2 Things Introverts & Immigrants Can Do To Become Great Public Speakers
Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you KNOW how to do it.
A simple example is running. Yes, everyone can run but most people don’t know how to do it and that is one of the main reasons people get injured when doing so.
Also, most people won’t think they need to be taught how to run because they’ve been doing it their whole lives. They all think they know how to do it and most run as a hobby so they don’t see the need to learn how to improve.
Yet, with simple fixes, they could make running more valuable by making it less taxing for their bodies.
Another example of this situation is writing emails. Yes, everyone can write an email but most don’t know how to do it effectively and that is one of the main reasons companies are not as productive as they could be.
$900 billion is left on the table because of a productivity loss.
Again, most people won’t think they need to be taught how to write emails because they’ve been using that tool for most of their professional life.
Simple fixes would make lives easier for everyone and we wouldn't have the email overload that we currently have in our lives.
You know what other topic falls within the same category? It’s something that can make or break your career, you’ve been doing it for many years, and yet you might not know how to do it properly.
This is something that could help you be a better leader, it could help you land a promotion, close more sales, or make your family proud.
It’s something you did in high school, college, and you still might not have learned how to do it properly. It is not your fault because you were just doing what you were being told and what you saw everyone else doing.
We are talking about presentations and public speaking. Everyone can do it. Everyone can throw a bunch of pictures and text on some Powerpoint slides and then talk while they show the slides. Yet, there are few people who can deliver effective presentations.
But this has to stop. A boring presentation is a waste of time for everyone. In fact, you might have great value to offer and you are robbing the world of it by not presenting your value in the right way. Presenting it in a way that makes people care and do something about it.
Over the next few articles, we will share with you some of the simple tweaks you can make to define & achieve success on your own terms by becoming a better presenter.
The Mindset of The Presenter
In the next few weeks, we will go through the mechanics of a great presentation, i.e. how/where to stand, how to put together captivating slide decks, and more. Yet, for this week, we need to start at the very beginning, specifically, the mindset of a great presenter.
Let’s start with some social proof because you might be thinking, why are these two giving advice on presenting? Over the past decade, I was a fitness instructor where I would teach boot camp classes to packed rooms at 24-Hour Fitness, I taught at the University of Houston and Houston Community College, I routinely presented in front of small and large churches while working at a non-profit, and, now, Alejandro and I are paid to present on topics from digital marketing to networking. Does that make me an expert . . . no, but it does make me experienced. This experience can be passed on for you to become an excellent presenter.
When we are talking about mindset, we are developing the foundation for a great presentation. Yes, visuals, timing, a few solid jokes, and appropriate dress are all important. Yet, your mentality must be on point first. For any presentation, there is a simple secret which will help you wow a crowd.
Know your topic.
When I taught college, each one of my courses had a presentation component as a major grade. This was always an individual presentation based on research conducted over the course of the entire semester, the presentation was the final. I would not assign the topic, instead I would help students find a topic, use proper anthropological research techniques, and show them how to set up a presentation. Each semester, the fears were always the same. Students would not want to be in front of their classmates. Some were terrified.
Then something would happen.
A vast majority of the presentations were good with a few being truly great. Some of the most terrified students would email or come up to me at the end of the semester and let me know the presentation was much easier than expected. Why? The answer is simple. They spent 4.5 months studying their topic. They were the experts on the subject matter. Once they stood in front of the class they knew the material better than anyone else in the room. The presentation was them sharing their knowledge, and many of them were passionate about their topic.
I first started teaching college at 27. I am not talking about being a Teaching Assistant, this was as an Adjunct Instructor teaching Introduction to Anthropology at the University of Houston. Some of the students were only a few years younger than me. To say I was nervous on that first day would be an understatement. Before the first class, the head of my department and mentor pulled me aside and let me know, “you will be scared, and then you will realize you really know this stuff, then it will be easy.” She was right.
After talking for a minute or so, I realized I knew what I was saying and all the fears melted away. For you, the same needs to be true. You need to know your subject inside and out. If you are doing any presentation, research like you have never researched before. Become obsessed with your topic. Soon, you will know more than you could ever imagine. Ever been out with friends, and there is that one person who never shuts up about a specific subject? Become that person for your presentations.
Your mindset will transform from fear to excitement as you get to share what you have studied.
One of the biggest obstacles we face, when deciding to become a great presenter, is ourselves!
We have beliefs that hold us back. Thoughts such as “I have to be the best and most experienced person in a topic to talk about it” are the enemy, and we think so because we are afraid of someone questioning us.
Yet, what we have to understand is that mastery is about context. I might not be in the NBA, but I have no doubt that I can teach basketball to someone who has never played and wants to learn. I have 10+ years of experience playing competitive basketball and beginners have 0, that’s I gap that I could help bridge.
If I'm in a room full of people with 0-1 years of experience in basketball, I'm the expert. It is the same with any topic you might want to talk about. Find the people you can help and talk to them.
The problem is that as achievers we are always looking at the top of the mountain. We are always looking up and wanting to be like the best. Yet, we never take the time to rest and appreciate what we have accomplished.
To be a master, you have to keep a mindset of an apprentice. And one of the best ways to learn is to teach.
There are two things that you have to do so that you can be on your way to mastery:
Find the sources that best explain the principles and fundamentals
Disciplined practice of those principles and fundamentals
How do I know it works? Because I’m living proof that this process works. But it will only work for you if you work for it.
Two years ago I came to Houston, didn’t know anything about networking, and had trouble having conversations in English because I had to keep translating from Spanish to English in my head (and rehearsing to be sure I wasn’t saying things in the wrong tense, etc.).
Now, as Matt mentioned, I get paid to speak about topics such as Networking and Digital Marketing. These are topics that two years ago I didn’t know much about. Also, these are topics that I’m not the best in the world (yet). But those obstacles didn’t prevent me to find the sources that best explain the principles and fundamentals of those topics, such as:
And these are just a couple of the sources that I studied. The most important part is that I put these to practice with discipline and commitment. I’ve attended 200+ networking events, pitched stocks at a $10 million equities fund, done more than 6 improv comedy shows, and given many presentations in different settings (industry panels, workshops, etc.).
I was able to identify the challenges I had (to become a good presenter), designed a strategy to overcome these, and then executed the hell out of it!
This is coming from an introvert and non-native English speaker. If I did it, you can do it too.
Take Action TODAY
By now, if you are still reading this, you should be convinced that there is nothing in your way of becoming a great presenter. And doing so will allow you to advance your career. But for this advice to work, you have to do the work!
We have a great opportunity for you. Matt and I conduct a workshop called the NetworKings Bootcamp and we want to invite you. At the boot camp, you will learn the basics of how to open, maintain, and close conversations and networking events, and how to maintain those professional relationships.
This will be a great opportunity to face your fears and start challenging the status quo. Click here if you would like more information about what we do at the Networking Boot Camp.