I gave my speech at the Direct Marketing Association’s Annual Catalog Conference yesterday. You know the TV commercial where the announcer states,” Turn up the degrees” for some stupid antiperspirant ad.
As the seminar room fills to over 280 people (I was originally told only about 10-20 people would be in attendance) I start to panic. Two of the four speakers have no visual power-point presentation – I’m one of them. I thought about my formal training that my Dad sent me to 20 years earlier. I attended the Dale Carnegie 16 week seminar, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” where I quickly learned to harness my nerves and ask myself THE most important question at the moment. . . “What’s the worse possible thing that could happen?” I realized it was either that everyone would “boo” me or they would get up in the middle of my presentation and walk out – bored! I figured that would not cause me to die, throw up, or become paralyzed so I was ready to speak.
I quickly decide my only hope was to clip the microphone to my lapel of my suit jacket and step far away from the podium, walk the room, and attempt to interact directly with the audience.
It worked! My speaking strategy paid off. I purposely brought props from my office; examples of media kits, promotional stuff, copies of hilarious emails we’ve received, even framed and mounted Christmas Cards addressed every year to Joan and Jackie, Catalogs.com’s web hosts.
The secret to effective public speaking is to know your topic, do NOT write out a speech word-for-word, but rather to only have bullet points that remind you of the topic. I also strongly believe in interspersing examples and humor throughout.
In fact, the speech went so well that a Director of Marketing catalog executive came up and waited in line to speak with me after I was finished. He said, “Leslie, I really think we should be on your program.” I told the guy, “I’m thrilled, I could hug and kiss you right here.” I didn’t.
But Catalogs.com’s Director of Business Development was standing right beside me, noticed that I didn’t seize the opportunity immediately, and she hauls off and gives him this bear hug like you’ve never seen! I think he was very embarrassed (or maybe he was excited and didn’t know what to do!)