How to Dominate a Stage | ImpactCEE 2018

Anxious before a big talk? Pacing around backstage nervous you'll forget your words? No clue how the audience will receive you? I totally get it! With 50ish events per year under my belt, believe it or not, I have the same concerns and fears.

Here are my top speaking tips and I genuinely hope it helps you too. Read it and hit me with your top tips below

----

Impact 2018 was the most recent stage I was on. This future focused event attracted over 6,000 attendees, across 2 days with its stunning backdrop of Krakow, Poland and and it's phenomenal 250 speaker line up. Plus I had a curve ball - I wasn't just managing the main stage but a 2nd startup stage too (2 production teams, 2 audio teams, 2 tech teams, 2 sets of mics, 2 sets of names...you get it)

This isn't rocket science, but this is what I practice.

TIP #1 - BODY LANGUAGE

How important is body language on stage? Extremely! So much of communication has absolutely nothing to do with what you are actually saying. To dominate a stage and capture the attention of a large audience, it is vital that your body language is positive;

  • Stand Tall - own the stage
  • Head Up - engage your audience
  • Chest Out - exude confidence
  • Hands Out - be welcoming

TIP #2 - STAGE PRESENCE

First impressions matter.

Your entrance on stage sets the tone for the rest of your talk even before you've said a single word. The audience feeds off the energy you provide as you walk out. It is your stage, own it. Make sure to face the audience all of them (even the people hiding in the back rows). Standing central is important, but don't be afraid to walk around.

I recently put together a vlog of the headliner of Impact 2018, the world's most advanced robot Sophia (https://youtu.be/jqaatz1Hv3U). She gets a pass on this tip only because she is a robot :)

Sophia_002.jpg

TIP #3 - AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT

How many times have you lost interest in a speaker at an event?

 

The reason countless speakers lose their audience is because they don't effectively engage them. Simple tricks like asking questions and collective voting are great methods to hold audience attention. If you sense low energy in the room, get the blood flowing - make them stand, move around a little, have some fun with them!

MC_002.jpg

Picture this - the Impact crowd at 7pm after 9 consecutive hours of panels, keynotes and pitches... As you can imagine the energy was pretty low. What did I do? I made them dance!

The crowd was reluctant at first, but who doesn't love dancing! Check the vlog at 03:18 to see them dance! (https://youtu.be/jqaatz1Hv3U)

---

A big thank you to Impact 2018 for going the extra mile to invite me to host their largest event yet. Hope these tips are helpful and feel free to share yours below.

___

If you want more, watch the full vlog! 

 

Screw it - I'm restarting 2017!

2017 has come but I think I brought a lot of baggage from 2016 into it. And for the most part I feel like I’m barely holding on. There have been unexpected family developments that landed one of us in the emergency ward, a difficult house move, a lot of ambiguity around what I’m doing professionally, and for some reason I’m in Mumbai speaking to 15000 students on my 2nd international trip this month when I swore I’d travel less this year.

And I know I’m not the only who feels rushed and pushed and hurried.

So, what are we going to do about it?

Well the madness ends now! I am committed to reclaiming 2017 and you should to.

This last weekend of January I reflected on just three simple things that I am going to put into action from February 1st. Yep, Feb 1st is the official start of 2017 for me.

Cognitive Computing

The third era of Information Technology

Imagine a world where you could make fast important decision with confidence. Now imagine your car advising you on issues as such as your marriage, stocks, presents and even parking spaces. Or your tablet at work helping to medicate your aging parents in a foreign land. A watch giving you suggestions on places to eat based on your recent travel schedule. This is bigger than Big Data. It’s more intelligent than artificial intelligence. It is set to  augment our lives more than current augmented/virtual reality. Welcome to the world of Cognitive Computing!

My favorite resource, Wikipedia (don’t judge me, you do it too), describes Cognitive Computing as ‘new hardware and/or software that mimics the functioning of the human brain and helps to improve human decision-making.’ This next frontier allows self-learning systems to use data mining, pattern recognition, and natural language processing to essentially mimic human thinking. 


Recently I had the incredible opportunity to share the DLD Summer 16 Conference stage with Dirk Muhlenweg, Head of Global Sales for the Watson IOT centre in Munich, to discuss how cognitive computing will revolutionise industries in the future. 

For the full 20 minute video:

Fake it till you Make it?

Uncertainty. We all feel it at different times in our lives. For the entrepreneur, maybe a little more often than the average person. There are the projections, the hiring decisions, the strategic pivots, the legal contracts, the tech build, and the scaling opportunities. And whether you like it or not, as the founder you have to somehow exude confidence and knowledge and make decisions that have repercussions on you, your team, your company and society. And that’s when everything is going well! The entrepreneurial journey is filled with endless obstacles from co-founder disagreements to broken contracts to negative publicity to lack of funding to…the list goes on and on. And even when everything falls apart around you and within you, you need to do the impossible and make something out of a bad situation. 

Fake it till you make it? Heck yes! Your team depends on it. Your startup’s mission depends on it. Your investors depend on it. Your customers and beneficiaries depend on it. Deep inside, you depend on it. You need to drink your own kool aid. 

Disclaimer: I am NOT recommending that you manipulate or mislead. And the goal is NOT to turn into the fake. But I am reassuring you that we have all had moments when we’ve faked it in order to have an opportunity to learn with the intention to make it.                                

I’m going to be honest. My first job was with the UN - did college perfectly prepare me for this job? No. Did I have to fake it to make it? Yes. My first startup building a massive event across the oceans leading a multi-national team across continents – did I know exactly what I was doing to pull off an event that had literally 100s of 1000s attending? No. Did I fake it till I made it? Yes. I don’t say this out of pride but rather humility; a genuine gratefulness for incredible opportunities. For shoes too big for my feet but great people to help me grow into them. Faking it till I made it. 
               
     " I’m not in it for the money. I’m not in it for the fame. I’m in it for the journey."

“Faking it” has become an attitude (more on that below) that I believe has necessitated humility and tenacity on my entrepreneurial journey. And it’s the journey that excites me more than the destination. I’m not in it for the money. I’m not in it for the fame. I’m in it for the journey. I love finding creative solutions to everyday problems we have in our world that can help make the world a better place. And sometimes, I have to fake it to make that a reality.

o THREE quick tips on how to be good at ‘faking it’

  1. Be clueless: An unquenchable thirst to learn and absorb. An attitude of fire first, aim second. May seem reckless but it gets you started and forces you to very quickly start figuring things out. Being clueless forces you to ask good questions and find the answers.
  2. Be Poor: You don’t have the luxury of security nets and funds so what do you do – bootstrap. You’ve got to give 100% to what you have right now so you get creative with your network, resources and skills to make your dream a reality.
  3. Be hungry: You’ve got your back against your wall but you have no choice to succeed. This is what forces you to be creative, find solutions and develop a tenacity to make things happen so that you never return to that place of hunger and desperation. 


To me these 3 characteristics of those ‘faking it till they make it’ are powerful traits of a good entrepreneur who is grounded and determined to succeed.