Speaking out loud...
By the time I was done with that seminar series, I was quite a few times better at speaking than I was before I started. I learned a lot, I asked people to really criticize me – be harsh, be honest.
Not that I don’t still get nervous – new material, first time presenting – that is a killer. I’ve never been on a blind date in my life, but it probably is very much the same. You don’t know if you’ll have anything in common (with the material), you don’t know if you’ll have something witty to say, you don’t know if you’ll be wishing your cell phone was going off part way through the experience, you don’t know if you’ll ever want to see the material again.
Last Tuesday I did a ‘best practices for upgrading’ session in Atlanta (20 minutes on that, 45 on what I thought was cool about 10gR1 and R2…). I was “on” (as least I thought so) – a really good session. And reading this article this morning reminded me of that session. There were over 100 people and I think I made contact with most of them. I too break the room into three parts – left right and center (of course) and use that technique. But it is really “left back”, “center front”, “right middle”, “center back”, “left front” and so on – maybe like a grid of nine. I try to connect with as many people as possible.
Since my first presentation (IOUG in Orlando, 1994), I’ve never “read” at a session. I read there (I was also in a state of shock, my manager made me do it, I really did not want to). It was horrible. I vowed never to do that again.
Now when I speak, I just know what is coming next. I find every time I give the same material it takes a couple minutes longer than the last time – because I’ve thought of yet more to add. I even practiced sessions before giving them a couple of time (when I just cannot sleep the night before…)
Have you ever been to a session where the speaker read or just didn’t look at you. It drives me nuts.
I thought that was a really good article – was surprised to see it in the financial news (I’m a news junkie). Take it to heart if you have speak. Your message will be received better, people will feel the connection to you. Look at them, engage them, talk to them. When I answer a question in a session, I typically start by walking directly in line with the questioner and looking right at them while they ask it, then start answering just to them but after a bit – start looking all around.
I’m always (always) looking for the head shakers too. There should be at least three of you out there – left, right and center! I need to have that positive affirmation that what I’m saying is getting across – and nothing like the head nodder to make me feel like that is happening.
One thing I’d add – be really excited about what you are speaking about. I really dig Oracle and I know that comes across when I talk. I think it is contagious. Even after three days in a row (I’m getting ready to do 5 next week – 3+2) I’m still excited about what I’m talking about. (Now, try to talk to me about 30 minutes after I’m done for the day and forget it! Stick a fork in me, I’m very much done).