WHAT UP sweetie? Can I just say how absolutely fabulous you look today? You do, you really do? If you don’t believe me, just take it from this unicorn. And we know that purple-haired unicorns always tell the truth.
Today I’d like to talk about something I’ve been working on for a while – a true labor of love, and something I look forward to volunteering for every year. Coaching speakers for TEDXWomen Amsterdam! I’ve been doing this for quite a while, and now that the new edition is coming up on May 29th, it’s something I’ve been devoting a lot of time to since I got back from the States. Oh, and this.
Although I can’t disclose who I’m working with (as the full program has not been announced yet) I can tell you that each speaker is so inspiring, honest, passionate and determined. My kind of woman! I leave each session with a renewed faith in the awesomeness of humanity. I’ve been working on some specific issues with them that I feel might benefit you as well.
Here’s my “Top 6 Things To Remember When You Get Asked To Do A Talk (TED or Otherwise)”.
1. You were asked because you stand out. You’re an expert in what you do; a respected enthusiast; a passionate specialist. Don’t play your talents down and try to make yourself small. (Women are great at doing this. Stop it.) You have a story worth sharing. Share it.
2. Having an accent is NOT a bad thing. It’s an authentic reflection of who you are and where you come from. However, do make sure that it doesn’t get in the way of what you say. For example, if spent the weekend lying on the ‘bitch’ and not the ‘beach’, people will giggle. (If you did lie on the bitch and it’s relevant to your talk, then by all means, tell us all about it.)
3. Write down everything you want to say first, and then edit and filter. You can start out by making a mind map or a word tree on every aspect that you’d like to cover. Get all the words and ideas out on a big piece of paper in front of you. These will then become building blocks that you can use to play with and structure your talk. It’s hard to create a clear structure with invisible blocks that are swimming around inside your head.
4. Write with your heart and then filter with your brain. Who is your audience? What do they already know? What do they want/need to know? Cross out things that you think are irrelevant or unnecessary. Remember, your target group comes first. Put their needs and wishes first and work from there. When your brain and your heart hold hands, then you know you’re done with your content.
5. Make a clear structure. The audience should know what you’re going to talk about and how long it’s going to take (if it’s not made clear by the organization or listed on a program – which TED does). People need to know how long it’s going to last so that they know when they can then turn on their phones and feel important/like they have friends again. If you start a presentation and no one knows how long it’s going to last, your audience will feel uncomfortable and you’ll start to lose them. Don’t go there. It’s really hard to get them back when they’re distracted and thinking ‘Gosh, how many likes did my cat in a pumpkin suit get?’
6. And of course….practise, practise, practise! Get to know your material inside out. Say it to yourself in your head while you’re in the supermarket, out loud to yourself while driving (or diving), say it in front of people who love you and people you don’t know very well. Get honest feedback and apply it when necessary. Then say it again. And again and again.
I hope these little tips help you feel more prepared the next time you have to give a presentation. If you’d like more support, join me on my online Business English Communication Course, where I tackle this subject (and many others) in-depth, and give you lots of English phrases to use with each step. I’ve got a free Master Class on Pronunciation waiting for you, even if you don’t take the course! Grab it at www.businessenglishcommunication.com
That’s all for now, my dear. Remember – your stories are special because they are YOURS. Which ones are you going to share with the world? I can’t wait to hear them!
Wit lof from your English coach,
Buffi (who actually did lie on a beach recently)