Earlier this week, I learned that I was accepted as a moderator and speaker for the upcoming COMPTEL conference in October. The session is called, “Enabling the Mobile Worker Using Hosted Communications,” a subject with which I have great familiarity and interest. Clearly, it is an opportunity for me to represent ANPI, but it is also an opportunity to inform about the measurable benefits of developing and supporting an effective mobile workforce.
It is estimated that work-at-home, telecommuting workers or those working outside of the office (sales, travelers, etc.) make up nearly 30% of the US workforce, according to The American Community Survey. Given the time and number of employees outside the office, it becomes very important that they are productive, work-enabled and can collaborate with their co-workers. 159.8 million people own smartphones, according to comScore, which means that a majority of workers have an IP-enabled device that supports instant messaging, presence and video conferencing. Consequently, communicating and providing company information anytime, anywhere, via any device is already possible with little to no CAPEX required. Moreover, Webtorials found that enterprises could restore $5,000 in lost productivity per employee per year with Unified Communications and integrated mobility.
So, yes, I am very excited by the opportunity to express my thoughts on this topic. And since others have been generous enough to consider me a good speaker, I thought it might be useful to provide some keys to becoming a successful speaker.
First, prepare, prepare and prepare again. Understand your subject well. People are interested in listening to someone that is imparting new information based upon research and facts.
Second, add anecdotal information in the form of stories and experiences. These reinforce data in ways familiar to your audience. Many speakers like to add jokes and stories unrelated to the primary topic. Since I give mostly industry/technology-related presentations, I focus on remembering and developing stories that support my understanding of the subject at hand.
Third, take the time to see your audience. Your eyes should stop moving and seem to focus on an individual or area for about five seconds before moving to another area. Eyes that flitter, or people who are constantly in motion, make it difficult for the audience to concentrate on what they are saying.
Fourth, give the audience a chance to participate. Ask a question during your presentation, pause and give the audience time to think of a potential answer – then answer the question by continuing your presentation. If you are engaged in true question and answer, listen carefully to the question, repeat the question so the entire audience knows what was asked, then begin the answer by addressing the questioner. After 10-15 seconds, shift your eyes or body away from the questioner and continue answering it for the broader audience. This keeps the entire audience engaged.
Fifth, respect the amount of time you were assigned. Do not ever run long, and do your best to fill the time allotted. You have been invited to be part of an event, and there is a set agenda/schedule. It is always disrespectful to run long, and the apologies you make to the audience and fellow speakers that follow are normally not accepted.
Finally, speak often and, if necessary, practice. Great speakers are not born; they improve with every opportunity given.