The Day Michelle Obama and I Spoke at Dreamforce

Did that pull you in? Well we did speak on the same day, just to sort of different sized crowds.

But this story starts back in the summer when I told myself that I’d try to get a speaking slot at Dreamforce, and if it didn’t happen, I wouldn’t go. I’d just graduated from the Speaker Academy program with Jodi Wagner and Keir Bowden, where I learned to actually enjoy public speaking. Armed with my new skills, I submitted a talk to Dreamforce about the professional organiser and author Marie Kondo and how I used her tidying concepts to clean up Salesforce. It was titled “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up Your Salesforce Org,” based on Kondo’s book title.

When my talk got accepted, I was shocked and excited. I was going to have to do this thing now! I started by writing a script of what I wanted to say in a Word doc, and then I created slides with mostly images to support my words. My colleague Aaron helped me with the slide design. Then I was ready to practice! I rehearsed with my speaker notes and tried to memorise what I was supposed to say. It was awkward and my partner started to get sort of tired of me talking to myself all the time.

The turning point in my talk development came when I decided to present to the Admin Theatre office hours hosted by Gillian Bruce.  I was super nervous and I used two computers, one to share my screen on the webinar and the other to look at my presenter notes so I could read what I had to say. Gillian gave me the feedback that it would be good for me to get off script. I also got a suggestion from Monica Sandberg to break up one of my slides into multiple slides so I could remember what I needed to say and keep the audience engaged. Bala Rajagopal and Katy Rudd were also super encouraging! The webinar pushed me to stop using my speaker notes and to actually memorise what I had to say.

My colleague Rikke Hovgaard and I presented our talks to get feedback from our makepositive team during lunch. Doing the talk in front of people I really respected was hard, but also a good way to get over my nerves.

The week before Dreamforce, I was staying with my family in San Francisco and practiced my talk constantly. I did what Mike Gerholdt suggested and practiced my talk five times in a row with no notes, which helped me feel confident about the entire 17 minute talk. At one point, I was practicing so much that my dad told me to go in another room because he was sick of it. My mom also feel asleep on the sofa while I was presenting to her, which definitely rattled me, but it was excellent practice.

The morning of the talk, I woke up super anxious. I went to my friend Jessica’s session and Rikke’s session. Seeing two of my peers do a fantastic job speaking made me a little less worried. I also saw Michelle Obama speak that same day and she obviously also did a great job.

By the time it was time for my talk, I was ready. Rikke and the sound dude helped me clip on my mic, and I went up onto Admin Theatre stage. I saw lots of familiar faces in the audience, and lots of people that I didn’t know. The audience was making good eye contact, which was encouraging. I walked around on the stage and talked and gestured. It was weird because I’d practiced so many times but very few times to a real audience. I started to see the point of doing the talk. It wasn’t the monologue I’d been practicing for weeks, it was a dialogue with my peers. People asked really thoughtful questions. After the talk, a woman came up to me and told me I had really inspired her. That meant a lot to me.

For the rest of Dreamforce, I was sort of on a speaker’s high and wanted to do it another talk. Mick Wheeler said this, and I totally agree. I can see this whole speaking thing getting sort of addictive.

Check out a video of most of my talk here.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s