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Speaking on Behalf of Privacy, Security, & Diversity


Do you take advantage of public speaking opportunities?

If you’ve ever been invited to participate in a panel, speak at a conference, or even present for a small group of professionals, but have felt overwhelmed by your present obligations or intimidated by the idea of facing an audience, I urge you to consider it. I have found the experience rewarding, sometimes in unexpected ways.

Recently I had an opportunity to speak on a diversity panel at the 10-year anniversary event for Paragon Legal, and just this week I spoke on panels regarding Cybersecurity and the EU General Data Protection Regulation at the ACC (Association of Corporate Counsel) National Conference in San Francisco. The experiences gave me a fresh opportunity to appreciate many of the benefits of public speaking and how public speaking has helped me express my values as an advocate for the right to privacy, information security, and women in technology.

Here are five great reasons why you might consider public appearances and speaking opportunties:

1. The Opportunity to Learn

When I’m invited to speak, the event provides a focal-point for a deeper dive into the topic at hand. The pressure to speak—knowing I will need to distill complex concepts and explain the implications to an audience—provides me with powerful incentive to learn as much as I can before the appearance. In-depth analysis helps me answer questions that arise, giving me a reason to synthesize concepts, research others’ opinions, and read widely to put the topic into proper context.

2. The Opportunity to Share

Sharing our experiences not only helps others, it helps us appreciate our own path. Public speaking provides a way to communicate what I know based on my prior experience handling similar issues, explore best practices, and detail practical operational advice. Sharing my mistakes or missteps and the key takeaways from those situations fosters an openness in others, creating a space where an honest discussion of challenges can take place.

3. The Opportunity to Collaborate

Shaping an event requires many hands, and speaking opportunities provide me with a way to work with organizers, sponsors, moderators, and other panelists. There’s a real pleasure in honing a topic, agreeing on an approach for a presentation, and preparing the content. It’s also a way to meet and interact with colleagues in my field.

4. The Opportunity to Perform

I’m a former drama geek and college theater major, and public speaking revives many of the pleasures of performance. These include having an audience, being present and connecting, communicating clearly and authentically, and enjoying those moments of shared laughter and comprehension. Learning to enjoy public speaking is also a valuable skill, and raising the stakes once in a while can help transform anxiety into the thrill of performing. When I speak publically, I am grateful for a platform where I can make privacy inspiring to others.

5. The Opportunity to Promote Your Values

It’s true that public speaking is often regarded as an effective form of “content marketing” or a way to “enhance your brand,” but there’s much more at work beyond promoting yourself as an expert. Though speaking events may elevate my profile as a privacy professional, they also present an opportunity to express my values. Not only can I play my part in the privacy movement, but I can also foster women in tech.

The next time you’re given these opportunities, don’t hesitate to accept the challenge. You have a voice and perspective which can be a valuable part of the conversation.

There are many resources available to get you comfortable or hone your skills including Toastmasters and coaches such as KC Baker (with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working).

What are you inspired to speak up for in this world?

photo credit AG Media Enterprises

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