Back in December 2014, I got a Twitter DM from miss_jwo saying:
And so started my journey which resulted in me speaking at WordCamp London 2015 – my first ever talk at a WordCamp.
Jenny was fantastic jumping on a hangout to discuss ideas and she suggested that I talk on “Going Freelance” – sharing my story of freelancing for the last five years and passing on my do’s and don’ts, some learnt the hard way.
Submitting the proposal was dead easy and I also signed up for the first time speaker mentoring and was assigned to Siobhan McKeown.
That was all the easy part 🙂
Just because it’s the way I work, I wrote out my entire talk first and shared that with Siobhan. After some editing, I next worked on my slides and did a virtual run through with Siobhan. More alternations and the slides were good to submit.
Finally, I added little presenter notes in my slides. I didn’t intend to read my talk out but found I would forget chunks if I didn’t have the prompts.
WordCamp finally arrived and I discovered I was speaking last on the Saturday evening. A feeling of dread came over me and waiting around all day just made me so anxious!
The organisers had arranged a Green Room – a quiet place for speakers to go over their talk, make alternations and practice – and I took refuge there when my nerves were getting too much.
Finally, it was my turn and I was really nervous. I was thinking I hadn’t practised enough (I really hadn’t) and got set up with the mic, etc. Fortunately, Tom Willmot was there to introduce me and to try and put me at my ease, and a tech guy (sorry I don’t remember your name!) sorted out all the necessary with the laptop.
I’ll let you watch the video to find out more about how the talk went, needless to say, I did forget a few chunks, even with the prompts and finished under time. Which was just as well as when Tom asked “Any Questions?” a lot of hands flew up. I wasn’t expecting that! But it was interesting as most people were sharing their experiences too. Maybe this should have been a panel discussion rather than a talk!
The best bit about speaking? Afterwards. The number of people who came up to me and introduced themselves, saying they liked my talk or were asking a question about it. This was fantastic! I’m quite shy and have difficulty starting conversations with people I’ve not met before so for people to approach me was great.
Was it worth it? Yes. Would I do it again? Maybe?
My speaker top tips
- If its your first time, take advantage of any mentoring opportunities available.
- Practise, practise, practise – even if you feel foolish talking to yourself at home.
- Time yourself practising. If you are over, look at what you can cut, etc.
- Use the presenter notes in Keynote, PowerPoint or whatever slide software you are using.
- Remember the crowd is supportive. There was a point in the beginning when I went blank and paused. It felt like 10 mins and the crowd was quiet but I felt they were quietly willing me on, rather than getting frustrated.
- Make use of the Green Room – even if its just to hang out with other speakers and to get support when you’re feeling nervous.
- Once you are up there, there is no going back, so relax and just get it done.
- Enjoy the aftermath.