Using Public Speaking Opportunities to Share Thought Leadership

A woman with shoulder-length brown hair, wearing a black sweater and long earrings, smiles at the camera against a plain background.

You’ve been searching for public speaking opportunities for quite some time to share your thought leadership. Now, imaging stepping onto the stage. Do you feel all of the audience’s eyes on you? Will the words that you’re about to share with them change their minds, motivate them or inspire them?

Even more important: How will those words drive your business forward? How do the public speaking opportunities that you participate in fit in with your overall thought leadership?

Today, I’m joined by Charlotte Davies, a friend, award-winning copy and content writer, and a TEDx speaker. She has more than 15 years experience in marketing and business, including working in PR, events, and as a development manager. In addition to all of that experience, she has spent many, many of those years doing different forms of public speaking, were going to talk all about how speaking engagements can elevate the visibility that you have within your business, and it can build your influence as a thought leader. So stay tuned and hear what Charlotte and I have to say about public speaking and its role in thought leadership.

Copy says: Listen in to this episode of the Talk Copy to Me podcast

Here is what Charlotte and Erin want you to know about public speaking opportunities

  • What thought leadership is, according to Charlotte
  • What the benefits of speaking are in building thought leadership
  • How to find public speaking opportunities
  • The importance of pitching yourself to get public speaking opportunities
  • How to determine what to talk about in your speech and how it relates back to your thought leadership overall
  • How to prepare for and promote your speech
  • How to get more public speaking opportunities in the future

Want public speaking opportunities of your own? Here’s a few takeaways from this episode

  1. Pitch yourself for speaking opportunities at networking events and conferences to get experience
  2. Develop a speaker page on your website or portfolio with clips, testimonials, and social proof from past speeches
  3. When preparing a speech, research best practices through resources like YouTube for body language, hand gestures, clothing choice, etc
  4. Use any speaking “mishaps” or difficulties as learning experiences and storytelling opportunities rather than being too critical of yourself
quotes from this episode of the Talk Copy to Me copywriting podcast

Quotes about public speaking from Charlotte and Erin

  • “I think public speaking is the thing people fear most above death, spiders, and heights.” – Charlotte Davies

  • “If you say something wrong, if you stumble, if you fall over you’ve just got to move on…People often see how you deal with those situations and judge you based on that rather than whether you make the mistake or not.” – Charlotte Davies

  • “What I admire about you, and what I can see from your previous history that very regularly plays a part in your present and and future trajectory, is the experience you have from public relations. You’re aware that in order to gain more visibility, you have to treat yourself and your business like someone in PR would.” – Erin Ollila

  • “I think there’s a double layer of promotion. There’s promoting the event. Let’s say you’re doing a keynote speech. I think people assume when they’re doing the speech, that’s their responsibility is writing the speech and giving the speech. Whereas, your responsibility is also attracting an audience to the speech.” – Erin Ollila

  •  “One simple thing that you can do is just tell people that you want to start speaking. I think when you put it out there that you want to do something, people naturally want to help.” – Charlotte Davies

  • The times I did my best speaking was when I felt comfortable in my clothing. The times I did the worst, a 100% had clothing related things to them.” – Erin Ollila

Meet this episodes guest expert on Talk Coy to Me

Charlotte Davies, also known as Charlotte the Copywriter, is an award winning copy and content writer, and TEDx Speaker. As a former PR professional, Event and Development Manager, she has more than 15 years experience in marketing and business. She is also a cancer survivor, beating Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2014.

Learn more about Charlotte by visiting her website, or connecting with her on LinkedIn and Instagram.

Get to Know the Host of the Talk Copy to Me Podcast Erin Ollila

Learn more about your host, Erin Ollila

Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform – and even transform – its intended audience. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, and went on to co-found Spry, an award-winning online literary journal.

When Erin’s not helping her clients understand their website data or improve their website copy, you can catch her hosting the Talk Copy to Me podcast and guesting on shows such as Profit is a Choice, The Driven Woman Entrepreneur, Go Pitch Yourself, and Counsel Cast.

