Singapore 22nd September 2010
Over the years I have been invited regularly as a resource and guest speaker at various events, mostly lighting related functions, seminars or training courses. It is something I really like to do as it keeps me on the edge as for these types of events you have to be 150% on top of your subject. People invite you to speak because they see you as an expert in your field and hope to learn and become aware of the latest developments in lighting shared from our professional knowledge. The presentation therefore has to deliver the level of expertise that is expected from our profession in general and from my years of experience as lighting designer specifically.
The last few days I have been liaising with my host in India who has invited me to guest-speak at an economic forum later this year that has included lighting as a main event. I generally don’t charge a speaking or appearance fee as long as all my travel and out of pocket expenses are covered as I believe in give and take. Being invited as a professional expert speaker is an acknowledgement to my status as a leading lighting designer and being involved in the event exposes me to a whole lot of new potential business relationships. If I deliver the goods in my talk, the rest will follow, I know from experience.
Having said that, public speaking is not everybody’s cup of tea. I have been blessed with many exposures in this area since my early years in Philips and still today many of my audiences and “students”, when I meet them still voice their appreciation on attending my presentations. It is all about confidence and authority…and then how to deal with questions. I well remember my first steps in public speaking nearly having to read every word from prepared presentation paper. You are then so focused on trying to read/ present without mistakes that you are not engaging with your audience to the extent that any question can throw you of balance! With experience you don’t need to write down your presentation anymore, with your slides triggering automatically what you want to share and you can engage with your audience…it’s all in the preparation. My university teacher ever said: “A good preparation is half the work done!”