Meeting the People: Speaking before an audience

SouthhamptonI’m now presentation guy. I’ve delivered a few power points now on the book “Discovering Richmond’s Monuments” for which I was photographer, editor and researcher. So far my favorite was presenting to a crowd of about 25 at St. Mary’s Woods assisted living facility in the West End. I was very lucky to have an attentive, patient and knowledgeable audience for that one. Next up, the good people of the Southampton Citizen’s Association. Southsiders!

Speaking in public is often part of the requirements of the job for planners and no matter where I end up in my next career, an employer is likely to hire me in part for my writing and speaking skills. I’ve been honing the writing skills for more than 20 years and I’ll never be perfect, but the speaking part has been an on-again, off-again affair. When the topic is something that I’m passionate about, watch the clocks because I can talk all night.

Granted, planners often have to speak before potentially hostile crowds. I haven’t gotten into that phase yet, I’ve mostly addressed large children’s groups, youth soccer teams and presentations on topics that people are willing to sit and listen to, like the statue book or the James River. However, with all of my time as a writer covering forums, planning meetings, etc., it is a special skill one has to survive public meetings unscathed. I’ve seen many planners, professional speakers and politicians slip up or get flustered, but knowing your topic, studying, preparing and speaking honestly and politely can never hurt.

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