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Speak Your Mind: Talking UX at Conferences

You can blog. You can do webinars, but sometimes it’s more rewarding to have and audience in your face. Public speaking is an engaging way to get out your message and showcase you as a thought leader. I try to participate in two speaking engagements per year. Attending these events offer benefits:

Better networking

As a speaker, you get to take networking up a notch. Speaking allows you to engage with thought leaders one-on-one. You don’t have to seek them out, because they’re also looking for you to pick your brain.

Become a thought leader

You know your talk is well received when people ask for more. For example, I recently spoke at the Insurance Marketing Communications Association (IMCA) Annual Conference. My talk, “Ad Man to App Man: Creating New UX Creatives,” discussed the importance of utilizing people with diverse backgrounds and experience to deliver better human-centered design in insurance UX. Afterward, I was asked to be interviewed for podcasts. I also received requests to deliver my message at other events. Many organizations actively seek many diverse viewpoints when programming conferences.

Recharges creative batteries

Appreciation is contagious. Sharing your work and case studies tend to give you new perspectives about your job. Is my topic interesting? Am I doing valuable work? These are common concerns, because you’ve been there and done that. Remember, many in the crowd have not – that’s why they came to see you. It’s not like explaining your job to your family (as painful as that can be). As you discuss your work to this crowd, you come to a quick realization that you’re working on great stuff worth sharing.

You become the face of your company

Sounds intimidating? Then change the perspective. Innovative companies want to be known for hiring the best minds – and yes, that’s you. If you’re the subject expert at work, there’s no reason why you couldn’t carry the title confidently on stage. Embrace the opportunity and represent your business well.

Where do you start?

Find your stage

I work in the marketing department for an insurance company. For me, IMCA was the perfect audience. Understanding the event audience is crucial to finding a stage. Do your homework, because all UX events aren’t the same. If your crowd is focused on UX medical research, your UX research findings concerning social media apps wouldn’t be an ideal fit.

Apply locally

If there’s a call for speakers at the “Tropical Island UX Conference,” no one would blame you for competing for a spot. Anyone serious about gaining speaker experience should look locally first. It gives you more opportunities to hone your speaker skills without company travel budgets hindering your chances to attend.

Everybody wants UX

If you come up with an engaging UX perspective – good news, people want to hear it. Because UX professionals are in such demand, events are desperately seeking unique voices of leadership to help educate us all.

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