Beyond the #Girlbossmoment: Katherine Lisciani owns the stage during her keynote speech!
“A few weeks ago, at the ripe age of 26, I gave my first keynote speech at the Digital Philanthropy and Millennial Engagement Conference (#RuffaloCON16) in Atlanta speaking on behalf of my experience as the founder of Millennovator. I was shocked to receive the invitation to keynote, and although I was slightly terrified at the thought of having to speak continuously for 60 minutes to a room full of people three times my senior (not to mention my pay grade!), I knew that if I passed this up, I might not get the opportunity again.
I'll spare you the details of how I spent months carefully preparing and outlining every detail of my speech and then nitpicked the entire presentation to death just two days before the conference. With less than 48 hours to go, I scrapped everything and decided to rebuild the entire presentation from the ground up.
All in all, I had about 15 minutes from the time I finished the last slide of my deck to the time I took the stage. This is EXACTLY what I wanted to avoid doing—going in blind. As I prepared to take the stage, I looked out at the crowd of blank-faced executives staring back at me. I took a deep breath and thought, "Well, this might not be the conventional way to rock a keynote; but when has the traditional way of doing things ever really worked in your favor anyways?" I decided right then and there that the only way I wanted to do this was as myself.
I slipped off my killer #girlboss heels, stepped into a pair of Converse I had conveniently brought with, and took the stage. It was scrappy, spazzy, and at times, uncomfortable. But I stayed the course, spoke from the heart, and refused to let imposter syndrome get the best of me.
Afterwards, attendees of all ages began lining up to tell me how much they enjoyed the keynote and how my perspective was so different from anything they had heard that week. I walked away feeling thankful, accomplished, and satisfied knowing that what happened on that stage was the result of being the 100% uncensored and authentic me.”
Three pieces of advice for doing a public speaking gig like a Girlboss:
1) Don't pick at your work! Once you've finished your presentation and you are happy with what you're going to say, STOP TOUCHING IT. I made this mistake when prepping for my keynote. Instead of just being satisfied with what I had, I kept fidgeting with my presentation, changing every detail under the sun until it looked almost unrecognizable from what I initially started with.
2) Instead, find a speaker that you look up to, who you feel you can confide in and trust to tell you the truth about your presentation. Ask them to look over the finished deck rather than looking over it yourself.
3) Film yourself practicing your speech out loud. This is the best way to identify and correct negative or nervous body language that you might otherwise not have realized you were doing. Stage presence plays a huge part in connecting with your audience. You don't want to be a guest on the stage. You want to own it. And the only way to do that is to confidently stand before them projecting your words across the room like you believe wholeheartedly that what you're saying today is the difference between life and death (figuratively speaking ;) ).