Everyone who speaks at conferences does so for their own reasons. Some do it for the recognition, others do it to promote a product or service. Many, especially in internet marketing, speak at conferences to mentor the next generation of SEOs, out of an obligation to “pay it forward” as they themselves had been taught by a previous generation.
My own reasons for speaking at conferences are much more selfish. Several months ago on Twitter, Lindsay Wassell asked what the primary purpose for others was in speaking at conferences; I replied that I typically spoke for my own professional development. Getting up and speaking in front of one’s peers is not something many people have a talent for, and even fewer enjoy. Yet, it’s something we frequently have to do in the business world, whether it’s a client presentation or employee training. Being unable to speak isn’t an option, and the quality of your delivery can make or break a deal.
Speaking at conferences allows me to practice everything from preparing a slide deck that doesn’t put the audience to sleep, to actually getting up in front of a room full of strangers and making sounds come out of my mouth. I really appreciate anyone who’s listened to me speak before, as you’ve all been my unsuspecting test subjects.
Yet this month as I prepared for speaking at a local networking event and SMX Toronto, I realized another way I benefit from speaking: preparing a presentation to give to others forces me to review – and question – my SEO knowledge.
One of the sessions I’m speaking on this week is similar to a presentation I’ve done in the past. I had a basic outline I am reusing, but my points and examples all had to be updated. A lot has happened in the world of SEO in the last year, and what may have been true a year ago might not hold true now.
I approached each of my points as mini research projects. What was my hypothesis, or the point I wanted to make? What examples did I have to support that hypothesis? Did those examples actually support my point, or was there another explanation for it?
By the time I had completed my slide deck, I found I had given myself quite the refresher course. I now feel even more confident that the attendees of my sessions are getting current, relevant information, and that I’m also putting that into practice with my clients.
And I have to say, I’m hoping that added confidence will make me a bit less nervous in front of the audience!