The Keynote Speaker

The Keynote Speaker

I’m so glad that I can finally talk about this: earlier this week, it was announced that I will be the keynote speaker at the next HighEdWeb New England regional conference in March. Crazy, right? It’s such a cool opportunity, and I’m honored and flattered to have been asked to fill this role.

I’m also pretty nervous about putting together a talk that lives up to expectations of everyone who will be there because I think of all these people as part of my tribe and their time and attention is important to me. Having been to many of these conferences myself in the past, I know that you want to come away at the end of it feeling like what you gained was worth the cost and effort of attending, and as a keynote speaker I think that is doubly important because I’m the only one on the program with a solo slot.

At the same time, I want to make sure I fulfill the needs of the committee that has been volunteering their time to organize and program this conference to be the best it can be. Having had the experience of being a co-chair for a similar event last year, I know how hard it can be to put together a program of presenters that feels balanced and addresses the interests of a variety of specialties from content and social media specialists to web developers and designers. You also want to provide opportunities for first time presenters to add new voices to the conversation, alongside HighEdWeb veterans who are reliably wise and inspiring.

For a conference like this, the keynote can provide thematic glue, set an inspirational tone, and hopefully, provide an additional reason for people to attend. It would not have occurred to me that my peers think of me that way, but it’s hard not to feel a bit of an ego boost when you discover they do:

No pressure, right?

Sure, for a moment it’s wonderfully flattering, but I’m at the point now where the responsibility of this role is sinking in, and I can see how high the expectations are.

But I wouldn’t have committed to this if I didn’t want the challenge, so I’m ready to step up to this “whole ‘nother level” and see what I can bring. Like Sondheim’s Little Red Riding Hood, I feel excited—well, excited and scared.

I’ve actually been committed to this keynote since early November but had to wait until it was announced to be able to really talk about it. So for the past couple of months the whole idea has mostly been in a holding pattern, circling my subconscious. Now that it’s out there, suddenly it’s a lot more real, and I have about eight weeks left to finalize my talk.

I feel ready, I know what I want to talk about, and what I hope people will take away from my presentation. I just need to get it all out of my head. So I’ll follow Little Red Riding Hood’s advice from the end of that same Sondheim song:

Don’t be scared.
Granny is right,
Just be prepared.

I’ve got my notes, and I’ve got the latest update of Keynote software ready with lots of blank slides awaiting my big ideas. Let’s do this…

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