Well its done – my first ever conference presentation is over. I was very nervous but looking back on it – I’d love to go back and do it again! I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who was presenting for the first time – Paul Carpenter has written a great post about his experience and I can relate to a lot of it.
I’ve already written a post over on the Pin Digital blog which reviews the presentations I attended and the conference as a whole. Rather than bore you with the same stuff here, I wanted to take a more personal angle of the whole experience. So I thought I’d write about the things I’ve learnt from being a speaker for the first time, as well as once again being an attendee.
Being a First Time Speaker – Oh Shit!
I can still remember submitting my application to be a speaker, it was the night before I was due to fly to New Zealand for 3 weeks. The closing date for applications was whilst I was away so it was a case of now or never. I had to quickly think of a topic I felt comfortable talking about and would be of interest to the Think Visibility crowd. After a quick chat with my mate Paul Forcey, I decided to submit a presentation on link building. I knew I wasn’t very well known in the industry so I wanted to make my subject stand out, so I decided to talk about actually getting important links rather than just where to find them.
A few weeks later, after my fantastic New Zealand trip, I got an email from Dom accepting my application. Now, this is pretty much what I said out loud after I read the email -
“Oh shit I didn’t think he would actually say yes!”
Closely followed by -
“Oh shit what did I say I was going to talk about?”
After a chat with Paul again, I worked out what my presentation was going to be about!
I started to note down little things that I thought I wanted to include, printed out articles, made notes on them and wrote down the process we were using at Pin Digital for our link building. It was actually a massive learning curve and the process of preparing for the presentation actually led to me re-thinking some of our own practices and re-writing some of them.
1. If you are the next speaker and are watching another presentation before you – stay at the back close to the door!
I went to see Sarah Carling‘s presentation before mine, it ran on time but I could have done with giving myself a few extra minutes to get my presentation loaded on my laptop and have a quick flick through the slides. I also had a technical problem with my laptop which made me panic for a few minutes, not the best preparation! So I could have done with making a discreet exit a little early so I could get ready without rushing.
2. Networking and making friends is key to a great conference experience
For many SEOs, they will only pick up one or two golden bits of info from a conference which they were totally unaware of before. This is no bad reflection on the content, its just the nature of SEO that brand new stuff is often blogged about before a conference anyway. Therefore the best bits of info are often found out whilst having a drink in the bar afterwards, so take advantage and go to them!
SEOs are a friendly bunch too! Don’t be afraid to go over and strike up a conversation with a group of people and just introduce yourself. I’m not the most confident of people when it comes to doing this but once you’ve met one or two people, you’ll be surprised how quickly you make more friends as they introduce you to others.
3. If you have extra questions, go ask the speaker!
I don’t think I’ve come across a conference speaker yet who wasn’t happy to give a few more minutes of their time to answer questions. From a speakers point of view, I found it very encouraging that I was being asked questions and enjoyed speaking to more people. I’m sure others feel the same!