adrenaline. However, no need to panic because adrenaline is simply energy. It’s energy that your body naturally supplies when placed in an uncomfortable situation. Ever heard of ‘Fight or Flight’? Yep, that’s all it is. Sometimes we give it a bad rap but who couldn’t benefit from some extra energy? If you don’t address the adrenaline, it can lead to you spiraling out of control in front of your audience. Conversely, if you address that adrenaline that your body is feeling, it can lead to great things happening!
Here’s what to do. Pause. Take another pause and then a deep breath. Use those pauses to relax and enjoy the silence for a moment. I totally understand you may be uncomfortable with silence. We all are. However, that absence of sound can become immensely beneficial to you… and your audience! They’ll appreciate the time to soak in the rich information you are giving them! Lastly (shameless plug), come to Speakeasy! Let us assist you in your communication development as you prepare for your next speaking engagement.