Any form of presentation, speech or address no matter how long or short it is can be challenging and nerve racking, particularly if you are not use to standing on your feet and talking in front of an audience. I am very fortunate in that I have been doing presentations and conducting training programs for many years, so I have got use to the challenge and nerves or butterflies in the stomach that always emerge and swell up inside of you in the days, hours and minutes before you speak.
The challenges, nerves and butterflies are always a good thing for me in so much as it gets my adrenaline working and allows me to channel my energy and enthusiasm into what I want to say and the message I have been asked to deliver. However, I have never really thought very deeply about how much of my energy it takes to do any form of public speaking.
Just recently I had the pleasure of speaking at a conference about the key success factors in business and as usual in the weeks and days prior to my presentation I spent considerable time researching and reviewing what I wanted cover, as well as preparing the structure and content of what was an hour and a quarter presentation.
When I was young, my mother and father regularly said to me that 'the early bird catches the worm', so as I have always done, I arrived early at the conference centre so that I could make sure that everything I needed for my presentation was on hand and check out the venue, as well as prepare myself for my presentation. This completed, I then had time to speak to a number of the delegates who had also arrived earlier than the scheduled starting time of my presentation.
I have always measured the level of success of my presentations by the applause and comments that I receive from those people in the audience. On this occasion I spoke in the session leading up to the morning break, so after the applause had ended and the MC thanked me, I had the opportunity to personally speak to nearly all of the delegates.
The last delegate I spoke with greeted me by taking my hand, shaking it and saying how much she enjoyed my presentation, and that she had got of lot of helpful and practical tips to use in her business. For some reason as we continued to talk she did not let go of my hand and then placed her other hand just above my wrist and increased the pressure of her hand shake, whilst gently squeezing my arm with her other hand.
She went on to say that I had put so much of myself into the presentation that she hoped that my energy levels would not suffer for the rest of the day and she wanted in some way to return the energy I had given out. She smiled at me whilst she said this and then let go of my hand and went to join her colleagues for morning tea.
Usually an hour or so after any presentation that I give, I feel quite exhausted and I know that this is directly related to what I put into what I do and the up shot of using a lot of nervous energy, however, on this occasion, the opportunity for me to receive the words of thanks from the delegates gave me a genuine lift and recharged my batteries. The icing on the cake that gave me an even bigger energy lift was the words of support and encouragement from the delegate with the very firm handshake.
This experience at the end of my presentation also made me realise that what we give out in life can come back to us and equally, we all need and value receiving positive feedback and praise when and where it is warranted and deserved.
A business associate who works in the field of leadership and people development refers to the word 'Praise' as an acronym for - People Really Are Into Sensational Efforts, and he goes on to say that all people need is regular praise and encouragement for them to reach new heights in all aspects of their personal and business life.
As I drove away from the conference I reflected on how fortunate I had been to receive all those words of appreciation and praise for what I had done that morning and how refreshed and energised I felt.
Inspired by a firm handshake and all the genuine words of appreciation and praise.
Written by Keith Ready
This story appeared in InspirEmail No 86 - June 5, 2006