Stay in touch with Erin Ollila, SEO website copywriter:

Here’s the transcript for episode 122 on public speaking with guest expert Charlotte Davies

NOTE: This podcast was transcribed by an AI tool. Please forgive any typos or errors. SUMMARY KEYWORDS speaking, audience, talk, stage, thought, work, opportunity, leadership, feel, charlotte, events, experience, speech, put, business, pitch, speaker, ted, ted talk, public speaking SPEAKERS Erin Ollila, Charlotte Davies Erin Ollila 00:00 imagine stepping onto a stage, all of the eyes from the audience are on you. And you know that the words that you’re about to share with them can change their minds, can motivate them can entice them can inspire them. And maybe those words can even drive your business forward. Today, I’m joined by Charlotte Davies, a friend and award winning copy and content writer, and a TEDx speaker. As a former PR professional event and development manager, she has more than 15 years experience in marketing and business. In addition to all of that experience, she has spent many, many of those years doing different forms of public speaking, were going to talk all about how speaking engagements can elevate the visibility that you have within your business, and it can build your influence as a thought leader. So stay tuned and hear what Charlotte and I have to say about public speaking and its role in thought leadership. Hey, friends, welcome to the Top copy Timmy podcast. Here. We empower small business owners to step into the spotlight with their marketing and messaging. I’m your host, Erin Ollila. Let’s get started and talk coffee. Charlotte, we’re going to start with the tough stuff. First, how would you define thought leadership? What is thought leadership to you? So Charlotte Davies 01:42 I think thought leadership is a way of positioning yourself as an expert in your field. So you can do this in many different ways. But for me, one of my favorite ways to do that is through public speaking, I Erin Ollila 01:56 was introduced to you as a fellow copywriter, and I hadn’t even known that you were a public speaker until we were already meeting monthly to do some business workshopping together. And then a fellow business owner of ours said, Hey, I just heard your TED talk. And I was like, whoa, hold the phone, you did a TED talk. So I guess I’d like to maybe start this episode. Maybe just talking about like your own quick reflection of how you went from ordinary coffee writer to public speaker, was there a natural transition between the two or, or was speaking something you did even before starting your own business? Charlotte Davies 02:39 Speaking was something that I’ve been doing throughout my career. So I started off in public relations. And then I became a development manager or a theater. And then during the pandemic, I started my own business, I also did a bit teaching along the way as well. But especially in my role as development manager, I had to go out and go and speak at lots of different events, a lot of them for all people who are interested in the theater. But it was great experience to get in front of an audience being able to share my stories about the theater, in the hope that people would come along to the theater, see some shows, but also as a registered charity, to donate and join the business club, or to give to the charity. And it was especially good training, because you had to keep people’s attention. And you had to kind of ignore what was going on in the audience to a certain extent at these lunches, it was always in a really warm room. The average age was probably about 75 or 80. So lots of people in their twilight years, they were very interested in what I had to say. But at the same time, what happens after a big dinner in a warm room, certain people would fall asleep. So I just had to carry on, and just speak and think I’m not going to take this personally, at all. Because at the end, I’d always get people coming up to me and say, that was really interesting. I had a lovely time at a theater and they would share their stories with me. I’d also get the event organizer come up to me and say, Don’t worry about the people who fell asleep. That is normal Erin Ollila 04:32 to go here, but I really love that you said that though. Because I think what’s people’s biggest fear with public speaking is very often that people won’t like what they have to say and you hear you are in a situation for work where you have to speak to these people who are not that necessarily uninterested, but asleep. And you still have to entertain the people who are awake. You have the opportunity to just kind of like I melt under that pressure. And instead you chose to use that as a great experience for yourself. Yeah, Charlotte Davies 05:05 one lady, in fact, fell off her chair, because but I just had to make a joke of it. So if you say something wrong, if you stumble, if you fall over, you’ve just got to move on people watch you, everybody’s human. And if you can, like brush it off and think, Oh, well, that was funny, wasn’t it, keep it as a memory, because you can always talk about it afterwards, people