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The Do’s and Don’ts of Public Speaking, or: Why Spanish Presentations Aren’t for Me

Earlier this year I decided to add public speaking to my methods of establishing myself as an expert (well, Eggspert. whatever).¬† If you have read even one post on my site, you know I’m really big on that. Why?

Establishing yourself as an expert in your field is what separates you from everyone else.

So back to the public speaking. My first opportunity arose about a month ago when Orlando’s Hispanic Business Initiative Fund asked me to speak at the Hispanic Business Expo. In Spanish.

I speak Spanish well enough, so I agreed to do it, figuring it would be a great challenge. Indeed. So I spent a good month translating a presentation and memorizing it. Come time for my presentation I was paralyzed, and there was a pit of fear in my stomach.

Now, I know that’s normal for public speaking. But I’ve done it before. It was the Spanish part that threw me off. My fear of shriveling up and dying when the question and answer time came was making me uptight and snappy to my family (sorry family).

Long story short, I did ok. It was clear I was nervous, and during the Q&A, they asked questions in English and I responded. Whew. The next session they asked me to do in English. I really don’t want to delve into the reasons. Either it was because my Spanish sucks much more than I knew or it was so obvious I was uncomfortable. We’ll go with the latter.

And I survived. It felt good, especially because if I could do this in Spanish, then I damn sure could do it in English. Backwards. With my eyes closed. Naked, in front of thousands.

Do’s and Don’ts of Public Speaking

But I learned a few things I wanted to share with you. If you’re considering public speaking, keep these do’s and don’ts of public speaking in mind:

Do

  • Reach out to local organizations to get started. Get your feet wet before moving on to bigger and better opportunities.
  • Film yourself speaking. You can critique what you did right and wrong for next time.
  • Speak slowly and clearly.
  • Speak on a topic you’re very comfortable with. One you could talk without notes for hours on.
  • Introduce your products or services and make them available at the back of the room for purchase after your presentation.
  • Bring backup of your presentation. USB, disc, email. You never know what will go wrong.

Don’t

  • Go too far outside your comfort zone (Spanish). It will show.
  • Be too pushy in your sales. You’re there to educate, not make money (if it’s a side effect, great)
  • Be late.
  • Forget your presentation.
  • Forget to thank the people who asked you to speak. They may need you again.

Now if you will excuse me. I am going to be a hermit for a while until I feel normal again.

Susan Guillory

Susan Guillory is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, a content marketing firm based in San Diego. She’s written several business books, and frequently blogs about small business and marketing on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, and Cision. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.

This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. Good for you for trying! Although the story is bringing back some BAD memories of me trying to do a radio interview in Spanish when I was in college; I was the only person in the office who spoke it, and only barely at that. Let’s just say there was not much Q&A!

  2. Eeeek – sounds scary but you got through it – yay! Another “Don’t” – don’t read your entire presentation or PowerPoint slides, your audience can already read ūüôā

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