February 5, 2007

PowerTalk - public speaking extravaganza!

If you're ever in town during the weekend of PowerTalk, I highly recommend attending. This conference was chock-full of excellent speakers providing FREE training on various aspects of public speaking.

The sessions I attended were "Conquering the Fear of Public Speaking," presented by Grace Rachow, "PowerPoint Dos and Don'ts" by Frank Newton (and you know how I feel about PowerPoint), and "Audience Grabbers! Get Their Attention From the Start," presented by Keith Connes.

Each presenter brought her/his own unique style to the sessions as well as useful and practical content.

Grace has a natural and relaxed manner, working lots of audience interaction and dry humor into her presentation. She introduced an effective exercise for relaxing your body before a presentation, a very simple eyes-closed clenching and unclenching of the hands and/or feet that can be done anywhere while you're waiting in the wings to give your presentation.

Frank has an understated and gentle presentation style and voice, with a sly sense of humor that does not overpower his message. His approach to PowerPoint was in alignment with mine, so of course, he was brilliant. :-) The key point of Frank's presentation: brevity. The other key point: check your equipment before you begin! Mentioned twice for emphasis! He made the concept of PowerPoint simplicity easy to understand and appreciate.

Keith Connes brought a silly touch to his presentation that was perfectly in line with his topic of audience grabbers. At one point, he gave an example of a previous presentation of a tall tale, and as he spoke, he donned water wings and a rubber duckie to illustrate the ridiculous nature of the story. As I listened to his presentation, I reprimanded myself for deciding against bringing my angst-filled teen journals to illustrate part of my keynote. Oh well, next time! Keith's guidance on how to use humor, props, and surprise in a presentation was well-demonstrated. He joked about having written his speech right before it was delivered, and if this is true, he's my new hero!

I think this conference would be especially beneficial to people who are beginning to intermediate speakers, but I believe even the advanced speakers in the room benefited from all the workshops. I know I did.

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