Skip to main content

Meetups, discussions and pitch events: 5 tips for speaking success


Meetups, discussions and pitch events: 5 tips for speaking success

By May 5, 2016No Comments

As if starting a business or crafting an idea through to product stage is not hard enough, you have to talk about it too? Few founders, technologists, inventors – or frankly people with ideas worth sharing, will go through their career without having to get up in front of people and explain the ins and outs of a new product, their origin story or give their opinion on what is next in innovation. A good job at speaking can spread that idea of yours far more than a night of cold calling can do, so how do you make the most of it?

1) Realise your talk is about giving not taking
Tip from Simon Sinek
Being relevant, and having people really connect with your talk is not about finding the best way to artfully wrap your latest Medium article/startup/venture in enough of an idea that people are tricked into caring. It is about coming to the table with something that people genuinely want insight on, it is about giving something of value.

“We are highly social animals,” says Sinek. “Even at a distance on stage, we can tell if you’re a giver or a taker, and people are more likely to trust a giver — a speaker that gives them value, that teaches them something new, that inspires them — than a taker.” Via Entrepreneur

2) Know your audience
Speaking in front of a room of time poor innovators/startup wranglers? They are more interested in the doing than the listening, so keep it short, sweet and to the point. If you need to, show the value up front then do so “we are going to touch on the 5 steps you need to get to your series A” rather than keeping it open ended. And if you can, lay out the time expectations and format you plan to follow.

Speaking to a room of curious humans, who might merely be interested in innovation? Or perhaps looking at crafting a startup? Feel free to be more fluid and more focussed on a story than getting down to the nitty gritty.

3) There is more than one style of talk…find yours
I remember distinctly being in the car with my husband listening to a podcast and having to turn it off ten minutes in because the podcaster was trying to be Ira Glass from This American Life. If you can belt out a TED like talk with conviction then more power to you, but if that is not your authentic voice don’t push it. There are so many ways to speak, and so many ways to deliver a story – there has to be an element of finding your groove. Don’t believe me?

I bring you Nat Cheshire.

A wonderful, talented, slightly lispy man who speaks in a relentless tone but brings grown people to tears with his passionate speaking about a subject he loves.

4) Throw em a bone’
Make it easy for the audience to love you. If you are a people person, make eye contact. Not a people person, don’t make eye contact and maybe even mention it [one of my fav moments at a talk was when the speaker admitted she was not overly fond of people or public speaking]. Do not forget to go in with your A-game, having prepared, gone through what you are going to say and having tested it out on a few of your friends. Last but by no means least, people like videos with cute kids, animals and the odd bit of cheese.

5) Remember they want to be there
I have a list of tips from TED speaker coach Gina Barnett filed away, and one of the stand out tips is remember they like you. These people you are speaking to, they are here because they want to hear what you have to say “they want you to have a good time up there, they want to hear your ideas, even if they don’t agree with them, and they want you to succeed.” Truth.

Anya is the brand and communications wrangler for GridAKL with a fondness for listening to, and partaking in public speaking. Find her on twitter here.