Someone told me today that they wanted to get better at public speaking and asked for my advice. I thought what I had to say was worth sharing here:
“Connect with your passion in whatever you are talking about. Bring whatever you have to say back to your passion- if its invasive species, or vegan gourmet, or energy efficiency, connect to that. If you are talking about something really esoteric or far from your passions, find a way to joke about it, or something about it that you genuinely want to learn more about. If you find yourself in the unfortunate place of talking about something you really don’t know anything about, own that too- get vulnerable and admit your ignorance, there are few better ways to make friends.
People connect via authenticity, vulnerability, and humor- if you can use one of these, you win. Also, practice. It sucks and it’s hard, but speaking is really one of those things that only happens when you put yourself on the spot and do it. Take every chance you can get to speak in front of people (it’s scary), and make a deal with yourself that you won’t back down from an opportunity. It gets worse, then better, and then- it gets fun.”
Next Friday I’m looking forward to giving a presentation about my professional work to a group of architects in Helena. I am a little nervous about it. The vulnerability tactic is definitely my plan, but I also respect what I have to say, so I hope I can speak authentically. I mildly expect my audience to eat me alive (architects and contractors in the construction industry tend to be at odds with one another). I can’t hide the fact that I’ve only been at this contracting gig for a year (holy crap, it’s been a year)- so I intend to own it, and while usually presenters are on the spot to teach something, I’m thankful that I tend to walk away having learned something.