I joined the Support Driven community last year after searching around for groups and newsletters catering to people working in tech support. In the time since I initially signed up, the amazing newsletter and Slack group have come to be an invaluable part of my life and professional development. When I am confused or need a guidance I drop a note in to my peers, who are ever at the ready to answer questions. When I am frustrated, they commiserate with me and drop in appropriately empathetic emojis and GIFS. When I have a big win, they whoop and drop celebratory GIFS.
So last year, when founder/community manager Scott Tran and his team announced that they were pulling together a new Support Driven conference to be called SupConf, I bravely put together my first ever conference CFP and shipped it off. While I was unfortunately not selected and was ultimately unable to attend, my proposal got me seriously thinking about starting to try and speak at conferences, and after I saw the pictures and read the Slack chatter post-SupConf SF I was resolved to make it to the next one. I think I remarked in the Slack chat that if felt like every one had gone to band camp but me.
So when it was announced that the next SupConf was to be right here in NYC, I got back on the horse, pulled together some better proposals (with the help of some amazing women in tech!) and resubmitted……This time I got in!
While I was beyond excited to get the acceptance email. I was also a bit nervous. This was going to be a room full of hundreds of my peers — people I admired and looked up to. People I really liked in the virtual space and was hoping to connect with IRL. What could I say? How could I remember it all? And most importantly, how could I avoid being boring or outright embarrassing?
Luckily, Scott and the rest of Support Driven team were already on the case. They had pulled together a speaker development program that set out clear deadlines and concrete requirements, and they gave every speaker an experienced mentor who would hold their hand through the process. I was partnered with the wonderful Pat East (now of GitHub) who was a constant source of encouragement, challenging questions, and (of course) support. I was also able to draw on the expertise of people in the community like Automattic Happiness Engineer Andrew Spittle as well as public speaking expert (and Andrew’s fellow Automattician) Luca Sartoni. My fellow SupConf NYC speakers also shared numerous helpful talks, blogposts, and book titles.
I ended up spending hours upon hours learning as much as I could about the art and science of public speaking (see my resource list at the end of this post), as well as practicing every chance I got. As I went along I began to be so grateful to have been selected to speak not only because I was able to begin to develop myself as a public speaker but also because this time-boxed assignment gave me an opportunity to think and write (and corner unwitting friends and family into conversations) about the topic I’d chosen: responsible time management. I’d long wanted to write a blog post about this topic (as a follow-up to my blogpost on how to quit) and now here I was writing a talk! And being so richly assisted in the process!
So how’d it turn out? Well, in the next post, I am going to tell you about the conference and the actual speaking experience, but for now, here is my list of helpful new speaker resources:
- “Stop Your Presentation Before It Kills Again!” – Kathy Sierra
- “Lady Speaker Clothes Crisis” – Heidi Waterhouse
- “How to Become A Public Speaker in 1 Year”- Catt Small (multi-part series)
- “Really Bad Powerpoint” – Seth Godin
- HBR Effective Presentations – Nancy Duarte (I’ve also heard great things about Slide-ology but haven’t been able to get my hands on it yet)
- Demystifying Public Speaking – Lara Hogan – GET THIS BOOK!! My review of it on GoodReads is here.
- Confessions of a A Public Speaker – Scott Berkun
- The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs – Carmine Gallo
- Bozoma Saint John’s Apple Music presentation at WWDC 2016
- “The Seven Righteous Fights” – Heidi Waterhouse at The Lead Dev, 2016
- “Rebooting Culture” – Camille Fournier at The Lead Dev, 2016
- I’m Not Your Guru (documentary about Anthony Robbins)
- “A world champion public speaker gave us his top 3 presentation tips” & “4 essential body language tips from a world champion public speaker”- Business Insider (short videos with 2014 Toastmasters International world champion of public speaking Dananjaya Hettiarachchi)