Categories: braindump

RSS - Atom - Subscribe via email

The Shy Presenter: braindumping an introvert’s guide to public speaking

| braindump, presentation, speaking

Why speak

  • You’ll learn even more about your topic
  • You’ll meet lots of people without having to start the conversation
  • You can make a bigger difference


  • Don’t know what to share
  • Don’t know how to share it
  • Don’t know whom to share it with
  • Anxious about reception

Typical approach (scary!)

  • Practice with friend or mirror
  • Join Toastmasters and other speaking groups to work on confidence and delivery
  • Typical advice doesn’t help you figure out what you want to say, how you want to say it, and how to get up there

Here’s another way

  • Write (journal or blog) until you figure out what other people ask you for help about or something that can save other people time
  • Test your material by writing a blog post.
  • Share a lot of blog posts so that there are plenty of opportunities.
  • When you see that there’s interest, test your topic again by making a short slide deck. Share this on Slideshare or some other presentation site. Keep your presentation short and simple. Less to remember, less to forget.
  • Share lots of those and see which take off.
  • Based on interest, decide which ones you want to turn into a webinar. Webinars are a good way to start because you can refer to your notes and not worry too much about body language.
  • Propose your webinar to a virtual conference or webinar series organizer.
  • If accepted, revise your slides, rehearse your ideas, and go for it!

Why this works

You’ve already done the hard work of thinking through your topic, checking for interest / sense, and preparing your slides.

You don’t have to worry about people not being interested or people not finding value in your work because you’ve tested the topics beforehand.

You can connect with a friendly audience before and after your talk.

Next steps

Make a list of things you know that other people might benefit from.

Write a journal entry or blog post that explains one of those things. Repeat.

View or add comments

Lessons from LifeCamp

| braindump, connecting, event

I had a great time organizing and learning from LifeCampTO at Linux Caffe on January 31, 2009. We started at 10:30 AM, and the conversations continued until around 2 PM. Sixteen people attended, and we had tremendous fun.

I brought along some markers and a pad of paper. Each participant had a piece of paper with a number on it, and they wrote down their e-mail address, what they wanted help with, and what they could offer help with. People then stood up and introduced themselves. As each person talked about what he or she wanted help with, people who could help them raised their pieces of paper up, and the person introducing himself or herself wrote those numbers down. As each person talked about what they could help with, other people who wanted help raised their pieces of paper, and then wrote the corresponding number down. I collected all (well, almost all – one participant is missing!) the papers afterwards, and I promised to e-mail everyone the appropriate introductions.

During the introductions, a few general-interest topics emerged: productivity, entrepreneurship, and networking. We decided to have a few big 20-minute conversations around each of those topics instead of breaking up into lots of little conversations. Here are my notes from those conversations:


  • Study Hacks – good tips for academic and non-academic success; check out practices for focus
  • Control your environment to avoid distractions
  • Change your environment if you need to. You may find it hard to work at the kitchen table because you associate that with eating, for example.
  • Break tasks down into smaller, more doable things.
  • Structured procrastination
  • Flylady – good tips for household chores, also breaking tasks down into 15-minute chunks
  • Meditation – breathing is good
  • Taking care of things helps you relax and be creative
  • Doing manual stuff (washing dishes, etc.) can be a form of meditation as well
  • Sometimes doing opposite kinds of activities (ex: away from computer) can help spark creativity
  • Anything can become a meditation
  • Nature walks are nice, too
  • Block out time to do things
  • Try sharing your goals online. Take advantage of peer pressure, and tap your community
  • Julia Cameron – The Artist’s Way, morning pages
  • Routines are helpful
  • RescueTime provides good analysis of where your time goes
  • Block time – find an extension that blocks your Internet surfing of time-wasting sites, and get a friend to set the password
  • Make a list of three tasks that would lead to significant progress, and focus on those
  • Parkinson’s Law – work expands to fit available time, so shorten the time you have. Give yourself early deadlines.
  • Pareto’s Principle – 80% value comes from 20%. Find the important few.
  • Examine areas of your life and figure out your priorities
  • Basecamp – a number of people swear by it. Other tools: Remember the Milk, Google Tasks, OmniFocus
  • Inbox Zero – good approach to e-mail. See also Trusted Trio: follow up, archive, or hold
  • Figuring out what you want to do with your life: Covey approach (vision, projects), GTD approach (get on top of little things so you can free yourself to be creative; little things define you)
  • See also The Joy of Not Working, perhaps?

