Every conference has one -- the workshop that outshines all others because it's chock full of concrete take-homes, practical advice, and real-world applications. The best of these workshops involves audience participation and a chance for a willing victim to step up and try a few of the presenter's tips and tricks so that the rest of us can see that they really work.
When I went to a 3-day retreat for women back in October, that workshop was "Speaking with Power and Passion" and the presenter was Robyn Hatcher. I knew nothing about her before attending her presentation, but she'd already made a strong first impression. This is how she did it.
During the dinner hour on the first night of the retreat, each of the 20-odd presenters was given the chance to stand up at the front of the room and pitch her workshop. Some gave the typical elevator speech -- 90 seconds of who they were and what they offered. Others seemed unprepared and uncomfortable with extemporaneous speaking; it was clear they needed a podium and their prepared index cards.
But when Robyn walked up and turned to face us, she exuded presence and power without sacrificing warmth and authenticity, and spoke to the group of 50 women as if she knew us all personally. Unlike many public speaking professionals, she was free of any affectations or mannerisms that felt forced and artificial.
When I walked into her workshop the next day, she'd already been thrown a curve ball; the morning keynote address ran long and had eaten up a third of her allotted time frame. But you'd never have known it from her attitude or her presentation. I took notes as fast as I could, only stopping to soak up those "aha!" moments when seemingly random bits of information fell into place. So much of what she said was rooted in psychological and scientific research, yet these details weren't dry or academic. Instead, they gave credibility to her words.
To be honest, I'm a lousy conference attendee because if I don't like a presentation, I'll sneak out. Most workshops bore me because I don't care for the style, delivery, or presence of the speaker. Having worked in radio and television as a producer and talk show host, I know when someone's got the goods and when they don't. Robyn Hatcher has the goods, and she's graciously sharing her tips and tricks here on About.com because I told her that I wanted to start the new year with smart advice any woman can use.
And I'm not embarrassed to admit it -- I can certainly benefit from more confidence and presence in many areas of my life. If you feel the same, follow the link below.