Unveiling the Journey: My debut as a public speaker in Cyprus

KEEPIG AHEAD OF CHANGE: Anticipating and Managing Change

2018 CIM Conference

When I received the invitation to speak at one of the major conferences held in Cyprus, I was overwhelmed with a mix of excitement and honor. The prospect of sharing my insights on such a prestigious platform filled me with a sense of pride, yet there was also a tinge of nervousness. Besides training employees and holding work meetings, I hadn’t done public speaking for more than 15 years. I used to be very active in Romania; I was not afraid to talk in front of big crowds. I remember back in school when I was always representing the class or school, and during university years, speaking in large amphitheaters in front of many students and professors. I was very confident because, first, I was always the student with the most knowledge, and secondly, I had such a rich vocabulary that many professors often told me they enjoyed listening to my speeches. However, moving to Cyprus and starting to learn Greek from scratch, followed by learning English, was a long journey. Learning English was not something organized, nor did I have the time to go to a formal institute; it was practically me learning on my own.

So now, I have been called to speak in English in front of many professors, all of them doctors in their field. What’s more, this conference, renowned for its impactful discussions and influential audience, I knew will be a significant milestone in my professional career. It will be the restart of my public speaking journey.

Elena Andreou in her debut as a public speaker in Cyprus
Elena Andreou in her debut as a public speaker in cyprus

Looking back now to my debut as a public speaker in Cyprus, I wish I had chosen a smaller event and not put myself under such pressure! I remember it like it was just yesterday. I thought I was okay until I got closer to the university. As I was parking my car, I felt my heartbeat accelerating.

And as if all that was not enough, my anxiety worsened when, as I was introduced to one of the speakers, she immediately asked, “How come you are a speaker since you are not a Dr.?” This unexpected question caught me off guard and amplified my nervousness, making me question my place at such a prestigious event.

Some of the esteemed speakers with whom I shared the stage

on my debut as a public speaker in Cyprus

Highlighting Strengths

First, I had a very innovative topic. “Identifying Patterns to Achieve Competitive Intelligence Using R Programming Through Social Media and Webpages”

I remember that during that period, I was doing my master’s degree and working on an assignment. As I was struggling with the code, I looked for a programmer to help me. Most of them hadn’t even heard of R programming at that time.

Second, I prepared slides, but I spoke freely without notes, while some of the other speakers were just reading from their papers. So I could say that my debut as a public speaker in Cyprus was a bold one -:)

Conference program
conference program

Part of the Conference's program

On my debut as a public speaker in Cyprus

Welcome from Director of the Research Centre, Prof. Andreas Hadjis

Keynote Lecture: Disruption, Co-creation and Conversation, Research on a new era of Marketing –  keynote speaker Dr. Sarah Turnbull

Panel: Marketing Changes – chair – Chair Dr. Haris Machlouzarides

  • A critical review of Digital Consumer Behaviour, Assessing the role of Online Advertising – Dr. Andreas Masourras, Lecturer Neapolis University Pafos
  • Consumer Information Management: Theories and Applications Towords Sustainable Solutions – Dr. Christos Themistocleous, Anastasios Pagiatis, and Andrew Smith, University of Nottingham Business School, Presenting Dr. Christos Themistocleous
  • Re-constructing the Marketers’s Identity in a Data-driven Business World – Dr. Myria Khali, Academic Director CIM Nicosia
  • Identifying Patterns to Achieve Competitive Intelligence Using R Programming Through Social Media and Webpages – Elena Andreou (Juganaru) SEO Specialist, Business Strategist, Personal Branding Consultant

Struggles on the Stage

The person who introduced me on stage was Dr. Haris Machlouzarides, who was one of my teachers during my bachelor’s in Marketing and with whom I developed a very friendly relationship over the years. I admired him because he was always searching for more and never rested on just giving us the course material. It is something I hope to do if I ever become a teacher. However, the fact that Haris was introducing me didn’t diminish the stress. On the contrary, I wanted to make him proud, which actually increased my stress.

I can say that my first struggle was to divide the time between the introduction and the actual main topic. I had 20 minutes, and if I recall correctly, I spent maybe 12 minutes on the introduction, talking about trends and the need for such a revolutionary method.

The result was that I had to rush to finish and didn’t have time to actually talk about the revolutionary method of analyzing data.

The second struggle was to look at the crowd and engage them. It felt like I was lecturing in an empty amphitheater.

Also looking at the photos now, I can see that I had too much text on the slides. But at that time I didn’t research to see what could be a good presentation. I remember writing what could have made me comfortable to remember what I have to say.

But if you think that I realized this right after the presentation, let me tell you that it had to pass a few years (actually 5 years) to get to see those mistakes.

The fact that I didn’t start with a short story to make the audience curios and to connect with them on a emotional level I wouldn’t say that was a mistake. All the other speakers were very academic, and maybe was the only presentation where starting  with data was not something wrong

Lessons Learned: Insights and Growth

So looking back now at my debut as a public speaker in Cyprus I would hightling these three points:

  • First rule: when preparing a presentation put on the slides only the minimum amount of text and use a good photo.
  • Second rule: balance the content of the presentation and share it properly with the time allocated.
  • And third: engage the audience. Make them part of your presentation!
Elena Andreou in her debut as public speaker

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