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Heavy Chef Event: Public Speaking

Event Report: Crafting Presentations That Resonate With Your Audience 


Speaking in public is the Achilles heel of many an entrepreneur. You could be the biggest, most experienced business person out there and still fumble when you get on stage and have to present an idea to an audience. While it is certainly okay for that to happen, since we’re only human after all, being able to harness the art of public speaking is a serious advantage for any entrepreneur.

Today, business leaders can no longer get away with sitting quietly in the corner, minding the bottom line. Instead, CEOs and founders are akin to public figures, celebrated and often invited to speak on the various matters impacting their business environments. So much so that taking part in public relations activities is now a major KPI for many leaders. Still, whether you’re at the helm of a company or not, there are many other times in your journey that you will need to master the art of speaking in front of an audience. From pitching for funding or support to giving company talks and presentations, there is no shortage of situations where entrepreneurs have to speak clearly and with conviction.

That’s why we had to pull in the experts for some serious tips on how to conquer the beast. And we know we say this a lot but last night’s Public Speaking event was one for the books. Not one but two Toastmasters World Champions of Public Speaking joined us last night to demystify the myths, unlock the secrets and arm us with the tools we need to be kickass at conveying a message emotively and persuasively. 1995 World Champion of Public Speaking Mark Brown patched in from the USA and, along with 2021’s World Champion of Public Speaking (and Heavy Chef’s official best friend) Verity Price and our CEO Fred Roed, regaled our audience with anecdotes of their own experiences on the proverbial stage and what they learnt from it all.

 “I won the championship 27 years ago and I have the VHS tape to prove it,” quipped Mark Brown at the start of the evening, setting the tone for an evening that was equal parts laughter and learning.

But why, exactly, are we afraid to speak in front of other people? Both Mark and Verity had interesting takes on this question. Firstly, as Mark so clearly put it, “we are not afraid of public speaking, we’re afraid of public judgement.” This is not exactly helped by our various experiences in front of crowds throughout our lives (Oh, the dreaded oral presentations in school!).

But Verity had the most interesting, scientific take on it: “The theory that makes the most sense for me as to why we're afraid of speaking in public is when we look at the difference between predators and prey. The predator's eyes face forward because they're on the hunt, while the prey's eyes are on the side of their heads because they're making sure that they're not getting eaten. Which way do human eyes face? So when you stand up to speak in front of a room full of people, your brain is going, ‘I am lunch! These people are going to eat me.’ It's actually a very instinctive thing.”

To say that there were many mic drop moments is an understatement - Verity and Mark speak in quotables and we could start a t-shirt line from all the witty, funny things they said.

Some Key Take-Aways From The Night:

  • Your presentation is a gift to the audience. If they love it, they’ll take it home and unwrap it. Be clear in your message and craft your story to land in people’s hearts.
  • Stop giving speeches and start delivering experiences. A simple way to do that is by telling stories. But don’t just tell them - relive them.
  • Bring your life force with you - the quickest way to access your life force is to tell a story.
  • Authenticity and vulnerability are key to connecting with your audience.
  • Be authentic but don’t let your emotions overwhelm the audience and detract from your message.
  • Craft your talk in a way that an 8-year-old can understand - simple, vivid words will help you keep your audience.
  • If you’re giving a virtual talk, speak through the camera and not at it.
  • Focus on your friends behind the lens - speak through the camera as if you are speaking to someone you love.
  • Don’t expect to get paid immediately - learn to speak for free until you can speak for a fee.
  • Your accent is an asset - don’t lose it, use it. In fact, bring your whole being to the presentation.

See? Quotes for days! You can watch the full presentation below.


With Special Thanks To…

First and foremost, to our event partners Xero, PayFast and Workshop17, without whom none of these sessions would be possible, and to Backsberg, Sir Fruit, Creed Living and Goodleaf for the super-tasty thirst-quenchers and treats that help fuel our community get-togethers.

To our other partners, including Capitalise, xneelo, Whipping the Cat, Eclipse Communications, HP Stores and many more, you’re appreciated. And last but never least, to our community of entrepreneurs - it’s always a pleasure learning and doing alongside you.

Until the next one, peace.