Curious about presenting?

Following up on GPUG Summit last week, I thought it would be timely to write a blog to encourage others to get involved in presenting in the future! Organizers are always looking for more people to fill presentation time slots.

Have you attended Summit or a local GPUG chapter meeting, or even a webinar online, hosted by GPUG? Have you thought “maybe some day I could be doing that presentation too”? I realize that for many of you, that may be the farthest thing from your mind, and that’s OK; but I’m hoping to appeal to those of you out there that are on the fence. Maybe you like getting up in front of crowds but struggle with coming up with topics. Maybe you have great topics but aren’t ready to be a solo presenter.

Where to start

  • Get involved in planning a chapter meeting or Summit. See what happens in planning, how topics are chosen. Being part of the planning process gets you one step closer to being a presenter yourself some day.
  • Ask if there are any group panels, where you can get your feet wet, on stage, without having to have all of the stress of presenting by yourself.
  • Reach out to an MVP, a GPUG All-Star, or a consultant you work with or others you’ve met who have presented. Maybe one of them will co-present with you, or at least give you some advice, and suggestions on who to work with.

We all started somewhere, every single person you see on stage or at the front of a room was up there for the first time at some point.

Here’s my story…

I haven’t presented by myself in nearly 10 years. I used to organize our GP user conference when I worked for a big VAR, way back, many years ago. I presented many of the sessions at that when I worked there, as many of my colleagues were hesitant to get up on stage.

After leaving that VAR, I went to a smaller reseller, not big enough to host a user conference, and then have been working for myself for the last 8 years.

  • I’ve never attended a GPUG Chapter meeting, until the first Collaborate Canada event last November 2016 in Toronto. I haven’t attended one since, as the Toronto chapter hasn’t met since then!
  • I’ve never led a GPUG Academy class
  • I submitted a few presentation suggestions for last year’s Summit in Tampa, none of them were picked! (Yes, that will happen to you too, but don’t let that discourage you!)
  • Last year in Tampa, I presented a PowerBI session with 4 others in a group format and that was my first time presenting at any Summit in any way.
    • I also¬†was asked to sit on a panel, as part of a group on stage in a Q&A format from the audience. Both experiences were great ways to get my feet wet without a lot of stress or time commitment up front.
  • The first & only webinar I’ve done was a repeat of the PowerBI session after Summit last year.
  • This year, I was involved in my first 4 solo presentations. I submitted ideas for more than that, even being an MVP does not guarantee that all of your sessions are picked!

Was I nervous standing on stage in front of 2,000 of you at the opening session? Heck ya! I was nervous standing in front of my solo session this year too, when it was also a standing-room-only crowd! But you know what, once I started and got into the things I know, nervousness disappeared and it was smooth sailing. Being nervous is OK, and it will happen. Presenting with others for the first time helps reduce that, as you’re sharing the limelight.

Here’s the best thing though: when you’re talking, or when you’re done and you see people smiling and nodding their heads, appreciative of what you just presented and eagerly asking questions, that makes it all worth it. Knowing you helped others is the best!

Don’t be afraid to take that first step. Ask for help, reach out to others, ask questions. Take it from a relative newbie, it’s worth it and you’ll learn all sorts of new skills in the process that can help you in your career.

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