often see how you deal with those situations and to do based on that rather than whether you make the mistake or not. And I think that’s what’s really important to remember, people in the audience have got their own stuff going on in their lives all the time. So if somebody’s checking their phone, it might not be because they’re bored. But they might have something going on at home, like childcare issues, something that’s really pressing in their business, you can’t take these things personally, when you’re speaking, you just need to carry on, keep talking and get to the end of what you want to say. Because if you really believe in your message, and you believe that you’ve got something valuable to share, just share it with the audience. Erin Ollila 06:18 You know, I think sometimes the idea of being a speaker feels out of reach for some people, because they feel like it’s this thing that you arrive at, you have to recognize that you have been speaking through your career, through your business, and that it is something that you can continue to do, maybe just in a different presence, right? We speak on Zoom calls all the time, as a podcast guests, you are actually doing a public speaking, right? Sometimes people forget that these guest opportunities or collaborations that they have are actual instances of public speaking. So to then step on a stage is just a different presence, right? It’s just a different place, that you’re continuing your speaking. Charlotte Davies 07:05 Yeah, absolutely. And I actually prefer speaking on stage to speaking on Zoom, because I like being in a room and feeling the energy of the people and being able to speak to people beforehand, speak to people afterwards, and putting yourself out there. It is a position of vulnerability. And I think public speaking is the people fear most above death, spiders and heights. People would rather die than speak in public. And I think it’s something to do with prehistoric times, people would have to stay part of the tribe in order to survive. So if you put yourself out there, and you said something that people would disagree with, or it was taken negatively, you could be ostracized, and that would basically mean death, you’re not going to die. I’ve never died. By private speaking, I’m here telling the tale. Some some talks go better than others. But ever every time it’s it’s an opportunity to test out some material, use it as a platform. Because as you said, I didn’t even have the ambition of speaking at a TEDx event. My talk, if you like for a book is a story at once read that was about my experience with cancer, and non Hodgkins lymphoma survivor. And the circumstances of my diagnosis were quite extreme. And the fact that I was in Thailand at the time, and I had to be flown back in an air ambulance, and then it was six months or so of chemotherapy. So two things from that. Nothing is going to be as hard as that so I can easily get on stage and talk. I really wanted to share my experiences with people who were going through something similar and show that there was light at the end of the tunnel that it is really hard. But if you’re going through tough times. This is what helped me. But to get to Ted, I did so many little things running up to that. I’ve done fireside chat. So 10 XFC, where we first met, I did a fireside chat for them. I did all the presentations at the theater where people fell asleep. I spoke in the classroom, I was teaching English to teenagers in Spain. And then during the pandemic, I was teaching English via zoom to kids in China and teenagers in China as well. It was really good opportunity to get used to speaking in public. And then as you go to networking events, people are looking for speakers. They want somebody who’s going to add value and share their knowledge So, especially when I started my business, I thought, You know what, this is a great way to get myself known as a new business owner, I’m gonna go and pitch myself to speak at networking events, 10 or 20 minutes sharing my knowledge, and you don’t have to be a million miles ahead of people, either. It’s just what has been useful to me, and what could help other people. Because you have knowledge that is helpful. you position yourself as somebody who has knowledge that they don’t an expert in their field. And then afterwards, people often have more questions, and then they can come up to you ask them or there’s a q&a section as part of the presentation. And again, you’re showing your knowledge at each and every step. And all that adds adds up to becoming a thought leader. So Erin Ollila 10:57 we talked about some of the benefits of speaking and how you’ve put yourself out there. If someone’s listening, and they’re thinking, Okay, I have a message I want to do more speaking, where do they look to find opportunities to speak, I think Charlotte Davies 11:12 one simple thing that you can do is just tell people that you want to start speaking, I think when you put it out there that you want to do something people naturally want to help. So if you say you want to start speaking, and you can speak about a specific subject