Last week at this time I was presenting at the New York State Volunteer Ambulance And Rescue Association Pulse Check EMS Conference in Suffern, NY. The topic I had proposed and was chosen for was “Telling Our Own Story: Using Social Media To Connect To Our Communities“.
Now I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure what type of crowd I was going to get because I was scheduled to present simultaneously as the New York State Department of Health Director of EMS Lee Burns. I mean really, if you had the choice of listening to the head of the regulatory agency talk about EMS vs. some guy talk about Facebook, who would you choose?
Overall, I like to think it was a pretty good presentation. The crowd was about three times larger than I had expected, and that was both a pleasant surprise and a bit intimidating. When all was said and done I walked away with 3 important lessons to remember if there’s a next time…
- The order if topics can change from submission to presentation – when I presented the summary and outline, it was Christmas week and I was in a trailer in Tennessee. I had already done a rough outline of what I wanted to do, but when I started working on the actual presentation I realized that it was a bit like most other presentations I had been to. I wanted mine to be different, and so in doing that I inadvertently changed the outline. Although I still covered all the points, they weren’t in the order I had originally listed them
- Bringing your own audience can be more intimidating – because this was a local conference, a number of members from my own squad were there and came to see the presentation. At first I was all for this, because I really thought I would end up talking to a room by myself. Once I actually got up there, seeing the familiar faces was almost more unnerving because I felt like I had to deliver something way superior. Most of them had attended either my CEVO lecture or my Crew Chief 101 presentation, which for a small agency was good enough. But this was a conference, so I suddenly felt immense pressure to exceed those familiar and almost routine sessions with all new material in a new setting
- Practice makes perfect – I did practice run throughs during the presentation build, the night before the conference, and the morning of the presentation. This gave me time to make some final edits, fix any transitions that may have slipped by, and most importantly practice my timing. Timing was really my biggest challenge, and in the end I think I would have ended with some question time, but I failed to account for the intro and in depth questions during the presentation. Now that I’ve done it live, I know I need to account for that time as well
Admittedly, presenting really isn’t my forte. I’m nowhere near the level of fantastic presenters like Greg Friese, Rommie Duckworth, and Kelly Grayson. It was an extremely satisfying experience, and I don’t think I’m too terrible at it… otherwise I probably would have gotten some poor reviews (which from what I understand I didn’t) and I probably wouldn’t have had nearly as good a time.