New Speaker Series: 2 – Like A Virgin
Like A Virgin
(10 things you need to know about your first talk at MeasureCamp)
- I’m going to start off with this right away. Why? Because, of all the f**king things I wish I knew about my first ever talk, this was the one thing that shattered my confidence the most and I don’t want it to shatter yours. Are you ready for it? Whatever you do, don’t, I repeat, DON’T do your talk at the same time as Simo Ahava! Unless you want to sit in an almost empty room with a handful of people who have no idea who Simo is. During my first MeasureCamp talk I remember standing there feeling like an idiot because I didn’t check to see who else was speaking at the same time as me! If you stop reading at this point, I couldn’t care less, because this is the most important piece of advice I can offer you.
- For first time speakers, pick an early slot! There is no point picking one towards the end of the day and being so nervous that you don’t actually get to enjoy yourself. MeasureCamp comes but once every six months. Don’t ruin it by sweating your pants off with nervousness. The early slots are a great way to get involved and still enjoy the rest of your day. If you’re worried your talk might be sh*t, then don’t be. Everyone will have forgotten it by the end of the day and on the off chance, you’re a natural born Ted Talks speaker then happy days… either way, it’s win-win situation!
- This one is a bit of a catch twenty-two if you’ve never been to a MeasureCamp before but stay away from clichéd and overdone topics. You really have to have attended a MeasureCamp before to know what I mean. If you haven’t, here are my topics to steer clear of… unless you can sex the sh*t out of them. (I’ve taken the liberty of turning all of the talks from the last 3 MeasureCamps into a Pacman word cloud. Apparently, I don’t have much of a life).
- GDPR (yes it’s a hot topic, but by god is it boring!)
- GA vs. GA360 (Google it if you want to know the difference!)
- Building segments (if you’re not already doing this, you shouldn’t be doing analytics!)
- You have to peacock your MeasureCamp speaker card. If you want people to actually join your session, you have to have a card that they feel compelled to look at. Below is an example of a really bad speaker card (it’s mine). Note the lack of preparation, bad font sizing and boring colour scheme! Luckily I picked an early slot talk and a topic that didn’t exist so I had a full room. (basically, I did all of the above. Avoided Simo, picked an early slot and had a chat about a topic that no one else was covering).
- Once you’ve got them staring at your card, reel them in with an enticing but cryptic talk title. Remember, the people who run MeasureCamp only leave 5 minutes between talks for people to choose their path for the day and there’s usually a queue to get a full look at the board. If you do the maths you’ll realise that doesn’t leave much time for people to read the details of the talk (this advice is based on a sample size of one… me). People are making real-time decisions and tradeoffs – “Oh, two talks on GDPR meaning I can skip the first one and go to the tag management session instead”. Note: don’t make your talk title so cryptic that they have no idea what the hell the session is about. It’s a fine line to tread, so give it some real thought.
- You’ve got your talk title and topic sorted, now you have to pick a format for your talk – a presentation or a chat? (I’m counting these as 2 of the 10 things)
- If you choose to do a presentation, that’s fairly straightforward. Create some interesting content and put it into a powerpoint presentation. This is your safe choice and one I imagine most first-time speakers will take. This doesn’t mean be lazy about it. Make it interesting. Tell a story. Use exciting visuals. Finally, think about what it is you want your audience to take away.
- Now, if you’re feeling brave and decide to host an informal chat, keep in mind that you have to carry the conversation for the duration of the talk. Far too often I’ve joined chats where the session host hasn’t taken into consideration that there will be very little contribution from the audience. Initially, people will be reserved so you have to find a way to open them up. The conversation may progress organically, but if it doesn’t, have a contingency plan in the form of talking points and questions!!! Otherwise, it will be the most awkward 30 minutes of your life. What makes a good chat? Focus, agenda, a moderator and engagement – keep the chats relevant, have a clear agenda of the topic at hand and moderate the sh*t out of the session. Get people involved and identify the people who are going to hog the conversation but most importantly, engage the quieter ones.
- Practice makes perfect. This one is a bit of a no-brainer, but if you can run through your presentation with your friends or colleagues, then do it. Don’t get me wrong, the audience at MeasureCamp are lovely and will not crucify you for a crap presentation but this is just as much about developing some of those softer skills as it is about knowledge sharing. Softer skills being, presentation skills, public speaking, storytelling etc… These are important life skills and will elevate your talks from good to almost Bhav-like (I’m Bhav).
- Be prepared for questions, but more importantly, encourage them. Don’t talk at your audience for 30 minutes. Leave enough time to get a conversation going. Throw out some controversial shit man (or woman) and get people talking and arguing. Make some bold statements, ask the audience some questions. A good talk will quickly turn into a two-way conversation.
- Have fun. Afterall, isn’t this what it’s all about. Don’t take it so seriously that you forget to enjoy yourself. MeasureCamp is a wonderful opportunity to meet likeminded people and discuss the things your friends, families and colleagues find boring. It’s an opportunity to talk about and listen to what you love with a bunch of people who actually want to hear and talk about it. So I stress, pick a topic you enjoy talking about and have fun with it.