Category Archives: speaking

Social Recruiting Summit: Awesomest Job Search Ever

UPDATE: Here’s the recording! =)

pre-session notes

This is a placeholder for “Awesomest Job Search Ever”, the talk I’m giving at the Social Recruiting Summit today at the Googleplex. It’ll eventually hold notes from the session, and if we’re lucky, a recording and a transcript as well. =)

I plan to tell the story about how I got to do what I do at IBM. The three points I want to make are:

  • Because the company learned more about me through my blog, they got a great sense of who I was, what I was good at, and what mattered to me.
  • Because I met so many interesting employees through their blogs and social networks, I really wanted to join the company. Relational onboarding was awesome, too.
  • Because we both knew more about each other than in a normal job search, we could create new opportunities.

I want to convince recruiters to take the following actions:

  • Help their companies and candidates learn how to use social media to tell stories and to connect.
  • Help people connect before, during, and after their job search process.
  • Look for ways to create opportunities that go beyond the typical job search.

Please feel free to leave comments with questions or further thoughts. You can also e-mail me at [email protected]. Looking forward to hearing from you!

UPDATE: Susan mentioned that she found one of my presentations. That’s probably this one:

Another thing that you might like:

More presentations on Slideshare

Stage fright, visualization and improvization

“Maybe I should take a break from presenting,” I said, “and focus instead on writing blog posts and articles so that I can build up more material.”

W- nodded. “You have to pace yourself,” he said.

It was Monday morning, and I had a talk scheduled for 3:35 that day: “The A, B, Cs of Boomers, X, Ys, Zs: Reaching Different Generations Through Social Media”. I sent in my slides a week ago, so I didn’t have to worry about that. I knew which stories I wanted to tell, so I didn’t have to worry about that. But I still felt the nagging doubts of stage fright.

I mentally ticked off the remaining talks I’d promised to do: “Awesomest Job Search Ever” at the Social Recruiting Summit, “Making Presentations that Rock” at IBM, and “I.B.Millennials: Working with and Learning from Generation Y” at the IBM Technical Leadership Exchange. If I juggled everything well, I’d be able to do all those talks while keeping my project manager and my manager happy. I’d be doing a talk a week. After conference season, I could take a break, study more, write more, draw more, and experiment more.

First things first. Gotta get through the 3:35 to 5:00 talk. A tough timeslot even in the best of cases–who has energy at the end of the day? But a friend had recommended me to this, and the organizers had said that the nonprofits really needed tips on getting across to generations. I’d given talks like this before, starting with I.B.Millennials at last year’s IBM Technical Leadership Exchange, and ending up with keynote segments on the demographic revolution and the multigenerational workplace. I’d never talked about it in the nonprofit context before, but I’d read a bit about nonprofit marketing, and I hoped that many of the things I learned doing Web 2.0 consulting in the workplace would transfer to the nonprofit sector.

I packed my presentation kit (laptop, power cord, presenter remote, mouse, voice recorder, webcam (just in case), courage) into my rolling case (gotta watch those ergonomics!) and headed out. From previous talks, I had learned that planning nothing else (no project work, no deadlines, nothing) during the day of a presentation really helped me relax because I had enough buffer time to take care of things. Besides, I was curious about the other sessions, and I wanted to pick up whatever I could.

I arrived at the conference centre and snuck into a few sessions. The more I listened, the more I itched to give my own presentation. Part of me listened to the speakers and actively participated in the discussion, while part of me was listening to myself–to snippets and sound bites that might make it into my talk. I took notes on the current session and on how I was rearranging my own.

Do other speakers have this experience? I’m having a hard time describing it because it seems so odd. I hear my own speeches, in my own voice. I can tell that I’m not actually hearing them in person–I don’t hallucinate, if that’s what you’re wondering ;)–but it’s definitely me. I don’t hear the full speech, just little bursts, but that’s enough to convince me that I can do it. Then I roll the words around on my tongue to find out what they feel like, and I know the performance will be fine. By the time the organizer introduces me, I’m ready to discover just how I’m going to get from point A to point B – how we’ll fill in the gaps between those bursts, where the topic and the audience will take me.

That’s one of the reasons why I don’t script my talks as much as other people do, and I don’t include as many slides or talking points as other speakers do. The less text I have on slides, the more flexibility I have. The fewer slides I present, the more flexibility I have. I prepare the bones of a performance: the key message I want to communicate, the key actions I want people to take, the stories that will help people understand what I have to say and then act. The rest comes during those pre-talk visualizations (… audiolizations?), and in the interaction between me and the audience, strengthened by echoes of blog posts I’d written or things I’d said or heard.

This is what it’s like to be up on that stage, and it’s exhilarating. It’s an improvised dance of discovery, where the reactions and questions and comments of the audience help me unlock more stories and ideas, and where we all learn more.

