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 GetListed.org 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.


  • Reply David Mihm January 30, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Wow, surprised to read this post and grateful that you will continue your involvement in Local U. While my presentations are typically all ‘variations on a theme’ one of the reasons that we value your contributions so highly is that I know you pour so much into every single one of them!

    • Reply Matt February 8, 2011 at 1:10 am

      Thx David – appreciate that.

      Dan – don’t have a VA or anything like that, and I’m probably too much of a perfectionist and a DIY-type to ever have one. I wouldn’t trust many people to do stuff for me up to my expectations.

  • Reply Dan Cristo February 3, 2011 at 8:24 am

    Hey Matt,
    I found your post quite interesting, as I’m starting to look into doing some SEO type speaking engagements myself.

    I think you brought up some good points in your post. It’s time consuming to prepare and present, and if it’s not moving you towards a specific goal, why do it? right?

    My only other thought was that it sounds like mostly a time issue for you. Do you have a VA, or can you outsource some of your work to free up more time?

    Thanks for sharing the background info with us.
    Dan Cristo

  • Reply Dan Cristo February 8, 2011 at 8:39 am

    I know what you mean. I know I need to get a VA, and I want to, but I have a hard time letting go as well. I think I’ll probably try one out just for fun with a small task or two. I’ll let you know how I make out.

  • Reply SearchFest 2011: Jerry Maguire Guide to Social Media February 11, 2011 at 8:31 am

    […] It’s always been one of my favorite events of the year, and even though I’m planning to cut back on speaking, this is one event I hope to attend year-in and […]

  • Reply Patrick Schaber February 15, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Hey Matt,
    Your post struck a cord with me. I always wonder about the people that say they put presentations together the night before. How is that possible and still be able to deliver with quality. I’m more like you – I spend alot of time getting prepared.


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