I recently took a step into the unknown by doing a 4Sight spot at 4Networking. For those of you unfamiliar with the 4N set-up, the 4Sight is a twenty-minute slot in each meeting in which a member – either a regular or visitor – gives a talk on a topic of interest. The only rule is that it mustn’t be a sales pitch. Otherwise, it can be anything from briefing on new legislation to demonstrating how to make cocktails (one of the rare occasions when it was an advantage to be a non-driver).
There are plenty of advantages in giving a 4Sight. It makes you more visible and more interesting, which has to be a good thing in networking. It can also help improve your presenting skills.
I eased myself in by giving my first presentation to the Ware group at Hanbury Manor, the venue and people I’m most accustomed to. It’s not a situation I’m experienced in, though. I’ve been well used in the past to being in front of an audience delivering performance poetry, but there’s something unnerving about having to stand there and just talk, with all eyes on me.
I did a talk on tips to improve written communication. The challenge wasn’t to think of what to say, since I could have talked about the subject for hours (though I wouldn’t answer for the condition of the audience’s brains at the end), but to tailor it into an entertaining and informative twenty minutes.
The secret is to devote lots of time to preparation and rehearsal – and, needless to say, the couple of weeks leading up to the day were just when all my clients decided they wanted a lot of work done, all at the same time. Which was wonderful, of course, and I’d never complain about having work to do, but it did mean I only managed to scrawl a few notes and run through a couple of times on the day before.
Nevertheless, it seemed to work. I didn’t lose my way, people seemed interested and there were a lot of questions and discussions at the end. If I’m invited to do a repeat performance elsewhere, I think I’ll feel a lot more sure of myself.
I might even go further. One or two people have asked me in the past whether I do courses on writing or how to put a blog together. I certainly don’t have any plans to do anything about that in what’s left of this year, but who knows next year? Maybe I’ll find myself with a sideline of training business colleagues in effective writing.
Not a bad twenty minutes’ work.