There are several types of speaking opportunities. Here’s a run through of a few main types, followed by ideas for the types that might fit you, based on level of experience, personality and subject.
Presenter: You are a solo or co-presenter. This is the model of most Web Mavens events – we have 2-3 speakers, each of whom has a presentation that they use to share information. In some
Webinar: Similar to a presentation but online. In some cases, the speaker isn’t shown – just the presentation slides. In others, the speaker is visible as well as slides.Lightning Talks: These can have a visual presentation or can just be a speaker. Usually they run from 4-10 minutes.
Panels: In this model, several speakers take the stage at once, usually with a moderator. In most cases, while speaker may briefly run through a bio or specific subject review, there are rarely presentations – just an exchange of ideas.
Panel Moderator: If you aren’t ready to speak or the subject isn’t one where you feel fully expert, consider offering yourself as a moderator.
Ask-The-Expert: You offer yourself up to take questions on a specific subject. Great if you have supremely in-depth knowledge of a subject.
Class/Workshop: Similar to a presentation but intended to give specific information to attendees on a subject. Generally, more in-depth, longer (usually 1-3 hours) and much more limited in size.
What kind of an event should you plan for?
Lightning talks are a great entree into speaking – you have a short time to speak so if you get nervous, you know it will end soon. It also allows you to focus on a very clear and specific topic or idea.
Presentations are also a good early option, though I suggest you aim for a 20 minute presentation time – for new speakers, longer periods can be tiring and you can lose focus.
Webinars are one option I’d like to test out with the group – the technology issues involved can make them less desirable but if those aren’t an issue, then these let presenters share information without having to face down 30 actual humans. IF you go this route, practice, practice, practice. It’s so awkward to look back at a recording of yourself and realize you’ve been looking at the wrong thing.
Panels are great for extroverts – as long as you know the material, you will likely fall into conversation pretty easily. For introverts, they can work but you have to be careful to speak up.