These days, I tend to have session topics galore (thanks blog). Now it’s a matter of choosing which would be most fun for me, as well as, impactful for most others. This means, I have to stop to remember what those early days felt like. I remember when I first considered speaking at conferences, what did I know that not everyone else already knew? Panic, frustration, disappointment, self-doubt…all crept in and almost made me not submit to speak.
Recently, a colleague was telling me about how he was blasted online by someone for writing on a topic. The nasty sentiment was something along the lines of ‘boring, nothing new, expected more’. However, others were chiming in that this was valuable to them and why – new information, shared in a perspective they had not considered, the personal story/experience helped lock in a concept, etc. Although this blog did not jump start the book I have been challenged to write, it has absolutely helped me to fully accept this: any session (content) is not for everyone. The 80/20 rule applies here too. I share because I want to pay forward what I learned; but I can’t expect that everyone will appreciate/accept what I share.
Frequently, I’m asked for feedback on whether someone should try to speak at a conference. In case there is any doubt, my answer is always going to be yes. There is so much to learn when you speak, along with the value others will receive. Now for the next question: what should you speak about? Years ago, I would have rattled off several topics and hoped you pick one of them. However, now I understand that the most impactful sessions are the ones where the speaker is passionate about what they are sharing. This means no one else can give you the topic. What I can do is ask a several questions that might help you unlock the topic:
- What do you wish you had known a year ago?
- What are you most proud of that the team/organization did this past year?
- What was a big experiment you tried this past year?
- What would upset you if it stopped?
- What do people frequently ask you for help on?
- What might be embarrassing to admit?
- What would you advocate to know for the next person to have your role?
Again, you are not trying to share everything. You are not saying you know everything. You are not saying that everyone doesn’t know this content. You are saying – this is what I WANTED to share…that’s all that matters.
What would you share about?