In the past few weeks, you have seen parts of the interview with Purna Virji being published on our YouTube channel and through our social channels. Today, you can watch the entire interview with Purna!
Learning from Purna
Public speaking for some speakers seems to be easy. They look confident on stage. They have a great story and a lot of knowledge. It seems they have no problem being on stage. Speaking for them seems to come naturally.
Often appearances are deceiving. These speakers work hard to get a presence on stage that feels so natural. And they too get nervous.
As a speaker, it is great to learn from other experienced speakers. To learn how they handle nerves. To learn how they first got on stage. In a series of interviews, we talk to these experienced speakers. To get insights from them that help you, as someone who wants to be a better speaker.
In this series, we spoke to Purna Virji (Bing), Marcus Tandler (Ryte), Cindy Krum (Mobilemoxie) and Melanie Deziel (consultant, former NYT).
In the interview with Purna, we talked about a lot of different things related to public speaking.
Purna has been speaking in public since early 2012. She still loves being on stage. Actually, the more she does it, the more she loves it!
Preparing for a presentation
Purna spends a lot of time preparing for a presentation. Including design and everything around a presentation, she spends about 100 hours preparing for a one-hour presentation!
She will start by thinking about which issues the audience is facing. What can she give them which is of most help? The key thing is, how can she add the most value. She will then go and do research about what is available and what is out there.
Her next step is to create an outline in Word. She will fill that in, almost like she is writing an article. In the end, she will convert it to Powerpoint.
Rehearsing for a talk
Purna rehearses a lot for a presentation. She likes to get in at least three rehearsals for a talk. She finds that helps to get the talk to stick in her head and to know the flow.
Purna finds that if she hasn’t rehearsed enough, she will stumble and she will find herself say “uhm” too much. Rehearsal makes that her talks sound better!
Purna has an interesting approach to rehearsing. She doesn’t rehearse in front of a mirror. She rehearses to the wall. After all, the wall is a captive audience and never has a bad thing to say! She practices on her own, in for example her hotel room or her office.
The first rehearsal she does out loud. She then can adjust content and flow. And she knows how her time is! Purna can than adjust her slides accordingly.
Why Purna wanted to go into public speaking in the first place, is because she found it to be absolutely terrifying! She thought she would ‘die’ when she would get on stage. She hated it more than bugs or spiders. She wanted to conquer that fear.
For the first two or three years, she was still terrified. But the more she did it, the fear goes away.
Purna believes the fear isn’t a bad thing. The fear comes from caring how the audience perceives the talk and how they get value. Which is good.
To get rid of the nerves, she does things like deep breathing. She tries to change the nerves into excitement. She feels much more comfortable.
Purna’s advice for speakers who are just starting is to ‘just do it!’ If you give yourself time to think about it, you give yourself time to talk yourself out of it. If you feel there is something you have had a success in. If you have something you are proud of, know that you have value to add! Just go ahead and pitch!
Purna wants you to just go ahead and do it. The more diverse voices there are in this industry, the more the industry as a whole will benefit.
I spoke to Craig Rayner, event organiser. My question was about picking speakers. Want to know what it takes to speak at an international conference? Searchelite conference organiser Craig Rayner explains how he picks speakers and what you should do.
Speaking at conferences is great for building a personal brand. It’s something that helped Jono Alderson a lot. His speaking at conferences is legendary, because of the way he speaks and the amount of content he is able to get in. That takes a lot of preparation.
I talked to different speakers, asking them about how they prepare and what tips they can give you. Listen to Jono explain why research is important, why you have to be ready and why you need to tell a story.