Saturday was the day I flew back home, after enjoying a parting glass of wine with the same woman I shared breakfast on my first day with (fitting, don't you agree?), and having the best time ever giving my presentation. Here are three open secrets that might just help you make your next presentation a winner:
First things first though - I woke up in good time to take a leisurely shower, put on my new suit and blouse, and join another early-bird breakfast discussion about corporate interest in the conference. By the way, are you taking notes? Do you have to set up conferences, and are you wondering about new ideas to keep folks entertained, informed, and involved? Cracker barrels and early bird sessions are the way to go, giving plenty of participants a chance to shine and share their knowledge. I know I'm so grateful to have met experts in the field I'm trying to establish myself in, and truly appreciate the time they took answering all my questions. Mentoring, people! At the end of the day, we all want the same thing, don't we?: happy expats! Hence, open secret #1: give people a chance to share and shine. Seth Godin thinks it's a good idea; check out his book Tribes.
I missed my new friends' panel discussion on cross-cultural children, because I wanted to breathe and prepare for my presentation, setting the room up in good time, placing handouts on every table, and being there to greet everyone. 'twas a good call, and again I invite you to take notes: if you ever have to give a presentation, make sure you're in the room in good time, locate the light- and temperature switches, plug in all your electronics, test the projector, and find the technical assistant to make sure you're doing it all correctly. Thus, open secret #2: get comfortable with your room.
Another open secret I'll share at this point is that when I started thinking about presenting in front of strangers whom I really wanted to make a good impression on, I was nervous. However, in the moment? After all the preparation I put in? After weeks and months of speaking in front of friendly fellow Toastmasters? Thinking about the objectives I had set for myself, the goals I envisioned the participants would have? After the couple of test runs I had giving parts of the presentation in front of friends? After taking time to think and mull things over, speak with experienced trainers, and ponder over their feedback to come up with my own concoction of exercises, slides, and information? I actually looked forward to it, thoroughly enjoyed myself and had a great time. That's the pickle, folks: open secret #3: preparation, visualization, practice. Time-consuming as all get out, but totally worth it.
Of course I couldn't have done it without the stars that were the participants. No, I'm not just kissing butt - the 20-odd people who showed up truly showed up. They got together and did their group exercises without moaning, they shared their findings with everyone and listened to other groups' input, they asked each other questions and held their own during general discussions. You rock, and you know who you are.
Now, for bonus open secret #4: I'm planning to put all this to good use and set up some dates for a six-hour workshop here in Plano/Dallas. For those of you who know they want to start their own business, and would like some guidance and feedback about writing their business plan, meeting other like-minded people, sharing concerns, opening a think-tank, networking, time for one-on-one personalized attention, and having fun - let me know and I'll reserve your place. It'll happen early May, stay tuned for details.
Til next week, here's to your ideas and their implementation! :-)