Lessons I Learnt From My First Speaking Event

Professional Travel Bloggers Association panel at ITB Asia

While on the blog I may come across as outgoing, social and can hold my own – things I am if you get to know me – in front of strangers I seize up and even thinking about speaking in public or networking events makes my palms sweat and I begin dreaming of becoming a bed burrito for a week.

Quitting life to become a burrito

When it comes to attending conferences or events, often my outgoing friends have to deal with coaxing me out of my shell or act as my ‘introduction’ because otherwise, I’d stay home to blog or have a pizza party with my other introvert friends. This week, that all changed.

This week I ticked a major item off my travel bug-ket list – in fact, it was something I never thought I’d conquer – when I joined a panel at ITB Asia, a travel trade event, in Singapore to speak about blogging and digital media as a professional travel blogger.

I spoke in front of a small crowd of travel professionals with three other digital influencers to talk shop about blogging, SEO (that’s Search Engine Optimisation) and digital travel trends.
I didn’t faint, I didn’t run away and – for the most part – put my words into fully formed sentences rather than letting them out in rapid fire burst, much like how my mind thinks.

Through all of this I have learnt a few lessons that I’d love to share with you;

 i am still learning

No matter what stage you are at in your learning there are people that are just starting

I am not the top blogger in the world but I have been blogging for five-years come December (scary, huh?!) I’m also a trainee Journalist and have worked in the Australian Media since I was 14. Through all of this I’ve been lucky to pick up some amazing skills that can translate well into blogging and digital media, and when it comes down to it I know more than the average Joe.

While I would never say that “I’m the best” – there is definitely so much more to learn as the digital world grows and evolves daily – I do know more than many companies as I’ve had the freedom and flexibility to experiment, fail and try again more times than I care to admit.

Remember, even if you’ve only been learning for one day, that’s still one more day than the person beginning today. You can share their knowledge and they can share theirs.

Be prepared

With hectic schedules, all of us speakers didn’t manage to meet as a group until the morning that we were set to talk. Thankfully Matt was organised and I joined him at his hostel to work on the powerpoint – or rather, he worked and I ‘fact-checked’, talked to him and sent Facebook messages to my friends in Europe.

Even as our group sat down to eat lunch just an hour before our presentation Matt was tweaking the powerpoint, Claudio was learning he was our moderator and I, still, was fact-checking stats about social media platforms.

Next time, we will be prepared.

she has a way with words, red lipstick and making an entrance

Power dressing is a real thing

While my introverted-self may be very shy I still love to rock a bit of colour. I didn’t go with red lipstick – Singapore’s humidity leaves one sweaty and I didn’t want red streaks on my face! – I did go with my favourite boyfriend-style purple Sportsgirl blazer.

I was the only spark of colour in a sea of black, tan and grey.

Red and purple are my two favourite colours and always leave me feeling like a boss. Alongside new pants – thank you online shopping at Witchery! – and my favourite black ballet flats I looked good, felt comfortable and that went a long way to helping me feel at ease when I was sitting in front of the audience microphone in hand.

Don’t fudge your experience

Two Australian journalists sat down to talk with me today to talk about blogging, social media and the presentation. The first thing one of them exclaimed was, “I checked one of the speakers site and they were full of shit…

Ladies and gentleman, please don’t fudge your experience especially in front of fact-check loving journalists. You will get caught.

you've got a friend in me

Public speaking is less terrifying when you have amazing people supporting you

While it was my Mum who convinced me that I should pack my bags and fly to Singapore, it was my friend Becki from Borders of Adventure that got me over the line and convinced me to go through with the talk.

The night before the speaking – and having two speakers pull out due to travel issues – meant that the coordinator and I weren’t sure if our cohort should take to the stage the next day. I was left with the decision if we should pull the plug and had to decide overnight.

Thankfully, as Matt created our snazzy powerpoint, it was Becki that I was chatting to, and she had spoken at TBEX Athens a few days prior, was speaking to me and left me with these words, “Do it!!! It is the best thing I’ve done.

So I took a leap… and I didn’t fall.

home is where the heart is

Don’t overlook your home ground, own it!

Since I began Bitten by the Travel Bug in December 2009 I’ve always written with an Aussie perspective but focused on building an audience in the UK, the location that I was moving to and region that is far more advanced in blogging than in Australia.

How stupid am I.

How sorry I am.

While Europe and the UK have been good for me – opening my eyes to opportunity and teaching me much of what I know today – and I will continue to learn more from pioneers like Keith Jenkins and Melvin Boecher, Australia is my home soil. I write like an Australian, travel like an Australian and am bloody proud of my country.

While I am slightly a-typical in that I’ve never been to Bali, Thailand and only recently visited New Zealand for my first time, I am very much part of a growing demographic of young Aussies who are heading out exploring the world and all its corners; My friends feeds on Facebook sharing tales of traversing London, conquering Bolivia or taking part in work experience programs in Kuala Lumpur tell me that.