How can I teach other people this? Is this a good start: “Imagine listening to a confident version of yourself give the talk. What does it sound like? What does that feel like?” Can I help people become more comfortable with speaking if I tell them that it’s okay to not know all the details going up, and that discovering the way can be lots of fun? =)

My Charity Connects: The A, B, Cs, of Boomers, X, Ys, Zs: Reaching Different Generations Through Social Media

This is a placeholder for the talk on “The A, B, Cs of Boomers, X, Ys, Zs: Reaching Different Generations Through Social Media”. I’ll update this post with recordings and notes by June 10. In the meantime, here are the slides, and some links to useful resources:

Key message: There are generational and age-related differences, but they’re not as big as you might think based on popular media, and ther eare plenty of opportunities for you to reach out and help make a difference.

Please feel free to post your questions as comments, or e-mail me ([email protected]) if you’d like to learn more. I look forward to continuing the discussion!


  • Canadian Opera Company
  • Room to Read
  • Ryan’s Well
  • Toronto Public Library
  • Kiva

title: The A, B, Cs of Generations X, Y, Z (and Boomers, too): Reaching Different Generations Through Social Media) in the conference agenda

Conversations with the students at Sir Wilfrid Laurier

I was supposed to give a 40-minute talk to International Baccalaureate high school students. I was planning to talk to them about the benefits of posting their writing on the Internet. A few minutes into my talk, I realized that there was no way that my slides and my planned speech could keep up with all the things I wanted to share and all the things I wanted to learn from them. So I leaned over, turned off the projector, and proceeded to have a great conversation with the students.

The key point I wanted to make was that blogging can help them discover how fun it actually is to write, and it’ll give them plenty of opportunities to improve their skills, develop their passions, and connect with incredible people.

Most people don’t ever learn how to enjoy writing because their experience of writing comes from the essays and book reviews they wrote for class assignments and threw into recycling bins as soon as the term was over. I got Ds in my university English classes because I just didn’t like sitting around and analyzing the irony in the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (still inscrutable, after all these years). I wrote my forgettable share of everything: essays, poems, lab reports, programs. I wrote because I had to, because the assignment was there.

And on my computer, through the Internet, I discovered what it was all about. In class, I wrote essays about things I didn’t quite understand. Outside class, I wrote about what I was learning about life, and hundreds of people read what I’d written and shared their own thoughts with me.

Powerful stuff.

I learned that writing about what I was learning was a great way to learn even more effectively. I learned that it was a fantastic way to tell stories, to reach out, to make a connection. I learned that writing helped me scale up and reach wide. I learned that it could create opportunities and build connections.

I wish I’d learned earlier! =)

Anyway–back to the International Baccalaureate students, who were getting ready to do a major essay. My advice: write for yourself, and write for more people than you know. Blogging’s a great way to learn and a fantastic way to share.

After I told a few stories related to that, we opened it up for all sorts of questions. Here are a few:

How much do you make?
(immediately followed by another student saying, “Hey, that’s a rude question!”)

My manager knows the value I create for the company, and that I often get unsolicited job offers through my blog. So he makes sure to keep me happy. ;)

Given the opportunity, if you were offered double the pay, would you leave the company? That is, do you like the environment?

I love my environment. The only reasons I’d work with a company are because I love the environment, I love the people, and I love what we do. Never accept work for just money. What I want to say is that it is entirely possible to find something you love doing, to find people you love working with–and to find all of that and make money in the process. It is possible. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Perhaps it takes more work, more energy and more enthusiasm, but it’s worth it.

A lot of people grow up with this idea that work is supposed to be work–that’s why it’s called work, not play. But if you spend time thinking about what you love, and you find ways to get really good at it, and you find that something which you can do that other people need–if you find those ways to create value for other people, then you’ll create your own opportunities to make whatever amount of money and whatever kind of schedule you want.

So if they paid me twice as much to work at a company where I didn’t like what I was doing… well, life is too short.

Aren’t you worried that people will steal what you share online?

You know what they say about knowledge being power? It used to be that knowledge that you keep secret is power, because then everybody has to come to you. What I find is that knowledge that you share is power. I can post something that’ll get viewed by 30,000 people–which is incredible! Nobody steals that kind of stuff–nobody consequential steals that, because if you’ve achieved any sort of fame or prominence, you haven’t gotten there by copying other people’s work, you get there with your words and your own experiences. So I’m pretty much safe from anybody more famous than I am, and if someone less famous than I am tries to rip off my work, then that doesn’t really affect me either. ;)

I think it’s incredible when people take my ideas and run with it. I give what I know away because I learn even more in the process of doing so, and that helps me go even further. I’d rather teach things and then move on to other things that interest me. It’s a lot of fun.

How do you get people to read your blog?

