When I started giving presentations back in 2008, it didn’t occur to me that the act of public speaking is a skill in and of itself. That’s probably because my focus at the time was really just getting the nerve to speak in front of people well enough to do my topic justice.
As I presented more, and watched great presentations, I started to realize that if I wanted to inspire or start discussion, I’d have to do more than just talk about a topic in front of a bunch of people.
But I wasn’t quite sure what. I could see what talented public speakers were doing, but I wasn’t sure how they were doing it.
And then along came Derek Featherstone’s site, Seize the Room. Derek is a seasoned public speaker and teacher who I’ve long admired for his ability to educate, entertain and connect. On Seize the Room, Derek shares tidbits and tips from his years of experience.
The information is fantastic on so many levels. For one, so much of it is common sense. But the kind of common sense that you don’t have until someone tells you about it. The Power of Why, for example, emphasizes the importance of continually asking questions, such as, “Why do you want me to speak, and what specifically do you want me to talk about?” Or, “What are your goals for this event?”
Basic questions. The kind that might even seem obvious, but ones I certainly didn’t ask when starting out.
The other reason I love Seize the Room is that the information is relatable. In Lucky Pants, Derek talks about getting in the zone before a presentation by following a routine. For him, it happens to include a favorite pair of pants. For me, I’ve got a “lucky jacket,” my own little go-to routine to get me prepared. And a routine I didn’t even acknowledge until I read Derek’s post.
Lastly, Seize the Room is practical. So much of what Derek shares is about actual things you can do right now to make your presentations better:
- Customizing your presentations to the event and audience
- Adjusting your presentations based on audience feedback that you can mine from Twitter
- Using keystrokes in Keynote
I often revisit the site as part of my early prep for a presentation, as a reminder of the key things I want to do. Seize the Room isn’t on a regular publishing schedule, so I stay up-to-date via RSS. And every new post is a gem I get excited about and can implement in my own public speaking.