Presentation Skills

I had a fantastic conversation with Crystal Reynolds from Crystal Ink.

She said she sometimes feels shy about talking to speakers at conferences or events and asked me if I had any tips for her. Here is how I like my post-stage encounters to go:

Step right up. The way I really like to be approached is for people to just come on up. I want to know how my work impacts people and I don’t necessarily get that feedback all the time. I really want to talk to you after a speech as much as you want to talk to me, and I think most speakers feel the same way. So, tell us how our material affected you, what you got out of it and how you use it. Some of my most interesting collaborations have come from post-talk conversations. You just never know what can happen if you step up.

Don’t be afraid of the emotional … I’m not. My work is intense, and sometimes intimate. I mean, I did a video in my bathrobe, for goodness sake! So, sometimes people approach me from a very emotional place and then get self conscious for having gone “there.” Don’t sweat it. I am not afraid of emotions–they are great guides. I look at my speeches as an experience that we co-created because I took a risk. You witnessed my risk and took a risk of your own. Let’s have our work create a cosmic domino effect of Bright Lights+Hidden Truths=Freedom, which can be emotional, very real and awe inspiring.

You‘re going to dork out sometimes … and that’s ok. We get weird around people we admire–I busted OUT into a nervous stammer-sweat-stand-too-close episode when I met one of my heroes recently. I’ve had experiences where folks did really odd social things like interrupting me in mid-conversation with someone else, and blurting something out, grappling me into a big excited hug before even saying hi (all of which is totally fine–I’m not trying to shame anyone here). Just dork out and embrace that moment. Then, stand back, smooth your clothes down and offer me a hand to shake and say, “Hi, my name is _________. I really love your work.”

So, when have you totally dorked out trying to talk to a speaker or a celebrity or whomever? Tell me in the comments below.

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And because dorky moments are worth sharing, copy and paste these Tweets:

Everyone is approachable. @DyanaValentine offers tips for speaking to a speaker. http://bit.ly/tzpXa6

Did excitement get the best of you? @DyanaValentine says, “Dork out and dig it!” http://bit.ly/tzpXa6

Step right up to folks you admire. Don’t be shy. @DyanaValentine offers tips for sharing with a speaker. http://bit.ly/tzpXa6

@DyanaValentine knows that you’re going to dork out sometimes. Just dig it. http://bit.ly/tzpXa6

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WOW. I am still coming down from speaking at the incredible TEDxWomenOjai conference, hosted by Jodi Womack . Since then, I’ve received a new wave of questions and interview requests from folks who are interested in stepping on stage. Here are a few ideas to get you warmed up for your spotlight:

Just start speaking. Okay, that may sound totally obnoxious, but literally show up somewhere and volunteer to speak at a local meet up. Create a Meetup, or find an existing one that suits you, so you can speak in front of at least 5 or 6 people.

Make videos. I sometimes feel like I was sort of cheating by making videos as blog posts (because it was more fun and easier than writing for me), but the videos were the thing that actually let people know that I had something to say and had some on camera talent. It was also great practice for the stage. It’s important to look at speaking as a craft, not just a business-building vehicle. Get your feet wet. Watch yourself. Find and hone your own style before you hit the stage.

You’re going to feel sick. Know that. Before my first big gig, I was comfortable speaking in small groups and facilitating meetings or small events. To be totally honest and without exaggeration, I was still sick to my stomach for six months before my first big speaking gig (in another city, 300+ folks, paid). I was beside myself. It’s just part of the process; it’s totally natural and you know what–it gets a little better, but I’m still nervous before every.single.gig.

Throw out the checklists. You can’t learn to be a great speaker by watching videos or obsessively reading tip sheets (like this one). I don’t care how many instructionals your read, watch or put on your credit card, until you stand on that stage and feel your legs noodle AND you are sweating through your really cute outfit AND you are barfy AND your mouth is all dry AND you can’t remember your name, you won’t start growing as a speaker. You can’t mature until you just do it. It’s like telling a 14-year-old to grow up–wasted breath. You are going to be great–just show up.

Are you spotlight ready? Tell me what you are doing to get there in the comments below.

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Shine the light for others; copy and paste these Tweets:

Do you get stage fright? What about stage barf? @DyanaValentine does, too. http://bit.ly/rG7jHD

Speaker wannabes, listen up! @DyanaValentine offers tips for getting spotlight ready. http://bit.ly/rG7jHD

Ready to step up to the mic? @DyanaValentine has a few ideas: http://bit.ly/rG7jHD

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