“How do I get started as a speaker?” Once again, I was asked this question just recently and decided to provide my answer to all who are interested.
Start by designing a one-page profile which includes program title, description, objectives and a bio. Here are six of my profiles, each tailored to a different audience: https://www.evagrayzel.com/speaking-programs.
Send this PDF document to as many people as possible.
As you develop your talk, write it out. That’s right, like a book, write out every word. This exercise alone will allow you to organize thoughts, flesh out your ideas fully and delete weak sections.
You don’t need to memorize your talk. Design an outline with 1-3 words on each line to remind you of each section and message.
Accept pro bono programs with Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, schools and wherever you can. You will start to see what parts of your talk don’t feel comfortable or don’t feel authentic. Also, you will get a grip on what makes your talk unique and powerful. Over time, it will be clear which powerful messages could be expanded.
Once you book a program, ask questions about the demographics of the audience and the goals of the event. Each event is different and therefore, your message can be tailored to the audience.
Each and every time you speak, ask for a testimonial. If it’s a good comment, add this testimonial to your one-page profile along with the a full title. Also, ask for constructive criticism. Know you will never please everyone. Use the feedback to improve your presentation only if it feels right.
Once, I got the feedback, ‘Dentists do not like being told what to do from someone who isn’t in dentistry.’ What did I do with that comment? I know for a fact that most dental professionals who hear my talk feel empowered to raise the bar on screenings. They find the patient perspective refreshing compared to the more typical clinical course. So, when I provide a suggestion for my introduction to the audience by the program organizer, I’ve added a couple of sentences about why I do what I do and how learning can be enhanced by the patient perspective.
OUTFIT: Back to speaking, wear an outfit with some color. Wear a shirt that won’t pull from the weight of a lavalier mic. Also, it’s best to wear pants or a skirt for you to clip the transmitter.
SLIDES: My slides help me keep on track. On my computer, I can see my next slide so I remember where I’m heading There is a timer at the top of my screen. Staying on time is critical. Never read slides. Sometimes, I put up a statement just to keep attention on the topic. For example,
FEES: At one time, I put a dollar amount on my profile. However, I quickly became aware it was a detriment. Some organizations like schools, have small budgets and I don’t want to turn anyone away. My fee depends on many factors: how many attendees, if there is a fee, the company organizing the program, the kind of speakers this organization has hired in the past, whether a program is in close proximity to another around the same date, whether I can take one extra fight from where I am, or whether I need a r/t from home, the distance of the program from home….so many factors!
PRO BONO PROGRAMS: Every year, I do a couple of pro bono programs. Once, I agreed to speak for free at a dental school. The course was optional for students. Not one student showed up. What a waste of my time! Now, I make sure
the program is advertised well and food is served. I try to get exposure with a news reporter, or in the very least, a write-up sent out to the email list. Also, I require a testimonial.
BODY POSITION: Standing behind a podium is putting a divide between you and your audience. Try to stand up front and center as often as possible. A lavalier mic allows you to use both hands – use them. When you catch yourself clasping your hands in front of your belly, drop your hands to your sides or move around the stage to loosen up.
LIGHTING: During your sound check, look up at the lights. Notice where your face is most lit, and how far front on the stage will cause a shadow on your face.
Now, let’s talk. Ask your questions and let us dialogue and find an answer or direction for you!