Browsing Tag: speaking


    Apologies to TriConf (AKA, Expanding Horizons vs. Playing to Strengths)

    July 24, 2013


    I’m sorry to TriConf in general and, more specifically, to the 20-25 people who were in the room last Saturday when I gave a presentation that I wasn’t prepared to give, nor fully committed to.

    It won’t happen again.

    What did happen now has me in an internal debate over the value of expanding one’s horizons vs. playing to one’s strengths.

    Here’s the Story

    The title of my talk was “Devs and Designers are from Venus … Marketers are From Mars (How to Bridge the Interplanetary Miles).”

    In my mind, the idea was to talk about how developers, designers and marketers often have different desires/goals/etc., how that can negatively impact projects, and how to minimize or eliminate the friction that it causes.

    I failed miserably.

    Even before the talk began, I knew it wasn’t my best material. I wasn’t thrilled with my content, slides, etc. I wasn’t sure that I’d be giving anyone value.

    What I ended up doing was this:

    • insulting designers, developers and, yes, marketers, too
    • sharing trite advice that likely helped no one
    • wasting about 20 minutes of everyone’s weekend

    I tried to insert some humor in my presentation with some slides about how designers are all about rainbows and unicorns, how developers are all about code and creating gee-whiz web apps, and how marketers are all like used car salesmen. It wasn’t funny — it was stupid. And stereotypical. And I’m surprised no one in the audience threw something at me when I was doing those slides. I deserved it.

    And then my “advice” was just lame. Really lame. I had one slide that essentially said “it’s not about you, it’s about your clients.” Duh. The TriConf crowd is plenty smart enough to know that, and I was insulting them to think otherwise.

    Again, TriConf: I’m sorry.

    Ugh. This one’s gonna leave a bad taste in my mouth for a while.

    Where I Screwed Up

    I take a lot of pride in my speaking opportunities — both in the content I share and the way I present it.

    When I have a speaking commitment on my schedule, I typically start working on the presentation 3-6 weeks before it happens. That gives me plenty of time to think through everything I want to say and how I want to say it. It gives me time to tweak and tinker and improve things until it’s just right.

    TriConf doesn’t work that way. 🙂

    It’s an un-conference where talks/speakers aren’t decided until a few days before the sessions begin. So I didn’t know until Wednesday that I’d be giving this presentation on Saturday.

    I’m not blaming TriConf for this — it’s all my fault. I put myself on the nomination list at least a couple weeks before TriConf began, volunteering to give that talk. I should’ve started working on the presentation right away, even without knowing if it would be voted in to the schedule. That’s where I screwed up.

    The Internal Debate

    And that’s where the internal debate comes in. I went back and forth for a while before I even put myself on the session nomination list.

    I was debating myself: Should I do a presentation at TriConf and only spend a couple days prepping for it? Or should I just go to TriConf as an attendee and enjoy everyone else’s sessions?

    Should I expand my horizons (by trying to give a talk without weeks of preparation)? Or should I stay in my comfort zone and not speak at all?

    I obviously chose the former, and it was a colossal fail.

    On the one hand, I’m able to pat myself on the back a little bit for trying to give a talk on just a couple days’ notice. But on the other hand, it drives me crazy to think how bad it was.

    So, the debate continues.

    Maybe next year I’ll give a talk on how to let go of your mistakes. (I’ll start prepping for that one right now.)


    Why I’m Gonna Cut Back on Speaking

    January 30, 2011

    matt-speakingI had a few replies and emails today after I said on Twitter that SearchFest will probably be the end of my time as a speaker on the SEO/SEM circuit. Probably should’ve just expressed myself through a blog post and avoided the 140-character limits, since there are several reasons I’m feeling this way:

    1. I don’t have time to put together the kinds of presentations I like to do. This is purely my own problem; not blaming anyone but me. I spend a lot of time putting together my presentations. I always see and hear stories about speakers doing their PPTs the night before they speak … but I always take several weeks on each presentation. Don’t know why; it’s just the way I am.

    And it’s somewhat stressful: I’ll be doing a 25-minute presentation on small business social media at SearchFest three weeks from now. A preso that long will take even more time than normal, but I haven’t even started and the event is only three weeks away. Too busy doing client work, working on my U2 book, and all the other stuff happening these days. I fear that SearchFest will not be getting my best work.

    2. It feels repetitive. I’ll be coordinating four sessions at SMX West in March, and I also thought about pitching to speak on a panel or two. But in reviewing the open sessions, I felt like I had nothing new to say on any of the topics. It feels like I would’ve been saying the same things that others have already said better than me.

    3. Right now, there’s little personal benefit in speaking for me. The main reason a lot of speakers want to speak at our industry conferences is to attract new consulting clients. But I’m not taking on new clients right now and probably won’t be for long time; I have a great and small set of clients I’m helping now, and have recently committed to more work with Search Engine Land and Sphinn. So, “at least I might get some new clients” isn’t a justification for speaking.

    So that’s pretty much it. I’ll keep doing Local University events as long as they’ll let me, and I’ll keep coordinating/moderating sessions at SMX as long as Chris and Danny want me to. And I’d love to continue attending other industry events, because hanging out with friends and chatting is just awesome fun. But the speaking part? I’m gonna try to eliminate that as much as possible … at least until I have something new to say and enough time to say it well.