From Lecture Halls to the Limelight of Public Speaking

My journey from an everyday lecturer to a celebrated keynote speaker is a tale that seems straight out of a movie.

The thrill of public speaking, a domain that challenges even the bravest, has been my playground.

Let me share with you my story of transformation and growing confidence, a narrative that’s both entertaining and inspiring.

The Unforgettable First Time
I clearly remember my first encounter with public speaking.

It’s an experience that’s etched in my memory, particularly the first time.

You might wonder, how did I transition from an academic lecturer to a master in the speaking arena?

Let’s delve into my captivating journey.

The Lecturer’s Leap
You might think that lecturing students every day would make public speaking easy for me.

But the truth is, addressing students and facing a diverse audience at an international conference are completely different experiences.

My journey to build rock-solid confidence involved overcoming a series of unique challenges.

Diverse Roles, Diverse Stages
My path to mastery was marked by diverse stages:

  1. University Lectures
  2. Technical Conferences (Domestic and International)
  3. Invited Talks (Global)
  4. Delivering Keynote Addresses
  5. Panel Moderator
  6. Panel Member (With and Without Scripts)
  7. YouTube Channel (MIMOS) – Videos 1 & 2
  8. TV Program – Gizmo Segment (Recorded)
  9. National Radio Shows
  10. TV Program – Selamat Pagi Malaysia (Live Broadcast)

Each role, from R&D Director at MIMOS facing management with project proposals and updates, to CEO of my startup, Favoriot, required a unique set of skills.

Pitching and presenting to customers, and being an invited speaker or moderator, all demanded not just knowledge but the ability to engage and persuade.

Conquering the Confidence Conundrum
My strategy for overcoming the fears of public speaking evolved alongside my career:

  1. Tailored PowerPoint slides for every audience
  2. Selecting topics that captivate
  3. Deep-diving into current affairs for content
  4. Regular practice to refine my delivery
  5. Engaging with every member of the audience
  6. Mind mapping to structure my thoughts
  7. Rigorous preparation well ahead of time
  8. Constantly updating my material
  9. Mingling with attendees to build rapport
  10. Weaving conference themes into my talks
  11. Storytelling to connect on a personal level
  12. Injecting humor to keep the mood light

Conclusion: Embracing My Mastery
Through my roles as a lecturer, R&D Director, CEO, and public speaker, I’ve learned that mastering public speaking is more than just conveying a message; it’s about creating a bond with your audience and leaving a lasting impact.

This journey has taught me that speaking is an art, a strategy, and a way to express your true self.

Remember my story as you step onto your stage.

Like me, you may find your unique path from the quiet of the lecture hall to the bright lights of the speaking world.

Reluctant Speaker: From Reclusiveness to Renown

I never imagined myself standing as a speaker at national and international seminars or conferences.

Being naturally introverted and not bold in public speaking, I preferred solitude.

However, my career as a Lecturer demanded a significant shift from this reclusive nature.

The profession of teaching inherently involves speaking out, yet teaching students differs vastly from addressing an assembly of professionals and scholars.

A Turning Point in 1987
The year 1987 marked a crucial turning point for me. Following my Master’s degree in 1986, I developed a deep interest in ISDN technology, humorously referred to as “I Still Don’t kNow,” but actually standing for Integrated Services Digital Network.

This emerging technology aimed to transition from analog to digital, especially in internet applications, boasting speeds up to 64 kb/s.

My engagement with ISDN became the gateway to my foray into public seminars.

Milestone Presentations
My public speaking journey took a significant leap on August 17, 1987, when I presented at MNCC’87 in Kuala Lumpur.

My paper was titled “ISDN – The Needs for a Transition in Malaysian Telecommunications Network.”

This was followed by another key presentation on October 12, 1987, titled “ISDN – Prospects and Challenges for Malaysia” at the National Conference on Networking and Data Communications in National Development, held at PWTC, Kuala Lumpur.

Overcoming Nervousness
Facing nearly a thousand attendees at the PWTC hall was a daunting experience.

Despite the air conditioning, I felt overwhelmed by nerves, barely noticing the physical discomfort.

As a UTM Lecturer discussing a highly pertinent topic in telecommunications, all attention was on me.

The initial moments of my speech were the most challenging, as I felt engulfed in nervousness, almost oblivious to my audience.

Reflection and Persistence
Despite receiving some positive feedback, those presentations remain the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life.

Years have passed, filled with numerous other presentations, yet the underlying anxiety persists.

The strategies I’ve developed to cope with this nervousness, though, are stories for another time.

The Power of Public Speaking: From Thought Leadership to Business Opportunities

In the bustling landscape of startups, public speaking is often perceived as just another marketing strategy. However, my journey with my startup, Favoriot, taught me that it’s much more than that. Here’s how public speaking not only established me as a thought leader in IoT, Smart Cities, and IR 4.0 but also subtly paved the way for business opportunities.

The Early Days: Building a Personal Brand

When I started out, I was often invited to share my knowledge on various tech topics. And I did, wholeheartedly. These engagements were purely knowledge-based, leaving out any mention of Favoriot. This approach was intentional, aiming to build trust and credibility without appearing overly promotional. Over time, these efforts earned me a reputation as an IoT thought leader. But while this title brought recognition and esteem, it failed to translate into tangible business leads for Favoriot.

The Pivot: Injecting Favoriot into the Narrative

I soon realized that while being recognized as an expert is rewarding, it wasn’t fulfilling my ultimate goal – to get Favoriot known in the industry. I needed a new strategy.

Instead of keeping my talks strictly academic, I began to subtly incorporate elements of Favoriot’s products and services. I showcased real-world examples of how IoT platforms, especially like ours, can build effective IoT solutions. A couple of slides bearing the Favoriot product logo turned out to be enough to sow the seeds of brand awareness.

The Impact: From Awareness to Business

Gradually, the narrative began to shift. The moment of epiphany would often come during networking sessions or casual interactions when someone would say, “Oh, you’re from Favoriot? We’ve heard of you.” That statement epitomized the change.

While turning awareness into paying customers wasn’t instantaneous, it certainly laid the groundwork. Over time, some of those who had a mere awareness of Favoriot became interested parties, and eventually, paying customers.

Conclusion: A Strategy Worth Investing In

Public speaking is a long game, especially when it’s used as a business promotion tool. However, its effects can be long-lasting and profound. By transitioning from pure knowledge-sharing to subtle brand promotion, I found a sweet spot that not only solidified my position as a thought leader but also carved out a niche for Favoriot in a crowded market.

So, to all startup enthusiasts and entrepreneurs, remember: Public speaking is not just about sharing what you know; it’s also about weaving in who you are and what you offer. That blend can be a game-changer.