A First-Time Speaker’s HOW Design Live Experience

Cami Travis-Groves had attended plenty of HOW events, but this year marked her debut as a speaker. She rocked a session titled “Get Out of Your Rut” in Chicago (catch an MP3 of her HOW presentation, if you missed it). Her presentation was based in part of her book, Get Out of Your Rut. I recently asked her to describe what it was like as a first-time presenter and to share advice for anyone who’s interested in speaking at a HOW event.

You’ve been to the HOW conference before … so how was the experience different as a speaker vs as an attendee? Did you have the same amount of time to get to the sessions you wanted to attend?

This year was my sixth HOW Conference (’94, ’05, ’07, ’09, ’10, and ’11). It was every bit as awesome to be a speaker as it is to attend, and then some! Some of favorite parts: I had access to the sessions in all four conferences—that was awesome! Other speakers were actually curious about me—me!? I got to share my stories and good juju with a larger audience. I wound up only missing two of the sessions I really wanted to see. The one that was concurrent with my session, and one right after it, during my book signing. Other than that, I did have time to get to the sessions I wanted. I will listen to the ones I missed on mp3, no sweat (too bad there aren’t videos instead).

How did you prepare for your presentation?

I prepared for my talk first by planning it out last summer, and then testing it on my kids. They liked it, so I did it again for some friends. Then I planned a small talk with a local printer, who helped me organize a lunch talk. Then I planned another talk, etc. The more I did it, the easier it got. Instead of staying up late the night before, I got a good night’s sleep to save my voice. Right before my talk, setup included using Stefan Mumaw and Julie Goldsberry as slave labor, putting up my posters (thanks again guys!).

How did your experience as a HOW speaker stack up against your expectations?

My talk went just as I thought (and hoped) it would, but there were more people in my audience than I expected. Which was awesome! I definitely want to do more talks. I think I want to be a speaker when I grow up.

Were you nervous? Did you have fun?

Heck no, I wasn’t nervous! Excited, yes! I had someone ask me if I’d memorized everything—there wasn’t anything to memorize! I had someone ask me if I had my notes and slides ready—there were no notes, no slides. Just me, telling my goofy stories, hopefully helping people learn the easy way, through my life lessons, so they don’t have to learn them the hard way. I compare it to when you’re out and want to talk to that cute person at the bar. Do you bring notes? Do you memorize a speech? No! What you have to share comes from the heart. No speech or memorization needed. It’s the same way with me. And yes, I had fun!!!

What kind of response did you get from attendees at your session?

I got back more good juju than I gave out, and if just for that reason alone, it went very well. While my session isn’t technical or even structured, I think everyone got at least one pearl of wisdom from it. Or at least had a good laugh, at any rate.

Any advice for someone who wants to present at a HOW event?

My advice is to create a presentation that you’d be dying to see. What is it that you most want to get out of HOW? Do that.

Want to try your hand at presenting? Check out HOW’s Call for Speakers page,
and download an easy application form. Do it quick!
The deadline for submitting proposals for 2012 is August 1!

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