Sandi Speaks! My 1st Conference Experience

Yup it’s official! I have my first conference under my belt and it was AWESOMESAUCE!! So, last Thursday I did a breakout session (workshop) at the 1st annual Focus on Entrepreneurs Conference in St. Petersburg, FL. Let me start by saying St. Petersburg is a hidden gem! I didn’t take me allergy medicine at all in the 3 days I spent there. The weather was gorgeous and I got to take an evening stroll around downtown and take in some sights and beach views.

Anyway, the theme was Automate. Delegate. Eliminate…my business love language, lol. To be among so many fellow entrepreneurs who understood the value of processes and automation AND looking to improve their business models with these strategies was incredible. The host and creator of the conference Juliann Nichols and her committee did a fabulous job. She literally built a conference around what I “preach” to entrepreneurs all the time. Like seriously, what genius.

Now, my main reason for attending of course was to present. And boy did I (yes I’m tooting my own horn). I was nervous-cited from the day I received the email confirming but D-day was crazy for sure. It seemed liked things just weren’t falling into place in the week and half leading up to the event. I mean, everything was just insane from my outfit, to my room, my course creation and the work I needed to complete prior to leaving. Oh, and then there was the talk itself. This is not my first time speaking. I’ve done interviews, workshops, local talks, etc. but this was my 1st conference. Here’s what I learned from my 1st conference experience:

  1. Don’t procrastinate. Now, I can be completely transparent. I am a habitual procrastinator. I’ve greatly improved over the years but it’s still something I tend to struggle with. I decided to try AirBNB rather than staying at the hotel because I’m all about saving coins. I booked my room the DAY BEFORE! The app wasn’t working correctly and it literally took my 45 minutes and a tech support call & email to get it done. In my mind the perfect outfit was planned. In real life I couldn’t find it in the store and the shoes I planned to wear had dry rotted since last summer! I kept revisiting my presentation PowerPoint because well it wasn’t quite right so I thought and I still was rushing through the house like a mad person 4 hours before my flight packing and making sure I’d left adequate instructions for my neighbor and my husband regarding the kids. It was just a lot of unnecessary stress I could have avoided if I’d planned, no make that EXECUTED better.
  2.  DO hire a Coach. From the moment I was confirmed to speak I sent out an S.O.S. to an excellent coach and friend AJ Austin to help me perfect my topic, presentation and develop a product to accompany my talk. As painful as it was at times (she gives homework y’all) with her critiques and do overs I couldn’t have done it with out her. She gave me much needed insight on my audience, my goal and myself. As confident and comfortable as I am speaking in front of others this had to be a cut above anything else I’d done. I couldn’t travel out of state and not kill it. She helped ensure I did.
  3. Don’t over think it! This is probably one of the most important lessons. It took so long to complete my presentation and my course because I was overthinking it. I didn’t trust myself and the abilities I know I have. I got frustrated that it wasn’t “right” and would walk away from it for days. I sat in the room right before thinking people were going to go to all the other sessions and I’d be left talking to myself because I am not known in the St. Pete/Tampa area. That didn’t happen and the feedback I got was more than rewarding.

So all in all as crazy as it I made myself, I thoroughly enjoyed my 1st conference experience. I know it’s the first of many to come. I am so grateful for the opportunity and am already planning for FOE Conference 2018!