As you might have guessed by now, I just finished doing a public speaking engagement in Tampa yesterday at Metrocon 2021 and it got me thinking…what is it like for autistic and neurodivergent individuals to get up and speak in front of large crowd?
I will tell you that speaking in front of a large audience is challenging for some individuals, even though they are experienced and have been on the saddle many times before.
Still, speaking in front of an audience to me, is something that is important in getting my story out there. Yes, I stutter and it takes me a second to think what I have to say, but that’s just one of things about being a public speaker. I do get nervous, but I do take anxiety reducing medication and it helps me stay relaxed because the last thing I want is to have an overload or meltdown while in front of an audience
For those of you who are looking to go into public speaking, I will say that one thing you need to remember is that not everyone is going to like what you are saying on that stage. In past talks, I’ve had audience members walk out on me because they were either uninterested or that they felt like they needed to go somewhere else. You have to focus on those who are interested and want to connect with you. Those who stay throughout are the ones you have the biggest connection with.
Now, another thing is that as a public speaker, you have to be professional at your craft. You have to look respectable in terms of appearance on stage, you also have to project your voice so that people in the back can hear you. Professionalism equals respect from your audience and can open plenty of doors for you.
In terms of appearance, try to look in a way that matches your audience. For example, at fan conventions, I usually go with a polo shirt and blue jeans because my audience is mostly either casual or in cosplay. For conferences and trainings, I always go with a nice button down dress shirt, khakis and a jacket because my audience will be in professional or business attire.
Another thing that audiences will notice is your body language. Don’t be in a way that signals to your audience that you don’t want to be on that stage. You don’t want to be up there and say to your audience, “Why the h*ll am I up there?” when you really want to be up there.
Remember that when you are on that stage, you are a servant to your audience and fans that are in that said audience. They are coming to see you and seek your advice and your wisdom. Never act in a manner that sends the wrong message because if you are not interested, then your audience is not interested.
Now, there are several of us in the autism/neurodiversity communities that are accomplished public speakers. We are not perfect people, but we are on a mission to help others who so desperately want to seek our guidance. Some of the individuals who are accomplished speakers are:
Yes, these are just a few of the individuals that make up the autism/neurodiversity community that are also not afraid of standing in front of an audience. We all have different backgrounds, but our mission is the same and that is to share our stories with the world whether they be in-person or in front of a computer screen.
Catch you all later!