I wasn't as nervous as I thought I would be. Nobody there knew me so they would have no idea if this was my first time or the hundreth time so that made it a bit easier. I had my material prepared and knew what I wanted to share, but I wasn't sure about delivery.
I am happy to report it went very well. Whew! At the end of my presentation I told them it was my first time presenting and there was an audible gasp in the audience. I think that meant they were surprised.
I wrote an article some time ago called "Just Say Yes" and told about my decision to not let fear stop me from doing things that I really wanted to try. I have always wanted to speak and felt I had some good things to share, so when a former employer asked me if I would speak to their admin group, I didn't hesitate and said Yes.
Here are some things that I learned from this experience:
- Know your topic well. If you don't, your audience will pick up on it;
- Speaking is like acting. Act as if you are confident and halfway through, you will actually feel it;
- Think of your audience as a group of your best friends and speak to them that way;
- Make eye contact with your audience, but don't single anybody out. Some people have also recommended that if you don't feel comfortable looking them in the eye, just look a little over their heads ;
- Give examples and use personal experiences where appropriate. It is nice to hear how the suggestions you give have worked in real life;
- Stick around and speak to people afterwards. Some people might have further questions about your talk.
My boss told me that now that I have spoken to 40, it shouldn't matter whether I speak to 40 or 400 because the same principles apply. I think he is correct about that, but will wait for my next speaking engagement and report back.
It was a great experience however and I hope to repeat it many more times.