We constantly hear at tradeshows, retailer events, races and even just out in the wild the amazing things everyday people are doing in Topos. We hope that of these stories can someday be told in a public setting to further motivate those who are ready to embark on their own running journeys.
In that effort, we tapped Topo Apex Crew member, professional public speaker, ultrarunner and community advocate for the visually impaired, Kyle Robidoux to share his best tips for public speaking. Last year, Kyle also made history as the first known athlete who is visually impaired to attempt the famous Western States Endurance Run. Check out his tips on public speaking below!
Public speaking is in many ways very similar to endurance sports. You need to put in the work, you need to become comfortable being comfortable, and the process is as important as the final product, whether it is a race or presentation.
For some reason I have always felt comfortable speaking in front of crowds. For 20 plus years I have worked at non-profits and as a community organizer, so I’ve made numerous presentations and facilitated small and large community meetings.
I began my public speaking adventure in late 2018 as a way to increase awareness about athletes with different abilities and to help break down myths of individuals who are blind/visually impaired. I quickly learned that telling my own personal story is much more difficult than talking about an organization’s mission or leading a community meeting about affordable housing.
Here are some takeaways a year plus later.
Unless you are aiming to be an elected official, you do not have to memorize all your remarks. You will become more focused on the memorization piece and less passionate in your delivery. Write an outline (think high school book reports!), think through a couple of transition points, and your finish.
Know the Course
It is always helpful to know who the audience will be and how the room/speaking environment will be set up. Beyond PowerPoint capacity, ask about the sound system. Will you use a handheld mic, or will you present from behind a podium? Will the room set up allow you to move through the room (or at least the front part) during your presentation?
Keep it Light
Everyone loves a good joke or two. I find that something lighthearted right at the beginning helps calm your nerves, put the audience on notice that this will be engaging, and lets you ease into the main topic.
Be an Expert & Authentic
Try to focus on topics that you know really well, and your speaking topics will flow. Also, when telling your personal story or something related, keep it honest. Feel free to let the audience know you are going to share some “real talk.”
Just like every good race, you want to share some strong material for your finish. Much like my runs, this is the hardest part for me. So don’t be afraid to pull some material from the meat of your presentation and keep it for a strong finish.
Being a strong and confident public speaker takes practice. As the old saying goes, feel free to practice in front of a mirror or a room full of friends. Holler if you ever want to chat about this further. You can connect with me through my website www.kylerobidoux.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re interested in booking Kyle for a speaking event head to http://www.kylerobidoux.com.