Career Growth: Speaking at Conferences and Events.
Ever wondered what it feels like to speak at a conference. The goosebumps, responsibility you feel while educating the enthusiasts who have taken their time out to listen to you. Yes, it is sometimes filled with anxiousness, excitement, but it is full of opportunity. Let me share my experiences and findings after speaking in such conferences and events. This goes without saying about the confidence I gained after participating as a speaker in such events. First thing first, if I can do it, then anyone can. I have divided the entire article into four major categories, for an in-depth understanding of the concept.
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Let's go back to the time, in one of the events in which I have spoken. The agenda of the event was to introduce the product that I built for a startup. It was a hands-on session attended by more than 100 people. The intent was to make them understand the product and its features. It was a proud moment since there was a sense of attachment with the product as I was part of the team that built the product. But frankly saying, I was not anxious but was excited to present things to everyone. Similarly, I have spoken at many office events and small gatherings that were keen on learning something that I have to offer.
With all the experience that I gained by speaking in multiple office events, I was able to deliver my presentation confidently in the larger event that was organized by Facebook. In that event, the crowd was a mix of experienced attendees and young attendees who just started their professional careers. Personally, speaking in such events is an altogether different experience, as we can expect varieties of questions that keep on shuffling between freshers and experienced mindset. But trust me, it's so much fun.
One suggestion that I’ll give is that never underestimate any kind of question asked while you are presenting. Never make fun of a question asked by any attendee that you feel is a silly question. As a speaker, you are expected to be a master in the topic but the attendee might be a beginner, try respecting the boundaries. Probably same goes with the attendees too, as an attendee never make fun of others if some question that you feel is very basic or irrelevant.
So the earnings that I got from speaking in such events have benefitted me both financially and morally. One thing that I have learned till now is earning shouldn’t come just in the form of money. We can earn a lot of recognition, confidence, built a network with a bunch of like-minded individuals. Trust me if the game you are playing is for the long run, not just like a yearly investment plan then these rewards of recognition, confidence, and a strong network would be very rewarding as compared to earning few coins.
Speaking in events has given me the incredible confidence that we need while attending any professional interview, without fearing how the interview session will go. I am now well prepared about the questions that could shoot up in between the interview. Moreover, I know the art of tackling them even if I don't know the answer.
Now talking about network, I have met with so many talented, smart, and hardworking experts working in the industry that has indirectly helped me boost up my morale to succeed in life. Also, it is totally right to say, that a person's network is their actual net worth. We can create a strong network just by attending the events and conferences, as we meet different attendees with varied mindsets but with the same goal. We never know you might build a connection that can last longer. After the corona-induced pandemic has impacted networking since the human touch of meeting new individuals has reduced to just meeting everyone online. Personally speaking, a couple of my friends has got good opportunities just by having a very strong well-connected network.
Earlier I use to become anxious while I have to speak in any event. But that is how human beings function, we are no different, anxiety, excitement, and nervousness are pretty common. Even the experienced speaker sometimes has similar feelings.
But we should all read what Alison Wood Brooks (O’Brien Associate Professor of Business Administration and Hellman Faculty Fellow in the Negotiation, Organizations & Markets Unit at Harvard Business School) has to say regarding the anxiety that one gets while addressing the public. In her research i.e. Get Excited: Reappraising Pre-Performance Anxiety as Excitement she focuses on reappraising anxiety as excitement. A small talk with ourselves saying “I am excited” will go a long way in channelizing the energy in the right way.
Implementation will always vary for different individuals. let us assume we have two different types of individuals i.e. someone who is good at explaining things but is not getting the opportunity. Secondly, another individual who wants to speak but the push/confidence is lacking.
Probably for those who are waiting for the opportunity, there are many different events that you can easily find on websites like meetup, Facebook, and various online events in which you can speak just by submitting a proposal of your talk. Since for beginning, I would recommend going for events with fewer gatherings, first build up your confidence. Probably, if you are a student you should go to your college/ school events. If you are a working professional try speaking at your office events. Starting small will help you build momentum that you will be needing to make to a bigger level. But even if one person is listening, consider that as an opportunity, as no crowd is small.
For the others facing a lack of confidence or anxiety, try converting your anxiety into excitement by doing small hacks like talking to yourself. Always remember attendees didn’t come to criticize you but to understand the things they wanted to explore more. Try explaining whatever you know to the finest. As there is no right opportunity, either you have an opportunity or don't have the opportunity. So just grab the available opportunity and make it right.
To relate to this concept we can see a filmmaker that tries to showcase their skills using films, chefs try to showcase their food, as result, it helps filmmakers and chefs in getting new opportunities. Similarly, you have to showcase your skills to others for exploring the opportunities that you haven’t explored before.
As told earlier speaking at the conferences could be rewarding both financially and morally since it can help us boost up the confidence which will in turn help by getting the opportunities which were earlier lacking due to n reasons. You would be able to deal with any public-facing scenarios as you already got the hands-on experience of speaking in such events.
Starting would always be difficult but once you see the power while speaking at the stage, it will become totally addictive. The listeners respect you for the work you have done, efforts you have made in making the entire session.
Still, if you feel anxious always keep in your mind that people who have come to attend the event are there to listen to you. Their agenda is to get the maximum out of the session. They are giving their time, which can’t be earned back, so always make sure the thing you are delivering is the best of your knowledge. The lost money can be earned but the lost listener will never come back.