Please Take Public Speaking

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I watched a presentation a couple of weeks ago and it was terrible. I had seen this presenter a week or two earlier and it had been fine. But the second time it was very unprofessional and I tuned it out almost immediately. I don’t know if it had to do with the change in audience, but no matter who you are presenting to, please be professional. Here are some of the points I noticed about this presentation (and some others for good measure):

  • “Umm…” – I don’t know how many times this person used it, but it was bad. If you need a quick filler for a second or two there is nothing wrong with taking a breath. You don’t have to use “umm” if you’re thinking of the next thing to say. Just breathe.
  • Fidgeting or crossing legs while standing – I’ve seen a couple of young women who do presentations and they cross their legs while standing. Why? It’s different if you are seated or if you’re leaning on a desk (as in leading a discussion, such as a professor does), but it puts you off balance and it doesn’t look right. They look like shy school girls and that is NOT what you should be portraying while making a pitch.
  • Microphones – If there is a microphone, you don’t have to use it, but at least acknowledge that it is there and then before presenting, ensure that you can be heard by everyone in the room. The example I will give is when someone was obviously not comfortable with using a microphone, so chose not to use it. But no one could hear her, so the host had to interrupt her and give her the microphone. I’m not keen on using one either, but I can project my voice over a lecture hall of 500 students. Trust me, I don’t need one.
  • Practice – At this same event, there were 4 presenters and I would say that 3 of the 4 had done very little public speaking. If you are planning on being an entrepreneur, you’re going to have to make a lot of presentations whether you like it or not. That could be to a couple of people in a coffee shop or to a lecture hall full of people or on television. Even the ones that had been on television didn’t present all that well. They obviously hadn’t rehearsed what they were going to say, they couldn’t remember what was in their slides and paused a lot.
  • Never admit – This goes especially for the young women. Never admit that you don’t know what you’re doing, even if you don’t. Make a quick joke to diffuse the situation if something doesn’t go according to plan, but don’t make yourself look like an idiot.
  • If you’re asking a question, ask a question – Again, this is for the women. The number of times I’ve seen women presenting who make statements as if they are asking a question is too many to count. It’s okay to ask questions, even “Does that make sense?” to get some acknowledgement from the audience. As a matter of fact, that’s good! But don’t make your voice go up at the end of the sentence as if asking a question if you’re not.

Sorry if these sound like they are being nasty, especially towards young women. I don’t profess to being a professional at public speaking, but I would hope that people would be aware of these, and if not, become so and correct them. Especially if you are going to be an entrepreneur, make sure that you can speak properly so that your pitch can be heard by those who need to hear it.

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Importance of Networking

Name Badge with your Twitter handle is a great idea

Name Badge with your Twitter handle is a great idea

Now, when I say networking, I’m not just talking about the “new” social media way of networking. I’m also talking about the face to face meetings. Gone are the days that everyone knows who you are only because you show up to every event. If you’re not online, you don’t exist. What I profess is a balance between the two. Life is about balance, your business should be too.

Many of the relationships that I have started, especially since moving to Hamilton, Ontario in January have been in person. When we made the decision in mid-November to make the move, I immediately hopped onto social media to see what was available here. I have friends out here, but few are in the realm I deal with in business. Two days after my family made the decision, I attended my first meetup: Hamilton Business Networking and Entrepreneurs Group.  I used the social media and technology aspect to find out the information and meet people in person. I wasn’t sure if the business model I’d been using in Toronto would work here, so I needed to meet people and talk to those that had been here longer than I.

One big difference between Toronto and Hamilton: both are willing to help, but Toronto people just don’t have the time or capacity to help all the time. The life is busy, never-ending, buzzing and tiring. By the time you come home and have dealt with your own stuff, you haven’t got the energy to help anyone else. In Hamilton, I’ve found that the capacity to assist others is immense. It could be a few emails on your behalf or sitting down for a coffee to discuss business or even pleasure. In Toronto, you might get to meet for coffee for 20-30 minutes. In Hamilton, it could be for an hour. That doesn’t mean that it takes longer, but the meetings are more meaningful and you have a chance to understand each other’s business, not just the current objective. I love Toronto, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve really found a second home in Hamilton and a big part of that is because of this meetup group.

I did a presentation to this group a couple of months ago (Social Media 101) and from that I have my entire customer base. More than 80% of them are members of this group, the other 20% have come from referrals in the group. I’ve had numerous discussions about whether the art of meeting people is dead or whether social media is not genuine, et cetera, and my belief is that they compliment each other. The conversation can start in person and then carry on over social media or vice versa. One of my teachers once said to me, “It doesn’t matter which path you take to reach the top of the mountain, so long as you get there,”. So if your goal is to increase your network and meet new people, why not increase the chances of that by getting on social media? Think of all the people you could reach with 140 characters on Twitter within a few seconds! About the same amount of time as a text message, less than an email and you can even attach a photo easily at the event you might be attending to show all your friends. Maybe they are interested in that even or what your involvement might be? The possibilities are endless.

Lastly, I want to add that social media should be done by YOU. Just like meeting people in person, if you hire someone to act as you, it’s not genuine. Why should I deal with someone who lies to me about who they are? I’m not talking about a large company that has someone do their social media as their job, but those individuals who have “ghost tweeters” and the like. If you want to get clients, be genuine, be honest and don’t be a ghost. Take ownership of your relationship.

If you want to see what I’m up to or where I’m going to be, check my events page here. Even if I can’t make an event, but I think it will be of interest, you’ll find it there. Hope to see you soon!