If you remember, last week I didn’t have a lesson for you all because I was prepping for my talk about “burnout” for the Columbus Web Group. It was a great talk, and I’m excited to be back this week sharing a new lesson with everyone.
Last time you heard from me I shared an update on The Designer’s Handbook as well as a new resource I’m working on called the Portfolio Workshop. I hope you’ve had a chance to check them both out.
So what are we going to talk about this week? Since I just got done with my talk on burnout, I felt like maybe I would share that experience with you, and talk to you more about some of the things I’ve learned throughout my career regarding public speaking.
I’m not perfect at public speaking, but I’ve learned a few things that have made me more confident in myself as a speaker and I think you too may find them helpful. Just like the tips I shared with you regarding how to network effectively, I’m going to keep this lesson focused on tips that may not be so obvious to everyone. Keep in mind that most of these tips are written with a focus on public speaking, but they could also be applied to other experiences such as presenting your proposal to a board room. Now onto this week’s lesson!
I was recently asked to speak at a local meet-up for web designers called the Columbus Web Group. This was actually the first time I’ve done a talk in quite a while so the opportunity came at the right time. Here’s why:
In the past when I would present a topic, I did so with another motive. When presenting a proposal to a board room my goal was to try and win that project. When I would speak to different local organizations around the benefits of branding, it was always done with the intent to promote Greenline Creative. Even when speaking at colleges, it became a great opportunity to keep an eye on new graduating talent. This would provide me with the first opportunity and scoop them up before other large agencies could.
Now don’t get me wrong. None of the above is really bad. Because you have to have a reason to get on stage and do a talk. Sometimes that is for monetary gain, or other times it could be to just promote yourself. Nobody does anything without a motive. Why would you?
So if I wasn’t there to directly promote myself, why did my last presentation at Columbus Web Group mean so much to me? Well my motive for that event was really simple. It was to share what I’ve learned through my own experiences so that they too could gain the clarity and confidence to move further ahead with their goals. You see I’ve been sharing these lessons with you all for weeks now, but I’ve never shared it much with anyone in my local design community. Most of which just know me as the co-founder of Greenline Creative, not someone who now spends a great deal of time focusing on educating designers.
In the end I was really happy with the way my presentation went last week. Sure, it had a technical blooper at the beginning, a few curve ball questions that perhaps I wasn’t exactly ready for, and I may even veered from my script some, but I know without a doubt that this talk helped the majority of the fifty attendees who came out to see it and chat with me afterwords – and that is a success.
Yes, I had a blast meeting some new faces and helping them through their current struggles on burnout, but most importantly, I gained an opportunity to reflect, share and learn from this experience. You see, you can’t get better at something unless you make mistakes. It’s those mistakes that allow you to measure how far you’ve come. I also have a long term goal to eventually speak at a larger design conference so anytime I get an opportunity to speak on the small stage I’m one step closer to reaching my goal of gaining the confidence to speak on a big stage.
Pubic speaking can be nerving for even the best of speakers. To eliminate those nerves try not to focus so much on being perfect. Be you. It’s easy to be you. That’s what is natural. When you focus on being natural you become likable and your audience will read that. They’ll tune into your stories and connect with you. If you make a mistake, don’t stop. Stopping only makes it worse. Nobody can see your presentation notes so don’t worry if you miss a few pointers here and there. If they’re important they’ll come back around in the Q&A section of your talk.
You should not be afraid to take on an opportunity to talk about a subject that you’re passionate or knowledgeable about. The more you share what you know with others in the industry the more you’ll connect and open up opportunities for yourself. The great thing about educating and sharing your knowledge is that some people like to be educated through a blog or tutorial, others like to be educated over coffee, and some like to be educated by a speaker at a meet up or a conference. So even if you find public speaking not your preferred method of connecting or educating you still have some other options to choose from. However, you should never rule out public speaking. By learning how to speak confidently in public it demonstrates confidence in yourself, ideas and opinions and that can have a greater impact on your career and how others perceive your value as a designer.