A lot of people try posting a couple of times, then worry that nobody’s reading or they’re not getting any comments. The trick is to think about it as writing for yourself so you don’t get too worried, and you don’t feel like that unpopular kid who never gets invited to get-togethers. Don’t feel that way. Focus on the things that you’re getting out of it: practice and understanding.

How do you get other people to read your blog? It’s the same way that you get other people interested in you and the same way you get other people to be your friends. It’s not about you, it’s about them. Go out there. Meet interesting people. Share. Get to know them. Be interested in what they have to say, and they might turn around and check you out. Focus on helping other people. That’s how you do it. You do it by creating value for other people. You do it by being interested in other people. You do it by being part of the conversation. You don’t expect people to come to you. You go out there, you get to know people and then you build those relationships over time.

What do you do if you have a big task that’s not enjoyable?

Usually, I go find someone who enjoys doing that kind of stuff. ;) If it’s something I absolutely have to do, then I look for something about that task that I enjoy, or I make it a game with myself. Have you ever noticed that when you’re a kid, you can turn practically anything into a game? “Just time me!” Good stuff.

(And if it’s something I really don’t enjoy, I either just do it and then reward myself with a fun activity afterwards, or I find out if I really have to do it in the first place.)

What do you do when someone is condescending?

People sometimes tell me, “Oh, it’s nice that you’re so happy / you enjoy your job / you’re so full of energy. Enjoy it while you can; you’ll grow out of it.” Best way to deal with that? Collect lots of role models. For example: Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic and someone who manages to be even more alive and energetic than I am. Or closer to home: Dr. Oposa, my dad’s knee surgeon, who occasionally wears glasses with blinking LEDs (just for fun). When people tell you something can’t be done, chances are that someone out there’s already gone and done it. And if not, you can be the first!

Lots of other great questions and thoughts. =) Feel free to ask me stuff, too! The more questions we explore, the more I understand, too… =)

Finally figured out what to do with presentation templates! =)

I give lots of presentations at conferences, and I often receive presentation templates that the organizers would like me to use so that there’s consistent visual branding. The templates specify color schemes, the title page layout, and some of the other text slide layouts as well, including the background and the conference logo.

While I’m glad that the templates can help bullet-ridden presentations be a little more visually attractive, the suggested style almost never goes with the creative presentation styles I use. Whether I’m using full-bleed images, simple text, or hand-drawn stick figures, nothing I use quite fits into the formal confines of a typical conference template.

I finally figured out how to think about the presentation template, though. For the presentation I just finished making, I kept the title slide of the conference. Then I took the color scheme and the gradient from the top part of the title page, and I made the rest of the slides have a similar feel. Tada! Something that will probably get along well with the rest of the presentations, but that I had fun making. =)

The actual presentation will have at least five stories, and will probably end up with even more.

And I did all of that without a Mac or a beret! ;)

Reflecting on public speaking and my talk management system

As I was describing my talk management process and goals in an e-mail to a potential mentor, I realized I’d come pretty far from where I started in public speaking. Here’s what I have (and therefore, what I can help people learn about). I have:

  • A talk information template I send to organizers: This helps me remember to get information about due dates, available equipment, audience size and characteristics, travel directions, and so on. It also lets me ask if there’s a budget available without feeling weird. =)
  • A spreadsheet that I use to calculate due dates for my talks, and a process for getting those deadlines into my task list
  • A process for getting that information into my calendar as well, and a way for someone else to double-check the details
  • A spreadsheet for tracking my personal ROI for public speaking, and some thoughts on how Web 2.0 helps me create even more value (diagram)
  • Several presentation styles I have fun with (
  • A process for editing the recordings, transcribing my talks, and checking my words-per-minute ;): some notes
  • A filing system and naming conventions so that I can store my presentations and related resources on my hard disk (archives/year/yyyymmdd-presentation-title)

Here’s what I’m working on now:

  • I’m experimenting with using Zotero, Evernote, and to find a good way of keeping track of web research.
  • I’m also looking forward to using storyboarding and illustration to improve the information organization and visual design of my presentations.
  • I’m working on slowing down to 140-160 wpm and trimming even more ums and ahs so that I need to do less postprocessing for clarity. =)
  • More templates for supporting material
  • And who knows, maybe I’ll even find a smooth workflow for synchronizing images with audio, possibly including video, and uploading the presentation.

Over time, I’ll also learn more about organizing my own speeches and events, and working with other speakers.

My goal is to be able to help inform and inspire people by consistently preparing and delivering engaging presentations, whether in person, over a teleconference, or as a recorded presentation (that’s tough!). I’ll know I’ve achieved it when I can give a presentation once a week or once every two weeks that makes lots of other people and me smile, learn something useful, and get moved to action. I would like to give 100 talks over the next 3-5 years, and I can also measure my progress based on the number of testimonials I collect.

I enjoy public speaking. Public speaking (complements the other things I do), and applying the principle of relentless improvement to it is a lot of fun as well. =)