matter, people will keep you in mind for those kinds of opportunities. Again, with networking events, if you go to a networking event, or you see a networking event in your area, or even in your industry, if it’s online, as well see if there’s opportunities to speak there as well. So pitch the event organizer, see who has been a speaker recently, it might be that the the opportunity isn’t there straightaway. But ask them to keep you in mind. And then if you are interested in the bigger things like events, there’s a search function on the website. So you can look at events near you. Or if you’re willing to travel, have a look. And quite often on the website, it will say whether they are open to applications or whether it’s invite only so if it’s an application, see what the subject matter is and what your pitch according to the theme of the event. Erin Ollila 12:38 What you said is this is a key point in this episode is that in order to get speaking events, you need to actually put yourself out there. And I know that sounds so obvious and basic. And you know, if you’re listening, you might be like, okay, but but the truth is, there is no buts right, I think what I admire about you and what I can see from your previous history that very regularly plays a part in your present in future should that trajectory is that experience you had from public relations, right? So you’re aware that in order to gain more visibility, you have to treat yourself and your business, like someone in PR one, you need to put yourself out there and you need to regularly be seeking out opportunities. But what I think a lot of business owners that I I know don’t understand is that is they may get the conceptual idea that like okay, if I want to speak more, I maybe need to like get myself out there. But the like, out there is actually pitching, right you have to do the work. If you want to make speaking as your main thought leadership channel. You do not become a speaker, just by people seeking you out no matter how much you’d like that to happen. One thing I talk about, or I have talked about before the podcast is I was pitched to be a speaker at Yale for their fellowship, especial fellowship that they have in the summer. I’ve done it a couple of years in a row now. And I was pitched that I did not have any contacts. And it sounds fun and wonderful because it’s Yale University, right? But that is a rare opportunity. Like if I want to be a speaker or a trainer. in more situations that are similar, I need to then go out there and say, I’m available. This is what I can talk about. This is how I’d like to help your audience. Because the key is not necessarily your expertise, which is funny to say on an episode about thought leadership, right? But the key in getting speaking opportunities is about how you can help the audience of whomever you’re pitching because I’m sure that even when you applied for your TED talk, and your your particular story is more memoir, like it’s your experience. You still had to explain to the organizer wasn’t the event how your experience would benefit the audience? Correct? Charlotte Davies 15:04 Yeah, absolutely. And I think that’s key for any public speaking, if you want to make it an engaging, talk, it can’t be all about yourself, even if it’s about yourself, which my talk was, how do you flip it so that it’s about the audience as well? And what are the things that they can take away and implement in their own lives in order to have a transformation or make their lives better, or just take something away, because especially with Ted, their whole concept is ideas worth spreading. So it can’t just be all about me. I was thinking about this earlier today because Brittany, but been who’s been a guest, and it’s a mutual friend, I was on her program at the time of applying to Ted, I think I’d mentioned it in one of the calls because I’ve been to a workshop, and Claire who was the curator of TEDx Wolverhampton was speaking. And this is why I really advocate going to networking events, especially in your own city is that you find out loads of stuff, which can be really useful. Because Claire at that event, said to the audience, we’re going to reopen the applications for TEDx Wolverhampton, because we have been inundated with applications about COVID and the pandemic. And we don’t want that anymore. We want a bit more variety. So I was able to go away and think people have told me I should write a book and I don’t want to write a book right now. But a 12 minute talk I could do. So in one of the weekly coaching calls with Brittany, I mentioned that there was the the opportunity to speak at TEDx and I was thinking about applying. She then put in the weekly roundup email that Charlotte is going to apply to speak at TEDx Wolverhampton, I thought, Well, I gotta do it now. So I did. I was accepted. And then I submitted my TED Talk draft for a couple of rounds of copy coaching. One of the biggest pieces of feedback at the start was, it feels like your life story. But it doesn’t really feel like a TEDx talk right? Now, how does that affect the audience? And I thought, that’s a really good