BILTna 2017 Top Ten Speaker Chad Speas
I love to talk!
I’m an Architect…I have a perspective, or what’s better known as an opinion. I enjoy sharing my perspective in hopes that it will help others with their own struggles. I enjoy helping and pleasing others. I marry these two interests, talking and people, together in the form of public speaking. But, it takes more than passion to be a good presenter.
There are countless “how-to”s and discussions on improving your public speaking and presentation skills. Joe outlines some great ideas in his blog post . I’m going to dig a little deeper into how I put together a successful presentation and how I believe my approach helped me become a Top 10 speaker with my first presentation at BILT NA. You have to be prepared, know your audience, and know your subject matter. I think these are things all presenters can relate to. I’d like to take a different approach and share some of the intangible characteristics that I think make good speakers great.
There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance! It takes self-awareness to know when you are crossing from one side to the other. When I’m presenting, I want to be conscious of the audience. I must remember that I’ve gone over this presentation so many times, I can recite it in my sleep or even dream about it, which I’ve done! I need to continually remind myself that the audience is hearing it for the first time and the concepts need to be built upon at a basic level. It may seem obvious, but as a presenter, I don’t want to assume the audience knows what I’m talking about; it’s important to take the time to explain things. With that said, both simple and complex concepts need to be presented with confidence. When I present a concept, or respond to a question, I believe it is important that I stand firm and stand behind every word I state, and the information I am presenting.
Although my confidence often shines through, I’m self-aware enough to know that I’m not always the smartest person in the room. I’m honest with myself, I don’t know everything; however, I know a lot of people who know a lot of stuff. I use my network to get answers. When I’m presenting, I encourage interruptions and questions, even though I know there’s often one person in the session who wants to “stump the chump”. I try to be prepared for all questions, but I am willing to be honest and admit I don’t know it all. I’d rather tell an attendee “I don’t know the answer, but let me find out for you”, than feed them a line of garbage, and in the end, the information I give them is wrong. Often times, an honest “I don’t know” is better in the moment. I’ve found the audience appreciates this honesty.
It is important to be adaptable to any situation that can come up. Like a “stump the chump” question that can derail any good presentation, technology can go haywire, you can load the wrong slide deck, or make a last-minute change that doesn’t take. I find that all the preparation you can do won’t prepare you for the unknown catastrophes. I’ve been lucky that most things have gone well in my presentation experience, but I lean on my confidence to know I can get through any situation. Be honest with the audience; this is LIVE TV and things can, and will, go wrong. If you can adapt and tell jokes or be personable, often they’ll look past the little snafus and appreciate you made an effort.
LOGIC AND ORGANIZATION
Think about all the lessons you’ve been provided, or maybe classes you’ve taught, online videos you’ve watched, your favorite movie, or a favorite song. The ones you remember the most or like the best likely have a cadence, are clearly outlined, and have an order to them that makes sense and builds upon previous concepts. I was taught early in my career: a good presentation tells a story and has a crescendo! I still use this formula in all the presentations I create. I have a logical pattern to them, clearly state what we’re talking about, repeat each agenda item as a section, have the highlight moment about 2/3rds of the way through, and then wrap it up by repeating the agenda and objectives, closing it out gently. This logic kept everyone engaged and on board for the entire 75-minute session at BILT.
Not long ago, I was asked how I got into presenting…I set a plan and made it happen, targeted events I could get access to, and identified opportunities where I thought my topics would fit. I know that sounds a little arrogant and simplistic, but I can’t pinpoint the exact moment it all came together. I began by finding topics I was passionate about, had experience with, and had a real-world perspective on. I used my confidence, an honest approach to knowing what I know, an ability to adapt, and presenting clear, logical concepts that help me prepare for any speaking engagement. I was fortunate enough to achieve a Top 10 Speaker ranking this year at BILT NA. This was an amazing honor, especially considering it comes from the attendees. I hope to build on my speaking skills this year and return to share more ideas and improve our industry for years to come!