Public Speaking – How to Not Freak Out

I recently received a cool plaque from Izea for my participation as a speaker at IzeaFest! It spurred me to write a post on my first time representing UBD on stage. Enjoy!

I’ve heard that some people would rather die than endure a public speaking engagement. I can identify with that…

Early in 2008, UBD was asked to attend a new conference by the name of IzeaFest. We of course accepted and made plans to exhibit and be a part of the Extreme Blog Makeover panel. I ended up taking the challenge of speaking on behalf of the company, which led to pretty extreme stress, anxiety, and in the end an overwhelmingly satisfying feeling of accomplishment. Kind of an emotional roller coaster you could say.

The goal of this post is to give you insight into what it’s like to take on a public speaking engagement for the first time, and how not to lose your mind in the process.


Initial Reaction and Run-Up Time


When I accepted, I felt a tinge of fear and anxiety. Although I had several months to prepare, I still felt “under the gun.” All kinds of fun stuff ran through my head in regards to how I could miserably fail and tarnish the UBD brand while destroying my own in the process.

Alternatively, I could see the bright light at the end of the tunnel. I had confidence in myself as an expert, and knew that with preparation I could handle the pressure and come out on top.

Here are a few things to consider doing and remembering during the run-up to your engagement:

- Don’t panic.
- You’re the expert.
- Brainstorm, and write down broad ideas that you’d like to delve deeply into.
- People are coming to see YOU.


Preparation


This was rather interesting for me because I had neither spoken publicly before and the nitty-gritty details of the panel had remained a bit of a mystery until the day of the event.

What I did know is that I had about 2 weeks to work on a design for Boating in Beautiful British Columbia. Designing was the easy part, getting the slides and my content up to speed was my hurdle.

I tried to get into the mind of who I thought the audience at the conference would be. Most people that would be interested in what I had to say would be relatively new to blogging, or wouldn’t have a ton of experience on the subject. This was great, because some of the “blog design 101″ is the most crucial and useful information to know. No worries, now! Just need to practice…

How much you prepare for your actual speech is up to you. Rehearse the content and slide transitions until you feel comfortable and won’t be surprised by the content that is up on the screen.

Here are a few things to consider when developing your presentation content:

- Provide advice and content that is useful to your audience (something they could walk out of the room and get going on right away).
- Be confident in your material.
- Make sure the content on your slides is easy to see, and easy to understand. Use macro ideas to help you delve deeper into the concept.


D-Day and Aftermath


I had neither spoken publicly before and the nitty-gritty details of the panel had remained a bit of a mystery until the day of the event. All I knew was that I had to show up a bit before 3PM!

It was at this time that I felt the pinnacle of fear. It wasn’t so bad early in the day, but as the time drew nearer I realized that D-Day had approached and I was about to go into verbal battle with the masses… Maybe it wasn’t that serious, but I was as nervous as I’d ever been.

After all of this run-up and anticipation, it actually went pretty smoothly. I didn’t really choke up at all or get off-point.

My main criticism of myself has to be the abundant “uh” and “um” and “you know” fillers. That being said, for my first PS event it wasn’t too shabby!

As extreme as the nervousness and fear, the relief and feeling of accomplishment afterwards was overwhelming. I felt a huge burden lift from my shoulders, and was ready to go out and have a beer immediately afterwards!


In Conclusion


Getting out there to represent yourself and/or your company can help cement your brand and gain thought leadership in the community you serve.

Hopefully you can take some of my advice and apply it to your own public speaking endevour!

How Fast is Your Internet Connection?

First off, congratulations to UBD’s first year anniversary. If you haven’t entered our contest, follow that link to win some awesome prizes! We’re giving away an iPod Touch and our new Citrus Theme!

So, as the title inquires, how fast is your internet connection?

Bandwidth is everything.

If I can’t connect and move files, thoughts, money, etc. around quickly I begin to lose my marbles. Have you ever lost a cell phone and gone without it for a day or two? I have that similar feeling when my internet goes down for 30 seconds…

I strongly recommend testing your internet bandwidth for a few reasons:

  • You’ll get to see if you’re getting what you’re paying for.
  • If your speed is slow, you can consider upgrading to a better service package from your provider.
  • If your speed is fast, you can brag to all of your friends and colleagues.
  • You can rank your connection against the rest of the world’s population.

Albeit those aren’t the best of reasons to check your speed, if you’re a nerd like me, you’ll be testing your bandwidth daily.

The Test

There are several test providers (speakeasy.net, cnet, speedtest.net, etc.) and they all do a relatively good job of metering your speed. I personally enjoy speedtest.net because of the cool flash interface. Bells and whistles are always a big factor for me when choosing products and services.

Silly fast internet...

I’ll briefly explain speedtest.net to you, being as that is my recommended test provider.

  • Simply go to their page, and the flash program will load.
  • Next, choose the pyramid that is highlighted in yellow. This is your recommended test server.
  • Sit back and monitor your bandwidth!
  • Gloat to your friends and family about how fast your connection is. Alternatively, wallow in shame at how inferior your interweb connection is.

That’s it, really. Now go out there and analyze that data, you nerd. ^_^

Headed to IZEA Fest!

Ah yes… conventions. They’re a massive congregation of people in the same industry that are interested in either expanding their personal or business horizons. I have only been to one convention that covered blogging, and that was Blog World Expo in Nov. 2007.

The whole UBD team went, and it was a great opportunity to meet a lot of folks in the blogging world and expose the UBD brand. We networked with a slew of elite bloggers, business owners and managers, and new clients. On top of that, we were able to listen to some great speakers and learn cutting edge techniques for success. Blog World was a total win for UBD.

This year, we’ll be attending another convention in addition to Blog World…

From what it looks like, these guys know how to have a good time!

Headed by Ted Murphy, Izea is a social media powerhouse. They are well known within the industry and offer great products and services to bloggers. Check out a full list of their blogging services.

This conference is going to be all about making bloggers more successful. UBD seems like a natural fit to attend because our goal has always been to help serious bloggers take their game to the next level.

I’ll be there, speaking on the blog design makeover panel. :) My goal is to help attendees avoid the banality of mainstream blog design! Overshadowing my wimpy online presence, speakers by the likes of John Chow, Shoemoney, Neil Patel, Merlin Mann, and many other ridiculously qualified individuals.

All in all, this should be an awesome conference. Oh ya… I forgot to mention…

The day after the conference, everyone will be heading to Universal Studios Orlando! Like I said, Ted Murphy and clan know how to have fun. Hope you see you all there!!