point. Nobody just wants me to complain about my life. So then I started really thinking about what were the things that I could take from the experience because it was a horrible one, but I survived it. What were the things that I could tell the audience that would be helpful for them in similar tough times. And I’m so glad I did the talk, because it helped me to reframe the experience, it helped me to write it as a narrative. And now, like, if I’m going through a tough time, I think back, oh, let’s dive right in my took that could be really helpful. But I’ve had people reach out and tell me, they’ve watched it, and they’re going through really tough times themselves, but it’s given them hope. And as a result, they’re going to, for example, seek out some counseling. And when I got that message, in particular, it was somebody I went to high school with, I thought, This is exactly why I wanted to do this talk, because I hate the idea of people struggling. There is help out there. I think one of the things that’s really important when you’re public speaking, is is a great opportunity. But it doesn’t just have to be to the people in the room, you can use the opportunity to build your thought leadership and your authority around it as well. Because you can promote the fact that you’re doing it, you can take photos while you’re there, as a way of getting people involved as well. So if you’re on stage, you can take videos. But afterwards, take a photo with the event host or people you’ve met there as well. You can tag them on LinkedIn, and then afterwards, you’ve got something to write up on. Either a blog post or on social media, sends information out to your mailing list as well. And that can lead to loads of opportunities, Erin Ollila 19:39 or you’re actually answering a question that I was going to ask you in the future. And that was really like how do you promote the speech that you’re doing? Because I think there’s a double layer of promotion. There’s promoting the event. Let’s say you’re doing a keynote speech. I think people assume when they’re doing the speech that’s their responsibility is writing the speech and giving the speech Whereas your responsibility is also attracting an audience to the speech, right? Like, if you’d like to be invited back to do more speaking, or if you’d like to give, get a testimonial, if you’re able to show the presenter that you’ve done some work to, like attract people to also be at your speech, they’re going to think a lot more fondly of you, because you’re helping them and then helping them you’re helping yourself, right. So that’s just one layer. But the second layer is that a speech doesn’t have to be a one time asset. It could be something that you’re using many ways with your TED X speech, it’s on the internet, you can just send people a link, and they can see the entire thing. But so how do we then drop people there? One thing specifically that would I think assist my audience in thinking of promotion, like post promotion, is when I’m writing websites for clients, or even just doing copy coaching for the clients who are DIY in their websites. Everyone wants a speaking page, no one has any idea what to put on the speaking page, right? Like, in some ways, I actually really enjoy writing them, but they can be a little struggle, because you need to know how to promote previous events on a page that is doing the job of getting you hired for future events, right. So social proof is a huge thing. What social proof works on a speaking page are clips of you speaking, for example, if you have video recording or audio recording it again, it’s the testimonials from the event organizers or the people who have polled you on those speak volumes on a speaking page or a media page that you share. And they make it easier for you to get future opportunities, which is something we talked about before. Charlotte Davies 21:45 Yeah, I think what you just said about having a speaker page with the testimonials, and the social proof, the clips, I recently gave a presentation to students at Smart Cities university that came off of an email I sent to my list. Because last October, I spoke at the copyright club, in real life in London, about networking skills. As you can tell, I love networking. And I think it’s so important in business. But I had a problem with the tech on the day where the slides just stopped working in the practice. Right up until I was going to talk they were working absolutely fine. So Rob and Kira introduced me, I was the first speaker of the day, I got up and I did my little introduction clicked the clicker to go on to the next slide. And I thought, oh, crikey, what’s going to happen now, I thought, this wasn’t in the plan. Luckily, I downloaded them, I produced them all on Canvas. So I had them on my phone so I could get the app up. Everybody who’s closest to me could see them a little bit. But again, these things happen. I made it into a joke. I made it more interactive with the audience as well. Then when I left, I was able to use that story on social media to show that it had happened, Kira and Rob spoke about me on the copywriter