Being invited to speak at an in person or virtual event can be a wonderful honour given to the potential speaker by those who want to hear the speaker’s message and share it with others. However, for some, it can be a great cause of anxiety and fear, with the thought that all those eyes will be on them and focused on everything that’s said.
The ability to be a good speaker doesn’t always go hand in hand with the ability to do it easily. It takes practice. I have spoken with many who are fantastic speakers, but they are extremely nervous before hand to the point of being physically ill. Just remember, if you are in this group of uneasy speakers, you’re not alone! So, then what? What can be done to make this easier, or at least get you through it?
Keep these few things in mind when getting ready to speak to a group when you may be feeling less than confident:
Your audience is there because they want to be: For the most part, people attending a conference, meeting or lecture are there because they chose to be there, they want to hear your message and will be supportive of your efforts. Attendees tend to not be judgmental, are not making snap decisions about you based on your haircut, clothes etc. and are there to hear what you have to say, even if they’re there not by choice (perhaps they have been instructed to go by their boss), these attendees, will most likely just listen politely.
Change your worry to excitement: This is a tough one because you’re so focused on the negative aspects of what you think may happen. What if you switched your thought process and redirected it to excitement at the possibilities of doing a great job? Go into it with a positive outlook and understand that even if it doesn’t go the way you want, you still did it! You would have accomplished a major step in your own personal development and that’s awesome!
Practice and prepare: Practicing the presentation before hand helps a lot. Try getting a small audience together or even just practice by yourself. Give yourself a few days in advance to do this. Go through and read your presentation, re-write if you have to and make a few speaking notes for yourself as a guide. By taking these steps to practice and prepare, you’ll be more familiar with the material, therefore making it easier to engage in a conversational type of presentation and making eye contact with your audience, instead of looking at your notes. Another great place to practice amongst a supportive group would be to contact your local Toastmaster’s group.
Know the environment: If you’re in-person, make yourself familiar with the presentation venue and environment so you’re more comfortable before speaking. Arrive ahead of time, sit in various places in the room for a few minutes to get different visual perspectives and get settled in. Own the space.
Interact with your audience: If you’re worried about the audience getting bored, make sure to leave room for people to ask questions. Listening to their questions can give you a little break as well to take a drink of water and re-group as needed. This can also help you gain some extra time on your presentation if it seems to be too short. Remember to be welcoming of questions and stay calm.
Take care of yourself: Get plenty of rest, eat well and taking the time to pamper yourself a little before the presentation day provides a little extra boost and don’t forget to give yourself a little time to use the restroom before the presentation. Make sure you have some water by your side to take sips to avoid a dry mouth while speaking. If possible, make sure you’re already standing up a few minutes before the presentation, so you don’t have to maneuver around obstacles to get to your place.
Are you in the audience? Perhaps you are reading this and are not a speaker, but frequently attend presentations. Why not do what you can to make the speaker feel confident and perhaps let them know what you enjoyed in their presentation? We’re all in this together. No matter the size of the group you are speaking to, you can do it and there are people in your audience that are in your corner. Be excited for this opportunity – you’ll do great!
“What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” – Anthony Robbins
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
These two great quotes are making the same point while coming from different directions; the authors are saying that our lives are in our own hands and that we should look at all the parts of our lives honestly and make conscious choices confidently so that we may benefit.
We have the power to change our lives by using what we already have inside ourselves: Tony Robbins knows that lack of self-confidence often holds us back; Ralph Waldo Emerson shows us that it’s what’s inside of us that counts more than the past and the future.
Even though they haven’t written books called “Time Management”, these authors teach us a lot about successful time management and successful life management.
The past 19 months have taught us that time can stand still, expand to fill how long it takes a task to be done, stretch out endlessly before us or reduce itself so small that there simply isn’t enough of it. Yet, we all still have 24 hours in a day.
Another great quote is from David Allen, author of “Getting Things Done” and “Ready for Anything”. He gets right to the point when he says, “Time is just time, you can’t mismanage it. What that really means is that you mismanaged the agreement you had with yourself about what you should have accomplished.” He goes on to say that time management is really a complex issue of self-management where work needs to be captured, clarified, organized and reviewed in line with your purpose, values, vision, goals, and strategies. When these things are in line, you’ll feel good about how you’re managing time.
