Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What I Wish I Learned in College

by Sarah Solomon,
Robyn Hatcher leading workshop at Asian Women in Business
My name is Sarah Solomon and I am Robyn Hatcher’s new assistant/marketing intern. I graduated from Baruch College last year with a degree in Marketing and have been with SpeakEtc. since October 2012. Mostly what I do is manage all of the social media marketing that takes place. I now also assist Robyn at some of her speaking events. A few weeks ago I sat in on one of Robyn’s presentations for the first time. I was so amazed at how much I enjoyed the event that I decided to share my experience with you all.

Recently, Robyn was asked to speak at Columbia University to the Organizational Psychology Professional Development Group, a group of young individuals studying to become future Human Resources professionals and trainers, about the “Rules of Engagement.” Robyn spoke about ways to make presentations more engaging and effective and gave useful tips on how to answer difficult questions, involve the audience and use gestures successfully. By the end, I was not only surprised at how entertaining and informative it was but I found myself strangely wanting more! Which has NEVER happened to me at any presentation I have been to in the past.

As a recent college graduate, I have sat through my fair share of speaking events and can honestly say that I am not a huge fan of them. Mainly because majority of the presentations that I have been to lacked personality, which made them seem like they would last forever. What I loved most about Robyn’s presentation was how she managed to keep everyone focused and entertained at the same time. I came into the event not as Robyn’s intern, but instead put myself back in the mindset of a college student who needed help with how she presented in class. Some of the tips she gave out were things I have never heard before and about half way through the workshop I began wondering “why didn’t I know about all of this sooner?”  Simple things such as gesturing from your elbows down, keeping your hands open and facing up and how to answer a difficult question that you do not know the answer to, were all tricks I now wish I had known during my college career.

For me, the highlight of the night was when Robyn spoke about “WIIFT” (What’s In It For Them).  “WIIFT” is about appealing to your audience as soon as you begin presenting. It is more about connecting with the audience emotionally and letting them know how what you are about to say is relevant and necessary to them. I realized this is something a lot of us forget to do when we present. We become so wrapped up in all the facts and making sure we touch all the important points that we forget about how the audience feels while listening to us. I know for a fact that if a speaker dives right into his speech without making any form of a connection with me, I will begin to start tuning him out immediately and only listen for the important parts.

Robyn’s phrase “Stop presenting, start engaging” should become the #1 rule for all public speaking situations. Whether it is a class presentation or a speech in front of 10,000 people, you have to make your audience WANT to listen to what you have to say. The only way to do this is to connect with them emotionally. The tips Robyn spoke about are definitely things I will use in the future and I am positive everyone that was in that room that night will too.