Live Blog: Speaking 101, Lee Copeland, STAREAST 2014

Cameron Philipp-Edmonds's picture

The first key to success for any endeavor, whether it be speaking publicly or any other task, is to start on time. And that is just what Lee Copeland of Software Quality Engineering did. He began his presentation precisely at five-thirty p.m. eastern daylight savings time to a room full of attendees here at STAREAST 2014 in Orlando, Florida.

He covered the speaker selection process for various conferences and how the methods he uses for picking the speakers is a good method to use internally when giving speeches yourself.

The first question that should always be asked is what the big message is for the audience. Do you have a big message? Take a quick moment for reflection. If you don’t have a big message, or worse yet, you have 63 of them, then maybe you need to reconsider your ideas and focus before speaking in front of anyone.

If you have a big message but don’t know how to express it or you are having trouble developing content for your message, determine your message and then build around it, not the other way around. When building your content, strive for a consistent look and feel, and illustrate your ideas.

Make sure the focus of your presentation is on your message, not your slides. Make sure the audience isn’t distracted by images, blocks of texts and extraneous details, or by errors in information or grammar. If nothing else, you want to leave a presentation with the audience not having a reason to think you don’t care or you are inept.

If you’re nervous about it, you aren’t alone. People make mistakes. That is just the world we live in. Even great speakers get nervous from time to time. Lee Copeland explained how avoids nerves before speaking, “I come into a session believing you are all my friends and we’re just here to have a chat.”

Lee Copeland offers the advice that if you’re nervous then you should speak a little louder and slow down your speech. Remember that everyone wants you to succeed; no one came to see you fail. And don’t forget that you are in control always. Even when you are in the Q/A portion of a presentation, you still have the reigns.

Be yourself. The worst thing you can do is try to be someone else. If you are a phony in how you present yourself, people will think your message is phony too. If you’re a storyteller, tell stories. If you are a jokester, tell jokes. But remember, even though it may be interesting or clever, if it isn’t pertinent to your message then take it out. And whatever you do, watch your mouth. Don’t just avoid cursing, also avoid political and religious tones statements. They don’t add value. Even if they do, and chances are they don’t, the value added is never worth the risk of sabotaging your whole presentation.

Some last pieces of advice from Lee were to avoid standing still. But when you move around, give every move a purpose.

Practice as much as you can. Learn. Observe. One of the best things you can do is to listen to a good speaker who speaks a language you don’t understand. Because you can’t hear the content, you will be forced to focus on the interaction, the energy, and the experience.

That’s right. Don’t just give a speech, make it an experience. After all that is what brought everyone here to see Lee Copeland speak. No matter what the topic is, he always makes his speeches into an experience.