At my very first public speaking gig, there were maybe six people in the room. I spoke about social recruiting. Little did I know the audience was full of government contractors that weren’t even allowed to use social media.
That partially explains why no one showed up.
The presentation went poorly. I made it about six minutes into the presentation before someone yelled to me, “none of us can use this.” After a moment of stuttering, I unplugged my slides and put a stool in the middle of the room. “Fine. Just ask me what you want to know. You came here for a reason. Let’s talk.”
The room watcher, or whatever they call the person who makes sure you can plug in and reads your introduction, was mortified. I’m pretty sure I got myself banned with that move.
My second speaking gig was memorable for the right reasons. For one thing, there were more than six people in the room. I spoke at TalentNetLive; an event held every year by Craig Fisher.
I don’t specifically remember my topic, but I do remember the minutes before. I was sweating head to toe. Picture me in this beautiful corporate training space acting like a total fool. I was walking in circles, pacing, until a man stopped me.
“You ok,” he said with a little worry in his eyes. “Oh, I’m fine, "I said. "I’m just nervous about my presentation.” I’m not sure if he was secretly trying to get a laugh or what, but he suggested that I hop up and down. Get some of the energy out.
I was just anxious enough to listen. I found a quiet hallway far away from anyone else and started hopping down the hall. The guy cracked jokes to help me relax while his phone charged.
As I’m thinking through this story in my head, I wonder if there’s a video of hopping Kat somewhere…
People often ask me if that nervousness goes away. “You seem so natural on stage,” they say without knowing I’m drenched with sweat underneath my blazer. It surprises me, too. I thought that part might go away.
While you probably won’t find me hopping down a hallway, I still get that nervous. I still shake and sweat every time I’m going on stage, whether it’s virtual or in real life. Why? I care.
I care about the people who decided my topic was worth an hour or more of their life. I care that they feel confident, inspired, and empowered to take that information and change the world a little bit for some candidate. I don’t want them to be motivated by just the outcomes or reciting KPIs. I want people to be inspired by the impact on candidates who can dream again. I know if they care more, their job postings and anything else they write will be better than anyone else’s.
That’s why I keep speaking and encouraging other big-hearted entrepreneurs and talented storytellers to get on stage. Our stories, stories themselves, leave a significant impact on others.
Change doesn’t happen because we provide a list of to do’s. It happens because we let other people change our minds. The catch? It’s not easy to change anyone’s mind. It takes something powerful, and there’s nothing more powerful and persuasive than a story.
My blog this week is about the power of that story and has two parts. The first part is for people who know they want to be on stage or speak more often. After ten years of talking too much, I have some advice.
The second part is highlighting powerful storytellers with big hearts. If you’re looking for smart, talented, creative presenters - this list is for you. I hand-picked each one based on the topic because I genuinely want to learn more from them.
This is a pre-built lineup of incredibly talented people that you should know if you work on events. Hire them. Pay them. Listen to them.
Their stories will change your mind, too.
Have a great weekend -