Self-employment, entrepreneurship

  • Services portals, PayPal – international business
  • Business plan, self-employed benefits – Tania Samsonova can help
  • LinkedIn is very useful: connections, testimonials, answers
  • Social networks in general are useful for reaching out, asking for help, offering help
  • Friendfeed – good way to keep in touch with people with multiple presences
  • Check out WordPress integration with LinkedIn Apps
  • GigPark – recommendations for services
  • FreshBooks – invoicing
  • Wesabe, Yodlee – personal financing
  • Social networking – look for opportunities to connect the dots
  • E-mail newsletters – good way to keep in touch
  • LinkedIn – good way to start with an external profile / resume. Less in-your-face than sending resumes to people.
  • Business cards are very useful. Use them for advertising, too. Don’t just list occupation – talk about business benefit. See
  • Take notes. Business card? Watch out for etiquette. Maybe a notebook or PDA. Use keywords or pictures of people to trigger memory.
  • Look for Ugly Betty episode on networking – ask Rochelle Latinsky
  • If you don’t want to give out business cards (eco footprint), carry a notebook or PDA, and get other people’s contact information. Also check out recycled business cards, soya
  • Domain name very useful. People hiring often notice that (compared to, say, @hotmail address).
  • LinkedIn – import your address book and see who’s online
  • Spokeo


  • Ask people questions and get them to talk about themselves
  • Follow up – ping them, talk about specifics of your conversation
  • Go to diverse events
  • Dealing with interpersonal conflict – Ian Garmaise recommended Swordless Samurai
  • When faced with ideas or events that grow beyond you, let the group culture lead itself, and don’t be afraid to start again
  • Put out your best ideas instead of worrying about people hijacking them
  • Handshake, eye contact, hand sandwich?
  • Live a diverse life – makes you interesting, makes it easier to connect with people
  • OtherInbox – lets you automatically set up alternate e-mail addresses, RSS view. Also see gmail: Doesn’t work for all sites.
  • usernamecheck, Naymz – checking your web presence (UPDATE: Fixed link to Naymz, thanks; arrgh, weirdly spelled services!)
  • Mr. Tweet, Tweepler – review Twitter followers (UPDATE: Thanks for MrTweet link correction)
  • Summize,, Tweepsearch (search bios) – find tweeters with similar interests
  • Mixing personal and professional – not bad, may even be good; helps build connection. “Show that you’re human.”
  • If you’re not comfortable with even one person seeing what you’ve written, don’t put it online
  • Write teasers, put content somewhere< ?li>
  • Check out Toastmasters, good way to connect
  • Volunteering is also a great way to meet people. Conferences coming up: FITC, etc. Google Calendar of Toronto events – where?

My next step is to make a spreadsheet, cross-reference the connection requests, and e-mail each person individual notes for follow-up. =)

If you were there: please keep me up to date on what you’re doing and the follow-up connections you make, and link back to this post so that other people can learn more from the conversations we had. =) If you tag your posts with lifecampto and add a comment here with the link, they’ll be easy to find, too!

Blog posts:

It was great fun. Thanks to everyone for helping make it happen. =) I’m looking forward to following up!

View or add comments

#hohoto conversations

| braindump, toronto
  • I put “Sacha Chua, @sachac,” on my nametag because putting “Sacha Chua, @sachac,” felt a bit repetitive. It made a number of people smile, although some people asked me if I was no longer working with IBM. I told them I’d gotten an alternate domain name for my blog because it’s a bit easier to spell.
  • Kristan Uccello pointed me to the red glowsticks near the stage. I stuck one in my hair. That and my white blazer made me slightly easier to spot in the club, although it was still quite, quite packed.
  • Ian Irving told me about some Twitter data analysis and visualization he’d like to do. I promised to send him some information about Many Eyes, Wordle, and other visualizations.
  • I introduced Elena Yusunov to Patrick Dinnen, who regularly spends some time at the Center for Social Innovation. Elena is interested in social media for nonprofits, and would like to check CSI out. I should get Elena and Jane Zhang together for coffee next week. Also, I should check out those capoeira lessons.
  • I told James Walker about the Drupal hacking I’m having a lot of fun with at IBM. =) I also told him about after he mentioned that he occasionally drops by the Center for Social Innovation to hang out and print stuff.
  • Saleem Khan mentioned
  • Eva Amsen mentioned that she’d heard about me from Jen Dodd and Michael Nielsen, and that she was one of the organizers of SciBarCamp. I think she’d have a great conversation with Elena Yusunov about organizing events and about social media for nonprofits. She also explained the meaning of her Twitter ID, easternblot – it’s a biochemist secret handshake thing.
  • Sunir Shah asked me if I’d been to Toastmasters lately. I haven’t, but I might try exploring some of the downtown clubs with him after he’s done with house-hunting.
  • James Woods said he’d been to Mauritius, and he found it interesting to hear unexpected people fluently speak French. Gabriel Mansour mentioned that Sameer Vasta had been to Mauritius recently.
  • Gabriel Mansour told me about, which looks interesting. I promised to e-mail the details to Greg Frank, who is interested in cooking but doesn’t bake much.
  • David Crow’s 15-month-old daughter is getting quite good at sign language, and tends to string signs together like sentences.
  • Adam Schwabe turned out to be the guy doing my usability test this week. We talked about the challenge of finding out what other people are doing when it comes to Web 2.0 at IBM. I promised to send him info about our upcoming Web 2.0 for Business community call, and to connect him with a few people. (I actually talked shop at a party; meep!)
  • Brent Ashley’s on his third ultra-mobile PC. He handed down the rest to his two daughters. Reminds me of the way my dad goes through Swiss knives…
  • Kieran Huggins should definitely look into getting one or two external flashes. They’re portable and they really make a difference in pictures. For photography awesomeness, buy glass (lenses) and light (flashes). And practice, of course, which he obligingly let me do.
  • Mike Miner runs into all sorts of interesting stories as a producer. He wants to go to Africa or South America.
  • Pete Forde’s planning a dinner party. I’m looking forward to it!
  • Bryan Watson can dance swing! That was lots of fun. I may have accidentally stepped on someone’s foot while finding this out, though.
  • I promised to e-mail David Crow and Jay Goldman about volunteering to help out with events so that I can learn how to organize external events.
  • I caught up with or met a whole bunch of other interesting people. =) (Hooray! I’ve been in Canada long enough to have old friends!)

