Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Communication Pro

Latina History Day Conference: Public Speaking Tips

On March 9th,  I had the opportunity to be a speaker during the 21st Annual Latina History Day conference. The sold out event had over 750 women from all over southern California that are transforming, living, learning and leading in our communities.

I delivered a 45 minute seminar on Money Management to an audience of about 50 women. Over a third of the women were program managers or staff of non-profit organizations, the rest were mostly young college graduates. I could easily relate to the women having had experience in non-profit and of course, experience transitioning from young college graduate to career woman.

With an audience so large, I was planning to use a PowerPoint with approved content from my company's financial education material. I was informed that the presentation would be loaded and ready when I arrived. But as luck would have it, there wasn't a computer in the room!

Which brings me to my first public speaking tip: Always come prepared with a Plan B in case technology fails you.

Plan B when working with PowerPoint:
I was able to have a successful and engaging presentation even without my PowerPoint because I came prepared with helpful notes.

Rather than printing off the PowerPoint presentation with the notes page, prior to my presentation, I created a 2-page cheat sheet that I planned to reference with my presentation. In my notes, I titled each slide a name that matched the general theme of that particular slide. Below the title, I included short hand of the key points corresponding to the slide.

Here is an example:

Slide 3: Knowing your net worth
· Net worth = Assets - Liabilities (define each)
· Use the "Google maps" analogy
The "Google Maps" analogy is where I asked the audience what is the first step when you use Google maps to find directions to where you want to go? The audience responded by saying you enter your current location. I wanted the audience to think about this because likewise, when talking about meeting financial goals, you have to begin by knowing where you stand--knowing your net worth.

My second public speaking tip: Use analogies to introduce potentially complex concepts.

Throughout my presentation, I made use of analogies which the audience could easily relate to. I kept with the map analogy as I transitioned into setting goals--or setting your destination. This analogy seemed to work well and I saw a lot of nodding heads.

When you are a young college graduate struggling to pay off loans on a starting salary, the idea of saving money can be quite daunting just like the idea of running 26 miles. I used the analogy of becoming a marathon runner by sharing personal accounts of how I began running by struggling desperately to run 2 miles once a week. After a lot of work, time and practice, I was able to extend those 2 miles into 26 by completing a marathon. I could tell that I had the audience's attention and perhaps they felt motivation to begin saving.

When my presentation was over, several of the women came to speak to me to share how much they enjoyed my presentation. Despite the minor setback of the PowerPoint, due to the time I invested preparing and my use of analogies, I felt I was successful.

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