Saturday 2 May 2020

Speaker Academy is back - and it's twice as good!

We're Back!

A few years ago, Jodi Wagner and I started up a community effort called Speaker Academy, after we noticed that most of the events that we attended had the same faces speaking each time. As I was one of those faces I didn't necessarily see it as a bad thing, but I know it's possible to have too much of a good thing!

We figured that a lot of people liked the general idea of raising their profile and sharing their experience, but hated the thought of being up on stage in front of an audience. That's pretty much how I felt about it when I started public speaking many years ago - I could see all the upsides and very much wanted those, but the potential pitfalls seemed overwhelming. I got past this by forcing myself to speak whenever the opportunity arose, and reading lots of articles about conquering your fear of failure, but it wasn't the smoothest road to travel.

So we offered candidates the chance to take advantage of our experience through a multi-week course, with a mix of presentations, hands on exercises, and dry runs of real talks with feedback. Our candidates used to graduate by presenting at a special meetup of the London Salesforce Developers, but since we went online and are pulling in people from Europe and beyond, we now ask candidates to speak at an event of their choosing and send us some pictures to prove it happened!

We've run a couple of iterations online, and each time had to rework the curriculum a little. It turns out people are much more comfortable sat in their own home in front of a screen, so we had to figure out new ways to take them out of their comfort zone. The expectations of event organisers also changed, so we had to increase our focus on things like writing an abstract.

Double Trouble!

We also ended up on different continents when Jodi moved back to the US, which made the logistics more challenging. For the last round, Jodi very kindly gave up an hour of her morning to fit around us starting just after work in the UK, but it was clear to us both that this was a short term solution.

We decided to split our teaching efforts up - we'd each find new co-hosts and run the program in parallel in Europe and the US, and I'm very pleased to announce that my co-host for the next iteration run out of the UK is Julia Doctoroff. Julia is well known in the Salesforce community and is a graduate of the very first round of Speaker Academy, and I'm excited to be facilitating with her.

The Next Round

Our next iteration of Speaker Academy Europe will be starting in the next couple of weeks - if you are interested in being a part of it, fill out the interest form to let us know. This requires a commitment to attend a weekly class of an hour or so and involves homework, so please don't sign up if you can't commit. If you drop out half way through you don't get to graduate, you've blocked someone else who could have made better use of the opportunity, and it's unlikely we'll let you back in to a future iteration.

As we give 1-1 feedback and mentoring, we are limited in terms of the number that we can accept per iteration, but if you don't make this one you will move up the list for future iterations and eventually you will get lucky!


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