club podcast because I handled the situation and I didn’t stress out too much. And then I used it in my email to my newsletter list as well. And the course leader at the university remedies email back saying, Oh, that sounds like really good opportunity. And I said, Well, I could do something similar for the university students, would you be interested? And he said, Yeah, let’s do it. So it took a few months, because there’s a bit of red tape. But yeah, earlier this year, I did it. And it was a really good experience. So I think that’s the key is, it doesn’t have to be a really formal pitch. It can just be, oh, I can do this. Do you fancy it? And if it’s somebody that you’re friendly with, quite often they’ll say, yeah, that’s let’s, let’s do it. Agreed. Erin Ollila 24:13 And again, if like were mentioned before, even if you’re not close to them, if you can show them how it would help their people, then I think that they will be so much more likely to take a chance on someone that they don’t know, right, because you’ve already indicated what you can do to benefit their the audience. I want to say one more thing, though. I love that you had the problem with the slides and you weren’t able to use them in your speech because where I think people think about thought leadership and speaking, they think about the pitching and then they think of the action of speaking. But again, we’ve already talked about they’re forgetting the follow up and all of the things that come later. Let’s talk about what happens before they get on stage because that so often does not get discussed. And I think Preparing to speak is the most vital of all of these things that we’re talking about. Obviously, if you’re not pitching, you’re not getting on stage. So that’s a huge important part too. But I think people think of thought leadership as something that is it’s in them, right? Like, these are the experiences in the education I have. So therefore, I have thought leadership. But I think that as writers, we understand that it’s something that’s cultivated and curated. And it’s specially in public speaking, you have to cultivate and carry and edit and adjust. You explained how, you know, within the TED community, that’s part of the process, right? Like, you have a copy coach who’s able to look at your work and be like, nice try. But this is not enough. And I don’t think that’s very commonplace in the business world, yet having my MFA and my earlier degrees and writing like, workshopping my work is so common for me that I think that I’m just so used to it, it doesn’t bother me, if anything, I kind of really enjoy hearing other people’s perspective on my work, whether that’s the leadership or just the actual things I’m producing for clients. So I’d love to talk more about the idea that preparing it’s kind of two parts, it’s cultivating what the message is, and then it’s the actual practicing. So I’d love to hear if you have any advice or experience when it comes to why it’s so important to develop the thought leadership, and then how to put that in practice when you’re actually speaking. Yeah, Charlotte Davies 26:36 and I think that’s something that I really hadn’t taken into account, the whole practice side of it, because but working at a theatre for so many years, as well, I see. I’m an actor, I’m not an actor, I don’t do that kind of stage work. But I’ve seen what it takes to get to the final production on stage, they people just don’t go up and start acting. There’s rehearsals, there’s the even before the hurt rehearsals, there’s the read through around the table, the rehearsals, dress rehearsals, where you’re actually wearing your clothes, and then you go on stage. And all that develops over time. So, for me, especially when I was speaking at TEDx, Wolverhampton, I really wants to make the most of that opportunity, because it doesn’t come about every day. So I really worked hard on my talk, I got feedback from Brittany. And I did so many different drafts. And it’s it changed so many different times as well. And when you’ve got 12 minutes, that’s not a lot of time. I could have spoken about that for about an hour. But when you’ve got a limited time, and often you do when you have a speaking slot, you have to make every word count. And you have to think about how how you want the audience to feel what are the key takeaways? And what do you want them to feel by the end of it as well. So I think there’s definitely that planning stage. Then there’s the writing stage, and there’s a lot of editing. But when you’ve got the draft to where you want it to be. Then there’s the presentation side, when you have cards or notes, it’s a barrier towards you and the audience, you want it to be as open as possible. So I spent hours learning the presentation I recorded myself speaking it, which is horrible. Nobody likes the sound of their own voice. But I would. I was away in London one weekend, and I just spent the whole time listening to it and then repeating it back. Whenever I got in the car, I would run through it. So I knew it’s so so well. So it’s actually learning the presentation and learning it by