Since I have been tragically poor at reporting in at the ol’ blog, I’ve missed out on sharing some fun stuff over the last two months. Notably, for the first time ever, I presented at a regional conference. On Sept. 24, I gave a breakout talk at the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations District V conference in Bloomington, Minn., called “Using Off-the-Shelf Software to Build a News Clip Tracking System.”
I wrote a bit about my initial process for building a system in Filemaker Pro for tracking media mentions back in July; it took me until just a few days before the presentation to get everything perfected, but the system is now working the way I had originally envisioned.
I had about 45 minutes to present, and my breakout was late in the conference and opposite a session with tips for online advertising. The conference was small to begin with, about 65 attendees to start, so by the time my presentation rolled around I had maybe 18 in my session. So it was a nice small audience for me to deliver my first presentation.
I started out pretty well, but nerves hit after about 15 minutes and I’m not sure I ended very strong. I thought I had some troubles explaining my general concept for building the application — assigning a unique identifier to each news release in a list of stories, tagging media clips with that unique identifier when necessary, then using Filemaker functionality to make a list of clips that are tagged that is accessible directly from the release list. If I had a chance to give the presentation again in a different venue, I have some ideas for how I’d completely redo this section with some better visuals to make what I tried to do more clear. I know I could do better the second time around.
Overall, though, the presentation was successful; I got a lot of questions afterward, some of which branched out into other topics like social media measurement that weren’t even part of what I had prepared for. Most importantly, I learned a lot about processes for presenting and what sort of things I need to keep in mind to polish up when I next have an opportunity to present. The presentation also reinforced that I’m on the right track for my general presentation philosophy — lots of full-screen graphics when necessary, and very minimal text on the screen. My presentation ended up being heavy in terms of total number of slides (I was around 70 for what turned out to be about a 25-minute presentation), but I thought it was clear and kept the reading burden for the audience to a minimum.
It would be fun to find another opportunity to present and continue to practice. I think it’s something I could get to be pretty good at in time.