For every profession, there are many conferences that provide you the opportunity to learn, meet others in your field, and of course, have a little fun along the way. It can be tough to select which conferences to attend, and more importantly, which ones to target as a potential presenter.
I’ve had the great honor of being selected as a speaker for numerous global conferences and most recently I returned for a fourth time to the International Association of Business Communicators World Conference. Each of these brought so much to me as both a participant and speaker. I often wonder as I hear the great accomplishments of candidates that I interview, why more people don’t submit proposals to share their experiences with others.
Here are a few reasons you should toss your hat in the ring when you see a call for presentations:
Giving back to your community: Sure, you can share a picture or blog post about a great program you led at work, but to be a true leader in your community, it takes a little more effort. By sharing details of your work, you help others facing similar situations. I know the sessions I get the most value from when I attend conferences are the ones that don’t just show me what went right – but also what went wrong and how they fixed it. The ones that offer a few cautionary tales with a happy ending. Where was there push back from the customer or client? How did you overcome those objections? This is where you demonstrate your expertise as a leader in your field. And potentially you have an opportunity to be a mentor (if even only for a moment) to those coming up behind you.
Hone your presentation skills: There’s nothing like having to present in front of a group to get better at presenting. In the world of marketing and communications, you are often put in a position to speak in front of executives, clients, customers or even your own team. Practice makes perfect, and the more comfortable you get at being in front of the room, the more likely you will be able to lead your team to success. I just learned from this article that there are even apps to help you get better at speaking.
Build your network: Of course, you build your network when simply attending a conference, but when I moved from attendee to speaker, I found myself being very deliberate about connecting with other speakers and participants. People started reaching out to me to connect in advance and during the event. My network expanded in a meaningful way. Because our careers all depend on a strong network, presenting your great work is way to get noticed by people who could be influential in your career moves for years to come.
In my next post, I will share some tips on how to submit presentation proposals that get selected.