Last week, we interviewed past speaker Richard Matson-Daley about his experience at the 2012 event:
What inspired you to present?
It sounded like fun. I had a couple of topics that were rattling around in my brain that doing a talk was a really good way to process. On a personal/professional development level, I wanted work on my speaking skills in a format I wasn’t used to, and in front of an audience that was different from the ones I had spoken in front of before.
How did you select a topic?
My topic was “A Strength Based Approach to Weakness.” I was interested in Gallup’s StrengthsFinder assessment, as I had done some learning around it in the past. This particular talk was something I had not pulled together in one place before.
How did you prepare?
A large part of my prep was bringing everything into a cohesive set of arguments, and then whittling that argument down to its persuasive core. After I determined the general shape of my argument and the outline of the speech, there was a lot of rehearsal and a lot of editing.
My goal was three-fold: (1) become comfortable enough with the speech so that it came naturally, (2) identify the awkward parts and remove them, and (3) make a speech that was within five minutes.
What advice do you have for anyone considering submitting a proposal?
- Do it! It’s really fun and it’s a really supportive audience;
- Find something that you really enjoy talking about. Don’t be afraid if you don’t know everything about your topic right now, you can do research;
- Your slide making software of choice may have some really good default formats. You might find one that works really well with your presentation. You’ll also want to make your text larger than you think it needs to be;
- When you time your rehearsals include 30 seconds for people to applaud (or laugh or cry) depending on your talk;
- Did I mention the audience is awesome? They really are!
What was the value in presenting for you? What made this experience rewarding?
- In the straight and narrow of my job, there isn’t a lot of opportunity to do speaking. It was a good opportunity to bring my speaking skills into my professional networking space;
- It was a way for me to test the StrengthsFinder assessment that was so interesting to me personally, and if was also interesting to others;
- It was a great confidence boost. The imposter syndrome states that you can’t really speak “in the real world” or to “a real audience,” and even outside the support of my friends and colleagues, it was great proof for myself that I could.
Richard Matson-Daley has spent the last eight years working with nonprofit organizations across the country as the Client Solutions Engineer at thedatabank, inc. He is a licensed minister at Pilgrim Baptist Church in St. Paul and received his Masters of Arts in Theological Studies from Bethel Seminary.