Diversity has been a hot topic across the industry this year and will continue to be a focus in 2020 and beyond. This year Turn the Talk has successfully launched as an independent initiative to support greater diversity across our industry. And it hasn’t been the only initiative, with some great additional projects also tackling diversity across the industry.
At this year’s PI LIVE conference five new voices took to the stage as part of a session which focused on attracting new speakers from across the industry. The initiative was spearheaded by Kevin Edwards, Awin and Sean Mahon, Equator and saw participants take part from Awin, Acceleration Partners, Equator, Optimise and Student Beans. The session was a perfect example of cross-industry collaboration in order to give new voices a platform.
The five new speakers shared quick fire case studies which identified common industry challenges and gave the audience clear takeaways to tackle them.
Turn the Talk sat down with three of the speakers to find out more about what it meant to them to speak for the first time, what advice they would give to others, and what diversity means to them.
Bryony Smith, Performance Manager, Optimise Media
Jamie White, Sales Director, Student Beans
Laura Paterson, Senior Account Manager, Acceleration Partners
What was it like speaking for the first time at PI LIVE?
Bryony: As a first time speaker at such a significant industry event and being faced with talking to a main stage audience it was near impossible to hide my nerves. However, with the set-up of the session including a panel of peers, whom were also first time speakers, this gave us all a real sense of camaraderie towards the task at hand. Once we were mic-ed up and ready to go on stage there was a real buzz between the speaker group which carried us through the session with the confidence to deliver our talks successfully.
Jamie: Exhilarating, exciting and fabulous!
Laura: It was a mixed bag of emotions. On the lead up to the event, there was a lot of nerves and anticipation. During the event itself, it was a delight sharing the stage with the speakers as we covered a great variety of topics during the session. In the end, I was super happy with the whole experience and it was a big sense of achievement for me – I would 100% encourage anyone thinking about giving something like it a go!
What steps did you take to prepare?
Bryony: Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse; my colleagues, partner, friends and family are all sick to death of me reading through my presentation.
Jamie: I took many steps ahead of the event. And my biggest advice would be start planning early. Here are some of the key steps I took: I researched YouTube and articles regarding public speaking, wrote, re-wrote and edited the presentation eight weeks in advance of PI LIVE, gathered insight and data from the team(s) at Student Beans regarding the content. And finally, I practiced, practiced, practiced!
Laura: First of all, I watched Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globes speech and asked myself: can I be the Oprah Winfrey of affiliate marketing public speaking? A great aspiration sure, but I spent some time thinking about how to deliver something powerful and focusing on my own topic area.
After I came to grips with the brief, I was very thankful to have the support from my team who listened to numerous practice runs of the talk. The main challenge was making sure the key points were delivered in five minutes. The art of public speaking is a skill that will take years to master, but I really enjoyed the process of learning how to develop my speaking style and how to conquer my fear of public speaking – or at least take a step in the right direction.
How did attending the Turn the Talk workshop help you to speak?
Jamie: Attending the TTT Workshop was hugely helpful, for the following reasons: It made me appreciate that starting from the beginning with limited experience was perfectly ok. It gave me confidence that a lot of other people were in the same position, and keen to learn. The steps provided by the team(s) and Chris Grimes were aimed at those which were starting for the first time. The content was delivered in an easy to follow format, combined with great insights and humour. There was information shared, which allowed me to go away and continue researching and practicing what I wanted to learn.
What had been your biggest barrier to public speaking?
Bryony: Opportunities like this do not come up very often and speaker slots tend to be filled with people who are quite senior in the industry.
Jamie: For me the biggest barrier has always been being mildly terrified of standing on stage and speaking.
Laura: Truthfully, believing in myself to actually do it. That’s what I enjoyed so much about taking part in the session. It really created an environment where there was the right support and encouragement to practice a new skillset and build my confidence in doing so to the best of my ability.
What is your top tip for anyone thinking about speaking at an event who hasn’t done before?
Bryony: Don’t be nervous, the audience are there because they actually want to hear from you.
Jamie: Just do it, you’ll be fine, and you’ll probably wonder why you didn’t do it earlier!
Laura: I really like this quote from Emma Watson: ‘It’s not the absence of fear. It’s overcoming it.’ I think that’s true to public speaking, in that you must find ways to overcome a fear of doing something and how you can grow as part of the experience. I’m not saying go and sign yourself up for the next keynote speaker position but identify a time and place where you can put yourself forward to try something new and give it your best shot.
For anyone interested in doing public speaking for the first time, I highly recommend reading ‘How to Own the Room: Women and the Art of Brilliant Speaking.’ The book is full of practical tips and real-life examples of how to best prepare for any type of public speaking, with many exercises on how to set yourself up for success.
What steps do you think conference producers could take to support new voices in our industry?
Bryony: I think conference producers have a role to play in encouraging new speakers at events and to ensure audiences hear from people less senior. Without this being pushed at PI LIVE I would have never been given the opportunity.
Jamie: I think there are two key things conference producers could do to support new speakers. Firstly, have a structured approach to welcoming new speakers/presenters to events and exhibitions, such as dedicated sessions or applications. Secondly, provide some coaching or guidance to those who are 50:50 whether they’re interested in speaking or not.
Laura: I loved being part of the first Insider Insights session that was organised this year and I would encourage conference producers to continue to include a similar format at future events.
Why do you think speaker diversity at affiliate marketing events has become more of a focus in 2019?
Bryony: Despite the industry being very agile and progressive we see the same people from the same companies year on year.
Jamie: We should hear from different people; it adds diversity and interesting viewpoints from those who wouldn’t typically get involved at industry events.
Laura: I think the mission of Turn the Talk is very inspiring and as part of creating greater diversity within the industry, people have a real opportunity to feel empowered to use their voice, share experiences and learn from each other along the way.
The right steps are being taken for the creation of supportive networks to invest time, energy, resources and support into encouraging both women and men equally in participating in affiliate marketing speaking opportunities and I’m really excited to see what more is to come in 2020 and beyond.
If you would like to find out more about Turn the Talk and the initiatives plans for 2020, join us for Christmas drinks on the 3rd of December.