As well as being part of the organising committee of NLS6, I was also a first-time presenter. This post will reflect on the experience of my first professional speaking opportunity.
Sally Pewhairangi & I presented a twenty minute session on Monday 11th February 2013 on the challenges & surprises we experienced in developing & facilitating the Heroes Mingle Reality Librarianship speaker series in 2012. This was the first time I had presented at a professional event. While it was slightly nerve-wracking to put in an application for a place on the NLS6 program, it was then more nerve-wracking to have to come up with an actual presentation once we’d been accepted.
For me, I feel that presenting at NLS6 was more achievable than presenting at LIANZA or ALIA. Prior to the event, I found it less intimidating to be presenting to my “new librarian” peers than to an audience potentially filled with managers and senior industry leaders.
Having subsequently presented, I feel that I could now present to a different and wider audience. Partly because I have now experienced the build-up for a presentation – the submission process, the “check out the venue & technology set-up” on the day as well as the buzz of being part of the presenter community at the event – and partly because I also feel that presenting overseas, to a different audience than my immediate colleagues & peers in the New Zealand library industry, was personally less intimidating for my first-time presentation experience.
As a first timer, I found co-presenting less daunting than solo presenting.
I am really grateful to have co-presented with Sally. To have an awesome speaker like Sally to work alongside to develop this presentation showed me that it is okay (and probably advisable!) to change your content, style and tone a number of times until you are feeling comfortable with it.
We started with quite a prescribed style & content, but it didn’t suit either of us when we came to a trial run. However, having the core content initially written down meant that we then had the basis for our key messages, so we could loosen up on the deliver style.
Less is more
We used four PowerPoint slides and one short video.
To keep the focus on our key messages, rather than constantly changing slides, we kept it short & simple. Less technology to mess around with, and it meant we honed our key messages for the slides.
To be honest, I don’t really remember much of the actual presentation itself. I remember more of the five minute Q+A session than delivering the actual presentation. I was far more nervous on the day presenting than I had been in any of the practice sessions.
My mouth went completely dry about three minutes into the presentation, which threw my rhythm for several minutes. I also had the awful sensation of wanting to throw up both prior to and immediately after the session. While I think that nerves are a good thing for all presenters, I was quite unprepared for how much my nerves almost got the better of me.
My personal highlight
Having a international keynote speaker attend our session (despite giving me an initial additional rush of nerves when I saw her walk in). Then having her telling us afterwards how much she enjoyed the presentation, and that she’d encourage us to keep doing what we are doing. Talk about a validation head rush!
Would I do it again?
Absolutely. Despite my nerves and anxiety, this was a very positive experience for me. From submission, to development, to presentation. Fantastic experience.