Doing something for the first time usually makes you nervous due to the fear of failing. Doing something right from the very first time you’ve done makes you feel better about yourself and become more motivated to do better and inspired for the next ones.
While I may have been working as a Social Media Strategist and Community Manager for over 3 years, yesterday was my first time to speak in front of a crowd about how to Unleash the Power of Social Media to Promote Local Tourism [in Iloilo] for the 3rd Annual Tourism Summit organized by the Iloilo Business Club (in partnership with The REID Foundation with funding assistance from The Asia Foundation and USAID).
I may have experience speaking in front of the camera and other media exposures but the closest experience I had speaking before a crowd was teaching in the Sunday School. Speaking before a crowd of seasoned LGU and private sectors was a different experience. Unlike the TV interviews, there’s no take two when you say the wrong things. I was told that I pulled it off well, holding the crowd’s interest all the way till the end of the presentation.
Below are just some of the things I did in preparation for my first speaking presentation.
1. Research about your topic well. Include statistics.
Expanding your knowledge about the topic you will be presenting will help you become more confident to speak before an audience. Include studies and statistics to help your audience better understand the importance of your topic. When researching, I tap on my existing connections like Mr. Jay de Jesus of Pinoy Social Media to help me gather the most recent Facebook Statistics in the Philippines. I also looked at other previous presentations on how social media affects travel and tourism. Having ample of information, research and available information about your topic will help you expand not only your knowledge but also give more valuable presentation to your audience.
2. Learn how the experts or seasoned speakers do it
There’s no better way to prepare for a presentation than to look at how others have done it. Mr. Carlo Ople of The New Media is one of my favorite speakers in the Philippines. He’s generous in sharing his knowledge in a way that immediately and so instantly catches the crowd’s trust and attention. I first met him during the PEBA Awards in 2010 where he was one of the speakers. He was cool and there was never a dull moment when he took the microphone.
Instinctively, I search for one of his recorded speeches on YouTube and found his very interesting talk last iBlog 7 on 10 Power Blogging Tips. I did not only learn from his speaking style but also learn additional golden nuggets on how to become a better blogger.
3. Speak the crowd’s language
When preparing for my presentation, I conditioned myself to speak in English and all the data I have with me were a little assuming that the audience would understand. When I was on the venue, I learned that my audience will be LGU’s and private sectors whose age bracket would be around 40-50-something. Instead of speaking in English, I used Hiligaynon. Immediately, the trick worked. The crowd listened intently to what I’ve got to say because they knew I speak their language. When I say speak their language, it’s not just the local dialect but I also tried to connect with the audience by telling them I understand some words may be a little new to them because whether we like it or not, the heavy users of Social Media are the teenagers (ages: 18-24).
4. Go to the venue earlier than your scheduled speech
I was scheduled to speak at around 4:30 in the afternoon but I was at the venue at 1:00 in the afternoon. It gave me an opportunity to observe the crowd and how they react to speakers before me, what style of speaking they are more likely to listen to. One of the previous speakers, who was a crowd pleaser, threw some jokes from time to time (where she sees fit) and captured the audience’s attention right away. Being on time, or ahead of time, gives you the chance to adjust in the environment, anticipate possible challenges and prepare for them and help you avoid cramming.
It’s much easier and more comfortable to speak before an audience when you’re not in a hurry and you already have an idea as to how they respond to other speakers.
5. Prepare a good Powerpoint presentation
Powerpoint presentations aid in capturing and keeping the audience’s attention. It gives them a visual representation of what your topic is about and assist in providing them something to remember about your speech. You may also want to read this Business Insider article on How To Ace Your Next Presentation which provides some really helpful advises on how to ace your next presentation.
It’s really normal to be nervous when it’s your first time to do something. However, when you are prepared, well equipped with the necessary data, go to the venue on time (or earlier) will help you better prepare and ace your presentation.
Have you just recently spoken in front of a large crowd? How did you prepare for it and how do you think you could have improved it? Share with us your experiences below.