… I feel like a gossip columnist with all these names in my blog post. Odd!

Also, I need to port my BBDB-auto-hyperlink-to-people’s-blogs-or-websites code over to Org mode. Ah, Emacs…

View or add comments

Notes from conversations: Ushnish Sengupta, consulting

Posted: - Modified: | braindump, connecting, social

Ushnish Sengupta was interested in exploring social media consulting. He picked my brains over hot chocolate at the Bluestar Cafe. Here are some rough notes from that conversation:

  • The first tip I gave him was to blog. I think it’s a good idea for consultants to keep a blog because it’s an easy and nearly-free way to help establish credibility and build connections. The blog can contain success stories, articles, lessons learned, announcements of upcoming events, tips, tidbits, and other pieces of information that can help both potential and existing clients. Besides, it’s awfully hard to do social media consulting if you’re not immersed in the space and you don’t have a presence.
  • Business cards: I told him about putting pictures and interesting conversation hooks on business cards, showing him mine as an example.
  • Ushnish was interested in potentially getting a PhD looking at consulting services and similar areas. I recommended that he check out services science. A recent conference we both attended (CASCON) had a number of sessions about the topic, so I suggested reviewing the proceedings to find people and topics of potential interest. I also recommended that he get in touch with people like Kelly Lyons – she’s currently doing research in this field.
  • Twitter backchannel: He asked me how the City of Toronto’s Web 2.0 Summit went. I told him about the interesting conversations that happened in real life and on the Twitter backchannel, and suggested that the next time he’s at an event, he should find the tag that people are using and tune in to for some lively conversation.
  • Professional networking: He asked me which professional social networks I’m on. I told him that I’m active on LinkedIn and I use it to connect with people so that I can find out about changes in e-mail addresses and positions. He asked me if I was on Plaxo. I told him that I never got into Plaxo because it started off with a bad value-proposition for people who entered their data and that it had been fairly spammy. I haven’t looked into Plaxo Pulse in detail, but LinkedIn and my personal addressbook handles most of my needs.
  • Multiple networks: He asked me about being on multiple networks and how networks become popular and then fade away. The key things I shared with him were that ideas and skills tend to be transferrable between networks, and that an external profile such as a personal site or blog is important because it ties all the networks together. I also told him about something I picked up from Rahaf Harfoush’s talk on the Obama campaign: produce a piece of content and then distribute it through different channels.
  • Partnership: Ushnish asked me if I preferred to work with people I know well or if I preferred to work alone. I told him that I definitely prefer to work with other people because I learn much more in the process. I also told him that I actually enjoy working with people I don’t know that well yet, because it gives me an opportunity to develop a new relationship and spread the skills. If I’m asked to give a presentation, I often look for ways to enable other people to give the presentation, perhaps with a little coaching from me. I want other people to develop wonderful skills, too.
  • Teaching as I learn: The point on partnership segued into a discussion of how useful, fulfilling, and effective it is to try to teach everything I know how to do. I recapped some of the points from “If you can, teach; If you can’t teach, do“.
  • Event management: I told him that I’m interested in learning more about hosting external events in 2009. Alex Sirota does a lot of events for the New Path Network (which Ushnish belongs to), so I might see if I can use some of those events as models.
  • Address book: Ushnish was curious about how I manage my network. I told him about my wonderful addressbook setup (automatically tracks who I send mail to, automatically inserts notes into my mail), and the visualization improvements I’d like to make. I also told him of my plans to try porting some of these ideas to Drupal so that other people can experiment with them.
  • Social media and change management: I told him about the spectrum of social media consulting, and that organizational change plays a large part in it.
  • Rough notes: We ended the conversation with a homework assignment: he’s supposed to blog the lecture he was also going to that day, and perhaps the notes from the conversation as well. I reassured him that rough notes are fine, and that he’ll make things clearer and clearer as he writes about them again and again.

