Notes from "Networking 2.0: Blogging Your Way Out of a Job and Into a Career"; the experience of speaking

[mostly drafted right after I got home]

I just got back from a presentation I gave to the Concordia University Alumni Association on blogging your way out of a job into a career. My voice is a little hoarse and my feet are slowly getting reacquainted with the ground. No, seriously–I must remember not to wear those heels to presentations. But I really enjoyed sharing those stories and tips, and I’m glad that people found the presentation not only informative but also entertaining.

What did I do well?

The combination of blogging, social networking, writing, and self-development in a single talk made this one really pop with passion. I love sharing my experiences and tips on social media because I can’t wait to see what other people will do with it, and if there’s anything I can do to help them get over that rut, that’s awesome! This passion and all the practice I’ve had talking about these topics made it really easy to get up there and focus on making a connection.

I used the rule of three all over the place: passion, skills, and network; "I don’t know what to do, I don’t have the time, I don’t know who’ll read it;" remember, reflect, reach out; start a blog, share regularly, reach out. This fractal structure helped me prepare the presentation (not too long, not too short), remember what I was going to say, and show some semblance of order in the presentation.

I put in some effort and a few dollars into visually fixing up this presentation with stock illustrations from Most of my presentations have been plain text (white on a black background, usually), but I felt like giving graphics a try. The coordinated graphics I use helped make my presentation feel more fun for me. Practice will help me get better and better at communicating visually as well as verbally…

I rehearsed the entire talk while reading my speaker notes, recording it as an MP3. I looped over this recording during my commute today. This helped keep the topics in my mind. I also printed out a few pages of slide handouts (9 slides per page) to visually anchor my talk as I rehearsed it mentally. During the actual presentation, this practice helped me remember the key points I wanted to make for each slide. Giving myself permission to say things differently helped me not only avoid anxiety (which would have made it even harder to remember what I wanted to say!) but also work within that flexible framework to match the interest of the audience.

I built interactivity into the talk, with two networking breaks and a number of shows of hands. One of the things I love about speaking to a small audience is the challenge and experience of listening while I’m talking. I’m not always good at this. My own enthusiasm sometimes makes it hard for me to slow down! But the physical experience of listening to people’s eyes, people’s postures, people’s smiles, feeling that itch in my hands and in my bones as I find myself attuned to their energy… Wow.

What can I do better next time? (Yes, see, I really do this!)

The key thing that will make this even better would be to make sure someone else is in charge of recording. ;) You know, someone who’ll remember to bring fresh batteries instead of dead ones, someone who’ll remember to actually start the voice recorder, someone who’ll get all of that sorted out. When I’m out there, I’m just too caught up in the moment, in the opportunity to connect with people,

I could use some more planning. I’m glad that people felt comfortable asking me questions throughout the presentation. I completely forgot about defining what a blog is in the first place, silly me, and other things like that which I inevitably discover right after the projector’s turned off. Such is life. Next time, I’ll try listening to my recording with my newbie hat firmly on.

And I should probably bring along a fishbowl and collect people’s business cards or e-mail addresses so that I can make it easier to keep in touch after the talk! =)

  • Raymond Zeitler

    Everyone can use more planning, I think. At some point, you go out and do it. If this is a talk you plan to give regularly, it’ll improve the more you do it.

    In fact if you happen to be in Connecticut in October, I’ll suggest to my IEEE colleagues that you speak at our Annual General Meeting. Not only would you get more practice, you’d get a free dinner and a modest gift!

    I gave a talk about Electricity to my daughter’s fourth grade class yesterday. I did the “slides” by hand with markers on flip chart paper. I just didn’t want to deal with a laptop and LCD projector. To speak in an elementary school classroom, you have to be quick to set up and break down. And it helps to bring snacks, which my wife did (Rice Krispy treats). Also, I passed out electromagnet project kits. Anyway, I spent most of my prep time making up the kits and drawing the slides. I never did rehearse or time the talk. But I *felt* it would last 30 minutes, and I just managed to finish up before we ran out of time. The kids were great — they had lots of questions.

  • Yes, I enjoyed reading watt you shared about that! ;) Wow, kids must’ve been such an interesting crowd. One of these days, I’ll be ready for that kind of challenge. =)

    I don’t have any client work in Connecticut yet, so I don’t think I’ll get to go any time soon, but I’ll definitely ping you if I happen to be heading over there. I really appreciate all the thoughts you’ve shared with me over the years. Thanks.

  • Awesome, Sacha. I have been speaking a lot on these topics, too. One thing that is helping me get even better is working through Laura Fitten’s 10 Minutes to a Presentation to a That Rocks MUCH More. Her “lightning round” for practicing is particularly helpful.

    Keep up the great work!


  • Congrats, looks like you gave a great talk and had fun doing it! Of course, would have been great if you had recorded and published out the talk too, but there is always a next time.

    Anyway you could publish out the slides. You piqued my interest with your description of how you added pictures into the slide-show :-).

    Also, yeah, I stumbled on your site looking for posts on BBDB to work with org-mode on my emacs install :-). Thanks.