With several presentations due this quarter in the CommLead program, public speaking is top of my mind. The Seattle Interactive Conference gave me a lot of food for thought as I watched presentations, Shingerviews, and booth banter. I caught up with Rand Fishkin, CEO of MOZ, and Adam Tratt, Co-Founder and CEO of Haiku Deck to discuss how they honed their excellent public speaking skills and got a few tips for all of us facing a presentation soon.
Rand Fishkin (@randfish), CEO of MOZ presenting at SIC2013 (Photo by Hanns-Peter Nagel)
I met with Rand after his talk, where he admitted that “I feel more at home on the stage than here at the booth. Being one-on-one is a little terrifying. Speaking to a group is much easier for me.” This frank self-admission is exactly the opposite to my preference–I’m much more comfortable at the booths than in front of a conference hall-sized crowd like the one he had just presented to. So I asked him how he got comfortable up there–so comfortable that he laughs and jokes freely and it is like we are all standing around a barbecue than at a conference with hundreds of people.
Rand’s secrets are:
Research. Prepare. Practice.
“I started speaking publicly in 2005 and for the first year or so, I was the typical nervous wreck. I tried to do a lot of preparation–make useful slide decks, watch other speakers, take short speaking slots on panels as opposed to solo talks, and so on.”
Choose Not to be Afraid
“In early 2006, I was invited to speak at a venture capital conference in Half Moon Bay. It was held at the fanciest hotel I’d ever been to (the Ritz Carlton), and the list of speakers was a “Who’s Who” of powerful, influential tech titans (people like Meg Whitman and Chris Anderson). My name looked ludcriously out of place on the list. But, when I got up to speak, I did a pretty good job. We landed some amazing startups as consulting clients (folks like Yelp and Zillow), and I had a realization that if I could get that talk right, I didn’t need to be afraid of public speaking ever again.”
“Now, my goal is simply to be the highest rated speaker wherever I present. I try to make slide decks that audiences find invaluable and reference again and again. I watch other speakers and try to pick up on what works for them and doesn’t, then apply that back to my own work. I still have a long way to go to be a truly remarkable public speaker, but it’s a long term goal of mine to have that as a core competency.”
BONUS: RAND’S SLIDE DECK FROM SIC2013
BONUS: SHINGERVIEW WITH RAND FROM MOZ