On July 23, 2015, I taught my very first class called “Three Ways Writing a Book will Impact Your Business.” I learned some very valuable lessons on presenting and what to change to make the next class better. I want to share with you these lessons so you can be the best speaker and expert that I know you are for your unique class you’re wanting to teach.
You cannot practice your speech too much. I rehearsed and practiced my speech and what I was going to say till I was blue in the face. I started to loathe the fact that I had to practice my speech again! I knew practice makes perfect, but I was so tired of hearing my own voice!
Let me tell you something: if I didn’t practice, I am pretty sure I would have been a mess while giving my presentation in front of ten people who were relying on me to be the expert. I fumbled around a few times, but I don’t think anyone caught on. I also was VERY nervous and I literally had to tell myself repeatedly, “Monica, you got this. You have practiced this speech over and over again. You know EXACTLY what you’re going to say!”
I am glad that I practiced as much as I did because when I told myself that I knew it, I felt more confident. Plus, since I had rehearsed so much, the information rolled off my tongue without me having to think too much about it.
So when you’re sick and tired of hearing your voice, don’t stop practicing! When you get in front of people, it’s a whole new different ball game, and all of your practicing will come to you more naturally.
When you mess up, no one knows. I messed up a few times. I forgot to mention something that was on my presentation slide and I forgot that we were all going to work on a worksheet during the class! I was so nervous that these were overlooked and I felt like an idiot.
But you know what? No one knew the difference. No one knew what I was going to say or how I was going to run the class. So when I messed up, only I knew. Yeah, I was nervous and this didn’t boost my confidence when I messed up (we can all agree that we are our own worst critics), but when my friend told me that no one knew I messed up (including her), I felt better.
You’re probably going to mess up and I’m here to tell you that it’s okay. No one knows what you was or wasn’t going to say, so only you know. It’s your secret. Another beautiful thing about this is that many people understand when you do mess up.
For example, some of the people in my class have spoken before and knew how it was to be the presenter for the first time. The people who have this experience told me, “It takes time. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it.” So remember this when you are giving your first presentation to a few strangers.
Be interactive. In my speech, I tried to get the people who attended the class to be interactive. It didn’t work. However, I think one of my problems was that I might have not given enough time for people to think of a response or I didn’t add, “Does anyone have an answer to this?” or something fun like that after my question. So here are some ideas that I’m going to try next time:
SAY IT AT THE BEGINNING. I should have started the class by saying something at the beginning like, “Feel free to answer any question I may throw out to you. I want this to be an interactive class for I am eager to hear your feedback!” My friend, Theresa, advised me to start off with the question, “What are you hoping to gain from this class?” or “Why are you here tonight?” Then make sure as I speak, I would answer these questions or concerns of the people in my class.
PAUSE. I feel like I should have paused longer to help people register the questions. Dana, my Toastmaster District Manager, had told me in the past that this was one of my weaknesses. I would ask questions without giving any pauses to allow people to think of a response. Give longer pauses for the process of question asking.
Break out into a brainstorming session. I am going to try to do this next time, but I am going to work on breaking out into sessions for the people in the class to converse with one another. Put it in your presentation (highlight it, circle it, do whatever you need to do so you won’t skim over it like I did) to break out into groups to work on something, such as a worksheet, mastermind, or brainstorming session. This would certainly encourage people to talk amongst the people within the room and they would see value in other people ideas and responses.
Be yourself. People are going to see YOU pop out into your presentation and they will love you. I had comment sheets for everyone to fill out at the end of my class and one question was what did they like about the presentation. Over half of my attendees said it was my enthusiasm that they liked. People can sense when you’re not showcasing yourself, so make the speech a part of your personality and people will see that your heart is in it and that cannot be beat.
Have fun and remember, you’re the expert. I want to encourage you in this because it’s important to have fun. When you’re having fun, that’s going to affect everyone else. People will sense that and will have fun with you. And remember that you’re the expert, you have done your researched and the leg work and you know what you’re talking about. Talk as if the sky is blue and the grass is green. Have confidence and showcase that authority even when you don’t feel it.
I hope this helped you, especially if you are about to have your first class or are wanting to teach a class in the very near future. If you have any questions or comments about teaching a class, please leave a comment below or email me at [email protected] and I would be more than happy to answer your question or give you any feedback that I can.