Present your words

A presentation or speaking to groups of people can be a real challenge

Before I was a graphic designer, I was a teacher at a high school in art, drawing and handicraft. In both my teaching and my business I had to address groups. So I am used to speak in public.

Most of the time this went smoothly. The results were as expected. But on occasions it didn’t work out the way I wanted. I reflected on what went wrong and corrected myself.

presentationThese days I am reading a lot of books about systemizing a business. And found out that I can improve my talks even further, which aroused my interest in studying books about presenting as well. So this is lesson number one for me: there is always room for improvement.

Service clubs; Gaia, a network of business women

The president of Gaia knew I was a graphic designer, so she asked me if I could lecture them on copyright. This is 15 years ago. Today I am make my presentations with InDesign, Photoshop and Acrobat, but back then I made slides, real slides.

The Dutch copyright law dates from 1912 and has five major points. So I started my presentation with a personal story, went on to an example of copyright from the 16th century and then explained the five points step by step.

A lot of people in Holland think they don’t have to follow the copyright law because its from 1912. On which lawyers, solicitors and the Court (and I) disagree, because it is still applied on all kinds of subjects. It doesn’t matter whether you write a book on paper or an eBook – whatever you write is your intellectual property and someone using it without paying for it or without your consent is a thief. It’s as simple as that.

At the moment I am studying a book from Brian Tracy about presenting. And while I am doing that I am thinking of all the talks I did in the past. Which parts were in accordance with Tracy’s guidelines and which weren’t?

In hindsight I see very clearly what I did wrong in my speech for Gaia.

Do’s and Don’ts – Guidelines for profitability

Let’s start with what was right:

  • My preparation was good
  • I started with a personal note
  • I embedded the talk in facts
  • The structure was okay
  • The illustrations were very much to the point

Hence the applauding afterwards. The women of the service club congratulated me and were very enthusiastic. They learned a lot, they assured me.

What could have been improved?

  • I was introduced by somebody else and didn’t prepare that introduction myself
  • I have never thought for one minute that being able to present a talk like that, is a business opportunity (duh). I did see it as a way to establish a good reputation, but did not see these women as possible business partners or customers
  • I didn’t close the talk with an offer they could not refuse.

Do you speak in public? Please share your story in the commentbox below.

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