Yesterday evening I spoke to a group of enthusiastic and bright young minds in Irvine. It was an event put together by Vak Sambath and I. I first met Vak a few months ago and after he experienced me speak, he decided to engage me to share my knowledge and experience of public speaking with one of his meetup groups: Rockfield Labs. The event took place in Irvine at the DuoCampus coworking space.
The program was designed for entrepreneurs and developers, and anybody else who sometimes has to pitch product and ideas to potential investors. The feedback at the end of the 2 hour program was great, and all the participants were quite satisfied. As always when I get up to speak, I learn so much myself and in this post I want to share a few of the lessons I took away from the experience. If you do any amount of speaking in public, I believe you can learn or re-learn from this review.
What did not go so well:
- Don’t improvise with jokes at the beginning of a presentation, especially if you don’t know your audience well, and they don’t know you. I had a rehearsed opening prepared, but because of my enthusiasm when I took the stage, I decided to improv and start with a joke and the joke fell flat. No, I fell flat on my face and it was no easy recovering. Next time, I will more carefully plan my opening and not try to get the audience to laugh if that was not my original plan.
- Prepare sign-up sheets and request for video testimonial. I learned this from one of Darren Lacroix’s workshop at the Orange County speaker’s bureau. Sign-up sheets is what you use to build a list of potential buyers for your product(s), or future products. I knew that but somehow, I managed not to get to the event venue with a sign-up sheet, nor did I request for video testimonials from participants when the program was over. This is a good lesson.
What went quite well:
- Get to know my audience. Because it was a relatively small group (10 people), getting there earlier gave me the opportunity to personally meet and get to know every single participant’s name and expectations. I could then use those information to tailor my content for the rest of the evening.
- Engage the audience. The audience was well engaged by my body gestures, very good eye contact, and voice inflexions. I made sure to give them practical tips they will remember next time they have to speak in public, pitching their ideas. There was also a 15 minutes group session where all members in attendance came up with a pitch for an idea and gave a presentation. There were two groups and every single participant got the chance to speak as part of his team.
- Respect People’s Time. I was actually very please with the fact that the content of my presentation was re-adjusted well to fit in the two hours that included a group exercise for the audience. I had content for a 3 hours session, and I adapted it to the audience’s needs. I was glad we started on time and ended right on time as well.
- Have an experienced speaker in the audience who can give you candid feedback. I was happy to have Tristen Tucker in the audience, who is an experienced Toastmaster. Tristen gave me very valuable feedback at the end of the session and I was glad someone with relatively more experience was in attendance to give me feedback.
- Record yourself every time you speak in public. I heard and keep hearing this advice from so many professional speakers that if I had not been doing, I would not be serious about becoming the best speaker I can be. I now have a recording of every single one of my speeches for the past 2 to 3 months and I use my weekends to review them and take notes on how to improve. It really helps and in this case, watching the video for this program will help me identify why I felt flat on my face with my opening. That won’t happen again.
Overall, I had a great time sharing my knowledge and most people in the audience told tme it was a good learning experience for them. Win-win! I hope reading through to this line, you also got to learn or re-learn something. Did you?