After years and years and years of not daring, I finally had my moment yesterday. I was speaking at my first SharePoint Conference, the SharePoint Saturday Netherlands. An annual free event with yesterday about 290 attendees and 50 more SharePoint / Office365 enthusiasts from the sponsors and speakers.
The way this works is you have to submit a session abstract and then on any random day after the deadline you receive THE mail. “Your Session has been accepted”
As a trainer I am used to speak in front of the class. But speaking at a conference is a completely different thing. The people in the room already know a lot about SharePoint / Office365, most of them are consultants as well. It is a tough crowd, and oh boy, can SP People be opinionated.
But I signed up, and I would not chicken out of it.
The day before the conference there is usually the Speaker Dinner. Being in the Netherlands we had pancakes. It’s the first time to get to know the other speakers and connect. Some of them I already know from my work and previous conferences, but others, especially the international ones are new faces for me. All of them experiences speakers, traveling the world sharing their knowledge. And there I was, in between these SharePoint Gurus.
I headed home quickly after the dinner to work on my presentation. Until 2 am in the morning, I fine tuned my slides, and then spend another hour in bed rehearsing my session in my head. It had to be perfect.
My session was in the first slot of the day at 9:30. I got there early to put up my laptop and check the beamer and sound. At 9:25 there were only 4 people in the room. I was so nervous. Would nobody else show up? Is my topic not interesting enough? Where is everybody? But within the next 5 minutes, more and more people entered the room. The organisation gave me one of the 2 large rooms, and they knew why. All 70 chairs were filled. It was crowded. We closed the door and I started presenting.
…And it was awesome. After finishing my session, people came up to me to thank me for the inspiring presentation. We talked further details about the topic. I got so much positive feedback. Just awesome.
I spent the next hour outside in the sun, cooling down from all the stress. And it was so worth it.
I attended a couple of more sessions and mingled with the other speakers… The In-Crowd.
In the evening we went for a Post-Conference Dinner and rounded up the night at the Hotel Bar. It was so much fun, these people are so open and friendly, and funny. I cannot wait to see them again, because I totally want to speak again.
So now I am going to submit session proposals to other conferences and let the waiting for approval begin.
If you want to know more about the topic I presented “User Adoption”, just follow me. Another blog post will follow soon.