Every meeting and event you attend is an opportunity to learn new things, network with other professionals, and make a good impression. Based on a few meetings I’ve attended recently, here are some tips to help you make the most of events.
Don’t Undermine Yourself
I was recently asked to fill in as a panel moderator at an event. I didn’t hesitate to say yes because I was confident that I could handle it. If I didn’t feel comfortable with the topic or the request, I would have said no. It’s not uncommon for schedules and agendas to change and I was pleased to help. However, I thought back to several occasions in which I’ve seen women begin a similar panel or speech by saying things like “I know I can’t live up to (the person who was originally scheduled to speak) but I will do my best.” Why would anyone undermine themselves that way? If you have been asked to speak publicly, it’s because the organizer trusts that you can handle it. Don’t disappoint them and yourself before you even begin.
Believe in Yourself and Others Will Believe in You
One of the best speakers I’ve heard recently had far fewer degrees and less experience than others on her panel. Yet, she was passionate about her topic and clearly knew her stuff. She was interesting and entertaining. She did her homework and prepared a talk that would resonate with the specific audience. She let her personality shine through what could be a dry topic. As the last speaker on her panel, she could have easily repeated the tired trope “that will be a hard act to follow” but she didn’t shy away or reduce herself to anything other than the professional she was.
Don’t Apologize for Things That Are Not Your Fault
I was recently at an event that featured a well-respected, brilliant speaker who was an expert on her topic. She was interesting and dynamic and I was enjoying her presentation. At one point, her Power Point stopped working and the screen went blank. She quickly apologized to the crowd. I guess in addition to being a tenured professor she was also moonlighting as the audio visual staffer at this venue. Instead of apologizing, she should have simply asked someone to fix it and continued with her talk. At the point that she apologized, not only did it highlight a mistake that was not her fault but it also clearly made her uncomfortable and changed the rhythm of her presentation.
Photo Credit: Southbank Centre