I’m still hyped from speaking at the African Women in Technology Conference in Nairobi, Kenya.
The room was brimming with executives, tech disruptors, college students and next generation game changers.
I chatted with nearly 150 brilliant minds about everything from fashion to technology.
I heard some incredibly passionate women speak about how they are transforming lives through technology and education like Former Miss World Kenya Fiona Konchellah, Janet C. Kemboi, Director of Communications for Uber Kenya and award winning Global Change Maker, Dr. Chao, a Researcher, Mentor, and Lecturer at Kenya Methodist University.
And…(drum roll please) I launched my first visibility masterclass, a 6-week virtual course teaching 9-5er’s and entrepreneurs how to communicate their stand out factor, and make yourself more marketable for speaking engagements, media attention, and consulting clients.
So now that I’m settled back in the US, I thought I’d share a few gems.
Want to Wow a Crowd? Here Are a Few Things to Remember:
For the first few minutes of my presentation, my slides wouldn’t display on the projector screen. Honestly, I didn’t care because I was fully prepared for that moment. Preparation breeds confidence. So never rely on technology to get your point across.
We all have a short attention span, so structure your presentation around three key messages. Then, practice out loud, avoid jargon, and anticipate questions. Prepare to keep your eyes on the audience, not on your visuals.
I should also mention that when creating my content my brain thinks in quotables. Each one of my key messages must contain a motivational message that fits within 140 characters (Thanks, Twitter) so it’s easy for people to remember and share on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
Get to Know Your Audience
Tailor your messages to your audience’s needs. Ask yourself, “What does the audience need to know? What misconceptions about your presentation topic do they possibly have, which you can dispel? What are they feeling? What habits are keeping them from success?”
When creating your presentation, other questions to consider:
- What’s the change your audience can expect?
- What are the tips, tools, or resources that can help members of your audience to become successful?
- How will your tips help them grow professionally, becoming more efficient at work, or personally?
- How will the information you have to offer make their lives easier?
Also, don’t forget to use social media to research the target audience. Most conferences market their events months before a launch date. Attendees often leave comments on the conference’s social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter–these comments are like currency for your presentation.
Ultimately your presentation should provide your audience with a clear answer to this question: Why should I care?
Practice and Perform
I always meet people who say: “I hate public speaking. I’m not good at it.” The reality is, public speaking is a skill, not a talent.
If you’re not practicing your public speaking skills regularly, of course, you’ll feel like you’re not good at it. Mastery requires mistakes and practice. You have to do the work, so you can overcome your feelings of fear and anxiety.
Bring Your Energy
During Q&A, an attendee asked me how do I find the self- confidence and energy to present the way I do. I hear this feedback a lot from people who experience my workshops and hosting gigs. For me, your attitude and energy is a choice–choose wisely.
Your energy is just as important as your message. It has the power to captivate minds, open doors, close deals, and empower a community to take action.
Your energy introduces you before you speak. So own the room with a smile, stand tall, make eye contact and greet people before they greet you.
I also never stand in place. Give your girl a chance and I’ll ditch the podium, or step down off a stage and maneuver my way through the crowd with confidence just so people can feel like we’re having a conversation. At times, I’ll even interrupt the presentation format for an impromptu selfie break–that way the audience members can create lasting connections.
Sure I love what I do, so it makes it easier but to be honest, I’m going through one of the biggest personal challenges in my life right now. But when I wake up, I trick myself into believing I can pack my all of my life’s challenges in a bag for 4 hours, tuck it under my bed and move forward with excellence because like it or not, my challenges ain’t going nowhere.
Remember your emotions are unreliable. So don’t let your emotions make the final decision on your day. Once you enter the room, focus on how you want the audience to feel during and after your presentation.
Take the Focus Off You
Nothing ruins a presentation more quickly than a presenter reading straight from their slides, or who rambles on about their own accomplishments, needs, wants, or desires. So, when preparing your presentation, put yourself in the audience’s shoes. During a presentation, if you see someone with nice dress or shirt, compliment them directly on the spot.
Speak From Your Heart
Use the power of your story to stand out from the pack. Your story humanizes your brand and makes people feel like you’re accessible.
Approach your presentation as if you were having a conversation with someone. Be unapologetically authentic. And don’t be afraid to inject your personality, and engage your audience during the presentation. For instance,
- Speak directly to individuals in the crowd.
- Ask open-ended questions or poll the audience.
- Ask your audience to tweet questions to maximize online engagement.
- Talk about your own experiences. However, when you do this, be sure to share inspiring stories. That way people can recognize the power they have within themselves to take real action.
Remember Your “Now What?”
Here’s the thing—it’s not what happens during a presentation that matters, it’s what you inspire people to do afterward that counts. So make sure you summarize your presentation with a call-to-action.
For instance, during my presentation, I emphasized that it was common knowledge that there is a gender gap in technology.
So now what? Are you a part of the problem or the solution? Will you complain or create?
I challenged the audience to collaborate with other women and use social and digital tools to change the conversation about women in tech. And then submit their stories to the African Women in Tech Life After Campaign.
Whewww that was a lot! See ya soon lovelies…
Blessed, Booked and Jetlagged…..