I am asked from time to time to do a presentation on social media, usually about my books or on the broader topic of AI. Some examples are elsewhere on this site. It’s always an honour to be invited to speak, and it’s a duty that I don’t undertake lightly. So I wanted to give a little background into how I prepare for these calls.
Speaking publicly does not come naturally (even though I have been doing it for over 30 years) so usually I need to prepare my stuff. Ideally I like to know the questions that are likely to be asked. This gives me the opportunity not only to think about my answers, but I can also let the interviewer know in advance if it’s a topic that I would prefer not to talk about.
Not that I can’t manage unanticipated questions. My media training has taught me all about falling into traps and how to deal with them. I have also worked on conferences where a formal presentation has been followed by a Q & A session which can through up any number and type of random comments. Working on live radio and speaking to a large (and unseen) audience also means that you not only develop key skills but also that you have no fear about answering questions in a ‘live’ environment.
When I work on a conference, such as a moderator role, it’s also important to spend time on being comfortable with the subject matter, and also having an understanding of the interests of other panel members. This is sometimes done through a pre-call. It’s fair to say that you take at least 4 times longer doing all the prep, as the time taken in doing the actual event.
On the day of the recording, I take time to arrange my room and ensure that there are no distractions. Informal chats are usually carried out in front of my busy bookcase, but more formal events usually demand a distraction-free backdrop. If people are more interested in my backdrop rather than what I intend to say, then my presentation simply isn’t compelling enough.
Although I am in front of my laptop, there is a board to the back of the laptop with lots of notes which are big enough for me to read without wearing my glasses. It’s a vanity thing really, the glasses I mean. The notes are a good aide memoire but the reality is that I seldom refer to them. The main thing I refer to is my clock to ensure that time is properly managed and I can be sure of closing the presentation in the way that I want to, with key messages.
On the day of the event, I think not only about the wording but all the other issues such as what to wear although the days of having to choose a necktie seem to have disappeared, at least for the moment. I always dial in slightly early as I am never sure about the technology. I worry more about the tech working properly, than I worry about the content of the event.
The pre-call process starts with it small personal ritual that I have used for decades and then I am ready. Let the show commence !