How I Became A Presenter

At the end of a refresh meeting, the presenter posed a question that would open so many doors for me – “Who’s going to present at next month’s meetup?” I’d been learning alot about Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) and knew this would be a great opportunity to share some of my findings with the group.

I was attending the CSS Dev Conference in Mid-October of 2014. Not only was I excited to meet industry leaders that I admired, but this was a great place to get some advice for presenting my SVG talk to our meetup group. I completed my presentation’s slides before the conference in hopes that I would be able to focus on the delivery of my material, not the content itself.

Once I arrived at the CSS Dev Conf, I was bubbling with excitement. People I had been afraid to reach out to on the internet were standing before my eyes. I was so eager to pick their brains. I’d seen their talks online and knew that they’d be able to help me prepare for my talk. Alicia Sedlock and Katie Kovalcin offered me unique perspectives as these were their first talks at a conference. They shared their feelings of jitters, but they delivered amazing talks. Estelle Weyl shared just how important it was to be true to myself and embrace my personality when presenting. Rachel Nabors shared the importance of knowing my audience, and how this helps her engage her audience no matter the location. Jon Bellah not only shared some of his presentation tips, but also encouraged me to submit my talk to conferences just like CSS Dev Conference. I soaked in this knowledge and watched as they all delivered great presentations.

I returned to Baton Rouge with a wealth of knowledge, ready to present my SVG talk. Days following CSS Dev Conference, I followed Jon Bellah’s advice and submitted my talk to conferences across the country in hopes that someone would give me the opportunity to put what I had learned on display. As I anxiously waited to hear back, it was time to present my talk. I used all the information I gathered from the conference to put on a great presentation for our Refresh group. December 16, 2014 was a day I’ll never forget. I was greeted with an email from the Chicago Web Conference stating that my talk had been one of the few selected from over 100 submissions! I updated my slides with the information I had gathered since performing my talk at the meetup. 3 days before I flew to Chicago to present, I received an email asking if I would like to participate on the panel discussion for the Future of the Web! I could not believe that just 2 months prior, I was attending my first ever conference. Not only was I going to speak at a conference, I was going to participate in a panel discussion.

Once the time had come to present, I used all of the advice given to me to get past the jitters, engage my audience, and stay to true my own voice. My presentation went great, and I am thankful that I was fortunate enough to have individuals provide that guidance that I needed to succeed. The panel discussion occurred a few hours later. It was amazing to sit among people I admire in my field and converse with them regarding the direction our field is headed. It was a wonderful moment for me, and one that I keep with me as I continue in my speaking career. I’m writing this for anyone that has something they’d like to present, but feel like it’s something that isn’t in their reach. I’ll be the first to say, six months ago I was just like you. Take a chance and submit your talk. Be patient. When the opportunity presents itself, don’t let it slip away. Embrace it and you will succeed.