Nikki McCaig blog

Public Speaking: Selling Coffee to Coffee Shops

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For a while now, I’ve been attending fascinating and engaging talks all across Nottingham. From poetry readings to art lectures to technology meetups, I’ve been soaking up as much verbal culture as I can get, from every venue I can reach. I’ve always loved learning without consequence, and as these talks don’t come with the pressue of exams, quizzes, tests and essays, it literally is just learning for the sake of learning. Whether I’m learning out the hidden symbolism in a local modern masterpiece or getting to grips with the fundamental benefits of Firebase, I feel like I’ve been taught by a hundred different teachers on a hundred different topics.
But strangely, instead of this leading to me continuing my life as one of these happily seated students, these talks and lectures led me down a different path: to become a public speaker.

Last week, I stood up in front of a large audience of my peers in the tech community, at a wonderful event called Tech Nottingham, and presented my insights into the field of tech marketing, and appreciating marketing teams. Having worked in the marketing sector for a good few years, (and yes I’m counting my blogging years as marketing), I feel like I’ve accumulated a lot of knowledge and in-depth insight into the profression. Working in big teams and small, from freelance to full time I’ve always had my mind in marketing, and it’s something I love pouring my creative energies into. So when I got the opportunity to do some public speaking something that is such a passion of mine, I couldn’t resist signing up!

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But once I’d had the nod, and the confirmation to go ahead with the talk, of course the nerves set in. How on earth was I going to speak in front of these people, these people who are so much more intelligent and well spoken than I could ever hope to be? I was terrified, and feared that the moment I stood up, I would be shouted down because of my age, gender or short experience. Even so – I still worked incredibly hard to create my perfect presentation, and plan out my talk in every single detail. I learned to shut down the nerves and just focus on the message, with my central focus being ‘educating and inspiring people on the amazing work that marketing does.
On the day, I quickly downed a gin and tonic, got myself set up, and stood up to deliver. I’d done three run throughs earlier that day, none of which I managed to complete without distraction, nervous giggles or losing my train of thought. I was even worried that I might forget my own name, as silly as that sounds. But honesty…it was amazing. Although in my mind, most of my talk was a blur of microphone feedback and dy throated mumbling, according to the friends who came with me, and the audience who commended me, it went really really well.

As so much of the purpose behind the public speaking talk was around promoting and celebrating the work done by marketing teams, it felt so natural just to slip into the character I was playing…me. I was talking about something I feel so strongly about, and something that I cared about so much that I just spoke the words I’d said to every colleague over coffee, to every manager, to every friend and family member who has asked me about my job. I debunked the myths around marketing teams, I shut down bias against job discrimination, I educated on the task-by-task process of the marketing executive, and I helped companies to understand just what goes into the marketing of a technical product. I felt intelligent and knowledgable, and it was a feeling I haven’t had in a very long time.
I got through my public speaking presentation smoothly and proudly – even managing to get a few laughs out of my audience, and when I looked out towards the crowd, all I could see was a group of nodding, smiling faces, with cameras lifted into the air to take pictures of me and my work.

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But the best part? The minute I finished my talk, and the worst was over, I was met with a sea of raised hands, asking me questions about my work that I genuinely knew the answers to. From a question on my thoughts on GDPR to my advice for marketing a bad product, I felt like people honestly valued my opinion and that I had presented myself as someone who finally knew their shit. As a natural self-critic, this is something that I was both incredibly surprised and happy about! Even after I sat down, my little bubble of success wasn’t finished – I got people coming up to me, talking to me about marketing, asking the questions they didn’t get a chance to in the Q&A. I had seniors of big companies approaching me, asking me to describe in detail something I’d mentioned in my slides that they wanted to know even more about. It took me a long time to get out of that room with so many people wanting to chat to me, and that boosted my confidence more than anything else. When you work in a field that can so often by judged by creative differences, it’s so uplifting to hear some true honest positivity about your passion.

By the end of that night, I had 30 notifications on Twitter, 10 new business contacts, a request for further presentations, and an amazing sense of pride for myself. And don’t worry – I know this blog post sounds like the most cringe-worthy humble-brag of my own achievements, but I’m trying this new thing where I push myself up rather than dragging myself down. If it makes me feel good, and helps to educated others on such a vital issue in the technology sector, then I’m more than happy to promote myself. 
So if you would like to download my presentation to run through my notes – feel free to click here for the PDF! Or, if you want to get in touch with me about further public speaking, or to chat through any marketing issue that you’re struggling with, get in touch.

Thanks for reading!

2 thoughts on “Public Speaking: Selling Coffee to Coffee Shops”

  1. Great blog! Do you have any tips for aspiring writers? I’m hoping to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you advise starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m totally overwhelmed .. Any ideas? Many thanks!

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