Like many people, public speaking makes me very uncomfortable. Fifteen years ago, I was co-presenting a training class to 100+ people and my voice quivered for the first 30 minutes of the session. Eight years ago, a different organization sent me across the country to present our product roadmap at a variety of user groups. I was presenting on things I didn’t even understand (mainframey things). What that year did for me was get me more and more comfortable speaking in front of people until I was almost sorta good at it.
I speak annually at our user conference and have spoken over the course of the year to smaller audiences (<25) as a regular part of my job. I’ve come so far that I don’t want to lose that level of comfort (comfort is a relative term). To keep that edge, I elected to present at our local PechaKucha gathering. Yep you read that right – “I elected to” and “PechaKucha”.
I’m presenting this Sunday at Octane. It’s been an interesting process because its 20 slides/images, 20 seconds a slide. Seems so simple – 6 minutes and 40 seconds. I’m known for my less is more approach when it comes to words so this seemed relatively easy. The template I received in powerpoint auto advances every 20 seconds. During my first practice run the first slide advanced mid-thought. How can that be? I’m not verbose.
What I’ve learned in my limited preparation (I've got a lot of work to do Saturday) is that I better focus on getting my point across as quickly as possible, while still being engaging & using compelling images (no bulleted powerpoints in this format). It’s been a good exercise and I'm almost looking forward to Sunday night. No matter what happens, I know it will be over in 400 seconds. If you’re interested improving your presenting skills in a safe environment look up your local PechaKucha, they are all over the world.