“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means, to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than delivering the eulogy.” – Jerry Seinfeld
Prior to entering my first job in the recruiting industry, I never did any speaking engagements. Sure, I’m social and outgoing but to get in front of a big group? No way! I mean, just the thought of it made me nervous, everybody looking at you and you’re wondering what they’re thinking, what if you mess up and they start laughing? I just did not want to set myself up for any of that.
Then one day it happened: I was invited to speak at a luncheon for an organization here in the Dallas area. Of course, I said, “yes,” because I knew that I would eventually have to get out of my comfort zone. I had a lot of encouragement from people in the recruiting industry and at my place of employment to give it a try.
Here are some tips to help you should you ever be given that opportunity to speak about sourcing or recruiting publicly.
Know Your Audience
It is important to know who you are going to be speaking with and what the topic is going to be. I always like to find out ahead of time from the organizer what I should speak about and who my audience is so I can prepare accordingly, tailoring the message content to maximize the audience’s interest level.
Organize Your Material In A Manner That Flows
Once I know what my topic is, then I like to sit down and reflect on it. I try to determine the presentation’s general purpose, the central idea, and what the main points are going to be. I also try to devise a catchy title to grab the attention of the audience.
Being Nervous Is Normal. Practice And Prepare!
I like to practice in front of others. That way, they can tell me if I’m not looking them in the eyes, or if I’m talking too fast or too slow. I like to prepare for a presentation by having a few minutes of quiet time before I actually get up in front of my audience. It allows me to “self talk/motivate” and let myself know that the presentation is going to be a great!
Watch For Audience Feedback And Adapt To It.
I like to make things entertaining for my presentations because I don’t want to lose the attention of the listeners. It’s all about reading your audience. Having a good flow of content and eye-catching photos can help capture and keep audience’s attention. While speaking, you may need to gauge their reactions, adjust the message and be flexible, if need be.
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Grab Their Attention And Close With A Memorable Ending
I like to start my presentations with some type of “icebreaker.” I like to ask who loves cats because there’s always a “cat person” in the audience or even a “dog person,” which might generate a little spirited and lighthearted debate, and it helps lighten the mood.
Start with some interesting facts and then end your presentation with a summary of what was discussed during the presentation, preferably something that was memorable.
Fast forward nine years, and I am now a public speaker in the recruiting industry and am no longer nervous when speaking onstage. It has helped build my confidence and I love that people I know are now in the audience, which makes it more fun.
In 2019 I spoke at many events, and I always had a take away of something that I could improve on in the future. Maybe you have a goal for 2020 like I do; speaking at a SourceCon conference one day. Don’t let hesitation and nervousness stop you from reaching that goal.