Adventures and Reflections from Cathy O'Dowd

Adventures & Reflections
from Cathy O'Dowd

Working as a professional speaker can be a strange business. I seldom cross paths with colleagues as I’m often the only outside speaker at a European-wide conference of a major multinational. A lot of time is spent alone in aeroplane and hotel rooms, and a lot of time is spent with strangers. Explaining what I do normally takes 10 minutes, most people are unaware of the many-million dollar industry that is the international speaking circuit. So to have the chance to spend time once or twice a year with colleagues who do what I do, who understand the industry with all its frustration and all its enormous reward, is a joy and a relief.

I’ve been a member of The Professional Speaking Association in the UK for over a decade. Yesterday I attended an afternoon session just for the Fellows, a designation given to those at “the pinnacle of the profession.” It is a chance to swop ideas and experiences with fellow speaking professionals who genuinely do this for a living, paying the mortgage with their speaking, training and consulting fees and we were lucky to get an in-depth analysis of speaker website and web marketing best practise from Internet Psychologist Graham Jones.

The Probe the Pros panel at Creativity Live PSA.

Today was the spring convention, titled Creativity Live, a day-long bonanza of superb presentations. I was able to contribute as a panellist on the Probe the Pros session, and spend up the rest of the day soaking up the ambience, cherry-picking a few key ideas and being inspired by the many brilliant ways in which a message can be delivered. Everyone was superbly professional and even when I didn’t like the presentations, the challenge became to analyse why I didn’t like it and how much of that was personal to me or applicable to a wider audience. However, there were two I particularly loved.

Celia Delaney of SpeakingSuccess brought a wonderful sexy sizzle to the platform, sharing with us secret of her superb stagecraft. And fellow South African Rory Douglas Mackenzie – who closed the Paralympics last year – closed the day with a superbly presented account of rowing across the Atlantic to raise money for British soldiers disabled in the line of duty.

I go away refreshed, reinvigorated and with a long to-do list to brush up my own speaking business. My next infusion will come at the Professional Speaking Association ‘MEGA’ Convention October 5th-6th 2013 in Manchester, where I will be one of the speakers in the two-day line-up. I’m looking forward to it!

From Cathy's Probe the Pros session via Twitter

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