Spoke at Speak

Justin Wise Instagrammed my talk at Speak.

So last night I swallowed my public speaking fears and gave a talk on church communication at the Speak Conference. The response was overwhelmingly positive, which is incredible for this non-speaker.

Thankfully I didn’t trip over the podium or say anything embarrassing. Though I did almost lose my voice by the end (should have brought my water on stage).

Maybe I should venture out from behind my desk more often. Although today I’m completely exhausted. The introvert in me needs some serious alone time, maybe curled up in a corner somewhere.

I did find a few things helped make pubic speaking more bearable:

  • Practice, practice, practice: I went over my talk a ton. I even practiced it in front of my wife and kids while they were running amok all around me. Everybody knows that’s important, but it really makes a big difference.
  • I had something good to say: I based my talk on my book, Addition by Adoption, and applied those lessons to the church. I felt like I had a real story to tell, which made my talk more engaging and not just a bunch of principles. (Which accidentally followed the advice of marketing guru Harry Beckwith, who I met that morning.)
  • Stress relief & support: Since this was an online event, I was sitting in the front row on my laptop, tweeting quotes and interacting with the people who were watching online. I had friends in the room and online offering support, and I was able to make fun of my own nervousness. That actually helped put me at ease.
  • Simple slides: I really didn’t want to use slides. I feared they’d be one more distraction, and while they weren’t too bad, the few times I did get slightly derailed was when I was making sure the slides were working right. But I did make sure the slides were extremely simple and not crucial to my talk. There were a few laugh lines at the beginning based on the slides, and the slides really helped to illustrate the tweets from my book, but after that the slides were just summarizing what I was saying (in a tweetable form). Since the event’s screen was small and the online folks couldn’t see the screen, it was a big help that my slides weren’t crucial.
Update: Now you can watch me speak at Speak:

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