How to give a keynote and not die. Much.

I highly recommend driving around Chicago in a convertible.
And those hanging things? Those are my idea bulbs at the Weber Shandwick Chicago office.

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Recently I did something I have never done before. Which isn’t all that surprising since I do things I

haven’t done before nearly every day. Because my life motto is…

“Bite off more than I can chew- and try not to choke”

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What was it? I was the keynote speaker a sold out digital media conference. Yup. Me on the big stage, in the big room.

And what a room it was…in the fabulous Blackstone Hotel (Chicago)…I yearned to walk on stage in a tiara and ball gown. But then I remembered I wasn’t there to do stand up- I was there to present about social media, brand strategy and more.

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I will not lie. I was nervous. This was a brand new presentation, and I really wasn’t sure it would go over- what people would react to…and where I could make them laugh. And I had many important colleagues from my Chicago office in attendance as well. So I did what anyone else would do…

Go to the bathroom and take a photo in the mirror. Then stood back stage and took a photo of the French mirrored doors. Because that is what calms me people. And I am a dork.

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Eventually, it was time to hit the stage. And I walked out to this, sold out, standing room only crowd.

Such an honor and such a holy terror. Keynotes are different than giving regular conference presentations in many ways. For one, nearly everyone attends the keynote- because it feels more vetted. People just expect it to be good. And since generally all of the conference attendees come, you need to be sure you speak on broader topics than “analytics for third party apps”…you need to appeal to B2B or B2C or basically anyone who stumbles into the room. The other challenge is that, when you are session presenter- you know that people CHOSE to come hear you. They read the description of your session, and decided it was a topic that interested them. But for a keynote? Not so much.

They are there- because that is what kicks off the conference and sets the tone for the days ahead.

So I knew I needed a strong presentation. I worked for months on the research, weeks on the design and rehearsed in my mind more than a few million times.

It needed to be something that was inspiring but also full of practical knowledge.

And I needed to be a little funny.

Funny helps everything except funerals and tax audits.

My presentation WAS recorded. And as soon as I can get that posted for you I will. In the end, I got lots of compliments and good feedback and all that jazz. You know- the stuff people like me pathetically LIVE FOR.

Was it perfect? No.

Will I be better, stronger more entertaining next time? YES.

But man. I had such a good time. I wish all my hours on earth were as exciting and joyful as the hours I am able to spend in front of an audience.

I love helping people be more awesome.

That is my thing.

Imma wrangler of the awesome.IMG_4293-001


Special thank you to GSMI for asking me to be part of this great event. For those interested I will be speaking at BlogWorld New York, Social Media Strategies Summit in San Francisco and Denver this year (among other places as well : ) Hope you will say hello!

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