I gave my first keynote presentation when I was eighteen. Since then, I’ve come up against dang near every minor and moderate issue a presenter might encounter.
As writers, panels, conferences, readings, classes and workshops are likely to come our way. I’m not going to speak here about choosing your topic or material, or outlining and establishing a talk or class (but will later, if folks are interested!). Instead, we’re going to chat about… problems.
No matter how fantastic the story you’ll be reading or how perfect the PowerPoint you’ve created, the difference between a great presentation—for you and your audience—and a bad presentation doesn’t lie in whether you encounter problems. It depends on how well you face the challenge, crisis, or OH SHIT moment.
We could drill through a score of subcategories and specifics. But we’re going to touch on the three areas most speaking challenges fall under: Technology Is Fickle, Who the Hell Is In Charge, and I Misjudged My Audience.
- Technology Is Fickle
Don’t skip this one, thinking your talks are “too small” to involve AV equipment. Electricity falls under “technology,” and the power grid doesn’t care if you have twenty-seven people ready to learn self-defense in a windowless hotel conference room when a lacking-judgement squirrel loses its life to a transformer up the road.
Yep, it happened. Continue reading Speaking of Authors Speaking…
I will choose and understand my life priorities before I entertain, let alone commit to, “measureable” goals. For example, “My son and I will have conversation today” is a much higher priority than “I will write 1000 words every day.” What I produce will not be deemed of greater value and importance than who I am and the connections I want to preserve with family and friends.
I will give more weight to my mental and physical health, and the needs of the actual human beings in my life, than I do to word counts, bookings, and schedules. Certainly there are those who will assume I’m speaking from a place of privilege, as someone who must be able to set aside Real Life Responsibilities for some squishy emotional goal. Nope. The past almost-ten years haven’t been a stroll down the primrose path, darlings, and frankly, the journey was made more emotionally difficult by production-focused people at the edges of my life who looked down on my decision to invest time in my son and family rather than a monetary venture. I wasted time feeling bad about their snubs. I won’t do that again.
If a fill-in-the-blank guru tells me I must perform X tasks in order to reach Y goal, or I’m not really ever going to get Y goal, I will merely assume the guru is telling the truth and move on. It’s very, very easy to get caught up in the Secret of Success Rhetoric. The industry is just as savvy as the diet industry when it comes to guilting people into handing over the lives (and money) in order to prove themselves Not A Loser. Many gurus thrive on enforcing methods that in reality force a person to neglect health, friendships, family, and life experiences for the sake of meeting goals, and will insinuate you’re a lazy, unworthy person if you’re not willing to make those sacrifices. There is no success I could achieve that would be worth such neglect. I will not be shamed into acting otherwise.
I will more loudly rejoice when I do well. I will share my successes rather than humbly swallow them. Screw that Tall Poppy madness. I invite everyone else to do the same.
And above all, I wish everyone a 2016 that has more laughter than fear, more moments worth remembering than days worth forgetting, more tears shared in the company of others than wept alone, more encouragement in times of doubt than doubt in times of difficulty, and more time with people you love than longings for those beyond reach.