Well, my teachers certainly did – ‘Always participates in group discussion’ was often to be seen on my school reports….I think we can all read between the lines on that one!
I have never been known to be a shrinking violet, and as a fan of amateur dramatics, I quite enjoy the limelight.
Saying that, when I first offered to speak at a ladies event earlier this year I was really nervous. I had done talks at a few small events previously, but now I’d put myself forward to address a large group of professional women at a networking lunch…..eeeekkk!
I had taken the decision over the Christmas break to speak about getting the most from networking because I want to help as many people as I can, and although many serial networkers are good at networking, there is always something new to pick up or another tip to take on board and I always ask if anyone has any of their own tips to share with the group.
At the Women In Business NW Manchester lunch in February I was thrown in the deep end as our guest speaker was taken ill and so I had to step in at the last minute. The response I got was so positive that my confidence really grew. It certainly made the second event I spoke at less nerve-wracking!
I’m a big believer in story-telling to get a message across. It’s all very well saying this is this and that is that but if you add a story, it’s going to evoke some kind of emotion, be it laughter, a sense of well being, sadness, or empathy. I recount quite a few anecdotes with my talks and I also get very animated when I do. I give a useful tip like ask someone for their business card before offering yours, and then slip in an amusing (well, I think amusing anyway) snippet about someone who was so prolific at handing out their cards that they were almost chopping peoples heads off as the cards flew around the room.
It would seem that I’m now getting a reputation for being a speaker at events – which is just fantastic – as the Chamber of Commerce recently contacted me to ask me if I’d be their guest speaker at their networking lunch later this month. I am absolutely made up to be doing this. They’ve even quoted me on a recent write-up of one of their networking events.
I’ve also been invited to speak at a NatWest evening event – fizz and cakes included!!! – to help the attendees understand how to create a great introduction and also to be on a panel for guests to ask questions about how to progress their businesses. I am so flattered to be asked.
At the end of the day, it’s just me giving my observations on what I’ve seen work and what’s best to be avoided when networking, but hopefully I do it in a fun, informative and lively way that makes the audience feel confident and inspired.