I received a invitation to speak at an IT event recently. When I enquired about the speaker fee, I was informed that there would be no fee, rather I would be speaking to over 50 people, who were future potential clients (through them or through people they know). Having made  a decision a number of years ago to cease providing fee speaking engagements but before saying no, I thought about it. I hadn’t delivered a speech like this in a while, so I felt it would be good to do it and push out my comfort zone again i.e. back to where it was, so I said yes.

Knowing some people in the audience i.e. former attendees at previous training courses and some private clients, I felt that this had to be delivered well. And with no fee involved, I had to impress the audience so as to secure some form of follow up enquiries (at least).

The speech title that I was requested to deliver upon could have been done off the cuff, as I knew it so well, however, I decided to prepare as much as possible. I put my structure and content on paper first, chose a speaking medium and then set out times in my day to practice and polish the delivery, to the point where I was looking forward to it, with anxiousness reducing and confidence increasing.

When the evening arrived, I was the second speaker, choosing second to compare myself to the first speaker and then adjust my delivery accordingly, if needed and if appropriate. The first speaker used a microphone and PowerPoint, where I didn’t on both counts. I focused on saying every letter in every word, pausing for effect and adding the music to my voice.

I was happy with my performance,  as were the audience based on feedback and I have since received five enquiries.

Moral of the story, as in the title – Prepare, Prepare, Prepare…

When it comes to speaking in public in front of people, we feel we have to transform ourselves into a different person, someone the audience is impressed by, someone who pleases every member of the audience, someone who speaks like a professional, someone who the audience will remember as a great speaker.
Yes, all of the above are somewhat true, but not entirely. Yes, we do have to speak differently, but we have to be authentic i.e. we have to be ourselves when speaking in public. If we are not, our audience will not accept us, they will know that we are not being yourselves and will most definitely not remember us, if they do, it will be for the wrong reasons.
As a public speaker, we have to be unique, show our own personality, our own way of speaking with the following focuses:
• Know our subject (know everything about it, indeed be an expert. If we feel we are not, it may affect our delivery)
• Stand, look and feel professional (be confident, be enthusiastic, believe in what we are saying)
• We have important things to say to our audience (understand that our subject is of relevance to our audience and will help them in their job, career, business and / or personal life)
The word enthusiastic was mentioned earlier and this is probably the key area where we can shine as a public speaker. How can we be enthusiastic? We can be enthusiastic in three ways:
1. By projecting / inflecting our voice
2. By using our body language from head to toe
3. Speaking from the heart
By practicing, focusing and doing the above, we will deliver a public speech that our audience will enjoy, remember and see us as an accomplished public speaker, while all the time we are being us.
Push out our comfort zone and offer to do / say yes to a public speaking opportunity to let people see that – This is me, this is who I am…!