Executive Speakers School Was A Hit!
by Sally Anders
On a sunny, blustery morning in Madison, 50+ attendees warmed up with hot coffee, a warm roll and networking with professionals from private industry, non-profit and government. All were there to improve their executive speaking skills. Robert Ian’s warm welcome was followed by a few words from Jody Glynn-Patrick, Publisher of IN BUSINESS magazine, our co-sponsor of the event.
Christine McMahon got us right to work on how to analyze your audience in order to craft your presentation specifically for them. She covered the basics of knowing the make up of your audience, knowing your topic, room setup and weaving your topic into the day’s (or the conference’s) activities or theme.
She introduced the idea of incorporating stories into a presentation to reinforce your message, and taught us how to storyboard a presentation. By her example, we also learned how even a prepared speaker must sometimes work with what they have at the moment and improvise.
Barb Bartlein CSP, known for her great stories, did not disappoint. She began with a great story and then dissected it for the audience and showed them how to construct their own stories to bring energy and power to a presentation. She introduced us to another “story board” that was designed to help us find great stories in our own lives, from childhood, to those turbulent teen years, to adulthood and beyond. She gave us great tips on how to find, develop and refine our stories so that they make the point without getting long and boring. She even gave us permission to embellish – just a little! Stories can engage your audience and connect you to them so that they are ready – even anxious – to hear your deeper message.
Roger Stauter introduced us to “speechlets” – a very short speech, which one can string together to create a speech of any length. Then when your time is cut, you simply take out a speechlet or two so that you can dazzle your audience with complete thoughts and still end on time. His secret to successfully telling humorous stories, was the same as George Burns’ – practice, practice, practice!
He advised us not to recycle old jokes that George may have told and to be certain that our humor was appropriate. Telling jokes is a rare skill. Telling short, warm, funny stories is an easier skill to develop and will endear you much more to your audience.
Chris Clarke-Epstein CSP began by telling us that speakers need to shut up so that participants can talk. Again, Chris taught by example and engaged the entire room by sharing her trade secrets on how she moves around a room, looks people in the eye, and invites them to share their knowledge. She showed us how to raise the energy in the room.
It was brought up by all of our speakers that you need to practice, practice, practice, and then practice some more until you get your topic down cold. A participant wondered if that leaves room for spontaneity. All of our speakers agreed that those speakers who appear the most spontaneous, are in fact the most practiced.
Robert Ian lead the afternoon off with AV 101. The gentleman sitting next to me whispered, “This is the part I came for.” Robert dazzled us as usual with his deep understanding of the latest and greatest in audio-visual equipment, including prices and where to buy. Because the quality of how a speaker both sounds and looks is central to giving successful presentations, and Robert’s obvious enthusiasm for the topic, his 45 minutes flew by!
Bill Geist, our final speaker, was in Pennsylvania having just finished a morning presentation. He appeared via video conference using Apple Computer’s new iChat software. This allowed him to present both his image and his Powerpoint presentation over a broadband connection and be projected on screen so our audience could both see and hear him.
In his presentation, “Powerpoint Magic: How to Become a Powerpoint Pro”, he shared 12 points on becoming a Powerpoint Pro. Through even more technological magic, he was even able to field questions! Bill also demonstrated his example of working with what you have – when you need to be in two places at once – you don’t necessarily have to cancel one of them.
The day ended with sharing what we had learned along with some great door prizes. Several people (even one attending a meeting down the hall!) asked about membership in NSA Wisconsin. We invited all attendees (except the one down the hall) to attend one of our next two Professional Develop meetings at member rates.
So, if you see some new people at our next couple of meetings, notice how well they speak and present themselves. Then thank one of our fine volunteer Executive Speakers School presenters for sharing their trade secrets and tips – and for modeling what professional speakers look and sound like!
One of the objectives of presenting the Executive Speakers School was to promote NSA-WI within the business community as the authority on and source of polished speaking professionals. Mission accomplished!