Speaker-CampI’m sure it’s of no surprise that up to a third of the population have public speaking anxiety. This shy introvert (I know, a double whammy) made a 2015 resolution to overcome her fears. I know all the theory, but needed some critical feedback on how I can do better. So on Saturday I pretended the sunshine didn’t exist and headed to Speaker Camp.

What is Speaker Camp?

Speaker Camp is a one-day public speaking workshop lead by the team at Chicago Camps. It’s designed to get us ready for speaking at conferences. Moz sponsored the Seattle event, so we got to play in their office and about a quarter of the attendees were Mozians (staff training open the public?). It’s a very practical day, with exercises in writing speaker proposals and bios, as well as presenting. While it was the videoed presentation and critical feedback that enticed me to register, the bio writing was very useful. Every stage is critiqued by peers and, sometimes, mentors. Definitely worth the $60.

The Six Public Speaking Tips

  1. Your presentation never goes as planned
    A time vortex on stage – time may appear slower or faster, but it never matches what you have scheduled, or rehearsed.
    Audiences – different events and cities have different personalities. Even the same audience after lunch is different than first thing.
  2. Check technology
    Using your own laptop – bring the right adapter for your laptop. Even if the organizer says they have it, it may go missing, or they could be wrong.
    If you must use their laptop – does your brand use non-standard/proprietary fonts and embedded videos? They need to be installed, and the IP shared. It’s messy.
    Clicker – know all the buttons and practice with it. Laser pointers don’t show on flat-panel displays.
    Power – fully charge before the presentation. Check for power outlets and cables for long presentations.
    Laptop location – OK, these last two were mine. I’ve had speakers depend on their laptop for notes, but we set the laptops off to the side.
  3. Write three bios
    The long one – For your website for linked in profile
    The medium one – For conference submissions. Two short paragraphs
    The short one – For the person introducing you.Print and carry it with you to help the often rushed, often volunteer introducer.
  4. Don’t introduce yourself
    There’s no need to introduce yourself or your background as you start your presentation. These people already chose to hear you and your presentation. Especially true with your short bio.
  5. Do real practices
    Lighting, volume, slide deck – the works. Find a critical test audience – as Russ said “the people who’ll tell you if there’s a booger in your nose.”
  6. Your expectations are higher than those of the audience
    And probably the most important for me: If you slip up, they won’t notice.

There were many more tips and tricks from the day. These came both from Russ Unger, the presenter and co-founder of Chicago Camps, and my fellow students. If you get the chance to attend Speaker Camp, do it.