I’m still processing the exhilaration of standing up in front of a few hundred people and sharing how 5G technology will impact the future of social-media marketing.

Ideating, preparing and delivering a keynote presentation for Social Media Week Toronto (SMWTO) 2019 was a whirlwind experience, and my first high-profile speaking gig.

Here are three lessons learned, which should benefit any reluctant public speakers out there.

1. Preparation is your best friend

I found out I was speaking at SMWTO more than four months in advance. It seems like a long time, right?

Well, it was. And for me, it was more than perfect.

What I learned was “do your research,” especially when you’re covering a topic that isn’t second nature. From news articles, to YouTube clips, to countless blogs — I read and highlighted them all. I gained knowledge, and converted scientific terms to social-media jargon.

Useful tip: Know your audience, it helps with your research and presentation structure.

2. Do a dry run with your team

Most people would think that being on stage in front of a big audience would be the most nerve-racking part of the process, but for me, it wasn’t. I was more nervous during a dry run of my presentation in front of 20 colleagues.

I knew that if they liked it, attendees at the conference would too. I also knew my colleagues would give me honest feedback that might be hard for me to hear — and they did.

After the dry run and receiving feedback, I felt like I had even more work to do. But I knew constructive criticism was going to take the presentation to the next level, and it did.

Useful tip: Do several practice sessions. It will refine your presentation and make you more confident and comfortable.

3. Confidence notes … you don’t need them

In the weeks leading up to my presentation, I was convinced I couldn’t do the speaking engagement without notes. I didn’t have the confidence to walk up on stage and present without them.

Social Media and Influencer Strategist, Content Studio, on stage at Social Media Week Toronto (SMWTO) 2019.

It’s funny how the universe works sometimes and how my boss kept telling me, “You don’t need them, you know this stuff.” As much as I hate to admit it, he was right.
I had written ‘confidence notes’ at the bottom of each slide, but during the presentation, the Teleprompter failed to work, and I couldn’t see them.

Useful tip: If you need notes, it means you’re not ready.

Ride the wave

Speaking or presenting isn’t just about the experience on stage, but the ripple effect it can have on you and your organization.

Immediately after my session, I made a number of industry contacts who were excited about and appreciative of the information and thoughts I shared on 5G technology. I connected with other speakers who are experts in their respective fields and enhanced my professional network.

I learned I can achieve major career goals while also adding value to those around me. I learned that believing in yourself and pushing through uncertainty can pay off.

I’m still riding the wave.

You can do it

So, what’s holding you back?

Do you want to try speaking but feel like you have nothing to offer? Do you think there’s no way you’d have the courage to get up on stage and deliver a great talk?

Take it from someone who’s been there: if you prepare well and just decide to go for it, you’ll be able to ride your own wave.

Published by Melissa Mendes

Social Media Strategist

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