Australasia is my home, my passion and I need to work harder to help my region and its many brands and companies show the best of the our beautiful slice of the world.

what on earth could be more luxurious than a soft, a book, and a cup of coffee?

Being an introvert isn’t a bad thing… just know its okay to try something different

I will not say that I’m walking away from this an instant extrovert. I’m always going to favour staying in, watching cable TV and chatting to friends in small groups – much like what I’m doing right now – over going out to party and meeting new people – like some of my friends are, and that’s okay.

Don’t turn down opportunities you know would be good for you, your business or personal growth just because they seem like far fetched dreams. Chase them with everyone you have and conquer that fear. Just be sure to find a Becki – a person who pushes you to be better – to help you if you falter and champion you to rise to the occasion.

stay humble and hustle hard

This is just the first step

So you might think that the hard work is over when you turn off that mic but it doesn’t. That’s just the beginning. I’ve been blessed that a small group of people – industry professionals, bloggers, and Journalists – have come to chat with me about how to promote or further increase the presence of their brands. I get to chat about one of my favourite topics – digital media – to like-minded individuals who want to learn more, and I want to learn from them as well.

Tonight, while I may be enjoying the joys of my hotel rooms cable TV and a comfortable bed, I have replied to as many emails as I could requesting meetings or more information about how to work with bloggers. My head is freaking out a little saying, “oh my gosh. They want to talk to me?!!” My heart is telling me to stop doubting myself.

Remember that while getting your name out there as an expert is a great thing it’s the follow-up that matters. Bring on that hustle baby!

The most important tip of all

believe in yourself

Now it’s over to you

What are your tips for public speaking?

What is that niggling goal you’d love to cross off but haven’t?


PS: Want to read more?
Click here to read the slides from our presentation!
Think you have what it takes to become a professional travel blogger? Click here to find out more!

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  • Reply
    November 4, 2014 at 1:20 am

    Thanks for the inspiration and encouragement. It is good for me to start somewhere. The road is hard and long but will be worth it.

  • Reply
    November 5, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Hi Nicole, I’m an expert and theoretically I do enjoy public speaking, but tend to get an attack of nerves just before. I’ve trained myself to repeat over and over that this is a good thing, an edge will help me project better… well, I hope so anyway.

    Good on you for stepping out of your comfort zone, and here’s to the next public speaking event. Theyget easier… and one day, one day i WILL do a speaking course, it’s been years I have been saying that!

  • Reply
    November 5, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    So glad you stepped out of your comfort zone and did the ‘biz’ Nicole. I have no doubt that you were awesome as I know how much you have to offer – and other people need to hear it! Good on you for taking the plunge – may it bring more speaking engagements and from them may your contacts and networks grow hugely! xx

  • Reply
    Christina @ Mr and Mrs Romance
    November 6, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    Good on you for saying yes! I really enjoy public speaking, but I still get nerves and shaky knees before it starts. For me to feel confident, looking the part definitely helps. Like you said, wearing colour is so important. It’s also just knowing what you want to say, what your key message is. I’m impressed that you pushed through and took a chance. I’m sure it’s just the start of your speaking career xx

  • Reply
    Glamourous Traveller
    November 6, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    Bummed that I missed you this time around, but I did check out the presentation slides, would deff have been informative for me.

    One of my fav tips about public speaking is power dressing like you said. But for me it could be putting on anything or that one thing that reminds you of yourself and to ground you so you don’t get nervous. It could be a lingerie arsenal that nobody else sees but you, or a globe locket you meet around your neck and under your suit. There’s something about keeping a tiny secret whilst being in public that helps keep a smile on my face when doing presentations

  • Reply
    November 10, 2014 at 10:43 am

    Hi Nicole – thanks for sharing such a great piece! Whoop to you for going through with the talk despite the nerves! After years in professional environments, I went to my first TBEX this year and all of a sudden it hit me hard that my little blog could be part of a whole new (to me!) professional environment…and I froze bad! Glad to see even the experts get nerves sometimes too, although finding my own Becki in the blogging world would definitely come as a bonus! I have another conference next week…going with the be prepared and power dress tactics! Congrats again on the speaking event!

  • Reply
    Sammi Wanderlustin'
    November 13, 2014 at 10:19 am

    Congratulations, Nicole! You brave thing- I think speaking in public is wayyy harder than all this travel we do.

    I also think that, generally speaking, the travel blogging community, are GREAT! I’ve got a great friend who’s blog is bigger than mine who will tell me both how wonderful I am when I need to hear it but will also tell me when I need to step up and do more! It’s great, because she wants me to do well and be successful 🙂

  • Reply
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