heart. So that’s a lot of work as well. Then there’s the body language and the hand gestures as well. So the week before I was actually on stage, every night I would fill myself. And at the start of the week I thought oh my hands because my hands were just kind of flopping by my side. And I just didn’t look confident. So I thought I need to be more intentional in my hand gestures. So I went on YouTube, which is amazing and found a load of videos about hand geographies, what to do and how to point in the air and use your hands and your body language to really make the point resonate with the audience. And then something that people don’t often talk about, but close Think what are you going to wear? What are you going to feel comfortable and confident in? Because you’re in front of people, you want to feel your best? And shoes? Are you going to feel comfortable walking out on stage wearing heels, or any kind of shoes for 20 or so 3040 minutes, depending on how long your talk is, if they’re too tight, or if they’re too loose, you’ve got a greater chance of falling over. And nobody wants to do that. Ideally, before they talk. I Erin Ollila 30:30 have so much to say here. One, when you’re talking about like going to YouTube and learning about like hand gestures, I can see people hearing this episode. And they’re like, What? Like she did that to prepare. But yes, like there’s so much that you can learn from many different communities about public speaking, specifically, like it’s easy to think theatre, right? Because we think about stage presence, we think about blocking, we think about voice and how to like amplify your voice, staging all these things. But all these little extra parts, it actually reminded me of and probably because we’re talking specifically about your TED experience. And Cuddy’s TED Talk, where she talks about your power stance and how developing a power stance can actually make you feel more comfortable and confident. Which leads me to the clothing, which is such a key key thing when it comes to public speaking, that I wasn’t even thinking about. And I can say with all assurity to you and the audience that the times I did my best speaking was when I felt comfortable in my clothing. The times I did the worst 100% had clothing related things to them. You know, the first time I spoke at Yale, and this is, I think a great example. The first time I spoke at Yale, I felt like well, it’s Yale, of course, I have to speak up. Of course, I need to look professional, and I wore clothing. I didn’t feel like it fit me well. So I was standing in front of a group of people who were very comfortably dressed, let me tell you, they didn’t dress to attend Yale University, they dressed like a human would, who had their own style, right? Like I dressed to the thinking that I had to live up to this professional level, which was ridiculous. And I should have known better at my own age and experience in speaking. But I was worried about how my belly looked I was my feet hurt me because I wore shoes that were I had not broken in yet. It was a hot summer day. So I just felt hot in the clothing. The next year that I went, let me tell you, I dress very differently. And it was such a fun experience. Because I didn’t even think of any of that I wasn’t overheated. My clothes fit me well, I did not think about my body shape, or I did not think that anyone was else was looking at my body shape, right? So it was I was able to just have my own presence on stage and focus on what the real job was. And that was delivering a message and educating people. So I definitely think things like the way that you present yourself for your own good is important, as well as the message that that portrays to the audience. And everything goes into that, like you’re mentioning hand gestures, the facial movements are making, right like, you know, resting bitchface doesn’t quite help when you’re onstage, right, you have to figure out even if you’re having a bad day, like I’m sure that you’ve been in situations. I know I have. For example, when I graduated from my MFA program, I was voted as the student speaker for graduation. And unfortunately, my dad had a major heart attack two days before I graduated, where I had to leave the area that I was and go home and practically made it back just in time for graduation with none of my family members there with my dad in a very precarious situation. To give my speech that I worked really hard on it was probably the best speech I’ve ever given. Because it I drew in all of the students who are graduating with me as part of the speech. So it felt important to me, let me tell you, there was a lot that wasn’t great about that. Like I didn’t feel like I have the best pep in my step. I wasn’t thrilled to be in the moment. But in order to give a good speech that I had already put so much effort into, I had to put my own mood aside in that moment, and determine how I wanted to present myself now, I’ll tell you, because I was excited because I was already prepared. I was able to to get into the mood because I had a great audience because I had built in some humor and some