Getting Started with Speaking at Events

Speaking at an event is a rewarding experience, and there are countless opportunities within the Salesforce community to put yourself out there, if you’re open to it.
Getting Started with Speaking at Events

Getting Started with Speaking at Events

Chances are you’ve been to a conference and attended a session where you learned something new or left inspired. Maybe you left wondering if you’d be able to stand in front of a group of people and impart some knowledge. Perhaps you want to but are unsure what to share. Or you have and are unsure how to move forward. Within the Salesforce community, there are countless opportunities to practice public speaking, whether you are new to the process or a seasoned professional.

First thing to get out of the way - everyone is nervous when speaking in front of people. The only way to get over that nervousness is to practice. The more often you speak in public, the easier it will become.

Why Speak?

If you’ve considered speaking and are concerned about whether or not it’s worth it, consider the benefits of putting yourself out there.

  • Communication skills are necessary in every job. Presenting a topic publicly demonstrates your ability to share ideas and concepts to a broad audience.

  • It’s a great way to meet people in your professional circle. “Does anyone have any questions?” after a presentation is a natural ice breaker, and you’ll meet some great people this way.

  • Presentations look great on a resume. If you’re in a competitive job market, having public speaking experience demonstrates your expertise and leadership in your field.

Speaking can also be fun, once you get used to it. The key is to start where you’re most comfortable, both in space and topic.

Start Small

You should already be involved in your local user group. If not, go start, as they’re a great resource for finding help, new ideas, and expanding your network. They are also a great introduction to public speaking. User Group leaders are always looking for people willing to present on something.

Not sure what to present on? They have ideas!

Know what you want to present? Even better.

Chances are the group you speak in front of will be smaller than going to an event and speaking.

Community Events

In addition to User Groups, community-led events are happening all over the world now. These are small, one or two day events, led by community members. They also need speakers.

Like a User Group meeting, the presentations tend to be smaller, so if you’re still new to speaking, there won’t be as many faces in the crowd. And without the broad, sweeping scope of an event like Dreamforce, it can be easier to find a topic that suits you.

Plan Ahead. Way Ahead.

Keep a running list of presentation ideas. Any time you run into a problem that you’re able to solve, a new app, a new trick, or just have a funny story that might take a while to tell and have a lesson at the end, make note of it. If you have time right then, write down a few details, but having anything written down is usually enough to spark the memory when calls for speakers go out. The time for finding an idea isn’t just before submitting a session abstract. Even if you don’t have a formal write-up ready to go, knowing what it is you want to present is 50% of the work of submitting.

Ask for Feedback

Before submitting a session idea, ask some other people about it. Is it a topic they’d be interested in? Is your abstract clear and easy to understand? Does the title make sense?

If you can, make a shell presentation and try it out on someone you trust, especially if it’s for a really big event like Dreamforce. They can help you ensure what you’re submitting matches what you have planned.

Consider a Panel

Have some ideas but still nervous about standing up on stage alone? Submit with a group to do a panel presentation, where each member of the group shares a part or a different version of the problem and/or solution being discussed. Presenting with a group takes some of the pressure off, and are sometimes the best way to share information. After all, everyone learns and experiences things a little differently, so providing multiple perspectives can be helpful.

Don’t Panic

The world isn’t perfect, and all of the preparation may not be enough. Things go wrong. Microphones don’t work; slide decks go missing; people ask questions you may not know the answer to. All of that is ok. Event staff can help with the technical, and no one expects you to know everything.

And, pro tip: jokes can make everything seem less daunting. If you make fun of it, the audience won’t even notice that it’s a problem.


This is a great time to start thinking about presenting what you know. There’s a whole world of admins and developers out here who want to learn.


Have you spoken at an event and have advice? Do you have more questions about speaking? Share your stories and questions in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or directly with me on Twitter @thesafinhold or on the Success Community.

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