My First Speaking Engagement- From the Corners to Center Stage.
Last Saturday I had the privilege of speaking at the ForLoop PH 2.0 (Newbie to Expert) event and I can still barely believe it. My brain is still processing the awesomeness of getting to stand up in front of over 200 people to share with them tips on how to better optimize web pages and web apps. Link to slides here
In all honesty the nervousness was real. I wish I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have worried myself as much as I did. Knowing that there are probably others who are just like I was (nervous and scared), I’d like share with them and any 1st time speaker out there some things that this experience has taught me.
1) Don’t let Fear hold you back, Just Do It!!
When my boss; the awesome Precious Chukundah (triple CEO) called me to his desk and in his usual abrupt, ‘no-questions asked’ manner instructed me to submit an application to speak at the ForLoop event, I was appalled. A thousand and one questions/objections ran through my head,
“Is this guy crazy?”
“I’ve not been doing this web optimization thingy long enough, what do I have to teach people?”
I wanted to say NO but knew that he would never go for that so instead I said a very quiet yes sir. For me, the plan was to stall and say absolutely nothing about it again in hopes that he would forget.
What was I thinking, he was never going to forget..
Two days later, he called me to his desk again and asked me to sit down then proceeded to begin the application with me (na wa oh, this guy means business). I went along, completed the form and submitted; after all not everyone who applies gets picked and I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to be picked.
I kept telling myself “WHY WOULD I BE PICKED OVER ALL THOSE WHO WERE APPLYING?”.
I didn’t have any amazing tech history to wow them with, neither did I have any previous speaking experience. As far as I was concerned, it was a closed chapter.
I immediately pushed it from my mind and and returned to my awesome job of implementing crazy UI designs and optimizing already developed web apps. Pretty cool right?
So when the mail from the ForLoop organizers came back with a positive message that I had been picked as a speaker, I was completely taken aback and then it happened; PANIC ATTACK!
Turning it down seemed like the best option at that time cos I was pretty sure it was going to be a disaster. I didn’t stop to think that just maybe I had something to give to someone out there.
I can’t tell you that I have completely overcome this mentality but I know it’s never going to stop me from stepping out on a limb and going for something.
If you’ve considered speaking at an event/conference before or you’ve been asked to do something you think you’re not qualified to do, you’ve probably had similar thoughts that may have stopped you from reaching out and doing it.
My advice to you is simple: JUST DO IT!
What’s the worst that can happen? You don’t get accepted, you flop the task, you’re booed from the stage? Are you going to let the possibility of rejection & failure keep you from the possibility of something amazing?
After the session, I was asked by a friend if I was nervous while speaking and the truth is I wasn’t freaking out at all. When I got to the stage and started speaking, it felt natural and fun to be up there doing it in the end.
Why’s that? Preparation.
2) Preparation- the best Antidote to Fear
The truth is preparation gives you a certain confidence none other can give you. Getting the slides and materials I used for my session wasn’t as difficult as I thought it was going to be; this was because I had already been practicing what I was to share and I already had tons of materials so all I had to do was to arrange them in a concise way to share.
Apart from putting together my materials, I spent a good chunk of time doing more research and reading more materials, I did dry runs of my presentation with my parents, boss and even my mirror lol. I recorded myself speaking over and over again so I could correct mistakes, know where to pause, learn to be more audible, etc till it was second nature. As a result, when I got up on the stage and began to speak, I was more happy than afraid, more excited than nervous. I didn’t need to think of what I was going to say. I was Ready!
At the end of the event, I got loads of positive feedback, some not so positive as expected (yet appreciated because they exposed areas needing improvement).
Speaking at an event is not only about the event but also about the ripple effect it has on you and your organization.
So my last advice is to RIDE THE WAVE; make sure to milk all the benefits that accrue as a result.
In the hours after my session, I got more twitter followers and mentions than I had ever had. I met and interacted with new people I wouldn’t have met had it not been for the event. I am currently riding this wave to build a strong social media presence; to this effect, this is my very First Blog Post!
The platform this has given me cannot be overemphasized and I can’t imagine not having done it.
If I could do it, YOU CAN DO IT TOO!!
So what’s holding you back?
Eyes on Forloop PH 3.0 and more speaking engagements in future. Bring it on life, this girl is ready!