When I was first invited to speak at the premiere session of the new, high-level networking group, the Entrepreneurial Women’s Club, I had at least two months to prepare my talk. That was great, because I was offering a whole new topic–our relationship with money entiltled The $oul Proprietor’s Roadmap to Abundant Living.
The first thing I did was set a date to meet with the speech coach who helped me with my TEDx talk several years ago. Putting a date on the calendar with her made it real. I knew I’d have to get my new ideas down on paper so I could run them by her with plenty of time for editing afterwards.
At our first meeting, I read through my script with eager anticipation of her nodding approval. I had shared it with my writers group two weeks before to enthusiastic raves. When my coach heard it, there was a deer-in-the-headlights look on her face through most of it. Not what I was hoping for.
“Jane,” she said with respect and concern, “you’re addressing a businesswomen’s event. This would be a great motivational speech, but not right for the audience you’ve been invited to address.”
Even as my heart sunk to my belly, I knew that she was right. I took copious notes, added a PowerPoint component and met with her again a week later. I had completely re-written the talk and was quite pleased with my edits and improvements.
This time when we met, there was more nodding, smiling and less note-taking on her part. My main job became owning the stories and not using notes–a terror for me. I’m so afraid of completely blanking out in front of an audience. That has never happened to me, but the dread of it keeps me tossing and turning at night.
We met a third time 8 days before my debut. A few more tweaks that actually relieved me. I took out a few transitions that were hard for me to remember. “Trust your audience,” I was told.
I brought a photo of the outfit I planned to wear, something eye-catching from my wardrobe. “NO!” my coach practically shouted. “You want them to watch you, not your blouse.” I laughed hysterically, then modified my choice significantly. (see below)
If you’re going to hire an expert to give you advice, take it.
My dear friend Sandy Weiner, to whom I report my goals 3x a week, offered me a slot at her Toastmasters Club in Stamford to give a dress rehearsal two days before showtime. She wrote to her Club President on my behalf asking if they could extend the meeting to those interested in hearing a speaker who’d been a long-time member of Toastmasters and who had gone onto professional speaking.
I was nervous before my speech that night. Toastmasters is a fantastic organization where you get to work on your presentation skills. They pay attention to more than your average audience would — like how many ah’s and um’s you say, what your vocal variety sounds like and what hand gestures you use. I was willing to allow that scrutiny for the chance to try out my material in front of a live and enthusiastic crowd. They were super-attentive and generous in their feedback. I appreciated every comment and suggestion and incorporated many into the final version that I delivered on 1/21.
In addition to these rehearsals, I scheduled time almost every day for 10 days to practice into my phone’s voice memo app reciting my message and pressing the keys for the slides over and over. While walking to and from destinations in the city, I’d listen back to my recordings.
I arrived early on the 21st to make sure my slides were working with the projector at the venue. I’d hired a videographer to record my talk for marketing and education purposes. I wanted to help him get set up so I could focus on my audience during my talk.
Point #1 in this entry – Hire and Trust Experts
I still get nervous, I still need help, and I still practice, practice, practice.
Point #2 – My new offer
Because my audience has become accustomed to my talks and workshops based on growing their entrepreneurial enterprises, I doubly wanted to make sure that my new subject matter came across loud and clear. I want to talk to women about their relationship with money. I have nearly 20 years of experience and over a thousand 1:1 experiences that have benefited others on this subject matter. I have tools, strategies, and most of all a deep appreciation of women’s issues around money (I had plenty of my own which I’ve overcome) and how to help them increase their comfort with this powerful medium. This is not about accounting or investing, but truly relationship work with an illusive commodity which you’ve dealt with since early childhood.
I am passionate about giving women an abundant skill set as well as providing a confidential, supportive and nurturing environment in which to learn.
I hope you’ll join me starting in March and/or refer a friend who would benefit by increasing her comfort on this subject.