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Posts Tagged ‘speaking

When I am first approached by organisers of speaking events like conferences, seminars, or symposia, the question they want answers to is: What can you contribute to the conference or event?

That is a logical question given that the organisers are looking for a good fit and bang for their buck.

I had a Skype chat yesterday with one organiser who asked me something I have not been asked in almost six years: What would you like to get out of speaking at this conference?

The last time I was asked that was when curators of TEDxSingapore asked me to speak at an event targetting youth.

As an occasional speaker, I am more used to helping out than helping myself. The educator in me is about giving rather than getting. So the question almost stumped me.

Almost. I answered that question over two fronts. I wished to see the impact of what I said immediately and over a logical delay.

I gauge immediate impact not just by how the audience is responding in person. I also monitor my backchannel, respond to questions and comments there, and make social media connections.

After that moment of inspiration, I look for efforts of perspiration. It is easy to be inspired after an event; it is much harder to put ideas into play. I look forward to following up with my new contacts, e.g., visiting sites to observe plans in action, reviewing documents for policy changes, being invited to speak or conduct workshops, etc.

I also look for opportunities for personal and intellectual growth. I do not expect everyone to agree with what I say. Just as I hope audience members gain a new perspective, I wish to learn from disagreement or to dig into a nugget I have not uncovered before.

As a maker of good trouble, I want to know if I have created enough dissonance to spur people into action in terms of how they teach and facilitate.

Don’t trouble Trouble till Trouble troubles you.

The adage is don’t trouble Trouble till Trouble troubles you. I role-play Trouble while most people and organisations are Inertia personified. I want to know if I have moved people enough to do something meaningful.

Video source

The video above presents the science of stage fright.

I lie somewhere between being totally comfortable with public speaking and terrified to an inch of my life. I like to use the butterflies to keep me on my toes.

But I disagree with a premise in the video that giving a talk is something we do as social creatures. I think the social processes happen partly before and largely after a talk. If you are an amateur or professional sage on the stage you know what I mean.

Unless you live the life of a hermit, you are going to present information to a group of people. Sometimes the context is preparatory or artificial like a class presentation. Other times the context is more authentic like a mass company briefing or an academic keynote.

Often these talks are part of a larger communication plan or change initiative. Often the energy starts and stops there. How many people actually follow up with action after feeling inspired by a Sir Ken Robinson talk?

Very few take sustainable action after a talk. Those that do tend to already be agents of change. They might find some validation in what you have to say or they find will find a way regardless what you say.

Then there are the curious or those that live in their ivory towers. They will ask questions that skirt the topic but little progress actually happens.

So this is my perspective on countering stage fright. If you are effectively reaching the already converted, why be nervous?

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