It’s inevitable. Change will happen whether you are expecting it, or not, in your personal lives, in society and in the workplace. Generally speaking, when we expect a change, it is more manageable to deal with and depending on what it is, it can be a good thing. Unexpected change is the one that takes a little more effort to get through as it may require a re-adaption to processes, environments and people around us.
So, what are some things we can do to manage unexpected change? We can’t plan for it. Forbes Magazine touches on a few methods to deal with change in the workplace, such as preparation calming fears, letting go of perfection, and so on.
Take a look at the situation objectively, removing thoughts that these changes are directed toward you.
Think of the potential that can grow from this change. Think positively about the “surprise”.
Keep up to date those things that have not changed by continuing to take care of yourself and maintaining your routines.
When change happens, it might be wise to take a look at the entire situation from an objective standpoint. Instead of focusing on how this is affecting you as an individual, take a look at the big picture. Was it perhaps necessary from an organization standpoint for your workplace to change in order to keep up with a changing industry? Are there redundancies your employer is trying to work with? At times, we may look at changes at work and think “What did I do to deserve this?”, but in fact it may not have been something you did or didn’t do, but something that just happens in the course of running an enterprise. No, it is not pretty and sometimes human beings have to make difficult decisions.
Consider that the changes at work are an open door to something new. Although change may be scary and it may not always be easy to flip around a negative impression already established, it may be needed to help you move forward. The opportunity to grow can found by moving past fears you may have about the change to come and making a decision that this change is going to be good. Maybe there is an opportunity to learn a new skill within your job as a result of this change, or maybe the new skills can be learned in leaving this job for another one. Either way this can be an opportunity to further develop your skillset and knowledge. If you are leaving to find a new opportunity, what you have learned in this job can help you determine the things you like or may not like in going to the next job.
During a time of work change it is very important to keep up with personal care and maintaining your regular routines. You might think “Well I’m not going into work so why should I bother getting up early?” Maintaining your schedule and using the time that would have been at work doing something productive can help stave off negative feelings and allow you to keep a sense of consistency during a time that may be anything but consistent. Regardless of the situation, stay strong and forge on to a better path carved out for you by change.
There is always talk about the ever-elusive ‘work-life balance’ – who has it, who doesn’t. All the articles on the Internet and the chatter on social media make it out to be a thing that is always just out of reach; like a balloon that you’ve let go of, but as hard as you try, you can’t jump high enough to get it back.
For the past year, I think I can safely say we’ve all struggled with finding balance, whatever form we wish that to take. Very few people on the planet today have experienced a global pandemic, so you’re not alone! So we’ve got that on our plates as well as its compounding ‘elusiveness’. No wonder we’re often feeling out of balance!
I’ve learned two things:
1) We perceive ourselves to be ‘out of balance’ not because we can’t do it, but because the goal is constantly shifting and changing. Priorities change minute by minute, quite often so fast that we don’t notice it and all of a sudden, we’re feeling out of balance again.
2) In these days of remote everything, the line between ‘work’ and ‘life’ is really, really blurred. I mean REALLY blurred. Because our work space and our living space is now the in the same place, there is no transition time between leaving work and arriving at home. We used to use that time in the car or on the bus to de-compress, shift to our personal selves and change our environment. Now we just try to cope with whatever is in front of us at particular moment, whether it’s a personal task or a work task, we just deal with it. In amongst all of that chaos, we’re told we need to find time for ourselves alone.
You are the answer. You yourself are responsible for your well-being, all day, every day. Not your job, not your spouse, not your kids. It starts and ends with you. It follows then that you need to make yourself the priority, say ‘no’ sometimes and stick to boundaries so that you can be your best self for everyone and everything in your life. This is the center of being in balance. Makes sense, doesn’t it?!?
Many years ago, I made health and fitness my first priority for two reasons. The first is that I came out of corporate physically and mentally fried, and the second is that starting a business meant that I was going to be in control of everything I do. Not my boss, not my spouse, me.
That in itself brings a sense of freedom; freedom to choose what to do with my time as the days stretch out before me. I start each and every day in three realms: physical fitness (weights, cardio), mental fitness (brain games, reading) and reflection (journaling, meditation). It’s what works for me; odds are that what fires up your day is totally different. My regimen starts my day off right, prepares me for the day ahead and gets all my systems firing. I started off by scheduling this commitment in my calendar several years ago and I did it daily, without fail. Now it’s my morning ritual; I don’t schedule it, I don’t even think about it, I do it automatically. Total game changer.