What did I learn?

  • I seem to have learned something about social media consulting after all. =) Hooray! I need to package that into some kind of internal blog post and presentation so that my coworkers can make the most of it.
  • I should find a way to package up these social networking tips into a blog post, a presentation, and maybe an event.
  • In an alternate future, I could probably keep myself very busy building and selling tools for making all of these things easier…
View or add comments

Notes from Rahaf Harfoush’s talk on the use of social media in Obama’s campaign

| braindump
  • Collaborated on Grown Up Digital. Was working on chapter about politics when she was convinced to join campaign. Inspired by watching Yes We Can video (user-generated).
  • Mybo – tools for communities
  • Not about new media – key innovations were political strategy, philosophy
    1. Fifty State Strategy – story about Arizona, John McCain’s home state – 1000 volunteers on Day 1
    2. Disaffected Center – not just party
    3. Small donations
    New media was just a reflection of the underlying strategies and philosophies
  • Everything was networked and cross-linked: Video went out on YouTube, posted to Facebook/Myspace/etc., and so on. Always had a linkback and a Donate button.
  • Hypersegmented e-mail – geography, issues selected, donation history. Donation history key to respecting relationship.
  • SMS campaign – inform of events, donate time, get feedback. Cellphone very different tone and feel. Great way to keep in touch, and offline connection helped drive offline action. Sent information on polls, voter protection, updates.
  • iPhone application sheer genius, I think. =) Gave people opportunities to get involved. Call friends – addressbook sorted by battlefield priority, gave you report screen after the call. GPS – find field office. Issues – offline application that included talking points for all the issues; turned every iPohen into a campaign office.
  • Numbers: MyBO – 2 million profiles, 35,000 volunteer groups, including niche ones (D&D Group for Obama). 400k blog posts, 200k offline events. Funny Halloween event: one woman organized a group of friends to go out dressed up as voting machines, asking people to vote. Also, “Yes Wii Can” – person organized a Wii party + voter registration party at home. Shows creativity and innovation.
  • Activity index – 10 levels based on events hosted, events attended, calls made, doors knocked, blog posts, amount from other donors, groups joined, etc. Controlled access to resources. Allowed organizers to contact active promoters / community organizers without pressuring participants.
  • Personal fundraising page key. People donate to friends more than charities. This made things personal.
  • Phone campaign – Script with reporting buttons built in for capturing answers. Canvassing – map.
  • Worried during election – average waiting time 6.5 hours in some places, unexpected difficulties with polling machines


1. Give New Media a seat at the table. – Don’t just delegate it to an intern or a junior associate. See it as an execution tool. Make the investment. Examples: Wells Fargo, Dell.

2. Tools are useless without a blueprint. – Half of social media campaigns fail because there’s no mutual purpose – fit between community and company. No off the shelf cookie cutter solution. Find the sweet spot between core vision and agility. Message clear, vision clear, interpretation creative.

3. Know the lay of the land. Map out major players, bloggers, evangelists, critics, competitors. Find the conversations. Pay attention to fit. Example: Fedex Facebook attachment application.

4. Build relationships. Social etiquette, cocktail parties versus That Guy. Listen. Be authentic. Example: Comcast turnaround, comcastcares.

5. Call to action. Campaign always drove towards offline action. Asked a lot of their volunteers. Example: Nike community asked to spend time around the brand. Expectations were clear.

6. Give up control. Story about Yes We Carved pumpkin-carving community. Creative and fun. Empower brand ambassadors – they’re where you can’t be. Embrace cocreation. Let your brand evolve. Accept other people’s work. Co-creation really strengthened people’s personal connection to campaign.

Next steps, making things even better? – Keep people engaged on issues they care about. Would’ve liked to make even better use of Twitter. People were curious about insider moments – more blogs, videos, etc.

Key difference: social media as part of life, not something extra.

View or add comments