One of the things I’m learning about blogging as a career – there is no set road ahead of you. Many of us are figuring things out as we go along and finding opportunities in unexpected places. Take for example, my recent trip to Las Vegas. I was brought to Vegas to speak at the conference formerly known as Blogworld, now known as New Media Expo.
Photo taken by Kendra Bracken-Ferguson
My previous impressions of Blogworld/New Media Expo were basically that I didn’t belong at such a conference. It seemed too techy and too business-focused for me. The usual blogger conventions that I’d attended or spoken at had more to do with fashion or beauty, or they were based on gender or ethnic background. I’ve done Blogging While Brown, Blogalicious, BlogHer (well, the parties anyway) and Lucky FABB and TEDx in Trinidad. How did I fit into the world of New Media Expo, and why did they want me?
The folks there explained that they’re trying to really speak to the wider world of blogging, and the representation of beauty and fashion bloggers was really weak in years past. They wanted me to speak and represent and share my world with the attendees of NMX This was my chance to share my knowledge with a completely new, totally unfamiliar audience. And the topic assigned to me? How To Build a BIG Brand and Community With Just a Simple Blog. This wasn’t a speech, or being on a panel like I’m used to doing. This was to be a 45 minute presentation. I chose to use PowerPoint (if there’s a next time for me to do this sort of thing, I will try out Prezi. Got a TON of recommendations on that).
I went into the NMX experience feeling like a fish out of water. I was out of my comfort zone, giving a kind of presentation I don’t enjoy or feel comfortable doing, to an audience of people who weren’t familiar with me or my blog. I went into this experience underestimating myself and my abilities. But my dad’s watchwords kept coming back to me – if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail. It’s something he said to me all through high school and college, and too often I didn’t listen. I worked on my NMX speech and presentation, and tried to give as much as I could of my knowledge based on experience.
And you know what? I got instant, amazing feedback on my presentation. One of the attendees approached the microphone and before she asked her question, she said to me “You underestimate your excellence. You were the best.” I swear, I almost shed a tear right there in front of everyone. And then on Twitter, the response was incredible.
So one thing I learned from my New Media Expo, is to doubt myself less and believe in myself more. My friend Adria Richards phrased it so beautifully.
Do I like public speaking now that I wind up doing it so often? NO. I don’t think I’ll ever like or look forward to public speaking. I still experience sleepless nights leading up to it and sweaty palms during the experience. But the more opportunities I’m given to speak in public, the better I get at it. And I realize that pushing myself to rise to occasions like these makes me feel stronger and more assured in my own, unconventional path. And hopefully I can share a message that resonates with some people in the crowd. That’s the best I can hope for.
What else did I learn at NMX?
Chris Drucker taught me that I need a Virtual Assistant like, YESTERDAY. Read his recap to learn all about that – his presentation was dynamic, informative, helpful, and FUN.
Kendra Bracken Ferguson, DBA’s Managing Director, remains an inspiration and her words of wisdom on the panel about which brands get it and which brands don’t continue to resonate with me.
Guy Kawasaki’s keynote was awesome for many reasons but his breakdown of the social media sites was a great takeaway.
I met some amazing people, too. Thanks to Spud Hilton of SFGate for the pre-presentation pep talk, Leslie Samuel for encouraging me to get back into podcasting, and Mommy Loves Tech for introducing me to my first ever Google + hangout!
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Thanks to Shane Ketterman and Amber Avines for everything – the whole NMX team rocked! And thanks to Luvvie and Scott Hanselman (AKA Ratchet and The Geek) for helping me figure out this presentation thang!