It is still very ironic to me that I’ve gotten to a point in my life and career where I present and speak on a regular basis. I could not have been any more shy growing up. Additionally, I had a HUGE fear of public speaking. Fast forward many years later, I currently present and speak on a monthly basis, providing continuing education for the fitness community and corporate wellness seminars/keynotes. So how the heck did I get here?
Throughout our lives, we are often drawn to situations that make us confront our fears. As I entered the fitness industry and jumped down the rabbit hole of movement based training, I became so engrossed and passionate about it that it helped take away my fears.
Since I often get asked how one gets into public speaking, I’d like to share what I’ve learned about presenting and best practices to break in.
Presenting To Exercise Science Students At Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL.
Find Your “Thing”
The best presenters in the world have honed their skills on their particular interest and skill set. Get to know your product/subject of interest and feel super comfortable and confident speaking about it.
The best in the world at what they do have their niche:
- Eric Cressey is known for the shoulder and working with baseball players.
- Dana Santas has hit national notoriety for mobility training.
- Josh Henkin is linked to The Ultimate Sandbag product.
- Mike Fitch has taken Animal Flow and bodyweight training to new heights.
And the list goes on. Think about all the experts that you can and there’s a good chance you will say that he/she is known for something specific. Some will call it “staying in your lane.”
This doesn’t mean that Eric Cressey wouldn’t know what to do with a basketball player, Dana Santas doesn’t know about strength training, Josh Henkin isn’t familiar with other tools, and that Mike Fitch isn’t knowledgeable about lifting weights. They have done their due diligence to become true experts and have found much success in their lane of focus.
As you work hard and stay focused on learning as much as you possibly can about your particular topic, find someone who knows more and has more experience. Soak up as much information you can from this expert. Offer to help them. Ask them if you can help them set up their next workshop, advertise and market, and shadow whenever possible. You also want to learn all the behind the scene elements of what goes into putting on a successful event.
What are the three ways to get into Carnegie Hall?
#1 – Practice
#2 – Practice
#3 – Practice
This old cliché is a good one and goes for everything in life.
- Practice in front of your mirror.
- Practice in front of your friends, family, and anyone who is willing to sit in front of you.
- Practice by taking some improv classes.
- Practice by taking public speaking classes.
- Practice by filming yourself, review it, and have others review it as well.
You should always feel like you are improving, evolving, and honing your skills.
Pay Your Dues
Starting out, you need to be knocking on a lot of doors. Reach out to organizations and affiliations that you can see yourself presenting in front of and providing value to their audiences. Maybe you reach out to gyms in the area and ask if you can speak to their staff for whatever time they can allot. Even if they only offer you 5 minutes, take it!
Have a PDF outline of what you will offer and learning objectives. Try to get yourself on video so the potential client has something to refer to visually as well. Below is an example I did for kettlebell training:
You may be asked to speak for free and/or pay for your own travel/hotel. No long lasting success comes without grinding out your first several years. I am by no means condoning working for free, but early on, you take what you can get.
You may set up events and/or workshops where no one shows up or attendance is minimal. Use it as a learning experience. Think about what you could have done better, and keep setting up more events (learning how to market, advertise, network is a whole other article in and of itself). Whether you are talking in front of 1 person or 100 people, the passion and work ethic remains the same.
Be Both Persistent & Patient
If you are looking to represent a company or product, they may not need or want any additional employees at the moment. Keep holding yourself to the highest standard possible, keep getting a deeper understanding of your lane of interest, patiently wait, and keep yourself on the top of their minds.
Try to get yourself out and in front of people as much as possible. Submit yourself for conferences that have a call for presenters – if nothing else these organizations become familiar with your name. Below is an example of a ViPR workshop I did for Florida Atlantic University:
Gotta Start Somewhere
- Get really good and knowledgeable about what you want to speak about
- Find a mentor who can help you grow and learn from him/her
- Start practicing as much as you can
- Put yourself out there
- Have the perseverance, patience, and work ethic that puts you in the right places at the right times
My public speaking career is still in its infancy, and I am excited for what’s ahead. In a world where we are so connected digitally, the art of connecting with people face to face is a great way for us to be present and truly connect in a way like no other.
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