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My presentation at IA Summit 2009: “Evangelizing Yourself”

At the IA Summit last year in Miami, the first that I attended, a few wonderful people encouraged me to submit a proposal for this year in Memphis. I was a total noob, and didn’t think it would be possible for me to be chosen to speak, but I decided to think of a topic anyway. After a few months of pondering, it finally hit me:

“Evangelizing Yourself: You Can’t Change the World If No One Knows Your Name”

I submitted the proposal in October along with another I had conceived of along the way, and honestly was kind of dismayed that the other one wasn’t accepted while this one was. Mostly because I had no idea what I was planning to say, despite having lived through it myself.

Between mid-January when it was accepted and the day before the talk was scheduled last Sunday, March 22, I had written out a variety of notes — mostly random thoughts that popped into my head about the dos and donts of self-promotion. What I hadn’t actually done was created a presentation. I avoided doing it before leaving for SxSW in Austin, then I avoided doing it while in Austin, then after dinner with friends I convinced myself I wasn’t going to do it at all. “I’ll just wing it, no slides.” “That’s brave,” one of them said. But I still felt validated to go slide-less and somehow the immense nerves that had built up during the previous month were finally subsiding.

“Nerves” is actually an understatement. My anxiety was palpable. I drove my boyfriend crazy in the time leading up to the IA Summit because all I could talk about was how badly I was going to fail at my first major public speaking occasion. I was convinced that I wouldn’t be able to make it through the 45-minute talk, instead having to excuse myself before running off the stage to vomit. Really, I thought this was a realistic possibility, no matter how much encouragement and calmness my friends and family offered.

The afternoon before my talk, I went up to my hotel room to organize my notes. I figured I would just list things out in an order that made sense so that I could read off the notes as I delivered my rant. The way I chose to do this made all the difference: I ripped up several sheets of paper and wrote each note on a small piece, then I grouped the pieces together based on topic, and named each topic to give it some structure. Thirty minutes later after I’d combed through my notes, I took a step back and noticed that I’d just unknowingly put together my presentation. Well I guess it’s time to put these on slides… and two hours later I had this:

Minutes before I gave the presentation

The next morning

It was a tremendous accomplishment for me to stand up in front of a room filled with my friends, mentors and many strangers and find the confidence to deliver my talk with the conviction it deserved. When I first got up to the mic, my heart was pounding out of my chest (despite an amazingly kind introduction from Chris Baum), but by the end I felt I had done the right thing, submitting the topic, thinking through the issue, and putting it onto slides so that people had something concrete to take away and to share. It seems my instinct was right.

Evangelizing Yourself” has had over 3,000 views in under a week on SlideShare.

Two hours after I uploaded it on Monday, it made it onto the homepage under Top Presentations of the Day:

And then it was on the Careers landing page as well:

The comments are amazingly kind and generous, and make me smile from ear to ear. The presentation has also been referenced and embedded in several blog posts:

Vanessa Clark
If Not You, Who? (Project: Learned Explorations of a Life — Denrael)
Kris Colvin
Tumble Along With Brad (Brad Nunnally)
NCLC’s 23 Things on a Stick
Tanner Powell
IASummit Epilogue (3 Across — Jenn Anderson)
Recommended Reading (Like Wow Online — Shimone Samuel)
Jiibe

Delicious bookmarks for the Evangelizing Yourself presentation on SlideShare

There has also been an overwhelming amount of support from Twitter peeps:






Check out all the tweets on “evangelizing yourself,” “evangelize yourself” and “@whitneyhess #ias09“.

Thank you to everyone who has supported this presentation and moreover supported me through this incredible journey I have had over the last 15 months. I draw my confidence from you, and I am simply thrilled that I have been able to give back even in the smallest of ways. Thank you!

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  • uxRob

    Great post Whitney. Soooo much good information in there that I'm going to have to take time to read it again. And again.

    A lot of what you say is just simple common sense (“follow your gut” as you say) but it takes a certain something to get out there and do what seems like common sense. Make sense?

    Evangelising yourself is all about having the confidence to speak up in a respectful way and ensuring your point of view is being heard. You don't need to be agressive or pushy, just smart and confident.

  • http://daniseuba.wordpress.com Dani seuba

    I can only say two things: Great and thanks. I enjoy your presentation from slideshare.
    :D

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  • http://twitter.com/mediajunkie xian

    The way I chose to do this made all the difference: I ripped up several sheets of paper and wrote each note on a small piece, then I grouped the pieces together based on topic, and named each topic to give it some structure. Thirty minutes later after I’d combed through my notes, I took a step back and noticed that I’d just unknowingly put together my presentation.</blockqote>

    …and you say you're not an information architect!

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