Before delving into our latest blog, which places us in the shoes of a public speaker waiting to present, I would like to share with you all a short message I recently received from a student who attended the 5 Day Discovery Public Speaking course in November 2018.
Good morning all. I wanted to share some positive progress with you. This week, I joint hosted a three day sales conference for over seventy people. Multiple speakers over a great many topics. I tasked myself with the motivational sections and introduced, lead and summarised the theme over the three days. I presented four times and ran the group break out session. I could not have imagined doing any of this two months ago and so wanted to thank each and everyone of you for you help and guidance on the course. A special thanks to Vince and Banu for your coaching and coping techniques. I explained on my final presentation that I’d had significant training on presenting and it had helped enormously. I have now agreed to lead the training on sales presentations within my business!!! The final positive is that I’ve just been informed that after the success of the conference I’m being promoted to Group Commercial Director. The board were apparently keen that I could effectively communicate with the whole organisation at the same time before committing. I feel a weight has been lifted from my shoulders and I’ve changed my mindset from, I can’t, I don’t want to, I may fail - to I can’t wait to present again.
Take care all and thanks again.
The chatter of the audience could be heard despite the fact that the delegates were at least a hundred yards away from where he stood. He guessed the auditorium was full now. How many was it? About five hundred? He exhaled, shrugged his shoulders and fingered his tie. The light in the corridor was dim, although the prints on the walls were interesting views of the city. A good city he thought. The flight had been uneventful and the hotel was comfortable.
He’d done his homework. He always did. He knew what the audience needed and wanted – and what they already knew and didn’t know about his subject. He understood the event’s objectives and he knew where his speech fitted into the overall conference in particular the woman from HR who was speaking before him. He had checked the key messages once again with the event’s content manager and he knew the history of the company and its current prime issues, particularly those that were on people’s minds. He understood the number of men and women in the audience, approximate age range, experience, types of job titles, expectations. He knew what humour would work and what issues were off the table.
The two production company executives and the one banqueting manager waiting with him, looked as if they were auditioning for a low-key spy movie. Apart from their sharp suits and sharper chins, they were making him feel a little claustrophobic now by standing too close. One wore shades for no obvious reason and a set of earphones and microphone and the two were staring at their iPhones.
His boss had just left to take her seat. She’d said that she was keen to see how his presentation techniques had improved, or not. That was OK, he thought and felt no particular pressure. Sure, his adrenalin was running but that just made him feel in control. His boss had said that the company’s managing director who’d spoken that morning was well received. This, she’d said, was the gold standard that he would have to surpass. No pressure then, he thought. He smiled and carried on walking down the corridor looking from time to time at the prints on the wall and wondering why there were scenes of Venice when he was in Berlin. The executives were talking amongst themselves.
He checked his cell phone to make sure that it was switched off. He saw, just before the image disappeared, that his girlfriend had sent a text. It would keep and, anyway, he’d spoken to her last night. He knew that she was thinking of him. He also knew that she understood that this speech was a big one and a big responsibility. And a big opportunity. This sales conference had to succeed. He knew that the preparation he’d done was right and was worth all the effort despite his colleagues’ comments. He took some deep breaths and regulated his breathing as he slipped his hand inside his jacket pocket and took out ten small cards containing key points on each. His cards were just reminders. He smiled again.
They had insisted that he use PowerPoint, but he’d kept the slides simple and each one supported a single idea. And he knew that what he had to say would last for twenty-five minutes. No Q&A during this session. One of the production company executives, the one with the headphones and mic, looked at him and said, “Alright?” and he nodded.
The chatter of the audience subsided while someone made a muffled introduction. Then he heard the topic of his speech and his name and there was a slight pause, a heartbeat and a ripple of enthusiastic applause. He wondered if they’d still applaud like this after his presentation. He shrugged his shoulders again, smiled to no one - just giving his facial muscles a run, he thought - then someone patted him on the shoulder and said, ‘You’re on!’