to Practice Your Presentations
many of my articles, I have stressed the importance of practice,
practice, practice, but you ask, I know that I will become
more comfortable and polished if I practice speaking. Where do I find
places to practice? Good question. Some start by practicing in front
of a mirror, but I have always found this to be unsettling and not at
all the same as speaking to a group. So, I suggest speaking to a live
audience and in this article, I will share where to find those live audiences
while you are perfecting your presentation skills.
Propose a workshop and/or presentation for your groups upcoming conference and/or convention. Most organizations and associations have local conferences, regional conferences, and national conventions. I find that most are looking for good workshops for these events, and many are pleased to use members for the presentations. I started by proposing and giving workshops at our Toastmasters District conferences. This was a great learning experience and also a way to become known as a presenter.
Next, I proposed and presented at several Regional Conferences, so became more comfortable and even better known. Finally, I was asked to present one of the workshops that had been a winner at both the district and regional conferences at the National Convention. By the time I got to this level, I had ironed out the kinks and felt confident about my performance. Since that time, I have given a similar workshop at other groups conferences.
Volunteer to become a member of a Speakers Bureau. I am not referring here to the type of Speakers Bureaus that place speakers for a fee. I am referring to group speakers bureaus that serve a community purpose. For example, there are speakers with bureaus who share information about an organization, a region, a college and/or college topics, and causes. For example, I volunteered to become a speaker for the Cleveland Growth Association. We auditioned and then, when chosen, were given assignments.
One talk involved a slide presentation about all of the great places to visit in Cleveland with a running dialogue including interesting information about those places. Rather than using and reading the script, I did research and created my own presentation of the slides.
When we asked Clevelanders to vote for a sin tax to help finance our new baseball stadium, I spoke on the benefits. After the tax passed, I realized that a lot of groups would be interested in hearing more details of what would be taking place in the future with the stadium, so created my own presentation with blessings from the stadium group. I learned how to deal with hostile audiences (there were those who had voted against the tax), question and answer sessions, and how to create meaningful visual aids.
Contact groups that have weekly and monthly meetings and are in need of speakers. There are Kiwanis Clubs, Jaycees, Chambers of Commerce, and a plethora of organizations and associations who are looking for good speakers who will speak for free (or for dinner). Once you have picked an interesting topic and presented it well at a meeting of one of these groups, you will start getting calls from others who have heard about you. They are not expecting an incredible speaker, so when you do an excellent job, they will be delighted.
Make sure you find out how much time will be allotted for your presentation because most of these groups have a special timeline for their meetings. Oftentimes, these engagements can lead to paid speaking in the future, but dont present for that reason. You are there to give them a powerful presentation that serves them in some way.
Look into Continuing Education opportunities. Many school systems, recreation centers and community colleges offer Continuing Education classes. And most are willing to try a new offering in their brochure. I have found this to be a perfect way to test the popularity of a topic and also put together a winning workshop. One two-night workshop that I still give on a regular basis and one that always fills up is called Discover Your Core Passion.
I feel that the way you write up the description can make or break the signups. For example: What is your Personal Mission? We are all familiar with goal setting, but how do you set goals if you dont know what it is you want? In this class you will learn techniques, principles and exercises to uncover your core passion, to define your personal mission and devise a workable plan for accomplishing it. I have met some of the most wonderful people in these classes, been hired by many of them for presentations, and have discovered my core passion!
So, get out there and start practicing. There are more opportunities than you can imagine. And I am sure you can imagine more than I have mentioned.
Let me know how you are doing!
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