I returned from a full 6 days of Academy adventure in Houston, TX recently, and I have to admit that I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect going into it. But it has been an incredible experience. I feel fortunate that the Academy’s Master Speaker School Workshop was scheduled along with our Peak Performers Program meetings. Not only did I once again get to sit in on the Academy Peak Performers’ transformative discussions, I also had the opportunity to see Academy Members and staff attorneys in the spotlight with noted trainer of advanced speaking skills Amy Mead at work.
Despite hearing all the good things people had to say about the first workshop we had in June of this year, I realize now that I didn’t really “get it” before experiencing it for myself. Amy’s expertise and poise are unparalleled, and the nuances she picks up on during individual coaching sessions are mind-opening surprises. Here’s a small taste of what participants and observers were exposed to:
The Academy has always emphasized the importance of your ‘Why,’ but being able to express it in a way that emotionally moves your audience is an art. Whether sharing what we call the Defining Moments of your life or a background story that ultimately sculpted you and got you to where you are now, be sure to present it in a way that feels raw and captivates the audience. This can be a scary thing for those who aren’t used to opening up and sharing such intimate details of their lives, but if you can get down to the heart of WHY you do what you do and show it, your audience will be invested in you.
One of the key takeaways during the workshop was to “act as if.” Are you feeling extremely nervous and anxious before presenting to a crowd? Act as if you’re the most confident person in the world, and your confidence, rather than nerves, will shine through. Confident in your presentation but worried about how your audience will perceive you? Act as if every person in the audience is a friend who’s there to genuinely support you, and your audience will feel that connection with you. Use the power of imagination to set your inner experience so it reflects outwards—imagine who you want to be, focus on the feeling that image brings up in you, allow the feeling to fill your body and then act from it.
You control the room. From the physical aspect of staging to the mental aspect of audience engagement, the presentation is yours and yours only. If you’re using a screen for a PowerPoint presentation, consider placing it off to one side so that YOU are the main focus. Use the stage fully, but instead of wandering back and forth, move with intention to emphasize a point or introduce a new topic. Make your presentation more interactive by asking for a show of hands with a question, and remember to raise your own hand to initiate the audience participation. Do you ever get interrupted with a question from the audience? Take control and ask them to jot it down so they don’t forget and save it for the end.
Many more tips and techniques were covered during the workshop, but one thing to keep in mind above all else is to be PRESENT—be authentic with yourself and with your audience. And on the way to that, “practice, practice, practice,” and don’t be afraid to get messy with it!
Are you an Academy Member who’s interested in learning more about how you can take your presentation skills to the next level? Be sure to contact your Practice Building Consultant to learn more.
I now feel more emotionally connected with all of our Speaker School participants and am eager to hear about their results from implementing what they learned during the workshop. So if that’s you out there, don’t forget to share how you’re doing!
Peak Performers Project Manager
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555
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