My first speaking opportunity at the Online Retailer Conference

I know its been just over a month since the online retailer conference, but I would like to share my very first speaking experience at the online retailer conference that was held in Sydney on the 26th September 2011.

We arrived in beautiful Sydney at 8am Monday morning for the social media summit, which was the pre conference event day. I had woken up at 3.30am in the same morning as our flight was in Avalon, Victoria which was 1.5 hours drive from where I lived.

As you can imagine the morning started pretty fuzzy. We got to our hotel and checked in, before quickly getting to the Sydney exhibition centre as we were running abit late.

When we got there we had already missed half of the keynote given by Dave Haber from ice.com . But the rest of the presentation was great, and it was good to get an inside look at how ice.com run their social media department. Then we had Nick Lansley from Tesco, who looked like he had just run a marathon prior to coming up on stage. Nick shared some pretty insightful stuff about mobile, also touching on great innovations in some of the Asian countries.

During the break I had a good chat to Dave Haber, about their social media resourcing, as I was looking to grow the moooo marketing team. He mentioned that having someone assist with social media is great, but it was best to ease them into the role, and give them more responsibility as they progress, but also still manage and monitor the metrics from a higher level. At ice.com, Dave runs all the social media marketing with Lauren who helps with the content. Its pretty amazing for just a 2 person team, to pull off such great social media campaigns.

Next we were broken up into 2 tracts mobile and social media. The first social media marketing track looked great, but ended up quite boring. I then moved over to the mobile track, which was Craig Sulliven, who was an ace and a real gun with testing, and definitely great value with insights. I then went to more of the social media track but again, the presentations were not as good.

At the breaks, we had networking sessions and I did meet some interesting people and it was a great day for networking. That night we went over our presentation and were making many tweaks, so it was still very much a work in progress.

The next day, which was the 1st official day of the main conference, the rest of my team rocked up. The 1st day keynote speakers were great, Yona from beyondtherack.com, gave us insight on how they got started and the hurdles they faced when starting, which was very inspirational. Tyler Hoffman from Google, as expected just pushed googles new products.

Gabby from catchoftheday.com.au was quite amusing, doing his usually controversial trolling, while the others were pretty average. We then broke up into the 5 tracks, I moved quite a bit between tracks from stuff on SEO, to SEM to email marketing to website usability. 1 standout was an american guy from Silverpop who gave us some good insights on email marketing and mobile.

After the conference it was time for the ORIAS, we were nominated for 2 awards, best pure play and best use of technology. We lost both to surf stitch . The ORIAS was good, with Vince Sorrenti doing a stand up skit for us, he was pretty funny. Food was just ok. I ended up with chicken while the 2 people next to me at steak, which was quite annoying. Big winners for the night were: style tread, appliances online, dick smith, and surf stitch. After the long day, and night, we went back to the hotel for another practice presentation session, but decided that we were too tired and would do it in the morning. Next morning it was D day for our presentation. We did a final rehearsal, and saved the keynote presentation on a thumb drive to give to Kylie.

The keynotes for the 2nd day were great, with the ex Wallmart SVP, and a great presentation from Jon Kamaluddin from asos.com. The 2nd day of the conference seemed a little better than the 1st day with quite a few stand out presentations including one on website usability from Josh Himwish from diapers.com, and another good one session on split testing from Craig Sullivan.

And then it was our turn to present. This was my very first time in front of such a big crowd and to say I was nervous was an understatement. I walked in and sat next to Mike my co speaker. I asked him if he was ready, and he said he was kinda nervous. So it was time for our big talk, and we were already 5 mins late because of technical issues. I was quite confidant until everyone started coming in and we had a full house, which what I was not expecting.

When I got on stage to start, I was hit with a wall of nervousness. And my co-speaker accidentally stuffed up our initial introductions so I didn’t get a chance to say it was my 1st time and to excuse my nervousness. So basically I was stuck to having to talk for around 15 mins consistently, while all I wanted to do was run off stage. Again it was my first ever time in front of so many people, but I thought to myself, it is now or never. I so just did it. And with all eyes looking at me, I pushed forward.

It didn’t go the way I had practiced, my tones were all wrong, but I didn’t give up I just kept going, trying my best to engage the crowd. As it came to Mikes turn to speak, I could see he was quite nervous, he started going for it, but I think due to the time limit was rushing.Mike started just reading as much as he could, he even went over his spot and started reading over mine. Finally it was wrap up time and I wrapped up to finish things off. At the end I apologised for the nervousness and told them to contact me if they had questions.

On the way out there were a few people who asked for my card which was nice, and a few others smiled at me before they left which was encouraging, I also got some positive twitter mentions which really made my day. Metal note first thing to do is join toast masters to improve my presentation skills. By next year I should be all ready for more speaking events.

A big thanks to the online retailer team for giving me the opportunity.


2 Responses

  1. Geri says:

    Haha, shouldn’t you be cahgring for that kind of knowledge?!

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