Over the past two years I’ve given more talks to wine or wine-related audiences than the rest of my career combined. The reason is a function of the world of Blogs having caught the attention of the wine industry and working with Specialty Wine Retailers Association. Outside of making a new client pitch or pitching a story to an editor or writer, it’s probably the most exhilarating thing I do.
Although I’ve arranged for clients to take formal training in public speaking and although in college I study the "History and Historic Forms" of speech giving, I myself have never had any training. And honestly, I think it shows.
The biggest obstacle I’ve had to overcome in doing this is the same that most folks have had to work at: stage fright. When present in only a small degree, stage fright can actually focus the speaker. When present in abundance, it can debilitate the speaker. I used to have debilitating stage fright when I first entered junior college after High School. I was simply unable to speak in front of the class or from my seat. It was so bad, I choose classes and situations that were less likely to force me to speak up. But that never worked out too well.
In the end, one strategy worked for me in college. Every night, prior to every class the next day, I studied hard not just to learn the material, but to be completely prepared for any question I thought was likely to come my way. Those were very long nights, but it gives you an indication of how bad my fear of public speaking actually was.
I carried this tactic with me to Humboldt State University then to San Francisco State University, where I eventually was able to address larger audiences with preparation, but not quite as much preparation as before and I no longer sweated through my cloths.
I have two very interesting public speaking engagements coming up here very soon that I’m very excited about.
Tomorrow I address the 2008 Crushpad Marketing and Selling Seminar. I’m going to discuss with Crushpad clients how blogs can be used in marketing.
Monday I address the Wine Industry Financial Symposium on behalf of Specialty Wine Retailers Association. I’ll be sitting on a panel with wine industry lawyer Corbin Houchins and Jeff Carroll of ShipCompliant that addresses the state of direct shipping compliance.
These two events address two very different audiences and will cover entirely different subjects.
Later this year I’ll have the pleasure of speaking before the Wine Bloggers Conference and at the University of California Wine Industry Extension Program at Davis.
All four of these audiences will be exactly the kind you want to speak in front of. Folks will be there because they want to be and because they have a desire to learn something. That is a somewhat different situation from speaking or testifying in front of a committee of legislators, who, in many cases it seems, simply don’t want to be where they are.
Nothing focuses the mind quite like thinking about how you are going to keep the attention of a good sized audience without wetting your pants. I’m hoping my pants will stay dry for the rest of the year.