Today, I made my debut on the public speaking circuit: I addressed the Louisville Ad Federation, one of the oldest and most active ad clubs in the country, on the topic of interactive advertising. My speech was supposed to be a holiday case study, but I turned it into a discussion of online dating — how to build a relationship with your customers online. I made some jokes (even daring ones — "Okay, what typically happens on the third date? Please, answer to yourselves), showed some pretty good work, and got a warm reception.
Despite the fact that I practically talk for a living, the notion of standing up with a microphone has been making me a nervous wreck: I'd wake up at the Panic Hour (somewhere between 3:15 and 4:15 a.m.), my heart racing at the notion of it. But it went well, I think. I'm no Barack, but I've learned a few things:
1) Some gentle teasing (of oneself and one's strange rooster-covered dress, of account people, of clients) is disarming.
2) Romance is a great metaphor for almost anything. It's racy and relatable.
3) Everyone always assumes they're so dumb and you're so smart. I know I always assume that about other people (they're smart and I'm dumb). We can't all be that dumb (or smart) if we're so interested in what everyone else has to say.
4) This is the advice I give to people who work for me, that I had to remind myself of: it's not a presentation, it's a conversation. Even when you're holding the microphone.