Over the first two weeks in September, I had the opportunity to speak at two different conferences in central Illinois.

Now, public speaking is not everyone’s first love. It certainly wasn’t mine. But I first got my feet wet with public speaking while working in PR for an Illinois non-profit, and started to learn what worked for me as a speaker.

Over time, it’s gotten easier. I’ve learned to write notes to myself on my speaking outline, practice aloud beforehand, and prepare simple, effective slides that help illustrate the ideas and concepts of the talk.

So, when it came time to hop up on stage again, I was ready for it.

Up first was the @Midwest social media conference in Bloomington, IL. I had the auditorium space, and about 50 attendees joined my session to learn more about social media content creation.

AtMidwest Conference, 2014.

AtMidwest Conference, 2014.

The gist of this session: Content creation can be daunting, and coming up with fresh material for social media isn’t always easy. So, during the session, we talked about new ideas to test out, ways to repackage old content, went over some examples of people who execute those ideas well, and discussed general best practices for social media.

Next up was the Illinois Women in Leadership’s Women Symposium. This time, I spoke to a room of 45 about Motivating Millennials. This is a subject I often cover for my copywriting assignments, so we went over some of the statistics about Millennial priorities, the challenges they face in our modern world, and how bosses and mentors can challenge them to be better employees and leaders.

Both sessions had a lot of great questions and I was thrilled to hear their feedback on what their stumbling blocks and obstacles were with these two subjects. This started a dialogue between audience members about how to overcome those challenges (which was wonderful to see!).

Overall, these speaking engagements were a great way to start conversations so people can ask each other, “What works? What doesn’t?”

It’s not always easy to hop back in to public speaking, but I’d call these events successes. Want me to come speak at your next event? Get in touch.