I have of course presented work to clients in the intervening years – and that’s something I really enjoy, but part of that is because if I’ve done my job well, it’s pretty easy, there’s a lot of preparation to fall back on, and the client is more interested in the visuals than hearing me chatter on for 15 minutes about why I made some very specific design choices.
So, when I was asked to do a 10 minute spotlight at a BWN (Busy Women Networking) group meeting last week my instinct was to say thanks but no thanks.
What actually happened is that I said yes without even thinking. What an absolute spanner.
Still, I had a month to prepare and knew it was something I wanted to at least try. Then I worried about what I was actually going to talk about. Whilst design and branding is a fine subject – trying to cram anything meaningful into 10 minutes seemed a bit of a stretch.
Eventually I decided just to talk about me and the path I’ve taken to get to where I am today. It’s not something I feel is actually that interesting to me – but there are certainly some highlights and I thought opening up a bit, particularly to the people I meet regularly – might be appreciated.
I really didn’t want it to be scripted – but equally I knew that I needed prompts to keep me on track and avoid my mind going blank – so I set out my ‘story’ as 5 minutes of history of Pope, and 5 minutes of ‘the present day Pope’, and allowed for about a minute of individual sections in each.
I designed a visual prompt which I find works really well for me, and did a few practice runs to refine the key points and make sure the timing was on point. And I had a friend waste 20 minutes of her life listening to me practice and give feedback too, so that was much appreciated.
On the day itself I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be – until I got to the venue and actually had to do the networking thing before my 10 minutes. That was when the nerves started to kick in! Still, I’m nothing if not determined and I was absolutely determined to do the best I could.
Here we go! Here’s the outline of the talk
So that was my first real experience of doing a talk in a business / networking context – and I have to say, despite feeling incredibly nervous all the way through, I really enjoyed it.
The reaction at the end was lovely too – with some great questions being asked, people saying how much they enjoyed it, and I even got a big clap when it finished.
Would I do it again? Probably. I mean I’m not going to make a career out of it or anything, but I’d definitely be open to opportunities to do similar talks or workshops in the future. The key for me is knowing my subject and feeing well-prepared – and I’d like to think I’m likeable enough to hold people’s attention for a couple of minutes at least!
Finally I’d just like to say thank you to Aruna – the head of the BWN Empire for asking me to do the spotlight, which really pushed me to develop some skills that I wouldn’t have otherwise – and for generally running an extremely supportive network of local groups in which I’ve met some lovely people over the last 6 months. Thanks Aruna!
A little more about Busy Women Networking (BWN)
Busy Women Networking is a business networking group for women with members across Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire. Headed by Aruna Rao, it’s a formidable group of business women who aim to grow their businesses in a professional manner while at the same time getting to know each other better and having some fun along the way.