Do you have public speaking on your goals list for the year? I love attending marketing & SEO conferences and I know lots of people would love to tick off ‘speak at a conference’ from their career goals list. I got so much out of my first talk at Brighton SEO – it was a fantastic experience and really helped me feel much more confident about my work and skills, and if you want to do it I definitely recommend it.
The biggest struggle when you’re looking to speak at a conference is coming up with ideas on what you should do your talk on. To help, I’ve put together a list of questions that you can use as prompts that will get you thinking and hopefully spark an idea that you can develop into a talk.
You might not be able to answer every single prompt, so do move on if you’re struggling to put an answer down for one. These are mostly specific to SEO but you can replace the word SEO with whatever sector you work in and the prompts should still work.
I would also highly recommend going through these prompts with someone else so you can bounce ideas back and forth, and it can help you remember additional things that you could write based on their examples. I’ve personally tested these prompts out and came up with a good handful of ideas that I can then refine into a rough outline!
Sophie’s Prompts for Generating Ideas for SEO Talks:
- When someone at work comes to you for a question what is it usually about?
- What piece of SEO advice annoys you because it’s bad / doesn’t work?
- What topic or site part did you find hardest working on and what have you learnt about it?
- What’s your unpopular SEO opinion?
- What is one thing you notice loads of sites seem to get ‘wrong’ in SEO? Can you talk through a better way of doing this?
- What’s your least favourite SEO task? Why? What would make it easier?
- What is one aspect of your job role you can talk about for half an hour with no preparation?
- Is there a recent process you’ve developed? Can you share this process?
- What challenge have you recently had in your work? How did you overcome it?
- What piece of advice makes you angry every time you see it suggested? Why?
- Is there a way you think about a certain SEO aspect that you’ve created an analogy for to help explain it?
- What SEO techniques have you tried that did not work for you? Can you tell this story along with the learnings and insights you gained from this?
- Is there one SEO tactic that you think is really underrated? Talk about all its applications
- Have you learnt a new tool? Found some cool things to do with it? What are they?
- What’s your favourite SEO task to complete – can you walk people through it, and show off all the different ways it can be used?
- Can you apply a way of thinking or a process from another industry you’ve been involved in, to an aspect of your current work?
I’ve also created a handy talk idea generation template on Google Docs that you can make a copy of to complete.
Common Self-Talk Bullshit Your Brain will Attempt to Pull
One of the bigger hurdles to overcome when you’re thinking about potentially doing a talk is actually your own brain – call it Imposter Syndrome, or something else, it’s extremely easy to talk yourself out of even trying – this is because your brain is trying to keep you safe from potential danger and instead starts shit-talking and giving you doubts – to this I say; fuck you, brain!
Here are the common things that your brain will tell you, and how to combat it 💪
Brain: But… I’m not an expert in anything?
Fuck you, brain – even if you’ve done something once but can talk someone else through the process, then you can bloody well talk about it. You DO NOT need to be an expert to be able to give a talk on a subject. I will even go as far as saying, it’s even better if you’re not an expert – you can bring new insights and a different angle because you are newer to the thing you’re talking about.
Brain: But… I’m no good at giving presentations
Fuck you, brain – I’ve found that if something is part of my job, it’s far easier to present to someone vs some topic I’ve only recently heard about or researched (why do we do this at school?). Also, yes you might not be the best at presenting when you start putting a talk together – but you can practice it! Talk out loud to yourself at first. Then ask a friend to watch you present. Give a small group of work colleagues a preview. You know your shit, and your confidence will grow with practice.
Brain: But… I don’t know anything that anyone else doesn’t know already?
Fuck you, brain – even for someone brand new to the work, there will be a specific unique angle that only you can bring. There are always new people arriving to the industry, who might not know the ‘easy’ ‘obvious’ or ‘simple’ stuff. Maybe it will be your explanation of something that will make something just click.
The XKCD comic ‘Ten Thousand’ illustrates this perfectly;
Plus, if someone watching does know a lot about the thing you’re talking about already, do you know what they go away thinking? “Oh nice, I do know what I’m talking about on this topic” and then go away with a bit of a confidence boost. At least, that’s exactly what I’ve done at any talk where I was already knowledgeable on the topic! People who scoff at those who are at least having a go, are not the people you want to associate or listen to anyways.
Found this useful?
Let me know how you get on and if these talk idea prompts were useful or not – and if there is a question that you think would make a great talk prompt let me know and I’ll add it to this post. If you have already done a talk I’d love to hear how you came up with the idea too!
Leave a comment or drop me a DM on Twitter 🙂