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What I learnt from my first speaking experience at Ignite Brisbane


It has been a while since my last blog post. This doesn't mean there hasn't been anything going on...to the contrary. I had a wonderful experience on Thursday the 19th July which I thought would be worthwhile sharing.

I had the unbelievable privilege and pleasure to be one of 13 speakers to present at the (re)launch of Ignite Brisbane. Ignite is a global initiative allowing local organisers in cities all over the planet to stage Ignite events for anyone to nominate themselves to get up on stage and "have a go". The premise of the Ignite events are each speakers is tasked with "enlighten us but make it quick" meaning speeches are only 5 mins (max) in length whilst 20 slides are auto timed meaning each slide only allows 15 seconds of speaking - yikes!

The event was organised by Cath Molloy and Richard Hansen both seasoned and well experienced speakers, trainers and facilitators themselves. My goal in starting this journey with Thinking Mechanics is to become a public and corporate speaker to help individuals transform and prosper in their lives. In saying that, I have not had a huge amount of experience in speaking however have had ample stage experience and feedback in the past that gave me a strong amount of confidence in my stage speaking abilities. So, it was a no-brainer to hold my hand up and apply to be one of the speakers at the Ignite Brisbane event. It was a happy day when the email came through that said I had been accepted to speak. Brilliant! Then the flood of thoughts came roaring in...."what am I actually going speak about?", "What happens if I can't do it?" , "What happens if I am too nervous to deliver a good speech?" and so the questions kept coming. The irony that I have a website called Thinking Mechanics and I had planned to do a talk about becoming a thinking mechanic however there I was allowing my thoughts to run ragged! So, I got myself in order...policed my thoughts and said to myself "stop wasting time on the doubting thoughts and start investing in empowering ones instead".

It was on a weekend after I had been accepted to speak whilst I was out with my family I happened to recognize a guest speaker that had come to a local Toastmasters club I attend. At the club the guest speaker delivered a very engaging talk and I thought to myself then "wow, he would be good to learn from....". I was at the lookout on Mt Cootha (in Brisbane, AU) when I noticed him sitting down at the cafe. I went over and said hello and mentioned the Ignite Brisbane event and asked if he had entered. At that stage he had not so based on my recommendation he also entered and subsequently got accepted. as one of the speakers. Based on the recommendation he graciously offered to help me prepare my speech by providing a couple of coaching sessions. Amazing how things turn out and as it transpired this was the greatest gift I could have received.

So, three weeks before the Ignite event I had my first coaching session providing me with some amazing tips and tricks about how to start constructing my speech. After returning home my coach followed up with some accountability emails informing me of where I should be up to in my preparatory process. The first step was to get the speech's script prepared. Based on my coach's recommendation I divided a spreadsheet into 20 rows - one for each slide - and then embarked on creating the speech out of the proverbial ether.

24 hrs later, I'm done - first draft of the speech created and I am pretty proud of myself - first go and I nailed it....or so I thought. Although not explicitly discussed as part of our coaching arrangement I sent through a copy of my first draft to my coach asking if he would take a scan through it and offer any feedback. I wasn't expecting much as he was also preparing his own speech. He came back quickly with an email that started like this "great start Nick, but....". In a kind and constructive way I was told that is was all about "me, me, me, I, I, I". None of my speech was serving the audience, it was serving me. Wow, what great feedback. He was absolutely right. He also mentioned that every budding speaker starts there...their testimony, their story, their why. One day - that can be heard but for the Ignite Brisbane event it was about how your story was going to help the audience. After all, the Ignite events are all about "enlightening" the audience.