If I was able to give you two hours of time every day to put yourself first, what would you do with that time? Why not schedule it alongside the other time slots in your calendar, make it a priority and do something just for you?
After years and years of ‘putting in time’ building a business, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the day to day running of it, almost as if it had a life of its own (some would believe they do!), I decided some time ago that’s it’s equally as important to take time out for myself. Indeed, famous figures in history like Charles Darwin and Winston Churchill (who made space for daily naps during WW II) regarded rest as the true key to fulfillment and creative success.
Some years ago, I gave myself permission to get out of the office once a week to play a round of golf. This may sound like a pretty small thing, but when you’re used to giving your heart and soul to a venture all day, every day, taking a couple of hours off really is a big thing. It took a little getting used to, but toward the end of the season, not only did my game improve – I found it all very empowering! I was taking charge of my schedule and how my week would roll out while still fitting in some ‘me time’. Of course, I reviewed the week ahead of time to make sure everything would get done that needed to get done and most of the time I stuck to my schedule and the commitment to myself of playing golf.
Hopefully very soon, this summer will see golf courses opening for regular play once again so that those inclined can get out for fresh air and exercise which will do a world of good, not to mention provide rest and a change of pace that leads to higher productivity.
My business works for me by providing for my needs and I’m living the life I want: life balance, low stress and meaningful, fulfilling days doing what I love.
Are you living a balanced life? How do you break free and get some rest during your workweek? Find me on Linked In and share your thoughts.
It used to be that running a meeting on Zoom was a ‘luxury’; considered only a necessity for folks who couldn’t attend in person. It was a lot of work to set all that up in the background and run it. Oh, how times have changed! This past year has forced us to switch gears quickly and use technology to create something of a normal way to conduct meetings and conferences with a minimum of disruption.
You may not be the host of in-person meetings these days, but did you know there is such a thing as ‘virtual event hosting etiquette’? Think of all the things that need to be done and need attending to when you’re hosting an in-person meeting or event, like catering, registrations, customer care, speaker needs, documents, presentations, etc. Now do all that with a twist: no one is going to be where you are. (Yikes!)
Intrigued? Freaked out? Or are you one of those people that are thinking to themselves, ‘Bring. It. On.’?
The beauty of virtual events is that it can be organized in a couple of ways. There is what we might refer to as a hybrid virtual event which still provides an event hosted in a physical location for your attendees, but uses virtual aspects as part of the presentation, is used for messaging in the promotion of the event and provides an online outreach for those that require flexibility, where they may not be able to attend.
An entirely virtual event could allow you to provide your message, engage your audience and simultaneously obtain feedback while avoiding the “production” costs of a traditional event. Some of the more important things to consider with hosting a virtual event or meeting may include:
The Audience – Understand who your audience is for the event and if they would be receptive to attending a virtual event, perhaps if they are in multiple locations.
The Message – Focus on the material to be presented and create your presentation in such a way so you are not just reading material from a slide but showing a high level within the slide and discussing the details, allowing for feedback from the attendees and answering questions as you go.
The Technology – To host an entirely virtual event one of the first items to consider is what event hosting platform you will use and make sure it will function properly. This may include testing your own systems and anticipating what your audience will be using for viewing. There are a lot of new platforms around these days so it’s important to do your research and test, test, test!
The Interaction – Remember to interact with your audience. You may not be able to see if they are engaged or not, but you can do your best to ensure their attention by asking questions, responding to their questions and making your audience aware that you are presenting to them. You can make your meeting or event memorable by adding in:
Mail or courier a conference ‘swag bag’ to arrive to the registrants ahead of the event date. This can include things like chocolate (of course!), tea or coffee pods, popcorn, an ‘I’m attending a conference’ door hanger, hand signage to use while in a session (e.g. ‘I vote yes!’), pens, sticky notes and the list goes on…;
Arrange a food delivery so that attendees can have a meal at the same time as the event is taking place;
Email documents ahead of time, or upload to a repository and provide the link;
Conduct pre-event surveys to discuss at the meeting or event – new data gives people something to talk about;
Set up virtual networking rooms;
Set up a virtual exhibit hall;
Make sure you schedule breaks and lunch time, just as you would for an in-person conference or event.
Of course, all this leads into opportunities to enhance donor/member/attendee engagement before, during and after the event or meeting. The cliché, ‘think outside the box’ comes to mind. What we miss by attending in-person meetings can be easily made up for by a little creative thinking and planning ahead.