Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Public Speaking - Enjoy the Experience

I had the privilege of speaking at a conference on insurance in Jakarta this year. While it was not the first time I had spoken at a conference, it was particularly nerve wrecking because I was speaking at a conference full of industry veterans and experts, including country and regional CEOs. The Chairman of the conference who introduced me had spent 39 years (and counting) in the industry, which is longer than I have been alive. Imagine that!

Thankfully, everything went well and it was extremely satisfying when those experts came up to me and said they benefitted from my presentation. So here are three simple pointers that I had reminded myself of during my preparation, which could be useful to you.

Preparing mentally

I reminded myself that there was a reason why I was asked to speak. While the delegates were executives and management staff of insurance companies, as an ex-insurance agent/adviser with eight years of experience, I had “on-the-ground” experience that most of them did not have. Once I got over the mental hurdle that there was a reason for my presence, things became much easier as I no longer felt as anxious as before and could prepare for my presentation the way I had always done.

So the next time you are worried about having to speak in public, it could be useful to remind yourself why you are there. Perhaps you are the most senior, maybe your job requires it, or maybe you are just a student and it is part of your grading requirements. Whatever it is, there is a reason why you are doing it. Come to terms with it and learn to enjoy the experience.

Share, don’t preach

In this instance, it was easy for me. There was no way I could have “preached” to those CEOs and tell them what they should do. They wouldn’t have let me either. Why would anybody with more experience than I am alive listen to me? But as mentioned earlier, what I had was on-the-ground experience that most of them did not have. I shared with them my experience as an agent then, what agents would like in terms of support from the companies, and what the fears of agents are. Things they might not hear much of from their management staff.

That is true for anyone in general. Most wouldn’t want to be told what to do. So the next time you are speaking, I suggest you think more of how you can share your experience, perhaps offer suggested solutions, but don’t “tell” people what to do.

Practice, Practice, Practice:

Finally, practice, practice, practice. Once you have thought about what you are going to speak about, practise, and then practise some more. Is it within the time you are given? Do you know what   key points you would be emphasising, and where you would be pausing?  The more you practise, the more familiar you would be with your presentation, and the more confident you would be.

And it is not just for that one speech or presentation. Even if I had messed up my presentation (luckily I didn’t!), you can be sure that if the next opportunity arises, I’d still be up for it. Over time you will know whether you tend to speak too fast when you are nervous, how much (or little) you can remember when you are on stage and your strengths and weaknesses, and improve along the way.

Take every speaking opportunity as a learning experience, and enjoy the experience!

BBenjamin Ang 

Benjamin has a Bachelor of Business Administration and holds the designations of Associate Financial Consultant (AFC) and Associate Estate Planning Practitioner (AEPP). He writes about wealth matters to share financial knowledge with the public and also writes regularly on living a fulfilling life and experiencing all the wonderful things that life has to offer. To find out more about Benjamin, visit http://www.benjamin-ang.com/.


This entry was written for and first appeared on the blog of Volunteers@CDAC. It can be found at http://cdacvolunteers.blogspot.sg/2012/09/public-speaking-enjoy-experience.html


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