02 December 2008

It's official, I'm a genuine public speaker

A couple months back, I was asked by the Great Lakes Chapter of the MRA to present at a joint conference in January. Bonus in that the conference at the Sundial Resort on Sanibel Island, Florida. Bummer that my wife and child cannot join me.

I've been kicking around the outline for the presentation for awhile and know that I have sufficient material to pull it together, but it really hit me today when I saw on the conference website my name and that I'm actually presenting.

I do a lot of self analysis when it comes to my presentation style and it's changed quite a bit over the last 8-10 years which is how long I've been presenting both internally and externally around MB/Kantar.

It's amazing really because in High School, I totally sucked at this and was a frightened little kitty. In college, things really changed. I "toughened up" if you will, when it comes to facing people and presenting information. Some of this can be attributed to a required speech class, but most of it is due to being in a Fraternity and being part of the Student Government at Marquette.

College really is a time that you "find" yourself and where reality hits you that if you don't seize the opportunities, there's plenty of other hungry mouths to gobble them up.

So, back to the analysis of presentation style. I used to move around a lot and sometimes walk to the side of the audience. This made it entertaining and demonstrated my passion for the subject, but one review I read said that they were getting dizzy watching me move back and forth.

So I moved to a more formal upfront speaking style but I still moved a bit as frankly I feel more comfortable doing it. I just don't run up the sides of the room. I usually inject humorous anecdotes, life experiences and real life work applications of the materials I'm covering. In fact, I use humor quite a bit as frankly, it makes people comfortable and it hopefully makes the presentation tolerable.

But for a conference, you are pretty limited to just speaking behind a podium. As you can see from the schedule (link above) I'm the meat of the day's presentation sandwich and that means I probably need to be pretty engaging. I will have a short video as part of my presentation which will be different and I believe it'll be decent material which dovetails nicely with the presentation right before me.

I guess the only question I have left is what to wear? I realize it's a professional conference and so jacket and tie are the norm, but seriously, it's on Sanibel Island. How can a hawaiian shirt NOT deliver some impact? At the same time, I represent our family of companies and that's just as important. I'll take the safe route and ask the conference sponsors, but it's going to be a fun event either way.

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