You’ll be responsible for generating excitement and engaging participants to take part and learn. You have the power to set the tone for the entire weekend, and you’ll be able to energize, relax, and make participants feel comfortable in the space. Everyone will be looking to you for guidance, and you’ll be able to provide expert guidance to all parties involved because you’ll have the experience and the training to do just this.
The fear of public speaking can be a major roadblock to achieving your goals, but the right training and practice can help you get out of your comfort zone and learn how to inspire, manage, and engage crowds.
The Value of Public Speaking at Techstars Startup Weekend
Influence: Public speaking is a means to influence a group of people. You’ll be able to develop valuable skills to get buy-in for your ideas.
Community building: You’ll be facilitating connections between participants and teams to work together effectively and form bonds that will build a stronger entrepreneurial community.
Leadership: You’ll be making decisions with authority for all groups of people within a Startup Weekend, thus practicing how to act with confidence and leadership.
Professional recognition: In a lot of regions, being a facilitator within the Startup Weekend community can be a differentiator when applying for jobs. Seeing that you are an experienced public speaker can open up many professional opportunities.
Visibility: By being such a visible part of the event, you open yourself up to vast and diverse networking possibilities, including with sponsors, partners, mentors, and judges.
Be the example: You’ll be able to demonstrate what it means to be a good facilitator who acts with integrity, empathy, authenticity, humility, and inclusivity, and influence a whole room full of budding entrepreneurs and others to follow your example.
Orai has created an AI Speech Coach to help individuals and teams look and sound more credible in meetings and presentations by giving immediate feedback on fillers, pace, tone, facial expression, conciseness, and more.
To receive three free months of premium membership to the Orai App, please reach out to your Techstars Community Support Contact when you’re ready to dive in.
Effective Communication Strategies
A few strategies that can help you become a better public speaker:
Embrace your nerves: Nervousness is normal and prepares your body for a great performance. Associate your body’s physiological reaction to your nerves with success as opposed to fear of failure.
Practice, practice, practice: Take the time to go over your facilitator deck notes several times and practice talking through each slide.
Be flexible: If participants are not engaging with you, change the pace or content. Do a quick energizer activity to stimulate engagement.
Humor and storytelling: A funny anecdote in your presentation will grab your audience’s attention, and humans generally appreciate authenticity. It builds trust and also makes you more approachable during the weekend. A personal story can provide that.
Try not to read your notes: By maintaining eye contact, you’re maintaining your interpersonal connection. Use your deck as reference.
Use your body language effectively: Be mindful of what your body language is doing — nonverbal communication carries a big part of the message. Good delivery does not call attention to itself, but instead conveys the speaker’s ideas clearly and without distraction.
A great way to keep your audience engaged is to make use of ice-breakers and energizers. You can see a list of suggested activities in your ice-breakers and energizers resource section.
You can also use some tried and tested techniques to calm a crowd and bring their attention back to you. Two examples:
Clap and stop: At the start of the weekend explain that any time you start to clap loudly, everyone who hears the clapping should start clapping and look at you. Practice this once. If you need to get the group's attention, you can start to clap and clap until everyone joins in. Then you all stop together with a big arm gesture, extending arms wide like a symphony conductor. Once there is silence you can resume your presentation.
If you can hear my voice clap: At the start of the weekend explain that any time you say, “If you can hear my voice clap once,” participants should clap once, and if you say “If you can hear my voice clap twice,” participants should clap twice, until everyone in the room is clapping for the amount of claps specified. To make it fun, you can trick your participants by repeating ‘once’ after ‘three times’ or ‘four times.’