Lessons Speaking at Social Media Marketing World

View from my hotel room.

View from the hotel room at Manchester Hyatt.

Last week I had the privilege of attending and speaking at Social Media Marketing World in San Diego. Besides balmy weather, a relief for any Coloradan this time of year, there was great networking, and solid content (see takeaways here). This created an environment overflowing with energy!

Speaking to audiences wasn’t something that I enjoyed early in my career, in fact it’s fair to say I found it TERRIFYING, and it showed.

Helping out at SMMW also served to remind me of some of the keys I’ve learned to speak effectively over the years (and I will ever be learning). Things like preparation and encouragement… let me share them with you here. For those who couldn’t make it, I’ll also share a resource offering access to the entire event recordings.

Lessons Speaking at Social Media Marketing World

As a “Track Leader” at SMMW, aka moderator or MC for 9 sessions across two days, it was a privilege to meet so many influencers in the space, as well as attendees eager to learn. There’s a built in respect for business owners who are authors, lead their respective businesses, and then go out and speak. In every case, for me, that respect grew by the end of their presentations.

Preparation Eases Nerves, Instills Confidence

One of the things the team at Social Media Marketing World do exceptionally well is prepare. It was obvious to me with all the details leading up to the event and those at the event that they’d been preparing for the event all year.

Conference bag, missing granola bars.

Conf bag, missing granola bars.

Example: Upon arriving and checking in at the speakers kiosk, they gave me a bag and a folder which included all items I would need to be successful. Things you would expect for this function like speaker bios, timelines, the event program, all in a nice bag. However, they went a step further with a special touch of including granola bars so that if I get hungry, I had something to provide a boost. A nice touch!

This carried over to the presentation rooms as well, having someone taking care of attendees, along with a tech guy making sure A/V is dialed in. Everyone knew their part and was engaged.

Two main benefits of preparation like this, one is that it eases nerves. When you know that people got your back and are there should you need… that time has been taken to account for the finest details, you are put at ease.


Standing room only.

Second, it instills confidence in everyone that the product given will be excellent. This applies to those working at the event as well as the speakers, but more than that is the attendees. At Social Media Marketing World, you could tell attendees were bought in, you could sense the energy of anticipation in the room as the time drew near for content to be presented. The audience was prepared for great content with a great experience, and on the whole, that is what they received.

This makes for an exciting event.

Preparation is key to executing anything well, more on that in another post.

Even Speakers Need Encouragement Sometimes


My view of a packed house during a session on successfully launching a podcast.

Speaking can be an exciting activity. However, any speaker worth their weight has a dose of nerves before getting in front of an audience. Familiar with this feeling I wanted to do something more than just let them know I’d be flashing time cards, and remind them to remain seated during their intro.

What I found myself saying to them in so many words, was:

  • They are the esteemed party in the room.
  • That myself and the rest of team were there to support them.
  • I discouraged them from allowing the audience to interrupt their presentation with questions (Q&A was handled at the end), but to operate in their position of honor, and
  • I’d look them dead in the eye and say “you are going to do awesome.” (or whatever seemed appropriate).

A warm smile was the overwhelming response. And, in my opinion, every speaker delivered.

Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously


A timely tweet from Joel Comm.

This is helpful to help put nerves at ease.

As far as sharing “housekeeping items” with the audience and introducing the speakers, there isn’t much time in this role for too much outside of formalities. I found that with each passing session mixing it up and including humor or engagement was well received and helped to set an upbeat, energetic tone in the room.

As a speaker, it’s always nice to have something humorous to say to break the ice with the audience.

Closing Thoughts

social-media-marketing-world-virtual-ticketIf you were at the event, I’d be interested to hear your impressions. If you couldn’t make it and can swing the investment for their virtual ticket (event recordings), I’d highly recommend it. Look for the link to virtual tickets on the right side of the page here.

As mentioned earlier, these weren’t new lessons entirely, I’ve served at events in a similar capacity. What speaking at Social Media Marketing World called out to me was something we all need from time to time…embracing the importance of preparation, the value of providing encouragement whenever possible, and to not take yourself too seriously.

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