All the great speakers were bad speakers at first –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Is this you? Does standing up to speak in front of a group immediately make your mind blank, your tongue tie up in knots, and your voice tight and squeaky? Do you stare blindly with a glazed “deer-in-the-headlight” look at whoever is out there? Do your palms (or whole body) sweat, your heart race, and you would rather be anywhere but in front of a group speaking?

I’ve met writers and speakers at all levels of success. Each one knows which came first and most naturally to them—it is either writing or it is speaking. It’s just the way it is. Few people possess a natural ability to do both effortlessly. If you are serious about either writing or speaking, I encourage you to stretch out of your comfort zone, seek new training, and gain skills and confidence in both. 

 t is common to focus on speaking techniques to become a better speaker. That’s great. But as you grow and start getting speaking requests, set yourself up for success, by looking at the more mundane details. To be viewed as a professional speaker, you or your assistant need to get the facts! The following information about the logistics and the specifics will keep you from being ill prepared, from getting burned, or stuck in an embarrassing situation. All three can be avoided.      

YOU HAVE BEEN ASKED TO SPEAK
BUT HAVE YOU ASKED THESE QUESTIONS?

AVOID SURPRISES – KNOW THE FACTS


Do you have a fee? Be clear—by contract, or verbal agreement if you are comfortable doing so: when, to whom, and how your fee is to be paid. (Most common is by check to you or your business, but some organizations may prefer to make electronic payment by PayPal, etc.        

I will share my speaking contract “template” if you write me and request it.

Number of people expected? Demographics of the audience? Special relevant issues; preferred theme of the organization or group?

What amount of time are they allowing on their agenda for your presentation? Stick to it! What type of presentation is it? (Keynote, interactive, workshop, inspirational, retreat, teaching, etc.)

Who will introduce you? Ahead of time, provide your written introduction, or bio, to the person who introduces you.

Will the audience be provided pens and paper? Are they needed?

How is the room set up? Where will you stand? Do you need a podium for materials? What is the lighting? What type of microphone do you prefer? (Visualize the room. This helps tremendously when you prepare your speech.)

Can you provide handouts? Does that work logistically for them? Do you need a flipchart, Power Point, or other electronics for your presentation?

Dress of group? Dress professionally, but don’t wear a suit if audience will be wearing jeans. Dress one step up from your audience.

Do they have permission to record you? Can they sell recordings of your  presentation? Will they provide you a CD or a link to your presentation? 

Can you sell your products, materials, audios, books? Will they provide  a person to help facilitate at the sales table? How much display room do  you have? 

Nervousness can be helpful, but fear is not!  Fear constricts your ability to be natural and effective.

Ideas to help you overcome fear:

 
• Arrive ahead of time. Greet people as they come in. Relax and be yourself!  
• Take the focus off of yourself: Instead, think about what you are excited to tell them; visualize  your success; believe people will appreciate what you say, want you to succeed. They really do!
• Don’t take yourself too seriously. Laugh!
• Practice relaxation techniques; breathe; move naturally.

Now, listen to the person introduce you, take a few deep breaths, and step out and warm up your audience. You will wow them!

Suggestions: Try using Mind Mapping Techniques to create your notes rather than linear outlining—we each have different learning styles, different speaking styles, but this method works well for me.  

For excellent speaking tips and methods, I recommend the book, Present Yourself by Michael J. Gelb. Excellent!

 

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