Three things I learned this weekend about public speaking

iStock_000018445156XSmallThis past weekend I participated in my synagoguesLatke vs. Hamantashen” debate.  I proudly advocated for the latke.  While the end result of my presentation turned out well, the road there was rocky. I won’t go into the gory details but suffice it to say, I had some technical snafus prior to starting that threatened my ability to deliver my final presentation.  I walked away having learned three huge lessons.  Please learn from my experience.

Lesson 1 – Never, ever, ever, trust anyone else with your technology and test it WELL in advance

I spoke to a representative in advance who told me that what I wanted to do would work but I didn’t test that that was the case.  That was a HUGE mistake.  I would have avoided the whole drama if I had gone to the venue in advance to make sure that everything would hook up properly.

Lesson 2 – In non adversarial speaking situations, the audience is pulling for you to succeed.

In my case, it was known throughout the audience that I was having technological issues.  When I got up to speak there was a tangible sense of nervousness throughout and when the technology worked and I was able to speak effectively there audience was clearly relieved.  They wanted me to succeed and that made me more motivated to do so.

Lesson 3 – Practice your speech in advance and you can make it through almost anything

When I started speaking, I was under a lot of stress.  I had just had to recreate my graphics on stage with a dicey Internet connection. One of the things I have heard from numerous members of the audience is that they were surprised I was able to remain so calm as I delivered my speech after all that.  The reason I was able to do that was that I had done two full, out-loud practices in advance. Practicing speeches can feel akward since you are basically talking to yourself and it is tempting to just run through the speech in your mind instead of actually doing an out-loud practice.  That is a mistake. When I got on stage, it was that practice that saved me because I knew the words I was going to say and had said them before.