emotion into the speech. It was it was a natural progression to be able to be like Oh, this feels good. This feels good in the moment. I could put my worries out aside, but there have been other times where it’s just like you know, maybe you get in a fight with a partner or Maybe you’re worried about like your children at school and those things are nagging on you, maybe you’re waiting for a very important email. So like even smaller things can really affect how you feel. And you have to develop a way to go on stage and put that aside. Because, again, thought leadership is not just speaking, it’s not just saying words, but leadership is how it’s presented. It’s how it’s put together, it’s the way that the message is shared, meaning like the storytelling elements of the message. And I think in order to really do that, well, you need to all of these things you’ve mentioned, really need to be practiced. Charlotte Davies 35:36 Yeah, absolutely. And I think one other thing I’ve learned over the years as well, is that even if you feel like you’ve done a bad job, or you’ve gone wrong, keep it to yourself. Nobody knows what you were planning to say. And even if it’s different from the slides, that doesn’t really matter. As long as you feel like you’ve delivered some value. If people come up to you and say at the end, oh, thank you. That was a really good presentation, I’ve learned so much. Don’t go and say, Oh, well, it could have been better. It doesn’t matter. You might feel that inside. But when people hear that, I feel like it’s almost shortchanging them. I remember being in the Zumba class, or it was cardio combat, and I was enjoying the workout. And then halfway through the instructor said, Oh, when I did that, before, it was so much better. I miss this out. And the other I thought, I wish you had told me that because I felt like I was doing a really good workout. Yeah, it seemed fine to me, I didn’t know any different until you told me. And I think when your public speaking, it’s similar. Don’t draw attention to your mistakes. Or if you do make light of it rather than making a disaster. Erin Ollila 36:52 Well, then it’s like what you did when you weren’t able to access your slides, right? Like a showcasing yourself as like a fallible human, which obviously, this is not your a big problem with the slides, but like, showcasing that you’re able to just pick up regardless of the mistake that you make gives you the opportunity to make speaking that much more accessible to other people, you know, there might be people in the audience who would look at you and aspire to be you, which may sound silly to you, because you’re like, oh, gosh, no, like this, I’m a mess behind the scenes, right. But like those people who are watching you, and who are learning from you, and who are consuming your thought leadership may be like placing you on a bit of a pedestal. So if you’re able to show yourself as fallible, if you are able to give your message regardless of what happens, then you’re kind of giving them the inspiration to be able to go and do it themselves. So at the end, if you’re getting compliments, and then you’re discounting the work that you’re doing, then you’re also discounting that accessibility to them, right, because you’re putting too much pressure on yourself for perfection. And Perfection doesn’t make a good public speaker, a good public speaker as one who was able to build that connection with the audience, and deliver the message in a way that is best suited for the audience. Charlotte Davies 38:11 Yeah, 100%. And I think leadership in general, whether you’re a thought leader, or so many different types of leadership, but people look to you and how you respond to situations. So if you can roll with the punches and deal with a difficult situation and come up positively, then it makes everybody feel calm. Erin Ollila 38:33 And a drumroll, please. There’s the end of our episode. Thank you, Charlotte. I think this is such a well rounded episode because I know that there are people in the business community that want to be thought leaders, and I think that they’re able to hear this and prepare well and also just jump in at the same time. Just just start. Charlotte Davies 38:51 Because without starting, you can’t improve on anything. It’s not going to be perfect at the start. As we said Perfection doesn’t exist to get started and see where it goes. All Erin Ollila 39:03 right, Charlotte, thank you so much for joining us today. Everyone who’s listening, I will put all the ways that you can connect with Charlotte and the show notes as well as the link to her TED talk so you can watch it and get inspired for your own speaking journey. Thanks, Charlotte Davies 39:16 Sarah. And it’s been really great. Erin Ollila 39:20 Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Top copy to me. If you enjoyed spending your time with me today. I would be so honored if you could subscribe to the show and leave a review. Want to continue the conversation. Head on over to Instagram and follow me at Erin Ollila. Until next time friends

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