New Series: Inspirational Public Speakers

When we ask delegates about inspirational public speakers they rarely mention any from the UK or many women. So we’ve decided to start interviewing some of the best to share their real experiences.

I saw Jo  give a talk as part of the Women Unlimited “Thrive” conference in 2012. She was a real hit with the audience and I knew she would be inspiring for any budding public speakers.

One of the things Jo had done that really impressed me was that she had listened intently to the other speakers before her. As a result she started off by relating one of the funniest and most pertinent anecdotes in relation to what the previous speaker had just said. I was so glad when she agreed to share her experience.

Q: How long have you been a public speaker?

A: Prior to the Women Unlimited event I had actually only spoken at smaller conferences and training meetings, taking clients through new legal developments.

Q: How do you prepare after getting the request?

A: After Julie Hall sent me the request it was clear  that what was needed was a short synopsis and a key message about the business journey I had been on, setting up my business ‘Off to See My Lawyer’.  I knew that the context of the talk was key and that relating to the previous speakers would help the flow of the event.  I followed the brief and spoke from the heart although I did also have postcard sized notes of the journey just in case.

I also did some mental preparation and envisaged the audience clapping and enjoying the talk, and telling myself that it would be a successful speech and all would be okay.

Q: How do you feel just before you spoke ? During and After? How did your body react?

A: Before the talk my heart was racing and I had somewhat shaky hands! My mouth was quite dry and I had some tightness in my voice.

After my first anecdote went down well and everyone laughed I really relaxed and smiled and found I didn’t need to refer to my notes. That validation and feedback from the audience which let me know they were engaged and enjoying what I was saying really helped. I smiled and quickly calmed my nerves.

Q: What do you look at when you speak?

A: I anchored in on some friendly faces  – especially those whom I had met before and got great reassurance from that.

Q: What do you hear when speaking?

A: I really try and listen to the audience and what they are feeding back to me.

Q: Why does public speaking help you?

A: I’ve raised the awareness of my business and what my company delivers since my talk.

Q: Why is public speaking important for women?

A: I think that it is important to give other women confidence and really spread the word about. A lady came to me after my talk and said that my talk had really given her confidence to change her job – she identified with my story.

Q: Why is public speaking important to you?

A: It is important for me to encourage other female entrepreneurs and it has led to other speaking engagements. I recently gave an interview to www.anzaja.com  which is on Youtube.

I think Jo’s story is really important for several reasons. She came across as a natural and yet she had never spoken to an audience as big before. This showed how her active listening and ability to stay in the ‘Now” of her talk really benefitted her. All too often, people’s minds are worrying about past or future events when they go to speak and fail to pick up on the things that are happening at present.

She visualized a positive reaction from her audience, and made sure that she had made some human connections before going up on stage. This gave her both an anchor and a ‘friendly place” to look to as well as a feeling of benevolence rather than fear towards her audience.

Finally she prepared well and had notes in case she lost her thread, and as a result didn’t need to refer to them. She stuck to the brief that she had been given and delivered something that pleased all concerned.  You can watch Jo’s speech in full here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_mEFdQlsPg

Thanks to Jo for sharing her public speaking experience. It will be a real help to those on their public speaking journey.

About the speaker :

Jo Tall is the founder of www.offtoseemylawyer.com  and is a solicitor with over 20 years’ experience in commercial & IT law having worked both in high profile City of London law firms and freelance for global companies through her parent business Trading Terms Ltd. Her speciality is drafting tailor made agreements for businesses whether it is sourcing products & services or selling them, reviewing advertising copy and competitions or drawing up guidance notes for sales teams. She speaks fluent French and German (and pretty good Spanish) which will come in handy for those cross border deals when you start to expand!