Fierce… the urban slang term meaning not just seriously on your game but seriously reinventing the game in real time by setting a new, very high bar. Being fierce implies a sense of style, presence and authority that draws people in. Being fierce means being consistently exceptional.
I do many industry presentations and keynotes each year. It’s one of my favorite things to do. Where else can you meet so many interesting people; get outside the bubble of your day job; and learn in real time? Working in the digital arena, presenting at these live events is the ultimate test – does your digital brand match how you show up in real life? If not, trust me you’ll get called on the mats in no time. So don’t let that happen. Instead, be fierce.
So how exactly does one go about being fierce? Well, I won’t say I have all the answers, but here’s what has worked for me and garnered me a few “You are fierce!” remarks along the way – which I have to say always make me smile.
Being fierce has some intangible qualities. These are hard to teach, but can be developed with focus and time.
Trite as it may sound, people have a radar that detects confidence or lack thereof. Confidence is a mix of stature, speech and presence. You need to stand, sit, walk, speak and listen like you mean it. Not in a condescending way, but in an authentic and engaging way. Show an ounce of timidity on stage and you’re toast.
No one knows everything and everyone knows that. So know what you know, talk about that and understand the limits of your knowledge. Continue to learn and always work on growing your expertise. Evolve your story so each time people see you speak, they learn more and offer more to you in return.
Being gracious requires an authentic curiosity of and appreciation for a very diverse world mixed with a healthy respect for others. Being gracious is being respectful and at the same time, holding true to your values so respect is returned. Being gracious on stage is difficult at times but practice will make it easier and you’ll build a stash of ways to shut down hecklers, deal with very rude questions, convert or at least quiet the haters and respectfully engage the over-zealous.
And being fierce has some practical components too:
Or – relevance with a twist. No one wants to pay a large ticket price for you to tell them things they’ve heard before or could find in a simple Google search. No one wants to hear you do exactly the same presentation at multiple events. Instead speak about things that are relevant and timely, but put a new twist on them. Bring in your point of view or connect data points for new insights. Twist around common information to provide a new perspective that is relevant to the audience. Be fresh. Attending the opening party of an event is a great way to get spin, perspective and examples to weave in to your talk track. Listen more than you talk at these parties and you’ll gain valuable insights into the audience that will hear you speak. These insights mixed with a few connection points to sessions before yours can bring new life to a presentation you’ve done before.
Help People Engage:
This is the practical side of being gracious. People really do want to hear what you say or they wouldn’t bother to attend the event. So help them help you. Simple but highly effective things to help people engage include putting your Twitter handle (make sure you have one, but that’s another post) and the event hashtag in the footer of all your slides. Make sure your slides are legible, the images you use are appropriate and any multi-media is tested and tested again. Include content snacks, easy to type and tweet highlights, in your talk track. Schedule tweets in advance that are timed roughly with your presentation that include your key points so people can retweet directly from you and also add their own tweets.
Show a Little Appreciation:
After your presentation, answer questions; talk to the people who come up to you; be gracious and listen to what people have to say. Also go through the Twitter stream from your keynote and retweet, reply and thank people who engaged during your talk. Continue to scan the feed and do the same over the next day. Always do a shout-out thank you during your presentation for being invited to the event and also via Twitter to the event sponsors. Saying thank you in an authentic way is one of the most powerful things you can do as a presenter.
You can be a fierce presenter with a little practice and determination. Enjoy the journey!