Friday, June 10, 2011

What's so Wonderful About Speaking in Public?

Most people hate the prospect of standing before a group of people for any reason, let alone to talk. Their stomachs seize, their hearts race, and they imagine all manner of catastrophe.

That doesn't happen to me anymore. Instead, I get killer migraines about three hours afterward. Seriously, I do.

So, you're wondering, what's so terrific about getting migraines instead of stomach distress?

It's all about making a difference. Sharing a perspective. Facilitating the communication in a room filled with people so that everyone enjoys themselves and the majority walk away from the event with something more than they had when they arrived.

Personally, I don't much care for lectures. I'm sure it stems from the fact that I'm more of a participant than an observer. How much fun does a participant have when someone else stands at the front of a room talking without seeking input from the audience? Sure, I've benefited from listening to lectures. I've learned important information.

But I've had much more fun, and learned more, from presentations made by speakers who engaged the audience and encouraged them to participate. When a speaker seeks input from members of the audience, everyone in the room has the opportunity to share: perspectives, information, enjoyment.

As a speaker, I realize not everyone in my audience is going to like me. And that's okay, I don't always like everyone in my audience. What makes the migraines worthwhile, however, is the fact that after I make a presentation, the majority of my audience walks away feeling they're better for the experience: either they had a really good time or they acquired information they didn't have beforehand. Or both--that's really terrific.

I made a two-hour presentation at an insurance convention in Las Vegas earlier this week. Wanna know the best part? Afterwards, someone said to me, "Mary and I thought you rocked!"

Yep, the migraine was well worth it.

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