Speaking about our stories

Do you speak about your journey?

I’ve often had reason to talking about infertility in conversation but often on a stage. I’ve never been completely sure if I’m a good communicator. Let’s face it, IVF or anything to do with childlessness isn’t an easy subject to convey.

Practising helps and in doing this, I was fortunate to meet Jon Torrens who is a stand up comic and presentation coach. His training methods have really helped me to improve my delivery since I attended Fertility Fest in May 2018 when I discovered I’m relatively okay to talk if it helps others. I’ve also attended a few Pecka Kucha events since then to test out what I have learned. Here’s a few tips to help you if you’ve ever been asked to give a talk.

  1. Fear is normal, ‘Fear is wisdom in the face of danger’, so said Sherlock Holmes last Christmas on the BBC. Fear also shows you care about what you’re about to do.

  2. Overcome fear with confidence. By rehearsing and preparing you can feel more confidence. 

  3. Extrovert or Introvert. How you recharge yourself after a talk (extroverts gain strength in people and busy places, introverts prefer solitude and quiet) matters. But don’t assume introverts aren’t the best people to present. You don’t have to be the best speaker, if you know the subject and the answers from the audience you have a reason to speak.

  4. Confidence communicators approach a talk like a chat.

  5. Focus on the words and the visuals. They are both equally important.

  6. Do your research. Stick with the brief, know how long you have, the audience, the venue, the other speakers, layout, do you have a clicker or a microphone, is powerpoint okay, does the tech work and can you use the space. Don’t be afraid to walk to the back and round the audience if you want to. Get there early and prepare.

  7. Define the theme and tell your story. Use characters, a problem and the conclusion but keep it human. Personal anecdotes make connections.

  8. Leave space for the audience to find the plot. Comedians call this the call back.

  9. Don’t get too tech. I have found that I use different language when speaking to our community. If I’m speaking to a different demographic, I simplify it (reflecting that I’ve researched my audience).

  10. If you have a 30 minute talk, aim for twenty minutes and allow time for questions. But never overrun, the audience will not be happy. If you can get you point over in five minutes and everyone can get to the bar earlier, you’re doing great.

  11. Cue cards are great. Note keywords and times but never use a script. That’s the point of rehearsing!

  12. Set a timer on your phone to keep you on track. Time is very hard to manage when you’re on the stage and a clock is impossible. 

  13. First impressions matter. Smile and try not to trip over or battle with tech. And keep smiling. Check in with the audience. Mention someone if you want to whose in the audience.

  14. At the end, have a call to action. Don’t waffle on with ‘well then, there we have it..’ in increasingly desperate manner or demand questions.  Always say thank you.

  15. No questions doesn’t meant your talk was good or bad. It may mean that you’ve given all the information the audience required.

Finally if you’re speaking at an event, know that you’re doing amazing work and you have a tribe behind you, cheering you on.

Book me to talk at your event about IVF, infertility or how design saved my sanity by clicking here.