Saturday, January 26, 2013

Hopping through sixty speeches: Shauna Causey’s Ignite Seattle talk

On November 8, 2012 Shauna Causey spoke at Ignite 18 in Seattle on the topic of Yes for One Year: Confronting a Fear. Watch the following YouTube video about how she overcame her fear of public speaking and developed self-confidence.

She said yes to every single request to speak for an entire year, and wound up doing 60 speeches, including a keynote for the Gates Foundation, and being in the 2008 tree lighting ceremony at the Westlake Village shopping center. That’s an average of more than once per week!

T. J. Walker, who wrote the best selling book  T. J. Walker’s Secret to Foolproof Presentations, had coached her to put sticky notes with little faces on her wall as a way to simulate an audience when rehearsing. I’ve also seen suggestions to use stuffed animals, or even pets. (Our cats both get disgusted and leave the room whenever I try to lecture to them).     

Doing an Ignite talk is pretty impressive, since it calls for handling a five-minute presentation where twenty slides each appear automatically for fifteen seconds. The following YouTube video by Scott Berkun discusses Why and How to Give an Ignite Talk.

Most people aren’t asked to speak as many times a year as Shauna. Joining a friendly local Toastmasters club is another way to speak regularly, and overcome your fear of public speaking. It’s more like the tortoise than the hare, but you’ll still reach your goal eventually.   

I was in Toastmasters International for about four years and found it a very useful experience. You can expect to speak in some role at every meeting, and to do a speech from a manual perhaps six times a year. The hare and tortoise images both came from Wikimedia Commons.

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