Tag Archives: celebrity media training

Delivered the Big Speech at INBOUND

So, it happened. I finally delivered the Big Speech at INBOUND, the one I’d been working on for what seemed like forever and bringing you along with me through my process and struggles. Then, Boom! the event was here and it was the moment of truth.

So, how’d it go, you wonder?

Great! Just great! (Here is a video of the presentation I recorded. Quality is not great, but you’ll get the idea.)

The people were as engaged as any group would be after having just seen former First Lady Michelle Obama deliver her big speech on the main-stage.  I’d thought that would make me more nervous and truth to tell, it did during the lead-up. But then, once I was in the room, and the people began filing in and I saw how happy and energized everyone was, it ultimately made my job easier. I just had to keep them that way and my meticulous planning did exactly that.

Still, as I confided in my previous posts (here, here, here, and here), since it was a new topic, it was untested. I didn’t know whether my stories would resonate, whether they’d laugh in the right places, or whether I’d be able to convert them.

I didn’t know whether I’d pass my own, high-stakes “waiting-in-line” test.

So I’m thrilled to report it all worked out. At the same time, I learned a few things. Here they are:

  1. The next time I follow a famous person, I’ll remember how they warmed up the audience for me and I’ll be grateful instead of worried.
  2. My writing and ideas for content for a big speech were validated. After so many years of experience, I generally know what people will like and what they won’t, what will make them laugh and what will make them think, but again, untested is untested, so time to exhale.
  3. They won’t always laugh in places I might expect and that’s due to the nature of the audience. The more different types of audiences I have under my belt, the better I’ll be able to judge.
  4. Keeping things short is my biggest frustration and took the most time during the endless preparation process. I was still cutting until about 2 hours prior and I generally don’t advise that. But they actually had it set up so speakers could make last minute revisions, so I was glad I took advantage of it.
  5. Based on the response, I was the only one who missed the things I cut and I will save them for a longer talk.
  6. My slides were awesome because I had them designed by a pro. They were extremely visual with very little text. I got a lot of compliments on them.
  7. I used a variety of media. So not only images, but props, GIFs and videos, too. There was very little text.
  8. I wore a cool new outfit and wore stylish, but comfortable shoes. (for the PA Conference, I wore ridiculous shoes, which I’m returning.)

Oh, and through a giveaway they could receive by texting a keyword to a code, I captured about 60% of the over approximately 1100 people who saw me. Not a bad conversion rate.

Practice + Experience (really does) = Spontaneity.

Now I have a hot, new, well-received topic I can bring elsewhere confident people will enjoy it and get the outcomes they came for.

And I am confident you can, too.

Finished My Big Speech!

It’s done. Finally. Yes, I have finished the big speech. Now I’m in practice mode, saying it over and over, repeatedly, so even if the technology goes down, I’ll be able to give my audience what they came for. The slides are due today in fact, so I couldn’t change it even if I wanted to.

I did a lot of cutting. I was reminded during this process that although it hurts at first, soon enough, I don’t miss the darlings I had to kill.

But here’s the rub…

I’m bored with it. I wonder if people will be engaged. Will they laugh at the funny stuff? Will the technology go south? Will I forget something important? Will the videos play? Will it meet the audience’s expectations?

I can’t seem to work up the enthusiasm I once had during the creative process. On the other hand, people tell me it’s very good. I also know intellectually, that once I get up there with the audience in place to engage with and the adrenaline flowing, it’ll all be fine.

Emotionally, however, it’s hard to internalize. I know it will work, but I don’t feel it. Not yet.

At this point, I have been trying to put some space between it and me. There was an entire week when I didn’t bother with it at all. Then when I got back to it, I felt rusty. Ugh! So, I’ve committed to myself to run it every weekday, and starting on the 20th (exactly a week before) every day.

If it sounds like I torture myself, you’re right, I do. It’s work of art… I’m creating an experience, delivered in a particular way that will make people feel something. I want them to leave better than they entered.

The truth is, I won’t know if it will do what I hope it will do until it’s done. Now that I can get excited about. I can’t wait for that. As Michael Caine said, “Rehearsal is the work. Performance is the relaxation.

I’m ready for that.

Killing my babies

I have to start killing my babies.

I’m happy to report the big speech – the one where I’ll be sharing the stage with Michelle Obama – is about 75% there. I’ve practiced it out loud a lot. I’ve gotten my designer to create some kick-ass slides. It’s really coming together.

But… I have to admit, it’s still too long and I’m having a very hard time cutting content. You might even say I’m stuck. So I’ve been asking people I respect for their input and will discuss with my coach, who has been a big help. In fact he is the one who said, “it’s hard to kill your babies.”

The problem is my perception is skewed. I think my audience has to have everything I’ve created so far. I like the way it flows. In fact, I’ve fallen in love with the speech as it is. Kind of like the Narcissus myth who looked in the water admiring his own reflection until he fell in and drowned. Like Narcissus, if I don’t cut it down, a similar fate will befall me.

I have gotten rid of some of the content, but I still must dispense with about 10 more minutes – that’s a good two sections… but which ones? I’m stuck.

I have 45 minutes to deliver the speech and technically, time-wise, I’m under that. But my goal is to do it in 30 so there is plenty of time for Q & A. No one ever objects to a presentation ending in less time than promised, and I believe the days of long presentations – those that exceed 30 minutes – are over. And frankly, there is nothing I have to say that cannot be said in 30 minutes flat.

Another thing I have to figure out is where and how I include my own story… these are the best ways to connect with any audience. I need to figure out which of my major screw-ups is the best one to include. I asked my daughter, Britt, today, in fact, and she had some good ideas, one of which I’m going to try to develop.

So, here is the truth: I. Am. Stuck. I have to kill some of my babies and I don’t know which ones and I have to figure out which personal story to include.

By writing this ezine this month, I’m making a public promise that by next week, I’ll have reduced it to that half-hour. I hope you’ll hold me accountable. I’ll be working with my coach to see what he thinks I should get rid of and what personal story to include. I’ll abide by it. I’ll still love the babies I keep.