Believe me when I tell you that when most people who know me find out I am TERRIFIED of public speaking, they are shocked…not tooting my own horn, but I’m a pretty outspoken, friendly, comfortable-with-myself kind of person. I’m talking jitters, blank mind, speech so slurred people think I’m drunk…the whole nine. I am still TERRIFIED of public speaking, but I’ve gotten a lot better at it. The key is practice, which is what I have done – practice, practice, practice!
After four years of leading the conversation and presenting research to all kinds of people (if you have read any of my other blogs, you know I love lists), I would like to share my thoughts and experience with you. Listed in no particular order…
1. Don’t BS
When I say that, I don’t mean Bachelor of Science. If you don’t know what I mean, Google it. The Urban Dictionary will help you out (popped up as number three in my search).
If you don’t know the answer to something, JUST SAY SO! I can’t count the number of times I’ve said, “What a good question! Let me dig into that and get back to you.” I’ve never had anyone come back to me with anything other than, “Thanks.”
Another thing to consider, if you are presenting to your client’s client, they may not be too happy to hear you report information that they haven’t been able to review first. This has happened to me too, so I thought I would add.
2. Treat Any Time Presenting Data as an Opportunity
I mentioned in the intro, that I completely fool everyone into thinking I am a public speaking pro by practice. As cliché as it sounds, it works!
At PortMA, anytime we deliver a recap, the Research Manager has to present the report to the Senior Research Manager. I treat that as my Oscar performance.
Once delivered, I push my client to have a formal review session with me, too. Why? It’s a great chance to practice. If and when I have to be a part of a presentation with the CEO/Brand Manager/CMO (big cheeses…you get it), I’ve already had at least two times to practice on that single event marketing research report.
3. Know What You Know.
For the life of the event marketing research project you have been working on, you have been sleeping, eating, and living the data. There isn’t a single person in the world that knows it better that you.
The saying that “knowledge is power” applies here! Statistics don’t lie. When the data is telling you something, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
4. When in Doubt, Write it Out.
I learned this one from my fearless leader, Chris Clegg, the owner of PortMA. I’m sure he remembers a time when my nerves were visible to everyone, because it was during that time that he told me his secret: write out everything you are going to say, and then say it.
At that time, I was (and still am) in awe of his presentation skills – I thought I would never be able to do what he does. While I’m still not on his level, I’m closer than I was the last time I presented.
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