Will they really learn something?
That’s a question I always ask myself on the rare occasion I accept an invitation to speak before a group, regardless of the topic and the group. Usually, the subject matter is PR, my area of expertise, as it should be after more than 20 years in the field. Sometimes, I’m asked to speak or even volunteer to speak about my favorite charity, World Vision. In the case of World Vision, I'm almost always providing newsworthy and vital information, so the question really pertains to professional engagements. Whether I’m in front of my peers, a class of advertising or PR students, or even my 3rd grader’s classroom, I always fret over whether I’ll have something they find new, newsworthy, valuable. Of course, I’m not alone in this. Public speaking is well known as a major source of stress for most people – even actors and politicians.
And I’ve heard or read all of the tips and tricks. With more practice, I’m sure the nervousness subsides, but the question of how informative or valuable my presentation is/was will always exist. Sure, I could hand out a survey every time, but that’s not always viable.
So as I prepare to give an informal talk to a group of my peers next week at the monthly PRSA Happy Hour (thanks for the invitation!), I’m going to do my best to provide nuggets of valuable information. Topic is PR in the restaurant/food industry; co-speaker is the amazing Cathy Cochran-Lewis of Whole Foods, so a bit of built-in pressure right there. Some in the group may not give a hoot about restaurant PR if their work revolves around high-tech PR or he/she is a healthcare writer. Buf, with the popularity of reality shows such as Top Chef and No Reservations, I’m pretty sure the restaurant and food worlds are considered pretty darn interesting to at least those who eat out and watch TV. (Isn't that everyone?)
And since the restaurant portion of my PR career started with the Hard Rock Café back in the early 90s – yes, it was still considered hip back then! – I’ve got a few entertaining stories to mix in with relevant facts and best practices. That’s the ticket – mix the educational with the sensational and I bet they’ll learn something. At the very least, I'll aim for entertaining.
For those of you who attend, please drop me a line and let me know either way!