We have a lot of public speaking engagements coming up in the coming months, between the E-Tourism & E-Marketing Conference in Cairo on December 18th and TBU in Umbria, this April, we have our work cut out for us to make sure that we share the most important information that we can during our presentations to the international travel industry and our peers.
Keith Jenkins of Velvet Escape is a respected speaker and presenter in the travel world sharing his knowledge of business and the tourism industry with everyone from travel bloggers to PR professionals and tourism boards. We are thrilled to have him share his advice on how to prepare and present a presentation in your area of expertise. So take it away Keith!
How to Do a Presentation
If someone had told me two years ago that I would one day be speaking at conferences, I would have laughed it off with a “Yeah, right!”. Oh, wait a minute, someone did tell me a few years ago that I should look into public speaking – the argument was that my ‘investment banker to blogger entrepreneur’ background would be an inspiring story to tell.
That suggestion was met with a pursed-lipped “Hmmmm” and a shake of my head. The thing that held me back was that I’ve never felt comfortable standing in front of a crowd. I have plenty of experience chairing a meeting or presenting a product to a client but standing in front of a hundred people (or more) and talking was a daunting idea.
As time passed and my blog grew, it gradually dawned on me that the experiences I’d gained from creating the Velvet Escape brand, building the blog and marketing it via social media would be useful to others. Moreover, I realised that speaking in public is a great way to market my brand and reach out to a new audience.
It’s something I had to do if I wanted to take my brand further. I decided to test the waters by organising blogging seminars in Amsterdam and it was quite a revelation to discover that I quite enjoy speaking in public.
At my first seminar, I used little cards which contained my notes. I held these in my hands as I spoke but I threw them out before the second seminar – they were too distracting and made me feel uneasy. I figured I didn’t need the cards anyway because I knew the subject matter inside-out.
This was my first lesson: you know the story, tell it naturally. Discard anything that prevents you from telling the story in a natural manner. So, I stood in front of the room and simply talked, using only my slides on the wall as a guide.
The seminars were an excellent way to learn about my own speaking capabilities and test various techniques. Since then, I’ve spoken at seminars and conferences such as Travel Bloggers Unite, GoMedia Canada and most recently, at the World Travel Market in London.
Public speaking is an excellent way to showcase your expertise and generate exposure for your blog outside your usual circles. It’s also an opportunity to create an alternative source of income. There are many subjects that travel bloggers can speak about and there are various types of audiences that can be targeted.
Experienced travel bloggers can target other bloggers and talk about blogging techniques, writing, photography, social media or SEO. If you have an inspiring story to tell, with thought-provoking anecdotes, you could approach schools or companies looking for motivational speakers.
For those who are thinking of speaking in public for the first time, I‘ve listed below some tips based on my own experience. One thing that always helps me is not to treat the presentation as a ‘presentation’ but merely as a ‘story-telling’ session – you’re there to tell a story you know very well.
Putting myself in this frame of mind relaxes me and gives me an extra confidence boost – this is a mental technique I used very often at interviews during my banking days.
- Choose a topic you’re perfectly comfortable with and which reflects your expertise
- I still use Powerpoint for my slides but there are other, more sophisticated programs in which to create a presentation
- Keep the text on your slides concise
- Use images that are relevant
- ‘Rehearse’ the story in your mind as you create the slides. Make notes.
- Dress appropriately – you are representing your brand!
- Decide beforehand if you want to hold on to your notes. Some speakers feel more comfortable holding something in their hand, be it their notes, the microphone or a cup of tea (the last has the added advantage of being warm, i.e. relaxing, and it helps to create a casual atmosphere). Most importantly, do what makes you feel comfortable
- Choose a good spot to stand where you’re in full view of your audience. It’s advisable to move around but don’t overdo it – it may make your audience dizzy!
- Look out for friendly faces in different sections of the audience. Spread your attention evenly across the room by moving your gaze from one friendly face to another
- Effective body language is paramount to the success of your presentation. Stand tall, move confidently and look your audience straight in the eye. Remember, you’re the expert! Keep your hand gestures to a minimum – use your hands sparingly to drive home a point. Don’t forget to smile!
- Speak up but vary the tone of your voice to avoid monotony. As with hand gestures, use a different tone to drive home a point
- As you speak, make occasional references to your slides on the wall
- Interact with your audience by soliciting a response through a joke (if this works, great. If it doesn’t, you’ll be the only one laughing so be careful with jokes), a reference to someone in the audience or by asking a question.
After your presentation, try to get some feedback from the audience about the subject matter and how they think the presentation went. Ask if they have any take-aways from the presentation. Use this feedback to improve your presentation and the style in which it’s delivered.
Keith Jenkins is available to speak at conferences or conduct seminars on utilising social media for branding, networking and marketing purposes; travel blogging (branding, monetising, working with travel bloggers); his experiences in promoting destinations via social media and blogging. Speaking engagements in 2011 include:
Blue Badges tour guides, London, Travel Bloggers Unite, Manchester, Social Media, Girona, Travel Bloggers Unite, Innsbruck, Go Media Canada, Edmonton, World Travel Market, London